Ithmid Kohl was known amongst the Arabs in pre-Islamic Jahiliyah times for its benefits for eyes and vision.
There is a widely circulated and infamous story from this era highlighting how Ithmid Kohl can give strong vision.
This is the story of a woman called Zarqaa’a al-Yamama. She was from a al-Yamama tribe and was famous amongst them for her exceptional vision.
When another tribe wanted to launch an attack on the tribe of Zarqaa, they were so concerned with Zarqa seeing them from far and alerting her people in advance.
They came up with a plan : every man was to carry and hide under a freshly dislodged tree whilst on the march. That way Zarqa would not be able to see them coming. They thought she will think of them as trees in the distance.
However, Zarqa was able to spot them coming from very far distance. She told her tribesman about the sight of moving trees that she can see in the distance. Her fellow tribesman found this to be ridiculous and did not believe her, thinking that Zarqa must have lost her mind. Before they knew, the enemy was upon them and having taken them by surprise was able to easily to defeat them.
Zarqa was taken captive and was later executed on the orders of the king of the victorious tribe. It is said they then dissected her eyes and found visible traces of Ithmid Kohl within her veins. The king decided to call the area “Alyamamah” in honour of her. Al-Yamama is still a district in modern day Saudi Arabia.