Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” is a popular tale from the Middle Eastern folklore collection “One Thousand and One Nights,” also known as “Arabian Nights.” Here is a short retelling:
In the heart of ancient Persia, under a cerulean sky, there lived two brothers, Ali Baba and Cassim. Ali Baba’s life was one of humble means, his days spent cutting wood in the whispering forests surrounding the city, while Cassim’s marriage to a wealthy woman had clothed him in comfort and opulence.
One sweltering day, as Ali Baba’s axe sang through the air, slicing into wood, his fate twirled on the winds of fortune. He overheard a band of 40 thieves, their voices rough like the craggy rocks of the mountains, as they approached a hidden cave nearby.
The leader, a man with a hawk-like gaze, uttered a magical phrase, “Open Sesame!” and the cave yawned open, revealing its glittering secrets. “Close Sesame!” he commanded upon leaving, and the cave sealed itself, as if swallowing its treasures whole.
Burning with curiosity, Ali Baba approached the cave after the thieves had disappeared like ghosts into the desert. “Open Sesame!” he whispered, his heart pounding in his chest.
The cave obliged, revealing mountains of gold, jewels that sparkled like stars, and silks that danced in the faint breeze. Overwhelmed yet cautious, Ali Baba took only a small portion of gold, enough to ease his life but not to flaunt fortune.
Unable to contain his secret, he confided in Cassim, whose greed flared like a hungry fire.
“Cassim, you won’t believe what I’ve found,” whispered Ali Baba, his eyes wide with wonder. “A cave, filled with treasures beyond imagination!”
Cassim’s eyes glittered with greed. “Show me this cave,” he demanded, his voice tinged with excitement and avarice.
Cassim hastened to the cave, his arms laden with gold, but panic clouded his mind, and the magic words escaped him. The thieves, upon their return, found and mercilessly killed him for his transgression.
To conceal Cassim’s fate, his wife enlisted the help of Baba Mustafa, a tailor known for his skill and discretion.
Mustafa, blindfolded, was led to Cassim’s house to stitch the unfortunate man’s body for a proper burial, unbeknownst to the prying eyes of the city.
The thieves, cunning as foxes, sensed an intruder’s knowledge. Their leader, cloaked in deception, infiltrated Ali Baba’s house, masquerading with his men as oil merchants seeking shelter.
“Kind sir,” the leader said with a sly smile, “we seek shelter for the night, a place to rest our weary heads.”
But Morgiana, Ali Baba’s astute and loyal servant, with eyes sharp as daggers, saw through their guise. In a brilliant stroke of cunning, she filled their hiding jars with boiling oil, ending their threat in a dance of flames.
When the leader, fueled by vengeance, returned alone, Morgiana’s wit shone again. She recognized his murderous intent and, with the swiftness of a desert storm, ended his life with a dagger’s thrust.
“Your evil ends here,” Morgiana declared, her voice steady as she faced the treacherous leader.
Her bravery saved Ali Baba, who, in a wave of gratitude, freed her from the bonds of slavery.
“Dear Morgiana,” Ali Baba said, his voice filled with respect and gratitude, “your bravery and wit have saved us all. From this day, you are free and forever a cherished member of our family.”
Ali Baba, now the sole guardian of the cave’s secret, continued to visit it sparingly, ensuring his family’s prosperity without succumbing to greed.
Yet, even amidst this newfound wealth, he often found his thoughts adrift to Morgiana, whose courage and wisdom had steered them clear from the shadows of ruin.
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Moral of the Story
The story of “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” carries several morals or lessons:
Humility and Moderation: Ali Baba, despite discovering vast wealth, chooses to live a life of moderation. He takes only what he needs, demonstrating the virtue of not being consumed by greed.
The Dangers of Greed: Cassim’s greed leads to his downfall. Unlike Ali Baba, he lets his greed control him, ultimately leading to his demise. This serves as a warning against the perils of excessive greed.
Cunning and Wisdom Over Strength: Morgiana, a seemingly minor character, plays a crucial role with her quick thinking and wisdom. Her actions show that intelligence and wit can be more powerful than brute strength or wealth.
Loyalty and Bravery: Morgiana’s loyalty to Ali Baba and her bravery in the face of danger are pivotal to the story. Her character emphasizes the importance of loyalty and courage in overcoming adversity.
The Unpredictability of Life: The story also reflects on how life can be unpredictable. Ali Baba’s discovery of the thieves’ cave changes his life dramatically, showing that fortune, whether good or bad, can be unforeseen.
Also Read: The Treasure Island
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