Alibaba lived a long time ago in the country of Afghanistan. He was very religious, strong and hardworking. His wife, Hannah, was also a lovely person. She cared for many children whose parents were not well. She also cared for the elderly people of the village. Alibaba and Hannah did many things that were pleasing in the sight of Allah and they were loved by all the people.
On the other hand, Alibaba had a brother who was very evil. His name was Saddam. Saddam was always hunting for hidden treasure, and he was always fighting with the people of the village. By trade, Saddam was a butcher, and he sold the most expensive meat in the country. If someone didn’t have money, he better not go near to Saddam, or Saddam would shout and scream ‘get out of here, you wicked robber! You only want things for free!’
Saddam never liked to help the poor like his brother Alibaba. Saddam would steal the cows of the other butchers and if they complained, he would threaten to kill them. He did many things that were displeasing in the eyes of Allah.
At one time he stole all the cows of all the other butchers and so he was the only one with meat to sell. When the people came to buy meat, he raised the price five times the normal price for meat. The people had no choice but to pay, because Saddam was the only one with meat in the village.
Saddam got richer and richer and built his house bigger and bigger. And the richer and richer he got, the more he teased the poorer people, overcharged them, and taunted them. The people prayed that one day Saddam would go away from the village. Their prayers would soon be answered.
One day an old man fell sick in the village. Hannah went over to help the man’s wife around the house while Alibaba went to the forest to cut firewood for the man’s family.
As Alibaba set out for the forest, it was almost sunset but he was determined to bring back enough wood to last the sick man’s family for one week. About four hours later, Alibaba had finished cutting the firewood, and, his donkey laden, he started on his way home.
Just then, Alibaba heard the hoof-beats of horses galloping behind him. He turned around and saw five men on five horses riding towards him. They were dressed in black and Alibaba feared they might be bandits. Alibaba quickly tied his donkey behind a large tree where no one could see it. Then he climbed up into the tree and stood motionless.
The horsemen stopped right under the tree and Alibaba’s heart pounded in fear and anxiety. Did the bandits see him? Were they going to kill him? Did they know he was in the tree?
One of the horsemen walked towards the tree while the rest of them watched around. The horseman opened his mouth and carefully pronounced the words ‘open sesame’. As if by magic, a door opened at the mouth of the tree. The horsemen unloaded some heavy bags from their horses and took them into the tree. After some time, they came out and one of them, turning to the opening in the tree, said ‘close sesame’. The door in the tree closed and no one could ever guess there was a door in the tree. The horsemen mounted their horses and rode away into the distance.
Alibaba descended the tree, his mind overcome with wonder and curiosity. He approached the tree and said ‘open sesame’. The door opened just as before, and Alibaba walked in. He was astounded by what he saw: heaps and heaps of gold, diamonds and precious stones, more beautiful than he had ever imagined. Alibaba was overjoyed. He thought it was a gift from God and he would use it to help the sick man and his family. He picked up just one diamond from the heaps and heaps of treasures and hurried home.
He could not wait to tell the exciting news to Hannah – his wife. Hannah advised him that they should not use any money for themselves but sell the diamond and help the sick man and his family. So Alibaba sold the diamond to the local dealer for a large sum of money. He used some of it to build a beautiful house for the sick man and his family. They deposited the remainder in the bank so that the man’s children could go to school.
As the days went by, Alibaba and his wife were filled with joy and happiness but Saddam became very curious and upset. He insisted that Alibaba tell him where he found the diamond so that he could go and search too. At first, Alibaba did not want to tell, because he feared something might go wrong. But Saddam pleaded and pleaded and then began to fight and make threats until Alibaba gave up and told the whole story.
Saddam’s eyes were wide with wonder. All he could see was money and money and more money. He started to dream of how he would rule the whole country. He started to laugh when he imagined how he would make the people work hard like slaves in the big businesses that he would set up after he had stolen all the treasure. He started to imagine how he would import all sorts of goods from other countries. He could not sleep that night. He jumped on his horse and rode straight to the place described by his brother. Saddam walked slowly up to the tree and pronounced the magic words ‘open sesame’. To his amazement, the door in the tree opened and he walked in. He started to scream in amazement when he saw the heaps and heaps of treasures. He filled his pockets and rode home. He sold all the precious stones and gold and used the money to build many houses.
His wife was also excited. They both went back every night to take more and more treasures. They started to set up more and more businesses and bank more and more money.
But Saddam was still not contended; he wanted to kill the horsemen who owned all the treasure. Then he would not have to worry about being caught and all the gold in the magic tree would be his.
His wife agreed and they made a plan. They waited with two sharp axes behind a huge stone for the horsemen. The horsemen arrived and one of them went to the tree and pronounced the magic words ‘open sesame’. The door opened and three of the horseman carried large bags of treasures into the tree, while the other two waited outside.
Saddam and his wife waited for the right time to attack the two horsemen. As the horsemen turned their backs, they sprang out of their hiding places and started to chop. But as soon as their axes touched the men, a strange thing happened. What they didn’t know was these horsemen were magicians with special powers. Both Saddam and his wife turned into two giant heaps of gold and jewels.
“Two other idiots who thought they could kill us” laughed the horsemen, as they filled them into bags and took them into their treasure tree.
From that day no one ever heard of Saddam or his wife again. The government shared all their money and properties to the poor people and everyone threw a big party and rejoiced that Saddam was finally gone.
Adapted from the Arabian Nights tale “Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves” and rewritten for a younger and more modern audience.