Cassim’s Old Shoes

Written by Siddhi Latey (Weloquent) 

Abul Cassim was a wealthy miser who lived in Baghdad. He was renowned for wearing the same old pair of nasty-looking slippers for nearly 20 years. Despite being in a deplorable condition, Cassim refused to buy a new pair. Instead he would have a cobbler frequently mend them. 

One day on his way to the common bath, Cassim left his shoes on the side of the steps. When he came out, he found that a new pair of shoes were magically replaced with his old ones. Unbeknownst to him, these new shoes belonged to the Cadi, judge of the city. When the Cadi found that his shoes had been missing, he saw Cassim’s shoes in a corner and concluded that the latter had purloined his. Enraged, the Cadi accused Cassim of stealing shoes out of baths, imprisoned him for two days and heavily fined him.

Blaming his shoes for his humiliation, Cassim tossed them into a river. However, two days later a fisherman tore his fishing net owing to Cassim’s old shoes and insisted on repayment of his losses. 

To rid himself of further misfortune, Cassim decided to bury his shoes in a corner of his house. However, when Cassim commenced the digging, his neighbours thought he was undermining their house and complained to the governor. An apprehended Cassim was again thrown in the prison and was released only on the payment of a fine.

Overwhelmed with grief and continual misfortune on account of the nasty shoes, Cassim took them before the Cadi of Bagdad. He begged the Cadi to break off any relation Cassim had to his shoes and offer him a certificate declaring his freedom from them. Amused, the Cadi gave Cassim his desired certificate. 

Moral: Behold in this tale to what misfortunes the avaricious subject themselves!    

Greed is a mask. It is a resilient surface that prevents us from seeking the true knowledge of its form. And so, this seemingly funny story of Cassim’s Old Shoes from the Arabian Nights has crucial lessons to teach:-   

Greed Clouds Your Judgment 

There are countless instances of the adversities people have endured, succumbing to their greed. Ambitious organisations encouraged by careless capitalists often neglect their environment and exhaust their workers to widen profit margins. These unethical business practices have started to show their impact on society in the form of global warming, and the rise of mental and physical illnesses.     

Anything in Excess is Harmful 

The unending chase for power, wealth, materialistic possessions is arduous. Although wealth is glorified in films and fiction, the truth is that money does not buy happiness. Therefore, learning the art of balancing can help you keep your desires in check. Exercise moderation not only with regard to money but anything that you might be indulging in excessively. Even personal characteristics such as extraversion must be balanced with tact, and agreeableness with appropriate assertiveness. In the story, Cassim wanted to save his money, however, he failed to do so wisely and subsequently incurred great losses to his wealth.  

Analyse your Greed to Know What You Truly Seek    

Greed comes from wanting more of what you already possess in adequacy. It is important to acknowledge this and get to the root of your greed. Sometimes our desire to own more, springs from feelings of inadequacy. For example, while chasing money, what you might really be seeking, is respect or admiration. However, if you share your wealth with the needy and find ways to give back to the society, these inadequacies could be better addressed. Similarly, if you excel in mathematics, please share your knowledge with fellow students without the fear that doing so will lower your grades.