Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Mulla Nasruddin

(706–786 AH/1306–1384 CE)

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Nasruddin went to a shop to buy a trouser. Then he changed his mind and chose a cloak instead at the same price. Picking up the cloak he left the shop.
“You have not paid!” shouted the merchant.
“I left you the trouser which were of the same value as the cloak.”
“But you didn’t pay for the trouser either.”
“Of course not,” said the Mulla, “why should I pay for something that I didn’t want to buy?”

Nasruddin went to a tailor’s shop to buy a new shirt. The tailor measured him and said, “Come back in a week, and—if Allah wills—your shirt will be ready.”
A week later the Mulla went back to the shop. “There has been a delay,” said the tailor, “but—if Allah wills—your shirt will be ready tomorrow.”
The following day Nasruddin returned. “I’m sorry,” said the tailor, “it’s not quite finished. Try tomorrow, and—if Allah wills—it will be ready.”
“How long will it take,” asked the Mulla, “if you leave Allah out of it?”

Nasruddin was invited by the Sultan. The night before went to the court, he equerried that the Sultan would ask him how long he had lived, how long he had studied to become a Mulla, and whether he was happy about the taxation and the people’s welfare.
He memorized his answers, but in the court Sultan started with the second question.
“How long have you studied, Mulla?”
“Forty years, Your Majesty.”
“How old are you, then?”
“Twelve years.”
“This is impossible! Which of us is mad?”
“Both, Your Majesty.”

A group of men took eggs to a Turkish bath where Nasruddin was expected. When he came into the steam room, they said, “Let us imagine that we are chickens, and see whether we can lay eggs. The one who fails shall pay the bath fee for all.”
Nasruddin agreed.
After a little cackling, each one took an egg from behind and held it out. Then they asked the Mulla for his contribution.
“Among so many hens,” said Nasruddin, “there will surely be one cock!”

Every Thursday morning, Nasruddin arrived in a market town with an excellent donkey which he sold. The price which he asked was far below the value of the animal.
One day a rich donkey-merchant approached him. “I can’t understand how you do it, Mulla. I sell donkeys at the lowest possible price. My servants force farmers to give me fodder free. My slaves look after my donkeys without wages. But I can’t match your prices.”
“Quite simple,” said Nasruddin. “You steal fodder and labor. I merely steal donkey.”

A foreigner brought a duck as a gift for Nasruddin. The Mulla cooked the duck and shared it with the guest.
The following day another visitor came and said, “I’m a friend of the one who gave you the duck.” Nasruddin welcomed him and fed him too.
One day a stranger came and said, “I’m the friend of the friend of the man who brought you the duck.” The Mulla asked his wife to bring the soup. When the guest tasted it, it seemed to be nothing more than warm water.
“What kind of soup is this?” asked the guest.
“That’s the soup of the soup of the duck,” said Nasruddin.

A philosopher had an appointment to meet Nasruddin, but when he came to the Mulla’s house the door was closed. Infuriated, the philosopher wrote STUPID on the door.
When Nasruddin returned home and saw this, he rushed to the philosopher’s house and said to him, “I apologize, I really forgot. But I remembered the appointment as soon as I saw that you had left your name on my door.”

A philosopher asked Nasruddin, “How many stars are in the heavens?”
“As many as the hair on my donkey’s tail,” replied the Mulla.
“How many hairs are on the tail of your donkey?”
“As many as the hair in your beard.”
“And how can you prove that, Mulla?”
“Easy. If you have no objection, I’ll pull one hair from your beard for each hair you pull out of my donkey’s tail. If both hair are not the same, then I will admit to have been mistaken.”

Nasruddin entered the teahouse and said, “The Moon in fact is more useful than the Sun.”
“Why, Mulla?”
“We need the light more during the night than during the day.”

Nasruddin one day boasted in the teahouse, “I can see in the dark.”
“If that’s so, why do we often see you carrying the torch through the streets?”
“Only to prevent other people from colliding with me.”

Nasruddin went to a castle to collect for zakat. “Tell your master,” he said to the doorkeeper, “that Mulla Nasruddin is here and asks for money.”
The man went into the building, then came out again. “My master is out,” he said.
“Let me give you a message for him,” said Nasruddin. “Next time he goes out, he should not leave his head at the window. Someone might steal it!”

Nasruddin nearly fell into a pool when a man saved him. Every time the man met Nasruddin after that, he reminded the Mulla of the service which he had performed.
When this had happened several times, Nasruddin took him to the water, jumped in, stood with his head just above water and shouted, “Now I’m as wet as I would have been if you had not saved me. Leave me alone.”

Nasruddin and his wife came home one day to find the house burgled. Everything portable had been taken away. “It’s your fault,” said his wife, “for you should have made sure that our house was locked before we left.”
Their neighbors took up the chant. “You didn’t lock the windows,” said one. “Why did you not expect this?” said another. “The lock were faulty and you didn’t replace them,” said the third.
“Just a moment,” said Nasruddin, “surely I’m not the only one to blame.”
“And who should we blame?” they shouted.
“What about the thieves?” said the Mulla.

Nasruddin and a friend were thirsty and stopped at a cafe for a drink. They decided to share a glass of milk.
“You drink your half first,” said the friend, “because I have some sugar just enough for one. I shall add this to my share later.”
“Add it now,” said the Mulla, “and I will drink only my half.”
“Certainly not. There’s only enough sugar to sweeten half a glass of milk.”
Nasruddin went to the cafe’s owner, and came back with a packet of salt.
“I drink first as agreed,” he said, “and I want my milk with salt.”

A neighbor came to Nasruddin to borrow some wheat. He lamented that he had fifty pounds of wheat, but before he could use the wheat, the mice had eaten it.
“What a coincidence in reverse,” said the Mulla, “I had fifty pounds of wheat too, but I consumed the wheat before the mice could get it.”

A neighbor came to Nasruddin to borrow his donkey.
“I’m sorry,” said the Mulla, “I have already lent it out.”
Suddenly the sound of donkey came from Nasruddin’s stable.
“But Mulla, I can hear the donkey, in there!”
“A man who believes the word of a donkey than my word doesn’t deserve to be lent anything!” said the Mulla.

A neighbor came to Nasruddin. “My cow was gored by your bull. Do I get any compensation?”
“Certainly not,” said the Mulla, “how can a man be held responsible for what an animal does?”
“Just a moment,” said the neighbor, “what actually happened was that my bull gored your cow.”
“Ah,” said Nasruddin, “I shall look up the book of precedents, for there may be other factors involved which are relevant and which could alter the case.”

A man received a letter in Persian and he was unable to read it. He brought the letter to Nasruddin, but the Mulla said that he too couldn’t speak Persian.
The man said, “You wear such a turban of a learned man, but you can’t read a letter.”
Nasruddin took off his turban and said to the man, “If it’s skill of a turban, then put it and read your letter yourself.”

Nasruddin decided to learn the music. He went to a musician and asked, “How much do you charge to teach lute-playing?”
“Three silver pieces for the first month. After that, one silver piece a month.”
“Excellent!” said Nasruddin. “I shall begin with the second month.”

In a boat, a philosopher asked Nasruddin, “Have you ever learned philosophy?”
“Then half of your life has been wasted.”
A few minutes later, Nasruddin asked the philosopher, “Have you ever learned how to swim?”
“Then all your life is wasted. We are sinking!”

Nasruddin came to a banquet party. When the host saw the Mulla in ragged cloak, he seated him in the corner. Nobody came to serve him. The waiters were busy at serving the important people.
The Mulla went home to dressed himself with a beautiful cloak, and with a turban he returned to the feast. The host hailed Nasruddin and seated him to the place next to Emir. A dish of wonderful food was instantly placed before him. Soon Nasruddin took all the food and rubbed it into his cloak and his turban.
The host puzzled and said, “Your eating habit is really unusual, Mulla.”
“In fact my dress got me here. Surely my cloak and my turban deserve the food,” replied the Mulla.

Nasruddin borrowed a cauldron pot from a rich man. When the Mulla returned it, he took a tiny pot identical to the cauldron from his pocket and said to the rich man, “Your cauldron has given birth to this baby pot.”
“Oh, this little baby resembles his mother and he must be here with her,” exclaimed the rich man by handle the little pot and kept it in his house.
A few days later, Nasruddin came again to borrow the cauldron.
The next day Nasruddin rushed into the rich man with a frowning face and declared, “Effendi, what a bad news! Your pot has just passed away.”
“Nonsense! How can a pot die?”
“If a pot can conceive and deliver a little baby pot, why are you declining to accept that it could also die?” retorted the Mulla.

A learned man came to Nasruddin to test him. “Mulla, I have three questions for you. First, when is the best time to eat?”
“Anytime if you’re rich,” the Mulla answered, “but if you’re poor, whenever you can get hold of food.”
“Second, to which side we must turn when bathing in the sea?”
“To the side where your clothes are.”
“Last question, Mulla. Why a fish cannot talk in water?”
“Neither could you, if you’re under the water.”

When Nasruddin heard that his donkey was lost, he kept repeating, “Praise be to Allah. Praise be to Allah.”
The people asked, “Why are you thanking Allah, Mulla?”
The Mulla answered, “I’m grateful to Allah that I wasn’t on the donkey. Otherwise, I would be lost too.”

“Allah’s wisdom is infinite,” remarked Nasruddin.
The friends asked, “Can you explain it more detailed, Mulla?”
“Imagine if camels had wings and could fly, they would settle on people’s roofs and every house would be in ruins.”

Nasruddin was invited to give a discource to the inhabitants of a nearby village. He mounted the pulpit and began, “O people, do you know what I am about to tell you?”
The villagers shouted, “No.”
“In this case,” said Nasruddin, “I shall abstain from trying to instruct such an ignorant community.”
The following week, the villagers invited him again. He began, “O people, do you know what I am about to say?”
The villagers replied, “Yes.”
“In this case,” said the Mulla, “there is no need for me to say more.”
On a third occasion, he began again, “O people, do you know what I am about to tell you?”
Some of the villagers answered “Yes”, and some of them answered “No”.
“In this case,” said Nasruddin, “let those who know tell those who don’t.”

Nasruddin went to the mosque and sat down. His shirt was rather short and the man behind him pulled it lower, thinking it looked unseemly. Nasruddin immediately pulled on the shirt of the man in front of him.
“What are you doing?” asked the man in front.
“Don’t ask me. Ask the man behind—he started it.”

Nasruddin was praying in the mosque at the end of a row of the faithful. Suddenly one said, “I wonder whether I have left the fire burning at home.”
His neighbor said, “You’ve broken your prayer.”
“So have you,” said the next man.
“Praise be to Allah,” said the Mulla, “that I haven’t broken my prayer.”

Nasruddin supervised the building of his own tomb. At last, the mason came for his money.
“It’s not complete yet,” said the Mulla.
“Whatever more can be done with it?”
“We still have to supply the body.”

“When I die,” said Nasruddin, “have me buried in an old grave.”
“Why?” asked his relatives.
“Because when Munkar and Nakir come, they conclude that this grave has been counted already.”***


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