Once on Dry Land

Nasrudin and his son were out fishing when a whirlwind appeared on the horizon.

‘God,’ pleaded the Mulla, ‘spare our flimsy craft and I will reward a needy man with a camel the size of a house!’

‘Father, how will you find a camel that large?’

‘I will worry about that once we are on dry land.’

The World of Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

A fishing boat on the shore

House Calls

Nasrudin was collecting firewood in the mountains. He was cursing himself for having travelled so far from home without having thought to pack anything to eat, when a stranger appeared and cried:

‘My brother is very ill. Where can I find a doctor?’

‘I am a doctor,’ replied Nasrudin, and he was immediately led to the patient’s house. On entering, he was given a large bowl of pulao and a pot of green tea. When he had finished his meal, he turned his attention to the sick man.

‘Cover him with more blankets and place his feet in iced water,’ he told the patient’s wife before leaving the house.

He had hardly gone a few yards when the man caught up with him.

‘So much for your medical advice! My brother has just expired!’

‘That is unfortunate,’ replied Nasrudin, ‘but look on the bright side. If I had not had that pulao, I might have died too.’

The World of Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

A donkey with a load of firewood

Different Paths

You are a great mystic,’ said one of Nasrudin’s pupils. ‘Surely you will know why men take different paths through life instead of all following one true path.’

‘Simple,’ replied his teacher. ‘If everyone followed the same path, we would all end up in the same place, the balance of the world would be tipped, and we would all be thrown into the ocean.’

The World of Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

The ocean

In my Own Time

The Angel of Death came to Nasrudin one day and announced:

‘Your time has come, Mulla! Prepare to be taken to the other world.’ Trembling and shaking with fear, his face as white as a sheet, Nasrudin managed to choke out a few words:

‘My life has been spent blaspheming, and generally poking fun of religion at every possible opportunity. But I am a Muslim, and wish that I could have one last chance to prove that all my past misdemeanours are deeply regretted.’

‘What chance do you want?’ asked the angel.

‘If I could be spared the time to perform five prayers before my death,’ sighed Nasrudin, ‘I am sure I would go peacefully on my way.’

‘Very well,’ replied the angel, ‘I will return this time tomorrow when you have performed your five prayers.’ And he disappeared. Next day he arrived at the appointed time.

‘You have had your extra day of life, Nasrudin. Now you must come with me.’

‘Did you not promise to allow me to perform my five prayers before my death?’

‘That is so.’

‘Well I have performed only two.’

‘And when will you say the rest?’

‘In my own time.’

The World of Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

The Angel of Death

No Consideration

Nasrudin rushed home one evening and called his wife.

‘I have invited the judge and his wife for supper and they will be arriving any moment! Go and bake some pies.’

‘You never consider me,’ grumbled his wife. ‘I have spent the whole day cleaning and I am exhausted. And anyway, we have very little flour left.’

‘Then make the pies very small,’ replied Nasrudin.

The World of Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

Russian Pies

Can Good Turns Be Accidental?

Nasrudin’s donkey ran towards a pool to drink. The sides were very steep, and it was just about to over-balance and fall in when frogs began to croak loudly from the water.

This so frightened the ass that it reared up, and by this means was able to save itself.

Nasrudin threw a handful of money into the water, crying,

‘Frogs, you did me a good turn. Here is something for you to celebrate with.’

The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

Frogs in a pond

The forester

The forester was rather surprised to see such an unlikely figure as Nasrudin applying for a job.

‘I’ll give you a chance,’ he said, ‘although you don’t look the type who could fell trees. Take this axe and chop down as many trees as you can from that plantation.’

After three days Nasrudin reported to him.

‘How many trees have you felled?’

‘All the trees in the plantation.’

The forester looked, and sure enough there were no trees left. Nasrudin had done as much work as would be expected from thirty men.

‘But where did you learn to chop trees at that rate?’

‘In the Sahara desert.’

‘But there aren’t any trees in the Sahara!’

‘No, there aren’t now,’ said Nasrudin.

The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

Stacked logs

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