Nasrudin was passing through the Land of Fools one day, on donkey-back. On the road he passed two local worthies, plodding along on foot. ‘Good morning,’ said the Mulla.
    ‘I wonder why he spoke to me, and not you?’ one of the fools said to the other.
    ‘You idiot, it’s me that he spoke to – not you!’
    Soon they were scuffling on the ground. But then it struck them both at once that they could run after Nasrudin and ask him to settle the question. They jumped up and scampered after him.
    ‘Which of us were you saying “Good morning” to?’
    The Mulla said:
    ‘The greater of the two fools!’
    ‘That’s definitely me!’ said the first fool.
    ‘Nonsense, it’s obviously me!’ said the other.
    Nasrudin left them struggling in the dust.

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

A funny looking donkey

Tyranny of the majority

At one point in his life, the entire population of his village had had enough of the pleasantries and confusions of Mulla Nasrudin.
    They all went to the magistrate, and he gave a ruling:
    ‘Nasrudin, by the will of the people I have to declare that you must leave the village.’
    ‘Are they unanimous?’ asked the Mulla.
    ‘Yes, I am afraid so.’
    ‘Then I refuse to go. There are plenty of them – and only one of me. If they don’t like the village as it is, they can leave and build another one. But I, a single individual, how can I even start to build one small house for myself elsewhere?’

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

An empty street

Which is my half?

Nasrudin and a friend were thirsty, and stopped at a café for a drink. They decided to share a glass of milk.
    ‘You drink your half first,’ said the friend, ‘because I have some sugar here, just enough for one. I shall add this to my share of the milk and drink it.’
    ‘Add it now,’ said the Mulla, ‘and I will drink only my half.’
    ‘Certainly not. There is only enough sugar to sweeten half a glass of milk.’
    Nasrudin went to the owner of the café, and came back with a large packet of salt.
    ‘Good news, friend,’ he said, ‘I am drinking first, as agreed, and I want my milk with salt.’

The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

Bonneville salt flats

How to catch Nasrudin

‘If you want your donkey to move faster, Nasrudin’, said a neighbour, ‘get some ammonia and rub it on its rump.’
    Nasrudin found that this worked.
    One day, feeling a little listless, he tried the same remedy on himself.
    The ammonia burned him so much that he started to run round and round his room.
    ‘What’s the matter?’ shouted his wife, unable to get a hold of him.
    ‘If you want to catch me, use the contents of that bottle over there,’ panted Mulla Nasrudin.

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

A Donkey

I believe you are right!

The Mulla was made a magistrate. During his first case the plaintiff argued so persuasively that he exclaimed:
    ‘I believe you are right!’
    The clerk of the Court begged him to restrain himself, for the defendant had not been heard yet.
    Nasrudin was so carried away by the eloquence of the defendant that he cried out as soon as the man had finished his evidence:
    ‘I believe you are right!’
    The clerk of the court could not allow this.
    ‘Your honour, they cannot both be right.’
    ‘I believe you are right!’ said Nasrudin.

The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

A court room

The Sermon of Nasrudin

One day the villagers thought they would play a joke on Nasrudin. As he was supposed to be a holy man of some indefinable sort, they went to him and asked him to preach a sermon in their mosque. He agreed.
    When the day came, Nasrudin mounted the pulpit and spoke:
    ‘0 people! Do you know what I am going to tell you?’
    ‘No, we do not know,’ they cried.
    ‘Until you know, I cannot say. You are too ignorant to make a start on,’ said the Mulla, overcome with indignation that such ignorant people should waste his time. He descended from the pulpit and went home.
    Slightly chagrined, a deputation went to his house again, and asked
him to preach the following Friday, the day of prayer.
    Nasrudin started his sermon with the same question as before. This time the congregation answered, as one man:
    ‘Yes, we know.’
    ‘In that case,’ said the Mulla, ‘there is no need for me to detain you longer. You may go.’ And he returned home.
    Having been prevailed upon to preach for the third Friday in succession, he started his address as before:
    ‘Do you know or do you not?’
    The congregation was ready.
    ‘Some of us do, and others do not.’
    ‘Excellent,’ said Nasrudin, ‘then let those who know communicate their knowledge to those who do not.’
    And he went home.

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

Golestan Palace

Live Long and Prosper

When Tamerlane found his treasurer guilty of embezzlement, he had him executed and engaged Nasrudin as the man’s replacement.

But it was not long before a palace aide informed the King that his new appointee was distributing money to the poor. Much enraged, the ruler summoned the treasurer.

‘Do you want to end up swinging from the scaffold like your predecessor?’

‘Surely you would not hang a man who is simply trying to lengthen your stay on Earth,’ replied Nasrudin.

‘How will robbing my coffers earn me longer life?’ asked Tamerlane.

‘As I hand money to the poor and needy, I ask them to pray that our esteemed monarch will live long and prosper. If we did not pay for prayers in this way, who would enlist Allah’s help in keeping you alive for another day?’

The World of Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

Treasure Chest

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