Literate Donkey

The King grew tired of Nasrudin’s habit of bringing his donkey with him to Court.

‘From this day on,’ he ruled, ‘no illiterate may show his face in my presence. Unless you can teach your donkey to read, Mulla, I command you to keep him out of the palace.’

For three weeks Nasrudin appeared before the King without his beast, but at the end of this time he arrived and led the animal up to the royal throne.

‘Is your mind so feeble that you have already forgotten my decree?’ bellowed the King.

‘With your permission, Sire, I will demonstrate that this donkey can read.’

In need of a little entertainment, the monarch gave his consent. Whereupon Nasrudin produced the Qur’an and placed it on the ground in front of the donkey. Sure enough, the animal leafed through the pages with his tongue and, reaching the end of the Holy Book, the creature began to bray loudly.

‘I trust Your Majesty is satisfied,’ said the Mulla.

‘Not until you tell me how you performed this miraculous act,’ demanded the Sovereign.

‘It was easy,’ said Nasrudin, ‘I trained my beast by covering each page with oats. Each time I offered him the book, he ate the oats and turned the page in search of more. After three weeks, he has come to associate the Qur’an with food. Now he brays because, for all his licking and searching, he cannot find his meal.’

‘This exercise proves nothing!’ replied the King.

‘Forgive me, Majesty, but I must disagree: it proves that one can teach any dumb animal to read.’

The World of Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

A funny looking donkey

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