I’ll take the Nine

In a dream Nasrudin saw himself being counted out coins. When there were nine silver pieces in his hand, the invisible donor stopped giving them.
    Nasrudin shouted, ‘I must have ten!’ so loudly that he woke himself up.
    Finding that all the money had disappeared he closed his eyes again and murmured, ‘All right, then, give them back—I’ll take nine.’

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

Stacks of gold coins

Tie up below!

The Mulla was aboard ship when a terrible storm blew up. All hands were ordered aloft to furl the sails and lash them to the masts.
    Nasrudin ran to the captain, yelling:
    ‘Fools! Anyone can see that the ship moves from below—and your men are trying to bind it up from above!’

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

The Gust of Wind  *oil on canvas  *77 x 63.5 cm  *signed b.l.: W. v. Velde f.  *ca. 1650 - ca. 1707

Adventures in the Desert

When I was in the desert,’ said Nasrudin one day, ‘I caused an entire tribe of horrible and bloodthirsty bedouins to run.’
    ‘However did you do it ?’
    ‘Easy. I just ran, and they ran after me.’

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

A jackal running in the desert.

Instant Reading

A certain famous Fakir was claiming in the village that he could teach an illiterate person to read by a lightning technique.

Nasrudin stepped out of the crowd.

‘Very well, teach me – now.’

The Fakir touched the Mulla’s forehead and said: ‘Now go home immediately and read a book.’

Half an hour later Nasrudin was back in the market-place, clutching a book. The Fakir had gone on his way.

‘Can you read now, Mulla?’ the people asked him.

‘Yes, I can read – but that is not the point. Where is that charlatan?’

‘How can he be a charlatan if he has caused you to read without learning?’

‘Because this book, which is authoritative, says: “All Fakirs are frauds”.’

Caravan of Dreams Idries Shah, Octagon Press

Shakespeare & Co bookstore
By Christine ZeninoFlickr: Shakespeare & Co Books; Paris, CC BY 2.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=20286951


A Neighbour came to Nasrudin for an interpretation on a point of law.
    ‘My cow was gored by your bull. Do I get any compensation?’
    ‘Certainly not. How can a man be held responsible for what an animal does?’
    ‘Just a moment,’ said the crafty villager. ‘I am afraid I got the question back to front. What actually happened was that my bull gored your cow.’
    ‘Ah,’ said the Mulla, ‘this is more involved. I shall have to look up the book of precedents, for there may be other factors involved which are relevant and which could alter the case.’

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

Law book and gavel

How to keep it going

Mulla Nasrudin used to stand in the street on market-days, to be pointed out as an idiot.
    No matter how often people offered him a large and a small coin, he always chose the smaller piece.
    One day a kindly man said to him:
    ‘Mulla, you should take the bigger coin. Then you will have more money and people will no longer be able to make a laughing-stock of you.’
    ‘That might be true,’ said Nasrudin, ‘but if I always take the larger, people will stop offering me money to prove that I am more idiotic than they are. Then I would have no money at all.’

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


Turnips are harder

The Mulla one day decided to take the King some fine turnips which he had grown.
    On the way he met a friend, who advised him to present something more refined, such as figs or olives.
    He bought some figs, and the King, who was in a good humour, accepted them and rewarded him.
    Next week he bought some huge oranges and took them to the palace. But the King was in a bad temper, and threw them at Nasrudin, bruising him.
    As he picked himself up, the Mulla realized the truth. ‘Now I understand,’ he said: ‘people take smaller things rather than heavy ones because when you are pelted it does not hurt so much. If it had been those turnips, I would have been killed.’

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


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