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

Statement and Belief

One day, while he was Imam, Nasrudin forgot the text of his sermon and blurted out:

‘Allah created the world in six months!’

Later, a scholar came to correct the mistake:

‘The Qur’an states that it took just six days to create the world.’

‘Listen, brother,’ replied the Mulla, ‘you and I know that that is the case, but there is no way that a flock as illiterate as mine is going to believe that!’

The World of Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

The World

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

If I were You

One winter Nasrudin rode high into the mountains in search of firewood. After a day of exhausting work, he finally had enough branches piled on his donkey to return home. But soon, he could stand the biting cold no longer. Thanking God for the fact that he at least had wood for a fire, he set light to the bundles on the donkey’s back. With a bray of alarm, the beast galloped off at full speed.

‘If I were you,’ Nasrudin hollered after the animal, ‘I’d jump in the nearest river!’

The World of Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

A river in the winter

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