One day, Nasrudin’s wife went into the kitchen and lit the stove. She then went to get some water from the well. Re-entering the house, she thought she heard her husband calling for her, but he was nowhere to be seen. Going back into the kitchen, she realized that the screams were coming from the oven. She opened the oven door and Nasrudin rolled out.

‘What on earth are you doing in the oven?’ asked the surprised woman.

‘I was hiding from the call to prayer,’ grumbled the Mulla, patting the flames from his coat. ‘But now you’ve opened the oven door I can hear the voice of the muezzin and am obliged to go to the mosque.’

The World of Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

Mosque in Isfahan

Offensive Explanations

The King decided to test Nasrudin’s wit.

‘I have thought of a tricky problem for you, Mulla. See if you can offend me in such a way that your explanation will be a hundred times worse than the original faux-pas.’

Nasrudin agreed. Several days later, the two men were out walking when Nasrudin grabbed the King by the beard and kissed him on the mouth.

‘What on earth are you doing?’ spluttered the horrified monarch.

‘Forgive me, Your Magesty,’ replied the Mulla. ‘For a moment I confused you with your wife.’

The World of Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press

By James Steakley – photographed in the Theodelinda Chapel of the cathedral of Monza, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5403306

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

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