All I needed was Time

The Mulla bought a donkey. Someone told him that he would have to give it a certain amount of food every day.
    This he considered to be too much. He would experiment, he decided, to get it used to less food. Each day, therefore, he reduced its rations.
    Eventually, when the donkey was reduced to almost no food at all, it fell over and died.
    ‘Pity,’ said the Mulla. ‘If I had had a little more time before it died I could have got it accustomed to living on nothing at all.’

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

A donkey in a field


The King sent a private mission around the countryside to find a modest man who could be appointed a judge. Nasrudin got wind of it.
    When the delegation, posing as travellers, called on him, they found
that he had a fishing-net draped over his shoulders.
    ‘Why, pray,’ one of them asked, ‘do you wear that net?’
    ‘Merely to remind myself of my humble origins, for I was once a fisherman.’
    Nasrudin was appointed judge on the strength of this noble sentiment.
    Visiting his court one day, one of the officials who had first seen him asked: ‘What happened to your net, Nasrudin?’
    ‘There is no need of a net, surely,’ said the Mulla-Judge, ‘once the fish has been caught.’

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

A fish being caught in a net

A Way with Words

A gang of burglars, awaiting trial, were worried by the severe sentences being handed out in court.

‘We need a man to represent us so eloquently that no judge could convict us,’ said their leader. Remembering Nasrudin’s way with words, he engaged him as their lawyer.

The Mulla appeared in court the next day and delivered a defence so convincing that all in the court-house were sure that the men were innocent. Nasrudin had put so much energy into his performance that he started to sweat. Seconds before the judge ordered the release of the defendants, their counsel could stand the heat no longer. Removing his coat, he asked the guards to lock it in a cell.

‘Why do you want your coat locked up?’ asked the judge.

‘If those men are to be set free,’ replied the Mulla, ‘I want to make sure my coat is in a safe place.’

The World of Nasrudin Idries Shah, Octagon Press


The Law is the Law

Mulla Nasrudin studied law under a tutor.

Since he had no money to pay for his lessons, the arrangement was that he would pay his fees as soon as he won a case.

But Nasrudin did not practice as an advocate.

The Tutor took the Mulla to court.

Nasrudin said, when the complaint was being heard:

‘Your honour. If I win the case, claiming that my tutor need not be paid — he will not get his money.’

‘If, on the other hand, I lose, I shall not have to pay him, because I will not have won a case yet: he will not get his money.’

‘What other result is possible?’ asked the confused judge.

‘Case dismissed,’ said Mulla Nasrudin.

Caravan Of Dreams Idries Shah, Octagon Press

A court room


‘What is your house like inside?’

‘Very nice, Mulla, but there is no sunshine in it.’

‘Is there no sunshine anywhere near you?’

‘Yes, the garden has plenty.’

‘Then why don’t you move your house into it?’

Caravan of Dreams Idries Shah, Octagon Press

Sunshine in a garden


A scientist and a logician had met Nasrudin and wrangled with him as they walked along a road. Nasrudin was hard-pressed. The scientist said: ‘I cannot accept anything as existing unless I carry out a test, or unless I see it with my own eyes.’ The logician said: ‘I cannot attempt anything unless I have worked it out in theory beforehand.’
    Suddenly Nasrudin knelt down and started to pour something into a lake beside the road.
    ‘What are you doing?’ they asked together.
    ‘You know how yogurt multiplies when you put it into milk? Well, I am adding a little yogurt to this water.’
    ‘But you can’t make yogurt that way!’
    ‘I know, I know … but – just supposing it takes!’

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

'Distillatio', scene in an alchemist laboratory

The value of a desire

Nasrudin had a buffalo whose horns were very wide apart. He had often thought that if he could mount between them, it would be just like sitting on a throne.
    One day the animal sat down near him and he simply had to sit between the horns. He could not resist the temptation. The buffalo almost immediately stood up and tossed him.
    His wife, finding him lying on the ground stunned, began to cry.
    ‘Weep not!’ said the Mulla, as he came round. ‘I have had my suffering, but at least I have also attained my desire.’

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


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