This Eid With Mulla Nasruddin

The Tale of the Stupid Oaf (retold by Nasruddin)

AS I was saying, beloveds, I moved to Tekka’s village permanently, which means my stay there was longer than usual. I rented a little apartment, and met the landlord to look it over and get the key (that’s yet another story!). The landlord pointed out that the door was very special, and added just a tiny amount to the rent, because, he said, this type of door was in great demand. The special effect was that it was a two-way door: you could go out as well as in! Believe me, I was impressed. I suspected the window might also be special, and what do you know…I was right! The window was also a special two-way window: you could see out as well as in.

“That’s wonderful!” I told the landlord, and took it, because the rent was really very reasonable. As soon as I had moved in (this process involved laying my little pack in the corner), I went to find the most important person in the village. I wanted to know what the local customs were, the rules of the village, and so on, so I could be a good citizen.

The most important person was a man (today that might not be the case) who lived near the center of the village. I went to him and said,

“Oh honored sir, I beg of you a few minutes to enlighten me. I have just moved to this village, and wish to know the customs and rules so I may be a good citizen.”

The important person cleared his throat impatiently, and said, “I have much important work to do! I have no time for you! But I am passing by your house at two o’clock. Meet me then.”

“You know where I live?” I was amazed at his omniscience.

“I own the building,” he said gruffly.

“Two o’clock, then!” I replied, and I went to the market to buy some vegetables. I bought a few vegetables for my dinner: carrots, onions, beet greens, and my favorite…lentils! Then I found a comfortable tree in the square and sat down to watch the people in the marketplace.

I felt a little drowsy, but kept myself awake, until I didn’t. I woke with a start, and saw that the shadows were long; the sun was low, and it was very late. I jumped up and ran to my apartment as fast as I could. There I found someone had taken a piece of white stone and scratched on my door, “STUPID OAF.”

I hurried to the important person’s place, and bowed low, and told him,

“Oh, sir, I am so sorry I missed our appointment. I remembered it, though, as soon as I saw you had written your name on my door!”

Two Questions (Retold By Nasruddin)

It came to be that I was a mulla. This was when I was much younger. Now a mulla is an interesting job. A mulla is a teacher, a preacher, and a judge. I studied the Q’uran, and became quite familiar with the Sharia, the traditional Islamic laws, and began my time as a mulla in a little village in a far corner of the country.

Now a mulla is considered a wise man, and for some reason, the villagers considered me one. They would ask me questions concerning aspects of their lives in which I was not expert at all.

“Oh, Mulla Nasruddin, please tell me what I should do about my daughter!”

“I’m sorry, sister, but you must work that out for yourself. I don’t have a daughter, so I cannot tell you anything useful.”

“Mulla Nasruddin! My business is in terrible trouble! What should I do?”

“Brother,you see I don’t have a business, so I cannot tell you anything useful.”

“But you are such a wise man, Mulla Nasruddin! Please help me, please!”

“All right, here’s what you should do…”

“Yes? Yes?” the man asked eagerly.

“Pray to Allah for wisdom.”

He was not so happy with this answer. I think he had already tried that and found that Allah no matter how much wisdom Allah provided, he would not be able to do much with it himself.

Finally the situation got completely out of hand. People began to pester me with questions night and day. I was sleeping in the starlight on my roof, and a pebble hit me on the forehead. On reflection, it was more of a stone than a pebble. I feared it might have done permanent damage. I looked over the edge, and there in the street was a man looking up. “Mulla Nasruddin, are you asleep?”

“I find it hard to sleep when stones are falling from Heaven,” I said.

“It was only a little pebble, Mulla, besides, I have a question.”

“Brother, it is the middle of the night!”

“My question is very important, or I would not have disturbed you. Please come down and we can discuss it.”

“Just give me the gist of it, and I’ll ponder it on my way down.”

“I need to know, Mulla Nasruddin, should I tell a prospective buyer that my donkey is sick?”

“I don’t need to come down for that one. Of course you should! Honesty is required of you. And as it is also required of me, I tell you honestly that question could have waited till morning; go home!”

So it was, day and night, I couldn’t even brush my teeth without being interrupted with questions. I brandished my miswak, my tooth-brushing twig, but somehow no one was frightened.

Finally I hit upon a solution. Beside my door I put a sign that said in large letters, “Two questions for $100.”

Peace at last! Days went by with no questions; it was lovely. But finally a rich man came to my door with a bag of gold hanging from his belt.

“Nasruddin!” he called out. I came to the door. “May I help you?”

“You are fortunate today,” he said. “I have plenty of money.”

“You are the fortunate one,”I replied.

“I can afford your two questions,” he said, and raised one eyebrow. I have always wished I could do that.

“So we are both fortunate,” I said .

“Indeed,” the man said. “But, don’t you think one hundred dollars is a little expensive for just two questions?”

“Yes it is,” I replied. “And what is your second question?”

The First Banquet (retold by Nasruddin)

One day, it happened that someone said something to someone, who said something to someone else, who somehow formed the impression I was an important person. The result of this chain of folly was that I was invited to be the guest of honor at a banquet.

I was puzzled but honored to be given such an invitation. At the appointed day I presented myself at the door of the banquet hall. I had walked all day in my usual simple garb to get to the city in which the banquet was being held, and I suppose I could have used some freshening up. At any rate, the guards at the door took one look at me and barred the door.

“But I’m Nasruddin, the guest of honor!”

“Of course you are!” the guards laughed. One bent toward me and said, “And I am the caliph himself!” At which they both roared with laughter. Still chuckling, they said, “Go away, old man, and don’t let us see you here again!”

I obliged them with the first part of their request. The banquet hall was located on the city square, and I recognized a friend’s house on the opposite side. I walked there and knocked. My friend answered.

“Nasruddin!” he embraced me and we gave each other warm greetings and gratitude to Allah, glorious and merciful is He, for this meeting. I came right to the point.

“Do you remember that red brocade coat you wanted to give me last year?” I asked.

“Certainly! It still hangs in my closet, waiting for you. Are you ready to receive it?”

“With gratitude,” I replied. “Do you have other plans for it?”

“What do you mean, Nasruddin?” he asked.

“I just wondered if you would like the coat back after I have borrowed it?”

“Oh, no, Nasruddin! It is yours to keep and do with what you wish!”

“Just so, my friend. Thank you.” I visited for a brief while, then received the coat and put it on. I made my apologies and departed back across the square, adorned with a dazzling brocade coat with gold brade and colored stones lining the epaulets. The buttons were ivory, the fastenings were jet black. All in all, I was a wonderful sight.

The guards bowed low at my approach, and ushered me into the banquet hall. The table was richly laid, and all the guests were there. Someone showed me to a seat at the head of the table, and announced “The august, the wise, the true Nasruddin!” I sat, and everyone else sat at the same moment.

They all watched expectantly, waiting to see what the guest of honor would do. The first course was soup. When it was served, all eyes were on me. I picked up my bowl of soup and stood, holding it high. Then I poured the soup down the front of my coat.

The guests were astounded. A gasp arose so that the air was almost sucked from the room. Then they broke into remonstrations and shouts. “What are you doing! What are you thinking!”

When it was quiet enough so I could speak, I addressed my coat. “O coat, I hope you have enjoyed that delicious soup. It is clear that it is you who are welcome here, not I!”

The Loan Request

Nasrudin struck up a conversation with a stranger.

At one point, he asked, “So how’s business?”

“Great,” the other replied.

“Then can I borrow ten dollars?”

“No. I don’t know you well enough to lend you money,”.

“That’s strange,” replied Nasrudin. “Where I used to live, people wouldn’t lend me money because they knew me; and now that I’ve moved here, people won’t lend me money because they don’t know me!“

The Moving Friend

“Nasrudin,” a friend said one day, “I’m moving to another village. Can I have your ring? That way, I will remember you every time I look at it?”

“Well,” replied Nasrudin, “you might lose the ring and then forget about me. How about I don’t give you a ring in the first place—that way, every time that you look at your finger and don’t see a ring, you’ll definitely remember me.”

Sack of Vegetables

Nasrudin snuck into someone’s garden and began putting vegetable in his sack. The owner saw him and shouted, “What are you doing in my garden?”

“The wind blew me here,” Nasrudin confidently responded.

“That sounds like bull to me,” was the reply, “but let’s assume that the wind did blow you here. Now then, how can you explain how those vegetables were pulled out from my garden?”

“Oh, that’s simple,” Nasrudin explained. “I had to grab them to stop myself from being thrown any further by the wind.”

“Well,” the man continued, “then tell me this—how did the vegetables get in your sack?”

“You know what,” Nasrudin said, “I was just standing here and wondering that same thing myself!“

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