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Mullah Nasruddin (Nasreddin)

A famous collection of stories, which were not necessarily written for children but became children’s favorites, are the stories of Mullah Nasreddin. These short stories, or anecdotes, have a human character as their hero with frequent appearances of his trusty donkey.  This is the name that many children remember hearing about in childhood. Here are a few of the thousands of humorous and thoughtful stories about him.  His identity is being claimed by many countries. 

Hidden Depths

One day Mulla Nasrudin was in the market and saw birds for sale at five hundred reals each. "My bird," he thought, "which is larger than any of these is worth far more." The next day, he took his pet hen to market. Nobody would offer him more than fifity reals for it. The Mulla began to shout:

"O people! This is a disgrace! Yesterday you were selling birds only half this size at ten times the price."

Someone interrupted him: "Nasrudin, those were parrots - talking birds. They are worth more because they talk."

"Fool!" said Nasrudin; "those birds you value only because they can talk. This one, which has wonderful thoughts and yet does not annoy people with chatter, you reject."


Someone brought a compass that he had found and asked Mulla Nasrudin if he knew what it was. Mulla looked at the compass and began to cry. A few minutes later, he stopped crying and began to laugh.

The man asked: "Why did you cry and why are you laughing now?"

Mulla said: "I cried because I thought how stupid you were not to know what a tiny object like this is. Then I laughed, because when I thought about it, I realized that I didn't know what it was either."


Nasrudin was now an old man looking back on his life. He sat with his friends in the tea shop telling his story. "When I was young I was firey - I wanted to awaken everyone. I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to change the world.

In mid-life I awoke one day and realized my life was half over and I had changed no one SO I prayed to Allah to give me the strength to change those close around me who so much needed it.

Alas, now I am old and my prayer is simpler. "Allah," I ask, "please give me the strength to at least change myself."

Take My Hand

One day Mulla Nasrudin saw a crowd gathered around a pond. A Moslem priest with a huge turban on his head had fallen in the water and was calling for help.

People were leaning over and saying, "Give me your hand Reverend! Give me your hand!" But the priest didn't pay attention to their offer to rescue him; he kept wrestling with the water and shouting for help.

Finally Mulla Nasrudin stepped forward: "Let me handle this." He stretched out his hand toward the priest and shouted at him, "Take my hand!"

The priest grabbed Mulla's hand and was hoisted out of the pond. People, very surprised, asked Mulla for the secret of his strategy.

"It is very simple," he replied. "I know this miser wouldn't give anything to anyone. So instead of saying 'Give me your hand,' I said, 'take my hand,' and sure enough he took it."

The Ring

Once, someone requested of Mulla Nasrudin: "Give me your ring as a memento, so that whenever I look at it I will remember you."

"Mulla replied: "You cannot have the ring. But whenever you want to remember me, just look at your finger and remember that I did not give you the ring!"

More Useful

One day Mullah Nasruddin entered his favorite teahouse and said, "The moon is more useful than the sun."  An old man asked, "Why mullah?"  Nasruddin replied, "We need the light more during the night than during the day."

Two Sides of a River

Nasreddin sat on a river bank when someone shouted to him from the opposite side, "Hey! How do I get across?"

"You are across!" Nasruddin shouted back.

It Gave Birth

One day Nasreddin borrows a pan from a neighbor and a few days later returns it back. The owner sees a smaller pan inside the pot as he opens the lid. Puzzled, the man asks Nasreddin what is it doing there.  Mullah replied, "Oh, didn't I tell you, while it was at my place, your pan gave birth to this nice little one". The guy happily accepts this explanation and thanks Nasreddin for taking good care of the mother and the baby.

A while later Nasreddin comes back to that neighbor again and asks to borrow the same pan.  The neighbor, thinking there might be another reward for him in this, happily lends it to Nasreddin. However days pass and nothing is returned.  Eventually he knocks on Nasreddin's door and asks about the pot.  Nasreddin, apparently very upset says, "I know it has been a long time since I borrowed it, but the reason I did not return it back is that your pan is dead.  I did not know how to tell you."

"Oh Nasreddin, come on, how does a pan die!"

"Well, you believed it when it gave birth; why don't you believe it when it dies!"

Eat Dress:

"One day Mullah Nasreddin went to a banquet. As he was dressed rather shabbily, no one let him in. So he ran home, put on his best robe, and returned.  Immediately, the host came over, greeted him, and ushered him to the head of an elaborate banquet table.

When the food was served, Nasreddin pushed his sleeves up to his plate and said, "Eat sleeves, eat!  It's obvious that you're the real guest of honor today, not me!"

Reliable Source

"How old are you, Mullah?"
"But you said that two years ago when I asked."
"That's right.  I always stand by my word!"

To Make the People Stop Talking

One day, Mullah and his son went on a journey.  Mullah preferred to let his son ride the donkey while he walked.  Along the way, they passed some travelers.

"Look at that healthy young boy on the donkey! That's today's youth for you! They have no respect for their elders! He rides while his poor father walks!"

The words made the lad feel very ashamed, and he insisted that his father ride while he walked. So Mullah climbed on the donkey and the boy walked by his side.  Soon they met another group.

"Well, look at that! That poor little boy has to walk while his father rides the donkey," they exclaimed.

This time, Mullah climbed onto the donkey behind his son.

Soon they met another group, who said, "Look at that poor donkey!  He has to carry the weight of two people."

Mullah then told his son, "The best thing is for both of us to walk. Then no one can complain."

So they continued their journey on foot.  Again they met some travelers.

"Just look at those fools. Both of them are walking under this hot sun and neither of them is riding the donkey!"

In exasperation, Mullah  lifted the donkey onto his shoulders and said, "Come on, if we don't do this, it will be impossible to make people stop talking."

Tiger Powder

One day Mullah Nasreddin was sprinkling some powder on the ground around his house.

"Mullah, what are you doing?" a neighbor asked.

"I want to keep the tigers away."

"But there are no tigers within hundreds of miles."

"Effective, isn't it?" Mullah replied.

Donkey's Word

One day a neighbor called on Mullah.

"Mullah, I want to borrow your donkey."

"I'm sorry," Mullah said, "but I've already lent it out."

As soon as he had spoken, the sound of a donkey braying came from Mullah's stable.

"But Mullah, I can hear your donkey in there."

"Shame on you," Mullah said indignantly, "that you would take the word of a donkey over my word."

Questions as Answers

One day Mullah was asked, "How is it that you always answer a question with another question?"

"Do I?" he replied.

The Turkish Bath

One day Mullah went to a Turkish bath but as he was dressed so poorly, the attendants didn't pay much attention to him. They gave him only a scrap of soap, a rag for a loin cloth, and an old towel.

When Mullah left, he gave each of the two attendants a gold coin. As he had not complained of their poor service, they were very surprised. They wondered that if they had treated him better whether he would have given them even a larger tip.

The next week, Mullah came again. This time, they treated him like royalty and gave him embroidered towels and a loin cloth of silk. After being massaged and perfumed, he left the bath, handing each attendant the smallest copper coin possible. "This," said Mullah, "is for the last visit. The gold coins are for today."

Getting Even:

One day Nasruddin repaired tiles on the roof of his house. While Nasruddin was working on the roof, a stranger knocked on the door.

"What do you want?" Nasruddin shouted out.

"Come down," replied the stranger, "so I can tell it."

Nasruddin unwillingly and slowly climbed down the ladder.

"Well!" replied Nasruddin, "What was the important thing?"

"Could you give a little money to this poor old man?" begged the stranger.

Tired, Nasruddin started to climb up the ladder and said, "Follow me up to the roof."

When both Nasruddin and the beggar were up on the roof, Nasruddin said, "The answer is no!"

Two Questions:

Nasruddin opened a booth with a sign above it:

Two Questions On Any Subject Answered For Only 100 Silver Coins

A man who had two very urgent questions handed over his money, saying, "A hundred silver coins is rather expensive for two questions, isn't it?"

"Yes," said Nasruddin, "And the next question, please?"

Small Coins:

Nasruddin 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, "Nasruddin, 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 may be true," said Nasruddin, "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."

Walnuts and Pumpkins:

One hot day, Nasruddin was taking it easy in the shade of a walnut tree. After a time, he started eying speculatively, the huge pumpkins growing on vines and the small walnuts growing on a majestic tree.

"Sometimes I just can't understand the ways of God!" he mused, "Just fancy letting tiny walnuts grow on so majestic a tree and huge pumpkins on the delicate vines!"

Just then a walnut snapped off and fell smack on Mullah Nasreddin's bald head.  He got up at once, and lifting up his hands and face to heavens in supplication, said, "Oh, my God!  Forgive my questioning your ways!  You are all-wise.  Where would I have been now, if pumpkins grew on trees!"

Strength in Young and Old Age:

At a gathering where Mullah Nasruddin was present, people were discussing the merits of youth and old age. They had all agreed that, a man's strength decreases as years go by.  Mullah Nasruddin dissented.

"I don't agree with you gentlemen," he said.  "In my old age I have the same strength as I had in the prime of my youth."

"How do you mean, Mullah Nasruddin?" asked somebody, "Explain yourself."

"In my courtyard," explained Mullah Nasruddin, "there is a massive stone. In my youth I used to try and lift it. I never succeeded. Neither can I lift it now."


One day an illiterate man came to Mullah Nasruddin with a letter he had received.  "Mullah Nasruddin, please read this letter to me."

Mullah Nasruddin looked at the letter, but could not make out a single word. So he told the man. "I am sorry, but I cannot read this." 

The man cried, "For shame, Mullah Nasruddin ! You must be ashamed before the turban you wear [i.e. the sign of education]."

Mullah Nasruddin removed the turban from his own head and placed it on the head of the illiterate man, and said, "There, now you wear the turban.  If it gives some knowledge, read the letter yourself."

Center of the Earth:

One day Mullah Nasruddin was asked, "Could you tell us the exact location of the center of the world?"

"Yes, I can," replied Mullah Nasruddin, "It is just under the left hind of my donkey."

"Well, maybe!" the man replied, "But do you have any proof?"

"If you doubt my word, just measure and see," Mullah Nasruddin answered.

Cooking with Candle:

On a frigid and snowy winter day Mullah Nasruddin was having a chat with some of his friends in the local coffee house. Mullah Nasruddin said that cold weather did not bother him, and in fact, he could stay, if necessary, all night without any heat.

"We'll take you up on that, Mullah Nasruddin," they said. "If you stand all night in the village square without warming yourself by any external means, each of us will treat you to a sumptuous meal. But if you fail to do so, you will treat us all to dinner."

"All right, it's a bet," Mullah Nasruddin said.

That very night, Mullah Nasruddin stood in the village square until morning despite the bitter cold.  In the morning, he ran triumphantly to his friends and told them that they should be ready to fulfill their promise.

"But as a matter of fact you lost the bet, Mullah Nasruddin," said one of them. At about midnight, just before I went to sleep, I saw a candle burning in a window about three hundred yards away from where you were standing. That certainly means that you warmed yourself by it.

"That's ridiculous," Mullah Nasruddin argued. "How can a candle behind a window warm a person three hundred yards away?"

All his protestations were to no avail, and it was decided that Mullah Nasruddin had lost the bet. Mullah Nasruddin accepted the verdict and invited all of them to a dinner that night at his home. They all arrived on time, laughing and joking, anticipating the delicious meal Mullah Nasruddin was going to serve them. But dinner was not ready. Mullah Nasruddin told them that it would be ready in a short time, and left the room to prepare the meal. A long time passed, and still no dinner was served.

Finally, getting impatient and very hungry, they went into the kitchen to see if there was any food cooking at all. What they saw, they could not believe. Mullah Nasruddin was standing by a huge cauldron, suspended from the ceiling. There was a lighted candle under the cauldron.

"Be patient my friends," Mullah Nasruddin told them. "Dinner will be ready soon. You see it is cooking."

"Are you out of your mind, Mullah Nasruddin?" they shouted.  "How could you, with such a tiny flame, boil such a large pot?"

"Your ignorance of such matters amuses me," Mullah Nasruddin said.  If the flame of a candle behind a window three hundred yards away can warm a person, surely the same flame will boil this pot which is only three inches away.

Telling the Future:

Nasruddin was cutting a branch off a tree in his garden one day. While he was sawing, a man passed by in the street and said, "Excuse me, but if you continue to saw that branch like that, you will fall down with it."  He said this because Nasruddin was sitting on the branch and cutting the end of the branch.  Nasruddin said nothing.  He thought, "This is some foolish person who has no work to do but go around telling other people what to do and what not to do."

The man continued on his way.

Of course, after a few minutes, the branch fell and Nasruddin fell with it.

"My God!" he cried. "That man knows the future!"  He ran after him to ask how long he was going to live.  But the man had already gone.

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