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.
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
"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."
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
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."
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!"
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
Sides of a River
Nasreddin sat on a river bank when
someone shouted to him from the opposite side, "Hey! How do I get
"You are across!" Nasruddin shouted
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
"Well, you believed it when it gave
birth; why don't you believe it when it dies!"
"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
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!"
"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
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
"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."
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.
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
"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."
One day Mullah was asked, "How is it
that you always answer a question with another question?"
"Do I?" he replied.
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."
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
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!"
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,
"Yes," said Nasruddin, "And the next question, please?"
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."
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!"
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
"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
"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."
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
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
"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.
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
"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