Nasreddin Hodja

Nasreddin (or rather, Juha) and the Poem

At some point in time, the Emir got it into his head that he was a poet. After working for many days and nights, he completes the poem, and asks Juha, a noted scholar of poetry, if he would come to the recital. Juha of course could not refuse.

After the Emir had completed reciting the poem, he asked Juha for his opinion. “Are you sure, Sir?” asked Juha, cautiously. Oblivious, the Emir said, “Of course, that’s why I brought you here!” “All right then,” Juha replied, “If it pleases Your Lordship, it’s terrible.”

Obviously angered, the Emir called out “Guards! Put this man in prison.” Turning to Juha, he said, “Thirty days,” and walked out in a huff.

Shortly after Juha had completed his sentence, the Emir called upon him to attend a recital of another poem. When the Emir finished reciting, Juha immediately rose to his feet and started for the door.

“Where are you going, Juha?” the Emir asked, surprised.

“To the prison, sir.”


Nasreddin tells the truth

The Sultan of a great city was annoyed by the cheats and liars who entered his gates and caused trouble. He therefore set soldiers at all entrances. The soldiers were under orders to hang those who lied about their purpose for wishing to enter.

The Mullah Nasreddin saddled his donkey and rode to the city.

At the gate a guard stopped him and asked his purpose in wishing to enter and warned him that a lie would result in his being hanged.

“This is good for I have come to be hanged.” Said Nasreddin.

“You are a liar and will certainly hang!” Said the guard

“Then you know I have spoken the truth and should not be hanged.” said Nasreddin.


Nasreddin and the Sultan’s Horse

One day, while Nasreddin was visiting the capital city, the Sultan took offense to a joke that was made at his expense. He had Nasreddin immediately arrested and imprisoned; accusing him of heresy and sedition. Nasreddin apologized to the Sultan for his joke, and begged for his life; but the Sultan remained obstinate, and in his anger, sentenced Nasreddin to be beheaded the following day. When Nasreddin was brought out the next morning, he addressed the Sultan, saying “Oh Sultan, live forever! You know me to be a skilled teacher, the greatest in your kingdom. If you will but delay my sentence for one year, I will teach your favorite horse to sing.”

The Sultan did not believe that such a thing was possible; but his anger had cooled, and he was amused by the audacity of Nasreddin’s claim. “Very well,” replied the Sultan, “you will have a year. But if by the end of that year you have not taught my favorite horse to sing, then you will wish you had been beheaded today.”

That evening, Nasreddin’s friends were allowed to visit him in prison, and found him in unexpected good spirits. “How can you be so happy?” they asked. “Do you really believe that you can teach the Sultan’s horse to sing?” “Of course not,” replied Nasreddin, “but I now have a year which I did not have yesterday; and much can happen in that time. The Sultan may come to repent of his anger, and release me. He may die in battle or of illness, and it is traditional for a successor to pardon all prisoners upon taking office. He may be overthrown by another faction, and again, it is traditional for prisoners to be released at such a time. Or the horse may die, in which case the Sultan will be obliged to release me.”

“Finally,” said Nasreddin, “even if none of those things come to pass, perhaps the horse can sing.”

  • Do not despair of your circumstances. Things are rarely as hopeless as they appear.

  • Beware of offending the powerful, regardless of how much they deserve it.

  • Clever words well-timed may succeed where reason and moral appeals fail.


The Trial of Nasreddin

The king’s three scholars had accused Nazrudin of heresy, and so he was brought into the king’s court for trial.

In his defense, Nazrudin asked the scholars, “Oh wise men, what is bread?”

The first scholar said, “Bread is sustenance; a food.”

The second scholar said, “Bread is a combination of flour and water exposed to the heat of a fire.”

The third scholar said, “Bread is a gift from God.”

Nazrudin spoke to the king, “Your Majesty, how can you trust these men? Is it not strange they cannot agree on the nature of something they eat every day, yet are unanimous that I am a heretic?”

  • There are many ways to see even the most simple of things.

  • People rush to judgment in matters of import.

  • Different ways of seeing the same thing are not necessarily incompatible.

  • People are clueless and disorganized. Their judgements means nothing.


Telling a lie

One day Nasruddin and his friends decided to play a joke on the people in a village. So Nasruddin drew a crowd, and lied to them about a gold mine in a certain place. When everybody ran to get their hands on the gold, Nasruddin started running with them. When asked by his friends why he was following them, he said “So many people believed it, that I think it may be true!”

  • A thing is not necessarily true simply because many people believe it. It is very easy for many people to believe the same lie.

  • Your own lies may return to deceive you; and in believing them, you make yourself a fool.


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