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Anecdotes from Hodja Nasreddin


Nasreddin Hodja is Uzbekistan’s (and perhaps all of Islamic world’s ) best - known trickster. His legendary wit and droll trickery were possibly based on the exploits and words of a historical imam. Nasreddin reputedly was born in 1208 in the village of Horto near Sivrihisar in Turkey. In 1237 he moved to Aksehir, where he died in the Islamic year 683 (1284 or 1285). As many as 350 anecdotes have been attributed to the Hodja, as he most often is called. Hodja is a title meaning teacher or scholar. He frequently is compared with the northern European trickster Till Eulenspiegel.

The many spelling variations for Nasreddin include:
Nasreddin, Nasrettin, Nasrudin, Nasr - id - deen, Nasr - eddin, Nasirud - din, Nasr - ud - Din, Nasr - Eddin and Nasr - Ed - Dine.
The many spelling variations for Hodja include:
Hodja, Hodscha, Hoca, Chotza, Khodja, and Khoja.
The Nasreddin stories are known throughout the Middle East and have touched cultures around the world. Superficially, most of the Nasreddin stories may be told as jokes or humorous anecdotes. They are told and retold endlessly in the teahouses and caravanserais of Asia and can be heard in homes and on the radio. But it is inherent in a Nasreddin story that it may be understood at many levels. There is the joke, followed by a moral - and usually the little extra which brings the consciousness of the potential mystic a little further on the way to realization.
The anecdotes attributed to him reveal a satirical personality with a biting tongue that he was not afraid to use even against the most tyrannical rulers of his time. He is the symbol of Middle - Eastern satirical comedy and the rebellious feelings of people against the dynasties that once ruled this part of the world.

Everyone Is Right.
Once when Nasreddin Hodja was serving as qadi, one of his neighbors came to him with a complaint against a fellow neighbor. The Hodja listened to the charges carefully, then concluded, "Yes, dear neighbor, you are quiteright." Then the other neighbor came to him. The Hodja listened to his defense carefully, then concluded, "Yes, dear neighbor, you are quite right." The Hodja's wife, having listened in on the entire proceeding, said to him, "Husband, both men cannot be right." The Hodja answered, "Yes, dear wife, you are quite right."

Walnuts and Pumpkins.
Nasreddin Hodja was lying in the shade of an ancient walnut tree. His body was at rest, but, befitting his calling as an imam, his mind did not relax. Looking up into the mighty tree he considered the greatness and wisdom of Allah. "Allah is great and Allah is good," said the Hodja, "but was it indeed wise that such a great tree as this be created to bear only tiny walnuts as fruit? Behold the stout stem and strong limbs. They could easily carry the pumpkins that grow from spindly vines in yonder field, vines that cannot begin to bear the weight of their own fruit. Should not walnuts grow on weakly vines and pumpkins on sturdy trees?" So thinking, the Hodja dosed off, only to be awakened by a walnut that fell from the tree, striking him on his forehead. "Allah be praised!" he exclaimed, seeing what had happened. "If the world had been created according to my meager wisdom, it would have been a pumpkin that fell from the tree and hit me on the head. It would have killed me for sure! Allah is great! Allah is good! Allah is wise!" Never again did Nasreddin Hodja question the wisdom of Allah.

Faith Moves Mountains.
The Hodja was boasting about the power of his faith. "If your faith is so strong, then pray for that mountain to come to you," said a skeptic, pointing to a mountain in the distance. The Hodja prayed fervently, but the mountain did not move. He prayed more, but the mountain remained unmoved. Finally the Hodja got up from his knees and began walking toward the mountain. "I am a humble man," he said, "and the faith of Islam is a practical one. If the mountain will not come to the Hodja, then the Hodja will go to the mountain."

The Smell of Soup and the Sound of Money.
A beggar was given a piece of bread, but nothing to put on it. Hoping to get something to go with his bread, he went to a nearby inn and asked for a handout. The innkeeper turned him away with nothing, but the beggar sneaked into the kitchen where he saw a large pot of soup cooking over the fire. He held his piece of bread over the steaming pot, hoping to thus capture a bit of flavor from the good - smelling vapor. Suddenly the innkeeper seized him by the arm and accused him of stealing soup. "I took no soup," said the beggar. "I was only smelling the vapor." "Then you must pay for the smell," answered the innkeeper. The poor beggar had no money, so the angry innkeeper dragged him before the qadi. Now Nasreddin Hodja was at that time serving as qadi, and he heard the innkeeper's complaint and the beggar's explanation. So you demand payment for the smell of your soup?" summarized the Hodja after the hearing. "Yes!" insisted the innkeeper. "Then I myself will pay you," said the Hodja, "and I will pay for the smell of your soup with the sound of money." Thus saying, the Hodja drew two coins from his pocket, rang them together loudly, put them back into his pocket, and sent the beggar and the innkeeper each on his own way.

The Debt.
Nasreddin was strolling through the marketplace when a shopkeeper accosted him, berating the Hodja loudly for his failure to pay a debt."My dear friend," answered the Hodj, "just how much do I owe you?" "Seventy - five piasters," shouted the angry shopkeeper. "Now, now," replied the Hodja. "You must know that I intend to pay you thirty - five piasters tomorrow, and next month another thirty - five. That means that I owe you only five piasters. Are you not ashamed of yourself for accosting me soloudly in public for a debt of only five piasters?"

The Older Wife.
Nasreddin Hodja had two wives, one much older than the other. "Which of us do you love the most?" asked the older wife one day. "I love you both the same," answered Nasreddin, wisely. Not satisfied with this answer, the older wife continued, "If the two of us wives fell out of a boat, which one of us would you rescue first?" "Well," replied Nasreddi, "you can swim a little, can't you?"

Eat, My Coat, Eat.
The Hodja was invited to a banquet. Not wanting to be pretentious, he wore his everyday clothes, only to discover that everyone ignored him, including the host. So he went back home and put on his fanciest coat, and then returned to the banquet. Now he was greeted cordially by everyone and invited to sit down and eat and drink. When the soup was served to him he dunked the sleeve of his coat into the bowl and said, "Eat, my coat, eat!" The startled host asked the Hodja to explain his strange behavior. "When I arrived here wearing my other clothes," explained the Hodja, "no one offered me anything to eat or drink. But when I returned wearing this fine coat, I was immediately offered the best of everything, so I can only assume that it was the coat and not myself who was invited to your banquet."

The Robe.
The Hodja, bruised and limping, came upon a neighbor at the marketplace. "My dear friend, what happened to you?" asked the neighbor. The Hodja answered, "Last night my wife grew angry and kicked my robe down the stairs." "But how could that have caused your injuries?" continued the neighbor. "I was wearing the robe when she kicked it down the stairs," explained the Hodja.

The Recipe.
The Hodja purchased a piece of meat at the market, and on his way home he met a friend. Seeing the Hodja's purchase, the friend told him an excellent recipe for stew. "I'll forget it for sure," said the Hodja. "Write it on a piece of paper for me." The friend obliged him, and the Hodja continued on his way, the piece of meat in one hand and the recipe in the other. He had not walked far when suddenly a large hawk swooped down from the sky, snatched the meat, and flew away with it. "It will do you no good!" shouted the Hodja after the disappearing hawk. "I still have the recipe!"

The Last Laugh.
Nasreddin Hodja had grown old and was near death. His two grieving wives, knowing that his end was near, were dressed in mourning robes and veils. "What is this?" he said, seeing their sorrowful appearanc. "Put aside your veils. Wash your faces. Comb your hair. Make yourselves beautiful. Put on your most festive apparel." "How could we do that?" asked the older of his wives, "with our dear husband on his deathbed?" With a wry smile he replied, speaking more to himself than to them, "Perhaps when the Angel of Death makes his entry he will see the two of you, all decked out like young brides, and will take one of you instead of me." With these final words he laughed quietly to himself, happily closed his eyes, and died.

Delivering a Khutba.
Once, Nasreddin was invited to deliver a khutba. When he got on the minbar (pulpit), he asked "Do you know what I am going to say?" The audience replied "NO", so he announced "I have no desire to speak to people who don't even know what I will be talking about" and he left. The people felt embarrassed and called him back again the next day. This time when he asked the same question, the people replied "YES". So Nasreddin said, "Well, since you already know what I am going to say, I won't waste any more of your time" and he left. Now the people were really perplexed. They decided to try one more time and once again invited the Mullah to speak the following week. Once again he asked the same question - "Do you know what I am going to say?" Now the people were prepared and so half of them answered "YES" while the other half replied "NO". So Nasreddin said "The half who know what I am going to say, tell it to the other half" and he left!

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 to the other side?" - "You are on the other side!" Nasreddin shouted back.

Whom do you trust.
A neighbour comes to the gate of Mulla Nasreddin's yard. The Mulla goes out to meet him outside. "Would you mind, Mulla," the neighbour asks, "lending me your donkey today? I have some goods to transport to the next town." The Mulla doesn't feel inclined to lend out the animal to that particular man, however; so, not to seem rude, he answers: "I'm sorry, but I've already lent him to somebody else." Suddenly the donkey can be heard braying loudly behind the wall of the yard. "You lied to me, Mulla!" the neighbour exclaims. "There it is behind that wall!" "What do you mean?" the Mulla replies indignantly. "Whom would you rather believe, a donkey or your Mulla?"

Taste the same.
Children saw Hodja coming from the vineyard with 2 basketfuls of grapes on his donkey, gathered around him and asked him to give them some. Hodja picked up a bunch of grapes, cut it up into pieces and gave each child a piece."You have so much, but you gave us so little," the children complained. "There is no difference whether you have a basketful or a small piece. They all taste the same," Hodja remarked.

Deductive reasoniing.
"How old are you,mulla?" someone asked, "Three years older than my brother." "How do you know that?" reasoning. "Last year I heard my brother tell someone that I was two years older than him. A year has passed. That means that I am older by one year. I shall soon be old enough to be his grandfather."

Tit for tat.
Nasriddin went into a shop to buy a pair of trousers. Then he changed his mind and chose a cloak instead, at the same price. Picking up the cloak he left the shop. "You have not paid," shouted the merchant. "I left you the trousers, which were of the same value as the cloak." "But you didn’t pay for the trousers either." "Of course not," said mullah. "Why should I pay for something that I did not want to buy?"

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

Promises kept.
A friend asked the mullah: "How old are you?" "Forty” - replied the mullah. The friend said: "But you said the same thing two years ago!" "Yes" - replied the mullah. "I always stand by what I have said."

When you face things alone.
The villagers once said to Nasriddin: "You may have lost your donkey, Nasriddin, but you don’t have to grieve over it more than you did about the loss of your first wife". "Ah, but if you remember when I lost my wife," all you villagers said: "We'll find you someone else. So far, nobody has offered to replace my donkey."

Obligation.
Nasriddin nearly fell into a pool one day. A man whom he knew slightly was nearby, and saved him. Every time he met Nasriddin after that he would remind him of the service which he had performed. When this had happened several times Nasriddin took him to the water, jumped in, and stood with his head just above water and shouted: "Now I am as wet as I would have been if you had not saved me! Leave me alone."