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Wednesday, October 14, 2015

'N' is for... Nasreddin, of course!

This week's letter over at ABC Wednesday is... 'N'.

And when I think 'N', I , like you, like everyone, of course immediately think... Nasir ud-din Mahmood al-Khoyi!

Please forgive me for telling you what everyone knows, that this personage of ancient times, known more familiarly as Nasreddin or Nasrudin, is said to have come from Turkey in the 13th century AD.... Of course, he is also said to have come from Iran in the 15th or 16th century AD.  Probably both are somehow, ineffably true. 

...That though Nasreddin hailed from Iran, or Turkey, or somewhere, he traveled far and wide, and tales of his goings and doings and sayings are and have long been known around the world... He's big in China, as you know, and India as well.

...That even here in the New World, Benjamin Franklin has been known to drop a Nasreddin tale, though he might call him simply, Old Man. Oh, yes. And that the celebrated writer known as Mark Twain, too, passed off a Nasreddin story or two.

You have undoubtedly heard about Nasreddin riding around on his donkey looking for his donkey.

You can't not have heard about the three times Nasreddin was called upon to speak in public:

  • That first time, when he stood and asked the people, "Do you know what I am going to say?" And when they admitted that they had no idea, he told them, "Why would I want to speak to a group of people who have no idea what I am going to say?!" And he left...
  • That second time, when he stood and asked the same question, and now the people knew just what to say. "Yes, Nasreddin," they told him. "We know just what you are going to say." Whereupon, Nasreddin said, "Then there is no need for me to say it!" And he left...
  • That third time, when he stood and put his question, and half the people shouted that they had no idea what he would say and the other half shouted that they knew just what he would say, so he said, "Let the half who know tell the half who don't know!" And off he merrily went.

You most certainly even have heard about how Nasreddin requested to be buried in an old, long-standing tomb, so that when the angels came to question him about his life, he could claim deafness, saying "Angels, can you not see that I am stone deaf, ancient as my tomb?!"

But I ask you, have you heard about the time the thief came to Nasreddin's house? Oh, Nasreddin's wife did start to raise a cry of alarm! "Hush, dearest," said Nasreddin. "Let us pray to God that he find something, so that we may take it from him!"

Aha! And here is one more Nasreddin story you may or may not have heard:

“A certain famous Fakir was claiming in the village that he could teach an illiterate person to read by a lightning technique. [Nasreddin] stepped out of the crowd: 'Very well, teach me – now.' The Fakir touched [Nasreddin]'s forehead, and said: 'Now go home immediately and read a book.' Half an hour later [Nasreddin] was back in the market-place, clutching a book. The Fakir had gone on his way. 'Can you read now?' the people asked him. 'Yes, I can read – but that is not the point. Where is that charlatan?' 'How can he be a charlatan if he has caused you to read without learning?' 'Because this book, which is authoritative, says: 'All Fakirs are frauds'.” 

Find many more Nasreddin tales (which you already know) here.

Brilliant blog posts on HonestMum.com


  1. Hi Meester Uttley

    I have never heard of him before... but always am fine with 'lessons to learn' .... and your name "meester" gives a little away from your 'wanting to teach' ... in Dutch that word stands for someone who teaches.

    Have a nice abc-week / - day
    ♫ M e l ☺ d y ♫ (ABC-w-team)

  2. I haven't heard about Nasreddin before. But I'm curious right now about what he's going to say.

  3. Ahhh this is great! I really enjoyed it. :) And of COURSE I knew all about him already *gives you dubious side eye*


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