NASRUDIN

Many countries claim Nasrudin as a native. Versions of his back-to-front thinking can be found in Morocco, Egypt and Russia, in Turkey, Greece, Albania and Afghanistan. Since Idries Shah made Nasrudin’s genius available to mainstream Western readers five decades ago, people from every walk of life have laughed at and learned from the wise fool’s inimitable escapades.

Many countries claim Nasrudin as a native. Versions of his back-to-front thinking can be found in Morocco, Egypt and Russia, in Turkey, Greece, Albania and Afghanistan. Since Idries Shah made Nasrudin’s genius available to mainstream Western readers five decades ago, people from every walk of life have laughed at and learned from the wise fool’s inimitable escapades.

THE LEGEND

Stories featuring Nasrudin are a hugely popular part of oral folk-culture from Turkey to Afghanistan. Idries Shah collected hundreds of these tales and published them in the West. Superficially, most are in the form of jokes and, even in the East, are generally considered of little importance. Yet Shah maintained that they may also be used in higher studies, where they ‘halt for a moment situations in which certain states of mind are made clear’. Nasrudin tales, he writes in The Sufis, ‘bridge the gap between mundane life and a transmutation of consciousness in a manner which no other literary form yet produced has been able to attain’. The stories, like most Sufic material, have no didactic morals, and people are encouraged to look at them from different angles, and even to return to them over a period of years, extracting different nourishment from them at different times. Nasrudin himself plays different parts, sometimes the adept, sometimes the unthinking part of the brain.

 

‘The intention of the corpus,’ continues Shah in The Sufis, ‘is to provide a basis for making available the Sufi attitude towards life and for making possible the attainment of Sufic realisation and mystical experience.’ Because they are mostly in the form of jokes, he says, they are able to slip under the barrier of the ‘Old Villain’ – the complex of assumptions and automatic thinking in which most of us live. 


Read Idries Shah’s Introduction to Nasrudin in The Sufis

NEW EDITIONS

NEW EDITIONS

One day Nasrudin walked into a shop. The owner came forward to serve him. 
‘First things first,’ said Nasrudin. ‘Did you see me walk into your shop?’ 
‘Of course.’ 
‘Have you seen me before?’ 
‘Never in my life.’ 
‘Then how do you know it is me?’

Another time, Nasrudin was throwing handfuls of bread all around his house.
‘What are you doing?’ someone asked.
‘Keeping the tigers away.’ 
‘But there are no tigers around here!’ 
‘Exactly. Effective isn’t it?’ 

Shop now

More about this project

AVAILABLE IN SPECIAL EDITIONS

news

AVAILABLE IN SPECIAL EDITIONS

Read more