Sufi understanding is sometimes communicated through teaching stories, the best known of these feature the character Nasrudin, a "spiritual fool" whose tales, in addition to their entertainment value, are designed to point out our human foibles. Some are original sufi tales, others borrowed for their insights into the human character
Idries Shaw wrote that, "It is believed that the mystical effect of seven Nasrudin tales, studied in succession, is enough to prepare an individual for enlightenment." Nasrudin is a appears in many Sufi teaching stories, so here we go:
1. Nasrudin walked into a shop one day. The owner came forward to serve him. "First things first," said Nasrudin; "did you see me walk into your shop?" "Of course." "Have you ever seen me before?" "Never in my life." "Then how do you know it is me?"
2. Nasrudin applied for a job. The manager did not feel he was qualified, so he asked, "Can you read and write?" Nasrudin replied, "I cannot read, but I can write." The manager was surprised. "Then write!" he said, and offered him some paper. Nasrudin immediately started writing on it. He went fast -- one page, two pages, three pages. The manager said, "Now you stop! Please read what you have written, because I cannot read." Nasruddin said, "I have told you - I can only write! I can't read."
3. Nasrudin had been calling on his girlfriend for over a year. One evening the girl's father stopped him as he was leaving and asked, "Look here young man, you have been seeing my daughter for a year now, and I would like to know whether your intentions are honourable or dishonourable?" Nasrudin's face lit up. "Do you mean to say, Sir," he said, "That I have a choice?"
4. One day Nasrudin began telling everyone he was God, and because of this he was brought before the Caliph, who said to him, "Last year someone claimed to be a prophet and he was put to death!" Nasrudin replied, "It was well that you did so, for I did not send him."
5. Nasrudin entered a formal reception area and seated himself at the foremost elegant chair. The Chief of the Guard approached and said: "Sir, those places are reserved for guests of honor." "Oh, I am more than a mere guest," replied Nasrudin confidently. "Oh, so are you a diplomat?" "Far more than that!" "Really? So you are a minister, perhaps?" "No, bigger than that too." "Oho! So you must be the King himself, sir," said the Chief sarcastically. "Higher than that!" "What?! Are you higher than the King?! Nobody is higher than the King in this village!" "Now you have it. I am nobody!" said Nasrudin.
6. A judge in a village court had gone on vacation. Nasrudin was asked to be temporary judge for a day. Nasrudin sat on the Judge's chair with a serious face, gazing around the public and ordered the first case be brought-up for hearing. "You are right," said Nasrudin after hearing one side. "You are right," he said after hearing the other side. "But both cannot be right," said a member of the public sitting in the audience. "You are right, too" said Nasrudin.
7. Nasrudin was out riding when he saw a group of horsemen. Thinking this might be a band of robbers, Nasrudin galloped off hastily. The other men, who were actually friends of his, said, "I wonder where Nasrudin is going in such a hurry?" and trailed after him to find out. Nasrudin, feeling himself pursued, raced to a graveyard, leapt over the fence, and hid behind a tombstone. His friends arrived and, sitting on their horses, leaned over the wall to ask, "Why are you hiding behind that tombstone, Nasrudin?" "It's more complicated than you realize," replied Nasrudin, discerning what had happened. "I'm here because of you, and you're here because of me."
"This afternoon we are going to try what are called projection techniques," announced the psychiatrist. "I want to try to get some insights into how you perceive the world around you!" He rapidly drew a circle on his pad and thrust it across the desk. "Now -- what does that remind you of?" Mulla Nasrudin regarded the circle lugubriously. "A naked woman," he replied. The psychiatrist drew a triangle. "And this?." "A naked woman sitting down!" The psychiatrist drew a square. "And this?" "A naked woman doing something very nasty!" "Well, well, well.... you are certainly preoccupied with sex, aren't you?" "COME OFF IT, DOCTOR," protested Nasrudin. "IT'S YOU THAT'S DRAWING THE RUDE PICTURES.
Mulla Nasrudin and his wife went to Israel for their holidays, and visited a night club in Tel Aviv. A comedian was on the bill who did his whole act in Hebrew. Nasrudin's wife sat through the comic's act in silence, but Nasrudin roared with laughter at the end of each joke. "I didn't know you understood Hebrew," she said to the Mulla when the comedian had concluded his act. "I don't" replied Nasrudin. "Well, how come you laughed so much at his jokes?" "AH, said Nasrudin. "I TRUSTED HIM."
It was a gay party -- wine, whisky and wit flowed freely. An obsequious waiter offered a tray with drinks to a solemn, stern-looking man, obviously a clergy man, The Father looked sternly at him and said, "No, thanks. I do not drink." The waiter left but soon enough another appeared on the scene with a second tray. The God's good man gave him a withering glare: "Don't you know I do not drink at all?" And he added as an after thought, "I would rather commit adultery than imbibe alcohol." Mulla Nasrudin, his neighbour, leisurely sipping his scotch, got up with alacrity, put down the glass and exclaimed: "GOOD HEAVENS, I HAD NO IDEA THERE WAS A CHOICE!"
Mulla Nasrudin: "Well, Sir, the upshot of it was that it took me ten years to discover that I had absolutely no talent for writing literature." Friend: "You gave up?" Nasrudin: "OH, NO. BY THAT TIME I WAS TOO FAMOUS.
Two children found a bag containing twelve marbles. They argued over how to divide the toys and finally went to see the Mulla Nasrudin. When asked to settle their disagreement, the Mulla asked whether the children wanted him to divide the marbles as a human would or as Allah would. The children replied, "We want it to be fair. Divide the marbles as Allah would." So, the Mulla counted out the marbles and gave three to one child and nine to the other.
The king's three scholars had accused Nazrudin of heresy, and so he was brought into the kingÕs 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?'
One day, people saw Mullah Nasruddin out in the street searching frantically for something. 'What are you searching for, Mullah? They enquired. "I've lost my key" replied Mullah. So everyone joined him, trying to help him After some time someone had the urge to ask the place where the key was lost so that more concentrated search could be made. So, the enquiry was made to Nasruddin. "I lost the key in the house," replied Mulla matter-o-factly. "Then why are you searching for it in the street?" was the obvious question asked to him. "Because the light is better here." Replied the Mulla.