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Tag: Folk tales

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March 20, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

Effective

Nasrudin was throwing handfuls of bread crumbs around his house and waving a huge pink flag all about. His neighbour looked out of his window and asked:

   ‘Why are you doing that, Nasrudin?’
   The Mulla replied: ‘I’m keeping the tigers away!’
   ‘But there are no tigers around here.’
   ‘It’s effective, isn’t it?!’


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March 19, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

Questions

‘Baba, why do you always answer a question with another question?’

‘Do I?’ Nasrudin replied.
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March 18, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

The Greatest Fool

The King asked Nasrudin to go and find the most stupid man in the world to come to court and be jester. The Mulla set off and travelled for days, weeks and months. Finally, he returned to the throne room where the King called to him.

‘Have you found the most stupid man in the world to be my jester?’ asked the monarch.
‘Yes, indeed I have, Your Majesty, but alas he is too busy searching for fools to take the job.’


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March 17, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

Creeping Up On Himself

Bedar, the watchman, caught Nasrudin prising open the window of his own bedroom from the outside, in the depths of the night.

‘What are you doing, Mulla?’ he asked. ‘Are you locked out?’
‘Hush!’ snapped Nasrudin. ‘They say that I walk in my sleep and so I’m trying to surprise myself and find out!’


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March 16, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

Only One Thing Wrong With it

Walking with a disciple one day, Mulla Nasrudin saw for the first time in his life a beautiful lakeland scene.

‘What a delight!’ he exclaimed. ‘But if only…’
‘If only what, Master?’
‘If only they had not put water on it.’


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March 15, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

Light the Candle

Nasrudin was sitting, talking with a friend as dusk fell.

‘Light a candle,’ the man said, ‘because it is dark now. There is one just by your left side.’
How can I tell my left from my right in the dark, you fool?’ as the Mulla.


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March 14, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

The Unsuspected Element

Two men were quarrelling outside Nasrudin’s window at dead of night. Nasrudin got up, wrapped his only blanket around himself, and ran out to try and stop the noise.

When he tried to reason with the drunks, one snatched his blanket and both ran away.
‘What were they arguing about?’ asked his wife when they went in.
‘It must have been the blanket. When they got that, the fight broke up.’


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March 13, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

Nasrudin

A very good way of understanding a culture is through its folklore and the stories people tell. Rather in the same way that language contains clues to the way people of a certain place think, folklore does as well. It’s a kind of treasury of fragments, linked to everyone who has ever lived in the society. An excellent way of understanding how the Oriental world thinks, is by reading — or listening to — the tales. And there is perhaps no collection better than the teaching stories of Mulla Nasrudin. He’s found across the East, from Casablanca to Kabul, and can even be seen in Islamic China. He’s known in Greece as well, and in Albania, Kosovo, Sicily and in Andalucian Spain. In Afghanistan and Iran he’s known as Nasrudin, while in Morocco, Turkey and elsewhere he’s simply ‘Joha’. Whatever the name he goes by is insignificant, for Nasrudin is a towering giant of human folklore. My father wrote four books on the whacky and wonderful episodes of his life. Over the next few days I’m going to present some here. If you have the time, read the story once, and then a second time, and allow it to turn around your mind. You’ll find that, given the chance, it’ll take on a life of its own.



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March 12, 2009 Posted by tahir in Books

Proverbs

Proverbs and sayings are very common in the Arab world, as they are in the West. Since living here in Morocco, I’ve noticed that there are dozens of proverbs which are found in different forms in both Occident and Orient, and many more that are directly translated. This may suggest a transmission from East to West and vice versa, or it may just be coincidence.


Here are some examples (the Arabic proverb is in capitals, the European one in lower case):


BIRDS ALIGHT AMONG THEIR LIKE
Birds of a feather flock together

HE MADE A DOME FROM A SEED
Making a mountain out of a molehill

HIS LUCK SPLITS A STONE
He has the Devil’s luck

A DOG’S TAIL IS CROOKED EVEN IF HE STRUCK BY A BLACKSMITH’S HAMMER
A leopard can’t change its spots

THE CAMEL CAN’T SEE HIS OWN HUMP
The pot calls the kettle black

TWO WATER MELONS CAN’T BE CARRIED IN A SINGLE HAND
Don’t try the impossible

HE WHO GROWS WITH A HABIT GREYS WITH IT
Old habits die hard

CLEANLINESS IS AKIN TO FAITH
Cleanliness is next to Godliness


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March 11, 2009 Posted by tahir in Travel

Arab and Islamic Titles

The Arab and Islamic worlds hold titles very dear, and it’s a subject that’s almost always misunderstood in the West. The first thing to know is that in Islam all men are equal. There are, therefore, technically no provisions for absolute rulers, such as kings, although a number of Arab countries now have monarchs on along Occidental lines (such as Morocco, Jordan and Bahrain). The highest title has traditionally been ‘Amir al-Mu’minin’, the Commander of the Faithful, that is the one selected for leading the prayer and acting as spiritual figurehead. This is sometimes truncated to Amir, or Emir. Other honorific titles indicate that a person is of the Prophet’s family, a lineage that is held in extremely high regard within the Islamic world. Depending on the country, the title given to the Prophet’s descendants alters. In Afghanistan for example where our family is from, descendants are known as Sayed (also spelt Sayyid). Note that ‘Sayed’ and Seyeda’ are used by people whose ancestry is passed on through the paternal line. Where it is through the mother, the title ‘Mirza’ is used. Elsewhere Sayeds are permitted to use other titles such as Sharif (noble) . There are yet more titles local to a particular region, such as ‘Nawab’ (‘deputy’), a form of Muslim Maharajah, found in south Asia, and Nizam (‘administrator of the realm’). The last name ‘Shah’ as used by Muslims in Central Asia denotes a direct lineage to the prophet, and is used in place of a family name which, in our family’s case is ‘al-Hashemi’.



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