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The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin

(Mulla Nasrudin)

4.33  ·  Rating details ·  494 ratings  ·  50 reviews
Today we find him in a high-level physics report, illustrating phenomena that can't be described in ordinary technical terms. He appears in psychology textbooks, illuminating the workings of the mind in a way no straightforward explanation can.

In three definitive volumes (The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin, The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin an

Paperback, 224 pages
Published July 1st 1993 by Penguin Books (first published November 1968)
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If one of your main objections to the Bible is that it kind of lacks humour, then check this out. A religion where one of the holy texts is a huge collection of jokes! And most of them are actually pretty funny. My favourite is the following. Nasrudin (the Sufi holy fool, who is the hero of most of the stories), is walking past the lake, when he sees a wild-looking guy sitting by the bank with a big jar and a spoon. When he gets closer, Nasrudin sees that he's spooning yoghurt into the water.

Aubrey Davis
Apr 17, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Nasrudin went to a shop of a man who stocked all kinds of bit and pieces.
“Have you got nails?” he asked.
“And leather, good leather?”
“And dye?”
“Then why, for Heaven’s sake, don’t you make a pair of boots?”

Occasionally I manage to take Nasrudin’s advice and make myself something useful from the jokes collected by Idries Shah in his Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin.

Here’s an example, entitled “Fixed Ideas”.

‘How old are you, Mulla?’
‘But you said the same last
This book is a collection of very short tales, jokes & annecdotes, all featuring Mulla Nasrudin.

Mulla Nasrudin is at the same time a fool and a clever Sufi holy man. His stories are told in this collection, some amusing, some profound, but most an exercise in common sense, or what-is-said-exactly.

A couple of the shorter examples:

P126 - The Speculator
Nasrudin bought a large number of eggs and at once sold them at a price lower than the cost. When asked why he did it, he said ' Surely you don't wa
Sep 15, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
The Pleasantries of the Mulla.
Mirror mirror on the wall, whose the cleverest of us all?
Nasrudin, packed in wit and humour, shows us how we fool ourselves and how upside down are our thoughts.
Page 58 Octagon Press, hardback. 'The philosophers consulted together, realized that their theoretical speculations were incapable of logical or quantitative proof. With one accord, they enrolled themselves as disciples of Nasrudin.
Jun 04, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mulla Nasruddin was famously odd, but one of the wisest men. Beneath his apparent foolishness, there was a keen perception that cut straight to the truth.
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Putting your finger on what Nasrudin is really up to is like attempting to crush mercury with your hand. Much food for thought presented pleasantly within these pages.
Apr 07, 2016 rated it it was amazing
‘I want to buy … an elephant,’ Mulla Nasrudin explains to the rich man to whom he has gone for money.
‘If you have no money, you can’t afford to keep an elephant.’
‘I came here,’ said Nasrudin, ‘to get money, not advice.’

The Mulla's reply comes in the form of stories – a hundred-and-eighty of them. They don’t seem like advice; but, story by story, they guide Nasrudin's –our– relationship to the Elephant of the great Sufi masters. They focus a gentle light on facets of the human psyche, revealing a
Ronald Tailor
May 01, 2019 rated it it was amazing
This book of short, humorous jokes and stories was designed to appeal to many audiences: those seeking a good laugh; those curious about what people many hundreds of years ago or living in very different cultures than theirs considered a good laugh; those seeking more than a good laugh (and this latter category can be divided into several subcategories); and possibly, although this isn't something I know much about, those reading this book because they were told to read it. So, even though I don ...more
Mary Overton
Jan 25, 2014 added it
Recommended to Mary by: Manny Raynor
The foolish-wisdom of Nasrudin, legendary Sufi Mulla of the 13th century:

‘What is the meaning of fate, Mulla?’
‘In what way?’
‘You assume things are going to go well and they don’t - that you call bad luck. You assume things are going to go badly and they don’t - that you call good luck. You assume that certain things are going to happen or not happen - and you so lack intuition that you don’t know what is going to happen. You assume that the future is unknown.
‘When you are caught ou
John Zada
Apr 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Mulla Nasrudin is a joke figure of the Middle East found largely in Iran, Afghanistan and Turkey – and whose spinoffs, known by other names, can be found across the Islamic World and even beyond. He is a “wise fool” whose thinking and behaviour, meant to reflect our own, runs the gamut between sublime wisdom and utter stupidity.

The late Nobel Prize winning writer, late Doris Lessing, once wrote that Nasrudin jokes were “deliberately created to inculcate Sufic thinking, to outwit The Old Villain,
John Bell
Apr 15, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
These stories collected by Idries Shah have the power over time to change our perception of everyday matters, while they continue to make us laugh at Nasruddin's absurdity, as they have through the ages. Must read. ...more
May 29, 2012 rated it it was amazing
Wisdom wrapped in humor covered in humanity.
Mar 11, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: spirituality
Mostly humorous.
There are some deep philosophical thoughts but they seem to be few and far between.
Jul 08, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Philosophy and life lessons served with a sense of humour.
Oct 30, 2018 rated it really liked it
Overall a very enjoyable collection - some stories are better than others but all-in-all great fun!
Leonard Robichaud
Another book in the Nasrudin series compiled by Idries Shah. Like the others, this is a compilation of "jokes" featuring the enigmatic figure of Mulla Nasrudin. Some of the stories make quite amusing jokes in the familiar sense, others are bemusing anecdotes that take your mind in unexpected directions and have no obvious punch line - but don't bother trying to "puzzle out" the meaning of the enigmatic ones! Like the other Nasrudin books, you'll want to dip into this one again and again over the ...more
Kevan Bowkett
Jul 18, 2014 rated it really liked it
This second installment of the Mulla Nasrudin Corpus contains over 160 miniature tales -- jokes, anecdotes -- which are teaching-stories in the Sufi tradition. The volume demonstrates something of the use of humour in Sufi learning situations. These stories of the 'wise fool' Nasrudin sometimes help us see our own behaviour in startling relief, and sometimes help us in overcoming assumptions that impede learning (eg. the tale 'The Reason'). They are also very amusing and well-written, delightful ...more
John Handforth
Apr 13, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Entertaining and wIde ranging array of short anecdotes, jokes, and stories illustrating the antics of human thought. Nasrudin is an ancient story figure popular in oral tradition throughout Africa, the Middle East and Asia. Dunny and stimulating.
Jul 31, 2017 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2017
Best intro to sufism bar none.
Nov 03, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Very entertaining! I have read these over and over again and they have something to offer for young and old alike.
Mar 13, 2018 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: hilarious
3 stars and a C.

Quite a nice, hilarious read. Some of the anecdotes are pretty quirky and I remember reading them as a child in comic form, t'was nice to return to the Mulla Nasruddin universe.
Nov 28, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

Great and funny anecdotes from a wise fool!
Lovers of malaprops and puns will like it.
A lot of verbal gymnastics with Nasrudin! 👍👌❤️
Shabana Mukhtar
Sep 14, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: english, 2018-reads
The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin By Idries Shah

I found this book when I was going through (or stalking through) my GR friends' to-read list. The name Mulla Nasruddin caught my attention and I read through the three books by Idries.

You can never not enjoy the idiosyncracies of Mulla Nasruddin. He really was incredible.

I have lost the notebook where I had jotted down a few quotes. I think I will have to come back and update this review soon.
Oct 23, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Nasrudin’s “trials and tribulations” start, in this book, with “The Reason”, - the purchase of an elephant –and finish in open-ended fashion with “The Mulla’s Tomb” - a locked gate, no walls, and an example of number substitution. The elephant reference is explained by Shah at p.114, The Sufis, ed. 2015. Shah has noted that as one’s perceptions increase so does the power of extracting nutrition from these tales. For example, Pleasantries has the piece ‘Last Year’s Nest’ which, apparently can be ...more
Nov 29, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: starred
What a delight these short stories are. I read them to my son when he was little and now in so many encounters in every day life we turn to each other and report a punchline, 'some sort of a cake?', 'I'm eating my money', 'I am the servant of the King not the vegetable'.
If you haven't a clue what I'm on about, please read the book and I wish you as much pleasure as we found.
Note my review refers to the new edition by ISF Publishing,
Jun 25, 2007 rated it really liked it
Shelves: folklore
The comic/didactic narratives of the Mulla are great. The drawback to this book is the small amount of actual texts and lots of illustrations and white space to expand the golden content into what is still a very slim volume.
Jun 26, 2007 rated it liked it
Some of the antidotes get lost in translations but there are a few really good ones that makes you think in the traditional "sufi riddle" sense - simple stories (humorous to boot) with profound meaning. ...more
Jul 28, 2013 rated it really liked it
These Sufi tales use humour to deflate pomposity and other human failings. Some are not particularly successful but others have a zen-like quality. The character of Nasrudin is a kind of comic-idiot-wise man!
Dec 27, 2014 rated it really liked it
This book is very expensive and authenticated. Bought from an online store. I already have this book in Malayalam language which is translated from original. But reading a authenticated one is good. I read this many time. Every-time feels like reading fresh
Jul 24, 2016 rated it liked it
I probably would have enjoyed it even more if I'd read it in back in the 70s-80s, but it was a delightfully wry book of Middle Eastern "myth" that shows the universality of the craziness of human nature. Simple to read, sometimes so simple you might miss the subtly profound underpinnings. ...more
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Idries Shah (Persian: ادریس شاه), also known as Idris Shah, né Sayed Idries el-Hashimi (Arabic: سيد إدريس هاشمي), was an author and teacher in the Sufi tradition who wrote over three dozen critically acclaimed books on topics ranging from psychology and spirituality to travelogues and culture studies.

Born in India, the descendant of a family of Afghan nobles, Shah grew up mainly in England. His ea

Other books in the series

Mulla Nasrudin (4 books)
  • The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin
  • The Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin
  • The World of Nasrudin

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“If a pot can multiply. One day Nasrudin lent his cooking pots to a neighbour, who was giving a feast. The neighbour returned them, together with one extra one – a very tiny pot. 'What is this?' asked Nasrudin. 'According to law, I have given you the offspring of your property which was born when the pots were in my care,' said the joker. Shortly afterwards Nasrudin borrowed his neighbour's pots, but did not return them. The man came round to get them back. 'Alas!' said Nasrudin, 'they are dead. We have established, have we not, that pots are mortal?'.” 5 likes
“Saying of the Mulla Nasrudin. If I survive this life without dying, I'll be surprised.” 5 likes
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