Mullah Nasruddin - Islamic Stories
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Mullah Nasruddin

Iznik grapes
Grapes on a Seljuk period plate

Nasruddin lived in the time of the Seljuk Sultans. One day Nasruddin was coming from the vineyard with baskets of grapes on his donkey. The children crowded around Nasruddin. "Give us some grapes!" they cried. "Let us taste them!" Nasruddin picked up a bunch of grapes and pulled one grape - just one grape - off for each child. "That's not very much!" whined the children. "You have so many grapes!" But Nasruddin answered, "Grapes taste the same, whether you have one or many," and he walked on with his donkey and his grapes.

Another time, Nasruddin borrowed a pot from his neighbor. The next day, Nasruddin brought the pot back. The neighbor looked inside and was surprised to see another littler pot inside. "That little pot's not mine!" the neighbor said. "Oh, yes, it is," answered Nasruddin. "While your pot was at my house, it had a baby." So the neighbor kept both pots. After a while, Nasruddin asked his neighbor to lend him a pot again. This time, he didn't return it. When the neighbor asked for his pot back, Nasruddin said, "I can't give back your pot, because it died." "How can a pot die?" asked the neighbor angrily. And Nasruddin answered, "Well, you believed me when I said that your pot had a baby, didn't you?"

One more Nasruddin story: One day Nasruddin was looking all over the street, up and down his street. A neighbor stopped and asked him, "What have you lost?" and Nasruddin said he had lost a gold coin. The neighbor began helping Nasruddin look, but they couldn't find it. The neighbor asked Nasruddin, "Where did you drop the coin?" Nasruddin answered, "Oh, inside my house." "Really? Then why are you looking for it in the street?!" his neighbor asked. "It's dark in my house; there's better light out here in the sun," answered Nasruddin.

You might compare Nasruddin stories to Aesop's Fables, Jataka stories, or Zen koans.

Learn by doing: act out one of these famous stories
More Islamic Stories: Aladdin and the Lamp

Bibliography and further reading about Islamic literature:

More about the Islamic Empire
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Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
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