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Pleasantries of the Incredible Mullah Nasrudin (Compass) [Paperback]

Idries Shah
4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
Price: £9.94 & FREE Delivery in the UK on orders over £10. Details
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Pleasantries of the Incredible Mullah Nasrudin (Compass) + The Commanding Self
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Product details

  • Paperback: 218 pages
  • Publisher: Octagon Press Ltd; Reprint edition (31 Dec 1996)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 014019357X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0140193572
  • Product Dimensions: 19.7 x 12.9 x 1.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 108,684 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


Here, Nasrudin's anecdotes are seen to be parallel to the mind's working, designed to amuse the tea-house, but also intended for use on other levels. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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The Mulla went to see a rich man. Read the first page
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews
19 of 19 people found the following review helpful
Nasrudin is a legendary figure of the "golden age" of Persian Islam, about whom many stories are told. These are in the form of humerous short stories (often little more than a paragraph) which carry a deeper meaning.
Idries Shah has transalated a number of Sufic works and is well respected for translating into English, whilst retaining wherever possible the humour contained in rhyme and the play of words. A superb book, serving as an introduction to the thinking of the Sufis
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5.0 out of 5 stars A masterpiece of spiritual enlightenment 24 May 2013
There are quite a few books in the Nasrudin genre. But this one stands in a league of its own as it is not just thoughtfully written (as you would expect from Idries Shah) but it is also very well illustrated. The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin is an engaging paperback with spiritual messages that linger on. This book contains readable snippets that are short enough to be read anywhere. They are meant as teaching niblets and they certainly do their job. The impressive Artwork of Errol Le Cain (with Richard Williams) is an integral part of this offering. Witty and illuminating, it's a treatise worth having. Now some younger readers may find the language slightly archaic, but to me that is another great feature of the book!
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good 9 Feb 2013
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
A good seletion of stories, They will come in handy for stories to children. Some stories short but I can elaborate.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Great condition and Very interesting 14 Dec 2012
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
Great stuff, with very interesting and funny stories for all ages. Great stories very short, great bathroom book and for other uses to.
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Amazon.com: 4.6 out of 5 stars  21 reviews
20 of 20 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Much more than entertainment. 21 Aug 1999
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
Each one of Idries Shah's three delightful Nasrudin books - The Pleasantries of the Incredible Mulla Nasrudin, the Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin and the Subtleties of the Inimitable Mulla Nasrudin - is not only the perfect gift for any thinking person with a sense of humor, but a fitting antidote to the stress, pressure and confusion of modern life. For beyond the laughter lie deeper levels of meaning that reveal themselves at their own pace and can help broaden our perception and increase our understanding. The bite-sized jokes center around Mulla Nasrudin, an age-old Middle Eastern teaching figure whose antics mirror those of the human mind as he juggles the roles of wise man, fool and our own self. Calling these jokes "perfectly designed models for isolating and holding distortions of the mind which so often pass for reasonable behavior," author Idries Shah notes that they have been used for centuries by the Sufis as teaching exercises. Other specialists - from physicists to psychologists - have employed them to illustrate concepts that defy more straightforward explanations. I've not seen anything like them anywhere else.
13 of 13 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A book that is a teacher 24 Mar 2000
By A Customer - Published on Amazon.com
I read this book many years ago wondering, 'What on earth do these tales mean?' I searched for meanings and morals in the jokes and situations the Mulla finds himself in. Only recently, upon rereading it, I saw what Shah has pointed out several times. The stories help pinpoint certain habits of mind including certain glitches in the thinking process that invalidate one's conclusions and ideas. Beyond that, I have found, upon examining these tales, a way of using the mind that avoids the glitches, the ditches, and the pitfalls to which human thought is often susceptible to. Do I recommend this book? Absolutely. It not only has shown my mind to me, it has shown the way to what my mind can become. The book is a teacher, a teacher that shows what's wrong, and in so doing, what may be the right way of using the mind and oneself.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars YOU CANNOT POSSIBLY PUT THIS BOOK DOWN 3 Jun 2007
By C. Scanlon - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
In the introduction to the book, the curse placed upon Nasrudin as a child by his teacher is related. Caught talking in class, holding all of his classmates enthralled with his stories, Nasrudin and his listeners received the eternal curse that no one from then on could hear one of his stories without hearing seven.

I could not put down this book. As usual I tried to browse,and tried to go back and forth among my usual half dozen books, but I could not put this book down. The ancient curse still holds. I had to read it all and all over again, taking notes and paraphrasing. Elsewhere a reviewer complains about the translation. So, hey, what's the big deal? REWRITE IT ALREADY!

Some of these stories were stolen directly by Henny Youngman and Milton Berle for their famous one liners (I am NOT making this up!). You can even uncover the source of Mark Twain's famous quip about the reports of his death being greatly exagerrated. Or do we all share the same source, with jokes about wives, donkeys, thieves and other work? Many of these brief stories remind me of the apophthegmes of the early Catholic Desert monks in Egypt and the absurdities related about them with great seriousness. Unfortunately in English we most often find them through BEnedicta Ward and The Sayings of the Desert Fathers (Cistercian studies 59). I prefer Solesmes's Dom Lucien Regnault's five volume collection, no longer in print. Other reviewers find an element of the Zen Koans here. Whatever they are, you cannot put this book down.

At first I found the elaborate cartoony pen and ink line illustrations by Richard Williams and Errol Le Cain offensive and even dare I say sacreligious (actually I do not dare to spell it!). But then I checked the copyright page and discovered they come from the original 1968 edition, and they became comprehensible within their historical context. We forty years later will never see the likes of this again. These were done by sheer human talent, without the aid of computers, with only a page and a stain. Amazing, and frequently incorporating the intricate scrolls of a Persian rug or mosque filligrees.

For this body of universal tales comes from the Sufi mystic branch of Islam. Nevertheless it could be often Il poverello Saint Francis of Assissi here riding a donkey in rags and disturbing everyone's accustomed and unjust modes of thinking. In this way it does serve as a Zen koan, to break us out of superficial and unhealthy thought patterns, to liberate us to the ground of all truth. And it is very funny stuff, which you cannot put down, and some of which you have heard on stage in old vaudeville and talk shows.

Look beyond your preconceptions. For your own enjoyment, and enlightenment, find this book today. With Nasrudin we would have no more ideological nor cultural nor genocidal nor religious wars for resources. We would all together be too darn busy listening and laughing to his great stories. It's a curse his teacher placed upon us all, long long ago!

For example:
Nasrudin was at a loose end. His wife told him to go for a walk. He started up the road, and continued walking for two days. Finally he met a man walking in the opposite direction. "When you arrive at my house," he said to him, "go in and ask my wife if I have gone far enough, or if she says I must walk further."

Rather reads like the Tao of Pooh, as well, no?
Also here is the origin of the Seven with one blow story.
8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The Moslem answer to Yogi Berra? 3 Oct 2004
By Neal J. Pollock - Published on Amazon.com
This is a collection of Sufi (Islamic mystics) teaching stories. Shah is famous for his many collections of them. I've read 10 of his books. They are invariably entertaining. The Sufi masters are referred to as idiots--they can appear as such to the uninitiated. Reminds one of some of the Hasidic and Elijah stories, Yogi Berra's quips, Tibetan Buddhists masters of Crazy Wisdom, and the Peter Sellers movie "Being There." It's sometimes hard to tell if the protagonist knows what he's doing or not. Some of the stories are easily understood by the reader; some are more like Zen koans. I found this book among the best of the ones I've read of his. You might also try his "Wisdom of the Idiots" or "The Dermis Probe." The latter is Shah's term for the dilemma of the 3 blind men differing over their descriptions of an elephant.
7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Those Darwin awards stories aren't anything new... 17 July 2002
By Mark Pollock - Published on Amazon.com
The trend during the last few years towards stories about stupid people brought us such non-classics (but entertaining reads) as "The 776 Stupidest Things Ever Said", "The Darwin Awards", and others. But what few people know is that such stories were circulating 1000 years ago in the Sufi storytelling tradition.
These stories are the equivalent of our "Urban Legends". Oddly enough, as I read this, I wish that I could view the world in such simple ways as the Mulla Nasrudin, who is the character in all these stories. His views, often twisted, very often completely at odds with his surroundings, are also very pragmatic, and make perfect sense in his mind.
These stories are tremendous fun, and rather thought-provoking.
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