woensdag 23 mei 2012

The Friday's Question

One of Nasruddin Hodha's duties in the village of Akshahir was to give the sermon at the mosque on Fridays. Many Fridays the Hodja enjoyed preaching. He had so much to say and he enjoyed looking down on the upturned faces of the congregation while he spoke words of wisdom inspired by the Koran and by the Hodja's wide experience of village life. There were other Fridays, however, when the Hodja had nothing to say.

It was on just such a Friday that Nasruddin Hodja made his way across the village square, through the great door of the mosque, through the crowd of people who had gathered to hear him, and up into the pulpit. He looked at the beautiful mosaics on the walls, at the carpets on the floor and at the faces below him. Nothing inspired him. His mind was blank. Yet he had to speak. The Hodja opened his mouth and said,

"O people of Akshahir! True believers, tell me please if what I am about to say to you, you know already."

Thrown off by his question, the people reply that there is no way they could know of the wisdom of the great Hodja. So he leaves them, saying that it would be of no use to talk about things unknown to them or to him. The gathered followers are larger in number the next week, and the Hodja again puts forth his question. This time, the people respond:

"Oh yes, of course we know what you are about to say to us."

But the Hodja again departs, saying it would be a waste of everyone's time to speak of things everyone knows already. A week later, when the mosque overflows with curious seekers, the people are ready for the Hodja's question. Half of them stand, confessing ignorance to knowing what the Hodja might say. Then the other half stand, claiming to know exactly what he will say.

The Hodja nods solemnly and speaks:

"Now I know how I can help you. The half who knows what I am going to say will now tell the other half exactly what that is. For this you have my blessing."

Based on a Nasreddin Hodja story; retold by Marcel van der Pol

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