Tales of a Wise Mullah

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A Wise Mullah

These Arabic tales are taken directly from the Thousand and One Arabian Nights and contains many short takes of a Mullah, or a teacher of the law in the Islamic faith. These stories are not intended to belittle the Islamic peoples, but are told much the same way we tell stories about ministers, rabbis and priests. They were presented as campfire tales.

THERE WAS A WISE MULLAH in the lands of Allah who taught in the streets and the market place. He was much respected by the people for his wisdom in the writings and his knowledge of Mohammed. But he was best known for his wit, which some said was sharper than the headsman's axe and twice as final.

One day the Mullah and his wife were in the village buying goods for the feast to be held that week. He saw a man he had counseled to the faith and who had yet to renounce his infidel Christian ways. He walked up to the man and greeted him with a holy blessing.

"I thank you" the infidel replied. "And how do you fare, good Mullah?"

The Mullah answered him. "I am blessed by Allah with a good wife and many fine children. You can see how Allah blesses the true believers in this land. You are still a bachelor, and an infidel. I am sure that if you took up the true faith Allah would grant you a wife."

The young man answered, "I am not convinced that getting a wife is enough to make me convert."

The Mullah had perceived that this young man was quite taken with the fairer sex, and so he explained to him; "Mohammed, in his wisdom, decreed that it was Allah's will that a man be allowed to have as many wives as he wishes. I know that your infidel faith does not allow more than one wife."

This impressed the young man. "This is true. I might be persuaded by such an argument."

At this time the Mullah's wife began to shout after him, calling in a most ungracious way to cease his gossiping and carry her purchases. This caused the infidel to ask; "If you are allowed many wives, why is it that you, a Mullah have only one wife?"

"The answer is simple," the Mullah replied. "The prophet said it was allowed, he never said it was a good idea!"

THE WISE MULLAH was not a rich man, but he lived next door to a wealthy goldsmith who was a Jew. The fact that he was a Mullah merited him his place in so wealthy a neighborhood, but it did not make him popular with his neighbors. Every day he would go out on the street in front of his house and spread his prayer rug. Then in a loud voice he would cry "Allah, I have served you many years. Oh you are just. But would that you give me one hundred gold coins, as a reward for my work. My good neighbor is a Jew and an infidel, yet you have made him rich. If it is not against your will, let me have one hundred gold pieces."

For an hour each day he would pray this way. One morning the goldsmith said to himself, "I will shut him up. it will be a small price to pay!" So he took up the purse at his belt, that contained eighty-seven gold pieces, and threw it into the air in such a way that it fell to the earth as if from heaven right in front of the Mullah. Plop!

At first the Mullah was overjoyed, and praised Allah, but soon he counted it and resumed his prayers. "Oh merciful and generous Allah, I did ask for one hundred pieces of gold, and here you have given me eight-seven. I know that if a faithful man prays you will give him what he asks, so I will not keep this. Instead I shall give it to my neighbor, who is a Jew and an infidel, that he may see the generosity of Allah, and change his ways."

Then the Mullah took the purse to the goldsmith and went his way. The goldsmith was amazed, and said to himself "I must test this further." So the next day he prepared a purse with one hundred and one pieces of gold, and waited until the Mullah went out to pray. Once again the Mullah cried, "Allah, I have served you many years. Oh you are just. But would that you give me one hundred gold coins, as a reward for my work. My good neighbor is a Jew and an infidel, yet you have made him rich. If it is not against your will, let me have one hundred gold pieces."

Then the goldsmith threw this purse into the air as the last one, and it landed in front of the Mullah, plop! Once again the Mullah seemed overjoyed, but when he counted the coins he said, "Oh Allah, you are indeed merciful, I asked for one hundred pieces of gold, and you have given me one hundred and one. I know that if a faithful man prays you will give him what he asks, so I will not keep the extra one coin. Instead I shall give it to my neighbor, who is a Jew and an infidel, that he may see the generosity of Allah, and change his ways."

THE WISE MULLAH was sitting in the market place, teaching, when three boys ran past him in a great rush. "Get out of our way, old one," they cried. "We are chasing the sweetmeat seller."

"Stop that!" cried the students of the Mullah. "Have you no respect for a wise and famed Mullah?"

"Let it pass," said the Mullah. In time Allah will deal with them.

Soon three young men ran past, upsetting the Mullah's stool. "Find somewhere else to sit, graybeard!" they cried. "There are girls to be chased!"

"Immoral!" cried the students. "Have you no respect for a wise and learned Mullah?"

"Let it pass," said the Mullah. In time Allah will deal with them.

Then at noon three married men ran up to the Mullah. "Hide us oh wise Mullah!" they cried. Our wives are chasing after us!"

"There," said the Mullah. "Hide yourselves in the camel stalls. Lay beneath the camels and your wives will not find you."

Then he turned to his students. "Allah is wise. If you chase after pleasure, pleasure will chase after you. If a fool knocks a wise man into the dirt, he ends up in dung."

THE WISE MULLAH AND HIS WIFE heard another Mullah proclaiming wisdom. "Allah has seen the infidel and has seen they are as many as the seeds on the wind.

Therefore it is good that we all make children to strengthen the faith. In fact it is said that Allah builds a mansion in heaven every time a man makes love to his wife, as a reward for your faithfulness.

That evening, the Mullah's wife waked him. "Come," she said, let us build a mansion in heaven.

"Very well," he replied, and proceeded to do his duty.

An hour or so later she awakened him again. "Oh," she cried, "we have a son in the army! We should build a mansion for him, for he may not live to build his own!"

"Very well," said the Mullah, and he proceeded again to his husbandly duty.

Perhaps another hour went by, and she cried again. "Our other son is so young; what if he should die? We should prepare a mansion for him as well!"

"Very well," said the Mullah, and he proceeded again to his husbandly duty.

Then after another hour she cried yet again. "I have a maiden aunt who is so old she may die at any time. We should prepare a mansion for her as well!"

"Wait!" cried the Mullah. "We must buy torches!"

"Why?" asked his wife.

"Tomorrow Allah must make the sun rise. He will have no time now if he builds all those mansions!"