Saturday, March 25, 2006

Sufi Stories

I've been intrigued by the wise and humane stories of the Sufis since I read in William Dalrymple's 'City Of Djinns' of a Persian warrior who was marching to battle:

The warrior was carrying a bow but no arrows. On the road he met a friend who asked why he had not brought any ammunition. "How will you fight?" asked his friend. "I will use the arrows sent by the enemy," he replied. "But what if no arrow comes?" "Then, "replied the bowman, "there will be no war."

I take a very firm line on the need to confront bigots and loonies but this is very salutory reminder that there are very much nobler traditions in Islam than the frothing of fanatics.

Many stories feature a kind of holy fool - Mullah Nasrudin Hodja - and I was delighted to find that a favourite joke/story of my father's seems to be a version of a Middle Eastern original:

A man saw Mullah Nasrudin searching for something on the ground.
'What have you lost, Mullah?' he asked.
'My key,' said the Mullah.
So the man went down on his knees too, and they both looked for the lost key.
After a time, the other man asked, 'Where exactly did you drop it?'
'In my house,' replied the Mullah.
'Then why are you looking here?'
'There is more light here than inside my house.'

I'd like to know more and looks like a good place to start.

"Nasrudin, is your religion orthodox?"
"It all depends," said Nasrudin, "on which bunch of heretics is in power."

No comments: