by Kamran Zafar
A little humor goes a long way in our daily lives. Modern science and studies have found laughter to be similar to good medicine for a sickness. The history of humor, of course, is as old as human beings. Personally, I cannot perceive life without humor. It would perhaps be like a picture without colors. One great evolutionary achievement of humans may be the ability to use humor to tackle, or better resolve, complex day-to-day problems. Everyone is familiar with humor, but only a few possess it in the art form. These humor artists have used humor to teach us very valuable life lessons.
The Sufi mystics are known to have conveyed their message through personal example, poetry, and humor. A great name in Sufi humor is that of Mullah Nasruddin, also known as Hodja Nasreddin. Although many countries and cultures lay a claim to him, he is believed to have been a Sufi of the Seljuq times who lived and died during thirteenth century in Akshehir near Konya, the capital of the Seljuq Sultanate of Rum, in today’s Turkey. He is considered a satirical philosopher, an off-kilter Sufi, and a wise fool. He is remembered for his funny stories and anecdotes. His stories usually have subtle humor and a mystic message. A Nasruddin festival is celebrated in July every year in his hometown.
Here is an anecdote ascribed to him.
One day Mullah Nasruddin was passing through a busy bazaar of his hometown. Many of his disciples followed him. They were copying every move the Mullah was making. If he looked skyward, they looked skyward. If he bent down to touch his toes, they bent down to touch their toes. If he spread his arms in the air, they spread their arms in the air. All this looked silly to the onlookers. Wondering what was going on, one shopkeeper came to the Mullah and inquired. Mullah Nasruddin replied rather casually, “I am enlightening their minds.” “How?” asked the confused shopkeeper. Mullah replied, “It is simple. Every morning when they come to me, I count them and whoever is missing I consider his mind enlightened.”
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