I understand that you like to tell “Mullah” stories. Could you share one with me?
“Mullah is a traditional character they attribute a lot of stories to him… and you know, they’re, they’re, usually as funny stories, but then on the other hand has quite a bit of meaning to every story.
This story goes like this, uhh… Mullah and his friend they were getting together, it was at night. So they were kinda challenging each other if, uhh… anybody can stay out there in the cold, it was really cold, night. And uhh, be able to survive until the morning.
Mullah says ‘well, I’m gonna do that, I’m gonna try that.’
So he stays out there, in real cold, but he endures, you know, and he had some experience, he endures the cold night. So in the morning they get , they get together, and he explains to his friends that he really, uhh… survived the cold, you know, last night.
They said, ‘nuh uh, it’s impossible.’ Uhh… you know, ‘You couldn’t have survived. You must have had some help. Maybe you had some fire? You made some fire?’
He says, ‘No! There was nothing! uhh… it’s just endurance, and I endured the uhh…’ uhh… I… I was supposed to say it in Farsi!” [laughs]
That’s okay! You can finish in English and tell the Farsi version [later]. (And MB did tell the full story in Farsi, but transcribing the entire story in phonetics would take an immense amount of time. I skip ahead here to the English explanation.)
“The English goes like this, uhh, Mullah and his friends, they were uhh, together, and they were getting together one cold night.
So they started challenging each other who can uhh… stay out there in that cold weather and uhh, survive until morning. And if anybody can do it, you know, they buy him lunch.
Mullah says, ‘Oh, I’m gonna try that!’ So he goes out there in the cold, and uhh, really cold night, and it was suffering all night and everything, but he, because of his experience, he endures the cold.
So in the morning they get together, Mullah says ‘You know, I managed to stay out there in the cold.’
But his friend says ‘Well, that’s impossible, nobody can do that. You must have had some fire keeping you warm all night.’
He says, ‘No, there was no fire. But on second thought, I could see a light several miles away. All night.’
His friends say, ‘Well, that’s it! That light kept you warm all night!’
Then Mullah says, ‘Okay, you folks won, and I lost, so I prepare you lunch tomorrow. I’ll make you some, uhh, soup… for lunch.’
They all say, ‘Great!’
They come to his house, wait an hour, nothing happens, two hours, they wait two hours, no sign of lunch. So they ask Mullah, says ‘Well, what’s happening?’
Mullah says, ‘Still cooking!’
They say, ‘Well wait a minute! How long is it gonna be cooking! Let’s go out there and, uhh, see what’s going on!’ So they go out there and see a big pot of soup with a candle underneath.
They say, his friends say, ‘Well, Mullah, this is stupid. This candle is not going to heat up that big pot and make your soup.’
Mullah says, ‘Well, if that light several miles away could keep me warm all night, this candle should be able to also cook your lunch.’
His friends realize that they, you know, made a mistake, and uhh, says, ‘Okay, we’ll buy you lunch, Mullah, you won.’ End of story.”
Note: For a published version of this story, see Houman Farzad, Classic Tales of Mulla Nasreddin (
Analysis: Mullah Nasreddin stories are very common in Persian culture. They are often used for humor and for imparting wisdom to older children, but are commonly told at all stages of life. There are countless encounters attributed to Mullah Nasreddin, and many have been documented in published works. For another version of this story, see:
MB is especially fond of this Mullah story, and was animated while telling it. MB made a habit of telling Mullah stories to his grandchildren after family dinners in order to get them to laugh and to understand more adult concepts like happy marriages, compromises, good friendships, and general wisdom.