The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin

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The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin
The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin ISF book cover.jpg
Paperback book cover (2015 edition)
AuthorIdries Shah
CountryUnited Kingdom
PublisherOctagon Press, The Idries Shah Foundation
Publication date
1966, 2014
Media typePrint (Paperback), E-book, Audiobook
ISBN0-86304-022-5 (earlier paperback edition)

The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin is a book by the writer Idries Shah,[1][2] It consists of jokes and anecdotes involving the wise fool of Middle Eastern folklore, Mulla Nasrudin.[3] Published by Octagon Press in 1966, the book was re-released in paperback, ebook and audiobook editions by The Idries Shah Foundation in 2014 and 2015.

Shortly before he died, Shah stated that his books form a complete course that could fulfil the function he had fulfilled while alive. As such, The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin can be read as part of a whole course of study.[4]


Idries Shah

Part of a series of books, The Exploits of the Incomparable Mulla Nasrudin is a collection of anecdotes and jokes drawn from Middle Eastern folklore and the Sufi mystical tradition, which feature the populist Middle Eastern philosopher and wise fool, Mulla Nasrudin.[2][3][5]

Thousands of stories have been written around this popular folk character over the centuries, since his purported birth in the 13th century in what is now modern Turkey.[5]

Use of the materials[edit]

Masters in the Sufi mystical tradition have used these anecdotes and jokes as teaching stories, as part of their pupils' training in wisdom.[6]

The animator, Richard Williams illustrated the original series of Nasrudin books, and also created a film animation featuring the character, titled The Thief and the Cobbler, which was produced by Idries Shah's brother, Omar Ali-Shah. Unfortunately, this film was taken away from Williams before he had a chance to complete it.[3]

In an article in the Los Angeles Review of Books, writer John Zada uses the Sufi materials, including some of the Nasrudin tales, to explain developments in the contemporary world, such as the rise of Islamist fundamentalism under ISIS and the rise of Donald Trump. Zada is of the opinion that we need the Sufis' moderate and flexible thinking to counter polemics and fanaticism in all its forms.[7]

Collections of Mulla Nasrudin stories[edit]

Note: ISBNs refer to the original paperback editions, published by Octagon Press. For current ISBNs, see The Idries Shah Foundation.


  1. ^ Staff. "Idries Shah – Grand Sheikh of the Sufis whose inspirational books enlightened the West about the moderate face of Islam (obituary)". The Daily Telegraph. Archived from the original on 2000-05-25. Retrieved 2008-10-16.
  2. ^ a b Cecil, Robert (26 November 1996). "Obituary: Idries Shah". The Independent. Archived from the original on 27 November 2015. Retrieved 2015-11-27. Article has moved and is now incorrectly dated 18 September 2011.
  3. ^ a b c O'Connell, Rebecca (11 February 2016). "13 Beautiful Facts About The Thief and the Cobbler". Mental Floss. Mental Floss. Archived from the original on 14 April 2017. Retrieved 2017-04-14.
  4. ^ Shah, Tahir (2008). In Arabian Nights: A Caravan of Moroccan Dreams. New York, NY: Bantam. pp. 215–216. ISBN 0-553-80523-1.
  5. ^ a b Javadi, Hasan. "MOLLA NASREDDIN i. THE PERSON". Encyclopaedia Iranica. Archived from the original on 17 November 2015. Retrieved 2015-12-07.
  6. ^ Snowden, David (1 March 1999). "Story telling: an old skill in a new context". Business Information Review. Sage Publications. 16 (1): 30–37. doi:10.1177/0266382994237045.
  7. ^ Zada, John (28 February 2017). "A BEACON OF SANITY IN OUR AGE OF POLARITY: ON CONTEMPORARY SUFISM AND THE WORKS OF IDRIES SHAH". Los Angeles Review of Books (BLARB blog). Los Angeles Review of Books. Archived from the original on 14 April 2017. Retrieved 2017-04-14.

External links[edit]