Mulla/Hodja/Hoca Nasrudin is the starring character in a vast number of amusing tales told in regions all over the world, particularly countries in or near the Middle East. The character is a unique spin on a wise sage or philosopher character. He is sometimes wise, sometimes foolish, and sometimes both. He tends to be illogical yet logical, rational yet irrational, bizarre yet normal, and simple yet profoundly wise. Each Mulla Nasrudin tale depicts him in a different situation, and through his viewpoint they humorously reveal commentary and lessons on various life themes. The great allure of the tales is that they are funny as well as and educational and thought provoking. And although most of them depict Nasrudin in an early small village setting, the tales deal with concepts that have relevance to today’s universe and people.
It believed that the Mulla Nasrudin character is based on a real man who lived in the 1300s. However, many countries claim to be the origin of the actual man and his tales, and the true origins of Mulla Nasrudin are uncertain. Based on what we know, it seems like most of the tales are basically regional folktales and/or jokes, and not attributable to any once source.
Today, Mulla Nasrudin stories are told in a wide variety of regions, and have been translated into many languages. In many regions, Mulla Nasrudin is a major part of the culture, and is quoted or alluded to frequently in daily life. Since there are thousands of different Nasrudin stories, one can be found to fit almost any occasion.
Sufis also use Nasrudin stories frequently as learning and meditation tools, similar to the way Zen Buddhism practitioners use koans.
In different regions, the character goes by such aliases as Mulla Nasrudin, Hodja / Hoca Nasreddin, Nasreddin Hodja / Hoca, and Effendi.
(Variations of Mulla: Molla, Mullah, Mollah, Maualana. Variations of Nasrudin: Nasreddin, Nasruddin, Nasiruddin, Nastradin, Nasreddine, Nasredin, Nastradhin, Nasrettin, Nastratin, Nasr Eddin, Nasr Ud Din, Nasr Id Deen, Nasirud Din, Nasr Ed Dine, Stradin. Variations of Hodja / Hoca: Hocca, Hodscha, Khoja, Hoja, Hogia, Hodza, Hogea, Hodza, Khodja, Chotza, Chotzas, Joha, Juha. Variations of Effendi: Ependi, Afandi, Efendi)
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