The Hodja was boasting about the power of his faith.
“If your faith is so strong, then pray for that mountain to come to you,” said a skeptic, pointing to a mountain in the distance.
The Hodja prayed fervently, but the mountain did not move. He prayed more, but the mountain remained unmoved.
Finally, the Hodja got up from his knees and began walking toward the mountain. “I am a humble man,” he said, “and the faith of Islam is a practical one. If the mountain will not come to the Hodja, then the Hodja will go to the mountain.”
There are few things better than this short anecdote to describe Turkey’s (and perhaps all of Islam’s) best-known trickster, Nasreddin Hodja. As in the anecdote, he was a humble man who believes in Islam’s faith is practical. Also, not only from this anecdote but also from the other hundreds of them, he is famous for his simple and impish explanations of complex issues.
There are many hodjas and scholars in history that we need to learn about them to broaden our horizons and get inspired. But, why do we need to introduce Nasreddin Hodja to our kids?
- He was a well-educated man in his era and region, that is 13th century in Anatolia (Turkey now). He was teaching at schools and also served as a judge in the community he lived in. People had -and still have- great affection and trust in him because of his good character and inspiring communication skills. His life story and teachings could inspire our kids in many ways.
His being a farceur person shows us that being a “good” person does not have to mean being “boring” all the time. This is important for kids.
- Nasreddin Hodja’s importance lies not in the incidents told about him, but in the meaning behind his amusing words and their satirical or amusing elements. Studies of his words show that, he expressed the lifestyle, sense of humor, and slightly satirical manner of the people of Anatolia, and that his words are not to be seen as confined to one particular period or time. The anecdotes about him focus particularly on love, satire, praise, and gentle mockery.
- Sometimes we take Islamic issues way too seriously and respond to our kids’ questions about Islam in a sharp and harsh way (maybe because of the anxiety that comes with lack of knowledge or the fear of causing something wrong in our kids’ future life as a Muslim). Nasreddin Hodja, on the other hand, preferred to oppose the stricter elements of Islamic law with laughter, even self-mockery, and a desire to avoid using harsh words. His words are a contradictory combination of the wise, ignorant, cunning, harmonious, insensitive, bashful, surprised, timorous, and dashing.
- Beliefs about the hereafter also have an important place in these tales. We can use Nasreddin Hodja’s amusing anecdotes to explain complex issues like life after death.
- Anecdotes of Nasreddin Hodja are so rich and involve many different characters. People from different backgrounds, animals like donkeys, children games, joyful settings… This kind of richness will support your kids’ imagination and let them find themselves in at least one of the stories.
The list goes and goes… Nasreddin Hodja’s tales and anecdotes are being told for ages and will continue to be told forever and ever. His different approaches to Islamic and social issues will enrich kids’ sense of Islam in a healthy and genuine way.
If you like to tell your kids about Nasreddin Hodja, you can have a look at the Nasreddin Hodja series by Timas Kitab. The series has 10 books with ten different stories that are illustrated very beautifully. Let your kids meet Nasreddin Hodja and many other scholars to learn Islam in a healthier way with a sense of sincerity.