Nasreddin Hoca


I saw this stencil on a wall in Istanbul.

Nasreddin Hoca/Hoja/Hodja/Joha is a mythic folkloric figure in the Islamic world. He is at once a fool and a wise man, and his anecdotes teach lessons through the complexity and wisdom of his seemingly simple actions. He has many names, depending on the country, and many cultures claim him as their own, particularly the Turks, Persians, and Afghans. Children all over the Islamic world hear his stories and are taught by the wisdom of his ways. Often he is represented riding backwards on his donkey, with whom he shares many stories.


Much of Nasreddin’s actions can be described as illogical yet logical, rational yet irrational, bizarre yet normal, foolish yet sharp, and simple yet profound. What adds even further to his uniqueness is the way he gets across his messages in unconventional yet very effective methods in a profound simplicity. (From wiki)

When I was teaching in Yemen I would use Hoca stories, translated to English, while teaching English. All my students knew dozens of stories about him, and would bend over backwards trying to tell the tale in English.

My favorite Hoca story is like this: Hoca, his grandson, and his donkey are making the long walk home from town. The child is on the donkey and Hoca is walking alongside when they pass a group of people. He hears one say, “That poor old man! This child rides while he walks in this heat? My dear…” So the kid gets down and Hoca rides for a bit. A little later, they meet another group, and he again hears someone say, “That poor kid, made to walk while the grown-up rides!? My dear…” So he takes the kid and they both ride. Again, a group comes and he overhears, “That poor donkey!” So they both walk, and the donkey carries nothing. Later he hears someone laughing, and sees a group of men under a tree laughing at the two fools who chose to walk, even though they have a perfectly good donkey. Finally, they decide to carry the donkey. The moral of the story is that you can’t please everybody all the time.

~ by Josh on December 2, 2008.

2 Responses to “Nasreddin Hoca”

  1. Dear Josh, I’m Simona, from Marseille. I’m very interesting on your work. With my association I’m running a project on the communs values in Mediterranean area. We work with students from four differents countries about Nasreddin. I’m preparing a web site to allow ours students to know each other and i would to use somes photos for our site. It’s possible ?
    Thank you for your answer

  2. one day a friend of hoca visits him. As they talk to eachother; his friend wants to jape him. He tells hoca;
    -They say that your wife is wandering so much;
    hoca replies;
    -just rumour, had she done so she would come home from time to time..

    best regards…:)

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