Tales : Nasruddin and the providence of God

It happened once upon a time that Mullah Nasruddin was sitting with a friend in the market, conversing about such deeper topics as the generosity of the Almighty, when a certain businessman approached.

“Mullah,” said the businessman, “perhaps you would agree to do me a small favour. There is a certain man who wishes to sell a farm just outside the village, and I know that he is a friend of yours. I am sure that if you would talk to him for me, he would offer a better price. Here,” he said, proffering a small sack of gold, “take this to him, and see if you can soften his heart.”

The Mullah hesitated, and the businessman added ingratiatingly, “I assure you, Mullah, if you do me this favour, you will be richly rewarded.”

“Very well,” said Nasruddin, taking the money. “I will talk to him.” But when the businessman had gone, the friend said, “Nasruddin, why do you let yourself get mixed up in this business? That man is a terrible cheat.”

“Yes, I know,” said Nasruddin, “but the Almighty provides.” And with that, he left and went to talk with the man who wished to sell his farm.

A few days later, Nasruddin was again sitting in the market with his friend when the businessman returned. “Mullah,” he said eagerly, “is there any news?”

“Yes,” said Nasruddin, “my friend was willing to sell for a very low price. Here,” and he returned the sack, still half full, to the businessman.

“Heaven be praised,” said the businessman, “this is very good news!” And he turned, as if to go.

“Not so fast!” said Nasruddin’s friend. “What about a reward for the Mullah?”

“Rewards come from Above,” said the businessman, piously pointing upward. “Who am I to come between the Mullah and the Almighty? What I have is only dust. The Provider, from His infinite Abundance, will certainly reward His servant for his good deeds.” And without another word he left.

“I wonder,” said Nasruddin thoughtfully, watching the businessman depart, “what he will say when he learns that the Provider has rewarded me with the farm? The deed is in my name.”

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