It happened once upon a time that Mullah Nasruiddn gained a post serving in the house of a venerable and highly respected scholar. His duties were not heavy – mostly he was required to bring many cups of tea when the scholar had visitors.
One day, while the master was entertaining two guests, and they were deep in a scholarly conversation that seemed even longer than their beards, the Mullah began to smell smoke. Investigating, he discovered the lamentable fact that the house was on fire. Nasruddin immediately returned to the master and said, “Sir, you should flee. The house is on fire.”
“On fire, do you say? Have no fear, this is of no concern,” said the scholar, “for I have studied the matter extensively, and although it will astonish you, I know of no less than ten thousand ways in which to escape a fire.”
One of the guests then said, “You are truly learned, brother! I know of only a thousand ways to escape a fire, but from careful analysis I can declare without hesitation that they are all assured of success.”
Then the second guest said, “I bow before such wisdom as you both display. My own research seems trivial. I know of only a hundred ways of escaping fire, but nevertheless I have proved by my detailed study of the most reliable sources that each one of them is absolutely certain of preserving life and limb.”
“But tell us, Mullah,” said the master. “How many ways of escaping fire do you know?”
“Only one,” replied Nasruddin. “RUN!”