English Writer Mansoor Shah has struck a chord with his adaptation of the humorous folklore character Mullah Nasruddin to the modern day. Mansoor has teleported the Mullah from the Middle Ages into the hustle and bustle of modern-day Marrakech.
People tell his stories and antics with great affection and endearment across Asia including Arabs, Persians, Uzbeks, and the Turkic Xinjiang in China. Some of his stories are linked with Sufi traditions and philosophical approaches – and they almost always come with a sting in the tail.
Mansoor’s book takes Mullah Nasruddin on a comic journey to meet the residents of Marrakech, listen to their problems and give them his own special brand of advice. Accompanied by pictures of the inhabitants and tourists of Marrakech, the book of mini adventures is a modern-day Don Quixote.
Mansoor, 57, of Radcliffe, Manchester said: "I have long been intrigued by the story of Mullah Nasruddin. Marrakech is steeped in the history and traditions of Sufism and it seemed to me the perfect place to drop this 12th century character and see how his wisdom and blunt advice is received by people in the 21st century!"
The book is already being well received, with Rochdale Library ordering 12 advance copies after Mansoor gave a reading there recently.
Mansoor, an academic and management consultant, is a published author with two books of Sufi poetry to his name. His last collection, A Sheesha in Radcliffe, garnered widespread publicity after the King of Morocco requested a copy. He has also published A Window in Radcliffe, another book of Sufi verse.
Mansoor is planning a series of Mullah Nasruddin publications taking the Mullah character to cities such as London, Paris, Istanbul and Dubai.
For readers of The View from Fez who have not come across Mullah Nasruddin, here is a typical story...
Mullah Nasruddin, a small-town judge, was arbitrating over a case before him in his judicial court in which the prosecuting attorney called his first witness, a grandmotherly, elderly woman to the stand.
He approached her and asked, 'Mrs. Alishah, do you know me?'
She responded, 'Why, yes, I do know you, Br Jallaludin. I've known you since you were a boy, and frankly, you've been a big disappointment to me. You lie, you cheat on your wife, and you manipulate people and talk about them behind their backs. You think you're a big shot when you haven't the brains to realize you'll never amount to anything more than an insignificant paper pusher. Yes, I know you.'
The lawyer was stunned. Not knowing what else to do, he pointed across the room and asked, 'Mrs. Alishah, do you know the defense attorney?'
She again replied, 'Why yes, I do. I've known Br. Kamruddin since he was a youngster, too. He's lazy, bigoted, and he has a drug problem. He can't build a normal relationship with anyone, and his law practice is one of the worst in the entire town. Not to mention he cheated on his wife with three different women. One of them was your wife. Yes, I know him.'
The defense attorney was aghast.
Judge Mullah Nasruddin asked both counselors to approach the bench and, in a very quiet voice, said, 'If either of you idiots asks her if she knows me, I'll have you both hung, drawn and quartered!'