The Khoja Teaches a Lesson
A story from Turkey
Submitted by Professor Nazeer Ahmed
Khoja Nasiruddin is a household name in Turkey. Whether it is a tour guide in Istanbul or a taxi driver in Konya, he has a story to tell about the Khoja. These stories reflect the age old wisdom of a mature civilization. They are also uplifting and entertaining.
One day the Khoja was traveling on his donkey through a village when he noticed that a large group of agitated men was gathered around a well. Several women stood a short distance away, wailing inconsolably.
The Khoja got down from his donkey, tied it to a tree and approached the crowd.
“What is going on here?” asked the Khoja.
“A man fell down the well and we do not know how to get him out”, someone in the crowd replied.
“Bring me a rope and I will help you” said the Khoja.
A young man ran to a house and brought back a thick, long twisted rope. The Khoja carefully lowered the rope into the well and shouted to the man who had fallen in to tie the rope securely around his waist and firmly hold onto it with both hands. He then asked four strong men in the crowd to pull the rope.
When the hapless man was rescued, the villagers shouted “Allahu Akbar” with joy. The women stopped wailing, raised their hands up to the heavens and prayed for the Khoja.
Word got out about the exploits of the Khoja and his fame spread far and wide. People started to look upon him as a man of wisdom and sound judgment.
A few months later, as the Khoja rode his donkey through another village, he noticed that a house was on fire. A large crowd had gathered, shouting, pointing their fingers at the roof of the burning house. When they saw the Khoja, they pleaded with him.
“O wise Khoja. Please help us. The house is on fire and there is a man trapped on the roof. We do not know what to do.”
“Do not worry”, said the Khoja. “Bring me a rope”.
A rope was brought. The Khoja threw it to the man trapped on the roof and asked him to tie it securely around his waist and hold on firmly to it. He then asked four young men to pull the rope.
The trapped man came crashing down to the ground and was dragged out of the fire. The villagers cheered the Khoja, praising him that he had rescued yet another man from a dire predicament. They took a procession through the village with the Khoja on his donkey to celebrate.
When they returned to the burnt house, they noticed that the man who had been pulled from the roof was still lying on the ground, motionless as a rock. They checked his breath and found that he was dead.
They turned to the Khoja and asked him, “What have you done? The man is dead.”
The Khoja thought for a moment and replied, “Ugh! It worked the last time.”
The Khoja had taught an eternal lesson: The solutions of the past do not always work in the present. Each situation must be assessed in its context and new solutions must be evolved.