Who Is Nasreddin Hodja?
Nasreddin Hodja was a
contemporary of the famous Chinese king Timurlane, who invaded Anatolia (modern day Turkey) around
the year 1280. Depending on what country you come from, Nasreddin Hodjas name varies: Mullah
Nasruddin (Iran and Pakistan), Joha (Arabian Peninsula and the Middle East),
Hodja (Turkey). He is known by various names from Morocco to China. Whether he is called Hodja, Mullah
Nasruddin or Joha, he is Islams best-known trickster.
Nasreddin Hodja was born in 1250 A.D. in the
small Turkish village of Hortu, which is near the larger town of Sivrihisar. His father was the imam
of the village. The family later moved to the city of Aksehir, where Hodja became the dervish (or
darweesh) of two famous Islamic mystics. During his life, Hodja also worked as a university
professor in Istanbul until he died. He is buried in Aksehir in what is now Central Turkey. His
tombstone is inscribed with the date 1285.
Many people heard about Nasreddin Hodja and soon his stories spread
over a large area, but mainly in countries under the Ottoman Empire and where only Turkish was
spoken. Many stories and books are still written about him and most jokes are about funny things that
happened during peoples everyday life. A lot of times, the jokes and stories often make fun of
Nasreddin. The oldest Hodja story is found in the book called Saltukname, which was written in
The legacy of Nasreddin
Hodja is still celebrated today. Every year, between July 5-10, many people go to the International
Nasreddin Hodja Festival; it is organized in Aksehir, where his tomb is. To keep Hodja alive, Turkish
writers and artists have used his stories in drama, music, movies (especially cartoons), comic strips
and paintings. The city of Bukhara in Uzbekistan also honours the memory of Hodja with a picture of
him riding his donkey backwards and grasping its tail (as he is traditionally represented in
drawings). Even though Hodja is dead, he still lives on in his stories and jokes.