Nasreddin Hodja Rapid Reading Exercise
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 Hodja’s 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 Islam’s 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 people’s 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 1480.
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.