Once the country was in a great mess because the king was young and foolish and was in reality ruled by his evil vice regent. The king’s answer to all problems was, “Executioner, off with his head.” And the vice regent had Imperial plans of his own.
Under the king and the vice regent (or as the people called him “regent of all vices”) Persia had already captured the two neighboring countries of Iraq and Afghanistan and was planning to attack more countries.
The Shahanshah (king of kings) kept talking in simplistic gibberish – seeinh everything as black and white. Why he was once even overheard saying, “You are either for us or you are against us.” This had pissed off all the neutral surrounding countries (like the Ottoman Empire and Armenia) to no end….
In the meanwhile the people were suffering, and the rich were getting richer while the normal people saw all their wealth go down the drain thanks to Imperial ambitions (and over-reach) of the vice regent.
So the people asked Mullah Nasrudin to go to the court to get some sense into the Shah’s head. The Mullah got an audience with the foolish king and started trying to talk about and teach him about nuance and shades of gray.
The king got angry and shouted, “Nasrudin, either something is true or it isn’t. There can be no other thing.”
Mullah Nasrudin replied, “Sire, you may be wrong there. Truth at times is not so simple.”
The Shahanshah called his chief executioner and said, “Tomorrow morning you’ll stand at the main gate of Isphehan (the capital of Persia-Iran at the time) and you’ll ask each person a question. If the person tells the truth you will allow him entrance to the city. But if he lies, you’ll behead him immediately.”
The king then dismissed Nasrudin saying, “Tomorrow morning you’ll understand there’s only one truth.”
That night the chief executioner sharpened his axes and set himself up at the West gate of Isphehan as they opened the gate to let the villagers in. The first person entering was Mullah Nasrudin himself.
The executioner smiled and allowed his axe to glisten in the morning sun as he asked Nasrudin, “Where are you going.”
Nasrudin bowed, smiled back and said, “By his majesty’s order I’m going to be beheaded.”
The executioner said, “You lie.”
Nasrudin replied, “If I lie, you have to execute me by the Shahanshah’s orders.”
The executioner said, “But if I behead you, you would have told the truth and by his majesty’s order I have to let you free entrance to the the city!”
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