My beloveds, I travelled again to the village of my friend Tekka, after years away. He had become very devout in his ways, sometimes a little pompous, but still the kind soul I had loved for years.
I visited him, and we picked up our friendship as if we had never been apart.
“Nasruddin, you are a light to the eyes,” said Tekka, “Please stay with me. I insist.”
I accepted his kind invitation. He showed me my sleeping room, with a window to the east, and the bed made up. “I have arranged it so your head faces toward Mecca,” he said proudly. “You must always sleep with your head toward Mecca, out of respect for the Prophet, on whom be peace.”
My first night, I tossed and turned, and finally fell asleep. I am apparently an active sleeper, for when Tekka shook me awake the next morning, he was very agitated.
“Nasruddin, I am disappointed in you!” I looked at myself, and said, “I am often disappointed in myself, Tekka, what seems to be today’s problem?”
“You have slept with your feet toward Mecca! This is most disrespectful!”
“My apologies, Tekka, it was unintentional. I am a very active sleeper.”
Tekka was mollified, but insisted that the next night I must do better. I promised I would.
The next night resembled the first. I slept well, after some tossing and turning, but awoke to find my feet on my pillow and my head resting on the floor at the end of the sleeping mat. Just as I realized my predicament, Tekka stood in the door and clucked in concern.
“This will never do, Nasruddin. I am a good citizen and a good Muslim. You must sleep with your feet pointing the opposite way from Mecca, and your head pointing toward Mecca, out of respect for the Prophet and devotion to Allah.”
“What is your reason for insisting on this, my friend?” I asked.
“You must not point your feet toward God!” he said, and repeated it. “You must point your head toward God and your feet away from Him.”
I thought about this. We spent the day together, and that night Tekka was most emphatic. “Nasruddin,” he said, “If you cannot sleep with your head toward God, I regret to say I cannot have you in my house. It pains me to say this to an old friend, but my devotion is to Allah.”
The third night was much like the other two, except that this time I awoke with my nose pressed against the floor at the foot of the sleeping mat. It was pushed out of shape, and I was rubbing it when Tekka appeared. His face was clouded with anger and sadness.
“Before you speak, Tekka, answer me this,” I said, springing up. “Does Allah rule over everything, even the fate of men?”
“You know he does,” replied Tekka, puzzled.
“Is Allah there in every part of His creation?”
“Of course he is!”
I pointed out the window at the birds rising from the edge of the well. “Does he live in the birds of the air?”
“Yes,” said Tekka. “Why are you asking these questions?”
“Please have patience with an old friend,” I replied. “Is Allah everywhere, even across the desert and the mountains?”
“Allah is the creation. Allah is in the creation, and is the lord over the creation!” exclaimed Tekka.
“So, Tekka,” I said, holding out my feet. “Point my feet where God is not!”