Author: PhD. Farida AZIZOVA
Traditionally, all civilizations have developed around certain interlinked centres, hence determining the further development of the humankind through an uninterrupted chain of successors in the history of human culture. Establishing close ties between these centres has been possible thanks to the 'chosen' people—the messengers illuminating the rest of the world with Light, Knowledge and Insight. One of such true torchbearers was the great Azerbaijani poet of international recognition from Shamakhi, Imadaddin Nasimi—a herald of universal Love and Dignity, who had the courage to compare a man to the Creator!
'Both worlds are my inauguration. In your essence I begin', Nasimi
Back in the 1970s, the national leader of Azerbaijan Heydar Aliyev initiated the celebration of the 600th anniversary of Nasimi under the auspices of UNESCO. After forty-six years, President of Azerbaijan Ilham Aliyev declared the year of 2019 the Year of Nasimi in Azerbaijan. First celebrations devoted to this occasion started already at the end of last year with the Nasimi Festival held in Azerbaijan (September 28-30, 2018) and a scientific conference held in Moscow. The solemn opening ceremony of a monument to the great poet also took place in the same year. UNESCO declared the year of 2017 as the Year of Nasimi.
In fact, among other things shaping the timeless fame of the poet is his own personality, which had absorbed the best of the best thanks to poet's rich contacts with almost all the cultures of his time, past and present. He has managed to transfer to future generations the power of the Word and its Letters. His noble mission was to mediate, to disseminate ideas throughout the world as the Great Messiah. Thanks to his beautiful poetry, we can now understand Nasimi's perception of everything surrounding him, the Universe... But can something beautiful come into being suddenly from nothing?!
'Both worlds within my compass come, but this world cannot compass me', Nasimi
Undoubtedly, these gems of poetry were the product of a long evolutionary path in the depths of the Turkic consciousness, which had remained unintegrated for several centuries, thereby forcing the poet's predecessors to create within an alien linguistic system. Having been discarded as needless, Turkic poetry could not be recited in the palaces of alien rulers, whereas Nasimi had improved his talent upon the cultural heritage coming from the ancient traditions of oral dastans, epic monuments like the Book of Dede Gorgud. He has referred substantively to the works of both Persian-speaking luminaries, such as Nizami and Khagani, and Arabic-speaking Azerbaijani poets of the 8th-11th centuries. With the spread of Islam and the entry of Azerbaijan into the orbit of the Arab-Muslim civilization, when the Arabic language—the language of the Quran—became a supranational means of communication among the peoples of the Caliphate, every individual would become perforce a representative of at least two three cultures—his own, Arab and Persian.
Nevertheless, pre-Islamic Turkic heritage, the native verbal fabric of the narrative of Turkic peoples, used to get through the texture of foreign languages, decorating Arabic and Persian verses with incidental speckles of Turkic dialects, including proverbs, aphorisms, refrains, repetitions, references, etc. In subsequent centuries, the existing traditions of Turkic peoples have been carefully improved through considerable rethinking, which ensured the continuity of Turkic poetry.
Despite the deepest split in society after the adoption of Islam (breakoff between the elite and the people, also in literature), popular traditions continued to live, albeit orally, feeding the classical poetry with individual elements. Distinctive features of Turkic versification can be found in classical Arab poetry of the Umayyad period, especially in the Abbasid poetry (8th-9th centuries): rhyme is almost imperceptible in a natural, smooth flow of words, verses sound freely like a prose. For added fluency, poets used the technique known as taqreer—repetition of individual words within a verse. It is one of the key techniques used in the Book of Dede Gorgud as well, the texts of which are close to the poems written in the runic verse. Occasional use of proverbs is a pre-Islamic tradition of the Turkic peoples. The same tradition can be traced to the works of Nasimi: "Only the one who has experienced the pain of parting knows the true value of meeting." or "One cannot appreciate a face without comprehending the beauty." For example, the literary form of takhallus, unnatural to Arabic poetry and dating back to 779 (the end of the Damascus Umayyads), appeared in Farsi only in the 10th century. In fact, the tradition of using pen names by poets has been known in all forms of poetry, becoming a canonical way to complete a verse in ghazals, which had detached from the Arab form of poem, qasida, to become an independent form of classical Oriental literature. Nasimi has regularly used takhallus in his poems: "Nasimi, you are the breath of fresh air. So close you are to us, oh dear!" Trilingualism of Nasimi is evident thanks to his divans written in Farsi and Turkish and two ghazals in Arabic included in the Istanbul Divan published in 1844. In 2014, Esra Kuru published a muwashshah of Nasimi in The Journal of Academic Social Science.
'I am the hidden treasure…', Nasimi
The found muwashshah of Nasimi has yet to be researched, but it is important to know that he was fluent in three languages. So, in fact, we are dealing with a single source of literature. According to Soviet Orientalist Yevgeny Bertels, "the division of literature into Persian, Arabic, and Turkish, as with Nasimi, is purely arbitrary, for the subject matter, as well as the external forms are all the same. The difference is only in the language." Is not it a reasonable explanation of Nasimi's masterpieces? It turns out that they have appeared not accidentally at all...
Similar to his predecessors, the poet has skilfully used the entire set of available literary tools, including proverbs and idioms generally found in the colloquial speech and folklore. Having been intricately interwoven into the fabric of Arab-Muslim literature by Nasimi's pen brothers, they had been known in Arabic and Persian poetry for many centuries.
According to Abdulazal Demirchizadeh, Azerbaijani Soviet linguist, "Nasimi used to write ghazals, qasidas, masnawi, fakhriya, rubai using the main dimensions of the aruz metrical system available in all the poetic forms of his time. He even created verses that are very close to a syllabic heja system. Therefore, his works are the richest and most credible source of reference for the Azerbaijani literary language."
Arabic poetry of the eleventh century has examples similar to the Qasida-i Tantarani by Muinaddin Abu Nasr Ahmed bin Abd ar-Razzag Maraghi, who has managed to use in Arabic the poetic figures of certain graphic pattern and stanza similar to Turkic folk rhythms.
Thus, we can see a deep connection, continuity of centuries-old traditions rooted in the common Turkic culture, an intimate relation between the poetry and oral folklore, which has later resulted in ghazals, rubai and tuyugs. According to Bertels, such a relation was unique to the poetry written in Turkic languages only.
We have tried to determine how the elements of native culture had been brought into the foreign culture for centuries. Only the poet, who could speak fluently his native language and later tried to transplant all its nuances from the alien culture into his native one, could achieve this level of professionalism. Otherwise, it is impossible to explain the masterpieces of Nasimi written in his native language. The works of Nasimi are the product of a long literary development...
'Because in me both Earth and Heaven and Creation’s BE! were found', Nasimi
The secret of Nasimi's masterpieces written in his native language is the continuity of progressing historical development. We will not be wrong by saying that it was the Azerbaijani people, which erected the first monument to Love. No one else but the classics of Azerbaijani literature, including Nasimi’s predecessors like Nizami and Khagani, has ever created epic and lyrical pieces of poetry so distinctive in their splendour, greatness and rebelliousness. That is why Nasimi reached heights not only as a poet but also as a philosopher. According to his greatest teachers, Love, if it is sincere and encompassing, denounces (fana'a) the identity of a human being, his ego, dissolving it in the being of the Creator (God).
The conclusion made by the greatest Master Ibn al-Arabi (1165-1240) is simple and in harmony not only with his era: love is the cause and driving force of the Universe. Nothing would exist without love. Surely, love, in its perfect form, makes an individual immortal. Is this the secret of Nasimi's immortality?! The Almighty sent a man to earth to earn the love and be loved as much as he knew how to love...
The highest value of human personality is creativity, which is accompanied by love, is comparable to the creativity of the Creator, who has created man with love. Human creativity is akin to the creativity of the Almighty, which has later led to the deification of man, the unity of Man and God through poetry, for one can reach God only through poems.
'I am the stars, the sky, the angel, revelation come from God', Nasimi
A 12th century Azerbaijani poet Nizami Ganjavi believed that a poet hides a key to the treasury in his mouth. God—Individual—Creativity (words, letters) are all on the same plane, shaping the foundation of true being (Truth). Plenty of medieval thinkers and knights of the pen have put considerable efforts to interpret the symbolism of the idea and universal mysteries hidden in letters. However, according to Azada Rustamova, researcher of medieval Azerbaijani classical literature, "Nasimi focused not on the literal symbolism of hurufism, but on its deep essence. He adopted it as a school of high morality and spirituality, as a guide to civic behaviour. The concept of hurufism on the elevation of an ideal person to divine heights (the Man God) has manifested in sparkling colours in the magical prism of art of Nasimi…"
The idea of the incarnation of the Creator (Ənə-l-haqq, I am the Truth) is a pivotal line of the Hurufi philosophy, which does not deny Love but makes it dependent on prophetic letters and sounds. The works of Nasimi have got a universal dimension full of humanistic ideas and inspiring men to elevate as both earthly and spiritual beings.