Nizami Ganjavi – The Greatest Epic Romantic Poet

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Nizami Ganjavi or the genius of the golden age of Muslims in the twelfth century

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Portraits of Nizami. Photos of exhibition of Nizami Gandjavi in Paris Museum of Manuscripts and Literature (12th November 2013) in Strasbourg

Once upon a time, was a storyteller of genius who told stories about society in a small scale and about humanity on a universal scale. Nizami Gandjavi is this great poet, philosopher of the 12th  century (1141-1209) from Azerbaijan who also told the story of “Leyli and Majnun” the epitome of Romanticism, borrowed at theatricality of the drama. This piece of theater was the vanguard of “Romeo & Juliet” published by Shakespeare, his most famous piece of classical British scenes of the 17th century after five hundred years later! Thus this is of  Nizami, the mystic thinker of Ganja, who has preceded Shakespeare in “Leyli and Majnun” the romantic drama of the 12th century very long time before “Romeo & Juliet“.

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Photo exhibition of Nizami Gandjavi in Paris Museum of Manuscripts and Literature (12th November 2013) in Strasbourg

Nizami’s third epic poem was completed in 1188 AD a retelling of an Ancient Arabic legend – of the unhappy love of a young man named Kays, whom Nizami renames as  “Majnun” (Means “The obsessed” for the beautiful girl Leyli. It is a lyrical passionate poem of tormented love written by Kays. Nizami fleshed out the story to completeness and added a psychological concept of this tragic poem of infinite love. Nizami gives another dimension, by the hero‘s lives that are divided by external events and try to bring them to a successful conclusion result only in a failure. Majnun is in a process and breaks all his bonds with human society and humanity forever. Leyli and Kays (Kays is renamed Majnun) love each other so strongly but can they happy? Leyli dies as if surrendering her life for an ideal image which lives on in Majnun. (Extract of “Leyli & Majnun” text by Jamila Hasanzade, Professor of Art-Foundation Heydar Aliyev).

Nowadays, in 2014, we would nickname “Superman” easily as far as is concerned every human being endowed with “Superhuman Power” of skills and talents. In 1214, Nizami Ganjavi, a poet, philosopher, astrologer, physician, painter, geographer, historian also specialist in literature and spiritual sciences was modestly being appointed a “Thinker” that was making of it a separate being.

This man of the Middle Ages, multifaceted with an intellectual superhuman grace. If he had existed in modern times of the second millennium, he would have been considered the exceptional expression of genius. However, it is certain that Nizami marked not only his time, but he was also able to travel through time and space thanks to his works engraved on the marble monuments erected in his image. Azerbaijan and where it comes from “Ganja, his city devoted him a cultural center and a mausoleum in his name.”

Nizami museum in Baku, Azerbaijan
Nizami museum in Baku, Azerbaijan

Nizami highly reaches the clairvoyance through studying and of spirituality experimenting

As a good scholar, Nizami, got personally involved in the spiritual elevation by studying both the holy Quran and the Hadith (extracts of the Prophet Muhammad’s hadith SAW) before exploring the science and more of legislation, physics, astrology and ethics.

Thus he combined a perfect complementary between the objective approach in all its rationality and the subjective feelings engraved in all these writings and illustrations. This will mark Nizami’s passage and a reference of a wealthy prestigious Muslim civilization. These constructions attest to the peak of the architecture and original design in a lush natural beauty rocked by the flourishing trade favourable to the development of a culture nestled at the crossroads of cultures.

This privileged position, benchmark of the crossroads where the East and West meet, encouraged the young Nizami to discover different countries and in facilitating the proximity of these remote cultures. He was actually speaking the Farsi, Arabic, the Pahlavi and  the Greek by opening to the world while embracing these inflows.

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He balanced in the most absolute tolerance facing anything unknown by welcoming them as himself a foreign to. Nizami Ganjavi had studied his predecessors as Biruni, AL Farabi, Avicenna, Rumi, Hafez, Jami, Aristotle, Plato, and Euclid who were his masters but also his sources of inspiration to create his own style and special refined manner of affixing his signature in his illustrations. His creations came to the next generations as he printed in the history’s parchment by the seal of his style making his own contribution to the Eastern artistic thought as one of the founders of an original literary school.

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Nizami bequeathed his works capitals, a most precious treasure legacy for generations

All of Nizami’s top five romantic poems were assembled in the “Khamesh” (Derived from “Khames“, which means “Five” in Arabic), considered the reference of the world literature, which are his major “Five Treasures“. This collection is considered a single work and highly respected by the community Literary Middle East as a crucial step in the heyday of the nascent Oriental Renaissance.

Among his operatic works, are named as Ghazals Qasidas, Roubais and Fahriy. In Ghazals, he evokes the nature of man, life, Epicureanism, in stories dedicated to beauty, sensuality and love always associated with aesthetics.

Nizami described in his first poem Khamesh, “Treasury of Mysteries” issues relating from society to social justice, human dignity, high ethics, the relationship between man and society, the harmony between society and dear to this environmentalist avant-garde preoccupied by nature.

His remarks underlined in his poetry place him as a precursor of the declaration of human rights in the 12th century (his collection was completed in 1177 ) because he had sensed at the time that man could overcome his demons to improve and enhance it daily without injuring his neighbour.

Moreover, he put forward the dignity of man which is related to the realization of the work and the concept itself of meritocracy. He praises also the loyalty, friendship, ingenuity, courage talent, hard work and many other virtues allies to honesty to achieve as a man but also to raise humanity to the top and thus closer to the Divine beauty of these gestures.

Nizami has generously bequeathed his works capitals, a most precious treasure legacy rare for the future generations.

Nizami has multiple possible origins, but his origin has being attested from Azerbaijan, by historians

Nizami has caused much harm to historians, archaeologists, researchers and other dubious about the origin of this poet philosopher of genius. His manuscripts are now preserved around the world from Istanbul, Tehra , Cairo, St. Petersburg, Tashkent, London, Paris, Berlin and Beijing … so its influence has had an impact so deployed between East and the West. The boundaries of  the time and space allowed to appropriate the origin of such a famous genius. But it was clearly proved that Nizami Ganjavi (” Vi ” which means “Originally from”) is from ” Ganja “, the second city of Azerbaijan after Baku, the capital. The researcher cites philologist Rafael Huseynov, in one of his articles. “His identity has been verified after many years of research both in Europe and Middle East. From the seventeenth century the translation of his works will facilitate research, which Sprenger, Atkinson, Bacher, Levy, Arberti and other leading scientists. On Saturday, september 30, 1139, a landmark event in world history took place when one of the most destructive earthquakes ever seen turned the earth inside out. The earthquake entirely ravaged the city, Ganja. This catastrophe claimed the lives of dozens of thousands of human beings. And yet, during the 1141 calamity, seemingly compensating for those losses, nature bestowed upon Azerbaijan and the world extraordinary descendant, amongst them Nizami Ganjavi”. Thus Goethe, the German philosopher of the fourteenth century admiring the work of Nizami said of him “Among the fourteen poets of the East, seven are the best known. Among them the most famous is Nizami “.

VIDEO- An exhibition devoted to Nizami Ganjavi in Paris

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I cannot help myself to end this narrative of one of the greatest thinkers quoting Nizami by one of his famous aphorisms :

Only a human figure pleases the eye

Only light souls are desirable and valuable for us


By Rahma Rachdi


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