Politicization of the background of Nizami Ganjavi

By Dr. Ali Doostzadeh



Allow me to also introduce this web page of Azargoshnasp as well – this is a compilation of responses to all racialist ideologues who seek to revise the history of Iran for political and ideological objectives:


Dr. Doostzadeh’s retort is much more than an article: it is a textbook laden with facts and evidence – it is indeed a Herculean scholarly undertaking. A number of facts reported are of great interest here, such as Joseph Stalin’s statement with respect to Nizami Ganjavi “…must not be surrendered to Iranian literature, despite having written most of his poems in Persian.” (Kolarz, 1952). The statement was meant to convey the impression that (a) Nizami was Turkic in origin and (b) wrote his ‘other’ poems in Turkish. Russian historians however acknowledged that Nizami was “one of the famous Persian poets…” and “…wrote exclusively in Persian” (From the Brockhaus and Efrona Encyclopedia (as cited by HOEB article of Moscow, Russia). Historical documents were deliberately falsified by the Soviets (see Tiwali, 1984) to portray Nizami as being of “Caucasian nationality” and that his original poetry was composed in Turkish and followed later by “Farsi [Persian] translation”.

Few are aware that long before Soviet Russia, Czarist Russia promoted pan-Turkism to destroy the Persian literary, cultural and historical legacy in the Caucasus. As you may know, Iran was forced to cede her possessions in the Caucasus (everything above the Araxes River just above Azarbaijan) to Russia. As noted in my previous humble postings, Hostler noted that the Russians, despite their victory in the Caucasus, were very concerned with the power, depth and hold of the Persian language and culture of Iran over Arran (present-day Republic of Azerbaijan):

This cultural link between the newly conquered country [modern-day Republic of Azerbaijan, historically known as Arran until May 1918] and its still strong Persian neighbor annoyed Russia who tried to destroy it by supporting local Turkish cultural developments”(Hostler, 1957, p.22).

Indeed, the local authorities in the khanates were either Persian-speaking or of aristocracies who spoke Persian. The Shiite clergy who held considerable influence over the local courts and schools, helped maintain the influence of Iranian culture in the Caucasus. Professor Swietochowski notes that The hold of Persian as the chief literary language in [the current Republic of ] Azerbaijan was broken, followed by the rejection of classical Azerbaijani, an artificial, heavily Iranized idiom that had long been in use along with Persian, though in a secondary position. This process of cultural change was initially supported by the Tsarist authorities, who were anxious to neutralize the still-widespread Azerbaijani identification with Persia.” (Swietochowski, 1995, p.29). This policy was consistent with Czarist policies with respect to other recently conquered non-Russian nationalities of the empire (1995, p.29).

It is important to realize that de-Iranianization by Russia goes further back prior to the Soviet era. As noted previously, the greatest fraud was in re-naming the former Iranian province of Arran in the Transcaucasus as “Azerbaijan” when in fact no such appellation existed prior to 1918. The “name-change” occurred only when the pan-Turkist Musavat regime named it as much in late May of that year. Many of the members of Musavat government were former pan-Turk Ottoman officers who had supported the Musavat takeover of Baku in 1918:


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Ottoman officers in the Caucasus. After Russia’s collapse in 1917, they worked to implement the plan for pan-Turkic super state that would join the Caucasus and northern Iran to Turkey. The scheme failed in northern Iran as the Iranian Azarbaijanis rejected both the Ottomans and the Musavats. Iranian Azarbaijanis such as Sheikh Mohammad Khiyabani protested against the Musavats use of the name “Azerbaijan” for their newly founded republic.

The Iranian name “Azarbaijan” (versus Azerbaijan) is historically confined to the province of that name within historical Iran. The Soviets who took over the Musavats in 1920 decided to not only retain the fraudulent name for the Transcaucasus (which was generally known as Arran), but also endeavored to perpetuate this lie in politicized historiography:

Professor Nazrin Mehdiyova, herself a historian from the modern Republic of Azerbaijan has noted that:

“…the myth [of a North versus South Azerbaijan] was invented under the Soviets for the purpose of breaking Azerbaijan’s historical links with Iran. To make this historical revisionism more acceptable, the Soviet authorities falsified documents and re-wrote history books. As a result, the myth became deeply ingrained in the population [modern-day Republic of Azerbaijan, historically known as Arran until May 1918] and was adopted by the PFA [Popular Front of Azerbaijan] as part of the rhetoric.” (Mehdiyova, 2003, p.280).

It is a tragedy to see so many of the citizens of the Republic of Azerbaijan today who are acutely unaware of their proud Iranian legacy, these being victims of close to 2 centuries of Russian and pan-Turkist political and ideological manipulation.

Interestingly, many of the educated Arranis fully acknowledge that their region was known as Arran and they also acknowledge their strong bonds to Iran. Unfortunately, the first president of the Republic of Azerbaijan, Abulfazl Elchibey (1938-2000), was extremely anti-Iranian and a fanatic pan-Turkist:

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Abul-Fazl Elchibey. Showing a total lack of diplomatic protocol, Elchibey declared in a state visit to Turkey that he viewed Iran as a “doomed state”. His hatred of Iran was to continue to his final years, as indicated by his writings calling for the partition of Iran.

His ideology did much harm to the newly founded republic; it led to the loss of much territory to the Armenians and he certainly failed to win friends in Iran. This is indeed tragic as Elchibey was often described as pious and humble man. The tragedy with Elchibey is that he is one of many people of the former Soviet Union who has been manipulated by Russian (Czarist and Soviet) ethno-engineering methods, not to mention pan-Turkism.

As you may recall I had humbly forwarded two excellent articles by Dr. Dariush Rajabian from Tajikestanweb.com on how ideologues in the Soviet Union and Afghanistan had worked hard to erase the Persian legacy of the Caucasus, Central Asia and Afghanistan

The Axed Persian Identity Part I


The Axed Persian Identity Part II

There is also a follow-up Dr. Dariush Rajabian as well:

The Axed Persian Identity Part III

Note that a Persian translation of the above is also available on the Azargoshnasp website:http://www.azargoshnasp.net/Pasokhbehanirani/kistitabarkhordeh.htm

This humble posting pales in comparison to the massive undertaking by Dr. Ali Doostzadeh who has singlehandedly succeeded in helping history rescue one its most important literary icons in the name of truth: Nizami Ganjavi.

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The statue of Nizami Ganjavi in Tabriz, Iran

Historiography is as much about transparency, impartiality and honesty as it is about giving credit where it is due.

Kaveh Farrokh

Dr. Kaveh Farrokh

Historian – University of British Columbia Continuing Studies Division

Member of Stanford University’s WAIS (World Association of International Studies)

Advisor of Iranian Studies for The Society for Hellenic-Iranian Studies

Director of the Archaeological Department of the Pasargard Preservation Foundation

Member of the Iranian-Canadian Congress

Member of Iran Linguistics Society

Member of Persian Gulf Preservation Society
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