Baku, Azerbaijan, Sept. 23
By Vugar Imanov – Trend:
Azerbaijan will hold the Nasimi Festival of Poetry, Arts, and Spirituality for the first time on September 27-30.
The festival, dedicated to the work of Imadaddin Nasimi (1369-1417), one of the brilliant poets and thinkers of the East, has been organized by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and supported by Azerbaijan’s Ministry of Culture.
The festival has been marked by the participation of many famous representatives of culture and science, including German scholar, who studied Nasimi’s creativity, Michael Hess, who will deliver a lecture titled "Nasimi’s Legacy in the Contemporary Context" at the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku on September 28.
On the eve of the festival, Trend news agency updates readers about an exclusive interview with an amazing person who is in love with Azerbaijan and everywhere propagandizes Azerbaijan’s culture, literature and national heritage. Moreover, he speaks the Azerbaijani language perfectly.
But first we will tell the readers about Michael Hess, who conquered the hearts of millions of Azerbaijanis and showed to the whole world the greatness of Azerbaijan’s classical national literature through his research. In European countries the German scholar has repeatedly delivered speech on the creative heritage of the Azerbaijani classic poets - Qazi Burhaneddin (1344 -1398), Imadaddin Nasimi (1369-1417), Shah Ismail Khatai (1487-1524) and others.
Michael Hess was born in 1967 in Germany’s Offenbach city. In 1987-1992 he studied at the Faculty of Oriental Studies at the Frankfurt University. In 1993-1997 he entered the doctoral studies of Mainz University and under the leadership of well-known Turcologist Lars Johanson defended his doctoral thesis.
Along with scientific research at the prestigious universities of Mainz, Berlin and Frankfurt, he began to teach the Azerbaijani language and lecture on Azerbaijani literature. He also studied the history and science of the Islamic world, the Greek language and its philosophy.
In the process of scientific research, Azerbaijan's classical literature and especially Nasimi's creativity become a priority. His treatises, articles and lectures arouse great interest in the scientific world, provide an opportunity for Europe to see the culture of the East and Azerbaijan from an academic point of view.
In 2000-2004, he was invited by the German Research Association to work on the project of translation of diwan (collection of lyric poems) by Nasimi into the Turkish language. For this purpose, the scholar visits Baku, Istanbul and Konya to study Nasimi's manuscripts. In 2009 he published the book "Die Sprache des Menschengottes (Untersuchungen zu Imad ed-Din Nesimis (d. Ca. 1400) turkischem Divan".
Afterwards, at the prestigious Free University of Berlin, he begins his scientific work on the development of programs for the symbolism of Islamic letters, in particular, on the basis of the philosophy of Hurufism. Nasimi was a follower of Hurufism. Hurufism (from the Arabic "khuruf" - letters) is one of the branches of Sufism.
It is such a teaching that the Quran is interpreted through a system of letters. The creator of this branch was Fazlullah Naimi, teacher of Nasimi. The presented fundamental researches cause a great resonance in the scientific world, allow reading and re-studying ancient Arabic and Turkish manuscripts.
As a specialist in Azerbaijani literature, Michael Hess was invited to the Brill publishing house, where the third volume of the Islamic encyclopedia was being prepared.
The German scholar prepared the works entitled "Azerbaijan Literature" for the encyclopedia, which included articles about writers, namely, Abbasgulu aga Bakikhanov, Abdulla Shaig, Mirza Fatali Akhundov, Abdurrahim bey Hagverdiyev, Ahmad Javad, Ali bey Huseynzade, Abbas Sahhat and others.
But this is not a complete list because the work on the encyclopedia is underway. Michael Hess also took part in the work on various projects in Germany, on the creation of works on Azerbaijani literature, dictionaries and educational materials.
The activity of Michael Hess on the propaganda of Azerbaijan is not limited to scientific activity in the field of literature. In October 2014, at the University of Oldenburg he delivered a lecture on the bloody events of January 20, 1990 in Baku, when Soviet troops entered the city to suppress the people's liberation movement for the independence of Azerbaijan.
In November of the same year, he delivered speech on the Armenia-Azerbaijan Nagorno-Karabakh conflict at the Free University of Berlin.
The conflict between the two South Caucasus countries began in 1988 when Armenia made territorial claims against Azerbaijan. As a result of the ensuing war, in 1992 Armenian armed forces occupied 20 percent of Azerbaijan, including the Nagorno-Karabakh region and seven surrounding districts.
The 1994 ceasefire agreement was followed by peace negotiations. Armenia has not yet implemented four UN Security Council resolutions on withdrawal of its armed forces from the Nagorno-Karabakh and the surrounding districts.
- Mr. Hess, as is known, you speak the Azerbaijani language very well. Where did this love for our language and country come from?
- This is a great compliment for me. There are many things in the Azerbaijani language that I still have to learn. I can say a lot about my love for the Azerbaijani language, people and culture. Azerbaijan has a very interesting history, culture and literature, among which Nasimi's creativity has a special role. A lot of masterpieces of culture, literature, art, music deserve the highest admiration. For me, the most interesting thing in the Azerbaijani literature is the combination of history and culture, the preservation of the national heritage, the embodiment of the harmony of the East and West, starting from the Safavid dynasty.
- Your lecture titled "Nasimi’s Legacy in the Contemporary Context" will be held in the Heydar Aliyev Center in Baku. What is its main essence? What message of modernity does Nasimi’s creativity and philosophy have?
- It is impossible to evaluate the entire value of Nasimi’s spiritual heritage for the modernity. Much still needs to be learned. Only a certain part of my research will be presented in my lecture at the Heydar Aliyev Center. Nasimi and his poetry - modern for that time is marked by emotionality, which is contained in absolute truth.
People in the modern world are in search of spirituality. The historical forms of beliefs and their role in our life require some changes.
- You visited our country and many cities worldwide. What is the peculiarity of Azerbaijan, its people, capital, culture and history? Share your impressions.
- I really like the openness of your hearts. Despite Azerbaijan is a Muslim country, I always felt myself in Baku as at home. When I meet with friends in Baku and we talk about ancient history, rich culture and traditions of tolerance of your country, I get a real pleasure from it. Azerbaijan, in my opinion, is a place combining cultures and religions, rather than a place of their intersection.
- Besides scientific work, you are also known as a person who conducts public activity to convey the truth about Azerbaijan, the January 20 tragic events and the occupation of Azerbaijan’s Nagorno-Karabakh region by Armenia. What motivates you in this sphere?
- I think that without the exact historical facts and impartiality, it is impossible to establish peace and mutual understanding. For example, how can one deny the horrors committed by Germany in 1939-1945 in Russia, France and other countries? If Germany in 1945 did not recognize the crimes against France, then these countries would never become friends.
It is necessary to talk about the crimes committed in the past, as they are in fact, with historical accuracy. The main purpose of my book on Nagorno-Karabakh is to tell in Germany and Europe about this conflict. People know little about that. The available information is one-sided and directed against Azerbaijan. There must be comprehensive information about that in the West. Europeans must hear the voice of Azerbaijanis, know that 20 percent of Azerbaijan’s territory have been occupied by Armenian armed forces. They must also know about the Khojaly genocide.
- You are a kind of bridge of culture and science between Germany and Azerbaijan due to your activity. Share your further plans in this direction.
- Presently, I am working on the scientific book ‘Literary scholars of Karabakh and the theme of Karabakh in Azerbaijani literature’. A number of projects on the history and literature of Azerbaijan are also planned to be implemented. I hope that the cooperation with the Azerbaijan Translation Center will bring its results.
The festival will be held under the slogans “Beyond the Limited Self”, reflecting the philosophical views of the poet, and “I am a Particle, I am the Sun” which are the poet’s lines.
The program of the large-scale event covers various types of art and knowledge fields. During the festival, programs will be organized in various places in Baku, as well as in Shamakhi, the native city of the poet.
For the first time, registration for such a grandiose festival will be held through the official websitewww.nasimifestival.live rather than via ticket sales and invitations.