Afghanistan pays tribute to Ali-Shir Nava’i

President Ashraf Ghani dubs teachings of 15th century literary figure pivotal for peacebuilding, regional cooperation

Shadi Khan Saif   | 08.04.2021
Afghanistan pays tribute to Ali-Shir Nava’i

KABUL, Afghanistan

Afghanistan paid tribute Wednesday to the legendary 15th-century Turkic literary figure Ali-Shir Nava’i in an international symposium at his birthplace in western Herat province.

In his message on the occasion, President Ashraf Ghani hailed the ideas of Nava'i in regard to common regional culture.

“The regional cooperation in the fields of culture and economy and the ideas of the peace-loving thinkers will lead us to a path free of violence. We consider the role of culture important in an environment free of violence, regional cooperation and national unity,” said Ghani in a video message at the symposium.

Afghanistan’s Culture and Information Minister Mohammad Taher Zuhair said the government aims to organize similar symposiums in Kandahar, Nangarhar, Balkh, and Ghazni provinces. He also vowed to develop a museum on the Timurid era in Herat as well as a grand library on the works of Nava’i.

The symposium was in connection with the 580th anniversary of the birth of this world-renowned poet, writer, politician, linguist, and painter. Delegates from Uzbekistan, Turkmenistan, Kazakhstan, Kyrgyzstan, Azerbaijan, and Turkey also took part in the seminar, which was attended by a number of ministers, researchers, novelists, cultural figures, and more than 1,500 domestic guests from Afghanistan.

Born in Herat in 1441, Ali-Shir Nava’i was a prominent figure during the Timurid Empire when Herat became one of the leading cultural and intellectual centers in the Muslim world.

Nizam al-Din Ali Shir, also known by his penname Nava’i -- meaning melody maker -- was born in an aristocratic military family on Feb. 9, 1441, in Herat -- now the third-largest city in northwestern Afghanistan. The region was then ruled by the Timurid Empire of Turkic-Mongol origin and his home city was one of the leading cultural and intellectual centers in the Muslim world.

The outstanding 15th-century poet also founded, restored, or endowed hundreds of mosques, madrasas, libraries, hospitals, caravanserais, and other educational and charitable institutions in Khorasan, a historical region comprising a vast territory now lying in northeastern Iran, southern Turkmenistan, and northern Afghanistan.

Nava’i produced 30 literary works over a period of 30 years, during which Chagatai, a classical Turkic language of Central Asia, became a well-respected literary language.

Nava’i had a great influence in areas as distant as India to the east and the Ottoman Empire to the west. He is among the most beloved poets among Central Asian nations. He died on Jan. 3, 1501, in Herat.

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