10.10.2021, 10:29

Nizami's legacy and our consciousness

Prof. Ilham Mammadzadeh
Director of the Institute of Philosophy and
Sociology of ANAS


The work of the great Nizami is widely known to everyone who knows and loves poetry. 2021 was declared the year of Nizami by the President of Azerbaijan, which actualized reflections on the entire spectrum of the spiritual heritage of the great poet and thinker. The philosophers of Azerbaijan had a special attitude to its heritage, saw in it a philosopher and thinker. So, A.O. Makovelsky, Z. Mamedov, Z. Guluzadeh and many others wrote about him. We ourselves tried in one of our articles to reflect on the topic of Nizami, trying to answer the question of what it means to be a poet and thinker in the Middle Ages.
In our opinion, the legacy of great thinkers requires a twofold approach, on the one hand, a historical and philosophical one, requiring a thorough authentic approach and treatment of the heritage, and on the other hand, such an approach will be incomplete, if you do not add modern philosophy, its ability to reveal the features of the past tense and the specifics of the contradictory intellectuality in which this or that great thinker worked. Such duality only creates consistency and volume in understanding how our great and non-our predecessors influence the processes of development of thought and consciousness from the past and present to the future. Moreover, in many areas from science, philosophy, history, including to our emotional intelligence, morality, culture, etc.

On the philosophy of our approach to the legacy of Nizami

Only such a twofold approach allows us to understand geniuses, their time, the influence of ideas on subsequent generations. It allows you to see the past thoroughly in order to understand it in all its complexity and contradictions, as well as the creativity of those who gave it its originality. In principle, we agree that human history, just as the history of individual communities is becoming more and more complex, just as it does not seem immediately clear in its entirety what the thinker thinks, says and writes. The complication of history or stories, including our history, is associated with how we understand this process, how we work out, improve our theoretical and philosophical approaches to understand them. The Russian philosopher P.V. Opolev spoke about this figuratively, "Complication seems to reveal itself as an objectified" cunning of the world mind, a hidden historical necessity. " (1; p. 128). In this complication, many circumstances play a role, among which one cannot fail to note the change in the types of states on a particular territory, the languages of communication, including scientific, etc.
In the philosophy of the heritage of genius, each researcher is faced, in turn, with two points. On the one hand, in philosophy there is a historically philosophical striving for simplicity, expressed in the philosophy of unity, expressed in formal logic such as "Occam's razor", but also the opposite, when genius and the environment find themselves in complex relationships, when understanding the text of a genius is perceived as a process from a simple to the complex, corresponding to some extent to the logic of Hegel. Understanding the text of Nizami is possible as an analysis of the process between the reader of different times and the consciousness and self-consciousness of the thinker. In the question of what he is, who he is imprisoned and the question of who we are, what we can and cannot understand with him, in his time, in his past.
Of course, specialists in Persian philology, since Nizami worked in this language, will be skeptical about such duality, believing that authenticity is in the primary sources, that if there is a clear text by Nizami, then it is easy to understand what his text represents. But this simplicity is apparent. Look how much we think about the legacy of those who write in their native language, can we say that everything is clear with them. And not only us. The English still do not fully understand Shakespeare, the Italians - Dante, etc. (2) We are also surprised that thinkers rhymed their scientific ideas, and after all it was so, it is enough to remember Dante, and before him Virgil, Lucretius, etc. Why they rhymed, why knowledge was hidden, why it was for the initiates, as in provincial cities of the past, geniuses were born, from where they got information about modern science.
Therefore, we think that it is necessary to develop methods for analyzing the heritage of Nizami, using the information that has already been accumulated about his work, about the culture and science of the past. First of all, the legacy of the greats allows us to understand ourselves, our consciousness and self-awareness, that is, the process of changing us. The human community is changeable, its changes are a process with an unknown result, which scientists think about, politicians and opinion leaders act, trying to predict it in advance. It also depends on how we think about ourselves, how we see and define our relationship with the world then and now. Our consciousness and self-consciousness are in a difficult, non-linear relationship with each other, you can make mistakes when thinking about yourself, exaggerate your capabilities or underestimate, etc.
Our consciousness can simultaneously be ethnic, national, imperial, civilizational. Probably also individual, group, regional. It is connected with the reality of biological, psychological, geography, but what we think about it can bring it closer or further away from it. This is probably why information and identity complement each other. We think that with the help of philosophy, sociology, social psychology, we can try to give answers to how they and in what proportion are presented in our minds. As a rule, the community tries to control its consciousness with the help of mythology and, or ideology, political course, social science, moral, aesthetic, religious values and assessments, as well as the choice of spiritual forerunners, understanding their origins, the past. For example, the Italians - Dante, the British - Shakespeare, the Germans - Goethe or Hegel and Kant, etc. There can be many origins, they can be stretched in time from ancient Rome to the Italian monarchy and republic, they can be associated with a movement (modernity) or revolution, the adoption of a constitution, etc. And the legacy of Nizami, in this case, turns out to be a part of our consciousness and a part of our control of consciousness. How we understand, expand or limit this legacy essentially influences, and sometimes even determines to some extent our choices for the future. It is also clear that thinking about communities and communities in a conceptual and modern way is only possible if an interdisciplinary social science about communities, nations, cultures, civilizations and man was formed and is being applied by scientists. (3; 118-123).

Changing attitudes towards Nizami's legacy

Is our understanding of his legacy changing? In theory, it should change, it seems to be enriched, filled with new content. I suppose that it changes when scientists study it, and not only philologists and writers, which is understandable, but also philosophers, culturologists, historians, etc. It is their approach that changes our understanding of his legacy, but not everyone would like to change, many reduce the scientific approach to repeating the ideas of the authors of the past. With all due respect to the works of the twentieth century philosophers Makovelsky, Bertels, Krymsky, a new outlook and views are needed. For example, the actualization of the topic of multiculturalism in our time has caused the desire to analyze the problem of interaction between cultures in Nizami, attitudes towards women, etc. But one also needs to think about how the Islamic Renaissance differed from the European one, how the Turkic-Islamic civilization was formed, how geniuses were treated in the Islamic world, etc.
He is- a poet, a great genius, and so many people think. He is a thinker, an encyclopedic scientist, so few think so. What is the main thing here, to give an answer or to be, to become ready to accept a different opinion, justifying your own. After acquaintance with the texts of, for example, academician R. Mehdiyev, E. Amirov about Nizami, it becomes clear to us that the contradiction between poetry and theory can be meaningful in the spirit of the fact that any text carries information, that the text of a genius carries great information and does not only about the author, about the time, in this case, about the city of Gandja, about the fact that the philosophy of the Middle Ages included all sciences, being an integral science, having our own logic, that we turn to his legacy not in order to declare him a genius, our thinker, but in order to understand the past, to improve ourselves. The creativity of not each poet, however, leads to this. This is the greatest mystery of Nizami.
But this is not only. Nizami is a thinker, and therefore it is clear that in his poems he gives an "encyclopedia" of all the knowledge of his time, but we think that he gives an assessment and information about what the Islamic East was like, how he saw the world of his time, complex and ambiguous. However, such Nizami had to see, analyze and explain his arguments. In our opinion, this approach speaks of the accepted correct message, that much depends on who, how and when analyzes the text in obtaining information from the text. When a scientist turns to the text of Nizami, he reveals not only the circle of knowledge, but also finds connections between the knowledge of Nizami and what was much later and before. From the text of the genius, we see which sciences form the foundation of the great poet's knowledge, his reflections on what gives science an advantage over poetry. This is the clear message of the Renaissance. Nizami's poems say that science should serve man. His message is continued by Francis Bacon and Leonardo da Vinci, who lived much later and came to a similar conclusion. We think that the idea that Nizami is associated with ancient Greek philosophy is not enough, since many were associated with it at that time. By virtue of his thinking, he sees the paths to practical science, gives advice that can be applied to change the world. Interestingly, a similar idea can be found in Ibn Sina, but the Muslim civilization as a whole has passed it by. Note that many of our authors are trying to tie Nizami to some kind of ideological and religious movement, for example, the Sufis. They did something similar with Nasimi, tying him to the Hurufites, forgetting that for a genius such a connection is hardly as important as for an ordinary person. A genius is a real person and he lives in real time, but it is important, knowing this, to get away from his simple life, to try to get closer to his mystery and undeniable greatness.
What is his mystery, the scientist will see him in knowledge, the poet in the depth and beauty of the verse. But the scientist, we think, will try to see the connection between text and knowledge, the process of increasing knowledge, the way Nizami interprets this process. Many note that Nizami deeply knows management, history, astronomy, medicine, geography and physics with chemistry. He thinks the way scientists think, selects information about the phenomenon. It is clear that in order to understand the whole science of the Middle Ages, to give an "encyclopedia of scientific thought" and Nizami, and now also modern authors, needed a science in which data from all sciences were concentrated, a kind of quintessence, integral ideas. We know that such knowledge was given in the past by philosophy, and therefore it is necessary to understand what the Islamic philosophy of the 12th and following centuries was and why it ceases to be such.
We think that its role is great in the formation of the national culture, literature and self-awareness of the Azerbaijani people. E. Amirov, interpreting the words of academician R. Mehdiyev, wrote that “... Nizami has long turned into one of the spiritual pillars of the national identity of Azerbaijanis and, speaking about him, we have in the form not only a brilliant personality of the past, but also one of the most powerful ideological resources of the present and future of Azerbaijan ””. (4; p. 180). He is also right that Nizami's poetry is "a spiritual treasury, where everyone can find an example of morality and wisdom". In theory, not only the poetry of the great poet is assessed here, but it is also vividly revealed that the great poetry of medieval Azerbaijan is inextricably linked with morality and knowledge.
Alexander Makovelsky noted that the "Khamsa" poems create a clear idea of the level of development and urgent problems of various branches of science. Moreover, it is also important that at the time of Nizami, the Muslim East did not lag behind Europe in science. In our opinion, Nizami's texts indicate that science in those days was not divided into eastern and western, or was not divided as it is today. Without Western knowledge, there is no East science. In our opinion, Bertels's thesis is deep, which leads, for example, E. Amirov, “Philosophy was for Nizami ... who knew the area very well ... undoubtedly, he was not limited to faithful words only ... he also widely used the works of Greek philosophers that penetrated the Muslim world ... "(4; p.6).
Scientists from some countries often claim that Nizami was a Persian, as he wrote in Farsi. If we pay attention to the fact that scientists before Nizami wrote in Arabic, then began to write in Arabic and Persian, and then in Turkic, then there is a need for a hypothesis that would explain this process. Moreover, this process took place not only in Azerbaijan. Thus, there are stereotypes that have arisen in the past and have survived to this day. Many scientists and not only from Azerbaijan are trying to destroy them and there is a lot of work here. The fact is that stereotypes are peculiar not only to scientists, and they are not always able to resist the dogmas of public opinion. For example, there are stereotypes in understanding what the Muslim East was like, what place a thinker occupies in it, how he relates to knowledge, with whom and with what he argues, how he treats himself, what is his emotional intelligence. It is in this area that Nizami's reasoning about women, his wife, religiosity, about the attitude towards rulers, communication of carriers of different cultures is also interesting.
Among the stereotypes of the past, it is worth noting how it is explained why then, behind the beauty of the verse, they do not see the depth of reasoning about power, politics, history, religion. In poetry, the main thing is how soulful they sound, but, apparently, the beauty of rhyme often overshadows the ideas that the sage finds. Maybe beauty makes it possible to avoid something, recall the executions of the great thinkers of the Middle Ages, both in the East and in the West. But the point is not only this, but the fact that in the Middle Ages the thinker often wrote for the elite, for those who are initiated into knowledge. And only the Renaissance era brings a breakthrough and an impulse of knowledge into a community, which only in modern times turns into what we call enlightenment. Therefore, the one who analyzes the science of the times of Nizami should turn to science after Nizami, not only in the East, but also in the West, to the Renaissance.
Let's think on the fate of Nasimi and G. Bruno, Copernicus, utopian philosophers. All this restores the chain of times, connections between the East and the West, which have always been, as fully as possible, to some extent explain what caused the rapid development of Western civilization after the Renaissance and, probably, why the Islamic Renaissance calmed down, weakened, did not give breakthrough worthy of Nizami and other geniuses. Poems hid ideas from people. At the same time, it is worth thinking about how culture and civilization, regional, read pre-national, ethnic culture from Islamic civilization are related in the medieval East. Many still think that the Islamic civilization was one, and whether it was such, the answers may be different, one must think about alternative approaches so that thought and knowledge would develop in the clash of ideas.
I would like to think about another stereotype that you need to know the language in order to understand the thinker of past eras. The language is important, who will argue with this. But you need to know science and not only the level of science of the times when the thinker was creating, but also modern science, its knowledge of how to explore the alternatives of the past. As we understand, in order to deeply reflect on the works of Nizami, one must know his texts, correlate them with scientific knowledge. But the most important thing is to know philosophy, and not only because at the time of Nizami there was no history, geography, physics and mathematics without philosophy. Many researchers of Nizami consider it necessary to emphasize that he constantly speaks of ancient Greek philosophers, their followers in the East, the same Ibn Sina. It immediately becomes transparently clear to understand Nizami the texts of Islamic thinkers will not be enough, since he, being the son of Gandja, the East, was a genius who knew no shackles. Again, you need emotional intelligence, which philosophy provides, which means being a genius in the East. Perhaps that is why Azerbaijani scientists, philosophers, lawyers so often turned to his philosophical and socio-political ideas. In the twentieth century, Azerbaijani scientists, among whom we will also note the works of J. Mustafayev, Sh.F. Mamedov. However, the question arises why such close attention was paid to philosophical and socio-political ideas, and not to ethical and aesthetic views, to the depth of penetration into the morality and intellect of people. Apparently, because in Nizami's texts we meet with a utopian state and with an ideal ruler.


And, finally, the geniuses of those years are often referred to as "a man of the Renaissance." We do not call Nizami so. We think that we tend to underestimate the role of geniuses in the past. The Renaissance is an era of shaking the foundations, the flowering of reason, the rejection of superstition, and this was what they did. Nizami has it, but whether his contemporaries and followers had a question, however, is a rhetorical one. That is why his creations are full of mysteries. Apparently, the time has come to think about this.
We, like many, are worried about why Nizami is not recognized abroad. We think that the matter is not a complete coverage of his ideas, the ability to compare the past and the present, the Islamic and European Renaissance, the lack of sources fully reflecting his ideas and much more. Probably, it is also a matter of being exacting towards oneself, of a strict understanding and application of one's capabilities. In this regard, I would like to recall that our President declared 2019 - the year of another great poet and thinker Nasimi. (5) And it turned out that foreign philosophers, orientalists are interested in him, many joint works, books and articles have been published not only in collaboration with Russian, but also with European scientists about him, about his fate, work. Now is the year of Nizami and again there are great opportunities. In other words, this is the way, more high-quality joint works, more publications in the world scientific press. But that's not all. And as far as we ourselves deeply know scientific thought, poetry, culture of other countries. For known reasons, we think that we know Russian, Turkish, but we can say the same about the Turkic, Kazakh, Tatar, Uzbek culture or not, and the Italian philosophy of the Renaissance, how to understand the Renaissance without it. After all, Nizami is in dialogue with both Firdowsi and Alexander the Great, he is all in dialogues with the world. Our depth, which means attention to our science, culture, poetry, depends, first of all, on our knowledge not only about ourselves, but also about the world, from openness to scientific exchange of knowledge, etc.


1. Opolev P.V. Complexity in the historical and philosophical tradition: the experience of comprehension // "Questions of Philosophy", 2019, No. 5, p.128;
2. Simon Crinchley, Jamison Webster Stop the ghost! Doctrine of Hamlet, M. "RIPOL Classic", 2018.
3. L. Garai Complementarity of the theory of information and the theory of identity in the human sciences // "Questions of Philosophy", 2019, No. 5, p.118-123;
4. Eldar Azimov Thinker, eclipsed by the glory of the poet, Baku, "ELM", 2021.
5. Mamedzade I.R. Nasimi and some questions of the philosophy of culture / in the book. Poetry Nasimi - a hymn to man Synthesis of spiritual and cultural values of the East and West M. "CANON PLUS", 2021, p. 45-51.