On the occasion of Persian Language Day, ECO Cultural Institute in corporation with the Saadi Foundation held an international webinar on “Promotion of Persian Language and Literature and Commemoration of Ferdowsi in the ECO Region” on May 15, 2021, with the participation of researchers, professors and literary scholars of ECO member countries.
According to the ECO Cultural Institute, Dr. Gholam-Ali Haddad Adel, Head of the Saadi Foundation and the Academy of Persian Language and Literature, in his opening remarks thanked Mr. Sarvar Bakhti, President of the ECO Cultural Institute for his attention to the Persian language and said: “ECO member countries have a wide geography, history and a common culture. Persian language has historically been the bearer of this common culture and many valuable heritage of the region has been written in this language.” “Shahnameh is the epic of all nations of the region and today it is our duty to cherish this common cultural heritage and benefit from it to strengthen understanding and peace among the people of the region.” he added.
Mr. Sarvar Bakhti, President of the ECO Cultural Institute, in his speech considered Persian language as the most important factor in improving mutual understanding, solidarity and convergence of ECO nations and noted: “Persian language has formed a collective identity based on culture in relations between countries in the region.” He further added: “Persian language, which is one of the oldest living languages in the world, does not belong to a certain nation or ethnic group. Throughout history, many groups, ethnicities, and states have sought to maintain it. Today, this language belongs to all those who have dealt with it in different periods, and through this language, they can get acquainted with their past and understand their valuable heritage. Strengthening Persian language in the region and in the international arena would pave the way for the expansion of cultural, artistic and literary relations throughout the ECO region.”
H.E. Dr. Abdul Ghafoor Liwal, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan, was the next speaker who stated that the common heritage of nations is the basis for the unity of nations: “The great Persian-speaking territory that Ferdowsi mentioned includes vast lands like Afghanistan. Afghanistan is the land of scientists, poets and philosophers who have made our old history. Persian language is a spiritual realm that is inhabited by all Persian speakers and the values in this realm belong to each of this people.”
H.E. Dr. Nizomiddin Zohidi, Ambassador of the Republic of Tajikistan, thanked the organizers of the meeting and described Persian language as the national wealth of the Persian people, who have nurtured and sustained it. The Ambassador of the Republic of Tajikistan added: “Today our common language is a fertile tree that has strong roots, strong trunk and three green branches of Iranian Persian, Dari Persian and Tajiki Persian. It is our duty as linguists to preserve this tree from the ravages of the globalization and to pass it on to future generations. Persian Language Day in the Islamic Republic of Iran and State Language Day in Tajikistan is not only an opportunity to be proud of the language, but to recognize the value of the mother tongue and protect this valuable heritage of the ancestors.”
Following the meeting, Dr. Ahmad Ghani Khosrawi, Dean of the Faculty of Literature and Humanities, Herat University, analyzed the issue for the lack of dominance and invasion of a great language such as Arabic over Persian language and stated: “Ferdowsi, with his extraordinary talent, gave a new prosperity to the Persian language and turned it into an important and living language of the world. A huge collection of pure Persian words and unrepeatable combinations avoiding the use of any foreign words, especially Arabic in Shahnameh, all indicates that Persian language is indebted to Ferdowsi rather than Ferdowsi to the Persian language.”
Dr. Ismat Mammadova, Professor of Oriental Studies at Baku State University, was the next speaker who delivered speech in two areas of teaching Persian at universities in the Republic of Azerbaijan and introducing translations of the Shahnameh in the country. In her speech, Ms. Mammadova acknowledged that the deep-rooted historical, cultural and literary commonalities of Iran and the Republic of Azerbaijan have existed over the centuries in various fields and the scope of exchanges in language and literature in cultural and linguistic relations is one of the most important characteristics of closeness which has played an irreplaceable role among the people in the Caucasus and Azerbaijan. She also introduced works of art based on Shahnameh, such as an exquisite carpet with a design of “Rostam and Sohrab” and plays by prominent Azerbaijani writers.
Dr. Bolatbek Batyrkhan, Assistant Professor at Farabi University in Kazakhstan, was the next speaker to present the historical background of the Persian language in Kazakhstan and to introduce translations of Shahnameh into Kazakh and stated: “The prevalence of Persian language in this region has been such that some historical sources and books of this region were written in Persian, and Abai, the great Cossack poet, regarded prominent Iranian poets such as Ferdowsi, Khayyam, Saadi and Hafez as his spiritual masters.”
In his turn Dr. Shodimuhammad Sufizoda, Head of the Central Scientific Library of the Indira Gandhi Academy of Sciences of Tajikistan referred to Shahnameh as the source of the Persian language and said: “Shahnameh is not only an encyclopedia of Iranian culture and civilization, but it is also a valid source of the ancient times of all the tribes of the East.” Elsewhere in his speech, Dr. Sufizoda analyzed the evolution of the Persian language and explained some syntactic and morphological features of words, rare interpretations, combinations and dialects used in Shahnameh.
Dr. Nurlanbek Baltabaev, Head of the Middle East and Near Eastern Languages Department at the Bishkek State University’s Faculty of Oriental Studies, spoke on the situation of Persian language teaching in the Kyrgyz Republic stated that: “Persian as the first foreign language has been taught in the universities of this country since 2012. A valuable treasure trove of Persian manuscripts has been listed in the Kyrgyz Academy of Sciences by Persian language professors.”
Dr. Mohammad Nasser, President of Punjab University of Pakistan, spoke about Persian background in Pakistan and introduced the Persian education texts available to Persian teachers and enthusiasts in Pakistan and provided practical and valuable suggestions to promote the language of the ancestors and revive the golden age of precious Persian literature.
Dr. Faezeh Zahra Mirza, Assistant Professor at the Faculty of Persian at the University of Karachi, stated that Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh had always been of interest to the people of Sindh and the subcontinent, and said: “Contemporary playwrights have written several plays in this regard, a number of Urdu-speaking poets have written their works under the name of Shahnameh, and Shahnameh has been translated into Urdu for many times.”
Following the program, Dr. Gökhan Çetinkaya, a professor at the University of Kirikkale in Turkey, spoke about the spread of the Persian language in Anatolia and its teaching in Turkey, and introduced works written on teaching Persian language. He introduced those who are teaching Persian in Turkey and at the end provided information about recent studies of researchers on Persian works, especially Shahnameh.
Dr. Nodir Nuriddinov, a professor at the Tashkent State University of Oriental Studies in Uzbekistan, also spoke about the history of teaching Persian language and literature in Uzbekistan and introduced centers and colleges where Persian language is taught, as well as the translations of Shahnameh in Uzbekistan.