Art And Culture

Objection to Iran-Turkey’s Joint UNESCO Submission of Rumi’s Masnavi

Objection to Iran-Turkey’s Joint UNESCO Submission of Rumi’s Masnavi
Objection to Iran-Turkey’s Joint UNESCO Submission of Rumi’s Masnavi

Iran and Turkey had reached an agreement last month to submit Rumi’s ‘Masnavi Manavi’, to the United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization’s Memory of the World Register.

The director of the National Library and Archives of Iran (NLAI) Seyyed Reza Salehi-Amiri, made the announcement after a meeting with a Turkish cultural delegation led by the director of the Atatürk Culture Language and History High Commission, Derya Ors, in Tehran on May 30.

The move, however, provoked controversy among both Iranians and non-Iranians. Some believe that the joint registration would be a huge achievement for Turkey, which has been claiming [the nationality of] Rumi in recent years, without paying attention to Iran and Afghanistan as the original homelands of the famous poet.

In reaction to the joint submission, 1000 Persian-speaking poets in Iran and Afghanistan signed a statement, and urged Afghan cultural officials to increase their efforts in this regard to have the decision revised by Tehran and Ankara, reported.

They said Afghanistan, Rumi’s birthplace, should be included in the submission as well.

A joint submission of the Masnavi by Iran, Afghanistan, and Turkey could strengthen the bonds between the three countries, which share strong cultural and civilization bonds, they said.

Some of the poets in a statement addressed to UNESCO, and the cultural officials of Iran, Turkey, and Afghanistan, said:

Although Rumi spent most his life in Konya and is buried there, his scientific and literary personality was formed thanks to his science-loving family, especially his father Baha-ul-Din, who migrated there from Balkh. His mystical personality was also influenced by Shams-e Tabrizi. His works have been taught in schools across the entire region, particularly in Afghanistan and Iran, and great poets, researchers, and artists from both countries have played their part in preserving his heritage.

Therefore, it seems unfair to submit the Masnavi, the prominent work of Rumi, from Iran and Turkey (given the present-day borders) to UNESCO, ignoring the birthplace of Rumi, Afghanistan. The move could lead to the irritation of the people who have grown up with the great poet, and who consider him to be a chain linking their societies together, the poets said.

The poets included renowned Iranian poets such as Soheil Mahmoudi, Mohammad Ali Bahmani and Esmaeil Amini.

Farhad Nazari, the director general of the Office for Registration of Historical Works, told ISNA that the Masnavi is going to be registered as the most important mystical work in Persian, and the joint submission does not confirm Turkey’s claims about Rumi’s nationality.

Any criticism, objection, and sensitivity on the issue is valuable, he noted, adding, however, that “The registration of the Masnavi in cooperation with Turkey does not at all imply a confirmation of Turkey’s claim as to the Turkish nationality of Rumi.”

Nazari also pointed to Estakhri’s ‘Al-Masaalik Wa Al-Mamaalik,’ which was jointly submitted and registered by Iran and Germany to UNESCO’s Memory of the World Register because an ancient version of the book was kept in Germany.

“Does that mean Estakhri was a German author?” he asked.