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Title role of Ferdowsi in promoting Persian language

Interview with Iranian Cultural Attaché to Harare, Reza Asgari

The Iranian Cultural Attaché to Harare, Reza Asgari on the occasion of Commemoration Day of Hakim Abu Al Qasem Ferdowsi said I believe by naming a day which puts and recognizes the names of Hakim Abu Al-Qasem Ferdowsi and the Persian Language together on Iran"s official calendar, is surely the most outstanding way to magnify the relationship between his magnificent influence on the protection of the treasure of Persian literature, not only for the Persians, but also for the world"s literature and history.

He added that, Ferdowsi"s masterpiece Shahnameh which has been interpreted as "the Book of Kings" is actually considered "the King of Books" or "the Noble Letter" according to some, although there might be few controversies among the readership about characterization of the personages in his "one of the world"s longest epic poems".

Some people might not find the message of heroism and epic so interesting but away from the detail of stories in the book what is of the most importance is the language and context he has chosen to narrate and express his elevated ideas, which actually leave legacies for the generations to come., said the Iranian Cultural Attaché to Zimbabwe.

He continued by saying that, The book has also been called "definitive of the ethno-national cultural identity of Iran" due to its dominant role to preserve the Persian Language as the nation"s identity essence. No one can deny Ferdowsi"s role as the main pillar of Persian language and literature. The matter is about Ferdowsi"s main cause of creating Shahnameh, which I do not know as a literary one.

According to him, Ferdowsi did this in order to keep the nationalism alive at a time when there was no country by the name of Iran. He is not the founder of Iranian nationalism either. The Iranians were nationalists from the beginning.

Reza Asgari commenting about the religion of Ferdowsi said, There are pieces of poems attributed to Ferdowsi in which he praises or disapproves some figures but obviously the very first lines of his poems manifest the religious ideas of the poet. After praising God and His Prophet (SAW), he pays homage to the Muslim religious leaders although we might find instances in which he describes the history of Persia, as well as giving a detailed explanation on Zoroastrianism and the other ancient beliefs of the Persians.

Talking about the role of Persian language and its contribution to advancement of science and knowledge, Agari said, throughout history, Persian has been a prestigious cultural language used by various empires in Western, Central, and South Asia. Old Persian written works are attested in Old Persian cuneiform on several inscriptions from between the 6th and the 4th centuries BC, and Middle Persian literature is attested in Aramaic-derived scripts (Pahlavi and Manichaean) on inscriptions from the time of the Parthian Empire and in books centered in Zoroastrian and Manichaean scriptures from between the 3rd to the 10th century AD.

He also spoke of some of the famous works of medieval Persian literature in addition to Shahnameh of Ferdowsi, like the works of Rumi, the Rubaiyat of Omar Khayyam, the Panj Ganj of Nizami Ganjavi, the Divān of Hafez, The Conference of the Birds by Attar of Neishaburi, and the miscellanea of Gulistan and Bustan by Saadi Shirazi.

The Iranian cultural envoy to Harare, also talked about the richness of Persian literature, full of enthusiasm, interpretation and subtlety, compatible with human nature, continues to affect the lives and souls of its audiences and enthusiasts in today"s world, and is undoubtedly one of the most beloved languages.

Undoubtedly, the Persian literature is one of the most important circles in the works of world literature and a privileged gem in the East of the earth and in the Islamic world, which is actually the product of a vast process of interactions and influences that has taken place over the centuries and has become one of them. It has become the greatest cultural heritage of mankind, added the cultural representative to Zimbabwean capital.

According to him, in many European and American countries, the Persian language is now being taught, because of the richness of Persian literature and its prominence among other languages ​​of the nations, due to its importance to the knowledge, insights and culture of the literate people of Iranian Plateau, from the past to the present.

Answering a question about the language of Islam, and Arabic language as the known the most related language to Islam and his view on the status of Persian language he said this was the case at the beginning of the era of Islam. The official language had changed, now they had to speak to God and to the rulers of the country in Arabic and write letters and books in Arabic, but the people of this vast area (all of which are also Khorasan and Great Khorasan in the Eastern sense), spoke as always in their usual language, Persian or Dari.

Thousands of years before the advent of Islam, the people of Eastern Iran spoke Dari. Today, in addition to it, they refer to it as "Persian" (or Farsi) as it was one of the Western languages ​​of Iran. The language of the people of Khorasan in the East of the desert had long been lost due to the influx of savage tribes and the influence of the official Sasanian language.

However, by the time Palhavi became the official language used in reading, writing and dialogue with the rulers and clergy, it did not have a written alphabet, just as there are no Semnani, Gilaki and some other languages ​​inscriptions.   The language was now spoken by all the people in the Eastern parts of Iran, in all of Khorasan in Iran, in the whole of Afghanistan, in some parts of the Soviet Republics spreading to Bukhara, Samarqand and in the coasts of Sihon, Jeyhun and in some parts of India, he added .

This was the case at the beginning of the era of Islam. The official language had changed, now they had to speak to God and to the rulers of the country in Arabic and write letters and books in Arabic, but the people of this vast area (all of which are also Khorasan and Great Khorasan in the Eastern sense), spoke as always in their usual language, Persian or Dari.

The oldest historical Persian poetry that has survived and reached us belongs to the year 256 AH and the oldest piece of prose belongs to the year 346 AH. But in no way can we be convinced that they are the earliest written works in this language, and that other works may not have come before them.

Asgari said there are currently about six countries teaching Farsi as a second language in their schools, which includes Georgia, Armenia, Lebanon, Kyrgyzstan and Azerbaijan. For the rest of the world, we try to incorporate Farsi as a second language in their schools. There are 200 universities in the world teaching Oriental Studies, with students studying for five years in general courses.

The Iranian Cultural Attaché said from the year three, they must choose one of the Four Major Eastern languages which includes Arabic, Farsi, Turkish and Hebrew. Our second job is to teach Farsi to free volunteers. In the Six countries, we do have classes run by Saadi Foundation members who are actually Cultural Advisers to the Iranian embassies where they are assigned by the Islamic Culture and Relations Organization (ICRO). The classes run during the course of the week for those who are generally interested in learning Farsi. At present, there are about 5,000 Farsi learners in these countries.

He then said, through the use of publications and the public, we are advertising the program in order to bring awareness thereby increasing the number of these classes. We are also able to attract large audiences through informing them that by learning the Persian language, they would be able to watch and view the globally famous Iranian movies without the hustle of going through the movie subtitles meant for Persian language non speakers.

We always try to make those interested appreciate that if they learn the Farsi language they will also become familiar with the language of the civilization of the Greater Iran, which also includes about nine countries.

Asgari said our next job is in foreign universities where we teach the Persian language and literature to undergraduate, postgraduate and sometimes PhD students. We also do extensive marketing thereby creating general awareness of the program for more students to study the Persian language and literature.

He concluded his comments by saying that Our next task would be to take on board and teach the children of Iranians living abroad. There are about 3 million Iranians living abroad, most of them living in the US and Europe. Children born in these areas have little to do with their mother tongue. To maintain their connection with their own culture, language and getting connected to their civilization roots, we teach them, with the help of their parents, the Persian language mostly on Saturdays (their holidays). This is done in a number time.


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