MUHAMMED FUZULI (1498-1556)
Fuzuli is one of the greatest Azeri-Turkish poets. His real name is Muhammed Süleyman Oğlu (poet’s name and patronymic) and it is generally believed that he was born around in 1495 or 1498 in Kerbela (in the area presently known as Iraq). We know almost nothing of the childhood and early youth of Fuzuli. He belonged to the Turkic tribe of Bayat, one of the Turcoman tribes that was scattered in all over the Middle East, Anatolia and the Caucasus from the 10th to 11th century and which has roots connected to the Azerbaijanian people. Although Fuzuli’s ancestors were of nomadic origin, his family had long been town-dwellers. At that time, the area where Fuzuli lived was a part of the Azerbaijanian Safavid Dynasty (1501-1736) headed by the leader of the Turcoman Shiites, Shah Isma’il I (r. 1502-1524).
Fuzuli was a versatile and learned man and was both ambitious to possess these qualities and proud in possessing them. He composed poetry with equal facility and elegance in Turkish, Persian and Arabic. Although his Turkish works are written in Azeri dialect, he had a thorough knowledge of both Ottoman and Chagatai Turkish literary traditions. This trilingualism was not rare among the Turkic writers of the medieval period and is explainable by their cultural formulation, which was based, in fact, on Arabic religious and scientific tradition and on Persian literary tradition. In Fuzuli’s case, the use of the three languages was conditioned also by his particular environment because all three tongues were in use in Iraq, which as known from history was in 16th century, first a part of the Safavid State and later in 1534 became a part of the Ottoman Empire. Fuzuli wrote in Azeri Turkish since it was his mother tongue as well as for political circumstances. Shah Ism’ail I., who conquered Baghdad in 1508, has left us a divan in Azeri Turkish. After the Ottoman conquest of Baghdad, Turkish literature acquired even greater importance in this region.
The works for which Fuzuli is famous include his melodic and sensitive rendition of the classic "Layla and Majnun", which was written in Azeri-Turkish. This celebrated allegorical romance depicts the attraction of the Majnun (the human spirit) for Layla (divine beauty). Fuzuli is also the author of two divans (collection of poems), one in Azerbaijani Turkish, and the other in Persian. These anthologies contain examples of his most lyrical poetry, many concerned with mystical love and others lamenting the ephemeral nature of this world. His poetic expressions, characterized by sincerity, passion, and a pervading strain of melancholy, transcended the highly formalized classical Islamic literary esthetic. Fuzuli’s works influenced many poets up to the 19th century.
Poem "Layla and Majnun" (excerpts)
- Chapters III - XII
- Chapters XIII - LVIII
- Chapters LXVIII - LXXXVII
- Chapters LXXXVIII - CII
Reference: Encyclopedia Britannica, Vol. IV, p.367, 1980 edition,