'The Creator of Cultural Bridges through Poetry'
By Genc Mlloja
Albanian Daily News
Published March 20, 2018
"I personally believe that human contacts through such activities as this Conference on Naim Frasheri serve the co-existence of people and peace among people as well as, directly or indirectly, the cooperation in other fields, including economic cooperation, and in this spirit we should see the opportunities for collaboration," has said Albania's former President Rexhep Meidani in Tehran.
Mr. Meidani, who is also an outstanding professor and senior member of the Academy of Sciences of Albania, was in Iran together with other academic scholars from Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia joining Iranian scholars in the International Symposium under the topic "Analysis of Naim Frasheri's Thoughts", which was held in Tehran on 5-6 March this year.
Naim Frashëri (25 May 1846 - 20 October 1900) was an Albanian poet, writer and one of the most prominent patriots of Albanian national movement for independence from the Ottoman Empire. He is widely regarded as the national poet of Albania, and the spirit of the Albanian Renaissance found expression, above all, in the work of the poet. Naim Frasheri took private lessons in Persian from important local Bektashi and showed interest in Bektashism and Persian poetry. He authored 22 works.
"Naim Frashëri is for Albanians like Hafez, Sa'adi, Khayyam and Molana for Iranians. In the 19th century, the Persian language and culture were significantly spread among Albanians. Naim Frasheri's poetry and his point of views can play a leading role for us so that all students and intellectuals can focus on the cultural diplomacy," said Mr. Meidani.
Speaking of his impressions on the activity and the host country Mr. Meidani told the news agency ParsToday that Iran is a country which has a high economic growth rate, and the ambitions to move forward radiate its culture as in the past.
"This fact has united us, representatives of scientific research from universities and academies not only of Iran and some other countries, but also from Albanian population. There are representatives from the Academy of Sciences of Albania, Kosovo and Macedonia in Tehran. It would have been better if there were also representatives of Albanians from Montenegro to make a strong quartet of the Albanian nation, which, in spite of the unjust division, is together to remember one of the most outstanding personalities of the Albanian culture, of the powerful voice of the Albanian poetry and literature, but also one of the spirits of the national movement for National Renaissance," said Professor Meidani.
"Albania has its relatively designed interests with regard to the integration process in the European Union. This is seen even in Albania's diplomatic representation in the EU member countries. But, on the other hand, I would say that there are very great opportunities to achieve this cooperation between the two countries being led by the possibility of strengthening cultural cooperation," he said, drawing the attention to the influence of the Persian culture among Albanian population in the 16th and 17th centuries achieving its climax in the 19th century.
Expressing the gratitude of the Albanian representatives for attending the event, Professor Meidani stressed that it was not a coincidence that it was being held in Iran because, among its motives, it was the fact that Naim Frasheri had published two books in Persian language written by him, rather than having been translated. "He has been a master of this language, of this beautiful language, shown by the book with lyrics entitled "Endrrat" (Dreams) and also by a classic grammar book," he said.
The Deputy Chairman of the Academy of Sciences of Albanian, Floresha Dado praised the proposal on the creation of the Permanent Secretariat of the Iranian-Balkan Cultural Dialogue, which was unveiled by the Head of Cultural and Islamic Relations Organization, believing that the cultural dialogue between Iran and the Balkans would continue.
"The cooperation between Iran and Albania shows its continuity, and I will support the creation of Iran-Albania Cultural Dialogue on such a basis," said Professor Dado, who added that the Academy of Sciences of Albania was ready to cooperate in joint projects.
Naim Frasheri, the Undiscovered
It was the second time that Professor Shaban Sinani went to Iran and, according to him, as compared to 20 years ago when he was there for the first time Iran had changed a lot.
"I see that there is a significant progress in the urban development. It seems a regular development and there are positive things," he said. Professor Sinani, who is also a researcher, historian of Albanian literature, ethnologist, and publicist, revealed that there are Persian manuscripts of the 14th century in Albania, which are the most ancient ones.
"There are many manuscripts of classical Persian poets like those of Sa'adi and Rumi which are not yet read, as they are not transcribed," he said, adding that the presence of the Persian literary tradition in Albania had its beginnings at least a generation before Naim Frasheri. Professor Sinani underlined that there are still undiscovered Persian works. "Naim himself is undiscovered, yet," he confessed.
Mr. Sinani thought that the event on Naim Frasheri would help the promotion of the cultural relations between Albania and Iran. "We are not at the beginning, but neither at the end. It is a very positive step which, I believe, will encourage other initiatives," he said, disclosing that apparently they would be in Tehran again to honor Vehxhi Bukharai as translator next year.
"This will give us possibilities to find out which has been part of the Persianist school in Tirana, which has been a very powerful school, but, unfortunately, had a problem after 1944 as most of its figures had biographical problems and their names have never been mentioned," said Mr. Sinani.
The Academician from Kosovo, Ali Aliu, who was invited to the Symposium, was happy to attend the international conference on Naim Frasheri in Tehran because, as he underlined, he knew deeply of the Persian culture and language. On the other hand, Mr. Aliu admitted that he was tempted to be there "to know Tehran and Iran, to tread on a space of a culture, of a knowledge and wisdom, of a philosophy of human heights as it was that of 10th - 14th centuries, of the inheritors of Rumi's blood".
The Kosovo Academician believed that the conference would contribute to the strengthening of the cultural relations between Albania and Iran, and he was pleased, as he said, to learn on a proposal to establish an Albanological center in Iran and a center of the ancient Persian culture at the Academy of Sciences of Albania.
Naim Frasheri as a Contributor to Iran's Culture
The Chairman of the Sa'adi Foundation, Hadad Adel, who is also Chairman of the Academy of Persian Language and Literature, said in his remarks in the Symposium that "the recognition of a great man like Naim Frasheri makes us realize that we are speaking of a language known 800 years ago. Hence, the organization of such conferences is, as a matter of fact, a contribution to the Iranology field."
Speaking of the figure of Naim Frasheri, the Iranian senior scholar described him as a colossus. "He has been a multidimensional figure - not only a man of letters, but also a man of braveness, a patriot, a believer and he wrote a poem on the Battle of Karbala," he said.
Mr. Adel expressed the confidence that the cultural elites like those represented by Naim Frasheri could act as a bridge to connect the people of Iran and Albania and their cultures.
"Naim Frasheri is a very important personality in the Balkan region. He has made a contribution even to Iran's culture," Mr. Ibrahimi Turkman, Head of the Cultural and Islamic Relations Organization, said adding that the organization of the symposium was an appreciation for such a great personality and his contribution to the Persian language.
Mr. Turkman appreciated the fact that the Albanian former President, Rexhep Meidani was present in the event and expressed the wish for making efforts to increase the cultural cooperation with Albania, a friendly and beloved country as he called that Balkan country.
Further on he said that initiatives were being undertaken so that the Iranian public opinion could learn more on Naim Frasheri and the symposium was part of that endeavor.
"Four books on Naim Frasheri have been introduced in this framework, which can help people learn more on him," he said.
In the meantime, Mr. Turkman made public the proposal on the establishment of an Iranology group by the Academy of Sciences of Albania and a group of Albanologists in Iran.
Speaking of her experience as Iranian editor of the work "Dreams" by Naim Frasheri in Persian language, Dr. Zahra Kadkhoda Marazaxhi, said that she was active in the cultural field and 15 years ago she went to Albania with her husband.
"During those 15 years, I have lived in Albania for 6 years," she said describing Albanians as very good and kind people. Mrs. Marazaxhi explained that it was her husband who had found Naim's book "Dreams" at the Albanian library. According to her, the book was handwritten, and some pages were missing.
"When I came to Iran, I started to publish that book which was written 133 years ago," she said. "What has attracted me in Naim is the aspect of sensibility and the expression of the feeling of Naim in the Persian language at a time when he had not seen Iran. This is very attractive," said the Iranian researcher.
"I want to recite one of his poems on spring. The reason why I have chosen this poem is, probably, because the start of all seasons in the world is spring," said the editor of Naim's "Dreams". After the recitation she concluded: "I hope that we all are like the lily turning back after 133 years and reading the beautiful poems of Naim."
At the end of the Symposium the logo of the Permanent Secretariat of the Iranian-Balkan Cultural Dialogue was unveiled.