Statement by H.E. Zahir Tanin Permanent Representative of Afghanistan to the United Nations at the celebration of the 1150th Birth anniversary of Abu Abdullah Rudaki
Secretary General Ban Ki-Moon,
Ladies and Gentlemen,
Today, we are gathered with members of friend-nations who share a common language, culture, religion and history to commemorate the 1150th anniversary of Abu Abdullah Rudaki’s birth. Rudaki is one of the founders of the rich classical literature which belongs to Afghanistan, Iran, and Tajikistan as well the millions who speak the same language throughout the world. I would like to personally welcome Secretary General Ban Ki Moon. My welcome extends to Permanent Representatives, UN delegates and dignitaries, as well as the guests and friends of the Afghan, Iranian and Tajik community in the New York area.
Abu Abdullah Rudaki was a master of words, a gifted poet, mellifluous voice, a talented musician – and a great cultural icon.
It is a tribute to the richness of our literature and culture that we are able to gather here today like we did last year, to mark the 800th anniversary of another great icon, Moulana Rumi Balkhi, and we are grateful to once again join in the spirit of our shared cultural heritage.
Rudaki was born in Transoxiana or today’s Tajikistan, and attended madrasahs in the historic city of Samarqand where he began to write poetry when he was only eight years old. As was the tradition at the time, Rudaki wrote, read and sang lyrical and unparalleled poetry enjoyed by the common people. Even today, we are left enchanted by his beautiful masterpieces. He was indeed in a class of his own.
Abu Abdullah Rudaki was the son of a region blessed by a flourishing civilization founded by the Samanid Dynasty. During this epoch, our land underwent a dramatic change where science, literature and culture were transformed and works of great
intellectuals emerged. The center of this transformation, the city of Bukhara, the capital of the Samanids, had a special role as the heart of Sufi Islam and the entire Islamic world, and therefore at the time, of the world itself. At the time, literary, scientific and cultural learning helped to create a Renaissance that swept the region.
It was a time that great intellectuals such as: Abu Muayid Balkhi, Abu Reyhan Biruni, Abu Nasr Farabi, Muhammad Zekriya Razi, Imam al-Bukhari, and Ibn Sina, or as we know him in English, Avicenna, and others who had a lasting impact on our tradition of learning and knowledge thrived. In speaking of the greatness of Bukhara, Avicenna remarked that the library of Bukhara was the greatest he had ever seen.
Rudaki was invited to the Samanid Court by the famous reformer king Nasr Ibn Ahmad Samani. Rudaki was blessed by the prosperity and intellectual richness of the time, and the legacy of his works is a blessing to us today. Rudaki had another crucial role in founding the traditions of our literature; he was one of the first prominent poets to begin composing his works in Persian Dari language which replaced Arabic as the dominant language of administration, learning and writing.
A world without words is almost unimaginable and the words of great poets such as Rudaki reveal an inherent connection between our peoples. His poetry and music serve as reminders of our common past and the shared history, language, religion and culture of Afghanistan, Iran and Tajikistan. Rudaki lost his sight in his later years but Rudaki never lost sight of his love of people, art, nature and solidarity – some of the common themes threaded together in the fabric of his vibrant imagination.
Today’s celebration is a celebration of the Master of Words we know as Abu Abdullah Rudaki, but it is also a reminder of the unbroken culture interconnectedness between Afghans, Iranians and Tajiks. Rudaki conveyed a message of peace, tolerance and solidarity and he belongs to all of us.