Nizami Ganjavi International Center

Center for Learning, Tolerance, Dialogue & Understanding

Nizami Ganjavi International Center was created with the multiple aims of preserving the reach cultural heritage of the past as well as encouraging and fostering current scholarship, research, cultural activity and social outreach, with aim to be a center of excellence for the production of knowledge and to be a place of dialogue and understanding between cultures and people.

The Nizami Ganjavi International Center is a truly unique institution. It is a national institution with an international mandate. Government of Azerbaijan and Council of Patrons, guided by the International Board of Trustees and constant touch with the Members and Friends of the Nizami Ganjavi International Center moves forward to build, an institution worthy of bearing the great name of Nizami Ganjavi with hope it will become “a source of pride for Azerbaijan and the world”.

“The Magnificent Sage” Nizami Ganjavi was one of the most gifted and versatile authors in literary history not just in his own region, buy in the known world of his day. His influence extends not only throught Turkish, Persian and Arabic literature but also into Shakespeare’s plays, the rock music of Eric Clapton, and Azerbaijan’s celebrated composer Gara Garayev, who wrote a ballet based on Nizami’s richly multicultural epic, Seven Beauties. Universality of his reach legacy, his ability to reach out through space and time, offering his values, his thoughts and ideas that while significant in the 12th century (he has been described as a genuine social reformer of his time) remain just relevant today. His compelling treatment of crucial issues cross-cultural understanding, peaceful co existence and respect among classes, peoples and nations; gender equality; and the ideal leadership to best benefit the community and nation reminds us that even though the tools and materials he used have been augmented today in ways he could not imagine, the issues he brought are universal and have challenged mankind for centuries.

General Mission: To give substance to our appreciation of Nizami’s work, and of its relevance to this day and to future generations, the new institution dedicated to the study of that legacy must include more than an exhibition of his works and a nice library that the occasional visiting scholar would find of interest. It must ultimately have a program of studies, and become the chosen venue for international gatherings of scholars, some resident, some visiting, covering a scope as large as Nizami’s legacy itself. The discussion identified seven parts to that comprehensive program.

Studies about the nature of cultural identity and cultural continuity: 

Identity politics is leading to violence in many parts of the world, but actually a self-assured sense of one’s identity, one’s cultural heritage and its continuity is a great basis for being open to the other and to enjoy the fruits of diversity and of cosmopolitanism. It is this basis of memory and renewal that makes cultures lively and productive. Nizami whose greatest contributions transcend the local to the global cultural scene must have cultural studies as a part of the intellectual agenda of a center dedicated to his legacy.

 Gender issues and human rights, the position of youth in society, as well as our outlook to nature and to each other, kinship and cosmopolitanism, all fit under this broad heading. So does the Sufi outlook on life and how it affects our understanding of the world and our place in it, shaping our relations with others as much as our relations with metaphysics. 

Science: from Studies about the Muslim medieval scientific contributions of his time to the role of science in society today:

 Today, the world bears witness to Nizami’s genius: as an amazing poet, as a distinguished philosopher and a sage (Hakim) of immense erudition. Yet his scientific contributions, his erudition, which coincided with the great drive of Muslim science, is less well known. The Muslims raised the torch of reason high in those centuries and brought together the best of the east and the west as they linked between India and Andalusia. Nizami and some of his contemporaries were at the heart of this enormous transformation of knowledge that would lay the foundations for much to follow in the west after the renaissance. Thus shedding some light on that side of Nizami and his times is appropriate. Indeed it would explain to many why the great poet also has his name in the stars literally: the small planet 3770 Nizami, discovered by Soviet astronomer Lyudmila Chernykh in 1974, is named after him.

But we must link all this to the science of the 21st century, and link science to the arts. Today, science is an integral part of the culture of our time. It has capacity to inspire and affects our world view and is no less important than the arts and letters which have traditionally been viewed as defining the culture of a people at a period of time. 

Studies about the many works of art that have been inspired by Nizami’s work

The center should also make an effort to collect and catalogue works that have been inspired by Nizami. His inspiration in poetry is everywhere. The greatest Arab Poet of the 20th century, Ahmed Shawki, wrote a masterpiece of a poem/play about Layla and Madjnun. And Nizami’s inspiration transcended poetry into other art forms: Gara Garayev wrote a ballet “The Seven Beauties” inspired by Nizami’s Haft Paykar. We were told that there were no less than 20 Indian films made abiut Layla and Madjnun alone. Eric Clapton wrote a song titled “Layla” inspired by Nizami’s Layla o Majnun which was recorded with Derek and the Dominos, and released on the 1970 album “Layla and Other Assorted Love Songs”, and so much more.

Studies about Governance and Peace:

In our world today, there is no topic that needs more attention than governance and peace, both in terms of ending the scourge of war and promoting social peace. Azerbaijan itself has suffered from the pangs of war. Nizami himself was a man of peace, and it is fitting that in a center dedicated to his memory, there should be a corner of the study program devoted to these topics.