Imadaddin Nasimi


Imadaddin Nasimi
عمادالدین نسیمی İmadəddin Nəsimi
USSR stamp I.Nasimi 1973 4k.jpg
Artistic rendition of Nasimi on Stamp of the USSR
Unknown, see Life
Died1417 CE
Cause of deathDeath penalty, skinned alive
ReligionShia Islam (Hurufism)
  • Sayyid Muhammad (father)
Known forAzerbaijani epic poetry, wisdom literature
Senior posting
Period in office14-15th century

Alī Imādud-Dīn Nasīmī (Azerbaijani: Seyid Əli İmadəddin Nəsimi سئید علی عمادالدّین نسیمی, Persian: عمادالدین نسیمی‎), often known as Nesimi, (1369 – 1417) was a 14th-century Azerbaijani[2][3][page needed] or Turkmen[4][5][6] Ḥurūfī poet. Known mostly by his pen name of Nasimi, he wrote in Azerbaijani, Persian and sometimes Arabic,[1] being the composer of one divan in Azerbaijani,[7] one in Persian,[3][8] and a number of poems in Arabic. He is considered one of the greatest Turkic mystical poets of the late 14th and early 15th centuries and one of the most prominent early divan masters in Turkic literary history. According to the third edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam Nasimi "is considered to be the true founder" of Turkic classical ʿarūḍ poetry.[1]

Name and titles

The third edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam notes that according to some sources, including Sibṭ Ibn al-ʿAjamī (died 1415), Nasimi's given name was Ali.[1] The name "Nasimi"[b] was the pen name (makhlaṣ) he most commonly used.[1] The Encyclopedia of Islam adds that although contested, the name Nasimi is "most convincingly explained" as a reflection of "Na'imi", the pen name of Fazlallah Astarabadi (died 1394).[1] Nasimi also used the pen name "Huseyni".[1] The epithet (laqab) "Imadaddin",[c] which translates as "the pillar of the religion", or the title "Sayyid" (marking his claim of descent from the Islamic prophet Muhammad) are often added in order to distinguish him from other figures who bore the name Nasimi.[1]


Most extant information about Nasimi's life is unconfirmed.[1] This includes his date of birth, which, without definite proof, is usually said to be 1369–70.[1] Nesîmî's birthplace is wrapped in mystery: some claim that he was born in a province called Nesîm — hence the pen name — located either near Aleppo in modern-day Syria,[9] or near Baghdad in modern-day Iraq,[10] but no such province has been found to exist.

According to the second edition of the Encyclopædia of Islam, Nasimi was an early Ottoman poet and mystic, and was most probably of Turkoman origin. He was well versed in both Turkic and Persian, but wrote some poems in Arabic as well.[8]

Death of Nesimi by Azim Azimzade.

From his poetry, it's evident that Nesîmî was an adherent of the Ḥurūfī movement, which was founded by Nesîmî's teacher Fażlullāh Astarābādī of Astarābād, who was condemned for heresy and executed in Alinja near Nakhchivan.[11] The center of Fażlullāh's influence was Baku and most of his followers came from Shirvan (present-day Republic of Azerbaijan),[12] then ruled by the Shirvanshahs.

Nesîmî become one of the most influential advocates of the Ḥurūfī doctrine and the movement's ideas were spread to a large extent through his poetry. While Fażlullāh believed that he himself was the manifestation of God, for Nesîmî, at the center of Creation there was God, who bestowed His Light on man. Through sacrifice and self perfection, man can become one with God.[13] Around 1417, (or possibly 1404)[9][14] as a direct result of his beliefs — which were considered blasphemous by contemporary religious authorities — Nesîmî was seized and, according to most accounts,[9][14] skinned alive in Aleppo.

A number of legends later grew up around Nesimi's execution, such as the story that he mocked his executioners with improvised verse and, after the execution, draped his flayed skin around his shoulders and departed.[9] A rare historical account of the event — the Tarih-i Heleb of Akhmad ibn Ibrahim al-Halabi — relates that the court, which was of the Maliki school of religious law, was unwilling to convict Nesîmî of apostasy, and that the order of execution instead came from the secular power of the emir of Aleppo, who was hoping to avoid open rebellion.[15]

Nesîmî's tomb in Aleppo remains an important place of pilgrimage to this day.


Nesîmî's collected poems, or dîvân, number about 300, and include ghazals, qasidas ("lyrics"), and rubâ'îs ("quatrains") in Azerbaijani Turkic,[16][3][17] Persian, and Arabic. According to Ali-Shir Nava'i, Nasimi wrote poetry in "Turkmeni" and "Rumi", however Mehmet Fuat Köprülü argues that Nasimi was unfamiliar with the dialect of Anatolia.[18]

His Turkic divan, considered his most important work, contains 250–300 ghazals and more than 150 rubâ'îs. A large body of Bektashi and Alevi poetry is also attributed to Nesîmî, largely as a result of Hurûfî ideas' influence upon those two groups. Shah Ismail I, the founder of the Safavid dynasty in Iran, who himself composed a divan in Azerbaijani Turkic under the pen name of Khatai,[19] praised Nesimi in his poems.[20]

According to the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam:[8]

His work consists of two collections of poems, one of which, the rarer, is in Persian and the other in Turkic. The Turkic Dīwān consists of 250-300 ghazels and about 150 quatrains, but the existing mss. differ considerably from the printed edition (Istanbul 1298/1881). No scholarly edition has so far been undertaken, but a study of his vocabulary is given by Jahangir Gahramanov, Nasimi divanynyn leksikasy, Baku 1970. The Persian Dīwān has been edited by Muhammad Rizā Mar'ashī, Khurshid-i Darband . Dīwān-i Imād Dīn Nasīmī, Tehran 1370 Sh./1991.

One of Nesîmî's most famous poems is the gazel beginning with the following lines:

منده صغار ايكى جهان من بو جهانه صغمازام
گوهر لامکان منم كون و مکانه صغمازام
Məndə sığar iki cahan, mən bu cahâna sığmazam
Gövhər-i lâ-məkân mənəm, kövn ü məkâna sığmazam[21]
Both worlds can fit within me, but in this world I cannot fit
I am the placeless essence, but into existence I cannot fit
Both worlds fit into me I do not fit into both worlds (This world and the hereafter)
I am a placeless gem (essence) I don’t fit into the place
Throne and terrain, B and E all was understood in me (God said "be" and the universe was begun)
End your words be silent I don’t fit into Descriptions and Expressions
The universe is my sine; the starting point of me goes to the essence
You know with this sign, that I don’t fit into the sign
With suspicion and impression, no one can grasp the truth
The one who knows the truth knows that I do not fit into suspicion and impression
Look at the form and the concept, Know inside the form that
I’m composed of body and soul but I don’t fit into body and soul

The poem is an example of Nesîmî's poetic brand of Hurufism in its mystical form. There is a contrast made between the physical and the spiritual worlds, which are seen to be ultimately united in the human being. As such, the human being is seen to partake of the same spiritual essence as God: the phrase lâ-mekân (لامکان), or "the placeless", in the second line is a Sufi term used for God.[22] The same term, however, can be taken literally as meaning "without a place", and so Nesîmî is also using the term to refer to human physicality.[23] In his poem, Nesîmî stresses that understanding God is ultimately not possible in this world, though it is nonetheless the duty of human beings to strive for such an understanding. Moreover, as the poem's constant play with the ideas of the physical and the spiritual underlines, Nesîmî calls for this search for understanding to be carried out by people within their own selves. This couplet has been described in different pictures, movies, poems, and other pieces of arts.[24]

Some of Nesîmî's work is also more specifically Hurûfî in nature, as can be seen in the following quatrain from a long poem:

Gördüm ol ayı vü bayram eyledim
Şol meye bu gözleri câm eyledim
Hecce vardım ezm-i ehrâm eyledim
Fâ vü zâd-ı lâm-i Heqq nâm eyledim[21]
Seeing that moon I rejoiced
I made of my eyes a cup for its wine
I went on Hajj in pilgrim's garb
I called , Zâd, and Lâm by the name "Truth"

In the quatrain's last line, "Fâ", "Zâd", and "Lâm" are the names of the Arabic letters that together spell out the first name of the founder of Hurufism, Fazl-ullah. As such, Nesîmî is praising his shaykh, or spiritual teacher, and in fact comparing him to God, who is also given the name "Truth" (al-Haqq). Moreover, using the Perso-Arabic letters in the poem in such a manner is a direct manifestation of Hurûfî beliefs insofar as the group expounds a vast and complex letter symbolism in which each letter represents an aspect of the human character, and all the letters together can be seen to represent God.

Nesîmî is also considered a superb love poet, and his poems express the idea of love on both the personal and the spiritual plane. Many of his gazels, for instance, have a high level of emotiveness, as well as expressing a great mastery of language:

اوزكى مندن نهان ايتمك ديلرسه ڭ ايتمه غل
گوزلرم ياشڭ روان ايتمك ديلرسه ڭ ايتمه غل
برك نسرین اوزره مسکين زلفكى سن طاغدوب
عاشقى بى خانمان ايتمك ديلرسه ڭ ايتمه غل
Üzünü menden nihân etmek dilersen, etmegil
Gözlerim yaşın revân etmek dilersen, etmegil
Berq-i nesrin üzre miskin zülfünü sen dağıdıb
Âşiqi bîxânimân etmek dilersen, etmegil[21]
Should you want to veil your face from me, oh please do not!
Should you want to make my tears flow, oh please do not!
Should you want to lay your hair of musk atop the rose
And leave your lover destitute, oh please do not!


"Nesimi" film by Azerbaijanfilm studio in 1973 was dedicated to the 600th anniversary of the poet's birth

Nesîmî's work represents an important stage in the development of poetry not only in the Azerbaijani language vernacular, but also in the Ottoman Divan poetry tradition. After his death, Nesîmî's work continued to influence many Turkic language poets and authors such as Fuzûlî (1483?–1556), Khata'i (1487–1524), and Pir Sultan Abdal (1480–1550).

Nesîmî is venerated in the modern Republic of Azerbaijan, and one of the districts of the capital city, Baku, bears his name. There is also a monument to him in the city, sculpted by T. Mamedov and I. Zeynalov in 1979.[25] Furthermore, the Institute of Linguistics at the Academy of Sciences of Azerbaijan is named after him, and there was also a 1973 Azerbaijani film, Nasimi (the Azerbaijani language spelling of his name), made about him. The 600th anniversary of Nesîmî's birthday was celebrated worldwide in 1973 by the decision of UNESCO, and representatives from many countries took part in the celebrations held both in Azerbaijan and in Moscow, Russia.[citation needed] An event dedicated to the 600th anniversary of Nasimi's death was conducted in Paris, at the headquarter of UNESCO in May 2017.[26][27][28] President Ilham Aliyev declared 2019 the "Year of Nasimi" in Azerbaijan as it was the 650th anniversary of the birth of the poet.[29][30][31] The year was also declared "the Year of the Azerbaijani Poet Imadeddin Nesimi" by the International Organization of Turkic Culture at the 36th Term Meeting of its Permanent Council in December 2018.[32]


  • K.R.F. Burrill, The Quatrains of Nesimi, fourteenth-century Turkic Hurufi. With annotated translation of the Turkic and Persian quatrains from the Hekimoglu Ali Pasha MS. Den Haag, Mouton, Paris 1972

From the Turkish Divan:

  • ‘Imādeddin Nesimi, Gedichte, ed. M.R. Hess with a poetic reworking by R. Moritzen, Sharq-Qarb, Baku 2012
  • ‘Imādeddin Nesimi, Ins Absolute schwand ich hin, mit Gott bin ich zu Gott geworden, ed. M.R. Hess with a poetic reworking by R. Moritzen, Sharq-Qarb, Baku 2012
  • Imadaddin Nasimi, Liriche, ed. Olga Mazzina, translated from Russian, Sandro Teti Edizioni, Roma 2019

Persian Divan:

  • Nasimi di Shirvan, Nel tuo volto è scritta la parola di Dio. Il canzoniere persiano del poeta-martire dell'Hurufismo, ed. Carlo Saccone, Centro Essad Bey-Amazon IP, Seattle 2020


Various places are named in honor of Nasimi:

"Nasimi Festival of Poetry, Arts, and Spirituality" was organized in September 2018 by the Heydar Aliyev Foundation and Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan. The events featured different types of art and knowledge fields in Baku and Shamakhi.[38][39][40][41] In November 2018, the bust of Imadeddin Nasimi at the Moscow State Institute of International Relations was unveiled as a part of the Nasimi Festival.[42] From September 28 to October 1, the Second Nasimi Festival of Poetry, Art and Spirituality was held in Azerbaijan in the framework of the "Year of Nasimi".[43]

The "Nasimi-650" Second Summer Camp of Diaspora Youth of Azerbaijan was organized in Shamakhi dedicated to the poet's 650th anniversary in July 2019.[44]

Songs to Nasimi's poems

See also


  1. ^ "Without definite proof".[1]
  2. ^ Spelled as "Nǝsimi" in the Latin Azerbaijani script.
  3. ^ Spelled as "İmadǝddin" in the Latin Azerbaijani script.


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h i j Heß, Michael R. (2021). "Nǝsimi, İmadǝddin". In Fleet, Kate; Krämer, Gudrun; Matringe, Denis; Nawas, John; Rowson, Everett (eds.). Encyclopaedia of Islam, THREE. Brill Online. ISSN 1873-9830.
  2. ^ Encyclopaedia Iranica. Azeri Turkish

    The oldest poet of the Azeri literature known so far (and indubitably of Azeri, not of East Anatolian of Khorasani, origin) is ʿEmād-al-dīn Nasīmī (about 1369-1404, q.v.).

  3. ^ a b c Burrill, Kathleen R.F. (1972). The Quatrains of Nesimi Fourteenth-Century Turkic Hurufi. Walter de Gruyter GmbH & Co. KG. ISBN 90-279-2328-0.
  4. ^ Jo-Ann Gross, Muslims in Central Asia: expressions of identity and change, (Duke University Press, 1992), 172.

    Andalib also wrote several mathnavis, the most famous of which is about the life of the fourteenth-century Iraqi Turkmen mystic Nesimi.

  5. ^ The Celestial Sphere, the Wheel of Fortune, and Fate in the Gazels of Naili and Baki, Walter Feldman, International Journal of Middle East Studies, Vol. 28, No. 2 (May, 1996), 197.
  6. ^ Walter G. Andrews, Najaat Black, Mehmet Kalpaklı, Ottoman lyric poetry: An Anthology, (University of Washington Press, 2006), 211.
  7. ^ Průšek, Jaroslav (1974). Dictionary of Oriental Literatures. Basic Books. p. 138.
  8. ^ a b c Babinger, Franz (2008). "Nesīmī, Seyyid ʿImād al-Dīn". Encyclopaedia of Islam. Brill Online. Archived from the original on 2012-02-25. Retrieved 2008-01-09.
  9. ^ a b c d Andrews, Walter G.; Black, Najaat; Kalpakli, Mehmet (1997). Ottoman Lyric Poetry: An Anthology. University of Texas Press. pp. 211–212. ISBN 0-292-70472-0.
  10. ^ Devellioğlu, Ferit (1993). Osmanlıca-Türkçe ansiklopedik lûgat: eski ve yeni harflerle. Ankara: Aydın Kitabevi. pp. 823–824. ISBN 975-7519-02-2.
  11. ^ Mélikoff, Irène (1992). Sur les Traces du Soufisme Turc: Recherches sur l'Islam Populaire en Anatolie. Editions Isis. pp. 163–174. ISBN 975-428-047-9.
  12. ^ Turner, Bryan S. (2003). Islam: Critical Concepts in Sociology. Routledge. p. 284. ISBN 0-415-12347-X.
  13. ^ Kuli-zade, Zümrüd (1970). Хуруфизм и его представители в Азербайджане. Baku: Elm. pp. 151–164.
  14. ^ a b Cengiz, Halil Erdoğan (1972). Divan şiiri antolojisi. Milliyet Yayın Ltd. Şti. p. 149.
  15. ^ Safarli, Aliyar (1985). Imadəddin Nəsimi, Seçilmis Əsərləri. Baku: Maarif Publishing House. pp. 1–7.
  16. ^ Baldick, Julian (2000). Mystical Islam: An Introduction to Sufism. I. B. Tauris. p. 103. ISBN 1-86064-631-X.
  17. ^ Lambton, Ann K. S.; Holt, Peter Malcolm; Lewis, Bernard (1970). The Cambridge History of Islam. Cambridge University Press. p. 689. ISBN 0-521-29138-0.
  18. ^ Kathleen R. F. Burrill. The Quatrains of Nesimî Fourteenth-Century Turkic Hurufi With Annotated Translations of the Turkic and Persian Quatrains from the Hekimoglu Ali Pasa MS. Publications in Near and Middle East Studies. p. 9.
  19. ^ Minorksy, Vladimir (1942). "The Poetry of Shah Ismail". Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London. 10 (4): 1053. doi:10.1017/S0041977X00090182.
  20. ^ Aslanoğlu, İbrahim (1992). Şah İsmail Hatayî: Divan, Dehnâme, Nasihatnâme ve Anadolu Hatayîleri. Der Yayınları. p. 523.
  21. ^ a b c Safarli, Aliyar G.; Yusifli, Khalil (2005). "İmadeddin Nesimi" (PDF). Azerbaycan Eski Türk Edebiyatı (in Turkish). Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Turkey. Retrieved 2008-01-08.
  22. ^ The phrase is in some ways redolent of the earlier Sufi Mansur al-Hallaj's statement "ana al-Haqq" (أنا الحق), which means literally "I am the Truth" but also — because al-Haqq is one of the 99 names of God in Islamic tradition — "I am God".
  23. ^ This device of employing double, and even completely opposite, meanings for the same word is known as tevriyye (توريه).
  24. ^ "ChingizArt: Colors dedicated to Nesimi". 2010-01-18. Retrieved 2013-05-20.
  25. ^ "Sculptures". (in Azerbaijani). Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  26. ^ "Celebration | Cultural evening dedicated to the 600th anniversary of the death of the poet and philosopher Nassimi". UNESCO. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  27. ^ "En mémoire d'Imadaddin Nasimi à l'U.N.E.S.C.O." newsreelinthereal (in French). 2017-07-31. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  28. ^ "600th anniversary of Azerbaijani poet Nasimi's death marked at UNESCO headquarters". State News Agency of Azerbaijan. Archived from the original on 2018-11-26. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  29. ^ "Opinion: 2019 will be the year of Nasimi in Azerbaijan". Common Space. Retrieved 2019-01-31.[permanent dead link]
  30. ^ "Meeting of Cabinet of Ministers dedicated to results of socioeconomic development of 2018 and objectives for future". Official web-site of President of Azerbaijan Republic. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  31. ^ "President Ilham Aliyev declares 2019 as Year of Nasimi - Regional news". Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan. 2019-01-11. Retrieved 2019-01-31.
  32. ^ "36th Term Meeting of the Permanent Council of TURKSOY held in Kastamonu :: TURKSOY". Retrieved 2020-01-21.
  33. ^ "32939 Nasimi (1995 UN2)". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  34. ^ "MPC/MPO/MPS Archive". Minor Planet Center. Retrieved 3 June 2019.
  35. ^ "About Fikret Amirov". Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  36. ^ Федерация гимнастики Азербайджана
  37. ^ "The progress of major overhaul and landscaping at the Sumgayit seaside park named after Nasimi". Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  38. ^ "Azerbaijan's new Nasimi Festival honours Sufi icon". euronews. 2018-10-03. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  39. ^ "Azerbaijan to host Nasimi Festival of Poetry, Art and Spirituality organized by Heydar Aliyev Foundation - News | Ministry of Culture of the Republic of Azerbaijan". Ministry of Culture of Azerbaijan. 2018-09-05. Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  40. ^ "Inauguration of the Nasimi Festival takes place". Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  41. ^ "About | Nasimi Festival". Retrieved 2018-11-26.
  42. ^ "Bust of great Azerbaijani poet Nasimi unveiled in Moscow". State News Agency of Azerbaijan. Archived from the original on 2018-11-23. Retrieved 2018-11-23.
  43. ^ "Second grandiose Nasimi Festival of Poetry, Art and Spirituality to kick off in Azerbaijan". Trend.Az. 2019-09-27. Retrieved 2019-10-04.
  44. ^ "Opening ceremony of the II Summer Camp of Diaspora Youth was held". State Committee on Work With Diaspora Of The Republic Of Azerbaijan. Retrieved 2019-07-15.
  45. ^ a b Shahana, Mushfig (2018-04-28). "Kinomuzun sözlü-musiqili naxışları". 525-ci qəzet (in Azerbaijani): 12 – via Azerbaijan National Library.
  46. ^ [1]