The literary monument “The Light of Islam”

26 January


Today, the religious and moral work “The Light of Islam” (“Raunakul - Islam”), written in 1464, is considered as monument of Turkmen medieval literature. However, the poem is directly related to the Siberian Tatars, and was repeatedly published in Kazan printing houses in the 19th century. This is a real literary relic, insufficiently researched and studied, and still not returned to the Tatar nation in a modern form, among whom the work was popular at the beginning of the 20th century. Author of the work - poet Jan Wafa, who wrote the poem under the pseudonym Gur Sharif Wafai, is a real historical figure.

Academician Alexander Nikolaevich Samoylovich (1880-1938), Russian and Soviet orientalist, was one of the first who begin the modern study of the poem “Raunakul - Islam”. He's the one who translated the title of the work as “The Light of Islam”. Tatar scientists Gaziz Gubaydullin (1887-1937) and Gali Rakhim (1892-1943) in the work “History of Tatar Literature” (1924) paid special attention to the poem “Raunakul - Islam” and called the work “Tatar Sharia”, noting the uncertainty of authorship and place of writing. But A. N. Samoylovich can found out that the work was included in the school program of the Turkmens living between the Caspian and Aral seas.

In many books about the history of Turkmen literature, there are some articles dedicated to Wafai. They indicate that this name is a pseudonym, and the identity of the author of “Raunakul - Islam” has not been established yet. But the poet’s origin is known - this is the region that today belongs to the city of Turkmenbashi on the eastern shore of the Caspian Sea. It is also noted that the author studied at a madrasa in the city of Khiva. The pseudonym “Wafai” is used in the work only once; basically the author calls himself “Gur Sharif”, and even “tat-tatar”. Perhaps the word “gur” is an abbreviation for “guragan” - the name of a man who marries a girl from the clan of Genghis Khan.

If we turn to the chronicles recorded during the creation of the poem “Raunakul - Islam”, we’ll be able to find only one person, who can be called Gur Sharif Wafai. This man is Emir Jan Wafa. Abu'l-Khayr Khan (1428-1468) from the Shaybanid dynasty succeeded in establishing the Uzbek Khanate on the vast territory of the steppe regions of Kazakhstan. On a modern map, the borders of the medieval state extend from the Ural River in the west to Lake Balkhash in the east, and from the lower reaches of the Aral Sea in the south to the middle reaches of the Irtysh River in the north. The work was continued by his nephew Muhammad Shaybani (1451-1510). One of the emirs in Shaybani Khan's palace was named Jan Wafa. You can read about this in the historical work “Tarikh-i Rashidi”, authored by the statesman of the Moghul Khanate Mirza Muhammad Haidar (1499-1551).

Based on this information, it becomes clear that Jan Wafa in 1504 was in service in the palace of Shaybani Khan. Jan Wafa had a son named Yar, who was married to Ghaurashat (sister of Mirza Muhammad Haidar). In folk legends, the personality of the author of “Raunakul - Islam” is associated with Sheikh Sharif, who prefers to ride a donkey, although a rich man gave him a horse. So the name of the position of Jan Wafa in the palace “ishek agasy” (literally - "gatekeeper"), in these legends could change to the designation of a person sitting on a donkey ("ishek" - "ishak"(tat)). It turns out that the biographies of the author of “Raunakul - Islam”, set out in the history of the literature of the Central Asia nations, are erroneous.

The Light of Islam should not be confused with Sufi works. The Muslim literature of the Tatars, among whom the poem was popular, was formed and developed based on strict religious and theological views. In terms of semantic and rhetorical orientation, the poem sharply differs from literary works associated with Sufism, although there are some similarities. For example, in the title: the word "raunak" in Sufi religious vocabulary means "heart", which can also be understood as "soul". The meaning is that the heart is considered the source that illuminates the world, and its purity makes a person healthy and alive. But the deep meaning of the name is not limited only by this.

“Raunakul - Islam” can also be translated as “The Beauties of Islam”, or in a poetic vein – “The Sparkle of Islam”, and also “The Pillars of Islam”, cause the word “raunak” can mean “norm” or “foundation”. Once upon a time, Bedouins, Turks, and other nomads - they all lived in tents, which were installed on supports in the form of pillars. Muslims view religion as a global home. Rituals and laws support the house of religion like columns, or “pillars of religion.” Considering its possible translation as “Beauties of Islam,” it seems that the name, among other things, takes into account the elegant decorative design of the tent columns that is customary among Muslims. The choice of the title of the poem emphasizes the literary talent and extensive erudition of the author.

“Raunakul - Islam” is written in a noble didactic language. The author doesn’t use metaphorical language. He resorting to rhetoric based on concrete concepts, and use the words that reveal his thoughts by a literal meaning. However, it is impossible to deny the poetry of the composition. The author builds the rhetoric of the work within the framework of the requirements of the Islamic religion and educational literature. There aren't forms typical for storytelling and hints of history in the poem. The work consists of 1085 couplets. The orthodox content, characteristic of the Middle Ages, represents a synthesis of poetics, religious philosophy, theology and tells the reader about the canons of Islam.

A work of art expresses the truth, explains it, teaches the basics of religion. The didactic type of composition excludes poetic and metaphysical narrative images. Gur Sharif Wafai explains complex ideas through religious confirmation, without turning them into allegories. It is the philosophy of the work, as well as a deep understanding of religious canons, that makes the content of the poem “The Light of Islam” literary noble and important for modern times from a historical point of view. Of course, one of the most fascinating aspects for modern study of the poem “Raunakul - Islam” is its rank as “Tatar Sharia”. The literature and culture of the Tatar nation and the development of the Islamic world were inseparable over a long historical period.

Education in the medieval era contributed to the enrichment of literary language and expansion of religious meanings. The poem “Raunakul - Islam” is loved and revered by the Tatar reader, as evidenced not only by printed editions, but also by the saved handwritten copies. However, the work wasn’t return to the mass reader even after the Soviet era, and largely remained unstudied. Professor Farit Zakizyanovich Yakhin - The leading researcher at the G. Ibragimov Institute of Language, Literature and Art, did a lot of work to fill this gap in his works: “Literary-textual analysis: the literary monument of the Middle Ages “The Light of Islam” and “Attribution of the book “Raunakul - Islam”, called in science “Tatar Sharia”.



GSV "Russia - Islamic World"

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