Aida Gasimova Geographic boundaries and ideological sources of the Classical Azeri Turkic poetry Abstract The paper deals with the most unknown branch of Medieval Turkish literature in Western scholarship

Aida Gasimova
Geographic boundaries and ideological sources of the Classical Azeri Turkic poetry
The paper deals with the most unknown branch of Medieval Turkish literature in Western scholarship, Azeri Turkic poetry, which has not yet received the attention it deserves in Oriental Studies.It may be considered “complex issue” and “confusion” by some Western scholars, due to lack of awareness of linguistic and cultural characteristics of this heritage. Therefore this paper addresses mainly to Western audience. First, the historical and geographical boundaries of this tradition are outlined, alongside an explanation of confusing linguistic issues, such as the medieval meaning of the ‘Turkoman’ and ‘Azeri’. Then the ideological-spiritual background of Azeri Turkic poetry has been discussed and impact of the Qur’an, Shi’ite ideologies and Sufi-Hurufi teachings, Christian, Zoroastrian, and Gnostic elements on the poetry in question have been elaborated.

Medieval Azerbaijani culture and literature represent a sheared heritage. We shared our historical past and culture with many nations of Muslim world – Arabs, Persians, Ottoman Turks, Kurds among others. In an era of globalization shared cultural values help people to understand their multicultural past, and to be open for dialog with other nations.
When identifying national literary heritage we use both linguistic and geographical principles; we consider KhatibTabrizi, Nizami Ganjavi, Khaqani Shirvani, Mahsati Ganjawi, Shihabuddin Suhrawardi to be representatives of Azerbaijani culture, by birthplace. Another chain of Medieval Azerbaijani cultural heritage based on linguistic identification, to be more precise, we consider the literature in Azeri Turkic to be part of Azerbaijani cultural heritage. In both cases we respect cultural diversity and admit that Nizami and Khaqani are representative of the Persianate culture by language, while Fuzuli is connected to Iraq by birthplace, not to mention his close connection with Ottoman poetry.

In this paper I am going to demonstrate the position of Classical Azeri Turkic poetry among literatures of Islamicate world. While trying to publish my relevant papers I faced some unexpected reviews. One of the reviewers considered the phrase “Azeri-Turkic” to be confusion while others would consider that major issues in my piece, mainly to do with framing and addressing the complex context of the body of writing you discuss. The COMPLEXS CONTEXT has been explained in such a way:
As for the ‘complex context’, I refer to the ways in which languages, cultures and literary traditions overlap in the works of the poets you study and the ways in which these in turn find themselves complicated by shifting geographical and political boundaries. How is one, then, to extract a literary tradition, in this case, Azeri-Turkish, while keeping abreast of its relations to other language-driven literary traditions? Nationalism, or the rise of nation-states, or the emergence of nationness in the modern period has shaped the literary tradition invented to fit in with the idea of the boundedness of the nation, or the cartography of the nation, while this is impossible to do in the past, and would not have been even imagined. The category Azeri-Turkish is loaded and it is also grounded in a poetic or literary tradition shared by Persian and Arabic. It is very difficult to write simply and clearly about a topic against such a complex background, yet without this background the significance of research is quite often reduced. 
My answer to the reviewer stated that my piece is not founded on ” geographical and political boundaries “, but on language features which connected all the tradition named ‘Azeri Turkic’ and which has been comprehensively explored by Korpuluzadeh, the founder of the modern Turkish literary scholarship. I assumed that my paper is not bounded with national ambitions but gives a full scope of literary intercommunication, as its topic related to the Qur’an which connected all these traditions in Persian, Arabic and Turkish. Background of Azeri-Turkish literature seems to be  very “complicated” because over the 70 years Azeri scholarship under the Soviet regime did not have access to Western scholarly issues not to mention Azeris from the Southern Azerbaijan who are still under the Iranian colonial regime. It is very surprising that in Iranian scholarship Azeri sabki, considered to be a separate tradition, while Western scholarship is still afraid that such a definition may concern national interests of Iranians. Yet in the medieval society one cannot make scrupulous difference between traditions, because they all connected with each other, but one also cannot deny that Turkish literature consisted of the literary traditions of various Turkish ethnic groups with difference language features.
Surprisingly, nobody mentions nationalism when a whole Pleiade of poets are represented as Iranian or Persian, only because of their language. Such a misunderstanding appears due to lack of awareness not only of the linguistic and thematic peculiarities of Medieval Azeri poetry, but also of the works of Western orientalists of the first half and middle of XX century. Therefore I was forced to add to my papers explanatory introductions outlining boundaries of Classical Azeri Turkic Poetry. The present paper aims to introduce an account on the poetry in question for Western audience, rather than Azerbaijani or Turkish readers. Some parts of the paper have already been published in peer-reviewed journals. (1)This paper revisits the same subject for representing it to wider audience.

Classical Azeri Turkic Poetry has not yet received the attention it deserves in Western scholarship. It seems this tradition has been forgotten completely, although it constitutes the most important part of Turkic literatures. As widely known Russian expression states, “Everything new is actually well-forgotten old.” Actually, this sentiment rings true Azeri (Adhari) Turkic poetry. It may sound new and unusual after being nearly forgotten among other literature of the pre-modern Muslim world, lumped under the umbrella of Ottoman literature. This unique tradition, represented by a pleiad of poets, QadiBurhanuddin (d. 800/1398), ‘Imaduddin Nesimi(d. 820/1417-18), Mirza Jahan Shah Haqiqi (d. 871/1467), Ni’matullah Kishwari (IX-X/XV-XVI centuries), Habibi (d. 926/1520), Shah Isma’il Khata’i (d. 930/1524), and Muhammad Fuzuli (d. 963/1556), attracted the attention of Elias J. W. Gibb, Vladimir Minorsky, and their Turkish colleague, Fuad Köprülü, almost a century ago. Gibb indicated, “The works of Fuzuli are written in that dialect of the Turkish language spoken along the Turko-Persian frontier and called Azerbayjani from the country of Azerbayjan, which forms the North-Western corner of the modern Kingdom of Persia.”(2) According to Köprülü, author of The Studies on Azeri Literature, literature in the Azeri language, which is very similar to the Seljuk-Ottoman language, is the most unknown of all Turkish literatures. (3) On the other side of the Turkish world, in Soviet Azerbaijan, scholar Salman Mumtaz also complained that Azeri poets had not yet received their deserved attentions. Salman Mümtaz, 2006:283-291. Minorsky, while investigating the diwan of Shah Isma’ilKhata’i, noted its language as the “Southern Turkish (Turcoman) dialect directly associated with the so-called ‘Azerbayjan Turkish,’ as spoken in North-Western Persia and North-Eastern Transcaucasia.” Vladimir Minorsky, 1942: 1010a. Among other studies devoted to Azeri poetry, Kathleen Burrill’s The Quatrains of Nesimi, Fourteenth Century Turkic Hurufi Burrill:46, and Amelia Gallagher’s works on the poetry of Shah Isma’ilKhata’i are notable. Amelia Gallagher, 2011: 895-911; Amelia Gallagher,2004Due to his status as a famous Shah and founder of the Safavid dynasty,Shah Isma’ilKhata’i has been paid more attention than any of the other above noted poets. Fuzuli, whose great influence on Turkish poetry has been mentioned by many authors, has not been the object of monographic studies in Western oriental studies, though he has been highly investigated in Turkey and Azerbaijan. (4)
Representatives of this literature have called their language Turkic (L?hceyi-türki, türkl?fzi) Mu?ammad Fuzuli, 1958:362. or TurkomanNesimi, 1987: 178.; Qizilbashi was sometimes used for its identification, but later European travelers might associate the name with Azerbaijani Turkish. Gandjei, Isma’ilI, 46:4, p. 569. Gandjei explains that Adharbayjan or Qizilbashi was a term used by indigenous sources, distinct from Chaghatai and Rumi. Contemporary researchers have continued using various names: for Gibb and Minorsky, it is Azarbayjani Turkish(5), while FuadKöprülü Köprülü:178; Köprülüzade :11., Kathleen Burrill, Amelia Gallagher, and Kemal Yavuz use “Azeri” or “Azeri Turkic.” Amelia Gallagher: 898. Kemal Yavuz, 2011:26. According to Gibb, te “Azerbaijani dialect stands between the Ottoman of Constantinople and the Jaghatay of Central Asia, but is much closer to the former than it is to the latter. Anyone familiar with the Ottoman dialect, especially in its earlier stages, will have no trouble in reading anything writing by Fuzuli.” Gibb: 75 IzFahir considers Western Turkish literature to encompass the Azari and Ottoman areas. Iz Fahir, 1977:688. Kathleen Burrill accentuates that, in spite of the slight distinguishing features of the poetry of QadiBurhanuddin and Nesimi from Ottoman Turkish, “In the fourteenth century Azeri and Ottoman had not yet divided into two distinct branches of Oghuz Turkic.” Burrill:46.This statement agrees with Ergin’s comments regarding the Divan of Nesimi’s contemporary, QadiBurhanuddin:
It is true that in the fourteenth century the Azeri Turkic and Anatolian dialects had not developed yet along their separate lines, and two or three centuries more were needed for this. However, QadiBurhanuddin’s language does differ slightly from other Anatolian texts and bears certain of the distinguishing features of Azeri Turkic, which gave promise of its becoming a separate dialect. In view of this, although it is not possible to consider the work entirely a product of Azeri Turkic, yet it is not far off the mark to consider it the product of the period when the Azeri Turkic dialect was heading straight towards separation. Burrill: 46.

Willem Floor and Hasan Javadi also use the description Azerbaijani Turkish to identify this language Willem Floor ; Hasan Javadi:569-581.. Mustafa Karada? names it either Azeri Turkic or Azeri Turcoman Karada?:527, 531.. YavuzAkpinar uses both Azerbaijani and Azeri, claiming that the language is a Turkic vernacular that belongs to the Eastern Oghuz group (Do?u O?uzca) YavuzAkp?nar, 1994:17.. Whatever term may be chosen, its essence indicates a language spoken by Azerbaijani Turks and laid on the basis of a unique literary tradition. As a native speaker of this language, I argue that modern Azeri Turkic is the closest to this tradition according to linguistic features of other Turkish vernaculars.
The geographic boundaries of Classical Azeri Turkic also vary according to different scholars. Per Minorsky, the language represented North-Western Persia and North-Eastern Transcaucasia Minorsky:1010a.. Gibb considers Azeri Turkic a language of Azerbaijan, which is situated on the frontiers of Turkey and Iran Gibb: 75., while Köprülü notes that it was spoken in Baghdad, Mosul, Diyarbakir, Eastern Anatolia, the Caucasus, and Iranian Azerbaijan Köprülü:178.. Azeri Turkic literature, according to Akp?nar, was created in the Caucasus, Eastern and Western Azerbaijan, Iran, Iraq, and Eastern Anatolia Akp?nar:17.. Akpinar accentuates the role of Tabriz in the emergence of the written literary tradition. Akp?nar, 2012:500.

Clearly, the boundaries of Azeri literature and its influence on other Turkish literatures such as Ottoman and Chagatai extend beyond the borders of Azerbaijan, stretching to such lands as Syria, Iraq, Anatolia, and Central Asia. There, Azerbaijani poetry introduced not only linguistic peculiarities but also specific poetic traditions and mystic-ideological concepts through Hurufism, Ishrakiyya, Shi’a-‘Alawi notions, and messianic ideas.
From a historical point of view, the migration of Turkish tribes to Azerbaijan began long before Islam with invasions of the Huns, Gekturks, Pecheneks, and Khazars; however, the migration of Muslim Oghuz tribes (Turkomans) happened during the Seljukid period Ziya Musa Bunyatov, 1991:319-320., after which Azeri Turkic developed into a spoken language. Although Seljuk sovereigns preferred Persian as an official language and Arabic as the language of religion and scholarship, they addressed the general population in Turkish. Zeynep Korkmaz, 2010: 27.

According to Mehmet FuadKöprülü, the flourishing of Azeri Turkic is owed to XIII century Mongol invasions, which brought to Azerbaijan new waves of Oghuz tribes. They united with local Oghuz Turks, who had long inhabited the country and spoke a Turkish vernacular. This union revived ethnic consciousness and stimulated the growth of outstanding poetry in Azeri Turkic Mehmet Fuat Köprülüzade, 1996:11.. Furthermore, the emergence of some sovereign Turkoman states—Qara-Qoyunlu (1375-1468) and Agh-Qoyunlu (1378-1508) —and the Safavids (1501-1722), who also “were turcophone by choice, and their principal tribal and other military supporters were Turks,” John R. Perry, 1996:277; Edward Browne, 1997:15. encouraged the establishment of Azeri vernacular as the language of literature Köprülüzade, 2003:67; Burrill:17-18.; Salman Mümtaz: 283-291.. Some sovereigns of those states were not only patrons of poets Salman Mümtaz:283-291. but also established poets themselvesMinorsky, 1954: 271-297. Azeri Turkic thrived as a spoken language both in the countryside and in cultural centers such as Tabriz, Hamadan, and ShirazYavuz Akp?nar, 1994:20. Furthermore, under the Safavid shahs, spoken Azeri Turkic enjoyed high prestige as the language of the ruling elite and the Qizilbash tribes Perry:278. Seemingly, Safavid shahs preferred Turkish for strengthening strategic alliances with powerful Turkoman dynasties; in addition, Shah Isma’il was the son of an Agh-Qoyunlu princess, meaning he must have been bilingual from birthGallagher:898; Minorsky:1008a.. A Chronicle of Carmelites, likely written by an anonymous Armenian author, noted, “Turki (not Osmanli Turkish) was the language of the court of Shah Abbas II and widely used at Isfahan and in the North.” A Chronicle:373; Willem Floor & Hasan Javadi:574. In the Safavid period, “Azerbaijani Turkish was not only the language of the court and the army, but it was also used in poetry, even by renowned poets who usually wrote in Persian. The Safavid Shahs, many of whom wrote poetry in Turkish themselves, promoted its literary use. Also Turkish was used in the court’s official correspondence for both internal and external affairs.” Floor &Javadi: 569, 581
The first representative of Azeri Turkic poetry was ‘IzzuddinHasanoglu, who wrote Sufi poems before 700/1300 and was famous beyond Azerbaijan and known as far as AnatoliaFuadKöprülü:178.. Salman Mumtaz also mentioned the name ‘Anbaroghlu, who wrote in Azeri Turkic in the beginning of XIV century and whose poem was found by Mumtaz in the mosque of the Azerbaijani town Shaki Salman Mümtaz, 2006:364-367.; unfortunately, this unique manuscript and many others were destroyed during Stalin’s regime.

The study of Azeri Turkic literature requires explanation of two important points. The first is an elaboration of the differences between the Medieval and modern meanings of Turkoman language and poetry. Medieval Turkoman implied not a particular Turkic nation, as in the present, but represented all Oghuz Turks. Mahmud Qashqarli identified this group as Oghuzes (“The Oghuz are Turkomans”) TufanGunduz:463-476.. Seemingly, Turkomans were Muslim Oghuz Turks (Turk-i Iman) TufanGunduz:463-476. who were not at first willing to convert; however, “Islam slowly penetrated into the Oghuz tribes, which time and again had faced hostility. By the end of 11th century the conversion of all the Oghuz tribes…seems to have been achieved.” Karl H. Mendes, 1995:27. On the other hand, “Oghuz’s identification as Turkoman until the thirteenth century might stem from differences between nomadic and settled lifestyles with the Turkomans representing the nomads. As of the thirteenth century, the name Oghuz had begun to be abandoned completely,” Tufan Gunduz: 463-476. See also Mustafa Karada?:527. and they were called Turkoman. Subsequently, Turk replaced Oghuz, but Turkoman continued to signify nomadic Turks. The Oghuz tribes were known as Turkoman in Azerbaijan and Anadolu, Iran, Iraq, and Turkey (6). According to Savory, “Turkestan” was considered Azerbaijan and the neighboring Turkish-speaking lands 7. The prominent anthropologist ArminusVambery regarded the Turkomans as, on the whole, the purest and most representative branch of the widespread Turki family and described their outward features as quite distinct from the Mongolian; they belonged to the Caucasian, rather than the Mongolian, groupA. H. Keane, 1879:110.. Interestingly, ‘AliShirNawa’i used the term Turkoman to mean the Azeri branch of Oghuz, and Rumi for the Anatolian OghuzBurrill: 46. On the ethnographic nature of the Azeri region, Gary Leiser states that almost all Turks in this area “were from the Oghuz i.e. of the Turkoman type” Koprulu:186. As a result, many Turkish poets were represented as Turkomans, which is accurate in its medieval meaning but can sometimes evoke misunderstanding in modern scholarship.
The second issue causing confusion regarding the Azeri Turkic tradition is the name “Azeri.” Some scholars claim that before the Turkification of Azerbaijan, another Azeri language existed, an Iranian dialect that sank into oblivion. Ahmad Kasravi (1890-1946), who first uncovered remnants of the alleged dialect, has confessed that he is unable to determine the history of the Iranian Azeri vernacular:
If we had access to the same amount of poetry in “Azeri” as we have in Kurdish or in Tabari, we could easily determine the complete identity of that language. However, with all the work and research that we have undertaken to find signs from that language, we have not been able to find anything more than a couple of sentences here and there, plus eleven couplets from ShaykhSafi al-Din of Ardabil, and a couple of miscellaneous couplets that we can only guess that may belong to Azari. AlirezaAsgharzadeh, 2007:125.

While Iranian scholars try to revive this ancient Iranian Azeri vernacular out of scraps Muhammad Taghi,; Ehsan Yarshater, Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. III2 (1987) to prove the Persian-Arian roots of the Azeri ethnonym, some ethnic Azeris consider such claims (a) “an attempt to redefine the Turkic people of Azerbaijan in terms of the designation ‘Azari,’ a term that in Kasravi’s definition referred to an Arian people,” and (b) an idea that was “a part of Iranian colonization policy, of discrediting, devaluing, and eventually annihilating the Other’s mean of communication and representation.”(8) Because Azer/Azeri/Azerbaijani identity is the identity that ties Azerbaijanis most directly to their geography and territory. By removing the indigenous name Azerbaijan from a large portion of these territories, the government seeks to destroy the connection of this ethnic group to their homelands, and to the indigenous identity that emerges from such a connection. Asgharzadeh:126.

Azeri scholar Firudin Aghasioghlu proclaims that the Azeri Turks belong to ancient Khazar tribes, the Azars, who inhabited the country from time immemorial. Their language was Azari, which belongs to the Turkish language groupsFirudinA?as?o?lu, 2000: 18-25.. Considering the multicolored pre-modern linguistic picture of the country(9), it will be very difficult to identify an ancient Azeri dialect. Nonetheless, such a study exceeds the bounds of this article. Ultimately, the unceasing migration of Turkish tribes shaped Azerbaijan’s linguistic picture, but in XII century, Turkish was the spoken language, and some poems were written in it, although not appreciated in aristocratic circles. The local sovereign Akhsitan forbade NizamiGanjawi to write Layla and Majnun in Turkish. Quoting a fragment from Layla and Majnun, Walter Andrews says:
“Not in the Turkish way do we keep a promise,
So writing in the Turkish manner doesn’t suit us.

This couplet seems to indicate that the Sharvan Shah could have asked Nizami to write in Turkish, and the poet could have done this. But alas – fortunately depending on your own view – the ruler preferred Persian. So… the first complete Turkish version of the story had to wait almost three hundred years.” Mehmet Kalpakli and Walter G. Andrews, 2001:30.

Despite controversial opinions regarding its history, no scholar can deny the unique literary tradition of the Medieval Muslim world that was created in Azeri Turkic and reached its apogee in XIV-XVI centuries through the contributions of the pleiad of great poets-mystics.
The ideological-spiritual background of this tradition is diverse, embracing variegated and sometimes contradictory teachings and ideas. Like all Islamic literary traditions, it was derived from the Qur’an, a source of wisdom and morality, as well as a repository of aesthetic images and symbols.Due to the deep Qur’anic influence on everyday Muslim life, it is logical that Qur’anic motives and ideas comprised an important part of the literary tradition. On the other hand, numerous sects and ideological tenets that emerged in Islam, even the most heretical ones, have tried to substantiate their teachings from the Qur’anic point of view, looking for proof of their doctrines in the Qur’an. This association prompted the abundance of Qur’anic motifs in sectarian literature, particularly in Sufi-Hurufi poetry.
Sources of the Azeri Turkic tradition were obviously not confined to Islam and its Holy Book; its influences span the breadth of social and historical milieu, including Zoroastrian ideas, age-old Turkish, Arab, and Persian legends, even ancient Mesopotamian myths. Nonetheless, the overwhelmingly sustaining forces behind this tradition were Shi’ite ideologies and Sufi-Hurufi teachings. Hurufism, which formulated the main undercurrent for the poetic images, was also a diverse teaching, including, besides Sufism and Shi’ism, also Judaic, Christian, Zoroastrian, and Gnostic elements. (10) Islam itself was deeply gnostic and esoteric in the country, due to Sufi teachings and Shi’ism’s fertile ground for exotic ideas: “Islamic esotericism or gnosis crystallized into the form of Sufism in the Sunni world while it poured into the whole structure of Shi’ism… The use of the method of ta’wil or spiritual hermeneutics in the understanding of the Holy Quran as well as of the ‘cosmic text,’ and belief in grades of meaning within the revelation—both of which are common to Sufism and Shi’ism—result from the presence of this esoteric form of knowledge.” Seyyed Hossein Nasr, 1970: 231.
Particularly, Safavid tenets intermingling with Shi’ism with Sufism is a distinct factor in Islamic ideological history. Spencer Trimingham, 1971: 70. During that period, as noted by Alexander Knysh, Shi’ite thinkers accepted Ibn ‘Arabi’s metaphysical and theological notions and his conception of the Perfect Man with almost no changes. The only difference was the identity of the Perfect Man himself, which in Shi’ism replaced Sufi saints (awliya’) with Shi’a imams, particularly the hidden messiah (Mahdi). ?. ????, 1989:16. Sufi-Hurufi teachings melted and blended with Shi’ism in Azeri Turkic tradition, reaching a high point with the poetry of Khata’i.

Such a fertile background lent a special effectiveness to Sufi poetry, as states Corbin: “True Shi’ism is the same as Tasawwuf, and similarly, genuine and real Tasawwuf cannot be anything other than Shi’ism.” “?afawids,” IE, 2nd edition. Sufi sects like Khalwatiyya, Bektashiyya, Kubrawiyya, and Safawiyya left deep traces in Azeri poetry, particularly Safawiyya, which started as a Sunni sect but adopted Shi’ism and proclaimed it through literature, ideology, and ritual.They designated twelve imam Shi’i belief as their state religion, and added “Aliyyunwaliyyu Allah” to their daily prayers. Trimingham: 100. Furthermore, the Qizilbashs venerated Shah Isma’ilKhata’i as the Mahdi Markus Dressler:112; also ????? ????????,1981:56., and he was revered by his people as a god Edward Browne: 23.. Shah Isma’il exercised a lasting influence in ‘Alawi circles, where his poems were a part of mystic rituals.”Safawids,” I.E. 2nd edition. Further, veneration of Shi’a imams, namely imam Husayn, martyr of Karbala, and MahdiSahib al-Zaman, added many esoteric motifs to Azeri Turkic poetry, particularly to the depiction of the lover’s tears.

The essence of all these tenets hovered on the poetical horizon: the Perfect Man and his theophanic veneration; eternal Love and Beauty; eternal unity between God, Man, the Universe, and Sacred Writings; Shi’a messianic ideas; motifs derived from Sufi practices (du’a’, dhikr, samt, sajdah), and the unity of beings (wahdat al-wujud). Together, these ideas constituted the foreground of Azeri Turkic Sufi poetry, although the individual artistic personality of each poet must also be taken into consideration. For example, the battle motifs of QadiBurhanuddin and passionate utterances inspired by the Hurufi teachings of Nesimi intermingled with Khata’i’s folk motifs and ‘Alawi notions, as well as the unique poetic masterpieces of Fuzuli, who prevailed over ideological tenets and long standing traditional images. The characteristics of these poets offer great diversity to this heritage, in which occasionally a charismatic leader, great ideologist, and talented poet shared the same body, such as with Khata’i (founder and first Shah of the Safavid dynasty, ideologist, and poet), Mirza Jahan Shah Haqiqi (Qara-Qoyunlu sovereign and Sufi poet), QadiBurhanuddin(sovereign of Erzinjan and poet), and ‘ImaduddinNesimi (Hurufi ideologist, poet, and martyr).
Due to an abundance of esoteric teachings, each expression, each line of poetry has a great provision for hidden meanings. Interpretation offers a twofold objective to the poetry. The active involvement of the reader is required to reveal hidden meanings that might differ from the poets’ original thought; therefore, each poem gains second life through interpretation. On the other hand, no interpreter can express exactly the “poetry’s inner voice,” and “the meaning of most utterances cannot be ‘put in other words’.” Walter G., 1985:6 Such hidden symbolism may be explained by the specific character of Islamic epistemology, which divides knowledge into zahir (exterior) and batin (interior), then opens the path for discussing the contradictions between them and for discovering the esoteric meanings of batinitexts.

The poets were surrounded by an atmosphere of esoterism and magic, and they praised deified leaders of mystic sects as embodied Gods. In the case of Nesimi, FadlullahNa’imi was a manifestation of the Divine being. (11)
Related motifs opened great horizons for proclamations of theophanic visions and divine manifestations, which calls forth a suggestion that some poets experienced similar psychic states or hallucinations. In this case, poetry itself is a kind of prophesy. Gibb clarifies this point, referring to Nesimi: “When we read his impassionate lyrics, a-thrill with ecstasy and rapture and clothed in gracious melody, we almost forget the fantastic features of Hurufi doctrine, and feel that this old poet, too, has indeed, after his own fashion, looked upon the Face of God.” Gibb :354-355. As a member of an esoteric sect, a poet might participate in mystic gatherings. Such was the case of Jalal al-Din Rumi, whose most “fervid, lyrical verses composed in strict classical forms and meters, were extemporized … while in a state of trance, his soul enraptured, bursting into effusive euphony.” Talat Sait Halman, 1988:194. Khata’i also seems to have been occupied with theophanic raptures, Shi’a-‘Alawi, and messianic proclamations. Fuzuli presented similar behaviors, as well, and Gibb described him as “the sun climbing the Eastern horizon and bathing all the land in the glory of his radiance.” Gibb: 70. Fuzuli’s poetic inspiration cannot be confined to any sect or teaching; he was a poet-lover, with a vivid imagination and enormous talent. His deeply emotional and passionate poems and grandiose skills suggest only one ecstasy, the ecstasy of poetic rapture. The possibility of the mystic experience may shed light on another side of poetry, its deeply traditional character (i.e., repetitiveness of the same words, expressions, and motifs). Andrews: 36-62. This behavior is reminiscent of depictions of a light at the end of a tunnel, commonly expressed by persons who have experienced clinical death. While some poets may have experienced mystic annihilation, others may simply have used related images and motifs.
Finally, another important aspect of Azeri Turkic poetry must be noted: in spite of the obvious spiritual-religious undercurrents, it did not lack elements of natural erotic feelings, and sometimes this earthly aspect is so vivid that even long-used images of divine love cannot lead the reader to spiritual interpretation, as in the following verse by Khata’iKhatai:32.: “Strip your shirt”- I said to my rose like cypress, she showed me her body (?ndam) without shame.
1.Aida Gasimova, “The Hair on my Head is Shining, Qur’anic Imagery of the Curl in Classical Azeri- Turkic Sufi Poetry”, Journal of Qur’anic Studies, 15.1 (2013), Edinburgh University Press, Centre of Islamic Studies, pp.67-99; All the Trees on Earth Were Pens: A Survey of the Qur’anic Symbolism of the Pen in Medieval Azeri Turkic Sufi Poetry”, Journal of Turkish Literature, # 11/2014, pp. 7-33;”Qur’anic Symbolism of the Eyes in Classical Azeri Turkic Poetry”, Oriens, #43 /2015, issue 1-2, pp. 101-153.
2.On distinctions between Azeri and Ottoman Turkic, see. Elias J. W. Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry, ed. by Edward G. Browne (London: Luzac, 1904), vol. 3, p. 76n; Kathleen R. F. Burrill, The Quatrains of Nesimi, Fourteenth Century Turkic ?urufi, with annotated translations of the Turkic and Persian quatrains from the Hekimo?lu Ali Pa?a (Paris: The Hague, 1972), p. 47-48; Cafero?lu Ahmet, Adhari, Encyclopaedia of Islam, 2nd ed.; Mustafa Karada?, “AzerbaycanTürkcesininFüzulideki?zleri” The Traces of Azerbaijani Turkish on Fuzuli, Turkish Studies:International Periodical for the Languages, Literature, and History of Turkish or Turks, vol. 51 (2010), pp. 525-555.
3. FuadKöprülüzade, Az?ri?d?biyyat?nadairt?dqiql?r, tr. V. Feyzullayeva (Bak?: Sabah, 1996), p. 11. Mehmed FuadKöprülü, Early Mystics in Turkish Literature, tr. Gary Leiser and Robert Dankoff (London: Routledge, Taylor and Francis Group, 2006), pp. 177-178.

4. A few examples of works devoted to Azeri Turkic literature: Salman Mümtaz, Az?rbaycan ?d?biyyat?n?n qaynaqlar?, ed. M?mm?d Adilov (Bak?: Avrasiya Press, 2006); ?lyarS?f?rli, X?lil Yusifli, Q?dim v? orta ?srl?r Az?rbaycan ?d?biyyat? (Bak?: Maarif, 1982);FuadKöprülüzade, Az?ri?d?biyyat?nadairt?dqiql?r, tr. V. Feyzullayeva (Bak?: Sabah, 1996); Ya?arYücel, KadiBürhaneddin Ahmed vedevleti (Ankara: Ankara ÜniversitesiBas?mevi, 1970); Mirza?aQuluzad?, Böyükideallar?airi (Bak?: G?nclik, 1973); HüseyinAyan, “SeyyidNesimihaqq?ndaçal??malar?m?z”, Atatürk Universiteti. Edebiyyatfakultesiara?t?rmalar?dergisi (1971), pp. 65-74; Abdülbaki, Gölpünarl?, Nesimi-Uzuli-Rumi (Istanbul: Varl?kYay?nevi, 1953); K. Kürkçüo?lu, Nesimidivan?ndanseçmeler (Ankara: KültürveTurizmBakanl???Yay?nlar?, 1985); Azad? Rüst?mova, M?h?mm?dFüzuli (Bak?: ??rq-Q?rb, 1994); Adilov M?mm?d, M?h?mm?d Füzulinin üslubu v? poetic dili (Baku: Maarif, 1996); ?zizaga M?mm?dov, ?ah Ismay?lX?tai (Bak?: G?nclik, 1961); Arasl?H?mid, BöyükAz?rbaycan?airiFüzuli (Bak?: G?nclik, 1958); V?fal?Ayaz, Füzuliöyr?dir (Bak?: G?nclik, 1977); Qas?mzad?Fuad, Q?m karvan?, yaxud zülm?td? nur, Füzulinin dünyagorü?ü (Bak?: Az?nn??r,1968); Qas?mova Aida, Füzuliyarad?c?l???nda Qur’an r?vay?tl?ri (Bak?: BDU n??riyyati, 1995); Qas?mova Aida, Quran qiss?l?ri XIV-XVI ?srl?rAz?rbaycan?d?biyyat?n?nideya-b?dii qaynaqlar?ndan biri kimi (Bak?: Nurlan, 2005);RozaEyvazova, Ki?v?ri “Divan”?n?ndili (Bak?: Elm, 2005);Mirza?aQuluzad?, Füzulininlirikas? (Bak?: Elm, 1965); Göyü?ov N?sib Cüm?üdo?lu, Füzulinin s?n?t v? m?’rif?t dünyas? (Bak?: Tehran, 1997); V?cih?Feyzullayeva, Füzulinin q?sid?l?ri (Bak?: Elm, 1985); Abdulkadir Karahan, Füzulimuhiti, hayat?, ?ahsiyyeti (Ankara: Milli Egitim Bakinligi Yayinlari, 2001); KöprülüFuad, Füzuli, Hayat?veeseri (Istanbul: Darülfünun,1942); Ali NihadTarlan, Füzuli divan? ?erhi, (Ankara: Akça?yay?nlar?, 2011); Maz?o?lu Hasibe, Füzuli üzerine makaleler (Ankara: TürkDilKurumu, 1997); Abdülbaki Gölp?narl?, “Fuzûlî’de bat?nili?e temayül”, Azerbaycan Yurt BilgisiDergisi, 1932, say?: 8-9, s. 265-278; Abdülbaki Gölp?narl?, ?urufi metnleri kataloqu (Ankara: Türk Tarih Kurumu Bas?mevi, 1973); YavuzAkp?nar, Azeri edebiyat?ara?t?rmalar? (Istanbul: Dergahyay?nlar?, 1994); Kemal Yavuz, “?iirimizin özgün nak??ç?s? Seyyid Nesimi ve shiiri”, DilveEdebiyat, pp. 26-35. WorksinRussian: ???????? ?????????,??????? ?????? ? ?? ??????????, ?. 1 (??????,??????????? ???????? ????????? ??????, 1910); ???????? ????????., ????????? ?????, ?. 2, ?????? ? ??????, (??????:?????, 1962).

5. Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry, vol. 3. p. 75; Minorsky, “The Poetry of Shah Isma’il,” p. 1010a. On Jihan Shah, Minorsky says: “Altogether the language of the poems belongs to the group of the southern Turkman dialects which go by the name of ‘Azarbayjan Turkish’.” V. Minorsky, “Jihan Shah and His Poetry,” Turkmenica 9, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, vol. 16, # 2 (1954), p. 283.

6. Korkmaz, “Oguz Turkcesinin Tarihi GelismeSurecleri,” p. 8. In 1523 in Shiraz, according to the Portuguese traveler Tenterio, the inhabitants were Turkomans and Persians, and the former spoke Azerbaijani Turkish. See Floor &Javadi, “The Role of Azerbaijani Turkish in Safavid Iran,” p. 570.

7.In the essay, Shah Isma’ilKhatai he says: “In his native Adharbaycani, the Ahl-I Haqq, who incorporated him in the syncretic pantheon of their sect, considered him to be the pir of Turkestan (i.e. Adharbayjan and other Turkish speaking lands. I.E., 2nd
8. Asgharzadeh, Iran and the Challenge of Diversity, pp. 124, 129. Azeri intelligentsia in northern Azerbaijan at the beginning of the XX century refused to use this term for their native language, denying the Arian root as a passive resistance against the anti-Turkish, pro-Iranian politics of Soviet Union. The term is still out of favor; in spite of fact that the same vernacular is named “Azeri” in the Iranian part of Azerbaijan, northern Azerbaijan’s official language is Azerbaijani.

9. Ehsan Yarshater points to X century author al-Mugaddasi’s statement, according to which there were more than 70 dialects in Azerbaijan. Ehsan Yarshater, “Azari, the Old Iranian Language of Azerbaijan,” Encyclopaedi aIranica.

10. Kamil Mustafa al-Shaibi, Sufism and Shi’ism (Great Britain: LAAM, 1991), pp. 198-215; “?urufism derived much from Shi’ism, and among the Turks it was connected with groups having Shi’ite leanings,” Burrill, The Quatrains of Nesimi , p. 22.

11. Fadl Allah surprised his disciples with karamat –the foretelling and interpretation of dreams, along with esoteric knowledge that became veiled from non-followers. See Shahzad Bashir, Fazlallah Astarabadi and the Hurufis: Makers of the Muslim World (Oxford: Oneworld, 2005); FatihUsluer, “Hurufilikde Rüya Tabirleri” Dream ?nterpretation in ?urufism, Millifolklor, #90 (2011), pp. 139-145. Gölp?narl? expresses bewilderment about proclaiming divinity to such an unbelievable extent, as Fadlullah’s claim to all the words of fadl, mentioned in the Qur’an; ‘Aliyyu al-‘Ala says his high position is proved by the ‘ali’s(one of the beautiful names of God) written in the Qur’an. Gölp?narl? comes to the conclusion that these claims were taqiyya concealing beliefs, used by adherents of batini sects. Abdülbaki Gölp?narl?, ?urufi metnleri kataloqu (Ankara: TürkTarihKurumuBas?mevi, 1973), p. 24.

Salman Mümtaz, “Sultanü?-?ü?raH?bibi,” Az?rbaycan?d?biyyat?n?nqaynaqlar?, ed. M?mm?dAdilov (Baku: Avrasiya Press, 2006), p. 283-291.

Vladimir Minorsky, “The Poetry of Shah Isma’il,” Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London, vol. 10, No. 4 (1942), p. 1010a.

Burrill, Quatrains of Nesimi, p. 46.

Amelia Gallagher, “Shah Isma’il’s Poetry in Silsilat al-Nasab-i?afawiyya,” Iranian studies, vol. 44, #6 (Nov. 2011), pp. 895-911; Amelia Gallagher, The Fallible Master of Perfection: Shah Isma’il in the Alevi-Bektashi Tradition, unpublished doctoral dissertation, McGill University, Montreal, Quebec, Canada (2004).
Mu?ammad Fuzuli, Q?z?ll?r, ?s?rl?ri,comp. H?midArasli (Bak?: Az?rbaycan SSR Elml?r Akademiyas?n?n n??riyyat?, 1958), vol.1, p. 362.

Nesimi,?raqDiwan?, comp. Q?z?nf?rPashayev (Baki: Yaz?ç?, 1987) p. 178.
Gandjei, Isma’ilI, Poetry, IE, 2nd edition; Willem Floor & Hasan Javadi, “The Role of Azerbaijani Turkish in Safavid Iran,” Iranian Studies, 46:4, p. 569.

Köprülü, Early Mystics in Turkish Literature, p. 178; Köprülüzade, Az?ri?d?biyyat?nadairt?dqiql?r, p. 11.

Amelia Gallagher, “Shah Isma’il’s Poetry in Silsilat al-Nasab-I Safawiyya.” p. 898. Kemal Yavuz, “?iirimizin özgün nak??ç?s? Seyyid Nesimi ve shiiri,” Dil ve Edebiyat, #32 (2011), p. 26.

Iz Fahir, “Turkish Literature,” The Cambridge History of Islam (Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1977), p. 688.

Willem Floor & Hasan Javadi, “The Role of Azerbaijani Turkish in Safavid Iran,” pp. 569-581.

Karada?, “AzerbaycanTürkcesininFüzulideki?zleri,”pp. 527, 531.

YavuzAkp?nar, Azeri edebiyat? ara?t?rmalar? (Dergahyay?nlar?, 1994), p. 17.

Minorsky,”The Poetry of Shah Isma’il,” p. 1010a.

Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry, vol. 3. p. 75.

Köprülü, Early Mystics in Turkish Literature, p. 178.

Akp?nar, ‘Azeri Turkcesi,” Islam Ansiklopedisi (Istanbul: Turk Diyanet Vakfi, 2012), cilt. 41, p.500.

Ziya Musa Bunyatov, “Azerbaycan,” Islam Ansiklopedisi (Istanbul: Turk DiyanetVakfi, 1991), cilt 4, pp. 319-320.

Zeynep Korkmaz, “Oguz Turkcesinin Tarihi Gelisme Surecleri,” Turkish Studies: International Periodical for the Languages, Literature and History of Turkish or Turkic, vol.51 (2010), p. 27.

Mehmet Fuat Köprülüzade, Azeri Adabiyyatina aid Tadqiqlar(Baku: Sabah, 1996), p. 11.

John R. Perry, “Persian in the Safavid Period: Sketch for an Etat de Langue,” in Safavid Persia, The History and Politics of an Islamic Society (London: I.B.Tauris; Co., 1996), p. 277; Edward Browne, A Literary History of Persia, ACLS Humanities E-Book, vol. 4 (1997), p. 15.

Köprülüzade, Azeri Adabiyyatina aid Tadqiqlar, p. 11; Mustafa Ünver, ?urufilik ve Kuran, Nesimi Örne?i (Ankara: FecrYayinevi, 2003), p. 67; Burrill, The Quatrains of Nesimi, pp. 17-18.

Salman Mümtaz, “Sultanü?-?ü?raH?bibi,” p. 283-291.

Jahan Shah ?aqiqi (d. 8711467) is a famous example. SeeMinorsky, “Jahan Shah and His Poetry,” Turkmenica 9, Bulletin of the School of Oriental and African Studies, vol. 16, #2 (1954), pp. 271-297.

Yavuz Akp?nar, Azeri edebiyat? ara?t?rmalar? (Istanbul: Dergah yay?nlar?, 1994), p. 20.

Gallagher, “Shah Isma’il’s Poetry,” p. 898; Minorsky, “The Poetry of Shah Isma’il,” p. 1008a.

A Chronicle of the Carmelites in Persia and the Papal Mission of the XVII and XVIII Centuries, vol. 1 (London: Eyre ;Spottiswoode), p. 373; Willem Floor ; Hasan Javadi, “The Role of Azerbaijani Turkish in Safavid Iran,” Iranian Studies, 46:4, p.574.
Floor ;Javadi, “The Role of Azerbaijani Turkish in Safavid Iran,” pp. 569, 581.

FuadKöprülü, Early Mystics in Turkish Literature, p. 178.

Salman Mümtaz, “?nb?ro?lu,” Az?rbaycan ?d?biyyat?n?n qaynaqlar?, ed. MammadAdilov (Baku: Avrasiya Press, 2006), pp. 364-367.

TufanGunduz, “Oguz – Turkomans,” The Turks, eds. Hasan CelalGuzel and C. CemOguz Osman Karatay, vol. 1, pp. 463-476.

Karl H. Mendes, “The Turkic Languages and Peoples,” An Introduction to Turkic Studies, 2nd ed., Veröffentlichungen Der Societasuralo-Altaica (Harassowitz Verlag: Wiesbaden, 1995), p. 27.

Tufan Gunduz, “Oguz – Turkomans,” pp. 463-476. See also Mustafa Karada?, “Azerbaycan Türkcesinin Füzulideki ?zleri”, p. 527.

A. H. Keane, “The Turkomans”, Nature, vol. 21, issue 527 (1879), p.110.

Burrill, The Quatrains of Nesimi, p. 46, note 17.

Koprulu, Early Mystics in Turkish Literature, p. 186, n. 27.

AlirezaAsgharzadeh, Iran and the Challenge of Diversity (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2007), p. 125.

Muhammad Taghi, “Language of Azeri people and Pan-Turkism,”; Ehsan Yarshater, “Azari, the Old Iranian Language of Azerbaijan,” Encyclopaedia Iranica, vol. III2 (1987).

FirudinA?as?o?lu, Az?rxalq? (Bak?: A?r?da?, 2000), pp. 18-25.

Mehmet Kalpakli and Walter G. Andrews, “Layla Grows up: Nizami’s ‘Layla and Majnun’ in the Turkish Manner,” The Poetry of Nizami Ganjavi: Knowledge, Love and Rhetoric, eds. Kamran Talatoff and Jerome W. Clinton (New York: Palgrave Macmillan, 2001), p. 30.

Seyyed Hossein Nasr, “Shi’ism and Sufism, Their Relationship in Essence and in History,” Religious Studies, volume 6, #3 (Sep. 1970), p. 231.

Spencer Trimingham, The Sufi Orders in Islam (London: Oxford University Press, 1971), p. 70.

?. ????, “?????? ??? ????? ? ??????? ????????????? ????????”, ?????? ? ????????? ????????????? ???????? (??????: ?????, 1989), p. 16.

Markus Dressler, “Turkish Alevi Poetry in the Twentieth Century: The Fusion of Political and Religious Identities, Literature and Sacred,” Alif: The Journal of Comporative Poetics, #23, p. 112; also ????? ????????, ??????????? ???????????????? ??????????? ????????? ? ?????? XVI ???? (????: ???,1981), p. 56.

Edward Browne, A Literary History of Persia, p. 23.

Savory, “Safawids,” I.E. 2nd edition.

Walter G. Andrews, Poetry’s Voice, Society’s Song: Ottoman Lyric Poetry (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1985), p.6
Gibb, A History of Ottoman Poetry, vol. 1. pp. 354-355.

Talat Sait Halman, “Jalal al-Din Rumi, Passions of the Mystic Mind,” in Persian Literature: Columbia Lectures on Iranian Studies, ed. Ehsan Yarshater (Albany: Bibliotheca Persica, 1988), p.194.
Khatai, ?s?rl?ri, p. 32.