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Accepted Paper:

The Synthesis of Islam and Tradition in K. A. Yasawi's Divani Hikmet  
George Rueckert (KIMEP) Aidar Abuov (Kazakh University of Technology and Business)


This paper briefly presents a chapter from the book The Spiritual Legacy of Yasawi, translated into English in 2023 and forthcoming from the Almaty-based Kokzhiat-Gorizont Press. The author Prof. Aidar Abuov will co-present with his translator Dr. George Rueckert of Almaty’s KIMEP University. The paper discusses the work of the early 12th century Sufi poet and mystic Khoja Ahmed Yasawi, whose collection of verses the Divani Hikmet (Book of Wisdom) is among the masterpieces of Islamic and world literature and whose mausoleum in the city of Turkestan (ancient Yasy) is a UNESCO World Heritage site. Yasawi’s verses were written in a middle Turkic language that enabled their wide dissemination through Turkic Central Asia (Turan) along with disciples of the Sufi brotherhood that Yasawi established, called the Yasawiyya. The paper argues that the dissemination of Yasawi's verses was the most important factor in the Islamization of nomads living north of the Seyhun River (Syr Darya). But this process was not so much a matter of systematic proselytization as of a mutually interactive “compromise,” whereby nomadic tribes perceived Islam through the verses, while local rites and customs, such as the pagan cult of Tengri, receiving an Islamic interpretation in the verses, began their assimilation into the canons of Muslim faith. The resulting synthesis led to the version of Islam unique to Kazakhstan and much of Central Asia. Specific examples from the verses will be analyzed, including problems in literary and historical translation.

Panel LIT01
Literature in Pre-20th Century Eurasia
  Session 1 Thursday 6 June, 2024, -