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Imadaddin Nasimi

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Full nameAlī ‘Imādu d-Dīn Nasīmī
Periods 14-15th century
Wisdom Literature
Divan of Nesimi
Mansur Al-Hallaj and Nesimi: Two Great Sufi-Martyr Poets: Selected Poems
Sufi Poets of the Fourteenth Century: Selected Poems
Baqirghan Kitabi
Divan of Nesimi
Roba'iyat of Nesimi
The Book of Nesimi
Job Poet
Born Shamakhi
Full nameAlī ‘Imādu d-Dīn Nasīmī
Date of Reg.
Date of Upd.
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Imadaddin Nasimi Life story

Alī Imādud-Dīn Nasīmī, often known as Nesimi, was a 14th-century Azerbaijani Ḥurūfī poet. Known mostly by his pen name of Nasimi, he wrote in Azerbaijani, Persian and sometimes Arabic, being the composer of one divan in Azerbaijani, one in Persian, and a number of poems in Turkish and Arabic.

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 Ḥurūfī poet. Known mostly by his pen name of Nasimi, he wrote in Azerbaijani, Persian and sometimes Arabic, being the composer of one divan in Azerbaijani, one in Persian, and a number of poems in Turkish and 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 classicalʿarūḍ poetry.

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. The name "Nasimi" was the pen name (makhlaṣ) he most commonly used. 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). Nasimi also used the pen name "Huseyni". The epithet (laqab) "Imadaddin", 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.


Most extant information about Nasimi's life is unconfirmed. This includes his date of birth, which, without definite proof, is usually said to be 1369–70. 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, or near Baghdad in modern-day Iraq, 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.

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. The center of Fażlullāh's influence was Baku and most of his followers came from Shirvan (present-day Republic of Azerbaijan), 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. Around 1417, (or possibly 1404) as a direct result of his beliefs — which were considered blasphemous by contemporary religious authorities — Nesîmî was seized and, according to most accounts, 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. 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 intstead came from the secular power of the emir of Aleppo, who was hoping to avoid open rebellion.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, 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.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, praised Nesimi in his poems.According to the second edition of the Encyclopedia of Islam:

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 صغمازامMəndə sığar iki cahan, mən bu cahâna sığmazam

Gövhər-i lâ-məkân mənəm, kövn ü məkâna sığmazam

Both worlds can fit within me, but in this world I cannot fit

I am the placeless essence, but into existence I cannot fit

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. 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. 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.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 eyledimHecce vardım ezm-i ehrâm eyledim

Fâ vü zâd-ı lâm-i Heqq nâm eyledimSeeing that moon I rejoiced

I made of my eyes a cup for its wine

I went on Hajj in pilgrim's garb

I called Fâ, 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 غلبرك نسرین اوزره مسکين زلفكى سن طاغدوب

عاشقى بى خانمان ايتمك ديلرسه ڭ ايتمه غلÜzünü menden nihân etmek dilersen, etmegil

Gözlerim yaşın revân etmek dilersen, etmegilBerq-i nesrin üzre miskin zülfünü sen dağıdıb

Âşiqi bîxânimân etmek dilersen, etmegilShould 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!


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. 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. An event dedicated to the 600th anniversary of Nasimi's death was conducted in Paris, at the headquarter of UNESCO in May 2017. President Ilham Aliyev declared 2019 the "Year of Nasimi" in Azerbaijan as it was the 650th anniversary of the birth of the poet. 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.


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 1972From 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 2019Persian 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


Asteroid 32939 Nasimi was named in his memory. The official naming citation was published by the Minor Planet Center on 18 May 2019 (M.P.C. 114954).

The movie dedicated to the poet Nesimi by Azerbaijanfilm studio.

The ballet dedicated to the poet A Tale of Nesimi by Azerbaijani composer Fikret Amirov in 1973.Various places are named in honor of Nasimi:

The Nasimi Institute of Linguistics is part of the Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences.

Nəsimi raion is an urban district (raion) in Baku.

A Baku metro station is named Nəsimi.

The urban middle school No 2 in Balaken, Azerbaijan is named for Nasimi

There are Nəsimi streets in Agdjabedi, Khudat and Baku.

There are villages named Nasimi in Bilasuvar and in Sabirabad regions, as well as Nəsimikənd in the Saatly region of Azerbaijan.

The seaside park in Sumgait was named after Nasimi in 1978 and a statue of him was erected there in 2003."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. 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. 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".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.

Songs to Nasimi's poems

"İstəmə" – composer: Tofig Guliyev

"Qafil oyan" – composer: Tofig Guliyev

"Neynədi" – performed by Zeynab Khanlarova

"Nasimi" – performed by Sami Yusuf

See also







Murād Mīrzā

List of Ismaili imams

List of extinct Shia sects

Seven Great Poets



News about Imadaddin Nasimi


Imadaddin Nasimi Photos

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