The funeral and farewell ceremony of Dr. Azartash Azarnoush was held on October 11, at the Centre for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia. Kazem Mousavi Bojnourdi, head of CGIE, Dr. Jaleh Amouzgar, Dr. Ahmad Pakatchi, and Rezvan Massah delivered their speeches at the ceremony.
Ashraf Boroujerdi, Hujjat ul-Islam Mahmoud Doaei, Mohammad Hassan Semsar, Ali Ashraf Sadeghi, Mohammad Javad Haghshenas, Ali Al-e Davoud, Ali Bahramian, Ali Miransari, Enayatollah Majidi, and Ali Hamedani participated in the ceremony.
Azartash Azarnoush will remain immortal through his works
At the beginning of the ceremony, Kazem Mousavi Bojnourdi, the head of CGIE, said: “Today we gathered to bid farewell to a great man who joined the Centre for the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia in 1985 and remained an active member of this centre for 36 years. Dr. Azartash Azarnoush was one of the elders and first companions of CGIE. If it were not for esteemed colleagues like him, this centre would never have achieved its ambitious goals. During his career, he authored many works, each of which was absolutely valuable, and it is impossible for us to find such a precious colleague.
The head of CGIE added: “When I heard the news of his death, I was extremely saddened, and it is difficult for me to get over this bereavement. At the same time, regardless of the emotions rising up inside me by the poignant memories of our long-term friendship, I thought who his successor could be. We are merely halfway and unfortunately, many of our great friends passed away, such as Iraj Afshar, Zarrinkoub, Zaryab Khoei, Ahmad Tafazzoli, Enayatollah Reza, Mohammad Hassan Ganji, Dariush Shayegan, and other international figures who boasted scientific reputation beyond the borders of our country. They supported this significant cultural movement, and it was through their efforts that we reached the goals of the encyclopaedia centre.”
He added: “I hope we will overcome all the difficulties that lie ahead with the help of God Almighty. We are determined to take this path until the last breath, and I will not change my decision to pursue enthusiastically this sweet path, that I am so prideful about. All our encyclopaedists undoubtedly harbour similar feelings. We wish longevity and health to them and cherish the memory of those who passed away, who will remain alive forever through their valuable works.”
In conclusion, he mentioned: “I would like to extend my deepest condolences on behalf of the friends of the encyclopaedia and myself to his dear children, especially his wife, who sacrificially cared for him as he deserved, and I sincerely hope we can preserve his memories and publish his works properly.”
Azartash Azarnoush was a noble Iranian who loved his country
The next speaker of the ceremony, Dr. Jaleh Amouzgar, a member of the High Scientific Council of CGIE, expressed her great sadness:
Alas! In each breath of this world’s life, we witnessed one member of our scattered group passing away”
What a sad time, every day we receive bad news, every moment we suffer the loss of a loved one and this time we are witnessing the irreversible journey of dear Azarnoush.
A master and eminent scientist, a beloved literary person who studied and taught throughout his life, authored respected works, added to knowledge, untangled cultural knots, and always cherished the love of this land.
And for many of us he was such a sweet, lovable, kind, and cheerful friend and I, like other friends, am helpless in finishing my fifty-five years old friendship with him.
I do not know why I have not forgotten the pleasant memory of my first meeting with him after more than half a century. During my student days in Paris, I saw him in a student restaurant with his wife: a good-looking well-dressed youth. Our mutual friend said afterward that he was a very successful PhD student in Arabic language and literature.
This successful student received his PhD; returned to Iran, became a successful professor at the Faculty of Theology, University of Tehran; gave new life to teaching Arabic, with a world of innovation.
Neither the current sad situation nor the time of this assembly is suitable to provide an extensive description of each of his brilliant works. Shall I talk about the translation of Futuh al-Buldan and Ways of Persian influence in pre-Islamic Arabic culture and language? Should we refer to his translation of Histoire de la Littérature Arabe, or to his trilingual dictionary, or the translation of Kitab al-Musiqa al-Kabir, which became the core material of many of our lessons? We all have his Dictionary of Modern Writing Arabic at our desk, and it was pointed out previously that nearly two hundred challenging and significant entries of the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia have been compiled by his able pen. We got to know Ibn Muqaffaʻ with him once again. His other masterpiece, The Challenge between Persian and Arabic Languages, responded to many questions and highlighted the continuation of the enduring culture of our land.
And finally, I must mention his history of polo and the effort that he and his friends made to register this historical game, with which our Naqsh-e Jahan square became immortalized in the name of Iran, in UNESCO. There is a lot to be said in this regard and we are proud of it.
But apart from all these, Azartash Azarnoush was a genuine Iranian who loved this land. After graduating, he chose to return to Iran and stay in his country, despite the possibility of staying in France. He raised his family in Iran and wanted his children to be born here.
He and his devoted wife preferred to live in a completely Iranian atmosphere, in a traditional Iranian neighborhood and house, and in an atmosphere full of Iranian artistic touches.
He loved life and lived as he pleased. He was delighted to set foot on the soil of this land, educate the students of this land, and make an impact on its people. He served his country loyally and paid homage to Iran and its people with all his being.
What a century in which such characters rose! His meaningful life ended, and we mourn for him.
But “Why do we feel distressed for our deceased friends? Will not we leave this world behind as well?”.
One of Dr. Azarnoush’s outstanding achievements is to form a kind of knowledge based on the pillar of thought on the one hand and the pillar of method on the other
Dr. Ahmad Pakatchi, director of the Department of Quranic Sciences and member of the High Scientific Council of CGIE, referring to his experience of being Dr. Azarnoush’s student for 32 years, said: “It is extremely hard for me to speak in this assembly. I offer my condolences to the family of Dr. Azarnoush, the family of CGIE, and to the community of Iranian intellectuals who lost such a prodigious man. I remember the years when our office in CGIE was near Dr. Azarnoush’s and what a great opportunity was it for us.”
He added: “In this assembly and such ceremonies, it has been mentioned frequently that we have enduring scientific figures whose lights shine forever and their blessings continue after their death.” I was constantly reflecting that how it is possible for a person to continue to be a source of grace and blessing for his target community after death. It is somewhat a covenant and commitment for us, if we truly want to continue the path of this lamented professor; especially in CGIE, in this great work that Dr. Azarnoush was certainly one of its chief founders and we expect it to last for centuries. Talking about cause and effect, some people say that we find out the effect from cause, and some say vice versa. I want to make a brief reference from an effect to a cause: more than 200 encyclopaedia entries and dozens of other books and articles authored by Dr. Azarnoush that are studied by many of his students, now engaged in research and teaching. Yet certainly when we talk about pursuing the path of a revolutionary scientist like the late Dr. Azarnoush, first of all, we must know who he was and what he has done. If we do not examine what a scientist has done precisely, what it would mean to continue his path?”
The permanent representative of Iran to UNESCO added: “Based on what we have read of his works over the years as a student and coworker, and what we have learned in person from him, in my opinion, Dr. Azarnoush had a completely unique and revolutionary character in the academic and scientific circles. He is one of the researches who introduced intercultural thinking in our scientific community: how to study cultural interactions between Iran and the Arabs, Iran and the West, Arabs and the West, and many other intercultural interactions. He was certainly one of the pioneers of this view in academic circles. It is clearly evident that he was not only a prominent expert in Arabic literature, but we can see an interdisciplinary aspect in his studies. We can be proud, because when the interdisciplinary approach was introduced as a leading approach in the developed countries, Dr. Azarnoush acquainted our scientific circles with this view. He was also a prominent linguist for his studies in the fields of comparative linguistics of the Semitic languages, the relationship between the Semitic languages and the ancient languages of Iran, and his researches in the fields of semantics and even semiotics.
He added: “Another aspect of his personality, which in my opinion has received less attention among his students, but is very important, and I consider this assembly a great opportunity to remind myself, his students and the next generation, is that Dr. Azarnoush established a link between literary studies and anthropology. His articles in the Great Islamic Encyclopaedia and other books he wrote on the interaction between Iranian and Arabic cultures are full of information related to this field of knowledge. They opened new horizons not only in Arabic literature but also in literary studies in general, and taught us that it is impossible to delve into the subject of literary studies without taking the popular culture to consideration. For instance, his work on the environment of Basra shows us that it is impossible to know Jahiz without understanding the environment of Basra.
In the end, Dr. Pakatchi mentioned: “There are other aspects of interdisciplinary characteristics in Dr. Azarnoush’s works, and I hope we and our next generation could know him better so that we can claim we follow his path. It will not suffice to merely praise and glorify a great man without knowing what qualities are in him. In my opinion, the knowledge that Dr. Azarnoush produced had two salient aspects, one is that study and research must be accompanied by the development of thought. Moreover, he was of the pioneers of the methodologic studies in scientific researches. One of his greatest services to CGIE, University of Tehran, and other academic circles was that he raised a generation, which set this idea that language and literature are precise and delicate fields of science, and researchers in these fields must be equipped with methodologic approaches. Shaping a kind of knowledge that is based on the pillar of thought on the one hand and the pillar of method on the other hand is, in my opinion, one of Dr. Azarnoush’s achievements, and I think of this as a living organism in the collective mind of a group of our elites, intellectuals and academics. If we say that Dr. Azarnoush is alive, we refer to this living organism. We wish him high degrees in heaven and his family patience.
At the end, Rezvan Massah, Dr. Azarnoush’s assistant in the Arabic Literature Department of CGIE, lamented his death:
“I extend my greetings to all the dignitaries and colleagues of CGIE and lovers of my dear professor, Dr. Azarnoush. Today I do not address you, dear ones! I talk to my dearest teacher, Dr. Azarnoush, a professor whom I served with love and affection for more than 25 years in this centre.
My dear professor! I have always been waiting for you to come to your office, so that I can resume the work, tell the news and events of the day, and then you open a book to read or pick up a pen and resume compiling or editing an article.
I have been waiting for your coming for 25 years, arrivals which have always been full of love and affection, not only for me but for all my dear colleagues.
Today, dear professor, you were faithful and you came again, but another kind of coming, a very arduous one!
In your absence, in this short time, I have received the saddest messages of condolence. Your students are all distressed and upset, they are in denial of your departure.
Your desk and books seem to be waiting for you. I wish you were here and as always told me what to do in these difficult days! I wish you were here, my dearest professor!
But alas, your fate was to suffer, alas! Dear professor, seeing your suffering required endurance, which of course no one had. And we don’t know how to endure your departure, as well.
It is very difficult to say goodbye, but there is no way out, I leave you in the loving hands of God. I know that you are watching us and I know that you are exalted in heaven.
Goodbye my dear late lamented professor!
The farewell ceremony with Dr. Azartash Azarnoush in CGIE ended with the recitation of the funeral prayer by Hujjat ul-Islam wa l-Muslemin Seyyed Mahmoud Doaei.
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