Orientalism in Reverse: National Albanian Poet ‘Naim Frasheri’
Ali Akbar Ziaee
ABSTRACT- Naim Frasheri (1846-1900) is the most famous poet of the Albanian renaissance of the nineteenth century. Orientalists study the orient phenomenon in the way of inductive reasoning and they gather information peace by peace and connect them together and come up with a theory or hypothesis, but Naim Frasheri as Orientalist in reverse studied Islamic theology and worldview of Islam in deductive reasoning and braked down or reduced the general ideas to the smallest one and analyze them according to inner elements of Islamic world view, so he believed in God as a creator and his prophet and begin to analyze religious and cultural phenomenon from top to down and this philosophy of the pantheism play a key role to all his poems and writings.
Orientalism in reverse has different definitions according to Sadik Jalal al-‘Azm in his article on Orientalism and Orientalism in Reverse such as the study of West instead of East by Easterners, but I approach to this term by the ontological access to the essence of the East according to real understating of Eastern values and beliefs and by spiritual and meaningful instruments instead of materialistic and atheistic approach by Westerners. Naim Frasheri (born in1846- died in1900) as a national poet of Albania is one of the reversed orientalists who believed strongly to Islam and its values despite of his western identity and never he travelled to Eastern countries. He set the foundations of the Albanian national literature, and is well-known as a bilbili i gjuhės shqipe (nightingale of Albanian language). He spent his childhood in the village of Frasher where he began learning Turkish, Persian and Arabic and he lived with the spiritual traditions of the Orient. In Janina Naim Frasheri attended a secondary school and affiliated with Ancient and Modern Greek, French, Italian and oriental languages such as Turkish, Persian, and Arabic. As he was growing in knowledge, his affinity for spirituality and mysticism increased. His education in Janina made of him a prime example of a late nineteenth-century Ottoman intellectual, and an important personality in Albanian Enlightenment movement. He participated in the fight for freedom of the Albanian people, and often had to sign his work by his initials, because his works were prohibited by Turkish officials. He reflected all his desires and hopes on his poems.
Naim as an orientalist discovered the inner aspect of Islam which based on Love:
يُحِبُّهُمْ وَ يُحِبُّوْنَهُ “He loves them and they love him” (ma’idah: 59), and understood from it this fact that God’a love precedes human love. This feeling of mutual love, and the knowledge that love is indeed the only thing that matters in the whole life of creation, forms the cornerstone of Naim’s
Naim Frasheri has composed a book of poetry entitled Takhayulat in Persian language. This book includes a brief survey of the doctrines of the Mysticism, Persian classic literature, description of the pure beauties and attractiveness of the nature such as moon, sun, rivers, blossoms, roses and birds such as nightingales.
زمره مرغان و آن آوازشان کائنات و حال و رمز و رازشان
ذکر و تسبیح می کند یزدان را خوش بخوان این دفتر ایمان را
In Naim’s Orientalism much importance is attached to muhabbet: verbal communion and chanting or reading nefes, the spiritual poems.
Muhabbet is a sort of praise or remembrance of God to soften the heart and cleanse the inner part of human.
Naim’s philosophy in studying the Orient values and mysticism may be labeled nature mysticism. In this experience nature becomes a vehicle of unification, a bridge connecting the soul to the infinite essence of all things. This explanation has no any similarities with Western Orientalism. Instead of condemning the realms of nature, the individual finds himself in feeling and enjoying all the events in nature in one harmony with its creator. He sings with the birds, blooms with the flowers and shines with the sun. He feels all things in himself and himself in all things, inseparable. This kind of approach to East and Orient is completely different from Western Orientalism.
Naim holds that the basis of real belief in God is to serve the people. If you pretend that you believe in God, but you don’t respect the people, it means that you aren’t a real believer. He says: “one who respects others believes in God” آنکه دارد مردمی دارد خدا. It means if you don’t respect others you don’t believe in God. This social fact is one the most significant aspect of Naim’s mysticism in Albania. Every one of us who wants to truly serve God has to serve the people in a righteous way. The Prophet (Peace and blessing of Allah be upon him) said: خيركم أنفعكم للناس, “The best of you is the one who benefits the people most.”
Some philosophers believe that all creatures have a kind of intelligence that in truth glorifies God with actual not virtual sounds and that if men do not purify their souls they cannot attend to the wonder. Still others believe this naturally inherent glorification is nothing more than an existential sign of creation’s own attitude towards the Creator. However, Naim ventures further to teach that reality cannot be known by rational means; God must be approached through love and the purification of one’s soul. As long as ‘you’ remain ‘yourself’, you cannot know God and the greatest veil between you and reality is ‘yourself’. Love plays an indelibly important role in Naim books and reflects Sufism’s belief that God created the world through love and that this Divine love produced the plurality that fills the universe. And furthermore, as God never ceases to love His creatures He therefore never ceases His creation of them. It is this Divine love that keeps the universe in a temporary state of transformation and continual change. Man’s heart is the mirror of God’s Attributions, so if we know ourselves we can know God. The essence of this knowledge is different from philosophical way of thinking. Naim says that real theology isn’t approached by argumentation, and he considers the rationalization as a useless way for the divinity. He says that he obeys the way of heart, the inner aspect of human and mystic knowledge. The rationalization is unreliable for the divinity, and it is the mere description of the real knowledge in which he believes. Mysticism is some things, such as tasting the sweetness, smelling the perfumes, and looking at beautiful flowers, and the demonstration is another, such as describing them in words and sentences. He, like other pantheists, believes in One Reality, and all creations are the manifestations of this Pure Reality. One poet before Islam said: “all, except God, is vanity.”
كل شيء ما خلا الله باطل
If we purify our souls from all pollutions and impurities, we can find the light in our hearts, and the more we purify them the more and more this light shines and begins to increase till we cannot see anything but Him.
Love comes and flows as blood to my skin and vein
To empty me from all belongings and full me by Friend.
Naim consider light to be symbolic of existence, while darkness is considered indicative of non-existence. The verse, “God is the Light of the Heavens and the Earth” (Sura 24: 35) has been interpreted to mean that God is the existence of the Heavens and the Earth, as in Naim verse: Unto Allah belong the East and the West, and whithersoever ye turn, there is Allah's Countenance. (Sura 2:115)
هرچه بیند چشم بی تاب بشر نور ایزد هست آنجا جلوه گر
Whatever the eyes of human see the light of God is manifested there. (Takhayulat) It is clear that we have here traces of Gnostic imagery but those rationalist theologians, who-whether to avoid any comparison of the creature with God or to oppose the fantastic mystics- interpreted the light of Allah as a symbol of his good guidance.
At the end I would like to mention that orientalists study the orient phenomenon in the way of inductive reasoning and they gather information peace by peace and connect them together and come up with a theory or hypothesis, but Naim Frasheri as Orientalist in reverse studied Islamic theology and worldview of Islam in deductive reasoning and braked down or reduced the general ideas to the smallest one and analyze them according to inner elements of Islamic world view, so he believed in God as a creator and his prophet and begin to analyze religious and cultural phenomenon from top to down and this philosophy of the pantheism play a key role to all his poems and writings.