Statement by

H.E. Mr. Seyed Hossein Sadat Meidani

Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Romania

Persian Language Day:

Peace and Respect for Human Life

in Thoughts of Ferdowsi

13 May 2024 – Bucharest

 

Excellency’s, Esteemed guests from Academic Community, admirers of the Persian language, Romanian friends, Ladies and Gentlemen

It is an honor to offer you a warm welcome to this evening Persian Language Day; a day to celebrate the birth of the great poet of Persia, Hakim Abul Qasim Ferdowsi; and a day of Iranian culture and poetry.

Importance of Persian language

We have gathered tonight to celebrate the enduring brilliance of Persian literature on the occasion of Persian Language Day which marks the birth of the great poet of Persia, Hakim Abul Qasim Ferdowsi.

The Persian language is spoken by millions across the globe. It bridges cultures and fosters understanding. Moreover, estimates suggest that around 1.5% of websites globally use Persian language which places it in the 10th place among the world languages. However, the Persian language isn’t just a means of communication; it’s a source of literary treasures. For over two millennia, it has been the cradle of magnificent poems, captivating stories, and profound philosophical works.

Persian literature has the power to foster peace within individuals and, by extension, society as a whole. By immersing ourselves in the works of Rumi, known for his message of love and tolerance, or Saadi, who championed reason and compassion, we encounter philosophies that stand in stark contrast to war and violence.

Topic

Last year, I talked about the ethical insights in thoughts of Ferdowsi. In the same context, tonight, because Romania and Iran are situated in geographical regions impacted by wars and conflicts, let us focus on a more complex theme within Shahnameh: war and humanity during war in the views of Ferdowsi.

The Shahnameh is a sprawling epic poem, a literary masterpiece that tells the story of Persia, or Iran, from the very creation of the world all the way up to the 7th century AD. It registers the rise and fall of dynasties, the triumphs and tragedies of heroes, and the enduring spirit of the Iranian people. But Shahnameh’s significance transcends its historical and literary values. It also, offers valuable lessons that resonate with the concepts of jus ad bellum (law on the use of force which is enshrined in UN Charter in 1945) and jus in bello (law of war which is enshrined in Geneva Conventions in 1949).

The Concept of War and peace in the Shahnameh

War is a recurring theme in the Shahnameh, reflecting the realities of the time period it represents. However, Ferdowsi doesn’t glorify war. He explores its complexities and consequences, presenting a multilayered view:

  • The Brutality of War: The Shahnameh doesn’t shy away from describing the horrors of war. Ferdowsi describes the suffering of soldiers and civilians, the devastation of lands, and the emotional toll of conflict.
  • The Value of Diplomacy:  Wise leaders and Warriors like Rostam in the Shahnameh are shown to resort to diplomacy and negotiation whenever possible to avoid bloodshed. They understand the benefits of peaceful coexistence.

من امروز نه ز بهر جنگ آمدم

پی پوزش و نام و ننگ آمدم

Today I came here not pursuing war

I’m searching for the opposite which is dialogue and credibility

  • Defense of Justice and Honor: Many wars in the Shahnameh are fought to defend justice, honor, and the Iranian homeland from tyranny or aggression. Here, war is seen as a necessary evil, a means to restore order and uphold justice.

Respect for human Life during war in the Shahnameh

While the Shahnameh represents a world of war and conflict, it’s important to note that heroes and just kings often demonstrate a respect for the right to life of human. Here are some examples:

  • Pahlavani in Battle: Similar to chivalry, Pahlavani stressed the importance of bravery, fighting for a just cause, and defending all the weak. Warriors like Rostam, despite their immense strength, are known to avoid unnecessary bloodshed. They often offer their opponents a chance to surrender or fight a fair duel. This reflects a sense of honor and respect for worthy adversaries. Heroes like Rostam often demonstrate a sense of Phalavani towards women, even those considered enemies. They may avoid harming them in battle or offer them safe passage.
  • Mercy for the Weak: Just kings like Kaykavus are shown to be merciful towards those who are weaker or defenseless. They understand the importance of protecting civilians and innocent lives during wartime.
  • The Value of Life: The poem often laments the loss of life, even in war. Passages mourn fallen heroes and innocent victims, reflecting a deep understanding of the preciousness of human existence.
  • The Shahnameh doesn’t glorify indiscriminate warfare. We see instances where heroes prioritize the safety of non-combatants. A sense of chivalry and honor motivates them to distinguish between warriors and those not actively involved in the fight.

نیاید جهان‌آفرین را پسند

که جوینده بر بیگناهان گزند

The God will not be gratified

 if the innocent civilians are injured

  • Mercy for the Wounded: The Shahnameh portrays acts of mercy towards the injured, even on the battlefield. Heroes may offer medical aid or safe passage to wounded enemies, recognizing the shared humanity that transcends conflict.

Conclusion

It’s important to remember that the Shahnameh is a product of its time. Warfare and resort to violent means were realities of life. However, it also emphasizes its devastating consequences and the importance of pursuing peace whenever possible. It also underscores the importance of respecting life, especially for those heroes and rulers guided by a strong sense of justice and honor.

So in conclusion we can clearly say that the Shahnameh and the UN Charter strive for a world where conflict is a last resort, where diplomacy and dialogue are prioritized, and where even during war, basic human dignity is respected. In this sense, the Shahnameh can be seen as a powerful testament to humanity’s enduring aspirations for peace which inspired creation of UN Charter.

*****

As we celebrate Persian literature, we also celebrate the rich culture that birthed it. A culture that has fostered innovation in science, art, and architecture. A culture that has embraced diversity and dialogue throughout history.

Let’s extend a heartfelt thank you to all the people who help promote Shahnameh and Persian language in Romania, including the academic colleagues, Prof. Laura Sitaru and Prof. Adela Chiru and all the enthusiastic students and Persian Language lovers.

Thank you for your attendance and attention.

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About the author:

HE Dr. Seyed Hossein Sadat Meidani

HE Dr. Seyed Hossein Sadat Meidani, Ambassador of the Islamic Republic of Iran to Romania

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