Islamabad, 16 December 2021 (TDI): On the afternoon of 14 December, Institute of Peace and Diplomatic Studies, and Riphah Institute of Public Policy, Riphah International University organized a reflective seminar on the subject of ‘Nizami Ganjavi: A Revolutionary, Visionary Poet and Philosopher’. The event was held at the Institute of Public Policy at Riphah International University, located in Islamabad, Pakistan.


Scholars and officials across the globe, immersed in the fields of philosophy and literature, joined the event and gave their two cents on the legendary Sufi poet from Azerbaijan.

The conference began with a short address by Farhat Asif, founder of IPDS and Award-winning Public Diplomat. Asif briefed the participants on the purpose of the conference. Furthermore, she introduced Nizami Ganjavi to the audience and spoke on his relevance to the diplomatic mission.

Some participants from Azerbaijan also accessed the event online, through Zoom. These included Professor Dr. Eynulla Madatli, Executive Director at the Institute of Philosophy and Sociology in Azerbaijan National Academy of Sciences (ANAS), who joined from his home in Baku. Additionally, Dr. Anar Gafarov, Associate Professor at the Institute of Philosophy in ANAS also connected to the meeting through the web.

Nizami Ganjavi
A list of all panelists who spoke at the conference on legendary Azerbaijani Poet Nizami Ganjavi

Asif passed the floor to Khazar Farhadov, the Ambassador of the Republic of Azerbaijan to Pakistan. Ambassador Farhadov discussed in great lengths the legacy of the renowned Azerbaijani poet, and his speech evoked deep emotion within the spectators.

Firstly, he provided the historical background of Nizami Ganjavi, highlighting the poet’s traditional roots in the town of Ganja. The Ambassador also mentioned that Ganja was the largest city in Azerbaijan and that it possesses rich cultural history.

The Ambassador noted that Ganjavi made immense contributions in enriching Eastern thought. His works have been displayed in the richest libraries across the world, earning great recognition and praise.

Ambassador Farhadov during his speech at the Seminar on Ganjavi
Ambassador Farhadov during his speech at the Seminar on Ganjavi

Farhadov particularly mentioned the actions the Government of Azerbaijan has taken to make Ganjavi’s works more easily accessible. He stated that Nizami’s poetic works have repeatedly been published in Azerbaijan. Moreover, a monumental effort has been put into intricately studying his works, the ideas they represent, and therefore, promoting his literary heritage.

The Ambassador brought up the celebration of the “Year of Nizami Ganjavi”, which takes place in Azerbaijan. During this occasion, natives celebrate the profound creativity of the poet and strive to embody his values of morality and spirituality.


Further, along with his speech, Ambassador Farhadov reflected on the subject matter of Ganjavi’s poetic verses. He noted that Nizami Ganjavi’s ghazals tend to speak on significant social, philosophical, and moral conundrums. They raise important points regarding society, individuals, the environment, science, as well as religion.

The Azerbaijani Ambassador expressed his appreciation to the organizers of the event, for hosting the seminar, and hence aiming to study the legacy of Ganjavi in Pakistan. About this, he also noted how important it was for the youth of Azerbaijan and Pakistan to study each others’ literature. Concludingly, Farhadov remarked that such events should continue to be held in both nations, to enhance literary cooperation and diversity.


Following Ambassador Farhadov, the next panelist to speak was Professor Madatli, who briefly dove into Ganjavi’s life history and background. He also highlighted the criticisms the Azerbaijani poet faced during his time, reflecting on his ability to persevere despite negative feedback. Madatli also expressed gratitude to IPDS and Riphah Institute for organizing the seminar and agreed that such events should continue to be promoted.

Next, Dr. Anar Gafarov took the floor, his topic of speech being the “Heritage and History of Nizami Ganjavi”. Professor Gafarov told participants that Ganjavi received a typical Islamic education from a madrassa. Even during his youth, he was a gentleman, in touch with moral values.

Professor Madatli during his brief in the Seminar on Ganjavi
Professor Madatli during his brief in the Seminar on Ganjavi

Furthermore, the professor also mentioned that Ganjavi was not fluent in simply Persian and Arabic, but was also fully acquainted with Christian and Jewish sources. Thus, he possessed diverse knowledge about many topics.

Gafarov expressed that Ganjavi wrote poetry not to demonstrate his art, but to authentically express himself in the moment of prayer. His works reflect many aspects of Sufi learning and deep spirituality, suggesting an inner connection with God.

In addition, the poet also acknowledged that human beings have always faced conflicts. Dr. Gafarov explained this by likening it to a paradox; that humans undergo tension and deviate from the true path.

Values of human life were very important to Ganjavi, who often discussed concepts of life and death in his poetry. His poems have recurring themes of meaninglessness, negligence, and self-alienation. He also took into account many problems related to societal ethics.

Lastly, the speaker thanked the hosts for the opportunity to participate in this informative discussion on the esteemed Azerbaijani poet.


Following Dr. Gafarov, Dr. Ijlal Hussain, Director at Silk Road Center, Islamabad, was given a chance to speak. Firstly, he thanked everyone for allowing him the chance to exchange his thoughts. Then, he introduced his topics to the panelists and spectators, which were “Literary Diversity” and How Nizami Depicts Women in his Poetry”.

Dr. Hussain remarked on Ganjavi’s global impact through his literary works. He gave the example of Dr. Elin Luther, who was a Professor at the University of Michigan. Luther, who was terminally ill, found immense courage in Nizami Ganjavi’s poetic works. He used to recite his poetry on his deathbed. Hussain stated that this simply goes to show how the poet continues to influence people 800 years after his demise.

Additionally, the speaker posed a question to his audience, asking why Ganjavi continued to influence generations after 800 years of his passing away. He answered that it was because of Nizami’s openness to moral values and deep understanding of diversity. His humanistic approach to poetry, and his universal message of peace and humanity, continue to draw people in.


In the second half of his speech, Dr. Hussain spoke on Ganjavi’s characterization of women in his poetry. He noted that, during that time, poets generally depicted a negative image of women in literature, universally. Nizami Ganjavi broke this tradition.

His works portrayed women as equal members of society. Hussain marveled at the fact that in the early 12th Muslim Century, the Azerbaijani poet presented women as knowledgeable, fighting on battlefields, providing deep insight into societal issues, educators, lovers, and so on.

Nizami Ganjavi, the legendary Persian Sunni Muslim Poet
Nizami Ganjavi, the legendary Persian Sunni Muslim Poet.

He poet them on equal footing with men. Sometimes, he flipped the script and gave females more powerful roles than men. In one of Ganjavi’s works, the male lead, Khusrau, is depicted as a weak man and it is the female character, Shireen, who reached him to be stronger.

In Ganjavi’s works, each woman character has a backstory; they are not present simply for show, rather there is true depth behind their characters.


The final panelist was Dr. Abdul Basit Mujahid, who is the Assistant Professor at the Department of History at Allama Iqbal Open University, Islamabad. He commented that Nizami’s literary expression was extremely powerful; so much so that readers get a direct signal to their spirits and hearts.

According to the professor, Ganjavi possessed a sense of aesthetics surrounding spirituality. He initiated many literary traditions in Persian poetry, for example, the Masnawi style which is still used to date.

Azerbaijan flag
Azerbaijan flag

The speaker concluded his speech by urging all parties to continue organizing such meaningful exchanges. Farhat Asif concluded the seminar by expressing thanks to all speakers for offering their insights on the legendary poet Nizami Ganjavi.


Nizami Ganjavi was a Persian Sunni Muslim Poet that was born in the 12th century in Ganka, as mentioned previously. History considers Ganjavi as the greatest poet who specialized in epic romance within Persian Literature.

Azerbaijan, Iran, Afghanistan, and Tajikistan consider his work extremely important. He mentioned his father and grandfather once in one of his verses. Ganjavi mastered various fields of Islamic thought, and he is a learned poet and master of lyrical style.

It is important to mention that Ganjavi was also familiar with other several fields. Those fields were mathematics, astronomy, astrology, alchemy, medicine, botany, Islamic theory, and law; Iranian myths and legends, history, philosophy, music, and the visual arts.

One of his most popular works is the Khamseh, which is a set of five long narrative poems. The first one was the Makhzan-ol-Asrâr, then the Khosrow o-Shīrīn, later the Leyli o-Mejnūn, also the Eskandar-Nâmeh; and finally the Haft Peykar.

The Khamseh, apart from the five poems, has 30,000 couplets. Ganjavi drew inspiration from Ferdowsī and Sanā, both Persian epic poets.


Monument of Nizami Ganjavi inaugurated in Kharkov, Ukraine
The monument of Ganjavi was inaugurated in Kharkiv, Ukraine, in September 2021.

Ganjavi appeared on the obverse of the Azerbaijani 500 manat banknote, and also had a special coin. That banknote circulated between 1993 and 2006, and it depicted a  portrait of the poet on the obverse and the ornamental design in the reverse.

In 2018, the National Bank of Azerbaijan minted a 100 manat gold commemorative coin dedicated to his memory; due to the Anniversary. Finally, the Government declared 2021, the year of Nizami Ganjavi.