Center for Great Islamic Encyclopedia member Azartash Azarnush dies at 84

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TEHRAN – Linguistics Azartash Azarnush, whose studies centered the influence of the Persian language on Arabic and was a member of the Iranian Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia, died Thursday. He was 84 years old.

Azarnush’s death was announced by the Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia, which did not mention the cause of his death.

He was the director of the Arab department of the Center since 1986 and also the principal advisor and member of the Supreme Council of the institute.

“One of the prominent figures of the Center for the Great Islamic Encyclopedia leaves us alone after 35 years of continuous collaboration and writing of numerous books and articles,” Center director Kazem Musavi Bojnurdi said in a statement.

Musavi Bojnurdi singled out the eminent scholars at his center who have passed away over the past decade, and said, “How can we carry the heavy burden of providing knowledge to the center without them?”

Born in 1937, Azarnush studied Arabic literature at the Faculty of Theology and Islamic Studies at the University of Tehran.

He then left Iran to continue his studies in France, where he obtained a doctorate. After returning home, he began his teaching career at the Faculty of Theology and Islamic Studies.

He has also translated several books of Arabic literature, including the Kitab Futuh al-Buldan (The Origins of the Islamic State), the best-known work of the 9th-century Persian historian Ahmad ibn Yahya al-Baladhuri of the Abbasid era of Baghdad.

His interpretation of the Kitab al-Musiqi al-Kabir (Great Book of Music “written by Abu Nasr Muhammad ibn Al-Farabi, a famous Islamic philosopher and jurist who lived in the 9th and 10th centuries, writing in the fields of political philosophy, metaphysics, ethics and logic.

His books on Iranian studies and the influences of the Persian language on the Arabic language have been highly regarded by academics.

Among these books is “The Clash between Arabic and Persian”, which explains how the first Arab-Persian translation centers in Iran were created and how modern Persian writing was developed over a period of four centuries. from the time of Salman-e Farsi (7th century CE).

This is an in-depth study of the history of the Arab invasion of Iran and describes the battles between Arab leaders and Iranians in various parts of our country, and discusses many historical facts about the role of Iranian political and cultural figures of the time.

The French publisher Fayard acquired the copyright to the book.

During a review session for his book, Azarnush said: “I don’t agree with the idea that the Arabic language has overwhelmed [the Persian language]; the Persian language has had an active and vibrant presence over the centuries, but no one has spoken about this aspect of the Persian language.

“I wanted to examine the origins of the first developments of the Persian language after the Sassanid era. I should refer to the end [Hossein] Zarrinkub’s “Two Centuries of Silence”, which acknowledges the silence of scholars on the vitality of the Persian language at that time.

“Many problems start to appear when someone decides to study this subject. One of them is the problem of sources – most of them were written from a dogmatic point of view and some were written on the orders of caliphs and governors. Thus, the Persian language has remained neglected here.

Photo: Azartash Azarnush speaks at a ceremony held on July 13, 2021 at the House of Humanities Thinkers in Tehran to honor the eminent scholar for his lifetime achievement. (IQNA / Tahereh Babai)

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