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DEPARTMENT “HISTORY AND ECONOMY OF ARAB COUNTRIES”
The department of History and Economy of Arab countries of the Institute of Oriental Studies was set up in 1964. Its establishment was necessitated by calls of the time and gave a powerful impetus to the development of oriental studies in the Republic. It was the necessity of establishing all-round political, economic and cultural relations with newly independent young Arab states that made it topical for scholars of the Republic to start research papers studies into problems of the Arab East.
From the very outset the department was headed by distinguished representative of the oriental studies in Azerbaijan, great expert in Arab studies, Academician Z.M.Buniyadov. Over a short period of time, the department headed by Z.M.Buniyadov for thirty years gained great authority in our country and turned into major hearth of Arab studies. Since 1992 the department has been headed by PhD F.Asadov.
It should be noted that the department plays an important role in training a new generation of historians, forming them as experts. The department is busy with studying the historical past of the caliphate and related countries, the history and economy of present-day Arab states. In considering that the department’s priorities are the history of Middle Ages, it is obvious that studies on the subject take a special place in its activity. For a long period of time, the main directions of the department have been formation, development and decline of various states of the Near and Middle East; religious and social movements, including popular uprisings. The analysis above covered a wide range of problems, especially those occurring in social strata, political development, etc. A number of articles, thesises and monographs were written on the subject.
Note that acad.Z.M.Buniyadov’s research papers activity deserves a special mentioning. Thus, his in-depth research into questions of the medieval history, original research papers examination enriched the Azerbaijani Oriental Studies and raised it to qualitatively new level. Suffice it to mention that Z.M.Buniyadov, owing to his extraordinary, selfless work, had been successful in issuing over a short period world-famed monographs “Azerbaijan in the 7-9 centuries” (1965). “The state of Atabeks of Azerbaijan” (1978) and “The state of Khorezmshahs-Anushteginids” (1986). The first two works is directly related to Azerbaijan, and certain periods of its history. It is no mere coincidence that Z.M.Buniyadov was permanently interested in the historical past of Azerbaijan, paid a special attention to its all-round study, examined various aspects of country’s medieval history and thus filled existing gaps in the historical science. In this respect, his monograph on the state of Atabeks in Azerbaijan assumes a particular importance; this work was welcomed with great interest and highly appreciated by academic community of the country. It was no mere coincidence that he was awarded State Prize winner of the Republic in 1980. In addition to the writings above, Z.M.Buniyadov created numerous research works on the relations between the caliphate and Azerbaijan, history of the peoples of the Caucasus and Central Asia. However, Z.M.Buniyadov’s research activity is not confined to the topics above. His scope of interest was much broader; he analyzed other questions of the Oriental Studies, in the first turn, textual criticism. In particular, Z.M.Buniyadov focused on a number of sources on the history of the Turkic peoples, carried out translations from the Arabic language and thus brought these sources to the notice of Azerbaijani historians and broader strata of readers.
As a whole, the Azerbaijani scholar, together with historical investigations, was engaged in examining Arab, Persian and Turkic written monuments, sources and documents, translating and publishing these works. In considering that these sources and documents contained scores of valuable and rare information about Azerbaijan’s history, geography and administration in the Middle Ages the translation and subsequent publication of these materials are of particular importance for the Azerbaijani Oriental Studies today. It should be noted that intensification of department’s work in textual studies fell on 1970s. Through 1971 to 1981 Z.M.Buniyadov translated al-Bakuvi’s “Kitab telhisi-l-eser” (1971); an-Nasavi’s “The life of Sultan Jalaladdin Mankburni” (1973); al-Huseyni’s “Ahbaru-d-davlati-ssalcugiyya” (1980) and Ibn Asam al-Kufi’s “The book of conquests” (1981). Later on, researchers of the department N.Velikhanly translated and published Ibn Hordadbey’s “Kitabu-l-masalik va-l-mamalik” (1986) and R.Shukurova - Fazlullah Rashidaddin’s “Oguznameh” (1987). In turn, F.Asadov translated materials from Arab sources about Turks and published them as an independent monograph titled “Arab sources on early medieval Turks (1993). S.Suleymanova translated from the Arabic language into Azeri some local archaeographic materials, as well as “Jar, Balaken and Ilisu legislation” and “Mollah Mohammad al-Jari’s “Jar annals” (1997).
This tradition was continued by department’s researchers in 2005 by issuing collected works titled “Materials on the history of Azerbaijan in medieval Arab sources”. The collected works comprised of fragments from writings of medieval Arab historians about Azerbaijan, translated into Azeri and published with appropriate comments. Fragments from writings of at-Tabari, al-Yaqubi, al-Balazuri, al-Qalqashandi on the history of Azerbaijan were translated into Azeri, commented and published by department’s researchers J.Iskandarov, S.Suleymanova, H.Akberov and E.Aghayeva. F.Asadov wrote an introductory word. The department is presently busy with studying medieval Arab-language sources and bringing them to the broader audience’s notice. The department researchers are currently translating fragments from writings of Arab geographers about Azerbaijan, the Caucasus and Central Asia. The point is about writings of Ibn Hovqal, Al-Masudi, Ibn-Fakih, Al-Yaqubi and Al-Istahri.
To acquaint broader readers’ audience with research papers-research activity of the famous Azerbaijani orientalist, Acad.Z.M.Buniyadov, two fundamental monographs of the scholar were edited and published in Azeri: 1) Z.M.Buniyadov. “Azerbaijan in the 7-9 centuries”. Baku, 2004 ; 2) Z.M.Buniyadov. “The state of Azerbaijan’s Atabeks”. Baku, 2004. In 2007, N.Bayramly published materials pertaining to the history of Azerbaijan in the 12-13 centuries on the basis of Shihabaddin Mohammad an-Nasavi’s “Description of the life of Sultan Jalaladdin Mankburny”.
Lately, department’s researchers H.Hajiyev, S.Bagirov, Sh.Aleskerov and E.Salakhov are engaged in translating into Azeri the text of the classical source Ibn Balazuri’s “Kitab albuldan”. Researcher E.Alizadeh is translating fragments from a medieval historical source “Kitab uyun at-tarih” by Al-Kutubi going back to materials on political developments in the epoch of Amavides and Abbasides caliphate. N.Bayramly is engaged in translating from Arabic into Azeri biographic materials of Azerbaijani and Turkish-origin political and cultural figures mentioned in “Vafiyyat al-a’ayan va anba abna az-zaman” by Shamsaddin Ibn Khaliqan, so called “Plutarch of the Oriental world”.
The department takes up questions related to the study of Arab-language sources going back to the medieval history of the other Turkic peoples. Thus, F.Asadov is engaged in analyzing hitherto unknown facts about Khazar kaganate that played an important role in the history of Azerbaijan. Underway is a work over a monograph on the subject. Recently, F.Asadov published interesting articles on the subject both in Azerbaijan and abroad, made reports at the international and local conferences. On the basis of Arabiclanguage medieval sources, especially writings of Ibn Rust and Zakariyya al-Qazvini, J.Iskenderli retraced the history of social and cultural development of some Turkic peoples and tribes. In turn, S.Suleymanov’s studies dealt with “a place of the Caucasus in the system of Eurasia trade routes”, ethno-cultural and historical ties between the Caucasus and Western and Central Asia.
A special emphasis has to be laid on department’s research activity in the analysis of caliphate and Arab-Moslem society, historical and social-political structure of modern Arab countries of Near and Middle East. Over the whole period of its existence the department has carried out all-round research work on the subjects shown above. Thus, E.Aghayeva studied a sect of Azragides that emerged in early caliphate period; E.Alizadeh – an uprising of Zinjis; J.Buniyadov – a movement of Garmatides; F.Asadov – a place and role of army in the socialpolitical system of caliphate; N.Bayramly – a period of caliph an-Nasir’s reign; J.Iskenderli – a movement of Ridda in early Islam; J.Veli – the first Civil war in the caliphate and a movement of Shia.
The department is simultaneously engaged in studying the questions of modern history and economy of Arab countries. It should be noted that problems of national liberation movements, activities of social and political organizations in the Arab East in the 20 century prevailed over studies into modern history questions. Beyond any doubts the topics of this sort which met political demands of the epoch retraced current political systems and social conditions of the region. An eloquent testimony to this are research works of J.Ruindej’s “The struggle of Iraq people against Bagdad pact” (1966); K.Mudjari’s “National liberation movement in Iraq Kurdistan” (1967) and T.Hasanov’s “Struggle of Iraqi Communist Party for national sovereignty and democracy” (1985).
Lately, issues of modern history and social and political situation in the Arab countries have been mirrored in department’s research papers-research work. The significance of the studies of this sort is great owing to the fact that relations between independent Azerbaijan and Arab countries in policy, economy, science and culture are intensifying from day to day. Among research works of this kind there are I.Asadov’s “Azerbaijan and the Countries of the Persian Gulf”; B.Nuri’s “Globalization: Arab East and Problems of Modernization”; J.Veliyeva’s “Relations between various Islamic communities in modern Iraq and their influence on state policy and institutions”; post-graduate E.Farzullayev’s “Islamic organizations in the system of Palestinian liberation movement and their activity” and E.Qurbanova’s “Attitude of modern Israeli political parties toward the Palestinian question”, etc. It should be noted that both experienced scholars and young researchers pay attention to the study of important changes and political contradictions and crisis situation in the Arab countries. I.Asadov is engaged in analyzing the developments of “Arab spring” in Tunisia and Libya; published a number of articles, made appropriate reports on the subject. Junior research P.Efendiyeva is analyzing the influence of historical and political factors on the cultural policy in modern Egypt. With that end in view, P.Efendiyeva visited the Helvan University within the framework of the aid program of the Egyptian Foreign Affairs Ministry. Young researchers of the department got down to writing a candidate’s thesis as follows: G.Qavgazly’s “Maragha Liva in the Ottomans times”; A.Mamedova’s “Events of 2011-2013 in Egypt and the Islamic factor”; E.Khudiyeva’s “State and religious relations in modern Israel”.
Of no small importance is academic leadership over the department’s theses by experienced scholars. Note that research papers advisers to lead candidates theses are invited both from the Institute of Oriental Study, Academy of Sciences and a number of higher educational institutions of Azerbaijan. In the reviewed period a number of PhD students completed their research work under the leadership of late acad.Z.M.Buniyadov and successfully defended their thesises.
It should be noted that the past and present political and economic situation in the Arab world is always in the focus of world public, including the Azerbaijani society. Experts of the department often appear on the pages of periodical press and TV-channels, make their comments and give interviews.
The above mentioned testifies to the scope of research papers achievements and progress reached by the department of History and Economy of Arab countries of the Institute of Oriental Studies.