Role of Alexandre JABA and Mullah Mahmood Bayazidi in serving Kurdish literature and culture”
An introduction to Alexandre JABA and Mullah Mahmood Bayazidi:
Rhrough Russian scholar, Polish origin, Alexandre JABA in French language, we have 44 manuscripts of Kurdish prose, stories and history in Kurdish, written in the middle of the nineteenth century. These manuscripts are truly a treasure of nineteenth-century Kurdish literature. In fact, JABA’s works—most of which were done with the assistance of Mullah Mahmood Bayazidi (1799-1867)—set up three-quarters of nineteenth-century Kurdish literature.
Biography of Alexandre JABA
Alexandre (sometimes called Auguste JABA) was born on August 15, 1803 in Poland. His father was a nobleman and a villager. In 1824 he became an interpreter in the ministry. He received a scholarship and graduated in 1828. In 1830 he became a Turkish interpreter in the Department of Oriental Languages in Yafa. In 1832 he came to Istanbul and in 1835 he moved to Smyrna. In 1843, he was appointed secretary of the presidential office by the decision of the emperor’s presidential council. In 1848 he became the Russian consul in Erzurum, where he taught himself Kurdish. In 1853 the consulate was closed. It was opened in 1856 and he resumed work. Alexandre JABA also spoke Polish, Russian, Turkish, English, French, Arabic, Kurdish and Persian. In a letter to the German orientalist Dorn, JABA says: “I have studied Kurdish enough to be able to work and translation as well”.
When Alexandre JABA was the Russian consul in the Ottoman Empire in Erzurum and Izmir, he was asked by the St. Petersburg Higher Academy of Sciences in Russia through the German orientalist Bernhardt Dorn to collect Kurdish manuscripts and write numerous studies on Kurdish culture, language and literature. For this purpose, Alexandre JABA gathered around him a group of mullahs, jurist and mirzas (the scholars of that time) from the beginning Mullah Mahmood Bayazidi was one of his closest friends. During that time, Mullah Mahmud Bayazidi was in Erzurum. From 1856 onwards, Bayazidi became JABA’s secretary, priest, assistant and superior consultant on Kurdish cultural and literary affairs. Alexandre JABA and Mullah Mahmood Bayazidi are twins in the history of Kurdish literature: Therefore, in order to understand JABA, we must know a line about Mullah Mahmoud Bayazidi.
Mullah Mahmood Bayazidi
Mullah Mahmood Bayazidi was a Quranic specialist, he was an expert mullah and a talented writer. He had an unprecedented knowledge of language and literature in Arabic, Persian and Turkish. His literary titles include: Mahmoud Effendi, Faqir Mahmoud Effendi, Khawaja Mahmoud Effendi. Bayezid’s knowledge of Oriental languages was so extensive that among writers in Erzurum, only Bayezid was turned to for writing in Persian or for translating from Persian into Turkish. Bayazidi played a role in all of JABA’s works and writings, but he did not roll his name on these collaborations or even on his own works. This has made most of these works belong to JABA. Even JABA by himself in the French introduction to his “customs and fees” mentioned that Bayazidi did not want his name to be on the writings and collaborations. The reason why Bayazidi did not write his name on his works, according to Professor Marf Khaznadar, may have been for fear that it would not be appropriate for a Mullah like him to approach to a non-Muslim like JABA.
Mullah Mahmood Bayazidi is therefore the author and translator of many of JABA’s manuscripts. There are 54 manuscripts in the Public Library of St. Petersburg, Russia. Of these, 44 are in Kurdish, 4 in Persian and 3 in Turkish. All these manuscripts were written and compiled by Alexandre JABA, numerous of them were assisted by Mullah Mahmud. Most of JABA’s Kurdish manuscripts were written with the assistance of Mullah Mahmud Bayazidi. In short, what is written in Kurdish is written by Bayazidi and what is written in French is written by JABA.