The Sands of Oxus

27 April marks the birth of Tajik poet, Sadriddin Ayni, in 1878.  Sadriddin Ayni was born in a peasant family in the village of Soktare. He became an orphan at the age 12 and moved to join his older brother in Bukhara, where he attended a madrasa and learned to write in Arabic. In defiance of the narrow curriculum, which was mostly limited to religious teachings, he joined a small circle of students that studied math, science, and history. This led to his being imprisoned by the Emir’s police and he was whipped, nearly to death, at the hands of the authorities.

Ayni’s early poems were about love and nature, others were melancholy, expressing deep loneliness and a pervasive sense of the injustice of life. He also meditated on human irrationality and ignorance. In “Fojiai shea va sunni”, written in 1910 shortly after a bloody clash between Sunnis and Shiʿites in Bukhara, he expressed horror at the killing of Muslims by Muslims in the name of religion. In the early 1920s, Ayni helped to propagate the positive aspects of the Russian Revolution in Uzbekistan and Tajikistan. After the Soviet period began, his subject matter shifted to the dawn of the new age and the working class.

In 1934, he attended the Soviet Congress of Writers as the Tajik representative. He was a member of the Supreme Soviet of Tajikistan for 20 years. His output, including the first novel in the Tajik language, resulted in his being awarded two Orders of Lenin, among numerous other Soviet medals of distinction.

His book, ‘Pages from my Own Story’, is available in the campus Memorial Library which can be accessed by University Staff through use of their WisCard ID.