A Brief Note on Sadriddin Aini's Life
Copyright, Bashiri, 1997
Sadrddin Aini, author of major fictional accounts of life in Bukhara at the turn of the century and during the formative years of the Soviet Union, did not appear in a vaccum as some Soviet author would like us to believe. He was heir to a poetic tradition that harked back to Rudaki and Firdowsi and a prose tradition that recalls Narshakhi and Nizam al-Mulk. Like Rudaki, he expressed his feelings. These were, at times, suffused with the hatred he harbored for the attrocities of the Amirs of Bukhara and, at other times, overwhelmed by the sentiments arising of what, in the early days of the Soviet Union, seemed judicious and honorable.
Born in 1878 in the village of Saktara, Aini grew up in the Ghijduvan region of Bukhara in a traditional Islamic setting. His grandfather and father were both learned figures of the time and followers of the strict Kubravi school of thought. Becoming an orphan at the age of 12, he left Saktara for Bukhara where his older brother studied and where he hoped to pursue his own studies and fulfill his father's dying wish.
In Bukhara, Aini became familiar with the dynamics of the world of his time through the efforts of Ahmad Donish who had made three trips to Russia and who had documented his observation is a valuable "guide" entitled "Navodir al-Vaqaye'" (Rare Events), and through the teachings of Domulla Ikromcha. This awakening, happening at the time of the October Revolution in Russia, impacted Aini's world view immensely so that his lyric poetry centered on the themes of love and nature gave way to anthems in praise of the dawn of a new age for the working people of Bukhara. Additionally, the more he hearned about the new society in the making, the more he detested the regime that had fallen. In fictional works such as "Ghulomon" (The Slaves) and "Jallodon-i Bukhara" (The Bukhara Executioners) he exposed the inhumanity of the Amirs as they clung to power and used repression and terror as a means to sustain them. He also gathered materials and wrote extensively on the transition that was taking place in Bukhara and the Kuhistan as new trends replaced the old.
Aini's knowledge of the atrocities of the Amirs was first hand. Indeed, it was his vivid descriptions of the Arg and the hellish scenes therein that prompted me to visit Bukhara and its proverbial Arg fortification. arrested as a revolutionary by Alimkhan's henchmen, Aini was imprisoned in the Arg. Unlike those whose hands were tied in the front--a sign to the watching crowd of the forthcoming execution--his hands were tied in the back. He was administered 75 lashes of the whip and he would have died, had not Bukhara fallen that day and had he not been taken to Kagan to receive medical attention.
Many of Aini's contributions like "Odina" (Odina) and "Marg-i Sudkhur" (Death of the Money Lender) have been subject of exciting movies, but his most remarkable work comes towards the end of his life when he writes an account of his life, especially the formative period, in the 1940's. Called the "Yoddoshtho" (Reminiscences), this work details life in Bukhara of the turn of the century in a most vivid and informative way. The chronology that follows is taken from this work as well as Aini's many other contributions to our understanding of the life and culture of his Noble Bukhara.
1878: April 15
Born in the village of Saktari, Ghijduvan, Emirate of Bukhara, to the family of Sayyid Murad Khoja.
Enters the village boy's mektab for the first time.
Is transferred to the village girl's mektab.
In the plague epidemic, his father and mother die; travels to Bukhara to live with his brother and continue his education.
Becomes a servant at Sharifjan Makhdum's house.
Is appointed the custodian of Alimjan Madrasah.
Studies under Domulla Ikramcha, one of the most prominent teachers of Bukhara.
Is stricken by plague.
Studies poetry; chooses his first pen name, Mardikari (workman); works as an accountant at a rich man's firm.
Attends almost every get-together in town; becomes acquainted with the poet Hairat.
Stays at the Hajizoda Madrasah; becomes a well-known figure among the poets and those who regularly frequent literary circles.
Moves to the Kukaltosh Madrasah and lives in his older brother's living quarters.
Becomes acquainted with Ahmad Donish and his work in progress, "Navoder al-Vaqoye';" chooses ideological strains that profoundly affect the future course of his life.
Death of the poet Hairat; to appease Aini, Amir Abdulahad makes a futile attempt at including him among his court poets.
Homeless, he lives in "darun-i kurtagi"
Finds living quarters at Domulla Shir Madrasah.
Finishes the madrasah; Sharifjan Makhdum buys a place in the Kukaltosh Madrasah and gives it to Aini.
Travels to Samarqand to become acquainted with the new-method schools taught by Abdulqadir Shakuri. Within a short time, new-method schools become a hot issue in the Bukhara of Abdulahad.
Along with Mirza Abdulvahid Munzim, opens a new-method school at Sallokhkhona; authors "Rahbar-i Khat" for teaching in this school.
Provides textbooks for the newly established school: "Tartil al-Qur'an," "Tahzib al-Sibian," and "Zaruriat-i Dini." The new-method school is closed by the order of the Amir's government. Aini is forced to leave Bukhara.
Establishment of the clandestine group "Children's Education;" Aini is recognized as a prominent educator.
Aini is summoned personally by the Qushbegi (Prime Minister); works in a cotton factory in Kizilteppe.
A second trip to Samarqand; makes side trips to Khujand and Ferghana to assess the revolutionary potential of this major rural Muslim region.
Aini is appointed teacher to the prominent Khiobun Madrasah of Bukhara.
1917: April 7
Amir's order for reform is celebrated by Young Bukharans; rise of the reactionaries.
1917: April 9
Imprisonment and severe torture; saved by the Revolutionary soldiers from certain death, Aini is hospitalized at the Kagan hospital.
1917: April 25
Aini's co-prisoner, Mirza Nasrullah, dies. Nasrullah was tortured the same way that Aini was tortured only a day or so earlier. Fortunately for Aini, he was saved by the Red Army.
Creation of the Academy of Sciences of the SSR of Tajikistan and appointment of Aini as its president.
Works on the Uzbeki version of "Yoddoshtho." Is awarded the Order of the Red Flag of Labor on the occasion of the 75th year of his birth.
Completes the 4th volume of "Yoddoshtho."