A Brief Note
on the Life of Fazluddin Mukhammadiev

Iraj Bashiri
Copyright, Bashiri, 2000

[For a complete account of Fazluddin Mukhammadiev's life, see Iraj Bashiri's article in
Prominent Tajik Figures of the 20th Century.]

Tajik short-story writer and novelist Fazluddin Aminovich Mukhammadiev was born on June 15, 1928, in Samarqand. He died on June 10, 1986 in the same city.

Born into a family of book binders, Mukhammadiev graduated from the Higher Literary Courses in Moscow in 1962. For a while thereafter he attended the Moscow Aviation Department which he gave up after his father's death for work on the farm.

Between 1947 and 1949, Mukhammadiev was a contributing correspondent to "Red Tajikistan." After graduating from the Central Komsomol in Moscow, he and joined the Communist Party and, between 1951 and 1960 contributed to "Women of Tajikistan" and "The Voice of the Orient." In 1962, after graduating from the Institute of Literature in the Name of Gorky in Moscow, he became the editor of the satiric journal "Hedgehog" (1962-64). From 1964 to the end of his life, he dedicated his time to the production of documentaries and to creative writing.

Mukhammadiev began his career as a simple reporter, but quickly rose to the level of a credible author. His "The Sleeve Piece" (1955) as well as others dealing with social and civilizational issues were received enthusiastically. Two of his works, "The New Boss" (1955) and "The Immigrants" (1956) dealing with the needs of the rank and file of the collectives clearly place him in the forefront of social reformers of the decade.

In the 1970s, Mukhammadiev traveled extensively in the isolated hamlets of the republic and talked to industrial worker at Norak, Roghun, and Berghozi. "The Essence of the Earth" (1981), "The Sacred Custom" (1982), and "The Questions and Answers of Ainajan Baimatova" (1986) reflect his assessment of the industrialization process in the former republics of the Soviet Union.

The clash between tradition and modernization also occupied some of his time. Investigation of the complex inner aspects of life was M.'s goal from the beginning. "The Friend's Letter" (1958), "The Zest for Life" (1958), and "The Road" (1962) are indicative of that as is "Traditional Folks" (1963) which deals with the generation gap, bribery, and sponging on society. The translation of this latter into Russian included Mukhammadiev in the ranks of the best Soviet writers of the time.

Mukhammadiev considered religion to be a historical stage in man's development. In fact, he goes so far as to say that religion can dull a person's creative intellect and limit his worldview. Was it not Islam, he argued, at the base of the bai-feudal system that treated women like chattel? Neither are his characters ignorant of the tenets of the Islamic faith. In fact, it is after a thorough examination of the said tenets that they become more devoted to their socialist homeland and Communist ideology.

Mukhammadiev's last two novellas "King of Japan" (1981) and "Precipice" (1983) examine the Tajik workers' status in the community as well as the ways he has to cope with difficult living conditions. The major characters in both works recognize the significance of being responsible individuals.

Mukhammadiev influenced Tajik prose between 1960 and 1980 by establishing a new and fresh direction. He openly criticized aspects of socialism that were not true to the behest of the early leaders. With the same breath, he also denounced Islamic dicta that were not congruent with a well-balanced life.

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