Iranian President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad in a controversial speech to a group of Iranian residents in Tajikistan last week praised Ferdowsi, arguably the greatest Persian poet of all time, known as saving the Persian language, but added that Ferdowsi also saved Islam.
“Ferdowsi saved the Faith of the Great Prophet (of Islam) and removed the unenlightened from carrying the burden of the Faith and put it squarely on the shoulders of the Iranian nation. And the nation has well fulfilled this (enormous) responsibility.” [Tabnak, 29 March].
Ahmadinejad’s assertion of Ferdowsi’s role in saving Islam is causing a wave of protests from senior Islamic clerics, such as Grand Ayatollah Makarem Shirazi, for belittling the role of the clergy in carrying the Faith and the teachings of the Great Prophet, to others, like the director of the Library of Majlis, accusing Ahmadinejad of blatant ultra-nationalism and racism for attributing saving Islam to an Iranian poet.
Hakim Abol-Ghasem Ferdowsi Tousi was born in 940 and passed away in 1020 in Khorasan. His Shahnameh (“The Book of Kings”) is considered the national epic and a Persian literary masterpiece.
Image: Ferdowsi / nndb.com