Muhammad Suleyman Ogly Fizuli

Fizuli, Muhammad Suleyman Ogly


(also Fuzuli). Born 1494 in Karbala, Iraq; died there 1556. Azerbaijani poet writing in Azerbaijani, Persian, and Arabic.

Fizuli received a comprehensive education. He worked as a teacher and as a custodian of holy places, spending most of his life in Baghdad. The most complete manuscript copy of Fizuli’s collected works (kulliyat) is dated 1522. The first complete scholarly and critical edition of his works, based on early manuscripts, was published in Baku between 1958 and 1961 by G. Arasly.

Lyric poems, particularly ghazals and qasidas, are of major importance among Fizuli’s works. His poetry’s unusual power lies in its understanding of man’s inner world. The principal themes of his lyrics are the exalted rapture of love, which Fizuli regarded as the foundation of the universe; delight in the beauty of a beloved woman; and the sufferings and sorrow resulting from the eternal unattainability of perfection in love. In affirming man’s right to earthly love, Fizuli contradicted Muslim religious prohibitions and canons. He renewed the ghazal by making it more widely accessible in terms of content and form.

Fizuli’s poetry has a humanist spirit: it opposes coercion and urges rulers to manifest justice and concern for the welfare of their subjects. In Fizuli’s view, religion and the state should defend the oppressed from maltreatment by those persons who misuse power.

Fizuli’s works and world view were influenced by Sufism, although he did not belong to any order of Sufis. Fizuli advocated renunciation of the temptations of the transitory world and recommended a simple and modest way of life. One of his best philosophical lyrics is the qasida “Friend of the Heart.” While it continues the traditions of Hagani Shirvani, Amir Khusrau, and Jami, the poem is also marked by social awareness and an anti-feudal orientation.

Fizuli’s Complaint, considered one of the earliest and best examples of Azerbaijani literary prose, is a unique political satire that combines the author’s complaints about his own fate with denunciations of the tyranny and corruption that reigned at the court of the Turkish sultan Suleyman I Kanuni. Fizuli dealt with social and philosophical problems in the allegorical narrative poems Hashish and Wine and Dispute of the Fruits and with philosophical and ethical issues in The Carouser and the Hermit and Health and Sickness. He also wrote a treatise on the history of philosophy, The Result of Faith, made a verse translation of 40 hadith into Azerbaijani, and translated into Azerbaijani a work by Husayn Waiz Kashevi (16th century) that Fizuli entitled The Garden of the Fortunate Ones.

Fizuli’s best work is the lyric epic poem Leyla and Mejnun (1536–37). Continuing and renewing the traditions of his predecessors, particularly Nizami Ganjevi, Fizuli created an original epic that was closely related to Azerbaijani oral poetry. The hero of the work, the poet Mejnun (Qays) seeks meaning and happiness in life through romantic love. However, feudal and religious traditions and customs hinder his attainment of these ideals. To those around him, Qays is Mejnun (the Possessed). His love for the beautiful Leyla is sternly condemned by his social circle; this is one of the sources of the tragic conflict in the poem. Despite an intensification of mystical motifs at its conclusion, the work depicted authentic human love.

Fizuli’s poetry, which is both romantic and realistic, constituted an important stage in the development of Azerbaijani literature and language, whose vocabulary and style Fizuli greatly enriched. Many lines of Fizuli’s poetry have become aphorisms. His work influenced Azerbaijani and Turkish literature as well as the literatures of other peoples of the Near East. The 400th anniversary of Fizuli’s death was commemorated in 1958; a monument to him was unveiled in Baku that year.


Äsärläri, parts 1–4. Baku, 1958–61.
Divanï. Baku, 1958.
In Russian translation:
Izbrannoe. Baku, 1958.
Leili i Medzhnun. Moscow, 1958.
Gazeli. Moscow, 1959.


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Araslï, H. Böyük Azärbayjan shairi Füzüli. Baku, 1958.
Guluzadä, M. Füzülinin lirikasï. Baku, 1965.
Gibb, E. A History of Ottoman Poetry, vol. 3, London, 1904.
Karahan Abdülkadir. Fuzuli: Muhiti hayati ve şahsiyeti. Istanbul, 1949.
Cunbu-Müjgan. Fuzuli hakkinda bir bibliografya denemesi. Istanbul, 1956.
Bicari, H. “Fuzulir nin allegorik eserleri.” In Studia turcica. Edited by L. Ligeti. Budapest, 1971.