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 What is Mem u Zin about? - Part I

 Opinion  Analysis 
  The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of the author


What is Mem u Zin about? - Part I ‎ 6.10.2012 
By Dr Kamal Mirawdeli
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Dr Kamal Mirawdeli, a prominent Kurdish writer and Kurdistan Region Presidency Candidate 2009, he was the strongest rival of the incumbent president of the region and was the second winner in the elections.
  Read more by By Dr Kamal Mirawdeli
October 6, 2012

Read Part I | Part II

What is Mem u Zin about?*  Part I

Dr Kamal Mirawdeli. This is part of the Conclusions Chapter of Kamal Mirawdelis recent book Love and Existence: Analytical Study of Ahmadi Khanis Tragedy of Mem u Zin published by Khani Academy.

It is impossible to summarize a creative artistic work like Khanis Mem Zn or encapsulate its critical value in certain academic clichs and constructions. Works like Mem Zn and Hamlet can never be exhausted. They always deserve, inspire and entail fresh readings. But while there are thousands of studies, readings and interpretations of Hamlet, apart from Rasuls monumental work, there has been no serious studies of Mem Zn. Of course, the people of Khani take the gravest responsibility for this negligence of their heritage: a national shame that Khani wrote his drama partly to expose and expel. But in a global context, the reality is even more shameful to the civilized world as a whole: Mem Zn is in Kurdish and expresses Kurdishness. Using Kurdish and expressing Kurdishness are still sins met with violence, murder and oppression in Turkey, Iran and Syria and even the civilized Europe and the democratic West. Mem and Zn, as examples of Kurdish lovers are still, actually, culturally and metaphorically, in jail in Turkey: silenced, tortured and denied identity and freedom of expressing their passionate love in their own inner thoughts and native words.

I have not used any specific methodology in this study apart from discourse analysis, which I believe provides the best critical instrument for reading any creative literary text. It allows the text to articulate its own space, mode and function of existence. But in this endeavor, as the reader must have noticed, I have been greatly guided by Khanis own critical insights and explanations. Then the definition of the story as a tragic drama in the Aristotelian sense of the term, opened greater opportunities and avenues to analyze the text and unravel its dramatic structure and specific mode of existence.

Conceptual unity of Khanis work

Khani's literary work, from his first religious and Kurdist prologues to his final treatise about his work is an integrated whole conceptually and thematically, if not structurally, and cannot be fully analyzed, understood and appreciated unless it is read and studied as one conceptual unit. Khani has made his language a vehicle for the representation of three levels of textual discourse, different as genres: a creative dramatization of a native love lore, a philosophical existential vision of life, man and universe, and a cultural political text. The three texts together represent a huge enterprise of national reconstruction and discursive nation building.

Therefore, any superficial treatment of Khani's text would be oppressively reductive and trivializing. It is also impossible for any researcher to understand Khani unless he is versed in Kurdish dialects, Kurdish folklore, Arabic and Persian languages, Zoroastrianism, Greek philosophy, Islamic theology, Sufism and theosophy, Persian and Arabic classical literature and epics, the sciences of astrology, music, etc. That is why the first group of Orientalists like Hartman and even much later ones like Rudenko who have tried to translate and study Khani, confess that they had great difficulties in translating and understanding the work. I think only the Kurdish scholars Dr Rasul and Hejar Mukiryani, among those who have translated and commented on Khani, were in an ideal position and competent enough to accomplish this task.

Khani completely transforms the folk love lore: enhancing its national aspects, eliminating any foreign names and connections of his characters including any outer political or moral role for religion. Religious passion, for Khani, in line with his apparently Islamic but essentially Zoroastrian reconstruction, is an inner theosophical experience completed through good thoughts, good words and good deeds for which one needs to suffer. It is only through enduring pain and suffering including those caused by personal and political evil, and wrong choices, tragic flaws, that lovers complete the maqamat (stations) of their perfection and karamat (revelations of eternity and union with God) will become available to them. The characters as Khani himself clearly states, are treated with method and style, transformed morally and made exemplary expressions of the sacredness of love, good against evil, sacrifice against

selfishness, Kurdishness against subordination to foreigners, Gnosticism against materialism. They are not made symbols or metaphorical incarnations of divided Kurdistan, as Hassanpour superficially suggests and Chyet and Strohmneir uncritically reiterate, but for Khanis own basically existentialist vision of nation, life and universe, of predestination versus choice, of good versus evil, of existential mortality versus heavenly eternity. However, although language, is the prime purpose of Khani, he implicitly thinks of written language as superior to oral tradition and more permanent, it is true that, having followed the pioneer Kurdish classical poets especially Jezir, and Persian poets including Ferdows, Jami and Nizami, his poetic Kurdish language is much influenced by Persian and Arabic vocabulary, which makes it, in terms of sheer Kurdish verbal construction, less purely Kurdish than the pure language of the Oskar Manns Mukiri text of Mem Zn. His Masnawi too, though a very convenient vehicle for epic construction, does not rival the poetical construction and linguistic aesthetics of the folk tale. But Khani has made a great use of Kurdish folk literature to produce great lyrical poems in the form of dramatic monologues in his work. On the other hand, Khani has made use of Islamic Persian and Quranic terms and concepts to express his own ideas. Khani wants to use Kurdish for writing books not just poems. Once a language, any language, becomes the language of books, science and philosophy, it naturally becomes an intra-textual and internationally interactive language. This is true of any language. Measured by this standard, the Persian language, because of the enormous influence of Arabic language, has, as Soane rightly notes, almost become an artificial synthetic language whose very structure and vocabulary are Arabized while Kurdish has retained to a large extent its original mountain modality, purity, flexibility and beauty. (Soane, 1917). One just needs to study Oskar Mann's Mukiri texts, let alone thousands of folkloric texts in different dialects, to appreciate this fact. Yet, language is ultimately a vehicle of communication and knowledge. It is the pragmatics of its use and its relation to power that determines its state and status. In terms of content, Khanis work is encyclopaedic in its vision, knowledge and wisdom. His plot is theosophy, philosophy and human tragedy in action. Socrates brought down philosophy to earth, Khani, as we have demonstrated in this study, has embodied philosophy in human actions, events, feelings, and destinies.

Thematic unity of Khanis work

As a self-conscious critic of his own work, Khani does not leave any question unanswered. He clearly establishes that the main theme of his narrative is love. This is a theme, an object and idea that encompasses Khanis philosophy of life and answers the question: how should we live? And this is illustrated through the drama of Mem, Zn, Bekir, St, Tazhdin and Mr Znaddin by means of descriptions, conversations, choices, actions and activities. Thus love is not only an idea, it is an idea that moves human beings internally and externally. It is also a fact of being that unites both spiritual and physical/material mode of human existence. That is why it is universal. But the drama of human existence is represented by the way every individual, according to his understanding and courage, responds to the call of love:

But the purpose of that conversation
The aim of that action activity and inquiry
Is the demonstration of the beauty of Ishq
The establishment of the perfection of Ishq
Ishq is a mirror that reflects God
Like the sun, it possesses light

Ishq is the wanter and the wanted
It is a mirror reflecting what has no image
A treasure of a secret immortal
There is no one who is not affected by Ishq
It is not possible that anyone is without desire for love
Everyone according to his/her courage
Will exert his/her own will

Love is the existential space of mans being in the wolrd, the essence and context of his being and the medium of his/her relationship with God, with each other, with nature and with universe. Its the greatest natural and spiritual force of gravity that can potentially create harmony and happiness in the world. Based on the original Kurdish love story, Khani develops the theme of love dramatically in relation with two other equally essential and existentially-related themes which are beauty and evil. These three themes love (with all its manifestations), evil (with all its functions and contradictions) and beauty with its unitary physical/divine modality, provide the storys unique world of meaning and values. Then he further existentially extends his themes to include relationship between evil and politics, politics and materialism, politics and government. Another important extension of the theme of love is his dramatic visualization of the relationship between love and death which ends with the triumph of soul over body, and love over hate and eternal life over the ephemeral illusion of human life and the absurdity of wealth and power.

The first part or Act of the drama is an embodiment of paradise of love and beauty. Khani celebrates physical beauty and love as divine. He celebrates womans naked body not as pornography but as spirituo-graphy, if I can coin this word. The beautiful naked body of women in the form of the Kurdish beauties Zn and St is not something that one should be ashamed or embarrassed about. It is something that should be celebrated as the manifestation of Gods divine script for humanity, as sacred signs and embodiments of Gods creation that are more powerful than the holy books. But it is the essential existences of evil that creates the drama of human existence and enacts his will to choose between good and evil or react to or act upon the reality of evil in the world represented by political power and those who wield it. This context brilliantly brings together the existential modality of human beings as individuals with will and ability to choose and their existential obligation to deal with the fact and destiny of their being-in-the-world. This gives dramatic unity to the structure of his tragedy. The tragedy starts with the intervention of evil and mans normal reaction to it or politically expedient accommodation of it or total ignorance of the function of evil in the world.

It is obvious that Khani approaches evil from a philosophical point of view. It is a reality and a factor that exists in the schema of human creation. God has for every Sultan created ten evil persons (Satans) bent on destroying him. But the aim of protecting oneself against evil is not restricted to those who are in power or rich. It is a general principle and practice of human life. Even the poor families in villages have guard dogs to protect themselves and their property. Therefore the Mr has hired Bekir Mergewer exactly to play the role of a guard dog barking and biting to guard his throne. It is a conscious decision justified by the principle of existential necessity. Although the idea sounds Machiavellian, which is, Khani in the words of the Mir adds a metaphysical existential factor of necessity to it.

But naivety and at the same time selfishness of the Mr is evident from his failure to understand that this evil which is his servant may hurt his friends, his own family and even himself. Once evil exists and allowed to function freely in the name of fighting another hostile evil, you cannot predict or restrict its evil function. Here the question of volition emerges. To what extent is a person driven by fate and to what extent does he own will and ability to determine or change the direction and state of the things? Here we have the two examples of Mem's love for Zn and Znaddin's love of power and wealth.

The way Khani constructs the character of Bekir Mergewer as the embodiment of evil and operates him as such in the drama is very interesting. Bekir Mergewer maybe evil by nature and definitely there are people with such inclination. But what is the condition of his possibility? Why is his function of existence as evil necessary in the story? The Mr already answers this question in his conversation with Tazhdin: to protect his power, which is to some degree the product of unjust and oppressive practices. For the Mr the practice of political power unavoidably includes oppressive and unjust measures. This creates enemies. To protect yourself against enemies in the context of a dynastic political power you need guard dogs and doormen capable of evil; people like Bekir Mergewer are ideal candidates. Hence almost all the tragic events that are going to unravel from now on are the result of this selfish political thinking by the Mr. Bekir Mergewer maybe essentially evil. But this essence of evil needs conditions of its possibility, of its growth and operation in the material world and the space of conflicting human interests and choices. And this is exactly what the character of the Mr provides. Otherwise there are certainly many other Bekir Mergewers with evil intentions and inclinations, but they do not have such status, opportunities and access to means and ways that Bekir Mergewer does. Bekir Mergewer is politicized as the Mrs necessity, his Machiavellian means of maintaining his power. In other words, in the political sense at least, Bekir Mergewer is an extension of the Mrs thinking and personality. He is his shadow existence where he hides or enacts his own selfish intentions and actions. This establishes, in worldly political terms, the duality of Bekir Mergewer as a correlate of political power, which is for nave princes like Znaddin is the real power. But for Khani it is not. It is just an illusion. The princes cannot have a real kingdom because they are mortal and their reign is inevitably time-bound, accident-prone, faulty and provincial. The real eternal kingdom is that of God.

Through the association of the evil Mergewer with political power Khani introduces an important political discourse to his dramatic plot and gives himself space to further explain his Zoroastrian concept of good and evil. We can outline his vision as following:

1. Evil exists as part of the universal scheme of contradictions, which God has established to automatically run the universe.

2. Evil is a worldly element of human life and thus it is essentially political because the political evil of exploitation, injustice and oppression needs aggressive and unjust means to protect it. Hence, the Mrs need for keeping Bekir Mergewer.

3. Evil is associated with the illusion of power and the need of rulers to maintain this illusion, however unreal and naive it might seem, at whatever cost.

4. Evil in its natural raw modality is like poison. It works most and fastest on those who come into contact with or willingly taste it such as the Mr. But because of his naivety or selfishness or illusion of power, he does not realise that by keeping Bekir Mergewer so close to himself he allows this poison to affect and ruin his own family first.

5. Evil exists everywhere and people protect themselves against evil by whatever means they can. But evil becomes a real destructive danger when it is politicized. There is quite a big difference between a poor villager keeping a guard dog to protect his property from thieves, or to protect a sheep or a cow from wolves or a hen or a cock from jackals, and the Mrs employment of dogs like Mergewer to protect and operate the unjust oppressive mill of his exploitative power.

6. In the Zoroastrian thought Evil is an element of the universal system of contradictions. Khani explains that this antithetical system both affects humans and enables them to understand their world through differentiation, recognition and rationalization. But man is a conscious, thinking and social animal. And that is what makes evil social and political. And it is the politicization of evil that makes it a powerful factor challenging even the will and wisdom of God and sustaining the illusion of everlasting political or dynastic power on the one hand and creating various vicious cycles of conflict and strife whose victims are usually innocent people and the ideals of beauty, love and justice as Khani has illustrated in his powerful drama through the tragic disasters inflicted by political evil upon Mem and Zn.

7. Bekir Mergewers evil becomes dangerous and destructive when it is politicized. He is as I explained above an extension of the Mrs will to power and protection of his, not always just, privileges. He is the Mrs servant but he is more than this. He is his ears and eyes, his confidant and consultant, his schemer and informer. As his shadow he is the master of the black art and the power behind the ailing wit of the Mr. He is cleverly predictive. He is in short a shrewd political animal and knows that the formal incorporation of Mem and Tazhdin into the Mrs household means his end if not physically then definitely socially and politically. From this political moment the evil of Mergewer becomes poisonous and lethal. This, on the other hand, means that the Mr is ruining himself and his household through the evil he has internalized, externalized and politicized in the instrument of Mergewer, whose condition of possibility and function of existence lie in the Mrs nave concern for maintaining his absolute feudal power.

8. But this worldly power for Khani is no more than an illusion. There is a much more powerful and real spiritual power, which is love, the Sufist love of Mem and Zn for each other. Here evil can do no harm to this love. In fact it helps it to grow towards its telos: the destruction of the physical body to liberate soul to enjoy eternal love. This as Zn passionately illustrates later, would not have been possible without the evil of Bekir Mergewer. He was the spying eye and

ear that watched over them and prevented them from surrendering to the temptation of lust and sexual attraction and indulgence. They suffered greatly from hunger, solitude, loneliness, sadness, depression, despair, imprisonment, and eventually withering, exhaustion and death. But their love remained divine and sublime. Their souls meet in the union of eternal love. This triumph of the spiritual over the material, of soul over the body and eternal pure love over physical temporal worldly love would not have been possible without the evil role of Mergewer. Here evil plays exactly the role that God has decided for it in the scheme of worldly contradiction: to make true love and good differentiate and realize itself and win. Therefore when Zn at the end of the story realizes that Mergewer was killed by Tazhdin, he makes a passionate plea to her brother to have Mergewer buried between her and Mem even in grave because he was the reason for their spiritual win and deserves to be rewarded for it. Mergewer is buried as Zn asks in her will and then grows as a thorny bush over their grave separating two rose-trees.

Mem Zn deep-structure levels of meaning

Whatever level of meaning you are trying to discover in Mem Zn, upon a further investigation, it appears as surface meaning hiding deeper levels. In using the Kurdish love lore and tragic drama of Mem Zn Khani is digging deeper and deeper to discover the essential meaning of human life in the episode and enigma of love. All his dramatic turns and techniques from the choice of Newroz, as season, landscape and historical tradition, to the lovers disguising themselves in the appearance of the opposite sex, to the accident of immediate falling-in-love by the protagonists and his detailed description of the way that love penetrates their faces and hearts, the exchange of the rings, the appearance of Zn and St naked after the Newroz saga, the appearance of Mem and Tazhdin as love-stricken young men with different approaches to women and love, the introduction of the Nanny and sorcerer, the creation of the hunting event, the description of the gardens, the divine language he uses to describe woman beauty and then the introduction of Bekir Mergewer as the emblem of evil, as explained above, all these scenes, accidents and events are interconnected and together work to establish a world quite different to what appears to our casual or usual ordinary perception of the world and its events. But the challenge is not presented only by the multiplicity of interdependent events and occurrences; the main difficulty lies in the manifold-meaning vocabulary, verbal constructions and sustained extended organic imageries that overlap various discursive epistemological discourses, which he uses to express the deep levels of meaning he wants to convey. He draws on every science and discourse to create his unique world behind the shadowy worlds of our sensual experiences. But Khani never establishes this as a system of exclusive opposites or mutually negating antitheses. Spiritual love completes not negates physical love. The only difference or opposition is between shallow (simply material) understanding of phenomena and events and deeper (spiritual) understanding of them.

Therefore it is really very difficult to tackle any part of Khanis thinking and design as separate from the whole. Even if this is possible, of course in one way or another, it makes the exercise oppressive, reductive, and even destructive. It is worth to remember this at every point of reading and re-reading Mem Zn. Khani first writes in order to write in his national language Kurdish. He wants to prove that Kurdish can rival any other established classical languages in expressing intellectual, conceptual, religious ideas and to produce an epic or drama of love. He wants the Kurds themselves especially the Mrs to value Kurdish culture in particular Kurdish language and poetry. Then he knows that language is the womb of culture. Khanis nationalism does not start and end with his prologue, which we analyzed and interpreted at the beginning. His drama is the dramatization of his nationalist theory. He wants to give flesh, blood, colour, complexion, motion, emotion, thoughts and dreams to his vision. After the language he consciously chooses a Kurdish fsane as the template of his contemplation and dramatization. He chooses Kurdish characters with history, story, case and cause and gives them Kurdish names, Kurdish concerns and dreams. He even explains this at the beginning of his nationalist prologue. He wants to prove Kurds are capable of both real and metaphorical (spiritual) love. He also wants to embody and enact the nature and specificity of Kurdish character, with which he is so familiar. Zn, Mem, Tazhdin and St do not say what they say and act the way they do because they are just lovers and characters in a fictionalized drama. Khani has planned for more than this. They are Kurdish lovers and Kurdish characters. The same thing can be said about Mr Zneddin, Gurgin, Arif, St, the Nanny, the maids and ordinary people in the story. They are Kurds, speak and think Kurdish, in a Kurdish society, city, dynasty, landscape and certain point of history. That is why the next most important thing for Khani in terms of his animated nationalist idea/drama is Kurdish culture or Kurdewar as he calls it, or more specifically Kurdish ethnography. This is the most difficult part in the story to translate because of the original native and local originality of the colours, items, elements and activities mentioned or described in his ethnographic discourse. Then, there is the political discourse, in the specific sense, of the art of government, governance and the nature and function of political power and political elite represented by princes and their political structure. Needless to say, his philosophical discourse is also always at work. I have indicated this modality of Khanis discourse in various points of the dramatic process.

However, to illustrate this further, I shall re-examine two specific episodes in Mem Zn.

1) The disguise episode:

The two young men and two young womens disguising as the opposite gender at the Newroz celebration at the start of the story, is not just a dramatic device. The plan is based on a rational calculation. Both couples wish to obtain extra liberty to indulge in Newrozs celebrated beauty and benefit from the traditional opportunity it provides for pinpointing a potential spouse. As a dramatic device, it, firstly, provides curiosity and suspense. This turns after the meeting of the four reversed forms into confusion and dramatic riddle and this provides a storyline for the future events. But this is what happens at the level of pre-text and tekhne. Khanis aim is greater than this. He presents an epistemological question: can a change of appearance affect the essence of love? Khanis philosophical concern is the apparent contrast between appearance and reality, or exterior and interior, or existence and essence. He uses the apparent physical reversal to stress the existence and operation of the inner, eternal truth of love which is something that can neither be hidden or expressed by outer realities experienced by human sensual perception, traditional knowledge, prejudice or the mechanics of power and politics or even rational understanding. The first serious issue that is raised after the Newroz saga is that of the homosexual love (or same-sex love). This is not something that is alluded to or mentioned incidentally or randomly. It features as a major issue of heated discussion between the two girls and their Nanny when they confess the truth of their Newroz adventure to her. First, the wise Nanny shows disbelief. The existence of the rings (as a material truth of the saga) reveals the certainty of the girls story. The Nannys rational epistemological attack against this apparent reversal of the Truth of love, as love between heterosexuals, progresses in three Steps: first she uses average every-day common sense reality: passionate love is what happens between heterosexuals. Then she uses a rational discourse to prove that homosexual love will not have the telos normal love is supposed to have like begetting children. Then she uses historical models of Kurdish and Oriental love heroes, and precedents to prove retrospectively the consistent historical sagas of ishq as an event that happens between heterosexual lovers. But still the truth for Zn and St is subjective and existential. It is something that is special to them, happened to them and makes sense to them. Something that is deeper than their own understanding and beyond their normal will and psychological control. Therefore, the Nanny brands them as insane and advises them to strive to restore their rationality.

The second level of the significance of the episode is the definition of love and understanding its event and nature. For Khani love is a spiritual event initiated by physical beauty. Beauty is spiritual, it is what affects senses and psyche and leaves impact on heart and soul. This is a universal occurrence. Everyone is entitled and able to share the love of beauty because of the fact that it is a spiritual activity that cannot be known, understood and judged through appearances. It is the universal celebration of participation in the beauty of God as manifested in the beauty of its creation especially human form: men or women. All the crowds in Newroz loved the beauty of the two apparently young men (women dressed in mens clothes) because beauty affected them as a spiritual essence reflected by Zn and St, not a specific beauty of men or women. But Khani does not establish system of contrasts. This essence is core of existence, it is universal and individual, external and internal at the same time but it needs extraordinary knowledge or suffering to understand this. Beauty can be individual with catastrophic individual effects and dramas. Zn and Sts beauty, as they explain to the Nanny, is the power, the oil, that does not only burn Mem and Tazhdin but them too. They explain the impact of their beauty as a tyrannical act that extends to everyone and eventually recoils on them too. In other words, Khani makes them aware of the inter-related spiritual-social-individual dimensions of their female beauty. They both willingly accept the social institution of marriage and living happily ever after. But while this opportunity is easily afforded to St and Tazhdin, evil interferes and transcends Mem and Zns love into an existential drama of suffering and martyrdom.

Khani also uses the disguise episode to offer his Platonic idea of love. Deceptive appearances cannot hide the spiritual mode of mans existence in this transitory world. The quick mutual attraction of the four lovers, despite their reversal frames, as Khani says, and the unusual emergence of deceptively homosexual love, does not hide the fact that these four lovers find their eternal images in the world of Forms.

Pure identicalness in the world of absence
Revealed undoubted union
Love made them so much attached to each other
Beauty made them fall in love
You say whether the frame or the reversed form
The true physical form or the disguised one
The four of them, whether they are givers or seekers of love
They are definitely one, in soul or in psyche,
They are in union, physically or in their fresh state
Whether the one who with love sweetens hearts
Or changes the hatred of hearts into hostility
These all, to us, are random accidents, of no value
But in fact, they are very old
Because soldiers with ready souls to give,
In the science of righteousness are born as immortals.
Khani makes right to love the main issue of compassion, goodness, justice and even revolution. Arif, the revolutionary character in the drama, does not defend Mem as a friend and one of us. He calls for revolution for his liberation because he is the king of love. Human freedom for Khani is identified with freedom of love.

2. Zns Will Speech episode:

In the Zns Will Speech Khani does make Zn speak at length in order to enable her to achieve her immediate aim to convince the Mir to be kind to her and Mem. But this is only the pre-text. There are at least four other interwoven discursive texts in her Will Speech.

1. Discourse on government: Zns long list includes all the formal and informal aspects and powers of a functional dynastic state with all its structures and ceremonies. Khani wants to show that the Kurds do have their system of government.

2. Kurdewar discourse: Furthermore, Khani shows the cultural mode of Kurdish life or Kurdewar. By mentioning all these details about councils, army, market, weddings, parties, war, treasury, etc Khani as usual creates opportunity to mention indicative details about Kurdish way of life and develop an elaborate ethnographic discourse. For example, among perfumes he mentions incense, agarwood and ambergris, rose water, civet, and musk.

3. Political discourse: I mean the politics of the Will Speech. This operates on two levels: by mentioning all these aspects and duties of the King, the speech demonstrates how busy the Mr (or any ruler) usually is, how much he is overwhelmed by the duties, tasks and ambitions of government to the extent that he has forgotten his personal life and relations and ignored his emotions and conscience leading to a mode of existence detached from people and dominated by people like Bekir. The other aim of Khani, I think, is to summarize the duties of good government and, through Zns emotional speech, give a lesson in morality and responsibility to the Mr. He should be just, moderate, supportive of the poor, save the oppressed from oppression and open his door to the poor and ordinary Kurds. The list is not only about what the ruling power usually does but it also implies direct or indirect suggestions how it should run the affairs of the dynasty justly.

4. Philosophical discourse: This dimension represents the personal intellectual interest and philosophical vision of Khani and works in line with his political concerns. Plato has said that rulers should be philosophers or at least have studied philosophy. Khanis quest for a spiritual meaning of life and love is not devoid of philosophical concerns about the destiny of man and the best possible ways to deal with the enigma of human nature, especially his animality, which has been descended politically to the evil of injustice, and obsession with power and wealth. In fact Khanis spiritual concern is an extension of his existential concern for human life and mans political mode of existence. Philosophically, this can be abstracted in the idea of evil. But evil for Khani is not an extraterrestrial reality. It has a human face, it is social, and its political. It is what is incarnated in Bekir. In short, Khanis conception of evil and good is a Zoroastrian one and he carefully represents and enacts this Zoroastrian understanding of evil in the thoughts and deeds of his characters. For Zoroastrianism there is no idea devoid of words and words are not without practical implications, intentions and procedures. In fact, we can assess the degree of the evilness of any character by watching, analyzing ad assessing the three levels of his or her existence: thoughts, words and deeds. Evil is a unitary entity of these three together. The same thing sis true with good. Something cannot be good unless it is materialized in the three levels. Otherwise there will be confusion, hypocrisy, and non-transparency, which may lead if not to pure evil then to a dangerous confusion and mix-up between evil and good. Zns speech and her attitude provide a powerful example of this Zoroastrian approach to evil. This sharp uncompromising discrimination between evil and good is powerfully expressed by Zoroaster in the Ghatas in this statement: The Holier thus spoke to him who is Evil: "Neither our thoughts, nor our teachings, nor our wills, nor our choices, nor our words, nor our deeds, nor our consciences, nor yet our souls agree."' (Zaehne, 1961, p. 43.)

We see from the very start that Zn is very respectful of the Mr. This is not because of his relation as her brother. There is a mention of his being her brother in the first part of her speech, but there are no conceptual discourses or arguments built on this. Zns speech is the outcome of a Zoroastrian understanding and assessment of the character of evil and the best righteous way to deal with it.

The Mr is not evil, he has never been. But to understand this and assess it correctly and objectively according to Zoroastrian standards we need to look at his character as the unitary existence of thought-word-deed. Pure evil, like Bekirs, exists at the three levels, significantly and necessarily starting from

thinking. Bekir has shown through his thinking (his schemes for the Mr), his words (his words, interpretations and arguments) and his deeds (like chess plot, swapping places and taunting Mem in the chess game, his plan to have Mem killed) that he is an impulsive expression of the state and function of evil in human nature: pure evil. For Bekir has never even given us a slight justification for his evil plans and thoughts. He pretends to protect the Mr but in fact he is ruining him spiritually, emotionally and socially. He can read his thoughts by looking at him and intervene to stop any positive change of mind in him.

But the Mr is different. Khani portrays him as essentially a man of good thoughts, gentle words and kind actions. But, like most of Kurdish princes, he is nave and simple-hearted. He allows himself to be controlled by Bekir and corrupt entourage. His evil Machiavellian thinking is ideological and politically egoistic rather than instinctive and psychological. Through the long list of her Will, Zn analyzes the entire mode of Mrs existence. She shows him who he is, how he is, where he is standing. The speech mirrors the modality of the Mirs thinking (ideas of releasing prisoners, liberating captives, saving the oppressed), words (his courtesy and hospitality in public and private meetings) and his deeds (fighting opponents, helping the poor, etc). Thus while giving him a new agenda for his rule, she makes him stand face to face with himself without the presence and influence of Bekir. It works. He regains his basically good nature and character. He realizes the big gaps he has made between his thoughts, words and actions and by emotionally experiencing the pain and tears of his sister, he undergoes a catharsis, he breaks down emotionally, cries like a child, and finds himself unable to leave his sister in that condition and stays with her all night. In spite of this, dramatically, all his haram look at him as a murderer and he has to swear to show his innocence.

This is the Zoroastrian way to deal with bad and evil. You do not fight evil by becoming evil yourself; you dont face hatred by reproducing it in your own heart and mind. You cannot impose morality through threats of punishment and destruction. Zn does not feel any animosity, hostility or anger towards her brother despite her immense suffering as a result of his cruel decisions. She uses humanizing reasoning with him so that compassion and tenderness will permeate your heart, she says.

The ruling power, in the persona and spirit of Bekir, contaminates the human beings virtuous nature, and promotes, encourages and uses the evil disposition of human nature to strengthen its rule. On the contrary, Khani uses the virtuous nature of men and women to promote humanity, love and justice.

* This is part of the Conclusions Chapter of Kamal Mirawdelis recent book Love and Existence: Analytical Study of Ahmadi Khanis Tragedy of Mem u Zin published by Khani Academy in association with It is available for purchase online at

Kamal Rasul Mirawdeli (Dr), a prominent Kurdish writer and the former presidential candidate in 2009 Iraq's Kurdistan Region elections. He is a contributing writer to

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