The Egyptian influential English-language newspaper “Egyptian Mail” has issued an article titled “The music of Azerbaijan” by British-born journalist Idris Tawifq.
The author introduces Azerbaijan as: “For those who don`t know, Azerbaijan is a treasure waiting to be discovered. Rich in oil, the capital city of this Muslim nation on the Caspian Sea was declared Islamic Capital of Culture in the year 2008. Baku is now one of the world`s most vibrant and elegant cities to visit”.
The article states: “At present there are no direct flights from Egypt to Azerbaijan, but getting there is nonetheless very simple. After a two hour flight to Istanbul and a further two hour flight from there to Baku, the visitor finds himself in a different world. Maxim Gorky said that the Bay of Baku reminded him of the Bay of Naples, but others from the city itself say it is even more beautiful than that!
A mixture of both old and new, Baku has much to delight the visitor. As a sign of the country`s prosperity, there is not only the old town, with its ancient mosques and time-honoured houses, but there are also the elegant shops of Gucci and Valentino. Music, too, in this city of hidden treasures reflects both ancient and modern traditions.
Since independence from the Soviet Union in 1991, Azerbaijan has re-discovered its national self-confidence and music has played an important part in that renewal. Azerbaijan entered the Eurovision Contest for the first time in 2008. On May 14, 2011, Azerbaijan won the Contest with "Running Scared" sung by Ell and Nikki, thus earning the winning country the right to host the next year`s final.
The finals of the 2012 Eurovision Contest, with forty-two countries taking part, thus took place in Azerbaijan and were held on May 26, 2012 at the specially constructed Baku Crystal Hall. Built in just one year, this 23,000 seat music complex sits close to National Flag Square, another recent creation of the new Azerbaijan.
For historical reasons that go back many centuries, Azerbaijan is known as the “Land of Fire”, so the motto chosen for this year`s competition was “Light your fire”.”
Touching upon the January 20 tragedy the author writes: “Just as Egypt had its “Black Saturday” back in 1952, so Azerbaijan had its own “Black January” in 1990. This week the people of Azerbaijan remember the twenty-second anniversary of the Soviet Union`s attack on Baku and this concert was another way of remembering the tragic event.
Human Rights Watch issued a report entitled “Black January in Azerbaijan” recalling the violence used by Soviet troops on the night of January 19-20 in an attempt to stop the country breaking away from what was by then the crumbling Soviet Empire.Each year since then, the people of Azerbaijan visit the “Alley of Martyrs” to pay their respects and to honour the memory of those who gave their lives in the struggle for national independence and to safeguard the nation`s borders.
Music, then, can be a way of uplifting the spirits and also a way of expressing grief. Any mother will tell you that war is always a tragedy and there are no real victors in any war, as so many young men go off to fight, never to return. Like so many international disputes, Azerbaijan`s tragic conflict with Armenia and the loss of the Nagorno-Karabakh region remains a source of tension in the country and is a time bomb waiting to be diffused. The people of Azerbaijan believe that until that conflict is resolved their nation will be incomplete.
Muslims read in the holy Qur`an in Surat Al An`am: “With him are the keys of the Unseen, the treasures that none knoweth but He. He knoweth whatever there is on the earth and in the sea. Not a leaf doth fall but with his knowledge. There is not a grain in the darkness of the earth, nor anything fresh or dry, but is in a record clear.” (6:59)
Allah Almighty knows how all conflicts will be resolved. All things are in His hands.
Despite unresolved conflicts, Azerbaijan still remains a jewel of the Islamic world and teaches the Muslim world that despite what many people would have us believe, Muslim nations can be highly developed and a model for others to follow.”
British Muslim writer, Idris Tawfiq, teaches at Al-Azhar University. The author of nine books about Islam, he divides his time between Egypt and the UK as a speaker, writer and broadcaster.