P rominent t ajik f igures of the

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On my first trip to Tajikistan in 1990, after visiting the Academy of

Sciences and the Firdowsi State Library in Dushanbe looking for sources

of information on contemporary Tajik figures, I felt the need for a com-

prehensive volume to help the growing number of scholars, business

people, and international officials who would visit the beautiful Republic.

The only volume available in Tajiki, Adiboni Tojik (Tajik Scholars,

1966), henceforth TS, was already outdated. Additionally, it covered only

literary scholars, and not everyone in it was Tajik. Talking to American,

British, and German colleagues, as well as colleagues from other coun-

tries working in Dushanbe at the time, I learned that their difficulty was

compounded by the fact that they did not know Tajiki either. Since I was

in Dushanbe to participate in the 1400


 Anniversary Celebration of the

birth of Borbad, the famed Sassanian musician and singer, I did not give

the matter more thought.

In 1997, I was asked to serve as the online and print editor of the

Tajiki text of an extensive series produced by Radio Free Europe/Radio

Liberty called Tojikiston dar Qarni Bistum (Tajikistan in the 20



tury, 1999). The series consisted of thirty segments, each dealing with a

particular aspect of the life and culture of the Tajiks, emphasizing the

role of prominent individuals in the establishment of Soviet power in the

Republic. Undertaking this project required familiarity with Tajik history

before, during, and after Sovietization. In other words, once again I

needed an extensive amount of material on prominent figures in twenti-

eth century Tajikistan. To meet this need, I created a database which in-

cluded every person who had an entry in Ensaiklopediai Sovetii Tojik

(Soviet Tajik Encyclopedia, 1978-1988), henceforth STE. I also made

extensive use of the Central Asian entries in the Daneshnama-i Adab-i

Farsi (Encyclopedia of Persian Culture, Vol. 1, Central Asia, 1997). This

source provided updates for a number of authors whose biographies

would have otherwise remained incompleteThe Historical Dictionary of

Tajikistan, 2002, provided information on some of the most recent fig-

ures. I also made use of the data that I had collected during my five trips

to Tajikistan. In 1993 and 1994, when I was IREX Resident Scholar in


Tajikistan, I culled a large amount of information by analyzing news

items, perusing relevant literature, and by talking to people.

 Finally, before traveling to Tajikistan during the summer of 2001, I

prepared the foundation for a comprehensive volume on the lives of

prominent figures of Tajikistan. Since the Academy of Sciences of Taji-

kistan had played a major part in the education and civilizational devel-

opment of these individuals, while I was in Dushanbe, I took the project

to the Academy of Sciences and asked for assistance. Dr. Ulmas

Mirsaidov, the President of the Academy, listened to me with great en-

thusiasm, asked questions, then assured me that the Academy would ex-

tend every possible assistance. To that end, he asked Dr. Askarali

Rajabov of the Institute of History, Archaeology, and Ethnography to

assist me in the collection of new materials, as well as in updating biog-

raphies of not only the Academicians but also of all prominent figures

that should be included in the volume. Finally, he appointed Miss Zulfiya

Rahimova to act as liaison for me with the Academy.

My return trip to the United States began on September 11, 2001,

thus stranding me in Munich for a week. During that time, I prepared a

questionnaire, which would be sent to Askarali Rajabov and Zulfiya

Rahimova to disseminate among potential participants. Firuza Abdullo,

daughter of author and playwright Ghani Abdullo, volunteered to help

with the project by contacting the medical community. Once back in the

United States, with my wife Carol's help, I drew up a list of all the indi-

viduals in the database and wrote up biographies for the nearly 630 en-

tries. I sent that list back to Tajikistan so that dated biographies could be

updated. I also asked for more information on new figures that I had

found in other sources.

While working with the materials, I came across several difficult

points that I feel should be shared with the reader. The first concerns

Tajik names. While all Tajiks have a given name, some names appear in

two, or sometimes three forms. For instance, before the October Revolu-

tion, due to their Iranian ethnic background, Tajiks used either the suffix

"-zod" or the suffix "-zoda(h)" (son of) to indicate their familial relation.

During the Soviet rule, the majority replaced those suffixes with "-ov."

After the fall of the Soviet Union, some returned to the "-zod" and "-

zoda(h)" suffixes while others, for various reasons, vacillated. In some

cases the first and family name are not clearly distinguished. These fac-

tors, of course, are reflected in the names. Some use their penname as if it

were their actual name. Sorbon (caravan leader), for example, is the pen-

name of Obloqul Hamroev. He is known as Sorbon by many more people

than he is known by his actual name.


In this material, in order to make the information as accessible as

possible, all of an individual's names are cross-referenced. The actual

entry always appears under the individual's given name. The entry for

Sorbon, therefore, is found under Hamroev, Obloqul, but there is an entry

for Sorbon, which directs the reader. The spelling of names also created

some problem. Some people have already chosen how their name should

appear in English. For the others, the names are rendered as closely as

possible to the spelling of the STE.

Publication dates for books posed another major problem. Some in-

dividuals provided a list of books without indicating either the date or

place of publication. For the more important cases, the entries were re-

corded without a publication date. Some participants merely indicated

that they have written many books and articles--the numbers mentioned

by some range from 10 to 650 books and articles. Since they did not pre-

sent citations, their contributions must go unmentioned.


In the case of accolades, too, there was a problem, While most par-

ticipants painstakingly identified their awards by date and type, some

others claimed that they had received all the prizes awarded by the State.

Again, if they did not specify actual awards, none were mentioned for

them in this volume.

As mentioned above, a large number of the entries in this volume are

based on the information in the STE. This encyclopedia, however, ac-

cording to its own admission, pursued several lines of socialist and anti-

capitalist propaganda. The biographies that it presented, therefore, were

influenced by this agenda. Great care was taken so that individuals who

were chosen for inclusion in this volume were meritorious on the basis of

their education and hard work, and that neither political nor ideological

concerns play a role either in the selection of entries or in the nature of

the information provided. The authors and personalities of the end of the

twentieth century are given more coverage, but this has not happened at

the expense of those belonging to the earlier decades. Even though

Ahmad Donish died in 1893, due to his singular position in Tajik culture,

he is given a substantial place in this volume. Many painters and carvers

are treated in the same manner.

In many cases, the biographies are not complete and, unfortunately,

they will remain so. These are lives and careers that were interrupted by

the fall of the Soviet Union. In some cases only a notice of retirement or

death is recorded. In post-Soviet times, people who lost their jobs and the

prominent positions they held, disappeared from the public arena. Many

left the country altogether. However, as is evident, many weathered the

storm and continue to contribute to the building of a newer and more


vibrant Tajikistan. With regard to the Soviet-era contributors, great care

was taken not only to include them, but also to deal with their efforts

judiciously. For some of them, this book might be the only chance they

have to present their work in an international forum. Otherwise, as a part

of the relics of the defunct Soviet Union, they would be relegated to


Some authors and contributors are not included in the volume. This is

not so much because they have not made lasting contributions--in some

cases they have contributed immensely to the particular field to which

they belong--but because of the obvious limitations of time, space, and

the considerations outlined above with regard to merit. Many such fig-

ures are given space in TS (in the case of those involved in the humani-

ties), or in the STE, and sometimes in both.

Translators, whether translating from Tajiki into other languages or

vice versa, are not listed. Translators who are also authors, however, are

included. Authors of literature for children are not included. This cate-

gory includes poets, playwrights, and novelists, whose contributions must

be organized in a separate, companion volume. Minor authors, especially

those whose achievements do not reach beyond graduation from college

and composition of a few poems in local journals and newspapers, are

left out. Authors who could have been disadvantaged and those who have

assisted others in carrying out major projects are recognized in appropri-

ate places. Authors whose party affiliation either overshadowed or, in-

deed, was the reason for their inclusion in the rank of prominent scien-

tists and artists are not included.

I would like to note here as well that the present volume is not meant

to be the final word. The author hopes that this volume is only a first step

and that, in the future, the volume will be expanded to encompass all

deserving Tajik figures.

Before presenting the text of the biographical entries, I would like to

thank those who have contributed to the project. Without their unselfish

contributions, this project would not be as informative as it is, especially

with regard to the logistical difficulties surrounding travel in the region,

collection of data, and support for compilation, editing, and dissemina-

tion of this kind of information globally. First of all, I would like to thank

Dr. Ulmas Mirsaidov, who welcomed the project at the Academy and

facilitated its progress by assigning members of the Academy to contrib-

ute and collect data, as well as for his assistance in the publication of the

materials. Dr. Askarali Rajabov collected a large number of biographies

and provided sound advice regarding inclusion of deserving individuals.

He, too, was instrumental in facilitating the publication, as well as the


dissemination of the materials. For all his assistance, I would like to

thank him. Zulfiya Rahimova, a major contributor to the project, col-

lected data, updated materials, carried out interviews, and provided Tajiki

translation for almost all the Russian titles in the volume. I would like to

thank her for all her work on this project. Firuza Abdullo contacted phy-

sicians and persuaded them to contribute to the project either by updating

their entries or by filling out questionnaires. Similarly, Sanavbar

Rahimova contacted politicians and helped secure their contributions to

the volume. Nurali Davlatov provided biographies for some less accessi-

ble Tajik personalities. For that, I would like to thank him. Mention must

be made of the contributions of two Tajik icons, Dr. Kamoliddin Aini,

son of Sadriddin Aini, and Dr. Muhammadjon Shukurov, son of Sadri

Zio. Both assisted me by checking the list of entries and by suggesting

additions and deletions. Dr. Shukurov's contributions to the entries in

Soviet Tajik Encyclopedia remain the backbone of this volume. I would

like to thank him particularly for his untiring service to Tajik letters.

Dr. Said Ali Garmarudi provided materials available in Iran. I would

like to thank him for his unique contribution. Last but not least, the edi-

tors. Carol Bashiri provided support in organizing the list of contributors

and correlative source materials. She also provided the index, reorgan-

ized the translated materials from Tajiki into the present format, and

served as the rough draft editor. Leni Marshall edited the final text. I like

to thank both of them for a wonderful job. I also would like to thank the

many contributors who sent in materials for consideration and inclusion.

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