Literary translations from Persian in Behar, Gajret and Biser

  • Bećir Džaka, prof.dr.


A tradition of translating and interpreting of literary and other works from Islamic and oriental languages-Arabic, Turkish and Persian-began in our parts mostly with the establishment of the Ottoman rule in the Balkans. The translating activities and translation as such meant a transfer and a continuation of oriental tradition among the members of Islam in our parts. The major role in translating and interpreting of the oriental and Islamic traditions among our people was played by a number of true lovers of literary traditions in three oriental languages who had gone to schools in larger Ottoman cities, or who pursued their education in the traditional religious schools at home-madrasahs. One should mention in particular those who fell in love with the Sufi thought, and who were also the members of various Sufi orders.

The other line of translating tradition activities in our parts began at the time of Bosnian Moslem cultural and literary revival in the newly founded periodicals towards the end of 19th and in early decades of 20th century. The Bosnian Moslem writers and other intellectuals founded, among others, the journals such as Behar, Gajret and Biser, respectively. During the Austro-Hungarian occupation, the Moslem writers endeavored to incite the interest among the Moslem masses for books, education and, in this way, to give their own contribution towards the social progress of the Moslem people. Next to the original works from literature, notably in Behar and Gajret, there were a number of works published as translated literature.

The Moslem readership and translators were very fond of three foreign literatures: the Arabic, Turkish and Persian ones. The main contri- bution to the translated literature from these three languages came from the people who knew Turkish, Arabic and Persian well in the contemporary Bosnia and Herzegovina. They were Dr. Safvet beg Bašagić, Musa Ćazim Ćatić, a specialist in Turkish studies Fehim Spaho, Mehmed Šemsudin Sarajlić, Osman Asaf Sokolović, and the others whose contribution was lesser from those aforementioned. Having known all three languages, Bašagić had the largest scope of his translation activities.

The poetical genius of Bašagić was quite playful and imaginative. Very often he had no patience and ease to follow and search all kinds of subject matters and poetic messages in the original, but, in his masterly translations and poetical translations, having spotted the first idea or the message, his original poetical talent would burst out. His own thoughts and messages would then freely flow. In this way, he would, no doubt, surpass the poets translated, and not only the minor ones, but also the greatest ones among them.

How to Cite
Džaka, B. (2001). Literary translations from Persian in Behar, Gajret and Biser. Anali Gazi Husrev-Begove Biblioteke, 11(19-20), 19-36. Retrieved from