Sermon of akhund and priest
By Mirza Jalil
We present the work of Azerbaijani author Jalil Mammadguluzadeh (Mirza Jalil), titled “Sermon of akhund and priest” (1906)
There was a village in Erivan Province called Samanli. Half of the village’s population were Armenians, and the other half were Muslims. Once, I got onto my horse and headed to that village to visit a landowner named Rahimbey. It was summer. On the horseback, I could easily observe the low-fenced courtyards of the village.
In one courtyard, an Armenian boy was reading a book, sitting in the shadow of a tree.
In another courtyard, a Muslim boy, aged 12 or 13, had tied a cat by its tail, and was running from one end of the courtyard to the other, with the wretched animal, dragged by him back to front, producing heartrending cries.
In one courtyard, an Armenian woman was feeding the chickens, in another courtyard, more exactly, in the street near the “arkh” (canal), a Muslim woman was washing clothes.
In one courtyard, several Armenians were having dinner under a big mulberry tree. A priest stood up, raised his right hand and started his speech. I was about to pass that courtyard, but on hearing one word from him, I stopped my horse. Since I knew Armenian, I decided to listen to what the priest was going to say. “Hayreniq, hayreniq, hayreniq,” he said three times, in a loud and firm voice (which means “homeland” in Armenian).
At that moment, I heard Muslim speech from the other side of the street. I moved forward a little and saw four Muslims sitting outdoors, in the shadow of the courtyard wall. I recognized one of them. It was akhund Molla Gurbanguli. He was holding a book in his hands. Molla was reading it and the villagers’ attention was fully riveted on him.
Meanwhile, the priest continued in a loud voice: “The Armenian people have three sacred things: homeland, nation and language. And as long as we are capable of self-sacrifice for the sake of these three values, we are not afraid of Ottoman Hamidiye askers, Kurds or Russian gendarmes.”
Following the priest’s words, I heard the words of akhund Gurbanguli, who was reading, “Babi aftum (seventh chapter). Those who will see in a dream a 'hajamat' (wet cup) will never face a misfortune or trouble in their life.”
At the same time, the priest continued, “My Armenian brothers, since the creation of the world and the peoples, our tribe has been subjected to oppression and tyranny by numerous aggressors.
Like ants under the hoofs of horses, thousands of my compatriots have been exterminated, but even in the hardest situations, while breathing his last, an Armenian says, 'Homeland, nation, language.'
Remember, my brothers, even if all the peoples of the world unite and come up against us, we are invincible as long as we are ready for sacrifices for the sake of the Homeland.
Ketse (long live) the Armenian people, self-sacrificing for the sake of the Homeland!
Ketse our brothers who died for the people! Long live our Homeland!”
Meanwhile, Molla Gurbanguli continued, “You must never urinate (relieve yourself) under a tree and near water, it is not good as the jinnees may cause harm to a human. You must not go to a cemetery and a bathhouse on Wednesday, Thursday and on odd days as on these days the divas (mythical creatures) gather at cemeteries and bathhouses – these days are holidays for them. If they see a human, they will cause harm to him. Those who suffer such misfortune should come to me without delay, I will write a special prayer for you…”
Molla Nasreddin magazine, July 7,1906