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Media Release:
Date: October 18, 2008
Web Site:

LIGHT MILLENNIUM in collaboration with the Columbia University Middle East and Asian Languages and Cultures and Middle East Institute cordially invites you to:


***Date: Monday, October 27, 2008 Time: 7 - 9:30PM***

Columbia University,International Affairs Building (IAB room 1501, 15th floor)
Located at 420 W. 118th Street (at Amsterdam Avenue)


* A presentation on the great Sufi writer Yunus Emre:
By Prof. Talat HALMAN, Bilkent University, Ankara, &
First Minister of Culture of the Republic of Turkey

* Introduction by
Prof. Etem EROL, Columbia University, New York City
* Followed by Sacred Songs & Hymns of Yunus Emre CONCERT:

Taoufiq Ben Amor
Ismail Hakki Cimen
Ahmet Erdogdular
(voice, percussion) &
Amir Vahab
(voice, percussion)

* Language: English

Open to the public. Max. sitting capacity: 155

Bircan Ünver, Light Millennium & Etem Erol, Columbia University

"For those who truly love God and his ways
All the people of the world are brothers.

We regard no one's religion as contrary to ours,
True love is born when all faiths are united as a whole.

True faith is in the head, not in the headgear."
--Yunus EMRE

You are cordially invited to an extraordinary occasion on "YUNUS EMRE: CONTEMPORAY OF RUMI - TURKISH FOLK POET OF LOVE: A POETRY PRESENTATION by Prof. Talat HALMAN, First Minister of Culture of the Republic of Turkey.

Talat S. Halman will present a special program about Yunus Emre (ca. 1241 - 1321), and poems by Yunus Emre, a near-contemporary of RUMI.

This live presentation will convey YUNUS EMRE's love for a united humanity, social justice, and universalistic values. In the late 13th and early 14th century, this mystic created lyric poems and hymns to celebrate human and divine love and issued eloquent calls for a world living in peace and harmony. In 1991, on the occasion of the 750th anniversary of his birth, UNESCO declared an International YUNUS EMRE Year.

The United Nations Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization(UNESCO) proclaimed 1991 as the "International Yunus Emre Year." This resolution was adopted to celebrate the 750th anniversary of the great Anatolian poet of the 13th century.

Yunus Emre was one of the first and most influential Turkish poets and Sufi philosophers. He was considered to be the founder of Anatolian Turkish literature and, in that sense, is compared to Dante in Europe. His Sufi approach has influenced many Islamic sects; his hymns have been recited, chanted and handed down by mouth from one generation to the next since the late 13th century.

Many poets who lived after his death borrowed his name and contributed to the major pool of hymns bearing his name. There exist numerous tombs attributed to him all over Anatolia.

Information on his life has been derived from events and personalities cited in his verse. A total of 357 poems have been attributed to him as a result of literary analyses. Yunus came from a poor peasant family and was initiated into a mystic sect of Islam. He is said to have met Mevlana Celaleddin Rumi, the poet and founder of Mevlevi sect. According to _Velayetname_ (the Book of the Saints of the Bektasi order), Yunus was a student of Tapduk Emre, a dervish who belonged to a school of Turkish intellectuals coming from Asia in front of the Mongol flood towards Anatolia. Yunus Emre lived in a most unstable, chaotic period of Anatolian history, a time when the Mongolian invaders abolished the Seljuk State.

Under these conditions of persistent injustice, robbery and murder, Yunus Emre invited people to the love of God, human beings, and peace.

"When love arrives, all needs and flaws are gone.

I love you beyond the depths of my soul.

I was born with divine love.

Death is for beasts, it is not the Lover's destiny.

I love you, so the hand of death can never touch me."

- Yunus EMRE (1241-1321)

Unlike Mevlana who wrote in Persian, the literary language of the era, Yunus expressed himself in his native tongue, Turkish. His language is direct and easy-to-understand, while his style is rich in Sufi metaphors. His verses are full of penetrating, humane and enthusiastic feelings and ideas. According to his approach, God and man are the same; everyone has a piece of God within himself, and only the body dies and the soul reaches God, but only if he has loved mankind and forgiven faults, endured pains and tried to learn the secrets, the reasons, and the forms of being.

Prof. Talat Halman is a principal scholar/translator of YUNUS EMRE's work. In 1971 he published the first English-language book ever on YUNUS EMRE - - "The Humanist Poetry of YUNUS EMRE". This work was followed by "YUNUS EMRE and His Mystical Poetry"(1981) and "YUNUS EMRE: Selected Poems"(1990). In Turkey he published a critical book on YUNUS EMRE in 2003. His work relating to YUNUS EMRE includes dozens of articles in Turkish and English and numerous major lectures in the United States, Turkey, Spain, etc.

For decades he was on the faculties of Columbia, Princeton, UPenn and NYU. Since 1998, he has been serving as the Chairman of the Department of Turkish Literature at Bilkent, Turkey's premier private university.

This program is brought to you by the Light Millennium in collaboration with the MEI - Middle East Institute, MEALAC - Middle \ East and Asian Languages and Cultures of the Columbia University.

A Brief Biography of Prof. Talat Halman:

Talat Halman served as the first Minister of Culture of the Turkish  Republic. Currently he is Professor and Chairman, Department of Turkish  Literature and Dean of Humanities and Letters, Bilkent University.  Formerly he was on the faculties of Columbia, Pennsylvania, and  Princeton Universities for many years, and from 1986 to 1996, Professor  and Chairman of the Department of Near Eastern Languages and Literatures  at New York University. He served as Ambassador for Cultural Affairs and  Turkey's Deputy Permanent Representative at the United Nations. He has  published more than sixty books (including 12 collections of his own  poetry in Turkish and English) and 3000 articles in Turkish and English.

From 1991 to 1995, he served as an elected member of the UNESCO  Executive Board. Currently he is President of the UNICEF Turkish  National Committee. He holds honorary doctorates from Bogazici and  Ankara Universities. Honours and awards include Distinguished Service Awards of the Turkish  Academy of Sciences and the Turkish Foreign Ministry, and "Knight Grand  Cross, G.B.E., The Most Excellent Order of the British Empire", (counterpart of "Sir") conferred on him by Queen Elizabeth II.

Image Credit for Fairly Use: resim/YunusEmre524.jpg

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