Pakistan and Iran have strong political, cultural and educational relations since 1947. After Pakistan gained its independence in August 1947, Iran was the first country to recognize its status as a sovereign state. In 1947, Muhammad Ali Jinnah advocated a policy of fostering cordial relations with Iran in particular and the Muslim world in general. This policy was successfully followed by the later governments.
Both countries are founding members of the Economic Cooperation Organization (ECO). Both countries share the same religion and cultural heritage. Both feel proud to have scholarly poets like Ferdowsi Toosi and Allama Muhammad Iqbal. Ferdowsi is one of the most popular Persian poets in Pakistan. Iqbal most famous and loved for his Persian poetry in the hearts of Iranian people, is considered one of the most important figures in Persian literature. The government of Iran has rich paid tributes to Pakistan’s national poet. In both Iran and Pakistan, Ferdowsi and Iqbal have a special place in libraries. They are talked about in seminar halls and educational institutions. Even roads are named after Iqbal in Iran.
Abu’l-Qasim Ferdowsi Toosi (c.940-1020) was a Persian poet and the author of Shahnameh (“The Book of Kings”). Ferdowsi is celebrated as the most influential figure in Persian literature and one of the greatest in the history of literature. He was called “The Lord of the Word and The Savior of Persian Language”. Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh is the most popular and influential national epic in Iran and other Persian-speaking nations.
After Shahnameh, a number of other works similar in nature surfaced over centuries within the cultural sphere of Persian language. Without exception, all such works were based in style and method on Ferdowsi’s Shahnameh, but none of them could quite achieve the same degree of fame and popularity as Ferdowsi’s masterpiece.
Considering the importance of Ferdowsi’s work, the Persian Department at Lahore College for Women University proposed establishing of Ferdowsi Chair in LCWU, to the Saadi Organization, government of Iran.
Saadi Organization, very kindly accepted this proposal. They choose Prof. Dr. S. Faleeha Zahra Kazmi for the Chair because of her expertise in Persian epic literature. For this purpose, they also provided funds to the Persian Department which is a very kind and exceptional gesture and under this chair.
- Two young faculty members of the Department, Ms. Amber Zulfiqar and Ms. Maria Umer were invited to go to Iran to attend a fully funded teacher training course for one month through the Ferdowsi Chair.
- An MS student went to Iran to join a Persian Language course, financed by Saadi Organization in November 2016 for one month and got positions in different courses, throughout this training.
- The Persian Department also got more than 100 rare research books for Ph .D scholars.
- A foreign qualified professor from Ferdowsi University, Mashhad joined the Persian Department as a visiting faculty member in March 2015. He taught all BS semesters, and MS 1 and MS 2 classes for one year, which has helped to raise the ranking of the University.
- Saadi Organization Iran has also gifted a generator to the Ferdowsi Chair project at LCWU.
- The Ferdowsi Chair has arranged two international conferences and workshops with the collaboration of Iran Cultural Centre, Lahore.
Under the leadership of the Vice Chancellor, LCWU, prof. Dr. Uzma Quraishi, the Ferdowsi Chair organized two International Conferences. In 2016, a 3–Day international conference on “Shunning Sectarianism and Promoting Interfaith Harmony for Peaceful Coexistence” was conducted at Lahore College for Women University.
Lahore under the Ferdowsi Chair with the collaboration of the government of the Punjab with a strong message of love and peace. Speakers talked about how sufi poets highlighted the message of respect and peace to mankind through their poetry.
The Persian Department (Ferdowsi Chair) at LCWU with the collaboration of the Cultural Centre of the Islamic Republic of Iran, Lahore organized another international conference: “Commemoration of Ferdowsi Toosi” (13-15 March, 2017).The Chief Guest, Governor Punjab Mr. Rafique Rajwana; Education Minister; Mr.Raza Ali Gillani; Counsel General Iran (Lahore), Mr.Bani Asadi; Iranian Director General Culture and Relations Organization, Mr Malakuti Tabar; Director General Iran Cultural Centre, Lahore, Mr. Ali Akbar Barkhurdari; Ambassador of Tajikstan, Mr. S. Jononor S. Shair Ali; Director General Walled City, Mr. Kamran Lashari and Deans and Directors of various universities of Pakistan, Iran and India also graced the conference with their presence.
We can hope that after the establishment of the Ferdowsi Chair in Persian Department at Lahore College for Women University, the educational and cultural relations between Iranian and Pakistani institutes will flourish and it will also raise the research standards in Persian language and Literature.