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Words of edification

WORD ONE

Whether for good or ill, I have lived my life, travelling a long road fraught with struggles and quarrels, disputes and arguments, suffering and anxiety, and reached these advanced years to find myself at the end of my tether, tired of everything. I have realized the vanity and futility of my labors and the meanness of my existence. What shall I occupy myself with now and how shall I live out the rest of my days? I am puzzled that I can find no answer to this question. Read more »

WORD TWO

In my childhood I used to hear the Kazakhs jeering at the Uzbeks:
«You Starts in wide skirts, you bring your rushes from afar to thatch your roofs! You bow and scrape when you meet someone, but you insult him behind his back. You are afraid of every bush; you rattle on without stopping, and that’s why they call you Sart-Surts».
Encountering Nogais, the Kazakhs would ridicule and scold them, too: «The Nogai is afraid of the camel, he soon gets tired astride a horse and takes his rest walking. Runaways and soldiers and traders — all of them hail from the Nogais. Nokai is what you should be called, not Nogai!» Read more »

WORD THREE

Where lies the cause of the estrange¬ment amongst the Kazakhs, of their hostility and ill will towards one another? Why are they insincere in their speech, so lazy, and possessed by a lust for power?
The wise of this world long ago observed: a sluggard is, as a rule, cowardly and weak-willed; a weak-willed man is cowardly and boastful; a braggart is cowardly, stupid and ignorant; an ignoramus has no inkling of honour, while a dishonourable person sponges on the sluggard — he is insatiable, unbridled and good-for-nothing; he bears no good will towards the people around him.
The source of these vices is our people’s preoccupation with one thing alone: to own as much livestock as possible and thus gain honour and respect. Had they taken up arable farming or commerce, had they been interested in learning and art, this would never have come to pass. Read more »

WORD FOUR

Observant people long ago noted that foolish laughter resembles drunkenness. Now, drunkenness leads to misbehaviour; a conversation with a soak gives one a headache. Anyone who constantly indulges in senseless merriment ignores his conscience, neglects his affairs and commits unforgivable blunders, for which he can expect to be punished, if not in this world, then in the next.
He who is inclined to meditation is always prudent and reasonable in his actions in this world and in the face of death. Prudence in thought and deed is the keystone of well-being. But does this mean that we should always be downcast? Should our souls know only melancholy, no joy and mirth? Not at all. I am not saying that we should be sorrowful without cause, but that we should stop and think about our heedless, carefree ways and repent, forsaking them for some useful occupation. It is not senseless merriment that heals the soul, but beneficial and rational work.  Read more »

WORD FIVE

Sorrow darkens the soul, chills the body, numbs the will, and then bursts forth in words or tears. I have seen people praying; “Oh, Allah, make me as carefree as a babe!” They imagine themselves to be sufferers, oppressed by cares and misfortunes, as though they had more sense than infants. As to their cares and concern, these can be judged from the proverbs: “If you will live no longer than noon, make provision for the whole day”; “Even his father becomes a stranger to a beggar”; “Cattle for the Ka­zakh is flesh of his flesh”; “A rich man has a countenance full of light, a poor man — as hard as stone”; “The dzighit and the wolf will find their food along the way”; “The herds of exalted men are left to the care of others, except when such men have nothing bet­ter to do”; “The hand that takes also gives”; “He who has man­aged to get rich is always in the right”; “If you can”t rely on the bey, don’t count on God either”; “If you are famished, gallop to the place of a funeral feast”; “Beware of a lake with no shallows and of a people that knows no mercy”. Such proverbs are legion. Read more »

WORD SIX

According to a Kazakh proverb: «The source of success is unity, and of well-being — life».
Yet what kind of people are they who live in unity and how do they achieve such accord? The Kazakhs are quite ignorant on this score. They think that unity resides in the common ownership of livestock, chattels and food. If this were so, then what use wealth and what harm in poverty? Would it be worthwhile working hard to grow rich without first getting rid of one’s kith and kin? No, unity ought to be in people’s minds and not in communal wealtm. It is possible to unite people of different origin, religion and views simply by giving them an abundance of livestock. But achieving unity at the price of cattle — that’s the beginning of moral decay. Brothers ought to live in amity not because one is dependent on another, but by each relying on his own skills and powers, and his own destiny. Otherwise they will forget God and find no worthy occupation, but will scheme and plot against each other. They will sink to recrimination and slander, they will cheat and deceive. Then what kind of unity could there be? Read more »

WORD SEVEN

Born into this world, an infant inherits two essential needs. The first is for meat, drink and sleep. These are the require­ments of the flesh, without which the body cannot be the house of the soul and will not grow in height and strength. The other is a craving for knowledge. A baby will grasp at brightly coloured objects, it will put them in its mouth, taste them and press them against its cheek. It will start at the sound of a pipe. Later, when a child hears the barking of a dog, the noises of animals, the laughter or weeping of peo­ple, it gets excited and asks about all that it sees and hears: “What’s that? What’s that for? Why is he doing that?” This is but the natural desire of the soul, the wish to see everything, hear everything and learn everything. Read more »

WORD EIGHT

Will anyone heed our advice and listen to our counsels? One man may be a volost chief, another — a biy. If they had had the least desire to become wise and learn sense, would they have sought such posts? These people consider themselves quite clever enough and seek power so as to teach and give guidance to oth­ers, as if they themselves had attained the heights of perfection and had nothing further to do but instruct others. Are they the kind who would have the inclination or spare the time to listen to us? Their minds are filled with other concerns: not to offend their superiors inadvertently; not to provoke the anger of a thief, not to cause trouble and confusion among the people, and not to land on the losing end, but to gain some personal advantage. Besides, they must be always helping somebody, getting someone out of trouble. They are always too busy… Read more »

WORD NINE

I, too, am a Kazakh. But do I love the Kazakhs or not? If I did, I would have approved of their ways and would have found something, however slight, in their conduct to rejoice or console me, a reason to admire at least some of their qualities, and keep alive a glimmer of hope. But this is not so. Had I not loved them, I would not have spoken to them from the heart or taken counsel with them; I would have not mixed with them and taken an inter­est in their affairs, asking, “What are people doing there? What”s going on?’ I would just have sat back quietly — or wandered off. I have no hope that they will mend their ways or that I may bring them to reason or reform them. So I feel neither of these emo­tions. But how come? I ought to have opted for one or the other. Read more »

WORD TEN

People pray to God to send them a child. What does a man need a child for? They say that one ought to leave an heir, a son to provide for his parents in their old age and to pray for them after their death. Is that all?

Leaving an heir — what does it mean? Are you afraid there will be no one to look after your property? But why should you care about things you will leave behind? What, are you sorry to leave them to other people? What kind of treasures have you gained to regret them so much? Read more »

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The institute of Abai was opened in Kazakh National University named after Al-Farabi on the 24th of March, 2009. The Academician of International High School Science Academy, Doctor of Philology Science and professor Zhangara Dadebaev was chosen as a director of the Institute of Abai.
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