Photo by: Kiana Hayeri – The New York Times

Haidari Wujodi, a mystic poet and a well-known scholar in Afghanistan died of COVID_19 at the age of 81, sources confirmed.

Haidari Wujodi was born in 1939, in a small village in Panjshir Province in northern Afghanistan, one of five children of a cleric. In those days the Islam practiced in Afghanistan was deeply tied into Sufi traditions of poetry. His father kept about 200 books at home, many of poetry and handwritten. It was there that the young Haidari learned to read.

According to the New York Times, Mr. Wujodi has only a sixth-grade formal education. When he was completing his fifth-grade exams, he had a dream one night that he says sent him “tumbling between sanity and insanity.” Mr. Wujodi says he is unable to describe the state, but for several years he could not regain his balance. When he did, he was transformed.

At 15, Mr. Wujodi moved to Kabul, and found his way to the bookbinding shop of one of the most renowned mystic poets of the time, Sufi Ashqari. While he was just a teenager and Mr. Ashqari in his 60s, their relationship shaped his life. The teenager was admitted to the small group of poets who gathered at Mr. Ashqari’s shop in old Kabul, exchanging verses as Mr. Ashqari continued to bind books.

Years later, when Mr. Ashqari was 90 and on his deathbed, he entrusted his unfinished work — the last chapters barely legible, because his hand had started trembling — to Mr. Wujodi, who spent eight months working after hours at the public library to prepare it for publication.

As his own poetry drew attention, Mr. Wujodi made sure he stuck to his quiet corner at the library — a dream job that allowed him space for his poetic endeavors and an income to support his wife, a son who is now an artist and two daughters who are both teachers.

He repeatedly rejected offers of higher positions. In the early 1990s, when the Islamic government that followed the Soviet withdrawal insisted that Mr. Haidari lead an educational foundation, he agreed to a compromise: He would continue his day job at the library, and for one hour at the end of every day he would go to the foundation’s office.

Wujodi has written dozens of articles and books and so far his 14 books have been published and officially launched.

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  • Khaama Press

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