Abay Kunanbayev at 175

ABAY Kunanbaev (1845 – 1904) – the great poet of the Kazakh people, philosopher – humanist, composer, elocutionist.

“Words of edification” Abai (Abaidyn kara sozderi) wrote, having already known the temptations of power and the hardships of earthly affairs, the recognition of the people and the loss of loved ones, consists of 45 short parables and philosophical treatises. In the Words, Abay raises the problems of national education and worldview, morality and law, the history of the Kazakhs. “Words of Edification” are instructions addressed to the people, this is a message to contemporaries and descendants, which has not lost its relevance in our time.


Those who seek to master science need to know the conditions without which it is impossible to achieve the goal.

First, when acquiring knowledge, do not set yourself the task of obtaining any benefit through it. To engage in science, first of all, you need to love it, have a desire for it. If you value knowledge as the highest good, each discovery of new truths will bring peace and satisfaction to your soul. Remember firmly what is new to you, then there will be a desire to search, love for science, memory will well absorb and imprint in itself what you saw and heard.

If your thoughts are busy with other things, and you comprehend science out of a thirst for hoarding, your attitude towards knowledge will be the same as the attitude of a stepmother to her stepson. When the soul and thoughts are truly favorable to science, it itself becomes favorable – it will be easy. With a half-hearted inclination, it is perceived half-heartedly.

Secondly, in studying the sciences, set yourself clear and noble goals, do not seek to acquire knowledge in order to be able to argue with others. Within reasonable limits, disputes help to gain firmness in convictions, but excessive enthusiasm for them only spoils a person. Hunters to a verbal squabble most often start disputes not to find out the truth, but to show off their knowledge, to prevail over others. Such disputes give rise to envy, they do not add humanity, they do not serve science, on the contrary, they confuse people. This is the job of troublemakers. The one who leads hundreds of people astray from the righteous path is not worth the little finger of the one who returned at least one person to the path of truth!

Yes, disputes are one of the paths of science, but those who get involved in them run the risk of becoming a self-satisfied arrogant, envious gossip. In disputes, such a person is not alien to lies, slander, and abuse that degrade human dignity.

Thirdly, if you have achieved the truth, do not deviate from it even under pain of death. If your knowledge is not able to convince you, do not think that someone else will appreciate it. If you yourself do not value your knowledge, how can you wait for the recognition of others?

Fourth, there are two methods that contribute to the accumulation of knowledge. One is the mulahaza and the other is the muhafaza. Abilities must be in constant improvement. Without strengthening them in oneself, one cannot increase knowledge.

Fifthly, the nineteenth Word speaks of four fatal defects of the mind, among them the one called carelessness, idleness of the mind. My soul, I conjure, beware of this evil! It is destructive for God, and for man, and for reason, and for honor. It is the enemy of everything! But where the conscience is alive, there is no place for this deficiency.

Sixthly, the vessel that stores the mind and knowledge is the character of a person. Cultivate your character! Indulging in jealousy, frivolity, now and then falling under the influence of other people’s speeches and momentary hobbies, you can lose your strength of character. There will be no benefit from teaching if there is no reliable repository for knowledge.

In order to achieve the intended goal and be true to one’s duty, a person’s character must have constancy, determination, a strong will, capable of preserving sobriety of reason and purity of conscience.

Everything must serve the cause of reason and honor.


Mulahazah – the art of debating

Muhafazah – firmness in defending one’s positions.

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