A TRIBUTE BY THE LIGHT MILLENNIUM TO PROFESSOR TALAT SAIT HALMAN
(7 July 1931 – 5 December 2014):
A TRUE GLOBAL MONUMENT FOR THE CULTURE OF PEACE -
THE WORLD HAS LOST A TITAN: PROF. TALAT SAIT HALMAN
Professor Talat Sait Halman with Defne Halman, presenting Rumi event
at New York Turkish Center in 2004. Photo credit: Lightmillennium.Org
YUNUS EMRE: CONTEMPORARY OF RUMI (2008, Video)
"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."
[Lightmillennium.Org - December 12, 2014] Professor Talat Sait Halman was considered a true global monument for the culture of peace that when he past away on December 5, 2014; the world lost a titan. Despite our sadness, we would like to celebrate his remarkable life with a tribute to Prof. Talat Halman.
Prof. Halman* was the principal scholar and translator of Yunus Emre's (Yunus Emre was a 13th century Turkish poet and Sufi mystic - 1241-1320 /or 1321) work. He published the first English language book on Yunus Emre, "The Humanist Poetry of Yunus Emre," in 1971. This work was followed by “Yunus Emre and His Mystical Poetry," in 1981, and " Yunus Emre: Selected Poems," in 1990. In Turkey, he published a critical book on Yunus Emre in 2003. Prof. Halman published over 100 books and hundreds of articles in Turkish and English and gave hundreds of lectures in the United States, Turkey, and many other countries. Prof. Talat Halman served as the first Minister of Culture of the Turkish Republic as well as the Ambassador for Cultural Affairs and Turkey’s Deputy Permanent Representative at the United Nations in New York (1980-1982). Further, Prof. Halman was an elected Member of UNESCO's Executive Board (1991 – 1995). Until his departure, Prof. Halman was President of the UNICEF Turkish National Committee. For decades, he was on the faculty of Columbia University, Princeton University, University of Penn and New York University. Since 1998, he had served as the Chairman of the Department of Turkish Literature at Bilkent; a private university in Turkey. Honors include Columbia University's "Thornton Wilder Prize" for lifetime achievement as translator, an honorary doctorate from the Bosphorus University, a Rockefeller Fellowship in the Humanities, the UNESCO Medal, and "Knight Grand Cross, the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire".
One of the best things that has ever happened to The Light Millennium (LM) during its 15 years of online presence (as well as its presence as a public benefit organization) was being able to present three, open to the public, events featuring Prof. Halman. Each event became a significant landmark for the organization. Following The LM’s very first and highly successful event with Prof. Halman at the Turkish Center in 2004 in New York City titled, “Rumi: Soaring to Ecstasy,” the organization received several requests to turn it into a U.S. Tour. At about the same time, a few other requests were received from India and other parts of the world and although there were potential collaborators, the availability and travel schedule conflicted with that of Prof. Halman's. Therefore, we had to focus on Prof. Halman’s availability whenever he visited New York to which he was always open and ready to provide us with his knowledge, wisdom and vision. The LM believes that the event on Rumi in 2004 led the way for the 2007 International Rumi Year, which was declared by UNESCO and is celebrated internationally. Based on that event, The LMTV produced a program in 2007 celebrating Rumi's 800th birthday, which also led to the public event "Two Universal Men: Rumi & Clarke's” at CUNY-GC on December 5, 2007. There is an interesting connection with our last event to Rumi along with Arthur C. Clarke’s 90th birthday, which interestingly coincides with the departure date to that of Prof. Halman, from our world. This huge loss alone has already inspired The LM to possibly dedicate an event in the near future to FOUR UNIVERSAL MEN: RUMI, EMRE, CLARKE, and HALMAN!
Prof. Halman presented his "Atatürk: In His Words" at the New York
Turkish Center, 2010. Photo credit: Lightmillennium.Org
In 2011, Prof. Halman’s eleven books were published right around his 80th birthday. We were communicating at one point in hope that we could organize an event to launch his translation from the contemporary Turkish poetry in English, which titled “A Brave New World” in New York! Further, he had already promised to speak about, at the next conference on “Millennium Development Goals (MDGs) & Ataturk.” Although we have missed that opportunity forever, Prof. Halman was generous enough to share his book’s e-version with the organization titled "Atatürk Alive: In his Words," which has become a historical source for the organization.
Now, let us imagine Prof. Halman citing the below stanza:
"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: Contemporary of Rumi (2008)
For each public event of the LM with Prof. Halman, the organization did in collaborated with three different institutions for each time such as New York Turkish Center (2004), Stevens Institute of Technology (SIT) and Columbia University, New York (2008).
In that regard, in 2005, the organization had collaborated with Professor Edward Foster, College of Arts and Letters at SIT in Hoboken, New Jersey, who had then already knew Prof. Halman very well for a long-period of time. Prof. Foster; who is also a publisher and editor of the Talisman and both Prof. Halman’s and the LM's long-term collaborator and friend as well as an Advisory Board Member, shared his sincere thoughts on Prof. Halman with us. "Talat Halman showed that it was possible to be a gentleman, an intellectual, an educator, an administrator, a statesman, a friend, a translator, a historian, an editor, an essayist, a scholar, a poet, and, above all, a man of exceptional kindness whose great ambition and achievement was to serve others and to leave the world a better place than he had found it.”
Stephen Kinzer, the very first New York Times foreign correspondent for Turkey and Iran (1996-2000), Professor at Brown University – International Studies, and former Advisory Board member of the LM stated the following: “Talat Bey was a humanist deeply convinced that knowledge can make the human spirit soar. Bringing the best of world culture to Turkey, and bringing Turkish culture to the world, was the focus of his life. He was never aggressive, partisan, angry, or divisive. This was one of Turkey's greatest global citizens. We have lost a titan. Turkey's future depends on whether there are enough Turks with his wisdom and gentle passion.” In Prof. Kinzer’s words, “We have lost a titan” in which, the organization perceives the term “we” as a universal loss.
One of the organization’s former editor and supporters, Emily Alp, wrote in her article, titled “Yunus Emre: "The visit to a heart is best of all..." based on the “Yunus Emre: Contemporary of Rumi” event (2008) “The event put on by Light Millennium—in collaboration with Columbia University—served as an appropriate reminder that it is a human impulse to shut people out using religion but a divine aspiration to include them no matter what their faith or other differences may be. Indeed, Emre believed that spiritual perfection could be found when all religions combine.
Yunus Emre stood fast against fundamentalism and rigidity as practices in the Islamic faith and in general society; according to Halman. He promoted the idea of expansion beyond the self through love and service to others. He was indeed a mystic as well as a point of contrast for Europeans wallowing in the dark ages as well as over-zealous enforcers of the Islamic faith throughout his native land of Anatolia and beyond.
‘Pharisee, make the holy pilgrimage if need be a hundred times—but if you ask me, the visit to a heart is best of all,’ Halman quoted.”
Aysegul Durakoglu, Pianist and Professor of Music at Stevens Institute of Technology, and Advisory Board member of the LM, who also worked for several events with Prof. Halman including "City of Cities: Byzantium – Constantinople – Istanbul" (2011). For this Tribute, Prof. Durakoglu defines of Prof. Halman as an "inspiration" for her. In her words: "Talat Halman was such an inspiration for me with his character, positive energy, and most importantly his creative spirit and dedication. He was very supportive and provided guidance without judging people in many different areas. I feel very priviileged to get to know him, also to work and organize various events under his guidance and mentorships. Over the years, he illuminated our hearts and minds and will continute to do so with his legacy of great work."
Indeed, as Prof. Durakoglu puts it very eloquently and effectively that over the years Prof. Halman has been "illuminated our hearts and minds and will continue to do so with his legacy of great work."
Mujgan Hedges; Board Member and Treasurer of The Light Millennium wrote on Prof. Halman’s remarkable generosity to offer and share his knowledge, translation, time, expertise to whomever approached him from the Turkish-American community in the U.S:
“Prof. TALAT HALMAN was a great supporter; monetarily and emotionally to many Turkish American Associations. He was only a phone call away when his wisdom and advice was needed.
He was a unique person and a proud Turk. He will be missed by many. May his soul rest in peace."
The following poems of Yunus Emre have been translated by Talat Halman. Last quatrain of poem reads:
“To you, what Yunus says is clear,
It is meaning is in your heart's ear:
We should all live the good life here,
Because nobody will live on.”
For the concluding of this tribute, through Rumi, Prof. Halman’s says to all of us and the world “farewell," in the following Rubaiyat:
“THIS IS THE NIGHT OF THE SEMA
WHEN WE WHIRL TO ECSTASY.
THERE IS LIGHT NOW,
THERE IS LIGHT, THERE IS LIGHT.
THIS IS TRUE LOVE
WHICH MEANS FAREWELL TO THE MIND.
THERE IS FAREWELL TODAY, FAREWELL.”
- Rumi: Soaring to Ecstasy** (2004)
_ . _
[*] Detailed biography of Talât Sait Halman: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tal%C3%A2t_Sait_Halman
Prof. Talat S. Halman presentations – selected media releases on the
[**] RUMI: SOARING TO ECSTASY - 2004
"YUNUS EMRE: TURKISH MEDIEVAL HUMANIST MYSTIC" - 2005
Presented by Prof. Halman
Media Release: http://www.lightmillennium.org/events/thalman_yemre_mr.html
YUNUS EMRE: CONTEMPORARY OF RUMI - 2008
Media Release: http://www.lightmillennium.org/events/yemre_mr_oct27_08.html
”Atatürk Alive: In his Words” E-book by Prof. Talat S. Halman
City of Cities: Byzantium – Constantinople – Istanbul - 2011:
Special Thanks To: Yesim Ozel Dorian, member, Editing, Copy Editing & Proofreading Committee of The Light Millennium.
1: The Light Millennium TV produced a 58:00 min. program based on the YUNUS EMRE: CONTEMPORARY OF RUMI event at Columbia University (2008), which was shown on different channels and several times both on QPTV and MNN. VIDEO: YUNUS EMRE: CONTEMPORARY OF RUMI
2: Professor Durakoglu's statement included on December 14, 2014.
3: This Tribute compiled and composed by Bircan Ünver for The Light Millennium. http://www.lightmillennium.org