May 29, 2023

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Surprise birthday party draws out 100-year-old litterateur’s humor

TEHRAN – On Monday, litterateur Mohammad-Ali Movahhed, was called to attend an official meeting at the Academy of Persian Language and Literature.

Unknown to Movahhed, who is most famous for his expertise on Persian mystic and poet Molana Jalal ad-Din Balkhi, he was actually being invited to his 100th birthday celebration.

Due to his humility, Movahhed often hesitates to attend such celebrations, however, this ruse made him show some flashes of humor that delighted the audience.

“On this my centennial, I just now discovered the meaning of ‘conspiracy theory.’ I wish you had informed me about your plan to hold this celebration. I was late; I thought that I had been invited to be present for an official session. Had I known that it was a birthday party for me, I would have hung around here all last night just to make sure I would be able to be at the celebration on time,” said Movahhed.

He also talked about the inconveniences of old age and recited verses from poems by renowned Persian poets such as Rudaki and Molana Jalal ad-Din Balkhi to support his comments. 

“Behaving with elders in a good manner would help keep their spirits up,” Movahhed said and thanked the organizers of the birthday party.

“Why did you surprise me? Why did you do that? If I would have been informed of the celebration beforehand, I could have been happily anticipating it for the past few days,” he joked.

In response to Movahhed’s remarks, Academy of Persian Language and Literature director Gholam-Ali Haddad-Adel said, “So as to avoid surprising you, we are inviting you right now to your next birthday celebration!”

“I express my thanks to master Movahhed for accepting our invitation, although we know that he is often reluctant to attend ceremonies held in his honor,” he said.

“He is a great blessing for the whole Iranian culture and we are very pleased about his membership in the academy,” he noted.

In December 2017, the Academy of Persian Language and Literature hosted a book launch celebration for a copy of Molana’s masterpiece Masnavi-ye Manavi corrected by Movahhed, who has carried out comprehensive studies on mysticism in Persian literature and Molana’s mentor, Shams-i Tabrizi.

Movahhed spent years making the numerous significant corrections to the book based on his in-depth studies on 11 copies of the Masnavi-ye Manavi, most of which were written 30 years after Molana’s death.

He has also authored books on various subjects, one of which is “Tant De Doute Pour Une Evidence” on the Persian Gulf was published in France by the London-based publisher Candle and Fog in 2018.

He also made substantial contributions to the script of “Drunk on Love”, Iranian director Hassan Fat’hi’s controversial project on Molana.

Photo:  Litterateur Mohammad-Ali Movahhed blows the candle of his 100th birthday cake at a party held at the Academy of Persian Language and Literature in Tehran on May 22, 2023. His grandchild is also seen in the photo. 


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