Muhammad Amin Zaki Bag

Muhammad Amin Zeki Bag

Muhammed Amin Zaki Bey also known in Kurdish as  Dr. Mehmed Emín Zekí, محەممەد ئەمین زەکی بەگ (1880 Sulaimaniyah –1948 Sulaimaniyah) was a prominent Kurdish writer, historian, and politician, born in Sulaimaniyah to his father, Hagi Abdul Rahman. His educational journey began at the Sulaimaniya Military School and continued at the Baghdad Military High School. On February 10, 1902, he graduated as the 23rd of his class from the Ottoman Military Academy, joining the Ottoman Army as an Infantry Second Lieutenant. With distinction, he completed his studies at the Ottoman Military College in Istanbul on January 11, 1905, subsequently serving as a staff officer (major) in the Ottoman Army.

In 1923, he left his duty at the Military History Department and moved to Baghdad, where he began lecturing at the newly established Iraqi Military Academy. He also served in the Iraqi administration under the British mandate during the 1920’s, eventually being appointed as the Defense Minister in 1928. One of his most acclaimed works is a two-volume book on the history of the Kurdish people and states, which has been translated into various languages, including Arabic and English. His contributions to Kurdish history are highly regarded, and his dedication to preserving and promoting Kurdish heritage earned him great respect among his contemporaries.

Besides his profound impact in the academic realm, Zaki Bey actively engaged in political life, representing Sulaimaniyah as a Member of Parliament in the newly established Iraq on multiple occasions. Moreover, he assumed various ministerial roles, demonstrating his commitment to serving his nation:

  • Iraq’s Minister of Transport (1925–1927)
  • Iraq’s Minister of Education (1927–1928)
  • Iraq’s Minister of Defence (1929-1931)
  • Iraq’s Minister of Economics and Finance (1931)

Muhammed Amin Zaki Bey’s passion for Kurdish history, literature, and politics resonated throughout his life and left a lasting impact on the Kurdish intellectual landscape. His untiring efforts to advance Kurdish history and culture continue to inspire scholars and activists in their quest for preserving and celebrating the rich heritage of the Kurdish people.

Zaki Bey’s decision to write Kurdish history in Kurdish itself is evidence of his national feeling and his search for Kurdish origin, existence, and the reasons behind the Kurds’ situation. He understood the importance of language in asserting a nation’s existence and identity. By choosing to write in Kurdish, he embraced the fundamental pillar of nationhood and took an important step in fostering Kurdish national consciousness.

Furthermore, Zaki Bey’s titles for his books, such as “A Summary of Kurdish History and Kurdistan,” “Kurdish State and Emirates,” and more, deliberately emphasize the presence of “Kurd” and “Kurdistan” in the titles. This was a deliberate choice to distinguish Kurdish history from the history of neighboring nations and to highlight the unique identity and history of the Kurdish people. Zaki Bey’s focus on Kurdish history as a separate and distinct subject demonstrates his commitment to preserving and promoting Kurdish national consciousness.

Muhammed Amin Zaki Bey passed away in Sulaimaniyah in July 1948, leaving behind a remarkable legacy of scholarly achievements and dedicated service to his people and nation. His works remain invaluable resources for anyone seeking to delve into the history and culture of the Kurds.

Books by Muhammed Amin Zaki Bey:

  • Pursues Accounts – 1928 (in which he compiled the records of his actions in the Iraqi House of Representatives)
  • A Short History of the Kurd and Kurdistan (Two Volumes):
    • Volume I: From Antiquity to the Present, 1931
    • Volume II: History of the Kurdish States and Principalities, 1937
  • Two Futile Endeavours – 1935 (a 69-page memorandum: In 1930, Why did the Kurdish house not have an emir?, its publication was banned)
  • Tarikh al-Sulaymaniyah (Taríxí Silémani), 1939
  • The Kurdish Figures (Meshahirí Kurd)- Part 1, 1945, and Part 2, 1947
  • History of the Kurdish State and Emirates, 1945

This biography is a tribute to Muhammed Amin Zaki Bey’s immense contributions and is proudly presented by, celebrating the profound impact of Kurdish intellectuals on the world stage.

This biography was prepared by Dilan M R Roshani.

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