Gabderashit Ibragimov’s great-granddaughter: ''I want Turkey to follow the development road inherited from Kemal Atatürk''

Interview with Neslihan Arul Aksoy about pre-revolutionary cookery book of her aunt and legacy of a Tatar theologian who is famous in Japan

Gabderashit Ibragimov’s great-granddaughter: ''I want Turkey to follow the development road inherited from Kemal Atatürk'' Photo: Oleg Tikhonov

Kazan Innovation University presented a new edition of pre-revolutionary book Culinary Master: Present for Ladies written by famous Tatar social activist Gabderashit Ibragimov's daughter Fauziya on 20 April. Curiously, researchers from KIU managed to attract Ibragimov's great-granddaughter Neslihan Arul Aksoy to the work. She arrived in Kazan from her native Turkey on the same day and kindly agreed to talk to Realnoe Vremya's correspondent about her celebrated ancestors, value of the book written by her aunt before the revolution as well as the referendum that took place in Turkey several days ago.

Mysterious Fauziya Ibragimova and her book

Cookery books printed in the last century is a treasure of valuable information about culture, traditions and material and cultural picture of the past era. Speaking specifically about Tatar cookery books, first of all, Kayum Nasyri's Guides to Cook comes to mind. However, as the researchers of Kazan Innovation University managed to know, it is not the only pre-revolutionary endeavour dedicated to this topic.

Fauziya Ibragimova's Аш остасы (''cook'' in Tatar) was printed in 1909 (and reprinted in 1915) is another no less important work that tells about taste preferences of Tatars of that time. To start with, the researchers who re-edited the book tried identifying the author and collect some information about the woman. However, nobody could tell anything about mysterious Fauziya Ibragimova for a long time. An accidentally pronounced phrase that the woman can be famous Tatar social and political activist Gabderashit Ibragimov's relative was a clue.

Fauziya Ibragimova's Ашостасы (''Cook'' in Tatar) was printed in 1909 and reprinted in 1915

Moving in this direction and having already obtained confirmation of their accidental presupposition, the KIU researchers reached out to Gabderashit Ibragimov's great-granddaughter Neslihan Arul Aksoy living in Turkey through social networks. She participated in reedition of the book and visited its presentation at Kazan Innovation University on 20 April. The correspondent of Realnoe Vremya managed to talk to Neslihan hanım and ask her for values of the book and her celebrated ancestors.

''Fauziya is a great woman. But I was asked about her for the first time''

Neslihan hanım, I think our readers would like to know how famous social activist Gabderashit Ibragimov's great-granddaughter lives. Could you tell what you decided to dedicate your life to?

I live in İzmir and work as lawyer. At the same time, I am getting a postgraduate degree at Ankara University. By the way, I precisely study Gabderashit Ibragimov's heritage at university.

Had you already been in Kazan? What an event brought you to the Republic of Tatarstan?

I had already been in Kazan. I came at the invitation of Kazan Federal University to a conference dedicated to my great-grandfather. I came to deliver a speech in front of the participants of that meeting. This time a book written by my aunt Fauziya Ibragimova issued in the early last century brought me to Kazan.

Were you surprised when all of a sudden Kazan researchers reached out to you and started to ask about your aunt Fauziya Ibragimova?

I was very surprised because everybody usually asked about Gabderashit Ibragimov and my family. Gabderashit Ibragimov passed all us his stamina, his life energy and his education. And Fauziya is a great woman. But I was asked about her for the first time. When I was asked about Fauziya, I was very surprised.

Were you surprised to find out that your aunt prepared such a huge work, did a great job and created a real book in 1915?

To tell the truth, I was not very surprised when I was told about this book because I had a chance to know this woman, live with her in our era and know her quite well. She was different, she told me a lot. I think it is not the only book found in the short run.

I had already been in Kazan. I came on the invitation by Kazan Federal University to a conference dedicated to my great-grandfather

How precious is this book?

This book could have lost in some dusty laboratory or archive and remained there. But now it is getting a new life. It is important to understand that this book is not only about culinary. It is knowledge, it is life. In addition, it was done by one woman. Everything is around her.

''Our family remembers Gabderashit Ibragimov. Many people who lived with him miss him a lot''

I can't help but ask you about your great-grandfather Gabderashit Ibragimov. What a person does your family remember him as? Does his story of life pass from generation to generation?

All our family remembers our great ancestor, it respects him a lot. Many people who lived with him miss him a lot. He made a very strong impact on his family. Rashid Ibragimov was a great, especial person. He passed all his best qualities to next generations, that is to say, to us.

Neslihan hanım, you called him a great person. What heritage did he leave?

He can be called a great person for this personal qualities, for his character, his leadership skills and his success. Of course, many things can be told about him: he was brave, smart, but, first of all, I would like to note again he was a leader.

You said you are studying Gabderashit Ibragimov's life story…

As many people already studied his biography before me, I am collecting and analysing all these works. I make conclusions with my research advisers. We divide his life into separate periods when he lived in different places, look what a political activity he dealt with. His life and work in Russia, Japan and Turkey are major topics.

Gabderashit Ibragimov can be called a great person for this personal qualities, for his character, his leadership skills and his success

''Many people in Japan remember him because there are Tatar and Turkish diasporas there''

We would like to pay attention to Japan. Neslihan hanım, could you say what role your great-grandfather played in Islamisation of this country?

Being in Japan, Gabderashit Ibragimov educated people, told about Islam, he did it without forcing them. He explained everything in a calm talk, with justified reasons without insisting. Thanks to such an approach, he attracted people to himself.

Does Japan remember Gabderashit Ibragimov? Is his memory paid homage?

Indeed, many people in Japan remember him because there are Tatar and Turkish diasporas there. For them, he is a famous teacher who built a mosque. In general, many people visit his grave.

I will switch from our key topic and will ask you about the referendum in Turkey. What do you think about this procedure? Were you for or against the amendments if it is not a secret?

My position is that I am for modern Turkey. I want it to keep up with the times and, at the same time, I want Turkey to follow the development road inherited from Kemal Atatürk.

By Lina Sarimova. Photo: Oleg Tikhonov