Azerbaijan: etymology and meaning
Our country has been called Azerbaijan since immemorial time. Even at the time when this land was part of Arabian Caliphate and was called the Emirate of Azerbaijan, this name was mentioned in Arab historical documents as an ancient one. Until now, scientists have not come to a consensus on the origin of the name “Azerbaijan”. At the moment, there are four versions of the etymology of this sonorous name.
The dominant version is based on the theory of music specialists and linguists who claim that “Azerbaijan” is a variant of the pronunciation of the word “Atropatena”. What is Atropatene? About two thousand and a half years ago in these parts there lived a king, his name was Atropat. The tsar was wayward, very tyrannical and named the country he ruled after himself. So, some believe that Atropatena and Azerbaijan are the same word, only in different variations.
The next version goes back to the history of Zoroastrianism in our country, to the beginning of this millennium. At that time in our region there were many places where pure flame burst out of the ground to the surface. The Zoroastrians were fire worshippers, considering this element eternal and necessary for the creation and control of the world. Actually, for this reason, the Zoroastrians from Iran and northern India came here to establish their temples here. In one of the ancient Persian dialects, the word “Adrebagan” means “land of the fire guardians”.
The third version says that Azerbaijan is not really “Azerbaijan”, but “Hezerbaijan”. Hezer-in Azerbaijani means the Caspian Sea and if you follow this version, Hezerbaijan is “the land of the Caspian people”.
And finally, the latest and youngest hypothesis of the origin of name of our country goes back to the biblical prophet Abraham. In Koran, the holy book of Muslims, he is called by the name of Ibrahim, and his father is called by the name of Azer. Azerbaijani researchers of the Koran noticed an interesting feature of name Azer: firstly, the name Azer is quite common in our country, secondly, this name is authentic for our country and nowhere else do they call their sons like that, and thirdly, there is not a single geographical point anywhere in the world that would be the same root with the name “Azer”.
This led to the conclusion: Azer-the father of the prophet Ibrahim, was the ruler here (“bai” – the Ruler – “bek” ) and Azerbaijan, almost literally means “the land of Azer bek”. That is, contrary to the popular version, Abraham’s homeland was not Mesopotamia, but Azerbaijan, which received its name at that time.
History is an inaccurate science, very flexible, and you need to have a lot of arguments to confirm this or that thesis that concerns our past. Each of above-mentioned arguments seems quite convincing and only Allah knows which of them is really fundamental for the name of our country.