Mem û Zîn: An epic of love

People flock to the grave of the two lovers from the XV century.

Mem û Zîn is one of the national epics of the Kurdish people. 

The love story between Mem and Zîn in Cizre in 1450-51 was written by Ehmedê Xanî from Hakkari in form of a poem 240 years after it happened. 

The story of Mem û Zîn is the story of righteousness, goodness, innocence, weakness and despair all feelings represented by Mem û Zîn, while Beko represents the evil, hypocrisy, mischief.

Mem û Zîn was in the language of the people and told by word of mouth. People lived in the neighborhood of Sur, in Cizre in 558 years ago and to this day many songs, movies and stories of the great love heroes have been told and sang on the grave of Mem û Zîn. People continue to flock on the lovers’ grave.

A hope…

After a hundred years of visits, some went for curiosity and others maybe for a hope. The grave, which has witnessed every historical event in Cizre throughout the centuries, was heavily damaged when the curfew was declared in 2016. 

But the people from Hakkari have undertaken the task to open the grave for visitors again. 

Volunteer work

For 12 years, Mahmut Kanmaz, has been the guardian of the grave. He gets no money but is very pleased with the visits. 

Today, thanks to the Kurdish people's work the grave of Mem û Zîn is still standing. Kanmaz said: "Every day at least 50 people come to visit. Local people come and pray on Thursday, but the number of people who come to visit the grave from different cities is really big”. 

Kanmaz added: “We don’t want people to pay to visit this site. We want everyone feeling comfortable and free to come anytime they want and like”. 

Nefise Shepherd from Hakkari came and visit the grave. “My daughter - she said - who lives in Cizre cannot bear a child, so I visit this grave and pray that Allah would listen to my prayers”.

The legend

The legend tells the tragic story of two young people in love. Mem, a young Kurdish boy of the "Alan" clan and heir to the City of the West, who falls in love with Zîn, of the "Botan" clan and the daughter of the governor of Butan. 

They meet during Festival of Newroz when the people are celebrating. Their union is blocked by Beko of the Bakran clan, Mem’s antagonists throughout story, who is jealous of the two star-crossed lovers. 

Mem eventually dies during a complicated conspiracy by Beko. When Zîn receives the news, she collapses and dies while mourning the death of Mem at his grave. The immense grief leads to her death and she is buried next to Mem in Cizre. 

The news of the death of Mem and Zîn spreads quickly among the people. When Beko’s role in the tragedy is revealed, Tacdîn, the best friend of Mem, kills him. Beko will be buried next to Mem and Zîn’s graves. 

Because before dying, Zîn had said that "It was because of Beko that we could not come together, so I want him to witness our love. If he dies, bury him next to me and Mem". 

However, a thorn bush, nourished by the blood of Beko, grows out of his grave: the roots of malice penetrate deep into the earth among the lovers’ graves, thus separating the two even in death.