Naguib Mahfouz, The Best Writer in Egyptian History


نجيب محفوظ

ولد نجيب محفوظ في ١١ ديسمبر ١٩١١ في حي الجمالية القديم في القاهرة.

بدأ نجيب محفوظ الكتابة في المدرسة الابتدائية [1]

هو مات أغسطس ٢٠٠٦

درس الآداب في جامعة القاهرة عام ١٩٣٤

اهم كتابه أولاد حارتنا والحرافيش

متحف نجيب محفوظ يفتتح نهاية يونيو[2]

حصل على نوبل للآداب عام ١٩٨٨

هو كتب سيناريوهات

كتب وسيناريوهات نجيب محفوظ أصبحت الأفلام

أوَل كتاب له كانت القصة القصيرة راد وبيس [3]

في عام ١٩٥٩ تم حظره أولاد حارتنا

في عام ١٩٩٤ تم طعنه في الرقبة

كتب نجيب محفوظ خمس مسرحيات

نجيب محفوظ كتب ٣٤ روايات و٣٥٠ قصص قصيرة [4]

نجيب محفوظ كتب ثلاثية القاهرة

ثلاثية القاهرة تحكي قصة حياة عائلات في القاهرة من الحرب العالمية 1 إلى ١٩٥٢ التي أطاحت الملك فاروق

معظم كتب نجيب محفوظ موجودة في القاهرة

في كتبه يكتب نجيب محفوظ عن التاريخ المصري

نجيب محفوظ تحدثت كتبه عن الحالة الإنسانية والصراعات الطبقية

كتب نجيب محفوظ كتبه عن الوجودية والواقعية

تأثر نجيب محفوظ بطه حسين

تأثر نجيب محفوظ بالأدب الروسي

نجيب محفوظ أحب كتاب الحداثيين مثل مارسيل بروست وفرانز كافكا وجيمس جويس.

نجيب محفوظ يصور الحياة العربية التقليدية [5]

استخدم نجيب محفوظ رمزية لتوصيل الرسائل السياسية

حتى عام 1972، كان نجيب محفوظ يعمل موظفًا مدنيًا، أولاً في وزارة الأوقاف، ثم مديراً للرقابة في مكتب الفن، ومديرًا لمؤسسة دعم السينما، وأخيراً مستشارًا في الشؤون الثقافية لوزارة الثقافة

شهدت السنوات التي انقضت منذ تقاعده من البيروقراطية المصرية فورة من الإبداع، والكثير منها

تجريبي


The clash between Tradition, Religion and Modernity in the works of Mahfouz

The writings of Mahfouz contain colorful imagery and symbolism of daily life in Cairo Ally's, thus extensively documenting traditional life in Islamic Cairo and its conflicts with modernity.


Instead of focusing on traditional forms of Islamic expression such as praying and fasting, Mahfouz focuses on the metaphysical, symbolic, spiritual and mystical role of religion, culture and traditions in Egyptian society [6].


Mahfouz incorporates mystical Sufi Islamic themes in his writings to illustrate the simplicity of Egyptian life — and the following quote by Mahfouz illustrates his position best: "I reject any path which rejects life, but I can't help loving Sufism because it sounds so beautiful. It gives relief in the midst of battle".


Mahfouz uses the philosophy of Sufi Islam and the simplicity of daily Egyptian life to make natural, meditative, intimate and poetic observations about traditional Egyptian society in the Ally's of Cairo and beyond.


Mahfouz's work never allude to Egyptians being united and ideologically homogenous per se, but instead, he suggests that Egypt's unique history, culture and geographical features help create a common bond between citizens in its many ally ways.


Mahfouz highlights ideological divisions between Egyptians, and highlights the role of class conflicts in nourishing divisions. For instance, his 1945 book Al Qahira Al Gadida (Heliopolis, which is an upper middle class suburb in Cairo) tells the story of three students that live together, one of them being a devout believer, the second being a covert to Hegelian materialism and the third being an existentialist that shows scant interest in beliefs and values.


Mahfouz narrates and composes timely observations about each character, their intentions and intellectual capabilities. The devout believer in the novel believes that knowledge and science are not at odds with god, but instead come as a byproduct of deep religious exploration.


By contrast, the second character in the novel, the Hegelian, believes that Comte provided us with the necessary answers in conceptualizing the world. Like Comte, the second character in the novel advocates for society and civilization over God, and knowledge, progress and science over religion, thus accordingly creating a more just and modern society for all, especially for his girlfriend, who is a maid and is actively encouraged by him to pursue the arts. The 3rd character is the main character in the novel — and Mahfouz uses him as a device to challenge nihilism and hopelessness.


Like in Al Qahira Al Gadida, the confrontation between belief and unbelief is omnipresent In Mahfouz's 1946 novel Khan Al Khalili. In Khan Al Khalili (a significant bazaar and old corner in Cairo), Ahmad Akif, is basically illiterate, believes in Islam, and finds it in his daily metaphysical perceptions.


By contrast, a pretentious young lawyer Ahmad Rashid believes Akif is delusional, simple minded and intellectually unadventurous. Rashid prefers Marx, Freud and Science over religion and dreams of a classless society without commodity fetishism, thus, Rashid wants the Russians to win the war so as to free the world from consumerism and delusions.


The relationship between science, reason and modernity and its diabolical contrast with religion and daily traditional Egyptian life is further examined in Mahfouz's 1956-1957 Cairo Trilogy.


Specifically, in the three books of the Trilogy, which are timely named after three different streets in Cairo, Mahfouz employs a deeper metaphysical discussion between the conflict between religion and science in the 2nd and 3rd part of trilogy.


It seems that Mahfouz uses the character of Kemal in the trilogy to project his own adolescent existential crisis that favors intellect and reason over religion. By the end of the trilogy, Kemal is a philosophy teacher haunted by loneliness and despair.


Kemal is educated and free, yet unhappy — an atheist and an alienated intellectual who feels that his life hasn’t amounted too much — Mahfouz himself once said about the character Kemal:“Kamal’s crisis was my crisis, and his suffering was my suffering” [7].


Mahfouz's literary approach seamlessly intertwines themes of society, tradition, religion and class with each characters unique experience. He is raising the same ethical and metaphysical questions across different ideologies in the same common space, wither it be Heliopolis, Khan El-Khalili or specific streets in Cairo.


The Egyptian alley (Hara) has become Mahfouz's favorite place to dramatize traditional Egyptian life of the low and middle class, apropos politics, sexuality and religion. Mahfouz uses the alley as a place to initiate Bildungsroman among his complex characters.

Mahfouz taking the role of the narrator accentuates the strengths and weaknesses of each characters ideological and moral positions, thus, both Mahfouz and the reader can come to a consensus on how to live a more refined ethical life in Islamic Cairo.
Mahfouz does not degrade his audience by siding with a specific character, and he has been quoted saying: There are no heroes in most of my stories. I look at our society with a critical eye and find nothing extraordinary in the people I see.
Mahfouz, a Muslim, believes that literature, science and religion must cooperate to create a perfect aesthetic and moral harmony. Mahfouz has been quoted saying: "Today's interpretations of religion are often backward and contradict the needs of civilization"; "If we reject science, we reject the common man".
Mahfouz's progressive attitudes and his unapologetic defense of free speech in the wake of the 1988 Salman Rushdie Satanic Verses affair and his previous writings got him stabbed by an Islamist Militant on October 14 1994 by the orders of Blind Egyptian cleric Omar Abdel-Rahman [8].
In1988, Mahfouz won the Nobel Prize for Literature. The Swedish academy noted Mahfouz magnum opus Children of the Ally, a radical work that used religious symbolism to document Egypt's social and political struggles.
This was an unprecedented experiment in narrative that only Mahfouz could master with his elegant prose and luscious use of language. Children of the Alley raises the fundamental question that lingers over nations in the MENA region: What should the relationship between religion and politics be?
Children of the Alley wonderfully illustrates the hypocrisy of religion and how it is often used to mask selfish interests.
Mahfouz utilizes the ally as a literary space that is meant to advance the literary tale being presented. Mahfouz employs philosophical allegory to explore areas of religious that cross boundaries that many of his unadventurous literary counterparts wouldn’t dare too.
Through symbolic literary prowess, Mahfouz fearlessly dissects religious symbols by putting forward an alternative interpretation of religious symbols in Islam, Christianity and Judaism that is free from idiotic and dogmatic theological distortions that Egyptian religious institutions such as Al-Azhar bring [9].

By the end of this rich spiritual allegory that is Children of the Alley, Mahfouz proposes a new spiritual revival that advocates for the freedom of the proletariat. In Mahfouz’s view, a new spiritual revolution will assume form when man is saved from political, economic and religious oppression.


This spiritual revolution that Mahfouz evokes in his magnum opus will supposedly result in a new economic and social order that will purify the soul and will release new energy that will soar towards God.


Through out his works, Mahfouz underlined the fact that their was no noticeable divisions between body, soul, science, religion and faith — and by doing this; Mahfouz uses his caricatures as complex symbols that either advocate for progress or distract us from it.


Mahfouz's intimate mediations often try to create a new transitional universe that bond on common values and condemn rigid Theistic vs Non-theistic and Capitalism vs Marxism dialectics that only narrow our world.

Mahfouz believes in intellectual balance and compromise, and he adamantly believes in the complexity of the human subject; and this is best symbolized by his strong women characters; who often deviate from the stereotypical caricature of the traditional Egyptian women.
Mahfouz transnational yet nationalistic literary themes often create new urban spaces and ethical frameworks from old ones, thus blending new moral, ethical, social and political ideas in the oriental alley. And that is the story of Naguib Mahfouz, an auteur who never forgot the alley, and seemed to constantly recreate it.

Sources

[1] “Naguib Mahfouz (1911–2006).” About Naguib Mahfouz, web.archive.org/web/20170602051825/http://www.aucpress.com/t-aboutnm.aspx.


[2] Egyptian Streets. "Long-Awaited Naguib Mahfouz Museum to Open End of June." Egyptian Streets.


[3] Britannica, The Editors of Encyclopedia. "Naguib Mahfouz."


[4] "The Novel~Tea Book Club - Book Club Picks: SEPTEMBER 2010: The Palace Walk by Naguib Mahfouz. Goodreads.


[5] "The Nobel Prize in Literature 1988." NobelPrize.org. https://www.nobelprize.org/prizes/literature/1988/mahfouz/biographical/.


[6] Nijland, C. "Naguib Mahfouz and Islam. An Analysis of Some Novels." Die Welt Des Islams, New Series, 23/24 (1984): 136-55. doi:10.2307/1570668.


[7] Lindsey, Ursula. "In Naguib Mahfouz's World." The Nation. October 29, 2018 https://www.thenation.com/article/naguib-mahfouz-world/.STOCK,


[8] Raymond. "Naguib Mahfouz Dreams—And Departs." Southwest Review 92, no. 2 (2007): 172-79. http://www.jstor.org/stable/43472795.


[9] El-Gabalawy, Saad. "The allegorical significance of Naguib Mahfouz's Children of our alley." International Fiction Review16, no. 2 (1989).