April 13, 2008

Outstanding Egyptian Figures: Ali Mustafa Musharrafa

Posted in Outstanding Figures at 2:53 pm by Rou...

“I can not believe that Musharrafa is dead, he is alive through his researches. We are in need of his talents, it is a great loss; he was a genius. I used to follow up his researches in atomic energy; definitely he is one of the best scientists in physics.”

— Albert Einstein mourning Ali Mustafa Musharrafa



Ali Mustafa Musharrafa Pasha (1898-1950), who wrote a complete novel in colloquial Arabic in the twenties, was an outstanding Egyptian scientist who added a lot to the scientific researches in the fields of physics, atoms, radiations, space invasion, quantum theories, applied mathematics, and nuclear physics.


Originally born in Damietta northern to Cairo the capital of Egypt, Musharrafa was the first Egyptian to have completed a doctorate in mathematics by receiving his Ph.D. and D.Sc. from the University of London in 1923 and 1924 respectively. He was also the first Egyptian to involve into space researches. In addition, he effectively contributed to the development of the Relativity Theory, enriched it with his studies and was one of the distinguished few who were in close contact with the great scientist Einstein.


Returning to Egypt in 1925 after receiving his degrees, he was then assigned as an ‘Associate Professor’ of applied mathematics at the Faculty of Science at Cairo University, promoted in the following year to the rank of ‘Professor’ when he was only 28 years old, and then finally appointed to be its first Egyptian dean in 1936.


He published a book on the Theory of Relativity, which was translated into English, French and German, and was reprinted in the USA, other than around 15 scientific books about relativity and mathematics.


In 1939 he published a study on the Egyptian Music, and in 1942, Mustafa Musharrafa took part in founding the Egyptian Society of Music Amateurs (ESMA), which aimed to promote music education in Egypt and the whole Arab world, along with Yousif Greise, Louis Greise, and Hassan Rashid.


On the institutional level, Musharrafa had a great effect beside the fact that he attained his position as the dean of the Faculty of Science for years, as he acted for the establishment of the “Egyptian society of mathematics and physics” in 1936 and the “Egyptian Academy of Sciences” in 1945. Musharrafa also worked for the creation of a research council, which foreshadowed the foundation of the “National Center for Research” later in 1956.


In 1945, Musharrafa was invited by Einstein for a one year visit to Germany to contribute in an atomic research as a visiting Professor, but he refused saying “There are a whole generation in my country that needs me”


In an article titled “The university and scientific research”, Musharrafa warned against considering the university a collection of institutes of higher learning that aim to produce young technicians such as doctors, engineers and the like. Instead, he argued, that university should bring life to true scientific spirit, particularly as “among Egyptians today are not a few who have undertaken scientific research in Western universities”.


Musharrafa had also stood for the idea that in order for the scientific life in Egypt to develop, scientific books written by Arabs and translated by the Europeans must be published and taught, such as books of al’Khwarizmi in algebra and many others, because by acknowledging our former scholars and researchers, this will be an incentive for us to emulate and to follow their steps. Moreover, Musharrafa believed that “Arabization” of science is a prerequisite to modernization, and he even proposed a strategy with that sense in a short article on “the Arabic language as a scientific instrument”.


Poisoned and dead, his body was mysteriously found in January 1950, placing a big question mark on the reasons he was assassinated for, and leaving the international scientific circles deeply moved at the death of the Egyptian genius.


On a personal note, I believe that Ali Mustafa Musharrafa, who is well known as (أينشتاين العرب), is an exceptional Egyptian figure who had a great role in the development of scientific researches as well as the foundation of various scientific institutions in Egypt, and I wonder how come that one can hardly ever find resources and references about such an outstanding character on the cyber space, and even more, how come his studies and researches are not highlighted and included in our educational systems.



All the best,





         Al-Ahram Weekly, Issue No. 477, 13 – 19 April 2000, and Issue No. 773, 15 – 21 December 2005

         Roshdi Rashed, “Recherche scientifi que et modernisation en Egypte: l’exemple de Ali Mustafa Musharafa (1898-1950). Etude d’un type idéal”








  1. Mamdouh said,

    i don’t know how the researches and publications of such a great scientist are not well known
    it was first time to read something about Dr.Ali Mustafa Musharrafa Pasha
    i just heard about him before but i didn’t expect that he was such a great scientist and had such a great impact in physics and in relativity theory.
    I’m really feeling so frustrated about the research in Egypt and how it is neglected as I’m interested in molecular biology and immunology research but i can’t find any chance.

  2. Rou... said,

    Dear Mamdouh… First of all thanks a lot for passing by my blog, and for leaving your comment…

    I couldnt agree more with your words… it’s a pity that such an outstanding character is ignored in such a way…

    As for you interest in physics and relativity theory… you should not foresake it, u should find time for it, and who knows, may be some day we will have you as another Mushrrafa 🙂

    Have a blessed day!

  3. mahdy said,

    Dear friends,

    i was very happy to read about Dr. Mustafa Musharafa and his great contributions to science. the question i am asking myself, how can one reach such a level of knowledge and dedication to science.

  4. Rou... said,

    Dear Mahdy, thanks a lot for passing by my blog.

    You are actually asking a very important question here. Just as it is important for us to know about the great minds and figures we had, it is also important to know how can we learn from their success and reach such a high level of invention…

    Although I know that everything in Egypt seems to be frustrating and nothing is appealing for good minds to have creativity and really be distinguished in something… but… still… we shouldn’t give up…

    Thanks again!

  5. sherif said,

    A question is hanging in my mind…
    why someone ,like that, be murdered ?
    However, it’s a dream for everyone for us to be Mustafa Musharafa or even one tenth of him…. for me, it’s an honor to read about him.
    concerning the writer of this topic, I want to clarify that this is such a wonderful writer that made me open the site and read it again after reading it by month.

  6. Rou... said,


    You have no idea how your words made me feel… Am glad that my humble effort in collecting reliable info to write this article is useful to other people too… For I believe it is a must that we know and learn about someone as special as Dr. Musharraffa Allah yer7amo…

    Begad thanks again, you made my day!


  7. musmaestro said,

    essalem 3laykoum,
    interesting article, I come about it by accident, nonetheless I found information you gave worth. I wonder if you know where to find Musharafaa’s translation of “kitab el jabr wal moukabalat” of el-khawarizmi?
    Thank you

  8. Rou... said,

    walaykum Al salam,

    first of all, thanks a lot for passing by and for leaving me your comment here… I’m glad you find the article useful in some way or another…

    Unfirtuanately I do not have such info currently, I will ask about it though, and if I was able to reach any useful info, I will sure let you know..

    Have a good day!

  9. M.R. said,

    “Poisoned and dead”

    what is your source for this piece of information??

  10. Rou... said,

    Please check the above references I mentioned.

  11. khalil said,

    Allah yerhamak ya Mr, Musharafa May God send us more people like him in a better time and under better goverments.

  12. Mounira! said,

    We all lost a very honorable man.. Curse those who killed him.. curse them!

  13. Christiane Neimat Garcia said,

    Hello Rou

    I just came accross the wikipedia ariticle about this amazing man just yesterday. I suppose I am not a good researcher but it took me several hours to reach your post. I am soooo frustrated because I feel I want to immerse myself in every bit of information I can find about him. I can’t find any of his books, articles, or writtings. I can’t find a full length biography on his life, thoughts and contributions. It is as if he has been deliberately erased. Although born and raised in Egypt, I moved to the USA as a child and I am ashamed to say that I cannot read Arabic. This limits the books and literature to which I have access. If you have any information on where I can find any books written by him or about him (in English or French), would you please let me know. I would appreciate it more than you can ever know.
    Regardless, thank you for posting this article.

    May God bless you, and the proud, brave generation that is fighting for Egypt. May peace be upon you.

  14. Rou... said,

    Khalil and Mounira, couldn’t agree more…

  15. Rou... said,

    Dear Christiane,

    Thank you for taking the time to post your comment… I’m lucky you came across my article, so that I can read such passionate words about both of Dr. Musharraffa and our great revolution…

    I wish I could help you more actually, but indeed one cannot find any reliable info about him on the internet, not even his published books in hard copies… but the best I can do is sending you the French paper “Recherche scientifique et modernisation en Égypte. L’exemple de ‘Ali Mustafa Musharafa (1898-1950). Étude d’un type idéal” of Dr. Roshdy Rashed, I had sent him requesting a copy of it back in 2007, and he kindly sent it over mail…

    However, since you are a US resident, I think it might be easier to find any of his books in huge libraries there… the guy was outstanding, it’s a no way case that his works are untraceable as such… there must be a record of him somewhere…

    A my side here, I will try to search again, especially that last year or the year before, there was an Arabic TV series done on his biography, so perhaps I can reach any further resources nowadays…

    Again, thank you very much for you kind words… you truly made my day!


    • Francesco De Angelis said,

      Dear Rou,
      Are you sure that the scientist and the author of the first novel enterely written in egyptian dialect are the same person?
      I think Ali Mustafa Musharrafa is the scientist,
      and Mustafa Musharrafa is the writer.

  16. Mayada Ghanim said,

    I just completed watching an Egyptian TV series on his life. It did him justice and honor and showed what a great man he was and how much he loved his country. He was definitely an extraordinary man and a brilliant scientist but unfortunately the TV series did not complete the sad part of his assassination and showed the end as of natural causes. Thank you for posting his biography.Such people must be recognized and honored for their great work.

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