December 11, 2010

Naguib Mahfouz – 99 Years!

Posted in English, Outstanding Figures at 11:15 pm by Rou...

We cannot let this day pass by without celebrating one of the most remarkable novelists in Egypt and the Arab world… For today marks the 99th birthday of the Nobel Literature Prize Holder Naguib Mahfouz…

Born in Gamaliya; the old neighborhood of Cairo, in one cold December day in 1911, within a family and a home that he describes its stern religious climate during his childhood years saying: “You would never have thought that an artist would emerge from that family!”, Mahfouz began his education at the kuttab, where the emphasis was on Islamic religion and basic literacy, then went on to primary school, until he finally joined King Fu’ad I University, graduating with a degree in philosophy in 1934…

As a reader, Mahfouz was a big fan of historical and adventure novels, specifically citing Sir Walter Scott and H. Rider Haggard, but he also read widely in both classical and contemporary Arabic literature… In various statements after he achieved fame as a writer, he specifically mentioned a wide variety of Western writers, most notably Tolstoy, Proust, and Mann…

Mahfouz was greatly affected by the 1919 revolution that occurred in Egypt when he was only 7… The memory of which continued to dominate his political awareness with images of the revolution recurring in many of his novels… As he matured, he drifted towards a socialist worldview and became increasingly critical of “Islamist” politics…

In 1939 he entered government bureaucracy, where he was employed for the subsequent 35 years… From 1939 till 1954, he was a civil servant at the Ministry of Islamic Affairs, and then was appointed director of the Foundation for Support of the Cinema, the State Cinema Organization… In 1969-71 he was a consultant for cinema affairs to the Ministry of Culture…

His early writings included translations from English and stories about ancient Egypt; but his most significant early novels draw changes in the lives of Cairo’s petty bourgeoisie as a national consciousness that emerged after the 1919 Revolution… He has been compared to Zola, Balzac, and Dickens, although most critics emphasize his independent Arabic nature… However, after receiving the Nobel Prize in 1988, Mahfouz himself said that his work upholds principles widely associated with European civilization – but he has also argued that these principles can be found in Islam as well…

His first published book was a translation of James Baikie’s work on ancient Egypt, while his first collection of stories (همس الجنون) appeared in 1938… In the late sixties and early seventies, Naguib Mahfouz tried his hand at a number of one-act plays that were widely regarded as experiments in the tradition of the absurd… Mahfouz, who wrote his major novels in the realistic tradition, seems to have undergone a turning point in his career by the late fifties… (أولاد حارتنا- 1959) was a far cry from his realistic masterpieces that had preceded it: (بين القصرين – 1956), (قصر الشوق – 1957), and (السكرية – 1957)…. This controversial novel, written in an allegorical form, was followed by works sharply changing from the technical ideals of realism in the more concentrated form of the short story in his collection: (دنيا الله – 1963), (بيت سئ السمعة – 1965), (خمارة القط الأسود – 1969) and in his politically disguised novels: (الشحاذ – 1965), (اللص والكلاب – 1961), (ثرثرة فوق النيل – 1966)… A more daring step was Mahfouz’s adaptation of the tradition of the absurd in a number of one-act plays published side by side with his short stories in (تحت المظلة – 1969) and (الجريمة – 1973)…

In addition, Mahfouz began to construct his novels more freely and to use interior monologues… In (ميرامار – 1967) he developed a form of multiple first-person narration; four narrators, among them a Socialist and a Nasserite opportunist, represent different political views. In (ليالي ألف ليلة – 1981) and in (رحلة ابن فطومة – 1983) Mahfouz drew on traditional Arabic narratives as subtexts, while (العائش فى الحقيقة – 1985) is about conflict between old and new religious truths…

In New York Review of Books issued November 30, 2000, Edward Said says:
“As a geographical place and as history, Egypt for Mahfouz has no counterpart in any other part of the world. Old beyond history, geographically distinct because of the Nile and its fertile valley, Mahfouz’s Egypt is an immense accumulation of history, stretching back in time for thousands of years, and despite the astounding variety of its rulers, regimes, religions, and races, nevertheless retaining its own coherent identity.”

How many Naguib Mahfouz does Egypt have nowadays…?
Sadly… none…

May God bless his soul…



July 27, 2008

And yet another loss…

Posted in Outstanding Figures at 2:58 pm by Rou...

Another legendary figure falls…

Another national treasury loss…


Youssef Chahine died today July 27, 2008…




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”



March 26, 2006

“I have a dream…”

Posted in English, Outstanding Figures at 12:03 pm by Rou...

Back in school time, during 1st year in preparatory stage or so, I used to take conversation courses in the International Language Institute. It had a speech hanged somewhere on a wall there. I didn’t really understand the true meanings of the whole speech back then, but what grabbed my attention the most was that it had a repeated phrase that said “I have a dream…”


In 1996, in the opening ceremony of the Olympic Games in Atlanta, they displayed parts of that speech, and again the same phrase stopped me; “I have a dream…”


Afterwards, I got the whole speech, and learned that the man who was addressing that speech was called Martin Luther King, Jr.


I started to collect as many quotes as I could for him, but the funny thing was that I never tried to read about his biography except lately.


So, anyhow; I just wanted to share this with you.



Martin Luther King, Jr., (January 15, 1929 – April 4, 1968)


Birth and Family

         Was the first son and the second child born to the Reverend Martin Luther King, Sr. and Alberta Williams King.


         Born as “Michael Luther King”, but later had his name changed to Martin.


         In Boston he met and married Coretta Scott, a young woman of uncommon intellectual and artistic attainments, the younger daughter of Obadiah and Bernice McMurry Scott of Marion, Alabama, on June 18, 1953.


         Two sons and two daughters were born into the family.

         Yolanda Denise (November 17, 1955, Montgomery, Alabama)

         Martin Luther III (October 23, 1957, Montgomery, Alabama)

         Dexter Scott (January 30, 1961, Atlanta, Georgia)

–         Bernice Albertine (March 28, 1963, Atlanta, Georgia)



         Attended segregated public schools in Georgia, graduating from high school at the age of fifteen.


–         Received the B. A. degree in Sociology in 1948 from Morehouse College, a distinguished Negro institution of Atlanta from which both his father and grandfather had been graduated.


         After three years of theological study at Crozer Theological Seminary in Pennsylvania where he was elected president of a predominantly white senior class, he was awarded the Bachelor of Divinity (B.D.) degree in 1951.


         With a fellowship won at Crozer, he enrolled in graduate studies at Boston University, completing his residence for the doctorate in 1953 and receiving the degree in 1955


Career and Achievements

         Accepted the pastorale of the Dexter Avenue Baptist Church in Montgomery, Alabama in 1954. (This lasted from September 1954 to November 1959.)


         King was, by this time, a member of the executive committee of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, the leading organization of its kind in the nation.


         Early in December, 1955, he accepted the leadership of the first great Negro nonviolent demonstration of contemporary times in the United States, the bus boycott described by Gunnar Jahn in his presentation speech in honor of the laureate. The boycott lasted 382 days. On December 21, 1956, after the Supreme Court of the United States had declared unconstitutional the laws requiring segregation on buses, Negroes and whites rode the buses as equals. During these days of boycott, King was arrested, his home was bombed, he was subjected to personal abuse, but at the same time he emerged as a Negro leader of the first rank.


–         In 1957 he was elected president of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference, an organization formed to provide new leadership for the now burgeoning civil rights movement. The ideals for this organization he took from Christianity; its operational techniques from Gandhi.


         In the eleven-year period between 1957 and 1968, King traveled over six million miles and spoke over twenty-five hundred times, appearing wherever there was injustice, protest, and action; and meanwhile he wrote five books as well as numerous articles.


         In these years, he led a massive protest in Birmingham, Alabama, that caught the attention of the entire world, providing what he called a coalition of conscience and inspiring his “Letter from a Birmingham Jail”, a manifesto of the Negro revolution; he planned the drives in Alabama for the registration of Negroes as voters; he directed the peaceful march on Washington, D.C., of 250,000 people to whom he delivered his address, “l Have a Dream”.


         He conferred with President John F. Kennedy and campaigned for President Lyndon B. Johnson.


         He was arrested upwards of twenty times and assaulted at least four times.



         He was awarded honorary degrees from various colleges and universities in the United States and several foreign countries.


–         Was named Man of the Year by Time magazine in 1963; and became not only the symbolic leader of American blacks but also a world figure.


         He was awarded the John F. Kennedy Award, from the Catholic Interracial Council of Chicago, 1964.


         At the age of thirty-five, Martin Luther King, Jr., was the youngest man to have received the Nobel Peace Prize. When notified of his selection, he announced that he would turn over the prize money of $54,123 to the furtherance of the civil rights movement.

Scene Finale

         On the evening of April 4, 1968, while standing on the balcony of his motel room in Memphis, Tennessee, where he was to lead a protest march in sympathy with striking garbage workers of that city, he was assassinated.



I’ll be following this email with other posts including some of his famous quotes and parts of his famous speeches.

In the meanwhile you can Read and Listen to his complete famous speech “I have a dream” through this link:

Sorry for making it a very long email… and hope it wasn’t a boring one…

Have a great day…




Biography References:


August 8, 2004

Robert Browning

Posted in Outstanding Figures at 12:10 pm by Rou...

I once read a quote for someone called Browning, I didn’t happen to know him by that time so forgive my ignorance. Unfortunately that quote was translated in Arabic… but I liked it so much that I started searching for the original quote in English… and it was amazing what I found about the Brownings.


Today I’ll write to you what I know about Robert Browning, with some of his quotes. And I’ll be following up with other things about him along with his wife… Elizabeth Barrettes Browning.


By the way, I never found the original English translation of that quote… so if anyone happens to know it… please send it to me… it said:

“نحن نسقط لكي ننهض… و نهزم في المعارك لنحرر نصراً أروع … تماماً كما ننام لكي نصحو أكثر قوة و نشاطاً…!”




Robert Browning was born in Camberwell, south London, in 1812 as the son of Robert Browning, a wealthy clerk in the Bank of England, and Sarah Anna Wiedemann, of German-Scottish origin. Young Robert spent much of his time in his father’s private library of 6000 volumes in several languages. The chief source of his education.


At the age of 16, he began to study at newly established London University, returning home after a brief period. At home his parents showed understanding of his decision to withdraw and supported him morally and financially.


In 1833 Browning published anonymously PAULINE: A FRAGMENT OF A CONFESSION. It has been said, that it was inspired by Eliza Flower, a performer and composer of religious music. First the publication sold not a single copy but eventually the work was noted by J.S. Mills.


Between 1834 and 1836 The Monthly Repository published several shorter poems by Browning. In 1834 he traveled to Russia and made in 1838 his first trip to Italy.


Browning’s early poetical works attracted little attention until the publication of PARACELSUS (1835), which dealt with the life of the famous Swiss alchemist.

From 1837 to 1846 Browning attempted to write verse drama for the stage. During these years he met Carlyle, Dickens, and Tennyson, and formed several important friendships.


Between 1841 and 1846 Browning works appeared under the title BELLS AND POMEGRANATES. It contained several of his best-known lyrics, such as How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix, and PIPPA PASSES (1841), a dramatic poem depicting a silk winder and his wandering in Italy.


Among his earlier works was SORDELLO (1840), set against the background of restless southern Europe of the 13th century. It influenced Ezra Pound in his conception of the Cantos. However, Sordello‘s hostile reception shadowed Browning’s reputation for over twenty years.


Browning became an admirer of Elizabeth’s Barrettes (1806-1861), poetry in 1844. He began corresponding with her by letter. This was the start of one of the world’s most famous romances. Their courtship lasted until 1846 when they were married. The couple moved to Italy that same year and had a son, Pen, later in 1849.


He produced comparatively little poetry during the next 15 years. When Elizabeth Browning died in 1861, he moved to London with his son Robert Barrett Browning (1849-1912). There he wrote his greatest work, THE RING AND THE BOOK (1869), based on the proceedings in a murder trial in Rome in 1698. It consisted of 10 verse narratives, all dealing with the same crime, each from a distinct viewpoint.


Browning made poetry compete with prose, and used idioms of ordinary speech in his text. A typical Browning poem tells of a key moment in the life of a prince, priest or painter of the Italian Renaissance. He often crammed his meaning into so few words that many readers could not grasp what he meant.


Robert did not become recognized as a poet, until after Elizabeth’s death in 1861. After which, he was honored for the rest of his life as a literary figure.


Robert is perhaps best-known for his dramatic monologue technique. In his monologues, he spoke in the voice of an imaginary or historical character. Robert had a fondness for people who lived during the Renaissance. Most of his monologues portray persons at dramatic moments in their lives.


In the 1850s and 1860s Browning’s reputation began to revive. In 1855 appeared the masterpiece of his middle period, MEN AND WOMEN. With DRAMATIS PERSONAE (1864) and The Ring and the Book he was back in the literary scene.

In 1866, after his father died, Browning lived with his sister, generally spending the season in London, and the rest of the year in the country or abroad. In the 1870s Browning published several works, including THE INN ALBUM (1875), a dramatic poems, where two couples use the the visitors’ book to convey messages, and a translation of Aeschylus’ Agamemnon. Browning Society was founded in 1881 as an indication of the poets status as a sage and celebrity.


Robert Browning died on December 12, 1889 in Venice in his son’s house. Various difficulties made the poet’s requested burial in Florence impossible, and his body was returned to England to be interred in Westminster Abbey. Browning’s narrative poem, ‘Childe Roland to the Dark Tower Came’, has inspired Stephen King’s King’s Dark Tower series, which started in 1982 with The Gunslinger.




“A minute’s success pays the failure of years.”


Grow old along with me! … The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made:   Our times are in His hand …Who saith, ‘A whole I planned, Youth shows but half; trust God: see all, nor be afraid!’  ”


I show you doubt, to prove that faith exists.”


Ignorance is not innocence but sin.”


What’s the earth with all its art, verse, music, and worth Compared with love found, gained, and kept?”


Why comes temptation, but for man to meet and master and crouch beneath his foot, and so be pedestaled in triumph?”


“A face to lose youth for, to occupy age with the dream of, and meet death with.”

“If you get simple beauty and nought else, you get about the best thing God invents.”


“All at once they leave you, and you know them!”


“Might she have loved me? Just as well … She might have hated, who can tell?”


“Ah, but a man’s grasp should exceed his reach, or what’s a Heaven for?”


“I count life just a stuff to try the soul’s strength on.”


“It is best to be yourself, imperial, plain and true.”


“Man partly is and wholly hopes to be.”


“My sun sets to rise again.”


“Truth lies within ourselves: it takes no rise from outward things, whatever you may believe. There is an inmost center in us all, where truth abides in fullness and to know rather consists in opening out a way whence the imprisoned splendor may escape than in effecting entry for light supposed to be without.”


“What I aspired to be and was not, comforts me.”


“What Youth deemed crystal, Age finds out was dew.”


“Like dogs in a wheel, birds in a cage, or squirrels in a chain, ambitious men still climb and climb, with great labor, and incessant anxiety, but never reach the top.”


“Take away love and our earth is a tomb.”