Miss Mabrouk of Egypt

Check the archives too - a lot of good stuff to enjoy. Me myself? Off to new adventures in the blogosphere, if time permits.

Sunday, September 03, 2006

Naguib Mahfouz, R.I.P.

For me, "Children of Our Alley" is one of those few books that one will always compare every other story with. Mahfouz was a master, there is no doubt about that, and it is sad that not everybody are able to see how important litterature is to us. Without different perspectives we have nothing to compare our beliefs with, nothing that forces us to think about our attitudes. The people who despised his work failed to understand that this particular book is also a road in to thoughts about what the Prophets tried to teach us.

Mahfouz stirred controversy among conservatives with his calls for religious tolerance.

The 1959 "Children of Gebelawi" — or "Children of Our Alley" by its Arabic title — told the story of a family patriarch and his sons. The father represents God and the sons represent the series of prophets that Islam believes includes Jesus and Moses and culminates in Muhammad. The book was banned in Egypt.

Islam frowns on any literary depiction of Muhammad, except for straightforward biography or poems of praise. But even more rankling to conservatives is that Mahfouz added a final son who represents science, suggesting he was a prophet after Muhammad.

A fatwa was issued in 1989 by Egyptian radical Sheik Omar Abdel-Rahman, who was later convicted of plotting to blow up New York City landmarks. He said Mahfouz deserved to die for his novel, and in 1994 an Islamic militant stabbed the author, saying "Children of Gebelaya" was blasphemous.

Mohammed Abdel Qudous, one of the group's senior figures, described Mahfouz as "a great, modest and devout Muslim man," in an interview with Egyptian state-run television.
The Nobel prize, which Mahfouz won in 1988, introduced to the world a man who is seen by many as the Middle East's greatest writer, with 34 novels, hundreds of short stories and essays, dozens of movie scripts and five plays over a 70-year career.

Read the full article: AP/Yahoo! News

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