Taha Hussein - Wikipedia
Taha Hussein
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Taha Hussein (Egyptian Arabic: [ˈtˤɑːhɑ ħ(e)ˈseːn], Arabic: طه حسين‎‎; November 15, 1889 – October 28, 1973) was one of the most influential 20th-century Egyptian writers and intellectuals, and a figurehead for the Egyptian Renaissance and the modernist movement in the Middle East and North Africa. His sobriquet was "The Dean of Arabic Literature" (Arabic: عميد الأدب العربي‎‎).[2][3] He was nominated for a Nobel prize in literature fourteen times.[4]
Taha Hussein
طه حُسين

Taha Hussein
Born15 November 1889[1]
Maghagha, Khedivate of Egypt
Died28 October 1973 (aged 83)[1]
Cairo, Egypt
EraModern literary theory
Regionenglish philosophy
SchoolModernism, ClassicalArabic literature, Nahda
Taha Hussein was born in Izbet el Kilo, a village in the Minya Governorate in central Upper Egypt.[1] He went to a kuttab, and thereafter was admitted to El Azhar University, where he studied Religion and Arabic literature. From an early age, he was reluctant to take the traditional education to his heart. Hussein was the seventh of thirteen children, born into a lower-middle-class family.[1] He contracted ophthalmia and became blind at the age of two,[5] the result of faulty treatment by an unskilled practitioner.[citation needed]
Hussein met and married Suzanne Bresseau (1895–1989) while attending the University of Montpellier in France. She was referred to as "sweet voice". This name came from her ability to read to him as he was trying to improve his grasp of the French language. Suzanne became his wife, best friend and the mother of his two children and was his mentor throughout his life.[citation needed]
Taha Hussein's children, his daughter Amina and her younger brother Moenis, were both important figures in Egypt. Amina, who died at the age of 70, was among the first Egyptian women to graduate from Cairo University. She and her brother, Moenis, translated his Adib (The Intellectual) into French. This was especially important to their father, who was an Egyptian who had moved to France and learned the language. Even more important, the character of Adib is that of a young man who, like Taha Hussein, has to deal with the cultural shock of an Egyptian studying and living in France.[citation needed]
Taha Hussein with President Habib Bourguiba, Muhammad al-Tahir ibn Ashur and Mohamed Abdelaziz Djaït (Al-Zaytuna Mosque, 1957)
Academic career
When the secular Cairo University was founded in 1908, he was keen to be admitted, and despite being blind and poor he won a place. In 1914, he received a PhD for his thesis on the sceptic poet and philosopher Abu al-ʿAlaʾ al-Maʿarri.[5] He went on to become a professor of Arabic literature there. In 1919, he was appointed a professor of history at Cairo University. Additionally, he was the founding Rector of the University of Alexandria. Although he wrote many novels and essays, in the West he is best known for his autobiography, Al-Ayyam (الايام‎, The Days) which was published in English as An Egyptian Childhood (1932) and The Stream of Days (1943). However, it was his book of literary criticism On Pre-Islamic Poetry (في الشعر الجاهلي‎) of 1926 that bought him some fame in the Arab world.[6] In this book, he expressed doubt about the authenticity of much early Arabic poetry, claiming it to have been falsified during ancient times due to tribal pride and rivalry between tribes. He also hinted indirectly that the Qur'an should not be taken as an objective source of history.[5] Consequently, the book aroused the intense anger and hostility of the religious scholars at Al Azhar and many other traditionalists, and he was accused of having insulted Islam. However, the public prosecutor stated that what Taha Hussein had said was the opinion of an academic researcher and no legal action was taken against him, although he lost his post at Cairo University in 1931. His book was banned but was re-published the next year with slight modifications under the title On Pre-Islamic Literature (1927).[5]
Taha Hussein was an intellectual of the Egyptian Renaissance and a proponent of the ideology of Egyptian nationalism along with what he called Pharaonism, believing that Egyptian civilization was diametrically opposed to Arab civilization, and that Egypt would only progress by reclaiming its ancient pre-Islamic roots.[7]
After Hussein obtained his MA from the University of Montpellier, he continued his studies and received another PhD at the Sorbonne. For his doctoral dissertation, written in 1917, Hussein wrote on Ibn Khaldun, a Tunisian historian, claimed by some to be the founder of sociology. Two years later, in 1919, Hussein made his way back to Egypt from France with his wife, Suzanne, and was appointed professor of history at Cairo University.
Taha Hussein in France
Taha Hussein left for Montpellier, enrolled in its university, attended courses in literature, history, and French, and learned formal writing. However, he was not able to take advantage of that much as he "may be used to taking knowledge with his ears, not with his fingers."[8]
Taha Hussein began learning Latin, and during that period an important thing happened in his life. He met the girl who would become his partner in life.[8]
However, he was summoned to return to Egypt due to the poor conditions at the University of Cairo. Three months later, those conditions improved, and Taha Hussein returned to France.[8]
Positions and tasks
President Gamal Abdel Nasser awarding Taha Hussein the National Honors Prize in Literature (Cairo, 1959)
In 1950, he was appointed a Minister of Knowledge (Ministry of Education nowadays) in which capacity he led a call for free education and the right of everyone to be educated. Additionally, he was an advocate against the confinement of education to the rich people only. In that respect, he said, "Education is as water and air, the right of every human being". Consequently, in his hands, education became free and Egyptians started getting free education.[citation needed] He also transformed many of the Quranic schools into primary schools and converted a number of high schools into colleges such as the Graduate Schools of Medicine and Agriculture. He is also credited with establishing a number of new universities.
Taha Hussein held the position of chief editor of a number of newspapers and wrote innumerable articles. He was also a member of several scientific academies in Egypt and around the world.
The author of "more than sixty books (including six novels) and 1,300 articles",[9] his major works include:[10]
On November 14, 2010, Google celebrated Hussein's birthday with a Google Doodle.[11]
Ribbon barCountryHonour
Grand Collar of the Order of the Nile
Grand Cross of the Order of Merit (Egypt)
Grand Cordon of the National Order of the Cedar
Grand Cross of Civil Order of Alfonso X, the Wise
Grand Cordon of Order of Civil Merit of the Syrian Arab Republic
Grand Cordon of the Order of the Republic of Tunisia
See also
  1. ^ a b c d "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 10, 2004. Retrieved December 1, 2006.
  2. ^ Ghanayim, M. (1994). "Mahmud Amin al-Alim: Between Politics and Literary Criticism". Poetics Today. Poetics Today, Vol. 15, No. 2. 15 (2): 321–338. doi:10.2307/1773168. JSTOR 1773168.
  3. ^ طه حسين عميد الأدب العربي: حياته، آثاره الأدبية و آراؤه (in Arabic). 1997.
  4. ^ "Nomination Database". www.nobelprize.org. Retrieved January 26, 2017.
  5. ^ a b c d Allen, Roger (2005). The Arabic Literary Heritage: The Development of its Genres and Criticism. Cambridge University Press. p. 398. ISBN 0-521-48525-8.
  6. ^ Labib Rizk, Dr Yunan. "A Diwan of contemporary life (391)". Ahram Weekly. Retrieved May 1, 2018.
  7. ^ Gershoni, I., J. Jankowski. (1987). Egypt, Islam, and the Arabs. Oxford: Oxford University Press.
  8. ^ a b c دار المعرفة طه حسين عودته إلى الديار الفرنسية. Morocco. 2014. p. 133.
  9. ^ P. Cachia in Julie Scott Meisami & Paul Starkey, Encyclopedia of Arabic Literature, Volume 1, Taylor & Francis (1998), p. 297
  10. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on December 10, 2004. Retrieved December 1, 2006.
  11. ^ "Birthday of Taha Hussein". Google. November 14, 2010.
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Last edited on 28 February 2021, at 14:27
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