Abdel-Rahman al-Sharqawi

Abdel-Rahman Al-Sharqawi was a leading multi-talented intellectual. During the late forties, he was one of the leading pioneers of the innovative movement in Arabic poetry, as well as a major exponent of the social realistic trend in literary criticism. In poetry, he was a pioneer of a new trend of Arabic poetry. He also introduced a totally new social, moral, ideological and critical approach to biographies of major Islamic figures.
Above all, Al-Sharqawi was a prominent press writer and political activist, mainly involved in the defence of democracy, social justice, religious tolerance and true faith. Born in a village in Menoufia governorate, he graduated in the Faculty of Law in 1943.
When Al-Sharqawi composed his long poem "Message of an Egyptian Father to President Truman" in 1951, leaders of poetry had not realised that a total revolution in Arabic poetry had been in the making. This epic poem with its political and emotional content had a far-reaching impact on the modern Arabic poetry, not only in terms of its vibrating and fluctuating rhythm, but also its structure and texture as well as the poet's concerns.
Al-Sharqawi's first novel "The Earth", published in book form in 1954 (after being serialized in 'Al Masri" daily during 1953), had a similar resounding impact. The novel was the first embodiment of literary "Realism" and a departure from Al-Hakeem's symbolism reflected in "Restoration of the Soul" and "Journals of a Prosecutor in the Countryside". The novel expressed the social struggle between feudalism and Egyptian peasants prior to the 1952 Revolution.
Al-Sharqawi's pioneering role further extended to poetic drama, when he first wrote his premiere poetic play "Tragedy of Jamila" in 1962, highlighting the struggle of the Algerian nationalist heroine against French occupation. The artistic merit of the play rested not only on its being the first drama in modern poetry, but also on its epic-like semi-narrative style. However, Al-Sharqawi's epic style tended towards popular folkloric biographies of ancient Arab heroes such as Antara , the most renowned Arab knight-poet. The play had a strong stimulating effect on the dramatic movement in Egypt and Arab countries, looking forward for a special nationalist dramatic (norm).
His outstanding book "Muhammad: the Messenger of Freedom", published in 1962, was also a real breakthrough in writing biographies of Muslim leaders. In this book as well his other published works on the lives of the well-guided Caliphs (Abu Bakr, Omar, Othman and Ali) and major leaders of jurisprudence and Sunna, he was not concerned with detailed account of their biographies. He was, rather, interested in those incidents and works that expressed the values of freedom, justice, reasoning, tolerance and indivisible association between faith and knowledge rather than ignorance.
Al-Sharqawi often contributed to leftist publications, although he has never joined any leftist organisation. His tendencies were rather nationalist and purely democratic. In the press he was once Chairman of the Board of Directors and Editor-in Chief of the famous Egyptian Rose El Youssef magazine.
He also occupied important positions at the Secretariat of the Afro-Asian Peoples Solidarity Organization and the Supreme Council of Arts and Letters (now: the Supreme Council of Culture)
* State Merit Prize for Literature (1974) * The Order of Letters and Arts of the First Class
Major Works
"Al- Hussein, a Revolutionary and Martyr", "Red Eagle, Orabi, Leader of Peasants," "Muhammad: the Messenger of Freedom", "Al- Farouq Omar", "Ali, Leader of the Pious", "Al- Saddeeq, the First Caliph", among others.
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