Cairo – “Except for Mahmoud Amin Al-Alam.” A phrase of praise uttered by the Dean of Arabic Literature, Taha Hussein, excluding the thinker, critic and writer Mahmoud Amin Al-Alam from “the new writers who write more than they read, and what they write does not indicate a broad or deep culture,” as Hussein said, describing In a television interview in the seventies, a number of “new” writers were present at the time, and a group of the most prominent writers, creators and critics of the time were sitting in front of him.
Taha Hussein says about these names (Youssef Al-Sibai, Naguib Mahfouz, Anis Mansour, Abdul Rahman Al-Sharqawi, Tharwat Abaza, Mahmoud Amin Al-Alam, Kamel Zuhairi):
What they write does not indicate a broad or deep culture. pic.twitter.com/nyUFYeQdLR
— Literary Editor (@LiteraryeditorT) September 18, 2021
It was not this cultural depth alone that distinguished the world until his death on this day in 2009, that thinker, politician, intellectual, writer and critic, and one of the members of the Egyptian Communist Party since the forties, which some observers considered the spiritual father of the Egyptian left. Both praised and criticized him for his ability to accept and tolerate his fiercest opponents, to the point of going to help his executioner learn after a link of torture that the jailer gave him during his imprisonment in the sixties.
Among the traditions of the world he said about his executioner: “I loved him, pity him, and feel responsible towards him. He is a victim of absence and ignorance. I also learned from him by day how to break up rocks, and I taught him at night how to break up the walls of darkness around him.”
Mahmoud Amin Al-Alam says, in an article entitled “Criticism, Action, and Renewal,” that “responsible work is the true school of responsible criticism,” which was the embodiment of his ideas to the point of consistency between thought and position, as the academic and writer Magda Rafa’a Al-Tahtawi, and writer in Cases magazine, says about him. An ideological issue issued by the world, and “this is what made Mahmoud Al-Alam credible even among those who disagreed with them ideologically,” as she put it.
And she continued in her speech to Al-Jazeera Net that the world was concerned with the renewal of Arab thought, in its theoretical, social, economic and political manifestations, and established a periodical of intellectual issues from this perspective to be a critical reading of Arab thought in its various manifestations, and was keen to include each number of the best Arab minds.
She explained that the scientist’s project was based on Marxist thought, but his understanding of Marxist thought was far from stagnant.
Exception of transformations
Throughout its history, the symbols of the Egyptian left were characterized by transformations, many of them turned against their ideas, except for Mahmoud Amin Al-Alam who was an exception to the transformation and deviation from what he truly believed, as was the exception of the intellectuals mentioned by Taha Hussein.
The scientist who was born nearly a century ago, specifically on February 18, 1922, paid a heavy price for his stances. The July 1952 movement, which he initially supported, because it was “an expression of the Egyptians’ yearning for change,” carried out multiple attempts to assimilate and tame the world, Then he was dismissed from his university job as an assistant teacher of philosophy in 1954, after which he was imprisoned.
The world continued to struggle from within the state’s institutions (1954-1970) trying to push it towards democracy, so he was writing in this sense the editorials of Rose Al-Youssef magazine. The authority tried to remove him in a soft way, by assigning the responsibilities of editing a new magazine issued by the nascent state editorial house, which had not been issued, so he began writing under pseudonyms in a number of publications, until the door of literary criticism opened to the breadth of writing.
And when the unity between Egypt and Syria was announced, he rejoiced at it, and called for its preservation from failure by taking into account the peculiarity and difference of the Syrian situation from the Egyptian one, forcing him to write a statement to this effect under the pseudonym “Farid.”
Tensions continued between the world and the Nasserist regime, between attempts at assimilation and subjugation, then imprisonment, and then a state of complacency on the Egyptian leftists in general when the regime needed the support of the leftist intellectuals, so it refused to dissolve the Egyptian Communist Party, demanding that it be within a large umbrella that unites the goals of socialism, then joined the vanguard organization, He was appointed to several positions in press, cultural and artistic institutions.
One of the funny paradoxes that the scientist narrated about his imprisonment is that when the Egyptian communists were gathered in the prison, they prayed behind the late thinker Muhammad Emara, who was still a communist, so the place where they gathered for prayer was called the “Communists Mosque.”
The regime of the late President Anwar Sadat began to clash with the left, and Sadat was responsible for the Nasser era, who tried to subdue the world and all his attempts failed.
The arrests, which were then called the Power Centers Case, included him in the early seventies, and the scientist was represented before the interrogator, then he accused Sadat personally of various accusations, then he prepared to face the gallows, but he was surprised by the prison door opening to get out of it independently in a taxi to his home.
He did not withdraw from himself, thanking him for the blessing of freedom that his comrades were deprived of in the same case. Rather, he represented a witness for their benefit. Then he went to work the next day to find himself referred to investigation on charges of absenteeism, and then dismissed by a sovereign order.
At that time, the world began a new phase of the struggle against Sadat from outside the country, opposing the Camp David Accords, in parallel with his academic work in Europe, and then returned after that to issue a non-periodic magazine, “Intellectual Issues”, and was awarded the State Appreciation Award in 1998.
And journalist writer Karem Yahya believes that Mahmoud Amin Al-Alam was an important sign in the Egyptian and Arab leftist thought, and he has important writings in criticism, literature and thought, despite what is rumored about him as a traditional socialist critic.
In his speech to Al-Jazeera Net, Yahya refused to consider the world a spiritual father of the Egyptian left, denying the idea of a vacant seat for a single spiritual “father” of the Egyptian or Arab left who needs someone to fill it after the departure of the world, so the world “is an important symbol at the level of thought, not at the level of organization nor On the political level, the Egyptian and Arab left are multi-directional, schools and generations, and there are generations criticized, and the generation that grew up between the forties until the mid-sixties, which is represented by the world, was subjected to great criticism,” he said.
The speaker expressed his belief that the contributions of the world at the level of literary thought and criticism are the most important, and should be appreciated, as he issued an important magazine in this field, and literature is the secret behind the absence of a sharp turn in the project of the world, as literature, unlike politics, has flexibility in dealing , Other than the severity of politics, which sometimes reaches the denial of the other.
According to his knowledge of him, Karem Yahya – a former candidate for the Journalists Syndicate website – confirmed that the world, by the nature of his personality, does not provoke sharpness and hostility, and he did not prefer to engage in battles, and that his life did not witness coups that provoked battles and observations against him, but remained loyal and loyal to his ideas until his death.
In political prison. During the day the jailer was hard on the prisoner and made him smash rocks with a pickaxe under the sun. In the evening, the prisoner would invite the illiterate jailer to his cell, to teach him the ABCs of reading and writing, and some of the higher principles and morals he missed! I exclaim in wonder: …
— Fatima Naoot July 1, 2020
Mahmoud Amin Al Alem
Egyptian Marxist Enlightenment thinker and philosopher
It is said that during the 59 days of the arrests, the jailer would beat him with a whip in the morning, and Mahmoud would sit in the evening with that jailer to teach him and erase his illiteracy, and when they asked him… How?!
It’s simple, each of us does his duty
– Together against the merchants of religion (@observer_2012) August 11, 2020
Mahmoud Amin Al-Alim, 1968:
“The real, useful criticism is what comes out of the reality of work, responsibility, experience and knowledge, not what comes out of gossip clubs, unemployment cafes, and luxurious meditation benches.
Criticism emanating from a work does not stop you at the limits of defects and shortcomings, but rather explores with you their objective causes. (1) pic.twitter.com/nbyUChMXPf
— Ibrahim Farghali (@IbrahimFarghali) April 10, 2021
I heard Dr. Mahmoud Amin Al-Alam on the Egyptian Al-Thaqafaa channel in the past, that they were exiled to Morsi Matrouh, and Muhammad Emara was with them.
When Abdel Nasser exiled them there, they built an arish and made it a mosque, and they “prayed”, and their imam was Muhammad Amara.
As for the mosque, it was called the “Communist Mosque,” so meditate.
— Raed Samhouri Dr. Raed Alsamhouri (@Alsamhouri) May 17, 2019
I stopped at the beautiful expression of Professor Mahmoud Amin Al-Alam, who says in his book (Culture and Revolution), and I asked myself if culture is a general vision of life and society embodied in the intellectual, emotional, moral and taste behavior of the human being in general.
– Salem Al-Seifi (@alnouman_575) August 11, 2021
Mahmoud Amin Al-Alam is an organic Egyptian intellectual who has contributed greatly and deeply to the cultivation of a different awareness through solid critical writings that put every word in its place, knowing that the word builds and destroys. August and the commission. pic.twitter.com/YcjsG5omzj
– عُــمــر (@ maradona2214) September 4, 2021
– Dr. Faisal Al Hamad (@Dr_Faisal_Ommah) March 27, 2014
In an interview on the religious Iqra satellite channel, the scientist said, “I am the son of the sheikh, continuing my father’s path with the means of the age.” He was not only referring to the upbringing of childhood in a religious family, but that he received his first education in the book of Sheikh Al-Saadani, to memorize the Qur’an, and is proud of that in his meetings, stressing There is absolutely no contradiction between religion and socialism, for religion, from its point of view, is a comprehensive and broad view of human being, while socialism is man’s tools for achieving justice.
The scientist has several books, including: The Philosophy of Coincidence, Colors of the Egyptian Story, Culture and Revolution, Intellectual Battles, Reflections on the World of Naguib Mahfouz, The Face and Mask in Contemporary Arab Theatre, Awareness and False Awareness in Contemporary Arab Thought, Arab Marxists, Arab Unity, Creativity and Significance, Diwan The song of the human being, the human position, the trilogy of rejection and defeat, a critical study.