'Abbas Mahmud Al-Aqqad

Abbas Mahmoud al-Aqqad
عباس محمود العقاد
Abass El-Akad Skulptur Aswan.JPG
Al-Aqqad's Statue in Aswan
Born28 June 1889
Died13 March 1964(1964-03-13) (aged 74)

Abbas Mahmoud al-Aqqad (Arabic: عباس محمود العقاد, ALA-LC: ‘Abbās Maḥmūd al-‘Aqqād; 28 June 1889 – 12 March 1964) was an Egyptian journalist, poet and literary critic,[1][2] and member of the Academy of the Arabic Language in Cairo.[3][4] More precisely, because "his writings cover a broad spectrum, including poetry, criticism, Islamology, history, philosophy, politics, biography, science, and Arabic literature",[5] he is perceived to be a polymath.[6][7]


Al-Aqqad was born in Aswan, a city in Upper Egypt, in 1889.[8] His father was a money-changer originally from the Egyptian rural city of Damietta while his mother had Kurdish roots.[9][10] He received little formal education, completing only his elementary education; he later supplemented his learning by buying books and reading on his own.[2] Unlike his schoolmates, he spent all his weekly allowance on books. He read about religion, geography, history and many other subjects. He was known for his excellent English and French. He was also particularly well-read in German literature.[11]

Al-'Aqqad was also an outspoken political thinker, and was jailed for a time between 1930 and 1931 for criticizing the country's government.[2] In 1942 when the forces of Adolf Hitler advanced on Egypt, al-'Aqqad fled to Sudan due to fear of reprisal for his criticism of Hitler.[2] At the height of Hitler's military advances, al-'Aqqad wrote his scathing work Hitler in the Balance in June 1940 in which he lambasts Nazism as the greatest threat to freedom, modernity and the very existence of man.[12] In addition to his general opposition to both fascism and communism, al-'Aqqad was also both a member of the Egyptian parliament for a time as a member of the Wafd Party, and later a member of the Chamber of Deputies.[12]

He wrote more than a hundred of books about philosophy, religion, and poetry, along with a philosophical study of the Qur'an and various biographies of historic Muslim leaders.[2] He founded a poetry school with Ibrahim Al-Mazny and Abdel Rahman Shokry called Al-Diwan.

Romantic relationships[]

Al-Aqqad experienced two major romantic relationships in his life. The first was whom he called "Sarah" in his novel of the same name.[2] The second was with the famous Egyptian actress Madiha Yousri. This relationship was ended by al-Aqqad himself, because of Yousri's career as an actress. Al-Aqqad wrote a poetry work about this relationship called Cyclones of a Sunset (A-Asiru Maghrib in Arabic).

It was reported by prolific Egyptian author Anis Mansour and various other attendees of Al-Aqqad's famous 'lounge' that he kept a painting in his bedroom that displayed a beautiful cake with cockroaches crawling over it. Supposedly, Al-Aqqad kept this in his room as 'the first thing he looked at in the morning and the last thing he saw in the evening'. It symbolized beauty and purity (the cake) that is wasted to the glamor of spotlights (the cockroaches) as was the case (as he perceived) with actress Madiha Yousri.


Al Aqqad died on the morning of 13 March 1964. His body was transported to his hometown, Aswan, for burial on the same day.

In the early 1980s, an Egyptian television series was produced about the life of al-Aqqad, which was titled The Giant (Al Imlaq in Arabic). It starred Egyptian actor Mahmud Mursi.

There is a street in the Nasr City district of Cairo named after al-Aqqad.[13]


Abbās al-Aqqād was "a prolific writer, he authored over a hundred books and several thousand articles",[14] and he is most famous for his Abqarīyat series which consists of seven books cover the life of seven of the most important Sahabah like Abu Bakr and Ali. His works include:


  1. ^ About Arabic books Nur Sherif – 1970 "WITH AL-AKKAD By Shawqi Daif. It is a few years since the Arabic-speaking world mourned the death of Abbas Mahmoud al-Akkad (1889–1964) at age 75. Nicknamed "the Giant", both for his physical and ...
  2. ^ a b c d e f ʿAbbās Maḥmūd al-ʿAqqād, Encyclopædia Britannica Online. Accessed 22 December 2015.
  3. ^ A.C. Brown, Jonathan (2014). Misquoting Muhammad: The Challenge and Choices of Interpreting the Prophet's Legacy. Oneworld Publications. pp. 146. ISBN 978-1780744209.
  4. ^ Arab Observer Issues 185–197 1964 "ABBAS AL-AKKAD Yet another seat in the Arab Academy became vacant after the death last week of writer and man of letters, Abbas Mahmoud Al Akkad, at the age of 75."
  5. ^ Matti Moosa, The Origins of Modern Arabic Fiction, Lynne Rienner Publishers (1997), p. 339
  6. ^ Pierre Cachia, An Overview of modern Arabic literature, Edinburgh University Press (1990), p. 90
  7. ^ Wen-chin Ouyang, Politics of Nostalgia in the Arabic Novel: Nation-State, Modernity and Tradition, Edinburgh University Press (2013), p. 63
  8. ^ The literature of ideas in Egypt Volume 1; Volume 1 Louis Awad – 1986 "'Abbas al-'Akkad 1889—1964 Introduction 'Abbas Mahmud al-'Aqqad was born in the town of Aswan on June 28, 1889. His father was a government clerk in charge of the deeds and property records of Aswan and Esna and died soon after 'Abbas'"
  9. ^ Arthur Goldschmidt, Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt, Lynne Rienner Publishers (2000), p. 24
  10. ^ Tahir Khemiri; G. Kampffmeyer (1930). "Leaders in contemporary Arabic literature. Ali Abd ar-Razi". Die Welt des Islams. 9 (2–4): 13. doi:10.2307/1569007.
  11. ^ Nadav Safran, Egypt in Search of Political Community: An Analysis of the Intellectual and Political Evolution of Egypt, 1804-1952, Harvard University Press (1961), p. 135
  12. ^ a b Israel Gershoni, Liberal Democratic Legacies in Modern Egypt: The Role of the Intellectuals, 1900–1950 Archived 22 December 2015 at the Wayback Machine, Institute for Advanced Study, Summer 2012 issue. Retrieved 22 December 2015
  13. ^ Ali Abdel Mohsen, Streets of Cairo: Abbas al-Akkad . Egypt Independent, 18 December 2010. Accessed 29 December 2015.
  14. ^ F. Peter Ford, Jr., "Preface" in Abbas Mahmud al-Aqqad, The Genius of Christ, Global Academic Publishing (2001), p. viii

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