نجيب محفوظ والحل الصوﻓﻲ / Najīb Maḥfūẓ and the Sufi Way


Hamdi Sakkout



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سكوت, حمدى; Sakkout, Hamdi

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Research Article

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Alif: Journal of Comparative Poetics

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[From the works of Najīb Maḥfūẓ that cover the ten year period from 1952 (the year he completed the Trilogy) to 1964 (when he published Tharthara fawq al-Nīl, serialized in al-Ahram) emanates in impression that his beliefs were anchored onthe validity of scientific knowledge and the effectiveness of the scientific solution. But a more thorough reading discloses a deeper stratumthat contradicts this first impression: a stratum of scepticism towards science, traditional religion and philosophy. There are some indications of a search for a new religion in works which were written in the last years of this period such as "Za'balāwī" (1961), al-Tarīq (1963) and al-Shaḥḥādh (1964). The sufi experience undergone by the hero of The Beggar, 'Umar al-Hamzāwī as a search for the metaphysical and ontological questions found its development in the works of Maḥfūẓ, Hikāyat Hāratina, Qalb al-Layl, Malḥamat al-Ḥarāfīsh and Riḥlat Ibn Faṭṭūma. In this last novel the hero travels in search of an ideal land, Dār al-Jabal, where the Sufis find peace and salvation. Be it on the individual level - as in al-Shaḥḥādh - or on the level of societies - as in Riḥlat Ibn Faṭṭūma - sufism leads to salvation. But in both cases the strife stops at the threshold of salvation. The sufi experience cannot be described. Its possibility is its being.]

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