Analyzing Hafez Ibrahim’s Work Layali Satih from a Technical and Thematic PerspectiveTahir Araz
At the beginning of the 20th century as the Arab communities starting with Egypt fought for independence not only militarily but also socially, politically, and culturally against the Western colonialist mentality of the modern era, many poets and writers reflected the weaknesses of society’s fundamental values in their works. Hafez Ibrahim, who was known for his poetry and has been referred to as the Sha’irun-Nil [Poet of the Nile] and Sha’irush-Sha’b [Poet of the People], had an important prose work called Layali Satih [The Nights of Satih], which reflects the dimensions of the social changes that occurred in Egypt at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. Layali Satih is considered a significant work of the period that addresses the poet’s criticisms and views. This study analyzes both technically and thematically the work Layali Satih, which blends the classical poetic style (maqamah) with the novel-like features of modern storytelling and also has autobiographical elements that reflect the problems the author faced with the British during his time in the army. The work highlights the ongoing struggle between tradition and modernity, which is still considered a serious threat in the globalized world of the 21st century, as well as the corruption of journalism and the press, the education system, women’s rights, the concept of happiness, moral decay, the relationship between politics and religion, freedom, and the privileges given to refugees. The work addresses these social realities and provides a critical perspective toward them.
Hafız İbrahim’in Leyâli Satih Adlı Eserinin Teknik ve Tematik Açıdan ÇözümlemesiTahir Araz
Mısır başta olmak üzere Arap toplumu 20. yüzyılın ilk iki çeyreğinde modern çağın Batılı sömürgecilik anlayışına karşı çeşitli alanlarda verilen birçok mücadeleye şahit olur. Özellikle askeri, sosyal, siyasi ve kültürel özgürlük alanlarında öne çıkan bu mücadele, edebiyat sahasında da etkili bir şekilde sürdürülür. Nitekim dönemin şair ve yazarları, toplumun temel değerlerindeki aksaklıkları metinlerine yansıtarak birçok eser kaleme alırlar. Bu bağlamda Arap edebiyatında daha çok şair kimliğiyle tanınan ve “Şâ’irü’n-Nîl” ile “Şâ’irü’ş-Şa’b” gibi lakaplarla taltif edilen Hâfız İbrâhîm’in bu çalışmada değerlendirilen nesir türündeki Leyâlî Satîh isimli eseri, 19. yüzyılın sonlarıyla 20. yüzyılın başlarında sömürgeciliğin de etkisiyle Mısır’da oluşan toplumsal değişimin boyutlarını aktarması noktasında şairin eleştiri ve görüşlerinin yanı sıra dönemin sosyolojik ve siyasi atmosferini başarılı bir şekilde yansıtan önemli eserlerden biri kabul edilir. Şairin ordudayken İngilizlerle yaşadığı sorunlara yer vermesiyle otobiyografik bir özellik de kazanan eserin, klasik edebî bir tür olan makâme tarzı ile modern anlatı türlerinden romanın bazı özelliklerini ihtiva ettiği söylenebilir. Bu açıklamalardan hareketle çalışmada, 21. yüzyılın küreselleşen dünyasında ciddi bir tehdit olarak varlığını sürdüren gelenek-modernite çatışması, edebî münakaşalar, basınla gazeteciliğin yozlaşması, eğitim kurumları, kadın hakları, saadet kavramı, ahlakî çöküş, siyasetdin ilişkisi, özgürlük ve mültecilere tanınan imtiyazlar gibi önemli toplumsal gerçeklere temas eden Leyâlî Satîh isimli eser, teknik ve tematik açıdan tahlil edilmiştir.
Due to their central position in many developments in the Arab world, the contributions of Egyptian poets and writers to Arabic literature have shown a wide range of effects. These impacts appear not only in a literary sense but also in politico-military and sociocultural areas and can be seen to have influenced other developments in other Arab countries, with most of the breakthroughs being evident in Egypt. Egypt was a center of literature and science and gradually separated from the Ottoman State in the second quarter of the 19th century due to the influence of both internal and external factors. Students being sent to Europe, some literary and scientific works being translated into Arabic, and modernizing movements being implemented in various social, cultural, military, and political fields in Egypt prepared the grounds for the end of the long period of stagnation in Arabic literature known as Asru’l İnhitât [Period of Decadence]. On the other hand, this also caused moral, religious, cultural, social, and political conflicts that seriously affected the building blocks of society. The poets and writers expressed their thoughts, criticisms, and concerns about these problems affecting the literary community and attempted to reflect the shortcomings in the basic values of a society struggling to survive politically, socially, and culturally in their texts, attempting to create a social awareness in this direction through their works. Some of these published works aimed to counter the negative perception of Westernization that had emerged during this period through advisory semi-modern novels, while other works investigated the root of the problems and addressed them while expressing their concerns. Others proposed solutions by taking into consideration the needs of society in reference to the existing problems, choosing a more constructive and progressive path both in terms of content and methodology. This study analyzes and attempts to find solutions to some general as well as some specific issues in Layali Satih, such as cultural change; mental confusion and crisis; women’s rights; women’s dress; the concept of freedom and its misunderstandings; religious, old, new, and modern educational institutions; ethical individuals; society and morality; journalism and the press; Arab culture; civilization conflict; the desire to imitate the West; politics and society; the relationship between religion and politics; the concept of happiness; and the thoughts of Afghani and Abduh who’d influenced the era, as well as the privileges granted to the British, the Syrian issue in Egypt at the time, Hafez’s views on poetry, and the criticisms of Ahmed Shawki, within the context of existing thoughts in the era, especially regarding the globalizing world and in the Eastern societies where some of these issues still persist. Layali Satih is the only known work by Hafez Ibrahim in the field of prose and deals with the social, political, and moral dichotomy brought about by the modern world that had started with the Nahda movement in Egypt, providing a general examination and analysis of the social and cultural conflict. The work is significant as a piece of literature because it reflects the different dimensions of social decay, which was a big problem in its time and continues to be even today, by narrating historical events that took place at the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries in a fictional style. One should not overlook that, in the book, the British occupation was not just a military movement but an attempt to reform all aspects of life, from clothing, the education system, and daily life to the shaping of laws and governance, even including the mandatory teaching of English. The influence of the British and its consequences are heavily present in the work, making it an important historical document of the period. Hafez chose the genre of maqamah, in which the writer identifies a problem in society and reflects his views on the subject but cannot be said to have conformed to all the known characteristics of the classic maqamah genre. During this transitional period when a shift had occurred toward modern narrative forms and the novel, Hafez can be seen to have been influenced by translations and to have leaned toward the novel genre, and this contributed to the creation of a novel-like expression in the style of Layali Satih. In this sense, the work has a mixed style that is rich in structure. The character Ravi narrates the story, in which the main and supporting characters are intertwined, and an attempt is made to create awareness about many vital issues in Egyptian society. In this context, the author expresses his opinions and thoughts based on real events and supports these with some narratives that had taken place in the past, making his views even more prominent. The fact that the criticisms made toward Egyptian society in the work still retain their relevance today gives the work a different dimension, while also emphasizing the need for society to re-examine itself. Despite its small size, Layali Satih points to the sociopolitical and cultural disruptions of today with its qualitative and distinct structure. Usefulness is had in noting that some of the topics Hafez Ibrahim mentioned have been translated in the analysis of the work, while others are reflected in this study in the form of meaning transfer rather than as a translation. The similar topics Hafez mentioned on different pages have been gathered together to eliminate any possible confusion and to ensure fluency in style. This study is not just a translation work, but rather an analytical and interpretative work, with all the translations made in transfers being entirely original. This work is unique because previous studies related to Hafez Ibrahim only mentioned Layali Satih by name, with no other research or study having been done on the work. Studies on this work in the Arabic literature should be noted to be limited, and this is believed to be due to Hafez being primarily known as a poet, with more studies being done on his poetry. The aim of this study is to present the scientific community with the thoughts and criticisms toward Egyptian society and literature of Hafez Ibrahim, who is mostly known as a poet, as reflected in his work Layali Satih, which he wrote as a work of prose, by analyzing the problems of Arab society in the process of modernization and social degradation in the context of the conflict between tradition and modernity. Additionally, another goal of this study is to acknowledge and convey how the poet had also produced a remarkable work in the prose genre, how he had been a strong writer in prose as well as poetry, and how he had made contributions to the mindset of the era with his thoughts. Lastly, the study aims to draw attention to the fact that the social upheavals the poet referred to still exist in Eastern societies today and are still being discussed. This study also raises many questions about the persistence of similar social problems and is completely original in that it furthers these discussions.