Cairo (PRWEB) August 31, 2006
Naguib Mahfouz, most celebrated Egyptian writer and the only Arabic writer to win the Nobel Prize in literature for his novels about Egyptian life in 20th Century Egypt, has died. He was 94.
Mahfouz, who was accused of blasphemy by an Islamic militant and survived a stabbing attack 12 years ago, was admitted to the hospital last month after falling in his home and injuring his head. He died early Wendsday morning, according to his physician Dr. Hossam Mowafi, head of a medical team supervising his treatment at the Police Hospital.
Mahfouz was awarded The Nobel Prize in 1988, confirming his status as the leading Arabic writer, an acclaim he had already established himself through his loyal following.
In 1994, an attacker inspired by a militant cleric's ruling that a Mahfouz novel “Children of the Alley” which was written decades before, was blasphemous.
The attacker stabbed the then-82-year-old Mahfouz as he left his Cairo home. Mahfouz survived, but the attack damaged nerves leading to his right arm, seriously impairing his ability to write.
“A man who had once worked for hours at a time — writing in longhand — found it a struggle to form legible words running in more or less straight lines," said el Sheikh, a Sufi scholar describing the aftermath of the accident.
Still, Mahfouz maintained a busy schedule well into his 90s. In his final years, he would go out six nights a week to meet friends at Cairo's literary watering holes, trading jokes, ideas for stories and news of the day.
He continued to work, producing short stories, sometimes only a few paragraphs long, dictating each day to a friend who would also read him the newspapers. His final published major work came in 2005 — a collection of stories about the afterlife entitled "The Seventh Heaven".
"I wrote 'The Seventh Heaven' because I want to believe something good will happen to me after death," the wispy-bearded writer confided in el Sheikh, with a grin, during a small gathering for his 94th birthday in December 2005.
"Spirituality for me is of high importance and continuously provides inspiration for me," said Naguib.
Naguib wrote more tha 50 novels, five plays and scores of short stories and essays, Mahfouz depicted with startling realism the Egyptian "Everyman" balancing between tradition and the modern world.
The scene of the novels often did not stretch beyond a few familiar blocks of Islamic Cairo, the 1,000-year-old quarter of el Housen where Mahfouz was born.
Funeral Prayer at el Housen Mosque and State Military Funeral at el Rashdan Mosque, Thursday August 31st.