Prepared by the researcher : Dr. Yahya Saleh Hasan Dahami – Associate Professor Currently: English Department –Faculty of Science and Arts, Al Mandaq – Al Baha University, KSA
Democratic Arab Center
Journal of Social Sciences : Twenty Six Issue – December 2022
A Periodical International Journal published by the “Democratic Arab Center” Germany – Berlin
This paper attempts to illuminate a visionary novelist, Ali Ahmad Ba-Kathir who signifies many cultures, talents, and experiences. The study aims at exhibiting the most noteworthy features of Ba-Kathir’s intellectuality in dealing with the concepts of historical novels and the role of women in some of his novels. The primary amount copes with the ability of Ba-Kathir, the novelist, focusing on his views, craftsmanship, and originality in adapting history as a window for literature. The researcher takes on the critical-descriptive attitude in examining the novelist, and his novels. It starts with an opening outline dealing with a succinct view of Ba-Kathir the man and the novelist, concentrating principally on his skill, on the one hand, in dealing with Islamic historical events, and on the other hand, in creating women among his characters with special reference to Wa Islamah, Salamat Al-Giss, The Career of Shuja’a, and The Red Rebel. Subsequently, the paper is drawn to a close with a brief recommendation, if any, and a conclusion.
Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir, a brilliant writer and poet, was influenced by Islamic perception who made from the Islamic thought a philosophy of his literature and a platform for his life. Through his philosophy, he is able to highlight the Islamic knowledge and moral values in his literature in a pleasant literary form. His effects from novels, stories, poetry, and plays demonstrate the breadth of his culture, an abundance of knowledge, the breadth of the horizon, and his spaciousness with the idea of seriousness and perseverance. Consequently, he is considered one of the major writers of the historical novel from an Islamic perspective in contemporary Arabic literature. Thus, “Arabic literature is full of representative anecdotes that are spoken in the tongue of birds and animals, or legendary or mythical human figures, as well as realistic” (Dahāmi, 2020). Therefore, Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir is one of those whose tongues create a legend from history.
The experience of the writer-novelist Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir is one of the oldest experiences in the field of modern Arabic novels. Ba-Kathir’s novels contain many literary achievements that make him a pioneer of novelistic creativity, which history relies on as a source. Furthermore, “he is considered one of the most prolific writers of his time in literary production. He has enriched the Arabic library with dozens of books, distributed in most literary genres such as poetry, plays, and novels, as well as some critical studies” (Fahd, 2021, p. 98). Ba-Kathir is believed to be one of the pioneers of the Islamic historical novel in contemporary Arabic literature, as he had an Islamic upbringing from an early age.
Ba-Kathir has made his Islamic beliefs an attitude toward literature and a stage in life, and he did not abandon them until the end of his life. He remained a master of Islamic thought and defended it with his craft of literature. In addition, he is seen as a figure relying in all his novels on Islamic history and Islamic personalities, referring at the same time to the events of facts and personalities deduced from enlightened Islamic history. “In all his theatrical, novel, and poetic works, we found a clear interest and celebration of the glorious and cherished historical places in the Arab-Islamic culture” (Al-Mahbashi, 2010).
In the present age, a large number of Arab writers of literature have made contributions to stories, novels, and plays, including Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir. Ba-Kathir is considered one of the most famous, most brilliant, and most creative Arab writers. His literature is characterized by literary, mental, and psychological characteristics and is quite clear in style and subject matter. Ba-Kathir showed in his novels the spaciousness of his awareness and his ability to imagine a push for life and social issues with precision and frankness in the details through a luxurious literary character. He used an opulent Arabic language.
Ba-Kathir takes the initiative to present the image of women in his novels as an honest mirror through which human problems and social issues are reflected. He presents the portrait of the woman to create a living model for Arab women with a positive character that carries additional confident tasks to her love for her husband while fulfilling her social responsibility, which carries with it the real circumstances of the emergence of societies and the reasons for their formation. Ali Ahmad Ba-Kathir’s renovation is allied with the progress of the contemporary Arabic novel that utilizes history and social glitches to exhibit a vision for literature in the modern era.
- Literary Up growth
Several critics have stated that Ba-Kathir is a leader of modern Arabic literature who greatly contributed to its evolution in the Arab nation. Ali Ahmad Ba-Kathir was one of the most eminent Arabic novelists during the first half of the twentieth century. He is a pronounced Arab novelist, dramatist, and poet. Ba-Kathir started writing literary pieces when he was very young, before reaching the age of fifteen. Ba-Kathir “has been taught Arabic and Islamic law by many great sheikhs, such as his uncle, the judge, poet, linguistic and grammatical Mohamed Ba-Kathir” (Dahami, 2021a).
During his upbringing in Yemen, he learned the branches of Islamic sciences in the religious schools famous at that time. He grew up with an Islamic nature at the hands of some Arab tutors who created in him an appreciation for Arabic and a love for Islam. He studied Islam in depth from its sources of origin. His literary talents emerged early, and he began to write poetry at the age of thirteen. His desire for literature clearly appeared in his character and his early writings.
Ba-Kathir moved to Egypt in 1934, where he enrolled in the English Department at The Faculty of Arts at Cairo University, previously known as Fouad I University, until he graduated in 1939. He then joined the Education Institute for Teachers, where he obtained a diploma in 1940 in Education. He began his career as a teacher when he was appointed to Ar-Rashad School in Al-Mansoura, where this occupation lasted for about fourteen years. He then worked in education for seven years in Cairo. He then moved to the Arts Division, where he worked in the Department of Supervision on works of art that were related to the Ministry of Culture until he became the director of the office in the same department. His connection to intellectuals and literature has been recognized. For that, he has had the opportunity to meet several literary pioneer figures such as Mahmoud Al ‘Aggad, Najeeb Mahfouz, Al-Mazeni, Mahbuddin Al-Khateeb, Saleh Joudat, and many others. This relationship consolidated his talent in the ample production of different genres of literature.
Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir (باكثير) – also written as Bakatheer or Bakatair – is considered one of the most prominent Arab literary writers of the twentieth century. He is an author who is unique in producing many different literary arts, such as drama, poetry, and novels. He wrote more than seventy literary works in prose as well as in poetry, long and short, which dealt with several social, historical, and religious Arabic issues. Ba-Kathir was born in Surabaya (Indonesia) in 1910 to Arab parents from Yemen. He is a man of multiculturalism in that his birth was in Indonesia; his family was originally from Yemen; and he lived in Egypt as an Egyptian citizen (Dahāmi, 2021a).
It is Egypt, where he found the right environment to achieve his ambitions, and his notion began to rise from here. His ambitions were for his words to reach every aspect of the Arab and Muslim world. His voice resonated with the everlasting literary faculties immersed in the Islamic spirit. Furthermore, Ba-Kathir is “considered one of the leading writers in the important generation that appeared in… Egypt” (Gharavi, 2011, p. 118). It is believed that among the notable literary fields where Ba-Kathir excelled was fiction, principally Islamic historical novels. He has written several novels, including Wa Islamah (1945), The Red Rebel (1948), The Career of Shuja’a (1955) (سيرة شجاع), The Smart Knight (1965), and others. He was influenced by the various ideas of several reformers. Consequently, he dedicated a great extent of his life to the service of Islam and the Islamic nation through his thoughts on literature, particularly the narrative, theatrical, and poetic writings.
Ba-Kathir resolved to pay a visit to the Two Holy Mosques, so he traveled to Jeddah, voyaging by sea. “He traveled to Al Hijaz in 1932 and moved between Jeddah, Mecca, and Taif, and friendships developed with some of the Saudi literary writers” (Al-Askar, 2010). In addition, “When he arrived in Saudi Arabia, The Voice of Hijaz Newspaper published news of his arrival in the Monday issue of 1932 on the front page entitled ‘The Arrival of the Poet of Hadramout’” (Al-Khateeb, 2009, p. 23; Belkheir, 1991, p. 11; Ḥamīd, 1991, p. 20). In this period of time, he produced a prominent literary legacy, the most important of which is a diwan of poetry entitled Youthfulness of Najd and Breath of Hijaz. Furthermore, he conducted several literary lectures and wrote memoirs as well as correspondence with many literary figures.
The talents of the author Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir’s literary and intellectual productions varied between theater, poetry, stories, and novels. This diversity confirms that, in his literature, he displayed multiple colors and different styles of literary expression; lyrical poetry, historical novels, poetic plays, and prose plays. All differ in terms of content and form. They are distinguished from one another in their style, presentation, and purpose. Ba-Kathir, as a genius literary figure, left behind him wonderful philosophies and exquisite thoughts, including Diwans of poetry, historical novels, several poetic dramas, and prose dramas, in which this great writer left his nation with six novels, nine poetic plays, and about forty-five prose plays. As described by Abdul Rashid Al-Wafi (2018), “Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir is a literary figure who deserves to be a pioneer in the Islamic historical novel forever” (p. 62).
The novelist, Ba-Kathir, excelled in employing Islamic history and making it a reference for his historical novel. If he did not associate much with the exact details of the events or adhere to them, he gave each event his own style, which he reversed from the realm of history into the space of creativity. He paid much attention to Islamic history in its various homelands, with political and social conflicts. He is multi-talented, a message-maker, and a prolific author. Ba-Kathir is characterized by several qualities that made him a pioneer of the Islamic historical novel. “Although Ba-Kathir left huge dramatic works, he is also an outstanding and well-known novelist. He wrote great historical novels. The first of his great novels is Wa Islamah, which won the Arabic Academy Prize. Another significant novel is Al-Tha’aer Al-Ahmar ‘The Red Revolutionist’ (1949), in which he endeavors to put forward the idea of Islamic socialism” (Al Shami, 2016a).
Committed to Islamic values and principles while preserving literary aspects, Ba-Kathir combined commitment with literature in a beautiful and exquisite mix until he became a pioneer of the Islamic trend in the Arabic historical novel. He published many of his novels and woven them with the verse of proof in Surat Yusuf to urge him to rise above all that afflicts man. The author created the method of holding fast to Allah’s proof, which is multiplied by the multiplicity of situations and trials to warn those who turned love into crime and impurity, rejected by the normal human soul.
- The Place of History in Ba-Kathir’s Novel
The historical novel is a type of narrative that discusses various real-life events and people. It forms part of the glorious Islamic history. It is based on a historical time structure that is diagnosed in a historical space, which runs from the past to the present and the near future. It also evokes the present and links it to the eternal past in a comprehensive literary vision based on literature, the splendor of imagination, and real facts.
Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir has glorified his eloquent interest in Islamic history in its various stages, including political and social conflicts, based on the Islamic chronology over its temporal extension from the second century A.H. to the twentieth century. Ba-Kathir is “active on the Egyptian literary scene, contributing Salamat Al-Qass [Al-Giss] (Salamat the Priest, 1943), set in pre-Islamic Arabia, and Wa Islamah (Oh Islam!, 1945). Glorifying the Mamluk victory over the Mongols at the battle of ‘Ayn Jalut in 1260” (Gershoni, 2002, p. 131). It is not surprising or astonishing that the novelist Ba-Kathir chooses from Islamic history this name in which chaste courtly love is represented in the novel named Salamat.
And also its spatial extension from the Arabian Peninsula to Islamic Asia, Iraq, the Levant, and Egypt. Therefore, he turned in his narrative writings to history, deriving incidents and circumstances similar to those the Islamic nation has gone through in the modern epoch. Then he extracted from the events of Islamic history certain historical incidents, emitted certain intellectual concepts through them, and then adorned them with a contemporary vision. He presents his readers with history as a magnificent work of literature and leads them to lofty goals and elevated ideals. As a result of his wide knowledge and experience, he became himself a distinguished school in this field; it is the Ba-Kathir school. The author tries to fabricate pictures of literature and relies on everything that goes on in his mind and conscience.
Ba-Kathir rushes to translate his feelings, express his moods, and then portray them precisely, which makes his production an honest image produced by his thoughts and emotions. These historical elements turn into literary pieces. Several critics, as Amshush (2010) declares, have reported the ability of Ba-Kathir
to correlate the literary structure of the historical novels with the author’s Islamic vision. Such an association appears, according to an approach that lies in drawing inspiration from the main event of the novel from history and working to employ it literarily without tampering with its major facts in its broad outlines. It is the ability of the novelist to dwell on small details and magnificently repeat them.
He can support his novels with various creative elements, addressing important issues related to the individual as well as the community. His novels show his creative literary ability to portray and develop the form and content, resulting in the production of new formulations that no writer has ever written before.
- Ba-Kathir’s Creativity in Portraying Characters
Ba-Kathir has the ability to highlight, through his belief in Islamic thought and Islamic values, interesting literary images and a sweet, attractive narrative style. The novelist can use all the literary novelistic elements such as plot, description, and dialogue, but the most important of them is his ability to control the literary character, as we see in him a special skill in employing dialogue and the classical Arabic language in the development of events and characters. The language of his novels is strong and familiar with phrases devoid of colloquial and sloppy, which represents, on the intellectual and literary level, the novelist’s full possession of the fictional craftsmanship with a realistic character.
Characters, as a literary glossary, is a significant element in the construction of the novel. The greatness of a novelist is to make “the characters love and are loved” (Dahami, 2017). Ba-Kathir succeeded in this effort. Furthermore, the character has an outstanding role and a central place in the events of the novel since it offers the reader the human experience that the writer wants to present his intellectual position and his own vision in a literary uniform by drawing his narrative characters. In drawing characters, Ba-Kathir follows the style of event-related dialogue to give the characters a deeper life, expressing their natures directly, which he can analyze accurately and portray their fluctuations between good and evil.
The novelist aims at the fictional character to employ dialogue and internal conflict in representing the nature of the characters. The author Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir relies heavily on emotional experience in drawing his characters, but according to what the events and plot serve. The emotional experience appears as the main axis that depends on the movement of the characters and contributes to their literary construction. It can be said that it has a significant impact on creating the right atmosphere, attitudes, and course of events.
Romantic love is a key focus in the construction of romantic characters, as we find in most of Ba-Kathir’s novels, in which he loves beauty and splendor and sacrifices in love with all his wealth and time. The emotional personality, for example, is a model of passion and conscience. The underlying characters on the pages of the novels serve events and contribute to the development of the narrative action. In romantic love, the author appreciates a strong motivation that creates a feature of positivity in the characters, in which love entails clarity in characters and events.
- The Position of Woman in the Novels of Ba-Kathir
The concern of women is always a resourceful issue, with a place in every debate forum or discussion. The woman is an echo on every platform. The matter of women continues to attract researchers to follow up because it is deeper than it seems to be. Ba-Kathir “thinks that woman has a great function and status in life and she should do the jobs and works that suit her nature and psychology” (Al-Shami, 2016b). Although all of Ba-Kathir’s novels are historical about wars and battles, the writer does not miss to involve in his novels the female as an important component.
- 1. Wa Islamah! وا إسلاماه
Wa Islamah (O Islam!) is a historical and religious novel in which the author, through it, deals with a sensitive period of the Islamic history in which the Islamic world was subjected to a fierce attack by Tatars from the East and Crusaders from the West. Ba-Khatri published this novel first in 1944. The novel shows the evil of the infidels and their hostility to the Islamic countries. It also exposes the firm resolve to the struggle that lurked in the hearts of the faithful Muslims. However, “Arab Muslims were the medium through which ancient science and philosophy were revived and put on the stage of life for everyone, supplemented and transmitted in a manner as to make the renaissance of Western Europe possible” (Dahami, 2021b; Dahami, 2019). Additionally, “the Arabic-Muslim-speaking people were the major bearers of the torch of culture, knowledge, and civilization throughout the world” (Dahami, 2021b; Dahami, 2018; Dahami, 2015; Hitti, 1989, p.557).
Wa Islamah is a historical novel penned by the fingers of Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir, which deals with a period of Ayyubid State, during which the government moved from Ayyubids to the Mamluks, before Tatars’ invasion of Baghdad, as well as the crowning of Shajartu Addur as the ruler of Egypt. The historical theme of this novel is when Prince Gutuz fights Tatars and triumphs over them in the Battle of Ain Jaloot. Such events show the importance of this novel as a contribution to Arabic literature, particularly the novel.
The novel begins with the talk about Jalaluddin ibn Khawarzem Shah, who prepares to fight Tatars with the help of his brother-in-law, Prince Mamdoud. As the battle is prepared, Jalaluddin asks one of the astrologers for his opinion on the outcome of the battle, and the astrologer predicts that Jalaluddin will win and achieve victory but then will be defeated. Later, comes a boy from his family who triumphs over Tatars even after years.
At that time, Jalaluddin’s wife was pregnant as well as his sister. Jalaluddin worries that his wife would give birth to a daughter and his sister, Jehan, would give birth to a boy who would be the one to win over Tatars. Against his wish, his wife gave birth to a daughter and his sister as a boy – the daughter is Jehad (Julnar) and the boy Mahmoud (Gutuz). Jalaluddin shows patience and thanks to Allah Almighty since his nephew has the place as if he is his son. After the battle, Jalaluddin wins over Tatars and returns triumphantly, but his brother-in-law, prince Mamdoud, is no longer with him; he has been killed in battle.
The novel is based on the life history of the Muslim hero defeater of Tatars, Saif Eddine Gutuz (قُطُز). It narrates an immortal story as the greatest career of the true warrior (almujahideen). In addition, it is a fascinating page in Islamic history in which it provides a bright example of the Lord’s scholar, Sheikh Al-Ezz ibn Abdus-Salam, who fulfilled his responsibilities as the spiritual leader of the Islamic nation at that juncture of time. Led by the hero warrior Gutuz and Sheikh Al-Ezz ibn Abdus-Salam, the nation has been protected and its Islamic heritage has been safeguarded.
The interest in the role of the mother in the novels of Ba-Kathir has a lot of varying, but the mother’s place in society is still of great importance. The novelist can show the mother as a symbol of giving and sacrifice in most of his novels as in reality. The mother represents mercy and love. She is the guide and preceptor of the offspring. The mother’s role is vivid and influential in the novels of Ba-Kathir which are ‘Wa Islamah’, ‘ Salamat Al-Pastor’, as well as in ‘The Red Rebel’.
The mother’s role in these novels is distinguished by simplicity and peacefulness. The novelist Ba-Kathir, in his novel Wa Islamah, depicts Jehan Khatun in the portrait of the affectionate mother who fears for her son and worries that her brother, the king, will kill him. Jehan Khatun always lives in anxiety because she knows of her brother’s natures.
“ولم يكن الأمير ممدود بأقل من جلال الدين اهتماما بما تنبا به المنجم على سوء رايه … فأفضى به الى زوجته جهان خاتون … فشاركته جهان خاتون في الخوف، لما تعلم من طباع أخيها … ولكنها كتمته في نفسها وأخذت تدعو الله من يومئذ أن يرزقها ابنة ويرزق أخاها جلال الدين ابنا. ولكن الله لم يستجب لها، فلم بمض يومان حتى جاءها الطلق فولدت غلاما، وجاءت زوجة جلال الدين بجارية” (Ba-Kathir, 2010, p. 153; Ba-Kathir, n.d, p. 12)
The prince Mamdoud is no less than Jalaluddin in his interest in what the magus had predicted for his bad opinion … Consequently, he divulged it to his wife Jehan Khatun… Jehan Khatun shared it in fear because she knows about her brother’s character… However, she kept it to herself and began to pray to Allah from that day on to give birth to a daughter and her brother Jalaluddin to be given a son. Allah did not respond to her invokes, it was not two days until she gave birth to a boy, and Jalaluddin’s wife gave birth to a daughter.
Another picture of the role of a woman in Wa Islamah is (Jehad) or Julnar. As for Julnar in Wa Islamah, a wife supports her husband Gutuz and accompanies him in his war with Tatars in Ain Jaloot. Julnar is “a model of honest, faithful, hardworking and wise woman. As a successful wife, she did all her duties in peace and war and sacrificed herself to save and protect her husband” (Al Shami, 2016b). When the heat of the battle intensifies, she joins the battle masked and stands next to her husband, defending him from the blows of the enemy. Gutuz is amazed at the heroism of this masked knight, who takes down the heads of the enemy until she is hit by one of the blows. She falls dead after saying:
Save yourself, O Sultan of the Muslims, here I have preceded you to Heaven Gutuz recognized her by her voice and said, with tears streaming from his eyes, ‘O my wife! O, my beloved!’ She felt him and raised her tip to him and said in an intermittent weak voice, as she sacrifices with her soul: Do not say O beloved, but say, Wa Islamah (Group of Writers, 2007, p. 142).
No sooner had the soul passed out in his hands. This is an example of the character of the Muslim woman, as presented by the political Islamic story, who urges her husband to wage a war of defending for the sake of Allah, and participates in the battlefield when the status is called for.
- 2. Salamat Al-Giss or Salamat Al-Pastor (سلامة القس)
Salamat Al-Giss or Salamat Al-Pastor is a historical novel that expresses the story of platonic love between Abdul Rahman Al-Pastor and the she-singer Salamat. In this novel, the author could succeed in making the conflict between piety and love finally prevail over fancy. Ba-Kathir’s novel is considered one of these narrations that received a wide response. Whoever has not read the novel may have seen it represented as a movie based on the novel. The story of the priest embodies the personality of Abdul Rahman ibn Abdullah ibn Abi Ammar and his fondness for the slave girl Salamat. This love turned into a chaste or courtly love, which the novelist composed in a beautiful literary style.
Ba-Kathir sheds light on the passionate situations in which Abdul Rahman triumphs over himself and Satan. In the following dialogue, the novelist depicts what takes place between the two lovers when the scene shows them both alone in the house of Ibn Suhail. Salamat was gazing at Abdul Rahman’s face with all the meanings of surrender and flirtation saying, “O Ibn Ammar, I love you” (Al-Omari, 2010, p. 241; Ba-Kathir, 1977 p. 96).
“فقال عبد الرحمن وهو يضطرب: ’وأنا والله يا سلامة أحبُّك؟‘
فقال لها وبصره إلى الأرض: ’وأنا والله أحبُّ ذلك‘.
فقامت سلامة ودنت منه وأخذت بيده قائلة: ’إذًا فما يمنعك؟ فوالله إنَّ الموضع لخالٍ‘.
فذهل عبد الرحمن، وخُيِّل إليه أنه يرى طيفًا في حلم، وبقي صامتًا يدير طرفه في أنحاء المشربة، فقالت سلامة: ’ليس عندنا من أحدٍ غيري وغيرك!‘” (Ba-Kathir, 1977 pp. 96-97).
Abdur-Rahman said confusedly: ‘I, by Allah, O Salamat, love you!’
He said to her, with his gaze on the ground ‘I, by Allah, love that’.
Salamat got up, approached him, and took his hand, saying: So, what is stopping you? By Allah, the place is vacant.
Abdur-Rahman was surprised, and it seemed to him that he had seen a ghost in a dream, he remained silent, turning his eyes around the porch, and Salamat said, ‘We have no one but you and me’ (Ba-Kathir, 1977 pp. 96-97).
In this situation, Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir does not allow words to be transformed into action, nor does he allow his characters to be slipped by Satan and commit sin. Rather, at the end of this perilous situation, and before whim and Satan triumph, he depicts the position of faith and chastity and the position of the victory of piety and virtue. It is the ingenuity, resourcefulness, and originality of the author to depict an image of the Islamic virtue by saying:
“فانتفض عبد الرحمن فجأة، ونظر إليها نظرةً هائلة وقال: أنسيت الله يا سلامة؟” ( Ba-Kathir, 2010, p. 153; Ba-Kathir, 1977 p. 97)
Abdur-Rahman suddenly rose, and looked at her with a massive look saying: Have you forgotten Allah, O Salamat (Ba-Kathir, 1977 p. 97)?
Here, we realize the skill, flair, and talent of Ba-Kathir in controlling the situation and giving it a moral Islamic touch. The author portrays platonic and virtuous love through the response of the beloved Salamat. He adds:
“فاضطربت سلامة ورفعت يدها عن يده، وكأن ناراً لذعتها، فتراجعت الى الوراء وعينها الزائغتان لا تفارقانه كأنما ترى أمامها هولا تتقيه” (p. 97).
Salamat was disturbed and raised her hand from his as if a fire had stabbed her, so she moved back in reverse, but her stray eyes did not leave him, as if she saw a horror trying to avoid it (p. 97).
- 3. The Career of Shuja’a سيرة شجاع
In his novel The Career of Shuja’a (سيرة شجاع), Ba-Kathir is similarly interested in presenting another model and image of the mother and her role in society. In this novel, the follower finds that the mother is keen on the benefit of her children and is submissive to her husband. She supports him in all his decisions.
يقول الراوي “ولم يعجب شجاع لذلك من أبيه، ولكنه عجب من أمه، إذ أيدته في أول حديثه عن ضرغام فذكرت لهم ما لقيت من حسن الرعاية طول عهده، فيما خلا الليلة الأولى من حكمه ولكنها انقلبت في النهاية لما سمعت مقال أبيه، فقالت: أجل يا شجاع لقد صدق أبوك، ما أحسن ضرغام معاملتي ومعاملتك لوجه الله” (Ba-Kathir, 1985, p. 65).
Ba-Kathir discloses his scheme regarding the role of the mother, declaring that Shuja’a did not like this from his father. However, his mother impressed him because she supported him in their first talk about Thergham (ضرغام). She told them about the good care she found during his entire reign, except for the first night of his rule. Nevertheless, the situation has changed at the end when she heard the saying of the father. She said, ‘Yes, my son Shuja’a, your father has truly said that Thergham has not treated me and you better for the sake of Allah’.
The novelist makes his idea clear by adding:
“وقد نشأت أولادها على هذا النهج في النظر إلى أبيهم واتخذوا أمهم قدوة لهم في ذلك، فنشأوا وهم يعظمونه تعظيما شديدا ويرونه المثل الكامل في كل شيء” (Ba-Kathir, 1985, p. 66).
She has brought up her children on the principle of esteeming their father. Moreover, having their mother set a model for them, they grew up revering him greatly and seeing him as the perfect example of everything.
Brilliantly, Ba-Kathir, in this novel, fashions the mother as a perfect image of personality. She is a specimen of obedience that agrees with her husband in all that he says or does. She does not stand against him because obedience to the husband is obligatory and mandatory. A mother like this has been able to instill in her children the need to obey their father’s opinions, ambitions, and plans. She advises her children in accordance with the fusion and reunification of the family as well as the fulfilling of each individual’s duties and responsibilities.
- 4. The Red Rebel الثائر الاحمر
The Red Rebel, first published in 1948, is a historical novel that talks about the Qarmatian State that ruled parts of Iraq and southern Arabia for a long time during the Abbasid Caliphate. The narration reveals the religious beliefs held by the Qarmatians, and then it shows the imbalance that afflicted their political and religious base, so their affairs became turbulent. The novel balances between the Abbasid Caliphate and the Qarmatian State, as if it were a balance between Islam and the new deviant religion – as the novel depicts.
The novel shows a set of values and ideas that are related to the nature of the Arab Islamic society and the way for its advancement and progress. It emphasizes the importance of a good ruler keen on the nation’s interests, achieving justice and equality among people, and eliminating injustice and corruption. This Islamic trend indicates the extent of the deep understanding, accurate interpretation, and great effort that the writer Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir exerts in and during his transformation of historical material into a work of creative literary fiction. This is how the author can portray a part of the advising history of Islamic civilization, with its conflicts and crises, in a fascinating literary form.
Ba-Kathir also portrays the mother in The Red Rebel, relatively close to the previous one, Jehan Khatun. The mother of the daughter ‘Aliah embodies in her the qualities of motherhood and in her personality manifests the emotions of grief and compassion for the loss of her daughter.
عندما يدخل عبدان “هالة أن رأى أم حمدان وأم الغيث جالستين تبكيان، ولم ير عالية بينهما…. ثم مد يده إلى العجوز فقبل يدها وعندئذ مسحت العجوز دمعها وقالت: ويحك يا عبدان. ألم تعلم ما حدث لعالية؟
– ماذا حدث لها؟ وأين هي الآن؟ وأين حمدان؟
– خرجت تحتطب من العصر فلم تعد، وبحثنا عنها في كل مكان فلم نجد لها أثراً.
– هل كانت وحدها في المحتطب؟ هل خرجت وحدها تحتطب؟
– بل كانت معها أختها راجية، ولكنها أبعدت عنها فلم ترجع إليها.
– كانت راجية معها إذن؟
– هذا عجيب! (Ba-Kathir, 1985, p. 29)
The novelist, again, portrays this picture of the mother saying that when Abadan entered the house of Hamdan,
he was astonished by what he saw. Hamdan watches the mother of Hamdan and the mother of Al-Ghaith sitting crying. Nevertheless, he did not see ‘Aliah beside them … After that, he extended his hand to the old woman and kissed her hand. From her side, the old woman wiped her tears and addressed Abadan saying, “Hey, Abadan. Didn’t you know what happened to ‘Aliah”?
– What happened to her? And where is she now? Where is Hamdan?
– She went out woodcutting from the afternoon prayer and did not return, we searched for her everywhere, but we did not find a trace of her.
– Was she alone in the woodpecker? Did she go out alone?
– She was with her sister Rajiah, but she was kept away from her and did not return to her.
– Was Rajiah with her then?
Abdel-Mughni Mohammed Dhawan, in his report titled Contrasting Discourses in the Novel The Red Rebel by Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir, gives a tierce proper conclusion to this novel saying: “The novel’s end came as an incarnation and embodiment of what Ba-Kathir perceives as the inevitable failure of human ideologies, and the triumph of Divine law. The hero Hamdan abandons his ideology after realizing its falseness and contradictions” (Dhawan, 2010). The novelist skillfully leaves the remaining beliefs and thoughts struggling and grappling with each other. Ba-Kathir makes his main character go ahead to where true ample justice triumphs, prevails, and overcomes because of Abo Al-Baqaa’s revolution, in addition to acknowledging his good achievement, and together admitting the deception he once tracked.
Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir is considered one of the pioneers of the Islamic historical novel in contemporary Arabic literature, as he had an Islamic upbringing from an early age. He made his Islamic thought a philosophy for his literature and a platform for his life so that he did not abandon it until the end of his life. He continues to master it and defends himself with his pen through literature, as we see him relying in all his novels on Islamic history and Islamic personalities, including the role of women who occupied a large space in his novels.
Referring, at the same time, to the events of the facts and personalities deduced from the enlightened Islamic history. Ba-Kathir has shown the ability to highlight, through his novels, Islamic thought and Islamic values in interesting literary images, and in a sweet and attractive narrative style. He used all the narrative elements, particularly the character that gave the woman a lot of luck, an abundant share, and a pivotal role. The reader and critic see in Ba-Kathir’s novels a special skill in employing dialogue, both professionally and literarily, making use of the classical Arabic language in developing the events and characters of his novels.
With great skill, wit, and prudence, Ba-Kathir is able to show one of the most beautiful and purest descriptions in the history of the so-called chaste virgin love. His optimistic manifestation and portrayal of women in his novels are charmed by Islamic principles and his theory and perspective. Ba-Kathir values women and their positions in life. Skillfully, through his novels, he defends women against false accusations. Ali Ahmed Ba-Kathir has shown the ability to present a brilliant picture of Muslim women through the characters’ behavior and the course of events, and in an effective manner that made us magnify the virtues of such women
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