Socio-Religious Reflection in the Writings of Mahmud Taymur’s Short Story

Abdulla Hil Kafi

Among the Arabic short story writers of the 20th century Mahmud Taymur is considered one of the pioneers in Egypt. He started his writings in short stories in the magazine “Al-Sufur” the Avant-Garde which were collected in “Ma Tarah Al-Uyun”. This was attempting to detail various facts and depicts Egyptian life, characters, and societies and played a significant role in providing new genre and tradition in a clear chance in his short stories. Moreover, this definite nationalistic and spiritual function also took place in his writings. After the World War I nationalistic victory struggled the rise of plurality, thinking and formation of political parties and an increasing scene of common identity among urban, middle and village conflict were composed by Mahmud Taymur. Taymur was a major figure of the new school in the developing of modern Arabic short story with the new sensibility of that period which became the main source of social inspiration. He needed as a younger writer in Arabic short story being a social and politically oriented aware. The weekly journal “Al-Fajr” disseminated his new ideas and prepared the ground for all established and respected magazines to publish his short stories. This magazine established his new critical criteria in dealing with Arabic literature, underlining the interrelationship between literary works.

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Taymur was the mean key contributor to the maturation of the Arabic short story in Egypt during the 20th century. He was a member of Jama-at Al-madrassa Al- Hadithah (the new school of writers) who published their weekly Journal Al-Fajr in 1925. He was influenced by his younger brother Muhammad Taymur who was a member of Jama at Al-Madrassa Al-Hadithah, to create a modern literary genre and solidity of classical culture of the traditional literary establishment rather being influenced by the many western orientalists. He published his early works consisted in social and religious concepts in the short story book Um Mitwalli and Wali Allah with a rigour and frequently that excited him. To import his profound impact on his understanding in both art and man he travelled in Switzerland during these trips. He was influenced particularly by the orientalists Maupassant, Tolstoy, Turgenev and Chekhov and he started short story writing with a new genre of prophesy to his short story “Um Mitwalli” which soon became the only form narrative of writings in soul clue of the Egyptian life and culture after the first world war, the short story as a tool in the battle for public influence and the destruction of the traditional establishment of the society. Mahmud Taymur spent three years in Europe. During this period he gained his knowledge about the French and European literature and he returned in 1914, and created the Egyptian theatre, who made good expression in modern Arabic short story. For the first time his theatre took the lion’s share of his energy. In lieu of this he started publishing his short story in the magazine Avant- Garde and in Al-Sufur in 1917 and these were collected in Ma Tarah Al-Uyun.

i. To study the new trends and genre of Taymur’s short story.
ii. To describe the socio-religious reflections in his short story.
iii. To study the themes and techniques of Taymur’s short story.

Methodology and Data
This paper has been imposed on the descriptive method. I have collected both primary and secondary data on the basis of availability of books and research reviews. Taymur’s short story to the development of Arabic is a new form of Arabic literature. He has many works in Arabic short story and reviews on his works have been found that I have analyzed.

The main hypotheses of this study have been focused on how Mahmud Taymur highlighted the human society and religious reflections in his short story on Egyptian society and analysed his stories with a more realistic form and on how the issues of society and the wrong notions of religion particularly of Islam and, it’s bad impact on the society have been judged.

Socio-Religious Reflections in his Short Story
Taymur was an intellectual writer because his father Ahmad Taymur Pasha was an educated person who also contributed to the development of Arabic short story. In the field of Arabic short story he contributed a large number of books highlighting the human society and religious concept particularly of Egyptian society. His short stories can be divided into two major categories which are (1) social elements consist in sexual, emotional and family issues and the another is (2) social elements consist in mental and psychological issues. Problems of wife with her husband which have influences on the society, characters and which are devilish of women’s influence on society, caste and differentiation of class in respect of marriage both with men and women how it impact on society and the marital problems in society and their destructive influence on the society which are reflected in the short story of Mahmud Taymur. His short story are Ila Al-Saarq, Abun wa Ibnun and Abith……Abith which are in respect of differentiation between upper and lower castes and upper and lower classes, prevailing in the human society and civilization. His short stories Neda Al Ruh and Jawjan wa Thurataan were written in respect of the problems related to the problems of family and ill effect on the personal and social life in human being. His other social short stories relating to the mental and psychological issues were written about illiteracy and backwardness in society, the wrong notions and views of religion particular of Islam and its bad impact on the human society. The problems of superstation fear, peer beliefs and Aulia and its impact on human society, phantoms, devilish, sprits and its influence remains on society. The Arab society specially in Egypt partially was under the reign of illiteracy and backwardness prior to the modern period because these problems were main causes created in the society and he detailed the problems in respect of social and social reflection in his short stories and therefore he is considered as a famous story writer in Arabic literature during the 20th century in Egypt.

His Um Mitwall and Wali Allah were the best story in which he depicted about the social and religious destruction. Illiteracy and backwardness of society are described in his short stories Al-Shaikh al-Juma and Alhaj Shalabi which are most important stories. The superstition, fears peer beliefs and its bad influence on society are traced in his famous stories Al-Shaitan and Ifrit.

Taymur in his short story describes some suggestions regarding the human behaviour in society. He views that the people in society should perform their duty perfectly, they should be literate and the people both man and woman of society should avoid their deeds of ability in respect of peace and harmony each other of the society. He also advises to the conscious the people that they do not believe in the superstitious fear and peer deeds and he tells the people to learn the modern educational system. The people of society should have the ability to plan and accomplish through the people who do solve their arising problems and issues and, they must be sacrifice their demands to be understandable to other person.

He tells the story about the conflict between the urban and the village peasant. He describes a story about the conflict between the two visitors with the Iman who was the religious leader of the peasants of village. Imam was the leader of community, who played the role of the representative of the traditional Islamic beliefs as selective leadership. This kind of scenery can also be seen in his story which reflects him as a realistic teller. Socio-religious problems are represented in different ways mainly in his two books, Um Mitwalli and Wali Allah which are great in perception of religious identity during that period which correspond the suggestions relating to the problems through literary trends of the modern Arabic short story. He was the natural product of the works of the most prolific pioneer and most influential short story writer of the 1930s.

The short story writers who influenced on Taymur’s stories were mahjar writers Al-Manfaluti and Jibran Khalil. He was fascinated by imagination and by the grace of Jibran Khalil. He was influenced by the western writers chiefly by Guy de Maupassant who was the greatest short story writer of Europe. Taymur avoided ambiguous and complex constructions because he mainly wrote in descriptive style. He also described another ordinary character in his stories about his peanut vendor uncle Mitwalli. Taymur describes varying problems of human life and character deep into their circumstances, because he understood the emotions of Egyptian people.

Taymur wrote some stories on ancient Egypt The Dancing Venus in which he depicts the beautiful nature human beings. Moreover, he describes in some stories the national struggle, village life and simple folk burdened and legend. In his book “Kamilat al-Hubb” he describes the love, beauty and nature in their splendid forms which he wrote in pure Arabic language and, descriptions of nature on sentimental story. His credit with his creation of the short story moved to the highest level of artistic notions and he placed the first position among the short story writers in the world in Arabic literature.

Themes and Style in his Writings
Taymur was major figure among his contemporary story writers of the New School, a literary group. The school played an important role in developing the modern Arabic short story in Egypt. Among the New School he only well discovered a large number of prevailing social and religious problems and presented valuable suggestions behind the rigorous conditions of the society of Egypt at that time. Taymur tells his story in a sophisticated narrative structure and method as an addition to the descriptive method.

All the collections of Taymur started with a formative stage. His strong wring style is descriptive. He used very simple but precise vocabulary and wrote short sentences but in detail sketches. He traced the natural scenery in his story like open sky, morning dew, whistling ponds and singing birds delightfully. The new narrative style and formation are emphasized by Mahmud Taymur in the development of Arabic short story and he reflects the socio-religious psychological analysis in his stories with a more realistic approaches. He was a great Arabic short story writer who possessed the largest single collection of books which were manuscripts in Egypt. These writings shifted the emphasis from political and social relevance of the work of artistic value and helped him to create a new concept of indigenous literature. He commenced his writing in short stories of his early attempts and continued to improve him. He wrote and published frequently particularly in “al-Fajr” and in other magazines also. In most of his writings he was able to put the new ideas of his group into practice in social and religious thoughts.

Mahmud Taymur traced short story to the development of Arabic short story as a new form of Arabic literature. He focused on the major socio-religious event that had a direct bearing on the story. People of Egypt was also necessary to put Mahmud Taymur’s literary works and his valuable contributions into content discovered the new forms of literature from the historical factors and conditions in the country of Egypt during the 20th century. In fact, mainly Egyptian culture became involved and influenced by western culture which had a conflict between east and west culture regarding the religious factor which he consequently composed in his stories. In this respect he occupies a good position in the subsequent development of Arabic short stories for the theme of impact of Egyptian culture and upon Islam and clash between the western and traditional Islamic values. He was an important figure in the history of the Arabic short story in Egypt because the new literary genre comes through his writings also a great deal of the respectability. Taymur concentrated on emotional and moral characters eschewing the social problems because love was a major theme in his stories, many of the stories presenting unattainable dream associated with sweet music. His sentimental short stories are the socialistic which appeared as a real reaction against the problems.

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The writer is the Asstt. Professor, Abdulla Hil Kafi, Deptt. of Arabic, Halakura College, Dhubri, (Ph. D scholar, Patna University)

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