At 8:05 on the morning of Wednesday, August 30, 2006 in Cairo, Naguib Mahfouz –the only Egyptian author who won the Nobel prize of Literature- left, but his memory remains eternal in the minds and hearts of the nation.
Mahfouz (95 years) checked at the Police Hospital in Al-Agouza neighborhood in center of Cairo on August 10th due to lung and kidney problems.
A medical source stated that he died in the ICU due to a bleeding ulcer after acute hypotension and renal failure.
The renowned author had checked the past July in the same hospital due to falling in a street and having a major trauma to his head which mandated emergent surgery.
Mahfouz counts as the most famous Arab author as his career in writing went on for more than 70 years, in which he wrote 50 novels and series, not to mention collections books of his articles.
From his most well-known novels is the trilogy of “Between the two palaces”, “Palace of Longing” and “Al- Sukkariya”, as well as his novel “Kids of our Block”, which Al-Azhar prevented it from being published.
Mahfouz was born in 1911 in Cairo, graduated the University of Cairo, worked at the ministry of Awqaf, and managed the inspection of the works of art. Meanwhile, he wrote the scenarios of a great number of movies.
Mahfouz ceased writing after he was stabbed in the neck by someone who called himself an Islami in 1994. Nevertheless, during his recuperation period, he wrote short stories which he called “Dreams of Convalescence”. He wrote nearly 70 of those “Dreams” that are both Sufi and philosophical.
Mahfouz won a great deal of prizes and awards; the highlight of which was the Nobel prize of literature in 1988.
The renowned Egyptian novelist maintained his daily routine of meeting his friends in some of Cairo’s hotels till the last of his days. They read him news headlines and listened to his comments on the happenings.
On the morning of 31/6/2006, Egypt made its farewell to the world-known writer Naguib Mahfouz in a grand public and military funeral, who passed away the morning prior 95 years of age, after a long battle with illness.
President Housni Mubarak mourned the Nobel writer and expressed his condolences to the Egyptian people, the Arab nation, and the whole world.
In a statement issued by the Presidency office, President Mubarak described the great writer as a figure of intellect and culture, a one-of-a-kind novelist, a bright intellectual, and a creative author, and a writer who made the Arabic culture and literature international.
He said, “Naguib Mahfouz’s pen was loyal to the Egyptian people and their history and affairs, portrayed creatively the universal human values, and spread in his writings the values of enlightenment and tolerance that renounce extremism. His winning of the Nobel Prize of Literature a recognition of the contribution of the Arabic intellect in the civilization of humanity and its modern heritage.”
The statement added that President Mubarak mourns this Egyptian who was loyal to his people, his Arab nation, and the world, expressing his sincerest condolences and consolation to the deceased’s family, loved ones, and those who appreciate his worth, and praying to the almighty God to embrace him in his vast mercy and reward him the best for the what he gave to his country and nation.
On the other hand, Dr. Ahmed Nazif –the prime minister- mourned the great writer Naguib Mahfouz, and described him as one of the figures of the Egyptian culture and one of the cornerstones of the modern Arabic literature. His works were characterized by realism and represented a record of the social evolution in Egypt.
He also said that he rightfully won the Nobel Prize, an international recognition of his unique works of literature.
The aforementioned statement was released by Dr. Magdy Rady –the official spokesman of the prime ministry.
While Dr. Mohamed Sayed Tantawy, Sheikh Al-Azhar, emphasized that his death is a loss to the intellect and literature in Egypt and the whole world.
An official source also stated that the great writer will have two funerals, a public one as per his wishes, which will commence from the morning in Imam Al-Hussain Mosque where the funeral prayer (Salah) will take place amidst the local area, in which he has lived among his people.
While the second funeral is military, taking place immediately after the noon pray (Al-Duhr) in Al Rashdan Mosque in Nasr city.
At the forefront of the grand military funeral, senior officials, writers, and journalists from Egypt and all around the world are present. His casket will be transported on horse-tugged carriage, his coffin the flag of Egypt, which he loved till his last breath and portrayed in all his literary works and pieces of art during all its political, economic, and artistic periods of time.
At the head of the funeral march will be representatives of different foundations and organizations holding flower bouquets, and holders of Mahfouz’s prizes and badges which he acquired during his long journey of life, at the foremost, the Nile Badge –the top badge in Egypt which President Mubarak has awarded him in recognition of his great value and his enrichment of Egyptian and Arabic literature, which was translated to several international languages, bringing Egypt’s literature, civilization, and culture to the light of different literary and cultural platforms around the world.
And the casket of the great writer will be buried in his family cemetery on Al-Fayoum Road.
The funeral service will take place the night after in Al-Hamdiya Al-Shazliya Mosque in Cairo.
In Al-Agouza Hospital in Giza, Dr. Hosam Mwafi, head of team physicians treating the great writer declared his time of death 8:10 AM the day before, the cause of which was acute hypotension, whereby his heart stopped twice, the first time at 7:00 PM the night before so but was successfully resuscitated and put on monitors and ventilators while the second at 8:00 AM at which time the doctors failed to resuscitate him, and he passed away.
Many Arab and international leaders conveyed their condolences to Egypt for its great loss and spoke of his unique contributions to enriching the modern civilization.
The US President George Bush expressed his grief to the great writer’s passing away and said his writings surpassed all expectations and will continue to introduce Egypt to Americans and all readers around the world.
The French President Jacques Chirac sent out his condolences as well.