Muhammad Husayn Haykal

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The following article is from The Great Soviet Encyclopedia (1979). It might be outdated or ideologically biased.

Haykal, Muhammad Husayn


Born Aug. 10, 1888, in Kafr-Ghannam; died Dec. 8, 1956, in Cairo. Egyptian writer.

Haykal received a law degree from the Sorbonne in 1912 and served as minister of education from 1937 to 1944. He helped found a liberal constitutional party, which he headed from 1943 to 1952, and served as chairman of the Egyptian Senate from 1945 to 1950.

Haykal wrote the first Arabic realistic novel, Zaynab (1914; Russian translation, 1973), a lyrical, somewhat sentimental work in the style of European novels that describes village life in Egypt. From about 1915 through the 1920’s, Haykal developed his concept of Egyptian exclusiveness. Later he embraced Islamic tradition, losing interest in scholarship and Western civilization. He wrote biographical works about the heroes of early Islam, including his Life of Muhammad (1929), which is widely known in the Muslim world. In the novel Thus Was She Created (1955), Haykal contrasts the spirituality of the East with the mercantilism of Europe. His diaries, Recollections on Egyptian Politics (vols. 1–2, 1951–53), are a valuable source for the history of 20th-century Egypt.


Kotsarev, N. K. Pisateli Egipta (XX vek). Moscow, 1976. (Contains bibliography.)
Johanson, B. M. H. Haikal: Europa und der Orient im Weltbild eines ägyptischen Liberalen. Beirut-Wiesbaden, 1967.
Wessels, A. A. A Modern Arabic Biography of Muhammad. Leiden, 1972.
Semah, D. Four Egyptian Literary Critics, part 2. Leiden, 1974.


The Great Soviet Encyclopedia, 3rd Edition (1970-1979). © 2010 The Gale Group, Inc. All rights reserved.
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Muhammad Husayn Haykal reported in his book, "some historians would rather agree that Makkah had remained nomadic until the kingship of Quassy in the middle of fifth century CE.
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In Chapter Two, Israel Gershoni analyzes the intellectual evolution of Muhammad Husayn Haykal (1888-1956), one of the most prominent intellectuals in Egypt and the Arab world between the two world wars.