Nazik Al-Malaika

A Tribute page


This page is dedicated to Nazik Al Malaika, the most famous and interesting of Arabic female poets of the 20th century. You will find here samples of her poetry, short stories, and social commentary.

    Nazik Sadiq Al-Malaika was born in Bagdad , Iraq, at the 23rd of August, 1923. She spent her early years with her family and was influenced from early on by another Iraqi poetess, her Mother, Um Nizar Al Malaika. Her father was a language teacher. She studied in Iraq, and then won a scholarship which permitted her to study at Princeton, (she was actually the first female to study at this prestigious school, in 1952)...  and later, at Madison, Wisconsin.
    She did lose her religious faith during her stay in the States, and describes her spiritual, and intellectual, growth, and life experiences, in the essay entitled "  About My Life and Education .
    She was ardently opposed to communism, and, after coming home from the states, her life was threatened during the communist era in Iraq. She fled to Lebanon during those violent  years.
    During the 50's, 60's, and 70's, she published a number of important and influential works in the fields of Literature and literary criticism.
    Today she leads a secluded life in Cairo, Egypt.
     She is known most for being one of the earliest creators and advocates of  what is known in the Arabic World as Modern Free poetry.
    Some of her poems translated to English are available  here.
    A different collection of  poems is available  here .

    Nazik was interested in the situation of Women. One of her earliest and best essays , "Women between the extremes of : Passivity and Ethical choice." deals with what is

called today "The repression of femininity in Patriarchal society." The thesis is that Arabic women are not permitted to become ethical beings, since an ethical stance persupposes a certain amount of intellelectual and material freedom, the ability to make decisions for one self, make money, have an education, and choose one's husband and life style. The essay is certainly a feminist classic which fits today's Arabic world as much as it was relevant to the world of the 1954 when it first appeared.
    The Beautiful Poem " Lament of a Worthless Woman might well represent her views on this subject.
    Nazik is also a famous short story writer. Typically, her stories depict a rich world of feminine experience and relationships seldom noticed by other Arabic authors. The stories however depict Universal human themes and emotions,  such as the experience of alienation, and the difficulty of the encounter and reconciliation with the self and Others.
    One of her earliest Stories,  Jasmine , describes a woman's effort to establish a friendship with her young niece.
    Another story,  The sun beyond the Mountain top , describes an Arabic  Woman's emotions and thoughts while she is giving  birth.

Some Links:

    Information about Famous lebanese Author, Gibran Khalel Gibran is available at  Lebanon Net .
    Some Classic and Modern Arabic Poems are available at  Arab Cafe .
    Biographical information about the lives of Arab Poets is available at Barghouti.

Some Poems By Nazik Al Malaika:



"Here am I between the jaws of death

As a heart still throbbing with the love of life

As a couples of eyes athirst

For the enjoyment of the universe;

Making advances to the charms of the evening,

I am still a bud, on the twig of fortune,

Whose dreams and hopes are fresh and new.

It is a shame, O death, that thou shouldst

Bury my youth anon in the world of dead


And I, O life, what fate is meted out for me?

Am I going to be a word devoid of meaning?

Will the nights carry me away

And cast the gloom of oblivion over me?

In the morrow, fortune will extinguish my lamps.

And death will squander the echoes of my tunes,

Then I shall become, amongst other ghosts, a ghost myself

And shall be erased from mortal existence.

Oh, no, I do not want that.

Would fortune have mercy on my tears.

Misery and sadness

Let there be a lasting echo of my melodious, song

Ringing in the hearing of the coming years,

Song ringing in the hearing of the coming years,

nay even centuries

O mercy! do not let my flowing tears

Be an early elegy on my youth.


How did our days pass - how did they?

Between the jaws of eagerness and grief!

Your heart and mine were full of love and anxiety

But we took refuge under the wing of secrecy.

Whenever my eyes speak to you of my love

I punish them by depriving them of you.

O my poet, how did we keep it secret?

Yet of old, no two lovers ever disobeyed Cupid.

O my song, when shall my tunes reach thee,

So that thou wilt listen to the joys of my love?

Why do I spend my days suppressing my eagerness,

When my heart is overflowing with emotions?

Always we meet and always I ignore you, perplexed,

while my sad heart is possessed of the anxiety of the lover!

It is pride possessing the soul

That makes a love appear indifferent


Is then then what they call life?

As lines we continue drawing over the water,

As echoes of a cruel song which does not touch the lips.

Is this then the essence of existence?

Wild scattered nights with no return

and the traces of our feet on the road of the deaf ears of time are gone!

For the storm's hand wipes them kindlessly

and surrenders them to nothingness

5- Veiled Utopia.

A haven of magic, we were told

It was.

Made of nectar and twilight roses,

Of tenderness and gold.

In it, they said, was

The panacea for the wounds of man.

We wanted it, but didn't get it.

Back to our hopes, miserable and unfulfilled.

Where is this land?

Are we to see it or

is it to stay enveloped, unattainable

Agitating inside us only

A numbed yearning?

A prayer

Within closed lips?

The millions are

A torrent of desire,

Burning desire,

And a dream of flame.

Open the gates for thousands

of exhausted victims are screaming.


They spoke of 'life';

It is the color of a corpse's eye

It is the echoing steps of a stealthy killer:

Its curving days

a poisoned coat diffusing death.

Its dreams the humour of a demon

with paralyzing eyes, death - hiding lips.


Where shall I go?

I'm weary of the ways,

I'm bored with the meadows

And with the persistent, hidden enemy

Following my footsteps.

Where can I escape?

The trails and roads that carry

Songs to every strange horizon,

The paths of life,

The corridors in night's total darkness,

The corners of the bare days...

I've wandered along them all,

With my relentless enemy behind me,

Keeping a steady pace, or sitting firmly

Like the mountains of snow

In the far north.

Nazik Almalaika..

2. Lament of a Worthless Woman...

(Picture in Bagdadian Avenue)

 Text Box:  
Figure 1


She left, no cheek turned pale, no lip trembled.

The doors did not hear the story of her death.

No window curtain overflew with sorrow and gloom

to follow the tomb until it disappeared

the news tumbled down the avenue its echo not finding a shelter

so it stayed forgotten in some hole, its depression the moon lamenting.


The night surrendered itself, without worry, to the morning

The light brought the voice of the milk girl, and the fasting

with the moaning of a starved cat of which nothing remained save bones

the fussing of salesmen, and the struggle of life

kids threw stones at one another in the middle of the road

while dirty water flodded the avenue, and the wind

toyd with the gates at roof tops, alone

in a state of semi-oblivion.









One Short Story

1. Jasmine : A love greeting to the youthful : Nasrene

By : Nazik Al MALAIKA

This story was first published in 1958, in the Arabic (Lebanese) literary Magazine AlADAAB. It was reprinted in AL MALAIKA's selection of short stories: The sun Beyond the Mountain Top.

When I left Iraq to study in the states five years ago, we had in our house a new born baby sister. Ayad, who was twelve years old at the time, suggested that we call her Jasmine which was the name of a flower tree in our garden, and who other than Aiad would plant any thing in our house?  The garden was his temple. My father would have preferred to name the girl Suaad, so that our names would be in order: Wdad, Ayad, And Suad, this way satisfying the crave for rhyme which was popular among some Iraqi families. But my mother liked Iaad's idea, and I agreed with her decision. Seeing the innocent boy's excitement and his happiness was enough to make us respect his wish.
    There was in my little sister something which appeals to the heart and I would have preferred to wait for a month to get to know her before leaving for a long time. But the date for my journeying was preset and thus I found myself with the coming of the dawn weaving my hands to my father and Aiad as they came to tell me good-bye at the airport. Jasmine was then only two weeks old.
    The influence of living away from home is immense. At first, the foreigner clings to all she brought along with her from the old lands which opened its arms and gave her away to the distance. she clings to little things such as the number of the trees in the garden where she used to play, the taste of tea made in her house and which nothing else resembles, and the small face of Jasmine which filled the heart for a few days before distance muted the sound of her crying. She clings to all of these things swearing never to let go, never allowing forgetfulness to steal them from her. But the new life holds on to her offering new issues, situations and faces and soon she forgets even that she is forgetting. And in the beginning of the second year she senses suddenly how far she became from all what she loved, and the big truth surprises her: She has changed.
    Four years. How could I not forget Jasmine? Ayad would mention her occasionally among other important news items: The bark of the oak tree is twisted, the harvest was weak this year, and Jasmine has grown and is now attached to our cat, etc...
    I used to send her toys occasionally and had her picture on my desk. But these sparks of attachments did not connect us. All I had was the image of a sister, and I did not feel the yearning which communication and closeness creates. That did not bother me. I knew I was coming back to Iraq. One week of closeness will make us like each other as two sisters should. What is the reason for worrying and hurrying matters?
Then I came back in the fall.
    In the happiness of the meeting, I forgot all about Jasmine.  After the first minutes, Ayad came to me carrying a beautiful little girl with long black hair, wearing a blue Italian Pantaloon. Ayad put her in my arms saying: "I see you have forgotten Jasmine. Don't you ever inquire about her?"
Jasmine!  From that first moment my little sister became the most important of my occupations.
    It seemed to me that my absence in the States locked within me the love and yearning which exploded when I came back. As for Jasmine, she refused from the start my friendship: As soon as I held her and tried to kiss her, she pushed me away with both of her hands saying: "Go away. I do not want you." My mother had to take her away from me. She tried to assure her by telling her that I am her older sister Widad of whom she has heard often. And when my mother felt my disappointment she told me: "Do not worry. She doesn't know you yet. Give her time to like you." But the passage of days did not fulfill this prophecy since Jasmine's views of me did not change.
     I acted as normal people would in such situations: I liked my cute little sister, so I did all I can to get to know her and establish communication between us.  I flooded her with toys, candy, and clothes, and whatever she likes, and paid close attention to all her affairs. But my efforts only made her tense, so she kept a distance from me, and was cautious, as though I am a stranger. Her little heart remained closed to all my keys without sharing a single emotion from those sororial feelings which filled my heart. Our family members were touched when they saw all my efforts fail and in the end of each I would hear the same response: "Go away .. I don't want you."
    I did theorize the situation, saying that sororial love is not an abstract concept for a four year old kid as it is for us, older folks, but must grew as a seed.  Jasmine grew up in this house for four years and got accustomed to all its inhabitants, including the cat. She saw their faces every day and recieved their love and kindness. That was her world, the little happy kingdom she ruled. Then all of a sudden I came and she was told to include me as a citizen. Why? Because I am her sister. Is this an acceptable logic for her?
    Jasmine never had a place reserved for me in her kingdom. I arrived late to find instead of the heart where I expected  pure love a castle the entrance to which is forbidden.


 What does distance do to us? In America I thought it erases slowly what we carried with us from our old worlds. I could not then discover the more important of its effects. Because of my obstinate sister Jasmine, I found out that absence does not erase only, but adds also. If the four years I spent away were all her years of jer life, that would explain her treatment of me as a stranger, but, how much did those years distance me from my mother for instance, or from Aiad?
    They think that we gain from our lives abroad, without imagining the price which we will have to pay. The life away from home is not all joy, and its cost is usually heavy. Some of us pay it while distant, and some later. We return home altered, inside us new layers are piled, deep in each of which are different faces, echoes of words uttered in strange gatherings, visions of distant sites, paths curving in farms different from ours, and chambers in buildings which exist elsewhere.
    We have lived a past with different roads and grown accustomed to different faces, and now we need to erase that past from our lives absolutely. No one here shares it with us. Every other past can exist in our present except that American past which we are obliged to efface immediately. Our parents and friends look at it worryingly. Just as Jasmine is cautious with me. They imagine that we should not change, and treat us as though we are still the same. That will be what first surprises us as we enter the house looking for our old connections. We try to do what they want from us, and erase the past for their sakes, but we eventually find out that the past is not a paper we can tear and rid ourselves of easily. And if we do, it will be the same as living in our house without Jasmine. She is the theoretical correlative to this change in my life. Isn't she four years old?
    And then a new horrible feeling started growing inside me. Is it just me who have changed? Did they not change as well. Time has separated us. Jasmine's refusal of me is the name of this gap since she embodies all what I do not know in my parent's lives. And what do I know? They were telling me in their letters about important events, and these are usually the most superficial. What do I know about the essentials? Four years of silence, and then I come back and find Jasmine four years old. If my parents too have changed, and their change has a voice, it would shout at me: "Go.. We do not want you" in the same manner of Jasmine. Probably, it is already shouting.. That was how I felt.


    Regardless of the situation, I grew very attached to Jasmine, so that her coldness towards me was a dismaying phenomena, making me feel like a stranger at home.  I continued trying to decrease the distance between us, but I began  - when all my efforts at gaining her friendship failed, to feel frustrated. So I told her angrily: "Jasmine. I do not love you. Do you hear?" And I would feel a wave of emotions gather in her face in such instances, but soon she would gather herself and respond challengingly: "Why don't you get back to America? I told you that you are not my sister and that I do not love you."
These conflicts between us increased becoming eventually serious. My mother was surprised that I did not learn in my travels to conceal my emotions so that I can manage situations instead of surrendering to them. She was also dismayed by my lack of patience, and told me numerous times and the question of the child's love for me should not be dealt with in a spirit of anger but requires self control until she grows accustomed to me and stops seeing me as a stranger in the house. But I was getting impatient, imagining that my mother too, has changed.
    I continued my efforts without despairing of Jasmine. She is my sister and I love her and she will reciprocate my feelings one day. I would buy her a gift in the afternoon and then we would fight at dinner. It bothered me terribly that she would accept my gifts and refuse me. On numerous occasions, my father would protest that I am causing trouble at the dinner table by angering the child. I would sometimes upset her by taking her plate from its place in front of her, and she would bow her head refusing to talk or even comment on the matter. All this frustrated our mother whose patience deteriorated with this continuos conflict: Jasmine refused to love me, and I would not stop my affection for her.
   Actually, the conflict between me and her was like a war, and it soon became obvious to everybody that Jasmine found pleasure in repeating the refrain: "Go. I don't want you." As for me, I ceased seeing her as a little baby girl, but imagined her an adult knowing perfectly what she is doing. She appeared to me ambiguous, obstinate, invincible, as though her four years are a strong castle which separates us leaving me behind the walls. Her world continued growing within me until it became larger than life. It disturbed me that others did not look at the matter seriously, but teased me about it occasionally, even though I was very affected by it.
    I never had a truce with her. Often I would surprise her with horrible suggestions as saying: "Jasmine, would you like me to give you to that tall construction employee and ask him to build you into the wall? You will look real pretty there?" Or I would suggest hanging her in the fan at the ceiling and letting her turn. She probably understood that I was teasing her, so she would answer coldly as though she does not appreciate my sense of humor, saying: "Mamma would not agree." And my mother would blame me for telling such unpleasant jokes to a four year old. But I have ceased being wise. Jasmine's coldness angered me, and I forgot the basic laws of propriety. The conflicts between us continued until my dad complained saying he does not know who is the child, me or Jasmine.


Months passed without any change in the situation. Jasmine's kingdom stayed closed in my face until the summer arrived, when a strange unforgettable event took place.
    Jasmine always refused to enter my room, and all my efforts to induce her to visit failed. So it happened in the early afternoon hours of a very hot day that I found her sleeping in my mother's room. There was an electricity shortage which effected one half of the house, and the fan stopped, so the baby was sweating terribly.  I could not bear it so I decided to carry her to my room where the electricity was still available.  I remembered right away that Jasmine does not like my room. It was not right for me to use her slumber to take her to it and enjoy seeing her there, even if asleep. But the availability of a good excuse and the justification of the child's own good stopped the voice of my conscience. All I want really is her happiness. Besides, couldn't she leave the room when she wakes up? I will not be her jailer.
    That was how the event which I cannot explain until today took place. It was one of those casual passing events which look superficial but is actually related to the heart of matters in our lives and our behaviors, as though it would leave on us its  profound impact, changing our lives.
    I remember that my mother and father were out of the house that afternoon. Had they been there they would not have permitted me to take Jasmine to my room, even if it was to her advantage, so long as we had the war between us. So I laid my sister on my bed and stayed watching over her happily. Her face looked like the face of a happy sleeping child.  I started reading, knowing that everything is all right. After an hour passed, I wondered whether she hasn't slept for too long?  I decided to allow her another half an hour, and still she did not wake up, but continued her slumbering.
    I started to feel tense. What heavy slumber! I started calling her name and touched her hair trying to wake her up, but without success. When she did not move, I was surprised so I carried her from the bed and sat her on my knee expecting her to say with a sleepy voice: "Leave me, I do not want you."  But my expectation did not materialize and the baby just rested her head on my shoulder quietly and stayed slumbering. I was worried over her suddenly, doubting the nature of this profound slumber. I returned her to the bed and went searching for Ayad to ask for his opinion. He was in the garden watering the trees. When I explained the matter to him, he smiled saying: "Jasmine again! Why don't you let her sleep a bit? She needs some rest."  His remark angered me, even though it was true. The child played a lot;  she probably needs more rest.
    I returned to my chamber again and tried to read. Ten more minutes passed and I noticed something which worried me. There was a strange movement in her closed eyes, as though her pupils were moving in circles underneath the closed eye lids. I touched her hands, and they were cold as ice. I did not hesitate. The baby is ill and I need to worry. I tried waking her up to no avail.
    Finally I carried her and run to the garden where Ayad was. When he saw her lying motionless in my arms he looked worried and sat her on the nearest chair.
    But his efforts at reviving her were futile: He whispered her name, touched her hair, shook her, sat her,  while she continued her deep, death like, slumber. I felt terrible pain and was distressed. Shouldn't I call the family Doctor? Ayad was still rational so he put her on my knee and run to the nearest Doctor. He turned at the door, and, noting my paleness, said gently: "Don't worry. She has fainted."
    Don't worry! Does he imagine that I am worried! I was going insane with distress. This has happened to the child because I took her to my room. If something should transpitre,  I will be responsible. Me who loves her so much.
    The following ten minutes were among the most severe in my life. Anxiety stirred my imagination. Images were appearing to my eyes in order, and to my memory arrived a childhood event which I have forgotten for many years. My parents bought me, when I was very young, a doll - and it moved when it was wounded up. As I sat watching her movements, she just stopped. I felt an ambiguous dread, as though I have killed somebody. I cried until my mother came and found me terrified. What brought this event to my memory? I looked to the pale Jasmine and felt the same feelings again, seeing in front of me the life which stopped in my hands. Did my childhood nightmare come to pass? It is not a doll this time but the most loved of people. My tears started falling.
    I felt that it was painful for her to stay seated on my knee. She would refuse for me to hold her when she was filled with the warmth of life. Let me enjoy her now that her lips are blue and she is almost dead. I was egotistic in desiring her love even to the extent of carrying her sleeping to my room. Could she be so sensitive that she would get sick if someone forces her in this manner? Could she be dying through a secret will which I can not understand? Did I imagine that a sleeper would not know what goes on around him? Could she have felt that she is in my room and protested by fainting or dying?
    I stayed worried as the baby showed no sign of life. Then I heard my mother and hurried to her and in my heart a great hope. She is my mother. Her mother. She will save her. If my love could not wake her up, the love of a mother is stronger. As soon as she saw us her countenance changed, knowing that something has happened. I still remember the strange tone of her inquisitive voice: "What is the matter with her?" my voice came weak and begging "She is sleeping."
    Was it because of the presence of my mother that the child came back to life? She breathed deeply, and then was moaning and sighing for a few minutes. Then she opened her eyes and looked at us as though without recognition. Finally, she stared into the emptiness beyond my mother's shoulder and pushing her away, screamed. She started to the ceiling and cried. At that instant my mother lost her composure and shouted: "My baby is dying. Call the Doctor." I run to the phone and besides it I stood not knowing what to do: She is dying then. My whole body was shivering and my mind vacant.
    At this minute Aiad entered with a doctor from the neighborhood. Jasmine woke up after a half an hour. The Doctor told us that she had an epileptic seizure.


    As for me, I felt weary and depressed. So I withdrew to my room and locked its door. I could not analyze my feelings but I suffered from something which I cannot explain and probably have never felt before. I put my head on my desk and cried for a few minutes without knowing exactly why. I am not sure how I slept in my uncomfortable position either, but I dreamt.
   The place was big and wide as an American train station which is found regularly in the big cities. And I had with me many heavy bags. A person whom I could not recognize stopped and talked to me for a few seconds. After he left I looked around but could not find my luggage. Its place was vacant. The sense of vacancy scared me because it stood in sharp contrast to the space which my luggage filled. I searched in the station for my bags, climbing stairs and descending others, as they ran in a nightmarish labyrinth. I would see my luggage in the distance each time, so I would feel sure that I will find them once I would turn around the stair. But the final stair would end suddenly with a wall springing from the emptiness, or would lead me downward, making my luggage more distant than before. Then I would end in a waiting hall and beside me stands a luggage carrier who politely points where my bags are but when I cross over they would disappear. Then the stairs started to thin out, and the paths cress cross so that I was unable to get any where. The place was filled with people and they would smilingly point the path to me and help me to no avail until I lost my equilibrium and started sweating profusely and was unable to speak. Then I heard a loud explosion resembling the crashing of two trains. I woke up.
    It was a nightmare caused, undoubtedly, by the awkward position of my nick during my slumber.
    Slumber and crying returned to me some peace and concentration. In the next few minutes I faced myself, discovering - in one of those epiphinic moments which might change the life of someone - the truth of the matter. Simply, I loved my sister and she hated me. Matters reached their conclusion this evening, and I must withdraw before it is too late. No more teasing her after today, neither sweets nor candy. No efforts to invite her to my room. Didn't I discover that she prefers epilepsy to my companionship?
    What now? Does it truly please me to force her to love me? What is the value of a sorority which does not spring as a flower when the sun shines? I have seen Jasmine for the first time and she filled my soul, so why did I not fill hers? My emotions were embracing the coldness of snow without knowing. Jasmine was a beautiful marble statue which no friendship can reach. It is in vain that I try to squeeze a one drop of kindness out of this stone.
    Am I emotional? probably. This was the view of my mother. Or is it that I do not know how to treat this strange child? I have depleted all means, only to discover that I can not resolve this complexity. The girl is a wall I cannot pass, like the walls in my nightmare.
    When I discovered the impossibility of understanding her, I started to feel some inner peace. It is always comforting to know that the key to impossible goals is beyond our will and effort, and the moment when we reach this insight we are liberated from the influence of these goals and their impact on us. So I started to assert my independence from Jasmine, hoping to imagine that she does not reside in the house, as though she never existed.


   A new phase in my family life started. I did not reach out to Jasmine or talk to her without a reason. It was difficult in the first few days since I was accustomed to keep busy with her to the extent that it was difficult to push her from my mind suddenly. But I continued and persevered refusing to be easy on my self. Soon the pain waves receded until it faded away. As for Jasmine, nothing seemed to have changed. To the contrary, she appeared happier and in better health, not in need of anything. Two weeks passed.
    It so happened during this period that a young female relative swallowed, while laughing, a needle which she was toying with in her mouth. The needle stayed deep in her throat, making it difficult for her to breath. She had to go to England to have an operation. The girl's parents did not know English, and they insisted that I accompany the girl. I gathered my small suitcase in a hurry, and found myself in a couple of days in London with the girl and her mother.
    When saying good bye to family members, upon reaching Jasmine I hesitated: Should I kiss her as I kissed the others? I remembered her epilepsy so I controlled myself, content with just saying a nice word and leaving her, almost in tears. She is my sister after all and I should not treat her in this manner at a good bye moment. Who knows? We may never meet again? Jasmine did not return my good-bye but hid her little face in the shoulder of my mother and did not raise it until she faded from my sight.
    I stayed in England for a couple of months only. The operation succeeded, and we watched the patient's situation ameliorate day after day, which gave us time to think of other, less important, matters. Ayad would write me the news twice a week, but what I heard about Jasmine was important. She was less energetic, lost some of her appetite.. and was often crying and making a fuss over little things. All my mother's efforts to make her regain her previous happiness failed.
    Such news would pain and worry me. I would wish that I was home to help bring her happiness back to her. I discovered also that her voice telling me: "Go, I do not want you" is better than the silence of the London Hospital. I never imagined that her suffering was caused by my absence. Her coldness made her coming to me one day seem impossible. Reaching the moon was easier than me and her becoming sisters.
    The same morning I received a lengthy letter from my mom which detailed events which shook me and sounded unbelievable. Jasmine was inquiring about me, and using my absence as an excuse for crying and demanding whatever is forbidden her. She exploded one morning saying angrily that she does not love anyone in the house as much as me. She would ask everyday when am I coming back? She even requested that they write telling me that she loves me and wants me back home.
    How this letter affected me? I wished that the two remaining weeks of my stay in London would pass so that I would return and finally live in peace with my sister. Our war lasted for about nine months.


At the airport, at the day of my return, Jasmine's face was the first I saw behind the counter among those welcoming me home. I reached out to her, still fearing holding and carrying her. When I called her name, she hid her face at my mother's shoulders - as she did at the day of my departure - and Ayad told her excitedly: "Jasmine. Widad is back as you wished. Say hello to her." That appeal was unheeded, for she did not raise her head, and I feared. They must have fooled me. Aiad lost all patience, so he carried her from my mother and gave her to me. She did not resist, but she hid her face in my shoulder refusing to raise it or say anything. But I saw the flickering of a smile on her face. I noticed that for the first time she did not scream: "Go. I do not want you." I started to relax. Haven't I yet learned that the smallest of  smallest of her acts carry the strongest of meanings?
    I carried her and run home, heedless of my luggage. I did not feel ashamed of my appearance as I ran carrying her, while many of my acquaintances stared.



Two Essays


1.Segments from: About my Life and Education

By: Nazik Almalaika

This autobiographical article was written mainly in order to respond to questions which were often paused to the Poetess. It was reprinted more than once, appearing recently as a part of the introduction to : Yugaer Alwanhu Al-Bahr , a collection of poems which was published in cairo, Egypt, in 1998.

 I was born on the 23rd of August in 1923. I was the oldest of my four sisters and two brothers.
 I graduated from high school in 1939. Since I was a child, I loved the Arabic and English languages, History, and music. I also enjoyed the sciences, particularly astronomy and chemistry. But I disliked mathematics. I looked forward to the day when I could focus on the humanities in college in order to escape math. I studied the Arabic language in a school which prepares teachers,  from which I got my BA in 1944. During my study, I was introduced to - and loved- philosophy, which assisted me in being logical. My continuous study of Arabic Grammar - especially the classic texts on this subject, prepared me for becoming a poet. I actually started writing poems since my youth. Since I liked rhyming when I was very young, and was able to tell poetry from prose, I heard my father and grand father say that I am a poet before I understood the meaning of the word. I wrote some poems, in Iraqi slang, when I was seven years old.
     I wrote my first poem in the Arabic language when I was ten years old. It had a grammatical error, so my father threw in it cruelly on the floor, and criticized me saying: "Go, learn the laws of Grammar first. Then write poems." My grammar teacher in school was very weak, so my father had to teach me himself. Within a month I ranked among the best students in class.
    My parents noted I was gifted and enjoyed reading. So, they excused me from house hold responsibilities completely. I had therefore the time to prepare for my literary and intellectual future.
    Ever since I can remember, my mother was writing poems which were published in Iraqi magazines and journals with the pseudonym: Um Nazar Al - Malaika. My father was a grammar teacherr, and he wrote about literature, language, and grammar, and he left many articles behind after his death, one of which was an encyclopedia entitled: "The knowledge of the common people" on which he worked his entire life, depending on hundreds of resources. My father was not a poet, but he wrote many poems, including an epic of three thousand lines in which he described a journey to Iran in 1955. He was humble, and refused to call himself a poet, even though he had wit, and often recited poems spontaneously, on the spot, when the occasion demanded it, with a good sense of humor.
   My parents influenced my intellectual and poetic life. My father stayed my grammar teacher until I finished college. Whenever I had a problem, he would help me. He taught me to love the grammar of the Arabic language.
    My father paved the way, when he put in my hands his library which included many of the more important Arabic classics. It was therefore natural that I was the only female student in the Arabic department who focused on a grammatical theme which was: "Schools of Grammar." The supervisor was the knowledgeable Prof. Mustafa Jawad who influenced my intellectual life immensely.
    My mother's influence on my poems is clear. I would show her my first poems, and she would critique them and try to guide me. But I would argue obstinately. I was influenced since high school with the modern poetry of Mahmod Hasn Ismail, Badawy Al Jabl, Amjad Al Tarabulsy, Omar Abu Risha, and Bishara al Koli, and others, while she respected and loved more classic poets as Alzahawy in particular. He was her favorite poet. Her interest was in classic poetry, while I sought the innovative modern poets. But the taste of my mother was developing, as would note those who would study her poems - which I gathered and published in book called "Anshodat Al MAjd." My mother was definitely moving towards modernism -  but we remained different, because of my interest in reading English and French works.
   In spite of this difference we stayed friends. She would read my poems, and I would read hers, until her death in 1953, when she was 42 years old.
   During the years of my academic education, I used to participate in social events by reciting my poems. Iraqi journals would print those poems after the recital, but I ignored that early work, and did not include any of it in my published works because I have  matured since then. The fact is that I loved writing poems since 1941 when I was a student in college. In that year I reached my emotional, intellectual and spiritual maturity. It was also the year of an important revolution which I wrote about in many poems, which however were not published. But the police regime gained control in Iraq, and many people were killed. People were afraid of talking. My mother and I continued writing our poems in secret.
  In 1947  I published my first collection of poems, which I entitled "The lover of the Night." For me the night symbolized poetry, imagination, vague dreams, the beauty of the moon, and flickering of the lights on the river waters. At night I would play my  lute (Aoud: An arabic musical instrument resembling the Guitar) in the back garden of our house between the thick trees, for hours. I had a good memory and I would memorize the songs of Abdul Wahab and Aum Kalthum whenever I heard them through the Gramophone of our neighbors. My mother would be surprised when I sang, and she would say: "How did you memorize all these songs? Where did you hear them? How?" She did not know that whenever I heard a song I would freeze, even in the middle of the street. In those days, the radio was not yet a part of Iraqi cultural life. We would listen to music through the gramophone. Baghdad radio did not commence its broadcast till 1935, as far as I recall, when I became twelve years old.
    A few months after the publication of "the Lover of the Night" Egypt suffered from the spread of an epidemic, the Cholera. We heard in the radio the numbers of the dead. When they reached three hundred every day I was very affected poetically. I sat down to write a poem in the regular classic style, changing the rhyme every four lines or so. After I finished, I read what I had and felt that it did not carry all what I felt. I considered the poem a failure. A few days later the number of the dead rose to 600. I sat again and wrote, using a different meter and rhyme. At the end I felt that I have failed again. I felt that I need a different style. I stayed gloomily reflecting on the possibility of expressing the tragedy of Cholera which killed hundreds of men every day.
    On Friday, 27, 10, 1947, I awoke from sleep, and heard that the number of the dying has risen to a thousand a day. I became depressed and agitated. I carried a note book and a pen and left our crowded house to a place where a huge building was being built next to ours. It was empty because of the Friday holidays. I sat on wall, and started writing my poem "The Cholera." I have heard in the radio that the dead were being carried on top of one another in carriages driven by horses. So I tried following the rhythm of the horses' trot"

The night has quieted
Listen to the rhythm of the echoes of moaning
In the depth of darkness, under the silence, for the dead.

In those lines of unequal length, I was able to express my feelings. The classic form could not express the tragedy of Cholera. I found myself successfully expressing my emotions with the new form:

Death, Death, Death.
Humanity laments the crimes of death.

In about an hour, the poem was finished. I run home, crying to my sister "Ihsan": "look I have written a strange shaped poem. I believe it will stir controversy." As soon as my sister read it, and she was its first reader, she became equally excited. We hurried to show it to my mother, but she received it coldly saying: "What is this strange rhythm. the lines are not of equal length, and the music is weak." When my father  read it,  he was angered and expressed resentment, saying sarcastically: "and what is this 'death, death, death'?" My brothers and sisters were laughing as I retorted: "Say what you will. I am sure that this poem will change the map of Arabic poetry." I was very excited when making such statements. But the Great Lord was on my side, and my poem did have an impact, as I wished in that strange friday morning in our house.
    Since that day I wrote blank verse, even though I did not move to the extreme of ignoring completely traditional poetic forms, as many other poets, of the following generation, have done.
    In 1949, I published in Baghdad my second collection of poems , Shdaia W Rmad, which included an introduction explaining my ideas about the new poetic form I used in ten of the new poems. As soon as the book appeared a raging controversy stirred, and many articles were written about it, most of which rejecting the new form I advocated. But my ideas were read by poets in Egypt, Lebanon, and Syria, and soon numerous poems using the same form were in print, many of which being dedicated to me.


 In 1942 my interest in languages, poetry and art, reached its peak. I sought culture and art hungrily. During that year, I enrolled in the Belle arts institute in order to study the lute. I also studied acting, and latin. On top of all this, I was a second year student in college. I gave myself passionately to those studies, and loved them.
I yearned to play the lute since early childhood. When my father felt my longing, he agreed to let me study it after some hesitation. I studied with Professor Muhyee AL-deen hinder, known as Al-shareef, who had a unique style in playing.  Many of his gifted students -as Slman Shuker, and Jameel Basheer, are well known in Iraq today. The study program was made for six years, during which students studied oriental chords - Makamat - , their abilities evolving gradually, until they would finally learn to play difficult pieced as, "reflection" - Taa'mul- , That I had wings - Leet lee Jnahan - and "Caprice."  Al-shareef would also alter the tunes of other musicians, as Tanios, Jameel, Aziz dde, and Yousef Basha. Such changes would improve the original, and reproduce it live. I used to sit in class enchanted, as though listening to a prayer. My Professor would repeatedly tell me that I am gifted, but he fears that poetry will take me from music. Today I still play with the accompaniment of the lute the songs of Abdul-Whab, Am kalthum, Fairuz, Abd al halim Hafz, and Najat. Music for me is a hobby, and not the profession which my professor expected. He probably hoped that I could sing and play in the radio, as well as compose original pieces.
Two motives urged me to study acting.
First I wanted to learn how to perform. I used to read my poems to audiences without knowing how to express my emotions verbally. Studying drama helped me. Secondly, when I looked at the study program, I was impressed. Drama students learned Greek mythology in depth. The theme of "the history of Drama" included studying Aescheles, Sophociles, and Arestophan. I knew how rich Greek art was, and its necessity for the actor and the disciple, so I asked my father's permission to study it. He refused at first, but then he was required to teach the Arabic language - for Drama students. When he discovered that I will become his student, he took me with him to Professor Al-Shably, who was in charge of the program then, and he enrolled me as a student. I was happy.
    There was a story for my interest in the study of Latin. I was a student in the Arabic department, and we studied English. Our Professor indicated often the necessity of learning Latin to whoever sought to study English Literature. The desire for studying Latin was created within me. In 1941-1942 the English Program added Latin to its Freshman Program for English majors. And now I longed for studying it. When I approached the Professor on the possibility of studying in his class, he refused saying that it would be of no use to me. I then talked to the Dean, asking his permission, and he allowed me to study with the majors of English. I started excitedly memorizing those endless lists of verbs conjugation.
    My love of Latin stays with me today. I still purchase Latin Poetry books, and try to read them whenever I have the chance. I remember that I wrote my diary in Latin after two months of study. I also wrote lyrics to the famous melody of - At the Balalaika - in Latin. Naturally, the lyric was primitive, since I was a beginner in my study of the language. Bit I continued studying Latin for many years alone with the help of a dictionary. Later, in Princeton at the US. I studied a class where we read the speeches of shesheron. I became also attached to the Roman Poet Cotolos, and memorized some of his poems. I still recite some of them in my hours of solitude.
    In 1949 I started studying French, at home, with my younger Brother, Nizar, who was then a student in the English Department. He was attached to literature and languages. He is also a poet. We were very close friends, and we shared a room where visitors would find books scattered on our beds. We often would discuss art and life. We started learning French without a teacher, depending solely on an English book which taught French. We continued learning until we were capable of reading poetry, criticism, and Philosophy, in French. In 1953, I studied the French language at a language institute. We read classics of French Literature, such as the stories of : Alfonse Dodie, Mopsan, and the Drama of Moliere. But my pronunciation of that language was weak because I studied without the help of a teacher who pronounced the words in front of me. I never had the chance to travel to France. This always bothers me because I can read, and comprehend, but cannot speak, or pronounce the words of this beautiful language.
    I started reading English Literature when I was a student when we read the sonnets of Shakespeare, and "a Mid Summer Night's Dream". I translated one the sonnets to Arabic then. Afterwards I read the poetry of Byron and Shelly. In 1950, I entered a course in the British Council where we studied poetry, and modern Drama, in preparation for an exam by Cambridge University which offers those who pass it the degree of "Proficiency." The level of this study was higher than That of the University. In the course I met a young lady who was majoring in English, and was in the fourth year of college. She did not pass the exam. I did. The reason for my success was that I read throughout the year numerous texts of poetry and Drama. Most of those who were with us in the course failed, and only two of us passed. After this success, I went to the United States to study Literary Criticism.
    I studied for a year, through a scholarship which Rockfeller institute offered. They choose for me to study Literary Criticism in Princeton University, At New Jersey. It was an all male university then. I was the only female student. The administrators were surprised whenever they would see my in the library. I studied with the Giants of Criticism in the States then, such as Richard Blackmoor, Allen Dwanner, Donald Stawfir, and Delmore Shwartz, each of whom wrote well - known texts of Criticism.


    After I retained to Iraq in 1951, I started writing Prose, especially in the field of Literary Criticism. In 1953 I delivered a speech in the United Women's Club in Baghdad which was entitled: "Woman between two extremes: Passivity, and ethics" in which I criticized the situation of women in the Arabic World, and the impotence of Arabic society. I advocated liberating women from passivity. This lecture caused a stir, and people talked about it for a long time, especially since Baghdad Radio transmitted it in its entirety. Soon it was published in Al-Addab , the Lebanese prestigious literary magazine.
    During this period I continued writing Poetry and Criticism, publishing my works in Al-Adeeb and Al-Addab, two Lebanese literary journals.
    In 1953, I suffered an event which shook my life to the core. My mother got very sick all of a sudden, and the Doctors decided that she must have an operation immediately in London. No one in our house could have gone with her except me, because of my knowledge of English, and my acquaintance with this city. Nazar had left to the States. I was forced to accompany her in a hurry, with a terrified heart. I sensed That a terrible event was going to take place. A week before leaving to London, I dreamt of walking in its streets, searching for a colored coffin, in vain. I did not tell of my dream to any one of my family. I traveled with her, and she entered the operation room immediately, and was then carried to the room where they kept corpses. I saw her dying in a scene which shook my life to the core. I had to attend the funeral and witness the burial, and these were duties I have not been accustomed to. I returned to Iraq after two weeks broken depressed and shaky. For I loved my mother deeply. As soon as I saw my brothers and relatives wearing black as they welcomed me in the airport I started crying, without interruption, day and night. It was obvious that I was sick. A psychiatrist gave me some anti-depressant pills. I stopped crying, even though the sadness stays with me today, after 45 years. I wrote after this tragedy a poem: "Three laments to my Mother" where I developed a new style in elegy. The poem was very well received.
    I was fortunate when I was chosen to study comparative literature in the United States. I was accepted in Madison, Wisconsin, one of the top ten Universities of the States. I traveled very excited to study. I was able to use effectively my knowledge of  foreign languages, especially English and French, while studying comparative literature. I gained immeasurably from this study. I spent most of the time in the library which enriched my life with beautiful and varying thoughts. I gained in experience during this short period more than from the rest of my life put together.
    The educational system at Madison was very effective. It did not require writing a long thesis, but demanded that the student prepares a large number of short pieces of research in various fields. I found great pleasure in writing these articles which improved my ability to write criticism. My research in English is still untranslated. The reason for my ignoring it is that it all focused on European Arts, without any mention of Arabic Authors. I have always believed that the Arabic critics who write using too many foreign names are presumptuous, forcing a foreign culture on the simple Arabic reader. I hope to extend the comparative aspect of these texts so that they would include some Arabic names besides the foreign ones. Then I will feel comfortable in publishing them.
    I traveled to Wisconsin in 1954.  Preparing for the Masters in comparative literature two years during which I wrote in my notes my thoughts concerning the books I read,  the people I met, and my thoughts concerning the American female. I also delved deep in self analysis. I discovered that I could not express my thoughts and emotions as everyone else around me does, but prefer withdrawing, silence, and shyness. I made up my mind to change this negative characteristic, and my diary witnessed my efforts to change myself. I would take one step forward, and two steps back. Total change, if possible, would take a continuous effort for many years.
    I understand today that changing the self is a very difficult task. I consider my effort to change myself and my attitude a heroic struggle. I will one day select segments for my diaries in Wisconsin for publication. I have already given a segment of it for publication to the Egyptian daily journal, Al-Ahram in the summer of 1966, and it appeared in the 5 -8 - 1966 issue.
    On the way back from the States I passed through Italy and the south of France. In Damascus I was invited to the second Arab Artists conference in Bloudan. I felt then a crises coming since, due to my absence in the states, I used only foreign languages. Using the Arabic language was difficult for me, especially during that conference which initiated my return to the beloved Arab World. The feeling of discomfort with the Arabic tongue left me after few months during which I regained my fluency in the mother tongue.
    In 1957  I published in Beirut my third collection of poems - Qarart Al Muja - (the depth of the wave) which included selections from my new poems.
    1958 was the year of the Iraqi revolution, which impacted me totally for the whole year. I celebrated the revolution with a poem commencing with:

The joy of the orphan with a paternal embrace
The joy of the thirsty upon testing water
The joy of July with the breath of snow
The joy of darkness with a spring of light
our joy with the republic

The poem was a simple expression of profound joy with the revolution, and a warning against the conspiracies of its enemies:

Oh flower, the market is stirring
Be careful of its zionist anger
with American Talons

But the Iraqi president, Abd Al Karem Qasm soon wavered, and the desire for absolute power took hold of him. He thus allowed the enemies of Arab unity to damage the beauty of the revolution, destroying its nationalist tendencies which I loved dearly. The violence of the government, and the fear for my safety under the brutality of the regime, forced me to leave Iraq. I lived in Beirut for a whole year (1959 - 1960). During this period, I published some of my political works in Al - Adab.
    In 1957 I started teaching in the college of education in Baghdad. I taught literary criticism, and poetic meters (Al - Aroud). After my return from Beirut I met a colleague, Dr. Abdulhadi Mahbobah, a graduate of Cairo university. In the middle of 1961 we got married. He was the best colleague, companion, and friend.
    In 1962, I published my first book in literary criticism Issues of Modern Poetry. In this book,  I studied blank verse in depth, explaining its meters. I depended upon my knowledge of the subject, and the sensitivity I acquired through reading numerous poems in various languages, and on my studies and knowledge of the works of my colleges. I dedicated the book to president Abd ul Naser, thus challenging the Iraqi president who hated him.
    In 1964, me and my husband traveled to Basra where we established a University. Abdul Hadi was its head, and I taught and afterwards was elected as chair for the Arabic department. We stayed there for four years. We left Basra in the later part of 1968. We taught in Baghdad for a year, then left to Kuwait where we taught for many years.
    In 1964, I was invited by the institute for Arabic studies in cairo to deliver lectures on any theme I would choose. I busied myself with writing a book about the poet Ali Mahmoud Taha who influenced me during my youth, when I was a student in the drama department. The book was published in Cairo (The poetry of Ali Mahmoud Taha). It was then reprinted in Beirut. The Title became : The temple and the red Balcony (Al-Souma'aa wa al- shurfa al Hamraa'a).
    In 1978 I published my fourth collection of poems entitled the Moon Tree, Shjarat Al - Qamar. My poetry now evolved, becoming less philosophic than it was at a previous period.
    In 1970 I published an epic poem: The tragedy of Life and a song to humanity.

 2. Woman Between the Extremes of Passivity and Ethics:
By : Nazik Al Malaika..

This text, originally a lecture delivered in 1953, was later reprinted  in Al Malaika's book, Fragmentation in Arabic Culture.  Al Tajzeaia fi Al Mujtamaa Al-Arabi.

    Discussions of the question of Woman remain emotional. People deal with the issue subjectively, and common views are usually biased. Personal believes and rigid social standards make the subject difficult to discuss for the thinker who fears angering society, or making personal judgments, ot even falling into a social or religious abyss. The cause for this situation is that the question of woman still remains an ethical issue, and every ethical issue touches, from different angles, the different sides of social, religious, and political aspects of human society. Nothing is more difficult for the searcher than dealing with ethical questions, because every individual in the society considers himself, regardless of his culture, an authority on the subject. So the theme turns to an emotional minefield. The most important evidence for this situation is that the bases for the law which addresses women's issues and concerns is to be found in local tradition, rather than logic. Tradition, if we look at it closely, is a blind law established through the accumulation of habits and emotions through time in a specific environment. It is not therefore the proper bases for laws.
    There are problems other than the ethical ones. Women in this country have not yet reached the intellectual level necessary to recognize the bitterness of their situation. The moment when an individual recognizes that he has been misused is crucial in the history of her development. But the individual will not feel the unfairness of his treatment until she tastes some liberty. The question of liberty also does not accept compromise. One is either free, or not.
    Another obstacle in the path for development is a small group of educated, and therefore very proud and sensitive, women. We here confront a situation which might be called "Psychological cover up." This is a common situation which impedes a woman from admitting to herself that she is obeying her father or brother, so she deceives herself by imagining that she is acting in accordance to higher ethical standards. Often we see females advocating the veil, as though they are saying: "If we cannot achieve what we want, let us want what we can achieve."  In my view, this is a situation woman faces, which causes her to lose the strength of resistance, keeping deep within her a smarting wound, acting as though she has achieved what she wants..
    As for the man made obstacles, it seems that they are caused by his imagining that the liberation of women will lead to the loss of his own liberty.  He probably believes that her liberation will harm only him, since the benefits will be solely hers. If he is not opposed to the idea, he stays passive.
    It is obvious that the two sides of this issue separate the world into two groups: Women and Men, and create two senses of freedom, one feminine and the other masculine. Few among us note that the slavitude of women will inevitably create a masculine slavitude since the two sexes live in co-operation in the same environment. The truth is that it is impossible and illogical for those two beings to live together, with one of them being totally free, and the other a total slave, since the slavitude of this side will effect the liberty of that.


     The first important point to make is that the history of women characterized her till now with passivity. The evidence for this claim are clear. It is not necessary to seek evidence in legal texts. To glance casually around us will show the extent of common opinion's disregard for women. The fact is that the history of human bondage does not include a worse case in which the individual lacks all the rights of life. Women have lost gradually even their human value. This appears in little events we see every day without noting. For example, there are different values attached to the relationship with the brothers of the fathers, and those of the mother. Society considers the brothers of a father closer to the individual than the brothers of his mother. This evidence suggests that the father is considered more important than the mother. Another example which shows society's disrespect for women is that married women are considered more important than single females. Married women have many benefits and gain the respect of people. Does not this indicate that the value of the woman is not in her character, behavior, and culture, but is obtained as a gift from her espouse? Which lowers her to passivity and kills her ambition. If personality can be obtained through marriage, it is no wonder that marriage becomes her sole objective. Woman according to this strange view is merely a mirror reflecting the grandeur of others.
    Economically, when the modern male complains that he is supporting a female, he is equally assuring her lower value in his gaze. For this complain includes a strange meaning in it, which is that her labor in child rearing and education, cleaning the house, and cooking, all this appears valueless in comparison to his work in the store, factory, or parliament. He forgets that this division of labor should result in a division of income. If woman has assumed the responsibility of staying at home to perform many difficult jobs, while the man works outside, it  necessary follows that she has earned her part from his earnings, not as a gift, since she would earn that sum if she worked outside as well. what matters for us is to discover that the complicated work of women in the home appears valueless to men.
    The Arabic language equally shows the absurdity of the woman's situation in our society. The simplest study of the terms and grammatical roles show that this is the language of a nation which does not esteem its females. Grammar always prioritizes the masculine over the feminine. and the plural is usually put in the masculine, even if the number includes one male element, and one million females. Singular  terms are often used to indicate the female plural in traditional Arabic texts.  It is worthy of note that the word Amia (meaning illiteracy) is taken from the word Aum (meaning mother). The term  used to describe a great poet in Arabic "Shaer Faahl" means masculine, and shows a disassociation between the feminine and the creative element of culture. And these are just a few examples which can be easily multiplied.
    This underestimation of the woman's value and labor led to her deprivation of private property. And we don't mean the economic element, since she has lost other aspects as well. Such as time. What does a woman have of this fortune which she theoretically should take one half of? Nothing in reality. Woman has been burdened with labor which occupies her full time, while man has the time to search and read and make great art and contemplate and socialize in the sciences and even worship What he believes in , which too is an aspect of personality of a human being who willingly chooses his path. The strange thing is that people assume that the work in the house is something which nature imposed on the woman, and though she has been provided with special organs which prepare her to cook and clean. We hear talk about woman's "natural place in the home" and they refer actually to this labor, in which many men excel: Some men are great cooks and cloth makers.
    But the loss of time and money is less strange than another loss to which the woman is subjected, and that is the loss of her name. The woman, even in the west, carries the name of her father while unmarried, and then loses it once married, and takes the name of her husband. And if he divorced her for any reason, she regains the name of her dad. and she might marry again , and then her name is changed for the fourth time. If this is not tragic, it is actually comic. This being should have her own name, which does not change. And a stable name is almost an indication of a human's pride in his personality and past and labor. The real cause of the loss of the woman's name might be her deprivation of the right to build her own past, through her own efforts. There is certainly a disgrace if a woman carries the name of her husband. And if a man carries the name of his wife most people would despise him. People accept this costume without thinking about its meaning and signification.
    As for the loss of the children whom the father is permitted to take away from the mother, once they reach maturity, this is in our view the worst kind of deprivation and the most brutal.
    It is necessary to mention the ethical restrictions imposed on women. Even characteristics have different connotation when applied to men and women. Generosity is considered a feature of nobility in the male, while it is seen as being wasteful when applied to women. The origin of this feature is perhaps that man considers the money his and not hers.
    Another instance of the different ethical expectations imposed on both genders is mourning. When someone dies, his sister, mother and daughter are expected to wear black, and stay at home, while the men are allowed to seek relief outside. They have the right to wear black, or not, even in their ties. The meaning of this separation is obvious and it is caused by the injustice we discussed above. The objective of the social practice of mourning is clear: It is that the woman stays in her home for the longest time, and economize in what she wears, so that a one dress is enough.

 -3 -
 The moral component in a woman's life deserves further analysis, since it may well be the origin of all other deprivations which she suffered, as though it is the theoretical abstract aspect of the subject. And the beginning of the error is that the moral law is emptied of the first condition of every moral law, the condition which makes it possible to describe a human being as moral or immoral. The truth is that a moral law is meaningless if  the individual is not permitted to transgress it. Every moral law  gains in strength from the assumption of the individual freedom to accept or reject it. And this liberty is the source of ethics, and allows for judging behavior as worthy or condemnable, which implies that if a law is forced, morality would lose its value, becoming  coerced behavior without merit.
    To explain this view, let us imagine a man honest because a lie will lead to his death. Such a man isn't honest since his honesty is forced. And here, honesty loses its merit. One praises honesty if the individual is permitted to choose between lying or telling the truth without coercion. I remember having heard a man talking with disgust about those who eat fish, saying that they forget the image of the fish writhing in agony at the shore as she is dying.. The man's younger sister said: "But you hated the taste of fish since you were young." He was upset with his sister, and criticized her in front of the guests. And the reason is that she made his virtue appear coerced. Her statement that he hates the taste of fish deprived him of the moral choice, making it appear coerced.
    The truth is that so long as the choice is coerced, society considers it less virtuous, as though virtue requires free choice.  Morality cannot exist with coercion.
    If we think of the situation of women, we will discover that she has not reached the situation where any moral law applies. She is still tied to a position of passivity which deprives her of any kind of morality. Or, she is prevented by force from having any ethical code according to which she can be assessed. She is not good because her goodness is coerced. And she is not bad because the bad she does is caused by the temptation of breaching the law, which that law itself creates. For, every restriction creates the temptation to breach that restriction.  Perhaps, the cause of this situation is that every restriction implies an accusation of a moral weakness which needs to be watched. As though the restriction is already an accusation. Many of the innocents who are accused of moral weaknesses might enact them eventually. The reason for this is that innocence is hurt of the accusation to the degree that the soul yearns for fulfilling it. One might cling to morality because of the pleasure of feeling innocence and purity. What would happen if we are accused of what we did not do? One faces the situation of the little girl who was accused of stealing a golden necklace and was punished cruelly without being able to prove her innocence. When she grew she desired to steal  although she did not need the things which she stole. She might have philosophized the situation saying: "they consider me a thief anyway.. So, why should I fear? Why not enjoy the things which I stole anyway?" This is the logic of abused innocence.
    Restriction is also harmful because the restricted subject is condemned to the loss of the virtue of choice and of its moral destiny. Restriction deprives  the restricted subject of the pleasure of choice and control of its behavior. While moral freedom gives the individual a sense of power which springs from the depth of the psyche and causes the individual to choose the moral dimension. and is the psychological award for the choice. It is possible to state that: the more one is free to choose, the more one senses the pleasure of the decision. This feeling is the magical key to the situation. An example is the case of a man who gave a hundred dollars to the poor willingly, and another who gave the same sum at a party because all of his friends did the same. The first person is happy because of what he did. The second is angry, and might swear not to attend such parties in the future. In this case, the virtuous action is not longer virtuous. and it is the situation of the woman who has lost her choice and is coerced. This is why it is impossible for a woman to feel as a generous man does when he aids the poor. Her virtue is forced on her, and she is therefore deprived of all the psychological pleasure resulting from it. Thus a woman endures virtue without any awards, which is very difficult.
    All this explains the reason for women being during entire periods in a passive position which makes all moral judgments on her impossible. The pressures and coercion imposed on her made her entire life a lengthy list of restrictions which deprived her of all positive ethics. This retention of her energy inside herself caused  her to substitute behavior for an outside veil, meant as a protective screen for the handicapped depths, so that it does not appear broken, passive, without being, and on this screen all the moral judgments were based.
    The fact is that most judgments addressed the results without looking at the causes, so they studied the behavior of women without the cost of the restrictions imposed on her, and searched for the morality in the life of a being without freedom, and sought the character where there is no will, and explored the present, where there is no past or history. And this was the view of many philosophers, and it lacks rationality and equilibrium. For, there is no ethics without total freedom of behavior, and no character without self conscious ethics, and no production in any field without a deep and round character, which can analyze its wants and desires. This is because liberty produces ethics, and ethics produce character, and character is what produces art and thought and humanity.
    The truth is that the behavior of a woman in this situation cannot be any different from what we see today among the lower classes. She does not wish to condition herself for life in this cruel environment which does not protect her but treats her with absolute cruelty. And in the shade of this pressure , woman was forced to give up on all the benefits of virtue, since she discovered instinctively that this virtue is no more than a luxury which the free enjoy. As for the enslaved, acting moral deprives them of the dream of their rights. Thus, woman gave up on much of the moral luxury which beautifies life and gives it depth and intellectual richness.
    The pleasure of friendship was one of these luxurious items women lost. For woman cannot be a friend today. The moral obligations deprived her of this human pleasure which humans enjoy the more their horizons expand and their social character matures. For friendship requires liberty in the giving of caring. It is a tide which floods another human being. In this it is like generosity because the generous gives to satisfy an inner craving. Thus one gives love to friends. and woman feels that she does not have anything to give others because she lacks liberty and confidence. She is miserly because her she has so little to give. She barely has enough to survive, so how can she give others anything? She is like shallow  water which cannot swell to irrigate the valleys near by.
    Friendship is a psychological giving which completes the human character and fulfills the sense of freedom. And the woman in her fragility and lack of property is careful, in a miserly way, about what she has. And this is the reason for the miserliness in all parts of her life. She fears spending as though it is a danger to her. This is a defense required by the inability to compete with those around her. In human history one finds the members of abused minorities feeling envy and acting egotistically, weak and hateful and miserly, which are the feelings thinkers attribute to women. One might say that each negative attribute results from a feeling of loneliness and the lack of social protection.
    Woman lost not only friendship, but the uniqueness of character as well. Philosophers have noted and mercilessly mocked this lack of individuality in women. A philosopher said: "I know many men, but only one woman."  meaning that all women are different copies of the same character.  The cause of this situation is obvious. For without freedom of behavior people act in the same manner. It is liberty which opens gifts and endowments and the forces of the self. And the character is the sum total of all these elements. Difference of character is created as a result of the liberating of the different aspects of the self. As for the instincts and social habits, they are alike in all members of a community. There is no doubt that women are similar because they are subjected to the same passivity. How can we expect difference of behavior and attitude between women? And according to what law could we require of enslaved women to posses Personality and originality and a character? If we take of the question of behavior all what remains of the individual is the similar natural instincts and characteristics which men, as much as women, possess.
    The lack of personality resulted in the lack of responsibility, outside the very limited personal circumstances. What is responsibility, other than the sense of a power which encourages us to help others and assist them in dealing with their circumstances? Woman does not feel this power because  she is always protected by her brother and father from the danger of uncertainty and the difficulty of making decisions. After centuries in this situation, she learned to distrust her ability to make decisions independently.
    This lack of responsibility might be the cause for women talking faster than men. Recent American research suggested that the number of words women utter in a minute exceed that of men. Man talks slowly because he thinks and weighs his words before uttering them. He realizes that the wrong word might cause disasters sometimes. His sense of responsibility drives him to reflection before speaking. Women speak so fast that occasionally she changes the meaning of words. And, the more the meaning is deep and specific, the more one needs to reflect in saying words. This means that character effects the speed of speaking.
    These are some examples about the practical impact of restriction on the lives of women. It is obvious by now that women did not reach the point  where it is possible for philosophers to judge them morally. There is no morality without liberty and choice. Isn't it about time for those millions of women to stand and require of society to give her the right to create ethics and morality ?
     The question is: What can woman do regarding their situation? Should she stay at home and await the movement from passivity to morality, and enter public life afterwards? Or should she seek representation so that few cultured and economically liberated women might defend her rights? We recommend the second view because the right to representation is not attached to culture. Two and half Million Iraqi women deserve to be represented in a democratic society. This in addition to the fact that the admission into the practical domain of life will help women overcome their passivity. a passivity which men share and it is certain that for every enslaved women there is an enslaved man.
    As for the protests, the stronger objection is that woman is not intellectually endowed, that thinking is masculine. We will not mention the names of women who appeared in various intellectual and scientific domains. Some knowledge of logic, and the laws of heredity, offer better perspectives. It is not logical that woman , who is the source of life, lacks the gifts which later generations possess. It is impossible to accept this generalization. Nature does not create half a race inferior to the other.. since the fetus combines the qualities of both parents.
    Some object that the happiness of society today results from the division of labor.. where women is responsible of the home.. so that her leaving it will lead to the collapse of the family. And this strange accusation ignores the primary goal for the construction of a society. Why do people sacrifice some of their individual liberties to live together? The answer is that society is created to offer individuals the possibility of using the maximum intellectual and emotional  level which nature has given the individual.
    And so, what is the excuse for a society sacrificing half its citizens for the sake of the other half? This is a situation which sociology could not accept theoretically. Since the implied meaning is that we planned society before hand, without thinking of its actual needs.
    As for the objection that "if even men do not succeed in public life, how can women?" It is based on the assumption that women are similar to men, which is not valid. If we accept the sexual difference between the sexes, we should expect some difference in their endowments. It is certain that female thought will bring in a new point of view in the human cultural level.
    We might say that the domain of women is like areas in the mind which have not been explored and used. She is a new continent which no other discovery will match. Nothing is greater and more wonderful or deeper than the energy which nature gave the human being. Let that human be the greater law with which we measure the justice of our laws and systems.




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