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Taha Hussein

Find out which of the following information is false and which is


Taha Hussein was one of the most influential 19th-century

Egyptian writers.

He was the seventh of thirteen children, born into a lower-

middle-class family.

He became a professor in Arabic literature at Ain Shams


He received his doctorate degree from the university of


He is best known for his autobiography The Days.

He was the first Egyptian to receive an MA and a doctorate (PhD)

from France.

In 1942, Hussein was appointed Minister of Education.

He wrote 58 novels in total.

Now check your answers by scanning the below article.

Taha Hussein was one of the most influential 20th-century

Egyptian writers and intellectuals, and a figurehead for the The
Egyptian Renaissance and the modernist movement in the
Middle East and North Africa. His sobriquet was "The Dean of
Arabic Literature".[2]

Taha Hussein was born in Izbet el Kilo, a village in the Minya

Governorate in central Upper Egypt. He went to a kuttab, and
Taha Hussein
thereafter was admitted to El Azhar University, where he
studied Religion and Arabic literature. From an early age, he
was reluctant to take the traditional education to his heart.
Hussein was the seventh of thirteen children, born into a lower-
middle-class family. He became blind at the age of three, the
result of faulty treatment by an unskilled practitioner, a
condition which caused him a great deal of anguish throughout
his entire life.

Hussein met and married Suzanne Bresseau (18951989) while

attending the University of Montpellier in France. She was
referred to as "sweet voice". This name came from her ability to
read to him as he was trying to improve his grasp of the French
language. Suzanne became his wife, best friend and the mother
of his two children and was his mentor throughout his life.

Taha Hussein's children, his daughter Amina and her younger

brother Moenis, were both important figures in Egypt. Amina,
who died at the age of 70, was among the first Egyptian women
to graduate from Cairo University. She and her brother, Moenis,
translated his Adib (The Intellectual) into French. This was
especially important to their father, who was an Egyptian who
had moved to France and learned the language. Even more
important, the character of Adib is that of a young man who,
like Taha Hussein, has to deal with the cultural shock of an
Egyptian studying and living in France.

Academic career

When the secular Cairo University was founded in 1908, he was

keen to be admitted, and despite being blind and poor he won a
place. In 1914, he became the second graduate to receive a
PhD, with a thesis on the skeptic poet and philosopher Abu-
Alala' Al-Ma'ari. He went on to become a professor of Arabic
literature there. In 1919, he was appointed a professor of
history at Cairo University. Additionally, he was the founding
Rector of the University of Alexandria. Although he wrote many
novels and essays, in the West he is best known for his
Taha Hussein
autobiography, El-Ayyam, The Days) which was published in
English as An Egyptian Childhood (1932) and The Stream of
Days (1943). However, it was his book of literary criticism On
Pre-Islamic Poetry of 1926 that bought him some fame in the
Arab world. In this book, he expressed doubt about the
authenticity of much early Arabic poetry, claiming it to have
been falsified during ancient times due to tribal pride and
rivalry between tribes. He also hinted indirectly that the Qur'an
should not be taken as an objective source of history.
Consequently, the book aroused the intense anger and hostility
of the religious scholars at El Azhar and many other
traditionalists, and he was accused of having insulted Islam.
However, the public prosecutor stated that what Taha Hussein
had said was the opinion of an academic researcher and no
legal action was taken against him, although he lost his post at
Cairo University in 1931. His book was banned but was re-
published the next year with slight modifications under the title
On Pre-Islamic Literature (1927).

Taha Hussein was an intellectual of the Egyptian Renaissance

and a proponent of the ideology of Egyptian nationalism along
with what he called Pharaonism, believing that Egyptian
civilization was diametrically opposed to Arab civilization, and
that Egypt would only progress by reclaiming its ancient pre-
Islamic roots.[3]

After Hussein obtained his MA from the University of

Montpellier, he continued his studies and received another PhD
at the Sorbonne. With this accomplishment, Hussein became
the first Egyptian and member of the mission to receive an MA
and a doctorate (PhD) from France. For his doctoral dissertation,
written in 1917, Hussein wrote on Ibn Khaldun, a Tunisian
historian, claimed by some to be the founder of sociology. Two
years later, in 1919, Hussein made his way back to Egypt from
France with his wife, Suzanne, and was appointed professor of
history at Cairo University.
Taha Hussein
In 1950, Hussein was appointed Minister of Education, and was
able to put into action his motto: "Education is like the air we
breathe and the water we drink." Mr. Farid Shehata was his
personal secretary and his eyes and ears during this
period.Without Taha Hussein and his passion to promote
education, millions of Egyptians would never have become

Positions and tasks

In 1950, he was appointed a Minister of Knowledge (Ministry of

Education nowadays) in which capacity he led a call for free
education and the right of everyone to be educated.
Additionally, he was an advocate against the confinement of
education to the rich people only. In that respect, he said,
"Education is as water and air, the right of every human being".
Consequently, in his hands, education became free and
Egyptians started getting free education. He also transformed
many of the Quranic schools into primary schools and
converted a number of high schools into colleges such as the
Graduate Schools of Medicine and Agriculture. He is also
credited with establishing a number of new universities.

Taha Hussein held the position of chief editor of a number of

newspapers and wrote innumerable articles. He was also a
member of several scientific academies in Egypt and around
the world.