During the days of the sit-in and the nights of the field, the poems of the poet Ahmed Fouad Negm returned in the voice of Sheikh Imam – 16 years after his departure on this day, June 7, 1995 – recurring again between two generations of protesters, the generation of adults who experienced the popularity of these songs in the seventies, and a generation Young people who found these songs suitable for the great event, chanted “Egypt, Ya Bahia” and “Build your palaces on farms.”
It was surprising that the generation of the Internet and social networking sites knew Sheikh Imam’s songs and memorized them by heart, and his songs became a slogan for the revolution, so that the most famous group of pictures of the martyrs of the January revolution was published by Al-Masry Al-Youm newspaper under the title “The roses that opened in the gardens of Egypt”, recalling the words of the famous poem of Imam And a star dating back to 1973:
The nightingale’s morning sings with the tunes of the Sab’, oh Egypt
The morning of the day, the roll and the sprinkle of salt in the wedding
Morning rises with our flags from the castle to Bab Al-Nasr
His song, “O Egypt, get up and pull the tricks” – from the words of the colloquial poet Naguib Shehab El-Din – was frequented in the breaks of news bulletins on Al-Jazeera, celebrating the scenes of the January revolution, and watched by millions around the world.
Sheikh Imam thought that the oud was not his part, as he is the blind Sheikh, the son of Al-Azhari education, who did not see the light in his life, until he once encountered a blind man playing the lute, and he did not sleep that night, and he went to his friend, director and filmmaker Kamel Al-Homsani, asking him to teach him the oud, to start his career in Singing and composing, which led him to prison, detention and fame.
But his real beginning was in 1962, when he met the poet Ahmed Fouad Negm (1929-2013), who was looking for a partner to sing his poems to him from the Diwan “Sours from Prison and Life” after his release from prison. On Slavery – a triptych quickly gained fame and popularity.
Imam tells, “In 1962 I met a star and our meeting was a new beginning for me and him together. He asked me when we met and after he listened to me… Why don’t you sing? Immediately, her melody was emotional. And when she started composing, I discovered to what extent the reciter of the Qur’an, who had memorized it well and mastered its language and recitation methods, could be a composer… Rather, he could be the master of composers if he enjoyed a certain amount of talent, for the Qur’an is an endless treasure.”
Najm and Imam formed a famous duo, and they became a translator of political and social reality, accompanied by bitter criticism and incitement, as described by the writer Khairy Shalaby.
Sheikh Imam’s songs spread in Egypt, and the Egyptian radio dedicated to him a program entitled With the tunes of Sheikh Imam, in which he presented Najm’s poems.
After the setback of June 1967, the duo began to present political poetry critical of the authority, and their meeting with the broad public at the Journalists Syndicate party in 1968 caused their popularity to grow, a meeting that the head of the Journalists Syndicate Kamel Zuhairi described at the time as being composed by Imam in it “cruelty, humor and spirit.” Smart Egyptian.. She is closer to the people’s tunes.. (and Najm’s words) are frank, harsh, full of paradoxes and fresh, and this is what we need.
Soon, a star and an imam were arrested, and critic and journalist Raja al-Naqqash told that the reason for the arrest was the anger of the late President Gamal Abdel Nasser over Najm’s poem “Praise be to God we hit under our blankets”, especially when he heard the phrase “Oh, our officers have returned from the line of fire,” and named him a star in The poem is called “Abdul-Jabbar”.
awara Negm tells in the program “Out of the Text” on Al-Jazeera that Abdel Nasser insisted on detaining Negm and an imam for life, as he was not accustomed to criticizing the political leadership.
With the release of Sheikh Imam and Negm after President Sadat took power, their critical political poems continued, and together they presented “The Students Returned” from the student demonstrations in 1972, and they also presented the song “Egypt, Yam Bahia” chosen by Youssef Chahine in his controversial film “The Bird”. In 1972, a celebration of Egypt’s soldiers after the October victory in his poem “Dula Men.. Doula Egyptian Soldiers”.
In the poem “Have you honored Nixon Papa” in 1974, they criticized US President Richard Nixon’s visit to Cairo, and the warm reception he received from the political leadership. And “They are Maine and We are Maine”, in which they attacked the impoverishment and starvation of the people, came in response to the events of January 17 and 18, 1977, which Sadat called the “thieves’ uprising.”
They sang to Guevara the poem “Guevara died” and “Mawal of the beans and meat” about class differences, and other famous poems such as “Ya Palestinian” and “Cow Haha”.
In the eighties, after the cancellation of the travel ban on Najm and Imam, the two set out on an artistic tour in Arab and European countries to recite their poems in front of audiences outside the borders.
Najm said that Imam was “the first musician who was imprisoned in prisons for his music, and if poetry can understand its meaning, did they discover that Imam’s music insults and exposes them.”
The dispute with Najm flared up from time to time, and Imam says that he endured Najim’s insults from the beginning, but he saw that they constituted one thing in front of the public, and accused Najm of loving leadership and presidency, and he was trying to monopolize him and get angry if he sang to other poets.
His departure and a philosophical opinion in his words
The blind Sheikh was isolated in his last years, and he spent it in Al-Ghouriya neighborhood until he met his Lord on this day in 1995, after a long journey between political poetry, struggle and memories of the detainee.
The Egyptian thinker Hassan Hanafy, professor of philosophy at Cairo University, said about the late, “I spent several hours with him (the imam) in a room in Hawash Qadam (a small neighborhood in the heart of Cairo that was considered a meeting place for artists and intellectuals), and I knew the philosopher after I knew the artist, and the Egyptian citizen who witnessed him. Egypt throughout its history.
Hanafi described the Sheikh’s melodies and performance by saying, “His basic melody does not change with the change in performance, but every time the Sheikh performs the same melody with a new performance, as if a person hears it for the first time, he lives the melody from within. And he performs it every time, as if he is performing it for the first time.”
Regarding Sheikh Imam’s composing methods and his expressive performance, the late thinker Mahmoud Amin Al-Alam said, “I found in his melodies and performances, the dramatic expressive song full of suffering, full of vitality that does not hang around the decorative repetition of the melody, or stop at you at the parasitic appendages that complete the passages for a formal necessity, but rather express It develops with you, and goes with you to a clear goal that stems from all your life experience, or brings you back to your life itself, deepens it, and awakens in it the foundations of authenticity and human honesty.”
The late Professor of Philosophy Fouad Zakaria was quoted as saying that Sheikh Imam “is a phenomenon that has its unique characteristics that surpass all other composers, and he presents a performance that goes beyond the scope of pure melody.”