Hind Haroun: Poetess of Maternity and Khansaa of her Age

Hind Haroun, a Syrian poetess from the city of Lattakia, was born in 1927 to a family whose members resisted the French occupation for years and suffered greatly from its inhuman practices. Some of the family members were displaced, others were persecuted, imprisoned or sentenced to death, a thing that forced the poetess’s uncle Sheikh Monah Haroun to flee the country to save his life.

 Poetess Haroun excelled in her study, she wrote poetry when she was in preparatory school and published her poems, at that time, in newspapers under the nickname of (Bint Alsahel). Haroun got a diploma of primary education, she worked as a teacher, then as the director of (Alkarama) Secondary School and later as the head of the Arab Writers Union in Lattakia.

 Haroun wrote more than 4,000 poems on several themes like, homeland, love, maternity, sadness and land-man relationship. Her most distinguished collections of poems are:  (The Temple Robber in 1977), (Diwan Ammar in 1979), ( Sun of Love in 1981), (Between Anchorage and Sail in 1984), and ( Ammar in the Conscience of Maternity).

The poetess experienced very tragic moments during the illness of her only son Ammar and after his death of cancer at the age of 17. This catastrophe inspired her to write unique poems lamenting her lost maternity and expressing the bitterness of losing a loved one.

On the beginning of her poetic career, Haroun once said: "I started to say poetry when I was a child and even before I knew how to write. In the beginning I wrote small innocent love poems and then moved to the nationalistic poetry which was a true revolution against the division of the Arab homeland, and a euphoria  because of attaining Arab unity,” (namely the 1958 Unity between Syria and Egypt.)

She pointed out that in literature, there is no difference between women and men and “I wonder why people make this kind of distinction.”

“I don’t classify my works as women poetry as I can't assess my position, but I admit that maternity poetry is more exclusive to women than men, and maybe I was distinguished in describing mothers’ feelings," Haroun said.

She added: “Among the pioneer women poetesses who enriched the poetry movement in Lattakia were: Fatat Ghassan, Talaat Al-Rifai, Aziza Haroun, Fatma Haddad and Nabiha Haddad, the poet of pain and image.”

Poetess Haroun participated in many poetry festivals in Egypt, Lebanon, Morocco and France. She got honorary doctorate from the World Federation of Authors. Some of her poems were translated into French, English, Bulgarian and German.

The poetess spent her last years with her daughters and at school until she died in 1995.


Maysaa Wassouf

Ghassan Massoud: Syrian Army, Guarantee of Country’s Strength, Unity, Sovereignty

DAMASCUS, (ST)_ During the first months of Syria events, many Syrian artists appeared repeatedly on national screens to express their views regarding the going, starting from the enlightenment role they are entitled to play as to form objective and balanced public opinion. However, this role suffered a kind of retreat and some artists preferred to distance themselves and keep silent because of convulsive and exaggerated stances by some Syrians advocating false “democracy” and “freedom”.

 Syrian world star Actor, Ghassan Massoud, was recently the guest of the Syrian “Al-Ikhbariya” channel program to break the silence and clarify his viewpoint on the Syrian crisis.

 Trying his best to be objective, Syrian actor Massoud wasn’t a hypocrite neither to the government nor to the “opposition”, but in certain moments he was brave enough to dig deep into all stances and ideas which went far in violating national principles and human nature.

 He said “no one in Syria or abroad can believe that the United States has the slightest intension to bring “democracy” to Syria or to any other country,” stressing that the U.S. is seeking to sow chaos and terrorism in the country with the help of some Syrians who have exploited the US hostile stances towards their homeland.

 Bitterly and disappointedly, the world star talked about how some Syrians inside the country had turned themselves into “firewood” to feed the strife and destroy the state’s institutions just to please some parties abroad seeking personal political benefits. He pointed out that the state’s institutions are actually the achievements and properties of the Syrian people over the past decades, so destroying them is unforgivable.

 The world actor made it clear that he rejects all attempts by those who call themselves “opposition” to spoil the reputation of the Syrian Arab Army, the symbol of Syria’s national sovereignty.

 “How did they allow themselves to demonize the army and call for shedding its blood? Any insult or harm to the army is an insult to me personally and an insult to my father and mother too,” Massoud said, adding that he himself had served in this military institution.

  “This is the army of the Syrian Arab Republic, it is the guarantee of the country’s strength, unity, security and sovereignty, and no one has the right to harm it neither by word nor by deeds” the actor stressed, pointing out that this Army had lost thousands of soldiers in Lebanon in confrontation of the Israeli aggression against South Lebanon.

 Massoud, who criticized attempts to incite military aggression against his country, didn’t forget to talk about the “media craziness” embodied by the malicious campaign launched against Syria by Arab and international mass media which scarified their credibility to serve certain political goals.

 He blessed the National Reconciliation Ministry’s efforts which led some people who got involved in the country’s current events to return to the lap of their homeland, asserting that this is a wise step in the right direction to overcome the crisis and urging all the Syrians who carried the weapon against their fellow citizens to hand their weapons over to the authorities.

 Syrian actor and filmmaker Ghassan Massoud, 54, is known internationally for playing the role of Muslim ruler Saladin in Ridley Scott’s film “Kingdom of Heaven”. He also starred in other foreign movies including the “Valley of the Wolves: Iraq” and the “Pirates of the Caribbean: Art of World’s End”. In Syria, Massoud appeared in many Syrian-made films.

  Hamda Mustafa

Arab Calligraphy

 .The Arab Calligraphy had emerged in the North of the Arabian Peninsula in an impact of the scripts prevailing in Hira and Anbar. Bishr ibn Abdel Malek Al-Kendy was the first to introduce writing in Mecca. Al-Kendy had learned the art of Nabatian script from the Arabian tribes who inhabited the areas of Hirah and Anbar.

Arabs before Islam were interested in writing. They started to use writing in the different affairs of their lives regarding writing contracts, political and business documents, as well as, literature and poetry. So Arab  nation did not suffer illiteracy in the sense that people don't  know to read and write, hence the revelation of Quran in this intellectual depth and eloquent way is a clear evidence for Arabs ability to understand and to carry His message to all people.

The first versions of the Qur'an were written in the scripts of Makki and Madani. These scripts were variants of the Jazm script and were named for cities Makki for Mekka, and Madani for Medina.

The march of the Arab calligraphy described the march of the  Muslims history  that shows through its ramifications the several stages experienced by Muslims  during their long history and writing became a very important means for communication.

Writing and reading became the method in which Muslims recorded and preserved the Sunna, i.e Prophet's instructions and Quranic interpretation. The Arabic language spread as more Muslims were encouraged to learn to read and write in order to comprehend Islamic instructions.

There are two main methods dominated the art of writing in the Muslim world:

1-The Dry method, in which letters are straight with sharp corners. The most famous is the Kufic  line. 

2-The Soft method, its letters are curved, al- Naskh line is the most famous line written in this method.

Forms of Arabic Calligraphy:

According to contemporary studies, researchers said that although scripts had different names, they were not particularly distinct from one another. We have:

The Kufic script: is a heavy monumental Arabic script which is suited for stone carving, appears in the earliest surviving Koran manuscript.

The Naskh script: Naskh means 'copying'. It is a small script whose lines are thin and letter shapes are round.

The Thuluth script: It was round and elegant, cursive script, used in Medieval times for mosques decoration.

The Ta'liq script: It is a cursive style of lettering which was developed in Iran in the 10th century. It was widely used for royal as well as daily correspondence until the 14th century. The Ta'liq script was formulated and developed into a widely used native script which led to the invention of a lighter and more elegant version called Nasta'liq.

The Nasta'liq script: It was a combination of the Naskh and Ta'liq scripts. It was frequently used into paintings of the early Safavid  era . It was considered the most elegant of the Persian  script.

The Riq'a script: It is considered the simpler style of the every day writing .

The Deewani script: it is a cursive style of writing used during the period of Ottomans. It was characterized by the complexity of the lines within the letters.

Calligraphy Instruments:

The typical tools for a calligrapher included reed and brush pens, scissors, a knife for cutting the pens, an ink pot, and a sharpening tool. According to Safadi, the reed pen, which is called a 'qalam', remains an essential tool for a true calligrapher.

The most esteemed reeds were native to the coastal lands of the Persian Gulf. Qalams were valued objects and were traded across the entire Muslim world.

Ink was of many colors including black, brown, yellow, red, blue, white, silver, and gold. Black and brown inks were often used.

Ink preparation could take several days and involve many complex chemical processes.

Paper was also among the most important tools used by the calligraphers. It was introduced in 751 from China via Samarqand. Producing paper was a turning point in the art of writing.

Most outstanding calligraphers:

Mir Ali Tabrizi: He was the most important calligrapher in the Timurid period. He invented the Nasta'iq script and devised the rules to govern it.

Ibn Muqlah.: According to Welch (1979), Ibn Muqlah is regarded as a figure of heroic stature who laid the basis for a great art upon firm principles and who created the Six Styles of writing: Kufi, Thuluth, Naskh, Riq'a, Deewani, and Ta'liq. Ibn Muqlah (886-940) was followed by Ibn al-Bawwab in the 11th century and Yaqut al-Musta'simi in the late 13th century. The latter two men built upon Ibn Muqlah's achievements .

There were many master Mamluk calligraphers whose works exhibit superb artistic skills including Muhammad Ibn al-Wahid, Muhammad Ibn Sulayman al-Muhsini, Ahmad Ibn Muhammad al-Ansari, and Ibrahim Ibn Muhammad al-Khabbaz. Abd al-Rahman al-Sayigh is very well-known for copying the largest-size Qur'an in Muhaqqa script.

 Amal Farhat





" A damascene rose": a poem tells Nizar Qabbani love to Damascus

Nizar Qabbani was born in Damascus, Syria, on March 21,1923,to a traditional well-to-do family. He was the second of six children.  His house was  located in Al-Shaghor quarters  of the old city of Damascus. His father Tawfic, a respected national figure, helped finance the national movement against the French occupation, and was one of it’s leaders.

While Nizar was a student  at Damascus university, he wrote his first collection of Poems entitled (The Brunette told me). But he earned his reputation for daring with the publication in 1954 of his first volume of verse (childhood of breast) . In his poems he always expressed resentment of male chauvinism, and often wrote a woman’s view points, and advocated social freedom for them.

Though he had lived in London since 1967, but the Syrian capital remained a powerful presence in his poems, most notably in “ The Jasmine scent of Damascus”.

Qabbani was a committed Arab nationalist, and in recent years his poetry and other writings, included essays and journalism, had become more political. His writing also often fused themes of romantic and political despair, especially when his second wife Balqis al-Rawi whom he loved very much, was killed in a bomb attack in Beirut, where she was working for the culture section of the Iraqi Embassy.

He had a big fame not only his two dozen volumes of poetry, or in regular contributions to the Arabic-Language newspaper Al-Hayat but in lyrics, sung by popular singers in  the Arab world.

Nizar Qabbani died in London of a  heart attack at the age of 75, and was buried, at his own will, in Damascus.

The following is an excerpt from his renowned poem :"  A Damascene Moon “, which reveals his deeply rooted love to Damascus

Green Tunisia, I have come to you as a lover
On my brow, a rose and a book
For I am the Damascene whose profession is passion
Whose singing turns the herbs green
A Damascene moon travels through my blood
Nightingales . . . and grain . . . and domes
From Damascus, jasmine begins its whiteness
And fragrances perfume themselves with her scent
From Damascus, water begins . . . for wherever
You lean your head, a stream flows
And poetry is a sparrow spreading its wings
Over Sham . . . and a poet is a voyager
From Damascus, love begins . . . for our ancestors
Worshipped beauty, they dissolved it, and they melted away
From Damascus, horses begin their journey
And the stirrups are tightened for the great conquest
From Damascus, eternity begins . . . and with her
Languages remain and genealogies are preserved
And Damascus gives Arabism its form
And on its land, epochs materialize

                                       Butheina Alnounou

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German Nobel Prize Infuriates Israel


Israel is widely believed to be the only nuclear-armed power in the Middle East, having  between 100 and 300 warheads. It refused to sign the nuclear Non-Proliferation Treaty or to allow international surveillance into its Dimona plant in the Negev desert. 

Israel’s illegal and dangerous nuclear program has been a serious threat to world peace and security, drawing criticism by many world leaders, politicians and intellectuals.

Gunter Grass, the German Nobel prize-winning author and one of Germany’s most influential intellectuals, published a new work critical to Israel and its nuke activities.

In his new poem "A Hero in Our Time", recently published in a collection of 87 poems, entitled Eintagsfliegen, Grass praises Mordechai Vanunu, an Israeli who blew the whistle on Israel’s nuclear program to a British newspaper.

­The writer describes Vanunu, the former worker at the Dimona nuclear facility as a “hero” and a “model”, admiring his decision to disclose  Israeli nuclear secrets to the UK’s Sunday Times in 1986. 

An Israeli court convicted the whistle-blower of espionage and sentenced him to 18 years in jail. Vanunu was released in 2004 but banned from travel or contact with foreigners without prior permission.

Meanwhile, Grass has been barred from entering Israel, and considered as persona non-grata because of his anti-Israel writings.

Earlier this year, the 84-year-old German writer steered a wave of outrage in Israel after publishing a poem entitled "What Must Be Said" , in which he asserted that the Zionist entity of endangers world peace.

In the poem "What Must Be Said", Grass says that he risks the danger of being called an anti-Semite because of his saying: 

Aged and with my last ink,
That the nuclear power of Israel endangers
The already fragile world peace?
Because it must be said
What even tomorrow may be too late to say…

According to him remaining silent over these dire circumstances is irresponsible and dangerous, so Gunter Grass decides to break the silence saying:

I am silent no longer
Because I am tired of the hypocrisy
Of the West…

In another poem, the German poet also points finger at his own country for providing nuclear submarines to Israel: 

Now, though, because in my country
Which from time to time has sought and confronted
The very crime
That is without compare
In turn on a purely commercial basis, if also
With nimble lips calling it a reparation, declares
A further U-boat should be delivered to Israel,
Whose specialty consists of guiding all-destroying warheads to where the existence
Of a single atomic bomb is unproven, (referring to Iran)
But through fear of what may be conclusive,
I say what must be said. 

Hamda Mustafa