Ibrahim Tukan (1905-1941 / Palestine)
Biography of Ibrahim Tukan
Ibrahim Abd al-Fattah Touqan (1905–May 2, 1941) was a Palestinian nationalist poet whose works rallied Arabs during their revolt against the British. Touqan was born in Nablus, Palestine during Ottoman times.He was the brother of poetess Fadwa Touqan and he tutored and influenced her to write poetry. Ibrahim belonged to the prominent Touqan family that governed Nablus for much of the 18th and 19th centuries.
He attended the al-Rashadiyya al-Gharbiyya School in western Nablus for his primary education, then St. George's School in Jerusalem for his secondary education. He continued his studies at the American University in Beirut from 1923 to 1929. After graduating with bachelor's degree in literature, Touqan worked as a professor of Arabic literature at an-Najah National University in Nablus. He later worked in two jobs as a professor at the American University in Beirut and a sub-director of the Arabic Programme Section of the Jerusalem Palestine Broadcasting Station.
In 1937, he married Samia Abd al-Hadi, and they had one son, Ja'afar. Touqan had stomach problems throughout his life and in 1941 he died at the age of 36 from a stomach ulcer in the French Hospital in Jerusalem.
Touqan's career as a poet began during his adolescence and he was greatly influenced by his grandfather who wrote zajal, as well as his mother who was fond of "heroic" Arabic literature. After encouragement from his father, Touqan took a great interest in the Qur'an, apparently "reading it through every Ramadan". Touqan published his first poem in 1923 while in Beirut. There he found that the Lebanese press were very encouraging of publishing his works.
Most of his poems dealt with the Arab struggle against the British who had controlled Palestine since 1922 as a mandate. His poems gained fame in the Arab world during the 1936-1939 Arab revolt in Palestine. According to author Salma Khadra Jayyusi, Touqan's poetry is marked by "sincerity and emotional veracity. His verse clear and direct, the diction simple and well-chosen, and the phrases powerful and often terse."
Here is an excerpt from one of his notable poems, Mawtini, which he wrote during the Arab revolt:
“ The sword and the pen
Not talking nor quarreling
Are our symbols
Our glory and covenant
And a duty to fulfill it
Is an honorable cause
A raised flag
O, your beauty
In your eminence
Victorious over your enemies
The poem is the de facto national anthem of the Palestinian National Authority and in 2003, Iraq adopted the poem as its official national anthem.
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Glory and beauty
Sublimity and prettiness
Are in your hills
Life and deliverance
Pleasure and hope
Are in your atmosphere
Will I see you?