Distinguished Women of Past and Present


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Aisha Abd al-Rahman

From: Egypt
Fields: Education, Literature and Poetry
Key Words/Phrases: Egyptian writer, professor
Aishah Abd al-Rahman (pseudonym: Bint al-Shati), an Egyptian writer and professor of literature, was born in 1913 (also listed as c.1920) in the town of Damietta (Dumyat) in northern Egypt. Her father taught at the Dumyat Religious Institute, while her mother was illiterate. It was her mother, however, who enrolled Aisha in school at age ten during a prolonged absence of her father and, despite his objections, sent Aisha to al-Mansurah to continue her education.

Later, Aisha Abd al-Rahman attended the Cairo University and graduated in 1939 with a degree in Arabic, which she followed with an M.A. degree in 1941. In 1942, Abd al-Rahman accepted a position with the Egyptian Ministry of Education as an Inspector for teaching of Arabic literature. After receiving her Ph.D. degree with distinction in 1950, she has been Professor of Arabic Literature at the University College for Women of the Ain Shans University.

In addition to teaching, she wrote fiction as well as biographies of early Muslim women, including the mother, wives, and daughters of the Prophet Muhammad, but is best known for her literary criticism. Some of her published works are: The Egyptian Countryside (1936), The Problem of the Peasant (1938), Secret of the Beach and Master of the Estate: The Story of a Sinful Woman (1942), New Values in Arabic Literature (1961) and Contemporary Arab Women Poets (1963).

Contributed by Danuta Bois, 1997.

1. Arab Women Novelists: The Formative Years and Beyond by Joseph T. Zeidan, State University of New York Press, 1995
2. Larousse Dictionary of Women, edited by Melanie Parry, Larousse, 1996


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