LAU graduate launches book at Beirut campus
Mutayyam Jamal presented his novel Forgotten Princesses in a book-signing ceremony.
Dr. Dima Dabbous-Sensenig, assistant professor of communication and director of LAU's Institute for Women's Studies in the Arab World, points out the importance of the novel in helping Arabs understand their cultural heritage.
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LAU graduate Mutayyam Jamal presented his newly published Arabic novel Ameerat Mensiyyat: Aisha bint Talha and Sakina bint Al Hussein [Forgotten Princesses: Aisha bint Talha and Sakina bint Al Hussein] in a book-signing ceremony held on May 24 at LAU Beirut.
A 2007 communication arts graduate with honors, Jamal introduced the audience to his novel, which reflects the relatively free lives of two ladies, Aisha bint Talha and Sakina bint Al Hussein, during the late Islamic period.
One of Jamal’s principal aims was to identify and reveal the wealth of the Arab culture while contesting the stereotypical image of women in the Islamic era.
“Our societies have drawn a false image that women were oppressed in the late Islamic period whereas all trusted references point out that the truth is contrary to that suggestion,” Jamal said. One of the characters of the novel, Sakina bint Al Hussein, “had her own literary council and different poets were interested in her work,” he added.
Jamal first wrote his ideas as a script treatment, but he eventually changed his mind and wrote a novel, which took him around three years to complete, including two years of research.
His hard work has paid off. Dr. Vahid Behmardi, associate professor of Arabic and Persian literature and chairperson of LAU Beirut’s Department of Humanities, praised the novel, comparing its quality to that of renowned cultural books.
“This excellent novel is a non-fiction. Jamal took real events of the past and added value to these with his creativity to create the novel,” Behmardi said at the book-signing ceremony. “The novel, hence, has two levels; one is strictly related to history and the other side of it is fictional and artistic,” he added.
Behmardi was amazed with Jamal’s knowledge of the Arab culture when the two first met years ago in the professor’s Beirut-campus office.
“Years ago, I saw Jamal looking at the list of Arabic teachers as he wanted someone to edit his script for his final play,” Behmardi said. “I read his script and we edited it together but I never thought that, in a couple of years, that same student would be signing his first book,” he said.
Speaking at the event, Dr. Dima Dabbous-Sensenig, assistant professor of communication and director of LAU’s Institute for Women’s Studies in the Arab World, congratulated Jamal, noting that he was a unique student with an unmatched enthusiasm for learning.
Dabbous-Sensenig also pointed out the importance of the novel in helping Arabs understand their cultural heritage and build on this knowledge a quality future in which they can recall their past accomplishments.
“The best way for us to go forward is to know our past and to understand that women had rights before in this area. They lost these rights and are now trying to regain the rights that were theirs long before,” Dabbous-Sensenig said.
Jamal emphasized LAU’s key role in developing his personal and professional skills, saying: “The environment of LAU helped me to understand arts and literature. I took the basics and the tools from LAU from which I could begin my professional career.”
Jamal also read two pages from his novel to a standing ovation.
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