My Grandfather’s Biography

Youssuf Omar 1_0.previewDr. Youssuf Hassan Omar (Arabic: دكتور يوسف حسن عمر), (July 1907- April 1980) was an Egyptian Linguist and professor of Arabic Language who studied and taught at the prominent Al Azhar University for long years, during which he won a number of awards, held senior university and governmental positions and greatly contributed, through lectures and books he authored, to the overall development of Arabic Language studies and related sciences that left a credited impact in the religious teachings and education at the time.

He’s one of the many academics of Al Azhar University who influenced the religious, social and education realm not just in Egypt but in several other Arab and Muslim countries as well.

Dr. Youssuf was one of the key names in his specialty, who demonstrated unique skills in unlocking many of puzzling characteristics of the Arabic Language which helped interpreting Islamic statements and Qur’anic verses through relatively new approaches, given the close relation between the Arabic language and the statements communicated through the Qur’an.

Early life

Born into poverty in a primitive village in Souhaj in Upper Egypt, Dr Youssuf came as a divine reward to his parents, especially his father, a low-ranking soldier, whose optimum goal in life was to give his country effective offspring of men and women who’d score a lasting positive impact and help him leave an honorable legacy behind.

Unkind living conditions he had to put up with never broke him, but made him more resolute and determined to claim a position among the renowned big names of Al Azhar scholars and academics.

Despite the poor and primitive background he was born into, Youssuf was keen on scoring notable successes during the early years of his education, which started in the popular Kottabs; primitive schools wherein Egyptians, and most Arabs at that time used to send their children to memorize the Holy Qur’an and get a glimpse of Islamic teachings and basics of the Arabic language. And there, in the small classes of the Egyptian Kottabs, Dr Youssuf received his first certificate ever, officially declaring that he has fully memorized the Holly Qur’an.

This encouraged his father to give him special attention to proceed with more successes in his education and later on send him to complete his studies at Al Azhar University in the Egyptian capital; a new living hope for the family.

Youssuf was lucky to survive the harsh conditions he lived during his childhood, puberty and early youth. And finally made to Al Azhar University, where he decided to study Arabic Language and Linguistics.

Having conquered the callous challenges he faced since his birth, Youssuf set a good example to his eight brothers and sisters, most of which couldn’t make it to University. He was an encouragement to his younger brothers, especially, Saeed, the youngest, who looked up to him and decided to embark on another journey to success that’s quite similar to his elder brother’s.

Marriage and early career

Staying alone in Cairo at his early youth didn’t sit well with the relatively conservative nature of the family. Youssuf‘s father decided that he should get married before he moves to Cairo for a long settlement to continue his studies at Al Azhar.

Marrying a member of the family was an optimal characteristic of village communities and various sections of the Egyptian societies at the time, and Youssuf’s family was not an exception. Youssuf’s cousin was then selected as the wife of the Sheikh-to-be.

He might not have been a well-known public figure, but his unique, in-depth yet easy to grasp analysis of the Arabic Language rules and Linguistics earned him a special position among his counterparts, including key figures of religious scholars and academics in Egypt and across the Arab world, such as Sheikh Baqouri, Sheikh Sha’rawy and Sheikh kishk, some of the his close friends who accompanied him in a great portion of his life journey.

Family

Despite all challenges facing him and his family in general Dr Youssuf remained resolute and determined, digging is way up to a renowned position among reputable names of Egyptian linguists and scholars particularly in Al Azhar University.

Career achievements and awards

1932: Graduated from the Department of Arabic Language and Literature- Al Azhar University

– 1937: Acquired PHD in Arabic Language and Linguistics

– 1953: 1961- Member of Al Azhar University mission to Saudi Arabia, in which he was accompanied by the renowned Sheikh Mohamed Metwally Al Sha’rawy. Taught at the Saudi Arabian University as a professor of Arabic Language and Linguistics

– 1968: 1971- Member of Al Azhar University mission to Libya- Taught at Beni Ghazi University as a professor of Arabic Language and Linguistics

– 1965: 1966- Hired as the Dean of Faculty of Arabic Language and Linguistics, Al Azhar University upon his return from his mission in Libya

– 1967: Hired as the Head of Al Azhar Academies

– 1968: Acquired the National Badge of Honor.

Published works

Dr. Youssuf authored four books all dealing with Arabic Language and Linguistics shedding light on a variety of language principles and Linguistic approaches.

His published contribution were crowned by his last and probably the biggest venture “Al Radi’s Reply to Al Kafeya” (Arabic: شرح الرضى على الكافية). This massive publication comprised of five volumes provided a corpus of information and creative endeavour delving into many Linguistics principles and views which enriched and enhanced the mainstream approaches of many of his counterparts at the time and motivated many academics to take the lead in introducing more pragmatic and innovative approaches in unlocking Arabic language mysteries which was reflected in the evolvement of new theories interpreting underlying Islamic statements, with a particular focus on Qur’anic verses.

— To be continued on several stages…

Maha Youssuf

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5 thoughts on “My Grandfather’s Biography

  1. Thanks Mike for your kind words.

    Hope you pay as many stop overs as you can to my humble site :)
    Suggestions are more than welcome and truly appreciated.

  2. Brilliant read Maha, and thank you for enlightening me on points I really should have known! Grandpa would be proud. Keep up the good work.

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