Asyah Al Bualy Articles

مقال للدكتورة آسيا البوعلي عن كتاب جندي في مسكن

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مقال جندي من مسكن


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إصدار جديد للدكتورة آسية البوعلي “ذكريات من الماضي الجميل” Reminiscences from a Golden Past

 كتاب ذكريات من الماضي الجميلكتاب ذكريات من الماضي الجميل من الخلف 
كتاب باللغة العربية والإنجليزية بعنوان  ” ذكريات
من الماضي الجميل “ بقلم الدكتورة آسية البوعلي .صدر عن مطابع النهضة، مسقط – سلطنة عمان.

محتوى الكتاب عن : فاطمة البرواني المعروفة باسم ” فاطمة جينجا ”   شخصية ليست من الشخصيات التي يمكن أن تمر مرور الكرام على مَنْ يقابلها، إذ لها الكثير من المحطات التي تستدعي القراءة والتأمل والتحليل والتفكير، فهي المخضرمة التي عايشت تفاصيل وأحداث مرحلتين في زنجبار: مرحلة ما قبل انقلاب 1964م وما بعدها، وهي الأديبة، وربيبة القصر، وابنة شهيد، والزوجة (سابقًا) لقائد جيش الانقلاب !! ولعدة رجال بهويات مختلفة، وهي أم لقرينة رئيس زنجبار السابق، وكذا لواحد من وزرائها، ورغم تعدد اهتماماتها فهي أيضًا المرأة النمطية التي أنجبت عشرة من الأولاد والبنات !!   …  فلثراء ولتناقض مفردات رحلة حياتها ولتقاطعها مع مفردات التاريخ والحياة السياسية في زنجبار … أصبحت مثارًا للجدل ولكافة علامات الاستفهام .د. آسية البوعلي.

 سعر النسخة 3 ريال عُماني، 30% من ريع الكتاب يذهب للجمعية العُمانية للسرطان، الكتاب متوفر باللغتين العربية والإنجليزية لدى الجمعية العُمانية للسرطان مسقط، سلطنة عُمان، هاتف: 24498716-00968 

Reminiscences from a Golden past Reminiscences from a Golden past cover

“ Reminiscences from a Golden Past “A book written in English and Arabic by Dr. Asyah Al Bualy . It is printed by: Al Nahda printing Press LL.C Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.

Content of the book

 “Reminiscences from a Golden past “is about Fatma Al- Barwani, known by the name “Fatma Jinja”, is not a personality which can go unnoticed. During her life, she has had many phases that have required reading, speculating, analysis and thinking. As a veteran, she has experienced the events of two periods in Zanzibar’s history; pre-coup 1964 and beyond. She grew up spending time in the palace, is a writer, a daughter of a martyr, a divorcee of the coup’s army commander, and of several men with different backgrounds. In addition, she is the mother – in – law of Zanzibar’s former president, as well as the mother of one of its previous ministers. In spite of her being a woman with variant characteristics and interests, she is the stereotype who gave birth to ten children...She is a type of woman who raises all kind of questions.

The book retails at 3 Omani Riyals. 30% of proceeds goes to Oman Cancer Association for is available at Oman Cancer Associating in English and Arabic . 

Oman Cancer Association.

Phone: 00968-24498716

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الأيام الثقافية العُمانية بزنجبار – Zanzibar in Omani Literary Genres

Zanzibar in Omani Literary Genres
A paper presented for the Omani Cultural Days in Zanzibar (13- 17th July 2011)
Dr. Asyah Al Bualy – Adviser for Culture and Humanities
The Research Council
Sultanate of Oman


Prior to broaching the subject of Zanzibar in Omani Literary Genres, namely: criticism, poetry, the art of the Maqama, autobiography, biography, travel literature and novels; it is important to note the significance of the Sultanate of Oman’s geographical location. Its position in the Arabian Gulf, as one of the countries belonging to an ancient region with a great seafaring and maritime history, has made Oman a crucial meeting point, linking East and West.

This region has moreover witnessed various ancient civilisations, such as, Indian, Persian and Greek. Evidence of this presence has been verified by archaeological findings, epitomised by ancient, engravings, stones, statues and artifacts that been found resembling Aphrodite, the Greek Goddess of Beauty, the Scarab Beetle of the Pharonic civilization and Gilgamesh, hero of the Babylonian civilisation.

Furthermore, the Sultanate’s history, in terms of time and location, is clearly reflected in Omani literature; however, it is important to underline that in comparison to works actually produced – relatively few were published over the course of time, although a large number of manuscripts have been preserved. At present, Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Culture has embarked on a programme of publishing this literature.
The following factors highlight the reasons that have limited the publication of Omani literature:

1. Documentation of Arabic literature mainly took place during the golden age of Arabic literature – The Abbasid Period (750 to 1258 AD). Under the ruling of the Abbasid caliphates in cities, such as Baghdad, Mecca, Al Medina, Damascus, Cairo, Cordoba and Khorassan; Islamic literature flourished during the era’s great renaissance. However, due to Oman not being under the rule of the Abbasid Caliphates and its distance from these cities, there is a considerable lack of research and books that specialise in Omani Literature.

2. Oman’s geographical distance from the capitals of the Abbasid rule, which witnessed great developments in the field of literature, meant that Omani literature remained uncultivated. Furthermore, not being a part of the cultural exchanges that were prevalent during the great renaissance, between Arabs and others, like the Persian, Greek and Alexandrian cultures – Omani literature was unexposed to: translation, publication and education.

3. The geographical distance was in addition greatly exacerbated due to Oman’s location, in the Southern part of the Empty Quarter. The harsh conditions of this vast expanse made travel between Oman and the above cultural centres extremely arduous. Moreover, the political disagreement between Omani rulers and the Amawi and Abbasid Caliphates, halted any reference of Omani literature in the old Arabic literary references, with exception of a few Omani poets mentioned in Al Bayan wa Al Tabyn written by Al Jahidth (781 – 869 A.D) and in Al Kamil written by Al Mubarad.

Zanzibar in Omani Literary Genres

Addressing the topic of Zanzibar in Omani literary genres requires approaching this subject on two perspectives. At one level, Omani literature produced in East Africa and elsewhere, and literature produced within the Sultanate.
Discussing Omani literature from the perspective of East Africa requires reference to the historical background, with regards to the emigration of Omanis to Zanzibar, Pemba, Kenya, Congo Mozambique and Madagascar. This emigration also expanded to various places along the coast of the Atlantic Ocean.

Omani emigration dates back earlier than the 16th century during a period in which the Portuguese sought to occupy East Africa following the discovery of the continent by Vasco de Gama (1469-1524 A.D).The ensuing Portuguese conquest of parts of the east coast of Africa lasted up to the 17th century, in which there was simultaneous weakening of the Arab position in the region, due to Portuguese occupation of Arab governed territory.

This was ended by the Omani Yarouby rulers, considered one of the earliest Omani tribes to emigrate to East Africa, banishing the Portuguese. The emigration of Omani tribes to the region subsequently took place, among them were the Mazrouis and Busaidis, who ruled parts of the East African coast and Zanzibar in particular until the 1964 revolution.

The presence of Omanis in East Africa spanning three centuries had its own literary production; considered to be an important historical resource for the documentation of Omani literature. The majority of this literary production was consequently lost following the 1964 revolution. However, few literary works were preserved and eventually reached Oman in 1970, along with return of Omanis from Zanzibar during the Omani Renaissance (a period marked by the beginning of Sultan Qaboos bin Said Al Said’s rule). The latter works are significantly few in comparison to both the actual quantity produced and to the lengthy duration of the Omani presence in East Africa. Literary works that have survived – according to research carried out for this paper – are comprised of the following genres: poetry, autobiography, biography, the art of Maqamaat, travel literature, and literary criticism combined with history.

Literature and History

The Zanzibar Story – A Pure Historical Account (Juhainat Al Akhbar Fi Tareekh Zinjibar), was written in the 14th century hijri (19th AD) by Sheikh Said bin Ali Al Mugheiry. This book was reprinted by Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Culture in two issues; the first one in 1979 and the second in 1986.

The importance of the book is not merely that is a detailed historical account of the origins of the Omani people in East Africa, but its significant value is that it illustrates Omani poetry resources in the region. Moreover, it portrays the social environment of the Omani community, with a particular focus on Zanzibar. The book is considered a valuable historical reference for Omani poems. Furthermore, it shows the importance of poetry in Zanzibari society by recounting key historical events which highlight the role of poetry as a cultural symbol. This was manifested through the use of poetry being used as a deep form of personal expression; both depicting significant historical moments and at a personal level in the society at large. The book’s author, Al Mugheiry, documents an instance in which Sheikh Suleiman bin Nasser Al Lamki gifted the ruler of Berlin in 1890, a golden engraved ( with lines of poetry) sword which was personally presented in one of the East African German governed colonies.

It is worth mentioning that in this book, Al Mugheiry focused on poetry which portrayed general social events in East Africa, particularly in Zanzibar. However, he overlooked prominent poets in the region.

Despite the author inferring that poetry was mostly used as a form of gifting for state occasions – poetry was not only a means of documenting important historical events, but was furthermore, the language engraved on some historical monuments such as Fort Jesus in Mombasa.

Celebrating social events through poetry was a common phenomenon among Omanis throughout their presence in Zanzibar. For example, Sheikh Ahmed bin Rashid Al Ghaithy composed a poem in 1941 marking the opening of a mosque, as well as Sayyid Al Hadi bin Ahmed bin Hadar who composed a poem in 1954 for the inauguration of a school .


The divan (collection of poetry) Abi Muslem Al Bahlani was written by Nasser bin Salem bin Aadeem Al Rawahi (commonly known as Al Bahlani because he comes from an interior region of Oman named Bahla). Al Bahlani was a poet, scholar and a judge and was born in Oman, although the year of his birth is not certain, it is presumed to be either 1273 hijri (1857 AD) or 1276 hijri (1860 AD). It is known that he emigrated to Zanzibar during his twenties or thirties where he remained until his death in 1917.

Al Bahlani is considered to be a progressive personality. His divan, published in 1928 (after his death) was admired by many Omani readers towards the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th centuries. His poems were deemed to underline the importance of national unity, especially significant at the end of nineteenth century, reflecting Omani aspirations of independence from Western colonisation.


The word Maqama in the Arabic language has numerous definitions. Some of the meanings are as follows: settling or residing in a place, a particular location in paradise cited in the Holy Quran, a communal area (Barza), a group of people, a favourable rank and finally a minbar (pulpit in a mosque), amongst other definitions.
Maqama, as a literary genre, is an art form that dates back to the 4th century hijri (10 AD) when Ibin Duraid, who died in 321 hijri (994 AD), wrote his first Maqamat in both forms, episodes and tales. The Maqamat genre was further developed by other authors like: Badiya Al Zamaan Al Hamadthani died in 398 hijri ( 1007 AD), Ibin Sharaff Al Qairawani died in 460 hijri (1068 AD), Al Hariri died in 1516 hijri ( 2076 AD).

The Maqama, as a didactic work of literature (created in, 10 AD), aimed to criticise general aspects of life in an ironic or sarcasm style. This form of literature was the cause of considerable debate concerning the period in which the art of the story became an acknowledged genre in Arabic literature (it is generally accepted that at the end of the nineteenth century, Arabic literature contained modern genres such as, articles, drama, novels and short stories). Therefore, based on the fact that Maqama existed in 4th century hijri, and was considered to be the origin of the short story genre from certain perspectives, proves on one hand, the existence of the latter in Arabic literature in the 10th century AD. However, on the other hand, some reject this perspective, based on the artistic elements of the short story (characters, location, time, plot, narration and language) which are not artistically developed in the texts of the Maqama. This is based on the fact that the text of the Maqama mainly depends on the ornamentation of vocabulary and variety and applies different types of rhetorical styles (colours).

The book Maqamat Abi Al Hareth, written by Khamis bin Ali Al Barwani (1878-1953), born in Zanzibar, was first published in Cairo at the author’s expense in 1950. The second issue was published in 1980 by the Omani ministry of Heritage and Culture.
The author did not receive a formal education, however, his parents took a keen interest in education and culture and fostered in the young Barwani an appreciation of reading and learning. This was facilitated by his family having the means to expose him to a wide variety of subjects, from their substantial library, such as literature, history and jurisprudence (religion). He was also fluent in both English and Arabic languages.

Al Barwani applied the formal structure of the Maqamat adopted by his predecessors, in Maqamat Abi Al Hareth. This structure consists of an inception; a form of introduction which includes an ascription (inspired by the Ascription of a Tradition in Prophet Mohammed’s PBUH Hadith). The role of the ascription in the Hadith is to render its authenticity, whereas in the case of the Maqamat, it is to provide its artistic authenticity (which endeavours to convert fiction into a form of realism).

The ascription of the Maqama contains a narration of its events through a narrator recounting the adventures of the Maqama’s hero. The latter character is usually an old man (sheikh), with knowledge of life’s hardships, exemplifying the challenges that human beings experience. Therefore, for the reader, he plays the role of a valuable teacher.

Other artistic elements of the Maqama: events, plot, time and location, do not have a significant role due to greater emphasis being placed on vocabulary and rhetoric styles. The purpose of Al Barwani’s Maqamat is to portray an ideal image of the human being from a complete perspective (heart and soul), through encouraging the reader to adhere to Islamic teaching, principles and values.


Sayida Salma bint Said bin Sultan’s (1844 – 1924) autobiography originally written in manuscript form in German, Memoirs of an Arabian princess, was later rewritten by her grandson in the 1960s. The autobiography was well received and translated into English twice, the first issue in 1888 and the second in 1905. In addition, it was also translated into French in 1889.

The first Arabic translation of this autobiography was undertaken by Oman’s Ministry of Heritage and Culture in the early 1980’s and this dispels the general perception held at the time, that the Sultanate of Oman did not support its translation. This was of significant importance because it offered the Arabic reader the opportunity to acknowledge the book. This translation was based on one of the English texts, which was unfortunately not an accurate translation of the original book. Amendments made include chapters being combined and passages being moved from their original location. Therefore, the authenticity of the English and subsequent Arabic translated versions of the book are open to question. Moreover, the latter is further compounded due to the Arabic translator, Mr. Abdul Majid Hassib Al Quasi, distorting the text through omitting some parts altogether and adding his own personal embellished depictions. Consequently , the only authentic Arabic translation of the book is that of the Iraqi translator Dr. Salma Saleh, whose translation was based on original German text. This Arabic version of the autobiography was published twice in Germany by Dar Al Jammal in 2002 and later 2006.

I believe that the value of this autobiography is not merely from a historical perspective; which lies in the princess’ (daughter of a 19th century Imam of Muscat and Sultan of Zanzibar) narration of aspects of her life in Zanzibar, notably family life, the royal court, conflicts between her brothers over the throne following the Sultan’s death and the role of the British in the country’s affairs.

The book’s historical value is undoubtedly significant, however, its greater value lies in the fact that it is one of the first autobiographical accounts documented by an Arabic woman. The subject of the autobiography is principally an encounter between East and West and furthermore, documents the radical transformation of an Arabic muslim woman who changed her name and religion in order to marry a European. This in turn led to Princess Salma leading a totally new way of life and encountering numerous experiences and challenges in which she suffered the feelings of alienation and identity crisis over a period of eighty years in Europe.

An Omani Adventure in the African woods : The life Story of Hamed bin Mohammed Al Margibi ( 1840- 1905) otherwise known as Tipo Tipo is another autobiography in the collection of recovered Omani literature . The book was translated from Swahili to Arabic by Dr. Mohammed Al Mahroki and published twice, the first issue in February 2005 by the Oman Establishment for Press and Publishing, Nizwa Book, Muscat. The second issue was published in 2006 by Dar Al Jammal in Germany.

According to the translator the importance of this book is the portrayal of a self – made ambitious man who” lived a life full of events, adventures and unknown challenges. It is a myth of an ordinary man from a simple family left to encounter the difficulties of life following the death of its provider. However, Tipo Tipo overcame the challenges and succeeded to a degree which enabled him to deal and often to negotiate with Arabic and Western governments, who both valued the extent of his authority in East Africa”

Travel Literature

From mankind’s early existence, travel has played an integral role. Hunting was the first motivator for travel and subsequently became the topic of tales. Men depicted their journeys and voyages with pride to their families and communities upon each return; and as the process of narration evolved, these tales were eventually documented for a variety of reasons. Documentation of travel began with ancient civilisations irrespective of the reasons. In the Pharaonic civilisation there is the journey of Queen Hatshepsut (1479 – 1457 BC) to Somalia and, in Greek civilisation there are the various journeys of the ancient Greek historian Herodotus who lived in the 5th century BC (c. 484 – 425). In addition, the sea voyage of Prophet Noah to escape the great flood mentioned in the Abrahamic faith scriptures and the two journeys of the Arabs in Winter and Summertime to Palestine and Yemen for commercial purposes in the pre- Islamic era.

Arabic literature has long acknowledged travel literature. Numerous books have been written in this genre, such as the prominent titles , The Journey of Ibin Joubeer by Abo Al Hoseen Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Kinani ( 1145- 1217A.D) and Ibin Batuta’s Journey written by Sharaf Al Deen Mohammed bin Abdulla Al lwati Al Tanjy ( 1354- 1377 A.D).

Since the list of Arabic travel literature is extensive, dating back from the pre- Islamic era to the contemporary period, scholars have devoted various studies on this particular genre. Their research has focused on defining and revealing its drivers and objectives. Furthermore, scholars have divided travel literature into fifteen categories, according to the purpose of the travel, which may be pilgrimage, tourism, official affairs, education, politics, guidance and fiction. Moreover, they codify travel literature dependent upon the style of documentation, in terms of prose and poetry.

The book Journey of Abe Al Hareth by Khamis bin Al Barwani mentioned above, exemplifies this genre in Omani literature. This book was first published in Zanzibar in 1333 hijiri (1915 A.D) by the Al Najah publishing house and its second issue in Muscat by the Omani Ministry of Heritage and Culture in 2010.

Al Barwani documents the start of his journey on the morning of Friday 17th April 1914, and opens his book with verse 82 of Surat Ghafir quoted from the holy Quran,
” Have they not travelled in the land to see the nature of the consequence for those before them? They were more numerous than these, and mightier in power and (in the) traces (which they left behind them) in the earth. But all that they used to earn availed them not.” (82) This was followed by a prayer for the Prophet Mohammed (PBUH).

The author proceeds to describe his departure ” as the steamer sailed in the sea , Zanzibar loomed by the shore .I glimpsed the familiar houses of my loved ones and friends , those who I am leaving , it was at that moment I felt the grief of farewell” . Al Barwani then reveals the purpose of his voyage by stating “ It was only the passion of discovering the countries which I have chosen to visit, that mitigated my feelings of departure.”

The first issue of the book consists of sixty four pages in which Al Barwani depicts every port , country, and city that he visited, among them: Aden, the centre and suburbs of Cairo and other cities like Damascus and Yafa. In his descriptions, he does not merely focus on geographical and historical aspects of the locations, but furthermore, depicts minute details of the people, traditions and customs of each country. He further adds his feelings and personal experiences of meeting friends whom he had not seen for a long time, vividly depicting their personalities and characteristics. Moreover, Al Barwani includes both styles of writing: prose and poetry in his book.

The former genres discussed have highlighted Zanzibar in Omani literature produced in both Zanzibar and elsewhere. Some of these genres, amongst others, were also produced in Oman. From the latter, is a book entitled Voyages in the Virgin Islands; Zanzibar, Thailand, Vietnam, Andalusia, and the Empty Quarter, written by Mohamed Al Harthy. The first issue was published in Beirut and Abu Dhabi in 2004, and its second in 2008 by Dar Al Jammal in Germany.
In his book, Al Harthy reveals the reason for his trip to Zanzibar, alluding to his father’s previous visit to the island during the 1950s and 1960s and later emigration ” Just like his ancestors, who made Zanzibar their private Andalusia because of the rigid circumstances of life in Oman at that time. In contrast to the rest of the members of my family, my father opted to remain in Zanzibar, depriving me of a childhood of ripe fruit and the Swahili language.” The author then goes on to clarify that his trip to Zanzibar was the result of a moment of awakening in which ” he discovers in a gloomy moment that he had not yet visited Zanzibar, although it was the land of his ancestors, where they settled, inherited its traditions and spoke its language. I made this discovery far too late and therefore on a morning in the summer of 1996, I took the decision to go to Zanzibar as a tourist without any preconceptions.”

Thereafter, Al Harthy embarks on a historical description of Zanzibar, paying particular attention to Stone Town with its alleys, old houses, The House of Wonders, the Forodhani promenade and its people and in addition, Zanzibari food, fruits, cloves and coconuts.

Al Harthy fuses the historical aspects of the location with his personal feelings which undoubtedly enhance the reader’s entertainment throughout the journey, due to the combination of paradox and irony in its narration. For instance, the arduous battle that took place between the author and a mosquito (the size of a helicopter) underneath the mosquito net, in which he suffered considerable defeat at the hands of the enemy and was left a defenseless victim.


A book titled The Pioneer. Professor Fatma bint Salem Al Mammary ( 1911-2002) , A Historical, Documentary and Academic Study published by the Omani Ministry of Heritage and Culture in Muscat in February 2008. Written by Dr. Asyah Al Bualy, this biography presents the life story of an Omani woman who was born in Zanzibar and obtained her P.H.D. in Latin language and literature in 1955 from University College London (U.C.L.). Professor Fatma Salem is considered to be the second woman in the Middle East, and the first person in the Gulf region to attain such a degree.
Fatma Salem’s professorship was considered to be an unprecedented achievement, as one of the first of a handful of females at both the Universities of Cairo and Alexandria. She was furthermore a pioneer, being the first Arabic oriental woman to teach Latin language and literature.

The biography which is authenticated by various documents, papers and photographs verifies Fatma Salem’s academic achievements and literary status. Above all, it documents her receipt of various awards and letters of appreciation from countries such as Egypt, Syria and Oman. The book is divided into three chapters: the first chapter presents Fatma Salem’s life, from birth until death (1911-2002). The second chapter contains testimonies from people who knew her well: members of the Omani royal family, her relatives, colleagues and neighbours. Finally, the last chapter reviews her academic research.

The reader can sense Zanzibar throughout the course of the biography. Principally due to Fatma Salem being born in Zanzibar; her family was financially comfortable and valued both culture and education, and furthermore the education of women in particular. This subsequently facilitated Fatma Salem reaching the exceptional status that she achieved in her lifetime, especially considering that her childhood and youth were in stark contrast to the general traditions of her era (which did not support female education, let alone educating a woman to P.H.D level).

Fatma Salem’s younger sister ( Etidal) describes the family’s comfortable lifestyle in Zanzibar which was apparent; their grandfather owned a black Rolls Royce (most probably one of its kind in Zanzibar at the time) and in addition, vast assets consisting of farm land and property in Zanzibar, Pemba and Kenya. When one scrutinises Etidal’s depiction, it is noticeable that the significance of the family does not merely lie in their financial status since there were other families in Zanzibar who were more affluent. Their importance can be attributed to their mindset and the way they approached investing family wealth. This was manifested by the family utilising its assets to fund the education of both male and female children equally. Children of the family were all educated in Egypt up to university level, including Fatma Salem herself.

This poses the following question – Did the Arabic Omani community (irrespective of financial status) in Zanzibar at the beginning of the 20th century pay equal attention to educating their children? And to be more specific, was this apparent at the time of Fatma Salem’s birth in 1911?

I would agree to a certain extent that Omani families in Zanzibar considered the role of education to be important, however, this was confined to the male gender, a custom that was followed in Oman during this period. Despite the non- existence of a system of formal education, boys received an education in the form of specialised classes in Arabic language, grammar, rhetorics, Sharia (Islamic law) and Quran.

Therefore, I would assume that the exposure of Fatma Salem’s family to other communities in Zanzibar such as the English, Yemeni, Indian, and Persian, attributed to expanding their horizons on the issue of education which exceeded the traditional Arabic perspective, restricting education to the male gender.

Consequently, Fatma Salem’s family made the long journey to Egypt from as early as 1913 and remained in Cairo for many decades; paving the way for many Omani families and women in particular, in the field of education and towards an alternative way of life. This led to the achievements of such women exceeding beyond their time and location.


The novel as an art genre is regarded as an embodiment of the dreams of mankind. Its substance relates to human beings with all their issues, worries and engagements. In order for the novel to be valued as a genuine piece of art, it needs to be based on a particular social state comprising its internal contradictions which result from conflict between fiction (imagination) and reality. Therefore, the novel is not merely a portrayal of reality but an interpretation of its facts through a formula which gives meaning to a particular historical moment.

The novel “Perambulation Around the Embers” written by Dr. Badriya Al Shahee and published in Beirut in 1999 by the Arabic Establishment for Research and Publication, is considered the first Omani female narration of novels. The events of this novel take place in the past and illustrate the historical relationship between Oman and East Africa, in particular Zanzibar.

The reader’s first impression of the novel is that it is a romance based on Zahra (the heroine), in love with her cousin Salem who left her and emigrated to Zanzibar, making his voyage by sea.

He subsequently settles in Zanzibar and marries a local woman who bears his child. The author’s description of the local woman with her unattractive features of a pug nose, coarse hair and dark complexion is set in contrast to Zahra described as having proportional Arabic pretty features with fair complexion, green eyes and silky hair. The central plot of the novel is Salem’s decision to remain in Zanzibar with his local wife. Zahra rejects being defeated and motivated by jealousy, the desire to prove herself by challenging her love rival and anxious to regain her lost love, she breaks taboos of her traditional conservative Arabic society by running away from her family, and travels to Zanzibar by sea alone and along with men. However, following her arduous journey, Zahra discovers that her efforts were in vain since she was unable to find either, her cousin or his family. Consequently, Zahra cannot return to Oman and settles in Zanzibar becoming a farm owner, managing her farm and its farm hands, where she explores the strengths in her character of which she was previously unaware. Therefore, she finds something far more significant, herself.

The hidden theme of the novel is revealed by the fact that Zahra’s long journey to Zanzibar in search of her lost love was merely an illusion, since oriental Arabic women are raised with the belief that their existence can only be actualised by men and through them. However, this is opposite from the truth since women’s strength is inherent within themselves. Ultimately, Zahra’s exit is a search for identity (self) and its realisation.

Factors presented in the paper ” Zanzibar in Omani Literary Genres” include the importance of the Sultanate of Oman’s geographical location which has contributed to its great seafaring and maritime history – making it a crucial meeting point linking East and West. The author finds that the historical impact of Oman can be observed through the dichotomy of its literature: locative and temporal. In addition, the paper finds that the lack of research and books specialising in Omani Literature can be attributed to Oman not having come under the influence of the Abbasid period; the golden age of Arabic literature. Furthermore, the majority of Omani literature produced in East Africa and Zanzibar in particular was consequently lost following the 1964 revolution.

This paper has presented various significant issues relating to the role of Zanzibar in Omani literature produced in East Africa, Oman and elsewhere. This has been highlighted through reviewing literary genres from the past to the contemporary period, namely: criticism, poetry, the art of the Maqama, autobiography, biography, travel literature and novels.

A number of the important outcomes of the paper are outlined as follows.

* The significant role of poetry as a cultural symbol within Zanzibari society is highlighted in the book, Zanzibar Story – A Pure Historical Account (Juhainat Al Akhbar Fi Tareekh Zinjibar)(19th A.D)

* The role of poetry in underlining the importance of national unity and reflect Omani aspirations of independence from Western colonization reflected in, the divan Al Bahlani (1928)

* Proof of the existence of the old art form of the Maqamat (in terms of form and content) in modern Omani Literature through the book Maqamaat Abi Al Hareth written in 1950.

* In the autobiography Memoirs of an Arabian Princess, rewritten in 1960s, Zanzibar was not merely a background of events but an exploration of the author’s feelings of alienation and identity crisis through the flashback technique of narration.

* The autobiography An Omani Adventure in the African woods: A life story of Hamed bin Mohammed Al Margibi (Al Margibi n.d.) largely shows the impact of East Africa and Zanzibar, as a space, with all the region’s events and powerful relationships, in turning a man’s life from a simple person to a mythical character.

* The book Journey of Abe Al Hareth (1915) combines the author’s geographical and historical depiction of locations, along with his personal feelings in a literary style gathered poetry and prose.

* The book journey Voyages in the Virgin Islands; Zanzibar, Thailand, Vietnam, Andalusia, and the Empty Quarter. (2004) clarifies the author’s trip to Zanzibar as a result of a moment of awakening that motivates him to visit Zanzibar. In his narration, the author enhances the reader’s entertainment by a style of writing combining paradox and irony.

* The biography the Pioneer, Professor Fatma bint Salem Al Mammary (1911-2002), A Historical, Documentary and Academic Study written 2008, asserts that exposure to various cultures expands conceptual horizons. Thus the outcome was the pioneer Fatma Salem exceeding her time and location.

* Zanzibar in the novel “Perambulation Around the Embers” (1999) was applied as a space of self discovery and its actualisation.

أضف تعليق

Reply to the article “Where is Citizenship, Citizen?”

Unfortunately, I read, Dr. Sa’eeda Khater’s article in Al-Shabeeba newspaper titled “Where is Citizenship, Citizen?” published in two parts: the first on April 24 and the second on May 1. However, it is the second part thereof that I would like to deal with. In it the author sets out to define the concept of citizenship (as a reciprocal relationship between the earththe homeland and humans; that is, in this relationship there is an exchange, a give and take, and rights and duties between the parties involved. In this respect, the most important things that a homeland gives its people are identity and a sense of belonging).

The author then proceeds to a classification of the domains of citizenship into political, social, economic and cultural.  I wish the author had referred the reader to the reference or dictionary from which she drew her classifications of citizenship, and what is the relation between this classification and measuring the degree of citizenship or belonging. In fact, the concept of citizenship does not accept any division in thought and feeling. If a person does not have any political, social, economic or cultural activity in his own country, this does not necessarily indicate a deficiency in his patriotism or allegiance to his homeland.
Needless to say, as Dr. Khater states, Oman has a rich cultural diversity, which goes back to its ethnic diversity and cultural blend by dint of its cultural status. The State duly performed its role in instituting the equality of all citizens, without ethnic discrimination.
The author further proceeds to an ethnic classification of Omanis, into Omanis by origin and Omanis by naturalization, adding that the State does not discriminate between them in political or other rights. What immediately comes to mind when examining this approach with its inclusion of established facts that all Omanis, not excluding even little elementary school children, know perfectly well is a question about the purpose of such a thorny presentation that does not only revolve around phrases likeOmanis by origin andOmanis by naturalization, but also includes terms like factional, ethnic, sectarian and tribal. What is the intention behind all this, and at this critical time in particular?!! Our society is already gripped with sit-ins, and needs no adding of oil on troubled waters. Hence, I only see this approach as designed to instigate divisiveness and discord.
Therefore, it was incumbent on me to stop at this approach, with its new jargon that is creeping into our society as never before, especially as it has frequently appeared on electronic forums. It is indeed a diabolic destructive tone targeting our society in a bid to undermine its cohesion, accord and harmony. It is also satanic in thought in a bid to blow up the innermost fabric and very essence of our society. We have lived well over four decades, without coming across factional designations such as Swahili, Baluchi, Litani, Indian, Dhufari , Omani by origin orOmani by naturalization. Such a destructive jargon is not common in our society, and does not exist in our feelings, in our everyday dealings, or in terms of rights and duties. All of us have lived, and are still living, under the one umbrella of our homeland, Oman.
However, I did not bother to respond to such writings on forum sites on the grounds that they were contributed by people with little knowledge of Oman’s history, civilization and culture as inferred from their poor vocabulary, shallow thought and lack of moral courage as evidenced in their hiding behind fake names.
But today, when this diabolical divide is presented in a local newspaper and in a direct manner that reflects its purpose and objective – and, by whom? – a lady with a PhD and an honorable member of the State Council – the situation calls for a pause by all of us; and a careful but firm and deterring stand, especially as the matter transcends the freedom of speech and strikes at the very security of the entire society.

Regarding Dr. Khater’s statement oncultural citizenship – an expression which I do not know from where she unearthed! – We, in Oman, have some Omanis who insist on speaking languages other than Arabic. Those coming from Africa speak Swahili, and those coming from Asia, insist on speaking Urdu or Baluchi, although they have lived in Oman for many years, a matter which detracts from the citizenship of both groups.

Thus Dr . does not only stop at presenting this divide, but also reminds the readers  of factional considerations, and even proceeds to emphasize the deficiency in the  citizenship and nationalism of some categories of the Omani society. Here I would like to ask Dr. Khater, once again, what is the intent of your words and at this time in particular? Furthermore, who has entitled you to judge the citizenship or nationalism of others? Who gave you the right to measure a complete or an incomplete nationalism?
It is needless to point to the paramount importance of knowledge of the Arabic language and of speaking it, as it is the language of our religion (Islam), and the official language and mother tongue of our nation as an Arab state. I myself have always been a staunch fan of the Arabic language, by virtue of my academic specialization, and because it is the language of our very identity. However, this does not mean that speaking a language other than Arabic is indicative of deficient nationalism and citizenship.
Not only does Dr. Khater stop at that, but she goes further, in an explosive dangerous discourse – not far from a sense of superiority – to skeptically question the identity of those people: “How will you know your heritage and history while you do not speak the language of your community, and you even insist on wasting the language which bears its identity and nationality? She goes on to say ” You insist on using the male gender for the female, and the female for the male according to what  you are used to in your own language, which is different from the language of your present homeland which holds your identity and belonging? Here, I would like to tell Dr. Khater : Knowledge of heritage and history is not necessarily attained through a person’s mastery of the Arabic language or the language of a given heritage. As evidence, we as Arabs have learnt about the cultures and heritages of different societies through Arabic and foreign languages, without knowing their native language as in the case of the heritage of the Persian society, for example. In fact, an Omani person’s knowledge of the English language enables him to know his own heritage and history in English. Many are the books written in English in this field. This does not mean that such an Omani is deficient in identity. Besides, I would also like to ask Dr. Khater what do you mean by sayingpresent homeland? Does this mean that when the countless tribes of Oman, including the royal family, emigrated to east  Africa and to Zanzibar in particular, for well known historical reasons, have a first home and origins other than Omani?!  If this were correct, how can you account for the presence of the origins of these tribes in different regions of the Sultanate? Or are you, Dr, seeing all these on equal footing with thestateless category in the neighboring states that you did mention in your article?
One of the absurdities of Dr. Khater’s article is that in addressing a sensitive topic, she bases the issue of identity, belonging and nationalism on a trivial incident involving a Girl Guide trip to Kuwait l!! She excludes Oman from the Arab States because she heard one of the Omani girl guides on the trip speak Swahili and Baluchi!!!  And as Dr . Khater  was the head of the delegation on this trip, she concluded boastingly and in her own words in her article thatthey must be strictly punished there and upon return. We therefore amended the terms for the girl guides’ and leaders’ participation in subsequent trips abroad. The question is: where is their citizenship?

Here the question arises: Has   Oman ever based its top policy on discriminatory grounds? Are not the persons that Dr. Khater charging with lack of citizenship – and by that she means to cast doubt on their patriotism – among those who are appointed by His Majesty in leading positions as women ministers and ambassadors, and also as ministers and heads of universities? Are not they, both men and women, and in different positions in Oman, giving their full allegiance and love for their homeland?

The discrimination policy raised by Dr. Khater has no room on the ground in the Sultanate; unless she wants to come up with a new policy!! I also do not deduce from this approach anything but instigating discord and confusion. I would further ask Dr. Khater: Would you like, or would you consider it fair if your name is slashed out of the list of persons selected for an international mission simply because you do not know the language of the state you are going to?
For further indulgence in sedition, Dr. Khater  says, We will be burying our heads if we disregard this problem. The media does not want to hurt anyone’s feelings, nor does it want to discuss a problem that is posing a real threat to citizenship. Indeed, a newspaper rejected one of my old articles because it addressed this wound on the grounds that it was a taboo. In this respect, I would like to remind Dr. Khater  that the media is a responsible organ that knows perfectly well its influence on society and also draws its policy from that of the wise leader who, God protect His Majesty, truly succeeded in preserving the Omani society as a closely-knit coherent fabric. The issue at stake has nothing to do with burying heads or citing arguments. It is more related to realizing that grave sedition and the biggest of sectarian wars in societies are ignited by simple sparks. Hence, Dr. Khater, do not set out to ignite such a spark today. Isn’t she satisfied with the negative aspects that her abovementioned article has evoked? The least that can be said in this respect is the ire it has raised among many, as evident in the reaction to it on electronic forum sites.
Paradoxically enough, after Dr. Khater, spread her destructive and toxic message, and after accusing people in her society of deficient identity, patriotism and sense of belonging to their homeland, both explicitly and between the lines, she seems to assume that readers are naïve idiots and  concludes her article by trying, in a language that reflects a sense of superiority and an inflated self, to evade any accusation that may be directed at her in the future by saying: For your own information, we do not question the patriotism of those persons, or doubt their devotion to their homeland, their loyalty to their political leadership or  the service they have rendered to their society. Dr, such an assumption is unacceptable even by a dull reader who does not exist among us.
Now is the time for me to respond: the persons you are questioning their patriotism, loyalty and identity simply because they speak Baluchi, Urdu, Hindi or Swahili, all have their own history, which proves their patriotism, and the last thing they would need would be anybody’s testimony to that.
Dr. Khater, as for the Baluch tribe, it has so many subsets that the mere mention thereof would require a standalone study. If you simply go back to history books, you will find that this tribe has a long history of wars in defense of the homeland, and of loyalty to the royal family. The tribe has stood at the forefront of protectors of Oman’s riches who  sacrificed their lives for Oman. This did not only take place inside the Sultanate, but also outside it. For example, on the island of Zanzibar namely in the district, “Al-Sa’ateen” there is hardly any family there that does not have a grandfather, a grandfather’s grandfather, a father, or an uncle who did not die as a martyr in the wars and revolutions for Oman. I also like to add here that an infinite number of the families of the tribe spreading along the line of the Batinah region and also living in the eastern and interior regions as well as in Dhahera, Salalah and Muscat, had settled in Oman for more than five centuries and do not know or master any language other than Arabic. As for what the Dr calls theBaluchi language, let me   correct this piece of information: Baluchi is a dialect not a language that can be read or written, as is the case with many of the dialects in Oman. Furthermore, I know people from the Baluch tribe who master other languages in addition to Arabic ​​such as English, French and Swahili and use them all in the service of this country and in various fields.
As for the Omanis who evoke your dismay simply because they speak Hindi or Urdu and consequently you see this as detracting from their belonging to the homeland, may I remind you, Dr, that most of the residents of Muscat actually speak these languages, and that the Loatiya tribe had a significant role in the literary, economic and trade history of Oman, starting from Matrah Port up to India. For confirmation of their effective history, refer to dozens of studies that have been recently made by the international conference “Oman and India: Prospects and Civilization” at the Sultan Qaboos University, among many other books. I would also like to emphasize here that people from the Loatiya tribe have translated Indian and Persian works of art into Arabic. Based on Dr. Khater’s phrase “cultural citizenship”, I do not think that anything else can be a stronger affirmation and entitlement to such citizenship.
As for the people you have picked out to lash at their patriotism and identity because they speak Swahili, may I remind you, Dr that they come from all the tribes of Oman across the country, including the Al – Said ruling family tribe and the Baluch tribe. They all sacrificed their lives and their wealth to establish the Omani civilization and empire on the East African coast and the island of Zanzibar. The Omani Empire dates back to before the sixteenth century AD as hundreds of history books written in Arabic and other languages bear witness. Furthermore, Zanzibar itself, which was the capital of the Omani Empire at a certain stage in history, provided Zanzibar and the green island (Pemba) with their great tribes  that left a rich heritage written in classical Arabic in Omani history, criticism, journalism, literature, as well as in the interpretation of the Quran and other subjects. Had it not been for editorial space limitations, I would have provided Dr. Khater  with a list of references proving they were well-versed in the Arabic language in addition to their proficiency of Arabic Swahili, English and French.
This is as far as the past is concerned, Dr. As for the present, I am ready to prepare you a long list of names of Omanis from different tribes, both females and males who speak Swahili and do not know Arabic, but actually reached international levels, raising the name of Oman with pride in various fields, whether before the era of Oman’s renaissance or later. I am more than willing to provide you with the names and a brief CV of each one of them for you to compare them with your own CV. No comment from me on the outcome of the comparison.

As a self-appointed judge of these people’s nationalism and an assessor of the degree of their sense of belonging to the Omani identity, let me give you an important piece of information that you need to include in your judgment criteria, namely, that all these people left top positions, fabulous salaries and life of comfort and abundance and returned to serve their country Oman since the seventies, the beginnings of Oman, which to this day holds them in highest esteem.
As a colleague in the field of culture, may I remind you, Dr, that words, whether said or written, are a responsibility; and the homeland and society are even a bigger responsibility. Be honest to God in dealing with them, and fear God regarding the Sultan of the country, who vested his trust in you and ordered your appointment in the State Council. Always remember the words of Allah in His Holy Book: “and diminish not onto people their things, nor act corruptly in the earth, making mischief.”( Surah Al-Shu’araa, verse 183)
May I also draw the attention of all my fellow countrymen to the gravity of such a discordant discourse which is starting to find its way in our society. Let us all join hands to confront it and leave no opportunity for any serpent that wants to spread its venom among us. Oman, with its stability and peace, is paradise on earth, and there is no place for serpents or any Satan in paradise.

       In conclusion, I appeal to all the law enforcement institutes to be alert to the gravity of such an approach. It is not simply a question of words that have been published, or will be published, but rather the devastation that we shall experience as a result. The most dangerous and most serious of situations have always arisen from a single word.

Note: The “stateless” are people of different origins living in some Gulf countries without nationality.
Note: At the repeated request of readers to read the full English translation of an article previously published in the “Oman” Arabic-speaking newspaper supplement “Shurfat” on May 10, 2011, I provide this translation rather than the summary thereof translated and published in the “Oman Daily Observer” newspaper on May 14, 2011.

Translated by :

Rosette Francis []

American  University  Cairo.

أضف تعليق

رد على مقال ” أين المواطنة يا مواطن؟ ”

  قرأت وبكل أسف  مقال الدكتورة  المكرمة سعيدة خاطر بجريدة الشبيبة و المعنون  بــ ” أين المواطنة يا مواطن ؟ ”  والذي ورد  في جزأين : الأول منه نشُر بتاريخ 24 أبريل والثاني  بتاريخ الأول من شهر مايو . والجزء الذي  أنا بعرض الحديث عنه  هو الثاني . فالدكتورة في هذا الجزء من المقال بعد أن تعرضت لتعريف مفهوم المواطنة بأنه ( علاقة تبادلية بين الأرض ” الوطن” و الإنسان فيها – أي في هذه العلاقة-  يبادل الأخذ والعطاء ” الحقوق والواجبات ” بين الطرفين وأهم عطاء الوطن للإنسان هو الهوية والانتماء) ، عرجتْ بعد ذلك إلى تصنيف مجالات المواطنة من سياسية واجتماعية واقتصادية وثقافية، وكم كنت أتمنى أن تحيل القارئ إلى المرجع العلمي أو القاموس الذي استندت عليه في تصنيفات هذه  المواطنات ، وما علاقة ذلك بقياس درجة المواطنة أو الانتماء  ،لأن مفهوم المواطنة  لا يقبل الانقسام فكرًا وشعورًا، فعدم ممارسة الشخص لنشاط سياسي أو اجتماعي أو اقتصادي أو ثقافي في وطنه ،  لا يعني بالضرورة  نقص في وطنيته أو انتمائه لوطنه .

     ومن نافلة القول كما تقول الدكتورة سعيدة خاطر: ( إن عُمان حافلة بالتنوع الثقافي الذي يعود إلى التنوع العرقي وتمازج الثقافات نتيجة للوضع الحضاري لعُمان ، وقد أدت الدولة حق دورها التام في المساواة بين كافة المواطنين دون التفرقة بين جنس وآخر).

        ثم  شرعت بعد ذلك في تصنيف الجنس العُماني فهناك “العُماني بالأصل” و”العُماني بالتجنس” وأن الدولة لا تفرق بينهما في الحقوق السياسية أو غيرها من الحقوق.  والسؤال الذي يتبادر إلى الذهن مباشرة حين قراءة هذا الطرح بما فيه من بديهية  مدركة  من قِبل  كل العٌمانيين بما فيهم طفل المرحلة الابتدائية ، هو ما المقصود من هذا الطرح  الشائك الملموس لا فقط من كلمات: العُماني بالأصل والعُماني بالتجنس بل أيضًا من خلال ما ورد في المقال من مفردات مثل الفئوية و العرقية والمذهبية والقبلية ؟ ما القصد من وراء كل هذا و في هذا التوقيت الحساس بالذات  ؟!! حيث مجتمعنا مفعم بالاعتصام ولا يحتاج إلى عوامل إضافية تزيد من درجة هياجه،  ومن ثم فإنني لا أرى لهذا الطرح معنًا سوى إثارة معاني الانقسامية  .

       كان لزامًًا علىَّ أن أقف إزاء هذا الطرح بمفرداته الجديدة التي بدأت تزحف داخل  مجتمعنا بشكل لم نعهده من قبل، خاصة وأنه طرح تواتر أيضًا في الآونة الأخيرة في المنتديات الإلكترونية. لغة شيطانية هادمة بدأت تهدف مجتمعنا بكل ما فيه من تلاحم و انسجام ووئام.  أفعوانية في الفكر تهدف إلى نسف بطانة هذا المجتمع من جوهره  ،  لقد عشنا  ما ينوف عن أربعة عقود لم تطرح  هذه المسميات الفئوية : السواحيلي  والبلوشي و اللتياني والهندي والظفاري  والعُماني الأصيل والعُماني  بالتجنس،  هذه المفردات الهادمة  لم يعرفها مجتمعنا لا علي صعيد الشعور، ولا على صعيد التعامل اليومي،  ولا على صعيد الحقوق والوجبات  عشنا جميعًا ، ولا نزال نعيش تحت مظلة  واحدة حامية وحاضنة  لنا جميًعا هذه المظلة هي ” الوطن ؛ عُمان”.

       ومع ذلك لم أهتم بالرد أو الكتابة  علي ما طُرح  في مواقع  المنتديات لاعتباري أن مَنْ طرحها  يعد من محدودي  الأفق بالعلم بالتاريخ والحضارة والثقافة  العُمانية ، وهو أمر يُستشف من ضعف المفردة ، واضمحلال مستواها الفكري،  فضلا عن الجبن الأخلاقي، وآية ذلك الاختفاء وراء أقنعة  من الأسماء الوهمية.

     لكن اليوم وحين تطرح هذه الانقسامية الشيطانية في جريدة محلية وبشكل مباشر يُستشف منه القصد والهدف، ومن مَنْ ؟ امرأة حاملة لدرجة الدكتوراه وعضوه مكرمة  بمجلس الدولة !!! فالموقف يحتاج إلى وقفة منا جميعًا؛ وقفة متأنية وحازمة بل رادعة ، لا سيما وحين يخرج الموضوع عن حيز الحرية  في التعبير ليخترق أمن مجتمع بأكله  . حيث تقول الدكتورة سعيدة خاطر وفي معرض حديثها عن “الموطنة الثقافية ” ولا أعلم من أين أتت بهذا المصطلح ؟!! ( لدينا – أي في عُمان – يصرٌ بعض العُمانيين على التحدث باللغة غير العربية فمَنْ قدم من  أفريقيا يتكلم السواحلية ، ويصر الجنس القادم من آسيا رغم وجوده لسنوات طويلة في عُمان علي التحدث باللغة الأورديه أو البلوشية ، وهذا الأمر ينتقص من مواطنة كليهما )  وهي بهذا لا تكتفي  بطرح الانقسامية  و تذكير القارئ بالفئوية ،  بل  تشرع في التأكيد  على انتقاص المواطنة و الوطنية في بعض فئات المجتمع العُماني، وهنا أسأل الدكتورة سعيدة مرة أخرى ما القصد من كلماتك هذه وفي هذا التوقيت بالذات ؟ و مَنْ  الذي خولك للحكم على وطنية الآخرين أو مواطنتهم ؟ ومَنْ الذي أعطاك حق قياس هذه الوطنية بالنقصان أو بالكمال ؟

       غني عن البيان أن معرفة اللغة العربية والتحدث بها،  يعد أمرًا هامًا  من منطلق أنها لغة ديننا الحنيف ، واللغة الرسمية و اللغة الأم لوطننا كدولة عربية،  وأنا من مشجعي اللغة العربية دومًا ، بحكم تخصصي الأكاديمي،  وبحكم أنها لغة هويتنا ،إلا إن  هذا لا يعني أن التحدث بلغة أخرى غير العربية  دليل على انتقاص الوطنية والمواطنة .

    ولا تكتفي الدكتورة بهذا القدر بل تسترسل في خطاب  ناسف وخطير لا يخلو من الشعور بالفوقية حين تتساءل  متشككة  في هوية هؤلاء ( كيف ستعرف تراثك وتاريخك ؟ وأنت لا تتحدث بلغة مجتمعك ، بل  وتصر على تضييع اللغة  التي تحمل هويتها وجنسيتها ) و ( تصر على  قلب الذكر أنثي و الأنثى ذكرًا وفقًا لِــمَا  اعتدت عليه ، وهي لغة مغايرة للغة وطنك الحالي الذي تحمل  هويته وانتماءه) . وهنا أقول للدكتورة سعيدة:  إن معرفة التراث والتاريخ ليس بالضرورة أن تتمم  عبر  إتقان الشخص للغة العربية أو للغة هذا التراث والدليل على ذلك أننا كشعوب عربية اضطلعنا على ثقافات المجتمعات المختلفة  وتراثها عبر العربية ولغات أخرى أجنبية ، ودون معرفة اللغات الأم لتلك المجتمعات كتراث المجتمع الفارسي مثلاً ، فمعرفة العُماني باللغة الإنجليزية تمكنه من الاضطلاع على تراث بلده وتاريخه بالإنجليزية ، وما أكثر الكتب التي كُتبت في هذا المجال بالإنجليزية ، ولا يعني هذا أن  العُماني ناقص الهوية. كما اسأل الدكتورة سعيدة خاطر ما الذي تقصده بقولها (الوطن الحالي)  ، هل تقصد بذلك أن القبائل العُمانية والتي لا حصر لها بما في ذلك الأسرة الحاكمة، حين هاجرت  هذه القبائل إلى شرق أفريقيا وجزيرة زنجبار تحديدًا،  لأسباب تاريخية  معروفة ، هذه القبائل لها وطن  أول وأصول غير الأصول العُمانية؟!! وإذا كان هذا صحيحًا فما هو تبرير الدكتورة على جود أصول لهذه القبائل في مناطق السلطنة المختلفة؟ أم أنها تساوي بين كل هؤلاء  وبين فئة (البدون) الموجودة في الدول المجاورة و التي تعرضت لها في مقالها ؟

        ومن غرابة مقال الدكتورة في طرحها لموضوع حساس، أنها تستند في موضوع الهوية والانتماء والوطنية إلى واقعة تافهة شهادة  تلميذة !! أخرجت عُمان من حيز الدول العربية في رحلة مرشدات بدولة الكويت لأنها سمعت المرشدات العُمانيات يتحدثن بالسواحيلية والبلوشية ، وحيث إن الدكتورة كانت رئيسة الوفد في هذه الرحلة فقد قررت متباهية والاقتباس من واقع مقالها ( كان لابد من عقاب صارم طبق عليهن هناك وعند العودة ، إذ عدلنا من شروط الترشح للمشاركة الخارجية للمرشدات والقائدات فيما بعد ، والسؤال أين مواطنة هؤلاء؟). والسؤال المطروح هنا متى كانت السياسة العُليا في عٌمان تتعامل بمنطق التفرقة ؟ وهؤلاء الذين تتهمهم الدكتورة بعدم المواطنة وهي تقصد بذلك التشكيك في وطنيتهم، أليس هم ممَنْ عينهم صاحب الجلالة في مراكز قيادية كوزيرات وسفيرات، بل ووزراء و رؤساء جامعات ، أليس هم إناثًا وذكورًا، مِن ذوي المناصب المختلفة في عُمان ويعطون بكل ما لديهم من ولاء وحب للوطن. فسياسة التفرقة المطروحة من قِبَل الدكتورة لا مجال لواقعيتها في السلطنة. اللهم إلا إذا كانت الدكتورة  تريد أن تقدم لنا سياسة جديدة !! كما أنني لا أستشف من وراء هذا الطرح سوى إثارة الفتنة والبلبلة. و أضيف هنا لأسأل الدكتورة أتحبين و هل ستعتبرين أن هذا عدل ؟ إذا ما تم  إلغاء اسمك من أي مهمة رسمية دولية لمجرد أنك لا تعرفين لغة الدولة التي ستتجهين إليها ؟

      وإمعانًا في إثارة الفتنة  تصرح الدكتورة بقولها ( أننا ندفن رؤوسنا تغاضيًا عن هذه المشكلة ، فالإعلام لا يريد أن يجرح مشاعر أحد ، ولا يريد أن يناقشها كمشكلة حقيقية تهدد المواطنة، وقد رفضت إحدى الجرائد مقالاً قديمًا لي لأنه يتحدث عن هذا الجرح بحجة أنه من الممنوعات ) وهنا أذكر الدكتورة بأن  الإعلام جهاز مسئول ويعي جيدًا صداه على المجتمع، كما يستمد سياسته من سياسة القائد الحكيم الذي استطاع بحق جلالته أبقاه الله، أن يحافظ على المجتمع العُماني في نسيج متماسك ، فالموضوع لا علاقة له بدفن الرؤوس وبالحجج ، قدر ما هو متعلق بإدراك كامل بأن أكبر الفتن  والحروب الطائفية في المجتمعات بدأت بشرارة بسيطة، فلا  تأتين أنت اليوم يا دكتورة وتريدين إشعال هذه الشرارة، ويكفي مقالك المشار إليه أعلاه بما أثارة من سلبيات ، أقل ما فيها أنه أثار حفيظة الكثيرين ، وللتأكد مما أقوله أرجعي إلى منتديات المواقع الإلكترونية  .

     ومن المفارقات بأن الدكتورة بعد أن بثت رسالتها الهادمة والسامة ، وبعد  أن اتهمت أُناس في مجتمعها ، بالنقص في هويتهم وفي وطنيتهم وفي انتمائهم للوطن سواء ما جاء تصريحًا منها  أو ما بين السطور، تأتي في نهاية مقالتها مفترضة السذاجة و البلاهة في القارئ فتقول في لغة تنم عن تضخم الذات، محاولة التنصل من أية تهمة قد توجه إليها مستقبلاً   : (  وللعلم نحن لا نشكك في وطنية هؤلاء ولا في إخلاصهم لوطنهم ولا في ولائهم لقيادتهم السياسية ولا في خدمة مجتمعهم). أي افتراض مرفوض هذا  يا دكتورة لقارئ بليد لا وجود له بيننا .

      والآن آن أوان الرد ، فَمَنْ قمت بالتشكيك في وطنيتهم وانتمائهم وهويتهم لمجرد أنهم يتكلمون البلوشية و الأوردية والهندية والسواحيلية كل هؤلاء لهم تاريخهم الذي يثبت وطنيتهم  وهم ليسوا في حاجة  إلى شهادة أحد.

       فقبيلة البلوش يا دكتورة والتي تحوي في طياتها تصنيفات كثيرة ، كي أجمعها لك الآن أحتاج إلى إقامة دراسة مستقلة  . هذه القبيلة إذا ما عدتِ إلى كتب التاريخ ستجدين لها تاريخ طويل في الحروب دفاعًا عن الوطن وولاءً للأسرة الحاكمة ، هذه القبيلة وقفت في مقدمة من حامى خيرات عُمان واستشهد من أجل عُمان ، ولم يكن هذا داخل  السلطنة فحسب، بل خارجها  أيضًا ، فمثلاً في جزيرة زنجبار وبالتحديد  في حي ” الساعتين” توجد عائلات من هذه القبيلة ، لا يخلو الواحد منها من جد أو جد جد أو أب أو  عم أو خال أستشهد في الحروب والثورات من أجل عُمان. كما أحب أن أضيف هنا أن عددًا لا حصر له من عائلات هذه القبيلة الممتدة على خط  منطقة الباطنة والموجود بعضها  أيضًا في مناطق: الشرقية  والداخلية والظاهرة و صلاله ومسقط ، هذه العائلات استقرت في عُمان  منذ أكثر من خمسة قرون وهي لا تعرف من اللغات  سوى العربية وبإتقان  . وما أطلقتْ عليه الدكتورة اللغة البلوشية فإنني أصحح المعلومة، البلوشية لهجة و ليست لغة تكتب أو تقرأ ، شأنها شأن كثير من اللهجات الموجودة في عُمان. فضلاً عن أنني أعرف من قبيلة البلوش مَنْ يتقن بجانب اللغة العربية لغات أخرى مثل الإنجليزية والفرنسية و السواحيلية وهم يوظفونها جميعًا في خدمة هذا الوطن وفي مجالات مختلفة .

      أما مَنْ استأتْ منهم من العُمانيين لمجرد أنهم يتكلمون اللغة الهندية أو الأوردية و من ثم  انتقصتْ من انتمائهم للوطن  ، فإنني أذكرك  يا دكتورة  بان معظم ساكني مسقط يتكلمون هذه اللغات، كما أن قبيلة اللواتية  كان لها دور ملموس في  تاريخ عُمان الأدبي و الاقتصادي والتجاري بدءً من ميناء مطرح وصولاً إلى بلاد  الهند ، و للتأكد من فاعلية  تاريخهم عودي إلى عشرات الأبحاث التي أنجزت مؤخرًا في مؤتمر جامعة السلطان قابوس ، “عُمان والهند آفاق وحضارة “، فضلاً عن الكتب المختلفة .  كما أود أن أؤكد هنا أن من قبيلة اللواتية مَنْ قام بترجمة نماذج من الأدب الهندي والفارسي إلى العربية، فاستنادًا إلى مصطلح الدكتورة  ( المواطنة الثقافية ) لا أعتقد أن هناك ما هو أقوى من هذا للتأكيد على هذه المواطنة.

        وعن مَنْ قمتْ بتجريح وطنيتهم وهويتهم لأنهم يتكلمون اللغة السواحيلية ، فإنني أذكر الدكتورة بأن هؤلاء  هم من كافة القبائل العُمانية الممتدة في ربوع  عُمان بما في ذلك قبيلة آل سعيد للأسرة الحاكمة وقبيلة البلوش ، وهم جميعًا بذلوا أرواحهم وأموالهم  رخيصة من أجل إقامة حضارة وإمبراطورية عُمانية في الساحل الشرقي الإفريقي وجزيرة زنجبار ، وهي إمبراطورية يعود تاريخها إلى ما قبل القرن السادس عشر الميلادي، ويشهد عليها مئات من كتب التاريخ المدونة باللغة العربية وغيرها من اللغات، هذا فضلاً عن زنجبار ذاتها التي كانت حاضرة ؛ عاصمة للدولة العُمانية في مرحلة من مراحل التاريخ، ،قد أفرزت زنجبار والجزيرة الخضراء (بمبا Pemba)  بقبائلهما الشامخة تراثًا مدونًا باللغة العربية الفصحى  في التاريخ والنقد و الصحافة والأدب العُماني وتفسير القرآن وغير ذلك من الموضوعات ، ولولا ضيق الحيز الكتابي لأفردت للدكتورة قائمة مرجعية  بها بما يثبت معرفة هؤلاء  للغة العربية . هذا فضلاً عن إتقانهم  بجانب اللغة السواحيلية  العربية والانجليزية والفرنسية.

    هذا عن الماضي يا دكتورة ، أما الحاضر فإنني على أتم استعداد أن أدون لك قائمة مطولة بأسماء العُمانيين من مختلف  القبائل إناثًا وذكورًا مِمَن يتحدثون السواحيلية ولا يعرفون العربية، ومع ذلك  فقد وصلوا إلى الدولية رافعين اسم  عٌمان في مجالات مختلفة  بكل زهو وفخر ، سواء كان ذلك قبل عصر النهضة المباركة أو بعدها ، كما أنني  على أتم استعداد أن أسرد لك مع كل اسم  سيرة ذاتية مختصرة حتى تقومين بمقارنتها بسيرتك الذاتية، و لا تعليق من قِبَلي على نتيجة المقارنة . وحيث إنك نصبت ذاتك حاكمًا على وطنية هؤلاء  وعلى درجة انتمائهم للهوية العُمانية ، فإنني أوضح لك معلومة هامة لا بد أن تضعيها في معيار الحكم، وهي أن هؤلاء جميعًا تركوا ما كانوا عليه من مناصب و رواتب خيالية ورغد عيش عائدين لخدمة وطنهم عُمان منذ السبعينيات، حيث بدايات عُمان التي إلى يومنا هذا في تقدير متواصل لهم.

     وبحق الزمالة الثقافية التي تجمعنا فإنني أذكرك يا دكتورة بأن الكلمة مسئولية المنطوقة منها والمدونة، والوطن والمجتمع مسئولية أكبر فاتق الله فيهما ، واتق الله في سلطان البلاد المفدى الذي أكرم عليك بثقته وأمر بتعينك في مجلس الدولة، وتذكري دومًا قول المولى عز وجل في كتابه العزيز: ” ولا تبخسوا الناس أشياءهم ولا تعثوا في الأرض مفسدين” (سورة الشعراء آية : 183).

   كما أنني أنبه كافة أبناء وطني بخطورة هذا الخطاب الناشز الذي بدأ يتخلل مجتمعنا فلنتكاتف جميعًا للتصدي له ومجابهته ولا نترك الفرصة لأي أفعى يريد أن يبث سمومه بيننا، فعُمان باستقرارها وسلامها هي جنة الله على الأرض والجنة لا حيز فيها  للأفاعي والشياطين.

    وختامًا أناشد كافة الأجهزة الأمنية بالدولة الانتباه إلى خطورة مثل هذا الطرح ، إذ الأمر ليس كلمة نُشرت أو ستنشر فحسب ، بل الدمار الذي يمكن أن نجنيه  من عواقب هذه الكلمة، فأخطر المواقف وأكثرها جسامة بدأت بكلمة.

ملحوظة : فئة ( البدون) هم أُناس من مختلف الأصول يعيشون في بعض دول الخليج بلا جنسية .

ملحوظة : بناءً على طلب القراء المتكرر لقراءة  الترجمة الإنجليزية  الكاملة  للمقال المنشور بالعربية سابقًا في ملحق شرفات ، جريدة عُمان بتاريخ 10 مايو 2011م ، آثرنا تقديم هذه الترجمة عوضًا عن الملخص المترجم بالإنجليزية والمنشور بجريدة الObserver  بتاريخ 14 مايو 2011م.