The Abaza family (Arabic: الأسرة الأباظية), is an Egyptian family that has had an influential role in Egyptian cultural, economic, intellectual and political life.
It is known as "the family of the pashas" for having produced the largest number of nobles under the Muhammad Ali dynasty and has been highlighted in Egyptian media as one of the "families that rule the country", often referred to as "Egypt’s oldest parliamentary dynasty". The family is also known for contributions to modern Arabic literature through the work of notable writers like Aziz Pasha Abaza and Tharwat Abaza, as well as the journalism and political activism of Fekry Pasha Abaza.
Notable members includes Wagih Abaza, who served as governor in several Egyptian governorates including Sharqia, Cairo, Beheira and Gharbia. Wagih Abaza was an active member of the Free Officers Movement that toppled the Egyptian monarchy and forced King Farouk to abdicate in 1952. Other notable members include the longest serving minister in Egyptian history, Maher Abaza, who served as Minister of Electricity and Energy and is credited with connecting the vast majority of the country's rural areas to the electric grid.
Their main stronghold is the governorate of Sharqia. Several villages in the Nile Delta are named after members of the family, mainly concentrated around the town of Kafr Abaza. For decades the family exercised a political monopoly over several districts in their traditional power centers until the January 25th Revolution.
In the 2015 parliamentary elections three members of the Abaza family won seats in the House of Representatives. This was criticized by some in the media, referring to it as "dynastic heredity", in an election that saw a number of powerful families gain seats in parliament.
Abkhazia is a region of the Caucasian Black Sea coast, the home of the Abkhazians, an ethnic group related to the Circassian people. The Abkhazians were one of several ethnic groups living in the Russian Empire who left during the ethnic cleansing of Circassians in the mid-19th century. However, some sources indicate that the Abaza family was well established in the Nile Delta by the 18th century. In Egypt, the Abkhazians took — or were given — the last name "Abaza".
The widely referenced study Egypt in the reign of Muhammad Ali Pasha, Afaf Lutfi Sayyid-Marsot mentions a commonly held belief among the Abaza family that they were named after "a beloved grandmother… or her place of birth". This maternal ancestor is thought to have married the head of the powerful El Ayed family prior to the reign of Muhammad Ali of Egypt. Many elders of the family sat on the Majlis created by Ibrahim Pasha. The monarchy had also endowed the family with villages and lands allowing the Abazas to flourish.
Hassan Pasha Abaza, is widely considered to be the modern founding father of the family, also titled Sheikh of the Arabs, a title given to the heads of sufficiently influential families at the time. Other Abazas received variations on the title, such as Shiekh Boghdady Pasha Abaza who, along with Hassan Pasha, served in Ibrahim Pasha's Majlis making the Abazas the only family to hold two seats at the same time.
During the accession of the young King Farouk, the Abaza family had solicited palace authorities to permit the royal train to stop briefly in their village so that the king could partake in refreshments offered in a large, magnificently ornamented tent they had erected in the train station.
Novelist Tharwat Abaza's daughter, Amina Tharwat Abaza, is known as a prominent member of Egypt's animal rights community, having founded the country's first and largest animal rights organization, the Society for Protection of Animal Rights in Egypt.
The Abaza family is thought to number around 50,000 members, but this is difficult to verify. No official census has ever been conducted in Egypt regarding Circassian communities residing in the country, and thus these numbers are highly unreliable.
In 2014 the family sued Sada Elbalad TV for the creation of a children's cartoon named Abaza and the program was forced off the air. In the same year Egyptian satellite channel CBC Two aired a one-hour documentary on the family.
- Tharwat Abaza, journalist and novelist, whose best-known novel, A Man Escaping from Time, was televised in the late 1960s.
- Rushdy Abaza, actor
- Fekry Pasha Abaza, journalist and political activist
- "Rushdi Abaza, AlexCinema". www.bibalex.org. Retrieved 2012-08-23.
- Afaf Lutfi Sayyid-Marsot, Egypt in the reign of Muhammad Ali Pasha, pp. 123–124.
- Yunan Labib Rizk, The making of a king, Al-Ahram Weekly, 762, 29 Sep - 5 Oct 2005.
- Goldschmidt, Jr., Arthur (2000). Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt. Lynne Rienner Publishers. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-55587-229-8. Retrieved 26 March 2013.
- 'Tharwat Abaza, 75; Egyptian Newspaper Columnist, Writer', LA Times, 19 March 2002.
- Society for Protection of Animal Rights in Egypt
- Article on the family and its position in society
- Abaza Group
- Aziz Pasha Abaza archive at Bibliotheca Alexandrina
- Egypt in the Reign of Muhammad Ali
- Official Family Site
- Mahmoud Abaza Remarks
- Tharwat Abaza Obituary
- Ahram Article
- Abaza Family Music
- Archive Egypt:Egypt's Four Largest Parliamentary Dynasties
- President Sisi Delegate to the Abaza Clan
- Families That Form Egyptian Political Life