Abdel Halim Hafez

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Abdel Halim Hafez
عبد الحليم حافظ
Abdel Halim Hafez in 1970s
Abdel Halim Hafez in 1970s
Background information
Birth nameAbdel Halim Ali Shabana
عبد الحليم علي شبانة
Born(1929-06-21)June 21, 1929
El-Halawat, El Sharqia, Egypt
DiedMarch 30, 1977(1977-03-30) (aged 47)
London, England
GenresEgyptian music, Opera
OccupationsSinger, actor, music teacher, conductor, film producer
Years active1952–1977

Abdel Halim Ali Shabana (Arabic: عبد الحليم علي شبانة), commonly known as Abdel Halim Hafez (Arabic: عبد الحليم حافظ,Egyptian Arabic pronunciation: [ʕæbd el ħæliːm ħɑːfɪzˤ]) (June 21, 1929 – March 30, 1977),[1] was an Egyptian singer, actor, conductor, businessman, music teacher and film producer.[2][1][3][4][5] He is considered to be one of the greatest Egyptian musicians along with Umm Kulthum, Mohamed Abdel Wahab, Farid Al Atrach, Mohamed Fawzi, and Shadia.[2][6] As his popularity grew, he was given the nickname 'el-Andaleeb el-Asmar (Arabic: العندليب الأسمر),[7][8][9] meaning The Dark-Skinned Nightingale.[10] To date, he has sold over 80 million records.[2][11]

Early life[edit]

Born Abdel Halim Ali Shabanah in El-Halawat in El Sharqia, 80 kilometers (50 miles) north of Cairo, he was the fourth child of Ali Ismail Shabanah. He had two brothers, Ismail and Mohamed, and one sister, Alyah. His mother died from labor complications three days after giving birth to him – something that made people around him believe that he brought bad luck. His father died as well a few months later, leaving him and his siblings orphaned at a young age. He lived in a poor orphanage for a number of years.[1] He was later raised by his aunt and uncle in Cairo. During these years Abdel Halim was extremely poor.[12]

Abdel Halim's musical abilities first became apparent while he was in primary school and his older brother Ismail Shabanah was his first music teacher. At the age of 14 he joined the Arabic Music Institute in Cairo and became known for singing the songs of Mohammed Abdel Wahab. He dropped out from the Higher Theatrical Music Institute as an oboe player.[13][14]

Musical career[edit]

In the very beginning, Abdel Halim worked as a teacher of music at schools in Tanta and El-Mahalla El-Kubra. While singing in clubs in Cairo, Abdel Halim was drafted as a last-minute substitute when the singer Karem Mahmoud was unable to sing a scheduled live radio performance in 1953.[15] Abdel Halim's performance was heard by Hafez Abdel Wahab, the supervisor of musical programming for Egyptian national radio. Abdel Halim took 'Hafez', Abdel Wahab's first name, as his stage-surname in recognition of his patronage.[5]

In the early days of his career, Abdel Halim was rejected for his new style of singing. However he persisted and was able to gain accolades later on.[10] Eventually, he became a singer enjoyed by all generations.[16] He also became Egypt's first romantic singer.

Abdel Halim Hafez

In collaboration with composer Mohammed Abdel Wahab, Abdel Halim went on to produce many popular love songs such as Ahwak ("I adore you"), Nebtedi Minen el Hekaya ("Where should we start the story"), and Fatet Ganbena( "She passed by us"). Hafez also worked with Egyptian poet Mohamed Hamza on songs including Zay el Hawa ("It feels like love"), Sawah ("Wanderer"), Hawel Teftekerni ("Try to remember me"), Aye Damiet Hozn ("Any tear of sadness"), and Mawood ("Destined").

During his career, he was very popular and always performed in sold-out arenas and stadiums.[17] Despite his popularity, he rarely released a studio album since he worked purely as a live singer.[6] He also played many different instruments, including the oboe, drums, piano, oud, clarinet and guitar.[1] He was involved in all aspects of the composition of his songs.[2] Halim introduced many new instruments to the Arab World.[5] He was known for his deep passion in his songs and his unique voice.[2][6] Halim performed in almost every country in the Arab World as well as outside the Arab World, including several concerts in Europe.[2] Moreover, he sang uplifting patriotic songs for not only his native Egypt whom he dedicated the super majority of his patriotic songs, but also there are some few songs dedicated to other countries in the Arab World such as Lebanon, Syria, Tunisia, Algeria and Morocco during their revolutions and wars. He used to encourage and help many young artists and actors to pursue successful careers.[18][19][20] His entire catalogue was acquired by the Mazzika group in the early 2000s.


In Egypt, Halim is known as the "King of Music", "The Son of Nile", "The voice of the people", "The son of the revolution", and "King of emotions and feelings".[2][12][21][22] His patriotic songs were the most frequent songs sung by the crowds during the Egyptian Revolution of 2011.[2][3][16]

Singer Sabah reading El Mawed magazine with Egyptian music giant Abdel Halim Hafez on the cover, 1966

One of the revolutionaries in the Egyptian Revolution of 2011 quoted that "the nightingale's songs inspired us during the January 25 revolution", he added "Although, he died 35 years ago, his songs will surely continue to inspire his fellow Egyptians for many generations to come". His albums and CDs have sold more copies since his death than any other Arabic artist ever.[23] His way of singing, the popularity of his songs and his behavior made him a role model for almost every modern singer in the entire region.[20][24][25][26] Egyptians and also Arab people of all ages are fans of Halim.[22] Halim is still remembered in the hearts of many people, even years after his death.[11]

Personal life[edit]

Hafez shaking hands with President Gamal Abdel Nasser, with whom he was friends, 1958

At the age of 11, Abdel Halim contracted schistosomiasis[1]—a rare parasitic water-borne disease[10]—and was afflicted by it for most of his career. Despite this, he remained positive and continued composing and performing his songs.[21]

Although Abdel Halim never married, it was rumoured that he was secretly married to actress Soad Hosni for six years. This has never been proven to date. People who were close to both singers denied this rumor.[27][28]

In 1969 Halim built a hospital in Egypt. He treated the poor, the rich, and presidents equally in the Arab World.[21]

Abdel Halim established strong friendships with many contemporary presidents and kings of the Eastern world, including Gamal Abdel Nasser of Egypt, and King Hassan II of Morocco.[1][23] He also had very close friendships with most Egyptian poets.[2]


Abdel Halim Hafez was afflicted with cirrhosis of the liver caused by schistosomiasis, and this cirrhosis was the cause of his death in 1977. He knew about this disease for the first time in 1956 when he was invited to have dinner with his friend Mustafa Al-Areef during the Holy month of Ramadan by where he had stomach bleeding.

Doctors who treated him during his illness journey are Dr. Mustafa Kenawy, Dr. Yassin Abdel Ghaffar, Dr. Zaki Sweidan, Dr. Hisham Issa, Dr. Shaker Sorour, and from England Dr. Tanner, Dr. Sheila Sherlock, Dr. Doger Williams, Dr. Ronald Macbeth, and from France Dr. Sarazan.

He had a private secretary, Miss Suhair Muhammad Ali, and she worked with him since 1972, and she accompanied him in all the hospitals where he stayed.

Hospitals where he was stayed abroad: Ibn Sina Hospital in Rabat (Morocco), St. James Hearst Hospital, London Clinic, Fersing Home, Kings College Hospital (the hospital that witnessed his death) in England, and La Salpetrière in ( Paris).


Funeral of Abdel Halim Hafez

Abdel Halim died of liver failure as a complication from Schistosoma mansoni (reference St. George's University School of Medicine) on March 30, 1977 (a few months before his 48th birthday) while undergoing treatment for Bilharzia in King's College Hospital, London. His funeral in Cairo was attended by millions of people[10] – more than any funeral in the history of the Middle East, other than that of President Nasser.[29] Halim was reported to have had many more dreams and goals that he wanted to achieve, though his early death prevented him from doing so.[21] In the wake of Halim's passing, it was documented people committed suicide, including at least four women committing suicide by jumping off a balcony during his funeral march.[1][10] He was buried in Al Bassatin Cemetery in Cairo.


Abdel Halim Hafez's song "Khosara" (Arabic: خسارة) received notice in the Western world in 1999 when elements from it were used for Jay-Z's recording "Big Pimpin'." Two complete bars from "Khosara" were rerecorded, not sampled, and used without permission from the song's producer and copyright holder, Magdi el-Amroussi. Jay-Z's use of an interpolation, rather than an actual sample, allowed him to avoid paying royalties for the use of the song.[30]

Over 300 of Abdel Halim Hafez's songs were recorded and he starred in 16 classic and successful films, including Dalilah (دليله), which was the Middle East's first color motion picture.[12]

Along with Mohammed Abdel Wahab and Magdi el-Amroussi, Abdel Halim was one of the main founders of the Egyptian recording company Soutelphan,[1][13] which continues to operate to this day[when?] as a subsidiary of Mazzika

A feature film about his life, "Haleem", was released in 2006, starring Ahmad Zaki in the title role, produced by the Good News Group.[31] In the same year a soap opera "Al-andaleeb hikayt shaab"[32] was produced in Egypt with Shadi Shamel starring as Abdel Halim. Shamel won the lead role in a televised competition.[33]

On 21 June 2011, Google celebrated his 82nd birthday with a Google Doodle.[34]

On 19 April 2019, Lebanese singer Carole Samaha performed alongside a hologram of Abdel Halim Hafez at the Manara Hall in New Cairo. The concert, titled "Helm" (dream), was Egypt's first hologram concert.[35]


Some of Halim's most popular songs are:[36]

  • "Ahwak" (I adore you),
  • "Ala Ad El Sho'" (As much as the longing),
  • "Ala Hesb Wedad" (Wherever my heart leads me),
  • "Betlomooni Leih" (Why do you blame me),
  • "El Massih" (Christ),
  • "Fatet Ganbena" (She passed by us),
  • "Gabbar" (Arrogant),
  • "Gana El Hawa" (The mood struck us),
  • "Sawwah" (Wanderer),
  • "Maw'ood" (Destined),
  • "Zai El Hawa" (Like Air),
  • "Qari'at Al Fingan" (The coffee fortune-teller), his last song while alive
  • "Habibati Man-Takoon" (My Love, Who Is She), released posthumously

Patriotic Songs[edit]

  • "The New Testament" in 1952, the first national anthem sung by Abdel Halim Hafez in his life, written by Mahmoud Abdel Hai and composed by Abdel Hamid Tawfiq Zaki, and Abdel Halim sang it after the July 23 revolution.
  • "We are the people" is the first song that Abdel Halim sang to President Gamal Abdel Nasser after he was chosen to be President of the Republic in 1956. It is the first meeting between the trio Abdel Halim, the analyst Kamal Al-Taweel and the poet Salah Jahin.
  • "God, our country" is the first cooperation between Mohamed Abdel-Wahaband Abdel Halim in the field of patriotic songs in 1956. Abdel Halim sang after the tripartite aggression.
  • “On its Land” or “Christ’s Song” is about Jerusalem, written by Abdel Rahman Al-Abnoudi, composed by Baligh Hamdi and distributed by Ali Ismail.
  • "Your Son Says You Hero" written by Abdul Rahman Al-Abnoudi, and composed by Kamal Al-Taweel.
  • “The Greater Homeland Anthem” in 1960 written by Ahmed Shafiq Kamel and composed by Mohamed Abdel Wahab.
  • “The Story of a People” in 1960 written by Ahmed Shafiq Kamel and composed by Kamal Al-Taweel, in the “Adwaa Al-Madina” party that was held in Aswan to celebrate the laying of the foundation stone for the construction of the High Dam.
  • "Matalib Shaab" on the occasion of the tenth anniversary of the revolution, July 23, 1962, written b Ahmed Shafiq Kamel, composed by Kamal Al-Taweel and distributed by Ali Ismail.
  • "Sourah" he sang on Revolution Day on July 23, 1966, written by Salah Jaheen and composed by Kamal Al-Taweel.
  • "Aadah Al-Nahar" in 1967, and it is one of the most prominent songs of Abdel Halim, written by Abdel Rahman Al-Abnoudi and composed by Baligh Hamdi.
  • "I swear by its name" in 1967, which Abdel Halim promised to sing in all his concerts until the land of Egypt is liberated in the Sinai, written by of Abdel Rahman Al-Abnoudi and composed by Kamal Al-Taweel.
  • “The Gun Talk” in 1968, written by of Abdul Rahman Al-Abnoudi and composed by Kamal Al-Taweel.
  • "Aash lih Aal" is the first song which was sung by Abdel Halim after 1973 October Victory, written by Mohamed Hamza and composed by Baligh Hamdi;it was the first song in which he praised the role of President Mohamed Anwar Sadat in the great victory of Egypt.
  • "Good morning, Sina" is another cooperation between Abdel Halim and Kamal Al-Taweel in 1974.
  • “al nejmah malet ala amar” 1975, written by Mohsen Al-Khayat and composed by Muhammad Al-Mouji,
  • “The Boat is Back” written by f Mustafa Al-Damrani and composed by Muhammad Abdel Wahab after the reopening of the Suez Canal for global navigation.

Religious Invocations[edit]

  • "Nafadet Einayah Almanamm" (My eyes shook the dream)
  • "Ana min al tourab" (I am from dust)
  • "Ala Toutah" (On the raspberry)
  • "Adaaouka Ya Samaah" (I call you,Listener)
  • "Wa Rahmatoka fi Nasim" (And your mercy in the breeze")
  • "Bayneh wa Bayn Al nas" (Between me and the people)
  • "Wa Habeh fih Al-ared" (And the grain in the earth)
  • "Khalineh Kelmah" (Let me a word)
  • "Waraa Al shajar" (Tree leaves)
  • "Bayna Sohbat Al Ward" (Among the company of Roses)
  • "Ya Khalek Alward" (The Creator of the flowers)

All of theses religious invocations were written by the poet Abdel-Fattah Mustafa, and composed by Muhammad Al-Mouji.


Title Release Date Role Co-stars Director Notes
Lahn El Wafa' (The Song of Faithfulness) March 1, 1955 Galal Shadia Ibrahim Amara Abdel Halim Hafez co-directed
Ayyamna al-Holwa (Our Beautiful Days) March 1, 1955 Ali Faten Hamama, Omar Sharif, Ahmed Ramzy Helmy Halim
Ayam We Layali (Days and Nights) September 8, 1955 Yehia Eman Henry Barakat
Mawed Gharam (Love Rendez-vous) January 3, 1956 Samir Faten Hamama Henry Barakat
Dalila October 20, 1956 Ahmed Shadia Mohamad Karim This was Egypt's first movie to be in Cinemascope
Layali el hub 1956 Abdel Halim Hafez Helmy Rafla
Banat El Yom (The Girls of Today) November 10, 1957 Khaled Magda, Amal Farid Henry Barakat Hafez performed the popular love song "Ahwak" for the first time in this film
Fata Ahlami (The Man of My Dreams) March 7, 1957 Adel Amal Farid Helmy Rafla
Alwisada El Khalia (The Empty Pillow) December 20, 1957 Salah Abdel Halim Hafez, Lubna Abed El Aziz Salah Abu Yousef The song Asmar Y'Asmarani was performed in this movie by Faeza Ahmed. Halim performed Awel Marra in this movie.
Share' El Hob (Love Street) March 5, 1958 Abd-El Moneim Sabah Ezz El-Dine Zulficar
Hekayit Hob (A Love Story) January 12, 1959 Ahmed Sami Mariam Fakher El Deen Helmy Halim
El Banat Wel Seif (Girls and Summer) September 5, 1960 Mohamed Suad Husni, Zizi El Badrawi Salah Abu Yousef, Ez El Deen Zol Faqar, Fateen Abed El Wahhab This movie consisted of 3 stories. Abdel Halim Hafez acted in one of these.
Yom Men Omri (A Day of My Life) February 8, 1961 Salah Zubaida Tharwat Atef Salem
El Khataya (The Sins) November 12, 1962 Hussien Madiha Yousri, Hasan Yousef, Nadia Lutfi Hassan El Imam Featured the songs Wehyat Alby, Maghroor, Last Adry, Olly Haga, and El Helwa
Maabodat El Gamahir (The Beloved Diva) January 13, 1963 Ibrahim Farid Shadia Helmy Halim Featured the songs Haga Ghareeba, Balash Etaab, Last Kalby, Gabbar, and Ahebek
Abi Foq El Shagara (My Father Atop a Tree) February 17, 1969 Adel Nadia Lutfi, Mervat Amin Hussein Kamal Featured the songs Ady El Belag, El Hawa Hawaya, Ahdan El Habayeb, Ya Khali El Alb, and Gana El Hawa. Hafez also produced this movie and was the last film in which he appeared. This movie is still the longest running motion picture in movie theaters in the Arab world to date., (Last appearance)


  1. ^ a b c d e f g h "Abdel Halim Hafez". IMDb. 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i El-Saket, Ola (June 21, 2011). "Remembering Abdel Halim Hafez, the voice of revolution". Al-Masry Al-Youm: Today's News from Egypt. Retrieved July 21, 2011.
  3. ^ a b "The sound of resilience". Al-Ahram. 2011. Archived from the original on August 25, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  4. ^ "The business of culture". Al-Ahram. 2000. Archived from the original on January 19, 2012. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  5. ^ a b c Kjeilen, TTore (2011). "Abdel Halim Hafez". LookLex Encyclopaedia. lexicorient.com. Archived from the original on December 25, 2018. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  6. ^ a b c "Abdel Halim Hafez". Arabic nights. 2011. Archived from the original on November 21, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  7. ^ "اليوم .. ذكرى رحيل العندليب الأسمر عبد الحليم حافظ". اليوم السابع (in Arabic). March 30, 2022. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  8. ^ "ذكرى وفاة عبدالحليم حافظ.. 46 عاما على رحيل العندليب الأسمر". جريدة الغد (in Arabic). March 30, 2023. Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  9. ^ "صورة "العندليب الأسمر" تثير ضجة.. ما السبب؟ | الحرة". www.alhurra.com (in Arabic). Retrieved May 8, 2023.
  10. ^ a b c d e Katti, Madhuri (March 30, 2009). "Abdel Halim Hafez: Golden Voice of Egypt | The Fiendish". thefiendish.com. Archived from the original on July 16, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  11. ^ a b "Abd El Halim Hafez". anayou. 2011. Archived from the original on October 28, 2014. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  12. ^ a b c "Abdel Halim Hafez". IMDb. 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
  13. ^ a b "Abdel Halim Hafez Biography". AOL Music. 2011. Archived from the original on April 21, 2012. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  14. ^ "Abdel Halim Hafez". IMDb. 2011. Retrieved September 16, 2011.
  15. ^ "Abdel Halim Hafez". Egyptian Figures. 2011. Archived from the original on October 2, 2011. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
  16. ^ a b Fahim, Kareem; Cambanis, Thanassis (February 10, 2011). "In Tahrir Square, Hopes Mount and Then Are Dashed". The New York Times.
  17. ^ "Abdel Halim Hafez". 6lyrics. 2011. Archived from the original on September 10, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  18. ^ "Mervat Amin". anayou. 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  19. ^ "Singer Profile: A Moroccan Star Shines in the Arab World". Magharebia. 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  20. ^ a b "Hani Shaker". Arabic nights. 2011. Archived from the original on September 29, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  21. ^ a b c d "Halim". bossa. 2006. Archived from the original on May 4, 2009. Retrieved September 18, 2011.
  22. ^ a b "The Soundtrack of the Revolution". Africa is a Country. 2011. Archived from the original on January 4, 2012. Retrieved March 10, 2012.
  23. ^ a b "Abdel Halim Hafez". Egypt State Information Service. 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  24. ^ "Abdel Halim Hafez". The Egyptian Castle. 2008. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  25. ^ "Abdel Halim Hafez". casino piscinealey. 2011. Archived from the original on September 6, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  26. ^ Hammond, Andrew (2005). Pop culture Arab world!: media, arts, and life style. ISBN 9781851094493. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  27. ^ "Abdel Halim Hafez". A Bridge To Egypt. 2011. Archived from the original on November 21, 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.
  28. ^ "Abd el Halim Hafez | Alam el Phan". Archived from the original on September 6, 2011. Retrieved August 23, 2011.
  29. ^ "ABDEL HAFEZ, 46, OF EGYPT, ARAB WORLD'S TOP SINGER". The New York Times. New York. April 2, 1977.
  30. ^ Atia, Tarek (June 2000). "Pimpin' a classic". Al-Ahram Weekly. Archived from the original on June 5, 2011. Retrieved July 18, 2011.
  31. ^ "Halim (2006)". IMDb. 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  32. ^ "Al-andaleeb hikayt shaab (TV mini-series 2006)". IMDb. 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011.
  33. ^ Mustafa, Hani (October 2006). "A winning formula". Al-Ahram Weekly. No. 815. Archived from the original on April 3, 2011. Retrieved July 19, 2011. Shamel
  34. ^ "Abdel Halim Hafez's 82nd Birthday". Google. June 21, 2011.
  35. ^ Maged, Mira (April 11, 2019). "Egypt's first hologram concert to feature iconic Abdel Halim Hafez and Carole Samaha". Egypt Independent. Retrieved October 9, 2020.
  36. ^ "Abdel Halim Hafez". last.fm. 2011. Retrieved September 17, 2011.

External links[edit]