Jamil Sidqi al-Zahawi

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Jamil Sidqi al-Zahawi
Cemîl Sidqî Zehawî.jpg
Born 17 June 1863
Baqdad, Ottoman Empire
Died January 1936 (aged 73)
Baqdad, Iraq
School Arabic literature
Main interests
Poetry, Skepticism, Feminism

Jamil Sidqi al-Zahawi (1863–1936) (Arabic: جميل صدقي الزهاوي‎‎, Jamīl Sidqī al-Zahāwī) was a prominent Iraqi poet and philosopher. He is regarded as one of the greatest contemporary poets of the Arab world and was known for his defense of women's rights.


Zahawi was born in Baghdad. His father, of Iraqi Kurd origin, was the Mufti of Iraq and a member of the Baban clan. His mother was a Turkmen. He lived in Bagdad, then left for Istanbul, then to Jerusalem to complete his studies.

During the Ottoman era he held numerous positions: as a member of the Baghdad Education Council, where he championed education for women; as an editor of the only newspaper in Baghdad, al-Zawra; as a member of the Supreme Court in Yemen and Istanbul; as a professor of Islamic philosophy at the Royal University and as a professor of literature at the College of Arts in Istanbul. After Iraq's independence in 1921, he was elected to parliament twice and appointed to the upper chamber for one term.

He was one of the leading writers in the Arab world, publishing in the major newspapers and journals of Beirut, Cairo, and Baghdad. Describing his life in a collection of his poems, he wrote, "In my childhood I was thought of as eccentric because of my unusual gestures; in my youth, as feckless because of my ebullient nature, lack of seriousness, and excessive playfulness; in my middle age as courageous for my resistance to tyranny; and in my old age as an apostate because I propounded my philosophical views".[1] In the 1930s, because of his political views, he was marginalized by the political establishment.

Of the Egyptian poet Ahmad Shawqi, he famously said: What is this Ahmad Shawqi, nothing! My student Maarouf Al Rasafi writes better poetry than him. (هذا شنو أحمد شوقي، ولا شيء! تلميذي معروف الرصافي ينظم شعرا أحسن منه)

Egyptian writer Taha Hussein said of him: Zahawi wasn't only the poet of Arabic language or the poet of Iraq, he was also the poet of Egypt and of other countries... he was a poet of the mind... the Ma'arri of this era... but he is the Ma'arri who connected to Europe and used knowledge as a weapon.


  1. ^ Najim, Mohammed Yusif, editor. Diwan Jamil Sidqi alZahawi, Vol. 1. Beirut: Dar al-Kitab al-Arabi, 1971