Mikha'il Na'ima

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Mīḫāˀīl Nuˁayma
Born October 17th, 1889
Baskinta, Metn, Mount Lebanon Mutasarrifate
Died February 28, 1988
Beirut, Lebanon
Occupation author
Nationality Lebanese
Genre poetry
Literary movement Mahjar, New York Pen League
Notable works Book of Mirdad (1948, trans. 1962)

Mīḫāˀīl Nuˁayma (also spelled Mikhail Naimy; Arabic: ميخائيل نعيمة) (b. 1889 in Mount Sannine in modern day Lebanon, d. 1988) was a Lebanese author and poet of the New York Pen League.


Na'ima completed his secondary education in the Baskinta school, studied at the Russian Teachers' Institute in Nazareth and the Theological Seminary in Poltava, Ukraine. He moved to the United States where he received degrees in Law and Liberal Arts at the University of Washington and began his writing career in Walla Walla, Washington in 1919.

After graduation he moved to New York, where along with Khalil Gibran and eight other writers he formed a movement for the rebirth of Arabic literature, the New York Pen League. He was the Vice President and Khalil Gibran was President. In 1932, having lived in the States for 21 years, he returned to Baskinta, where he lived for the rest of his life. He died of pneumonia at the age of 98 on February 28, 1988 in East Beirut.

Literary output[edit]

Among his best known books is The Book of Mirdad, a mystical text first published in Lebanon in 1948, about which the mystic Osho said: "There are millions of books in the world, but The Book of Mirdad stands out far above any book in existence." The book is a parable about a monastery that stood where Noah's ark came to rest after the flood subsided. It describes the very nature of human existence and Man's relation to the God within. It is told through the eyes of the monks as their lives change when a mystical stranger, Mirdad, enters the monastery. Osho says, "It is a small book, but the man who gave birth to this book - and mind my words, I am not saying 'the man who wrote this book', nobody wrote this book - was an unknown, a nobody. And because he was not a novelist, he never wrote again; just that single book contains his whole experience. The name of the man was Mikhail Naimy."[1]

The whisper of the Eyelids is Naimy's only collection of meditative poems written in both languages Arabic and English. The style of poetry that Naimy introduced in this book to the Arabic reader became later an influence on modern Arabic poetry and/or poets.[citation needed]

Between the years 1959 and 1960 Naimy published his own biography in three parts under the name "Seventy" referring to the average age a human being would live.[citation needed] Naimy however lived up until he was 99 years old.

Mr. Naimy was a biographer and longtime associate of Khalil Gibran, the Lebanese writer, artist, poet, and philosopher and he penned the first biography about him (first published in Arabic) in 1934. The biography was later translated into English and reprinted in 1950.

He was fluent in three languages: English, Russian and Arabic.

Selected works[edit]

  • A'hadith ma al Sihafah أحاديث مع الصحافة
  • A'kabar أكابر
  • Ab'ad Min Moscow.. ابعد من موسكو و من واشنطن
  • Aba' wa al Bnun الآباء والبنون
  • Abu Bata أبو بطة
  • Al 'Authan الأوثان
  • Al Bayader البيادر
  • Al Ghirbal الغربال
  • Al Marahel المراحل
  • Al Nur wa al Dijur النور و الديجور
  • Al Youm al 'Akheer اليوم الأخير
  • Ayoub ايوب
  • Book of Mirdad مرداد
  • Doroob دروب
  • Fi Maheb Al Rih في مهب الريح
  • Gibran Khalil Gibran جبران خليل جبران
  • Hams Al Jufon همس الجفون
  • Hawamish هوامش
  • Kan Ma Kan كان ما كان
  • Karem Ala Dareb كرم على درب
  • Liqae لقاء
  • Ma Qall wa Dall
  • Min wahi Al Massih من وحي المسيح
  • Muzkrat Al Arqash (1949; Memoirs of a Vagrant Soul: Or, The Pitted Face, 1952) مذكرات الأرقش
  • Najwa Al Ghuroub نجوى الغروب
  • Sab'aoon (Seventy) سبعون
  • Sawat al 'Alam صوت العالم
  • Wamadat ومضات
  • Ya Ibn Adam يا ابن آدم
  • Zaad al M'aad

Quotes From The Book Of Mirdad[edit]

  • "Often you shall think your road impassable, sombre and companionless. Have will and plod along; and around each curve you shall find a new companion."
  • "Logic is immaturity weaving its nets of gossamer wherewith it aims to catch the behemoth of knowledge. Logic is a crutch for the cripple, but a burden for the swift of foot and a greater burden still for the wise."
  • "So think as if your every thought were to be etched in fire upon the sky for all and everything to see. For so, in truth, it is."
  • "Ask not of things to shed their veils. Unveil yourselves, and things will be unveiled."
  • "The more elaborate his labyrinths, the further from the Sun his face."
  • "How much more infinite a sea is man? Be not so childish as to measure him from head to foot and think you have found his borders."
  • "Love is the law of God. You live that you may learn to love. You love that you may learn to live. No other lesson is required of Man"

Critical essays on Na'ima[edit]

(from the MLA database, March 2008)

  1. Abbe, Susan. "Word Length Distribution in Arabic Letters." Journal of Quantitative Linguistics 2000 Aug; 7 (2): 121-27.
  2. Bell, Gregory J. Theosophy, Romanticism and Love in the Poetry of Mikhail Naimy. Dissertation Abstracts International, Section A: The Humanities and Social Sciences, 2002 May; 62 (11): 3804. U of Pennsylvania, 2001.
  3. Poeti arabi a New York. Il circolo di Gibran, introduzione e traduzione di F. Medici, prefazione di A. Salem, Palomar, Bari 2009.
  4. Boullata, Issa J. "Mikhail Naimy: Poet of Meditative Vision." Journal of Arabic Literature 1993 July; 24 (2): 173-84.
  5. El-Barouki, Foazi. "How Arab Émigré Writers in America Kept Their Cultural Roots." Dialog on Language Instruction 1997; 12 (1-2): 31-36.
  6. Najjar, Nada. "Mikhael Naimy (1889-1988)." Aljadid: A Review & Record of Arab Culture and Arts 2000 Summer; 6 (32): 27.
  7. Nijland, Cornelis. "Religious Motifs and Themes in North American Mahjar Poetry." Representations of the Divine in Arabic Poetry. Ed. Gert Borg and Ed De Moor. Amsterdam, Netherlands: Rodopi; 2001. pp. 161–81

See also[edit]

  1. ^ "The Osho Upanishad" by Osho, page 68-69