Sheikh Imam

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Sheikh Imam
Sheikh Imam.gif
Background information
Born(1918-07-02)July 2, 1918
OriginGiza, Egypt
DiedJune 6, 1995(1995-06-06) (aged 76)
GenresEgyptian music
Instrument(s)Vocals, oud

Imam Mohammad Ahmad Eissa (Arabic: إمام محمد أحمد عيسى) or Sheikh Imam (Arabic: الشيخ إمام) (July 2, 1918 – June 6, 1995[1] ) was a famous Egyptian composer and singer. For most of his life, he formed a duo with the famous Egyptian colloquial poet Ahmed Fouad Negm. Together, they were known for their political songs in favor of the poor and the working classes.

Life and career[edit]

Imam was born to a poor family in the Egyptian village of Abul Numrus in Giza. He lost his sight when he was a child. At the age of five he joined a recitation class, where he memorized the Qur’an. He later moved to Cairo to study where he led a dervish life. In Cairo, Imam met Sheikh Darwish el-Hareery, a prominent musical figure at that time, who taught him the basics of music and muwashshah singing. He then worked with the Egyptian composer Zakariyya Ahmad. At that time, he expressed interest in Egyptian folk songs especially those by Sayed Darwish and Abdou el-Hamouly. He also performed at weddings and birthdays.

In 1962 he met the Egyptian poet Ahmed Fouad Negm. For many years, they formed a duo composing and singing political songs, mostly in favor of the poor oppressed classes and indicting the ruling classes. Though their songs were banned on Egyptian Radio and Television stations, they were popular among ordinary people in the 1960s and 1970s. Their revolutionary songs criticizing the government after the 1967 war led them to imprisonment and detention several times. In the mid 80s Imam performed several concerts in France, Britain, Lebanon, Tunisia, Libya and Algeria. Later Imam and Negm broke up after several disagreements. Imam died at the age of 76 after a long illness.

Notable songs[edit]

  • "مصر يامة يا بهية" masr yamma ya bheyya ("Egypt, O beautiful mother")
  • "جيفارا مات" givāra māt ("Guevara has died")
  • "الفلاحين" el-fallahīn ("the fellahin")
  • "يعيش أهل بلدى" ye‘īš ahl baladi ("long live the people of my country")
  • "شرفت يا نكسون بابا" sharraft ya nekson bāba ("it's been an honor, father Nixon" (sarcastic))
  • "عن موضوع الفول واللحمة" ‘an mawdū‘ el-fūl wel-lahma ("on the topic of fūl and meat")
  • "بقرة حاحا" baqaret hāhā ("Haha's cow")
  • "فاليري جيسكار ديستان" valari giscār destān ("Valéry Giscard d'Estaing")
  • "سجن القلعة" sign el-'al‘a ("the citadel prison")
  • "طهران" tahrān ("Tehran")
  • "جائزة نوبل" gā'izet nōbel ("Nobel Prize")
  • "غابة كلابها ذيابة" gāba klabha diaba ("a wilderness whose dogs are wolves")
  • "يا مصر قومي" ya masr 'ūmi ("O, Egypt, rise")
  • "إذا الشمس غرقت" iza š-šams gir'et ("if the Sun drowned")
  • "شيد قصورك ع المزارع" šayyed 'usūrak ‘al mazāre‘ ("erect your palaces on the farms")
  • "أنا الشعب ماشي وعارف طريقي" ’ana š-ša‘bi māši w-‘āref tarī’i ("We are the people, we are marching, and we know our path")


  1. ^ Adel Darwish (June 9, 1995). "OBITUARY : Sheikh Imam". The Independent.

External links[edit]