Muhammad Salah Eldin Bahgat Ahmad Helmy was an Egyptian poet, lyricist, playwright, and cartoonist known as “Salah Jaheen” or “Salah Jahin.”Jaheen was born into a middle-class family in Cairo’s Shobra area in 1930. He went to Cairo University to study law.
He began working as a cartoonist for the Egyptian weekly magazine “Rose al-Yousef” in 1955. He became the editor-in-chief of the new magazine “Sabah el-Khair” a year later, and then he joined Al-Ahram.Jaheen, along with Fuad Haddad, was instrumental in the creation of Egyptian colloquial poetry. In actuality, the phrase “shi’r al-ammiya,” or “Arabic colloquial poetry,” was coined in 1961 by a group of young poets known as “Jama’t Ibn Arus,” which included Salah Jahin, Abd Al-Rahman Abnudi, Fuad Qaud, and Sayyid Hijab.
Previously, poetry written in colloquial Egyptian Arabic was considered a folkloric and poor art created by and for the ignorant masses, while the name “Shi’r” (Arabic for poetry) was limited to poetry written in Modern Standard Arabic.
He wrote a number of puppet theatre plays. He was also recognized for his nationalist and patriotic songs, many of which were performed by the great Egyptian vocalist Abdel Halim Hafez during Gamal Abdel Nasser’s revolutionary era. The poet was greatly influenced by the 1952 Revolution, and he was dubbed the “semiofficial poet of the revolution” at times.
Jahin’s poems usually feature metaphysical and philosophical themes, questioning the purpose of human life, the nature of good and evil, human and divine will, and the limits of human pursuit of freedom and happiness, in addition to political poetry. Jaheen received the Egyptian Order of Science and Arts of the First Class in 1965. Salah Jaheen’s family travelled around Egypt as a child due to his father’s employment as a judge.
Revital Force Of Vernacular Poetry
From a young age, he was able to explore the complexity and diversity of Egyptian society.He became one of the most prominent vernacular poets in modern Egypt because of his real, basic yet profound language, as well as his ability to penetrate to the heart of the Egyptian mentality; falling somewhere between criticism, optimism, and wit.
Following in the footsteps of the great poet Beiram Al Tounsy, he revitalized vernacular poetry with his lifelong friend, colloquial poet Fouad Haddad.Jaheen was recognized as the “poet of the revolution” because of his songs, which were not political but had an innate nationalistic flair, which was arguably the key to his poetry’s timelessness.Before and after the 1952 revolution, he created lyrics that transcend time and geography, evoking the same exquisite emotions of camaraderie, patriotism, and unconditional love for one’s country that were present during the 25 January revolution.
A Patriot At Heart
Jaheen’s patriotic songs were broadcast frequently throughout the protests in Tahrir Square to elicit passion and inspire the demonstrators. Soura (Photograph), for example, is as relevant today as it was when it was written: “A photograph, all of us need to be recorded in a photograph, a photograph of the happy people beneath the triumphant flag.”Salah Jaheen’s songs reflected his belief in resistance, optimism, and the rights to social justice, liberty, and people power. His patriotic songs, written in collaboration with renowned singer Abdel Halim Hafez and Kamal El Taweel, have been sung by many of Egyptians for the past sixty years, highlighting the significance of unity and solidarity among all Egyptians.His astonishing words have the power to change failure into resistance and urge hope to rise again with a real belief in future successes, resulting in his worldwide appeal. Ala Esm Masr (In the Name of Egypt, 1971) is an excellent example, and who can forget his famous quartets, which combine wisdom with simplicity?
Jaheen was a well-known cartoonist, screenwriter, and actor in addition to his poems. In 1956, this multi-talented artist served as editor-in-chief of Sabah el Kheir magazine before joining Al-Ahram.Khali Balak Men Zouzou (Take Care of Zouzou), from 1972, is one of his cinematic masterpieces. The film, featuring the great Souad Hosny, was shown in Egyptian theatres for nearly a year, and the soundtrack and narrative are profoundly buried in Egypt’s social history. Jaheen was the first Egyptian film to feature poetic narration. Based on the folktale of Shafiqa and her brother Metwali, the 1978 film Shafiqa We Metwali (Shafiqa and Metwali) depicted Egypt’s socioeconomic history during the construction of the Suez Canal.
In 1965, Salah Jaheen received the Egyptian Order of Science and Arts First Class.He died in 1986, leaving the world a wonderful artist whose humanity, spontaneity, and talent continue to inspire 25 years later.He is, without a doubt, the poet of all revolutions.