Classic Arabic poetry become ‘mahraganat’ songs

Doaa Farid
4 Min Read
Mohammed is a civil Engineer student who turned Arabic Poems into songs to be easily memorised Facebook Photo

Most weddings in Egypt this day and age prefer the popular ‘shaabi’ or ‘mahraganat’ (festival) songs as source of entertainment and dancing; however, for those who’ve studied classical Arabic poetry as young students find it disturbing that those songs are using the deeply-rooted verses as lyrics.

The currently most popular music genre has found its way to Arabic poems, introducing a new trend in the scene after the genre has already swept Egypt’s music atmosphere.

A few days ago, public and private high school students, locally known as ‘thanaweya amma’ students, began sharing on social media poems from their Arabic course curriculum that have been converted into ‘mahraganat’ songs.

The poems were written by classic Arab and Egyptian poets, such as Egyptian Ahmed Shawky and Lebanon-born Elia Abu Madi.

Behind the trend is an Al-Azhar University civil engineering student, who calls himself Mohamed Kesho.

“I’m not destroying the history of classic poems. This is what I did to memorise the poems I was studying in high school,” said Kesho, in an interview with Daily News Egypt.

Kesho explained that he used to listen to ‘mahraganat’ as everyone else and therefore he recorded the poems in ‘mahraganat’ style. “A friend of mine listened to them and gave them to his colleagues and they all liked it,” Kesho added.

‘Mahraganat’ songs have become an irreplaceable part of the Egyptian society, Kesho stressed, adding that his creations were done “to help the students”.

While hundreds of people shared his songs on social media platforms, many others criticised the creations, saying that he is mixing “low-level art” with classical Arabic heritage.

Business student Abdullah Ali criticised the songs, noting that the younger generations became attracted to any new trend, “even if it is a threat to their identity”. Ali recommended that parents increase supervision of their kids and prevent them from listening to these types of songs.

However, Kesho defended himself saying that “instead of listening to meaningless words being sung as mahraganat, at least I sing words that have value”.

High school Arabic teacher Ahmed Fouad also praised the ‘mahraganat’ classic poems. “I like the idea and I think it is funny,” he said.

Fouad explained that when he was a classical Arabic student at university, he used to study Modern Arabic poems not only the classic ones, “so the mahraganat poems have nothing to do with destroying the Arabic language,” he said.

High school student Hania Farid further confirmed that these ‘mahraganat’ poems are helping her memorise “difficult poems”.

“We are listening to mahraganat songs all the time, so it will be better if these songs are already in our curriculum,” Farid stated, adding that she and her friends are waiting for more of the kind.

But Kesho noted that he will not be able to record ‘mahragant’ poems frequently due to his engineering studies. He called on people to “give him a chance” and listen to his songs.


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