CAIRO – 15 February 2018: Menoufia governorate, located north of Cairo on the Nile Delta, is an exceptional city. “Being from Menoufia puts you on the way to fame,” is a well-known saying circulated among Egyptians and proudly among Menoufia’s people as the city is famous for giving birth to hundreds of important people that have occupied high ranking positions in different fields, including presidency.
Perhaps not as many people are aware of the fact that Maria al-Qibtiyya, wife of Prophet Mohamed and mother of his son Ibrahim, was from Menoufia.
Egypt Today gives an overview of the famous and leading figures from Menoufia and the secret that makes it crucially important in the Egyptian history.
A city of leaders
FILE - Abdel Aziz Fahmy
Menoufia’s name was derived from the hieroglyphic word “Nafr”, which means “The Good Land”. It was the birthplace of four Egyptian presidents, Mohammad Anwar el-Sadat, Hosni Mubarak, Adly Mansour and Abdel Fatah al-Sisi.
Prime ministers who were born in Menoufia include Sedki Sobhi, Mahmoud Fawzy (who served as prime minister under the rule of President Sadat), former Prime Minister Kamal al-Ganzoury, and Essam Sharaf. It is also the birthplace of Ahmed Urabi’s companion Abdel Aal Helmy and Abdel Aziz Fahmy, the first leader to draft Egyptian Constitution in 1920.
Moreover, four people from Menoufia served as vice presidents including Hussein el-Shafei, Sadat, Mubarak, and Mohammed Fawzy.
More than 60 ministers originally came from Menoufia; ministers of Water Resources include: Abdel Qawy Ahmed, Abdel Khaliq al-Shennawy, Abdel Azim Abul Ata, and Mohamed Abdel Hady Rady; ministers of Agriculture include Mohamed el-Sayed abu Ali, Ahmed Abdel Ghaffar, Ahmed Nouh, and Nassif Tahoun; and ministers of Health include: Mohamed Mahmoud Nassar, Mohamed Darwish, Mohamed Sabry Zaki, and Ismail Sallam.
As for the ministers of Justice; Sabry Abu Alam was a jurist, politician, general secretary of Al Wafd Party, and he was particularly notable for passing the judicial authority independence law. Abu Alam served as minister of Justice in the cabinet of Nahhas Pasha. Others who held the post from Menoufia were Abdel Aziz Fahmy, Ahmed Hosny, Fakhry Abdel Nabi, and Ahmed Sameeh Talaat.
The ministers of Interior and Defense included Hassan Sabry, who served as the minister of finance and interior affairs in the reigns of Kings Fouad and Farouk then as prime minister from June 1940 till his death in November 1940; Field Marshal Mohamed Abdel Ghany el-Gamsy in 1974; and Shams Badran who was chosen by former President Gamal Abdel Nasser for this post. Other ministers of Defense from Menoufia were Amin Howaidy and Mohamed Fawzy.
As for ministers of Interior Affairs, Ahmed Rushdi followed by Zaki Badr and finally Mohamed Abdel Halim Moussa were all from Menoufia.
Posts at Al-Azhar Institute
Many of Menoufia’s residents had various titles as sheikhs and imams at Al-Azhar. The former grand imams and sheikhs of Al-Azhar born in Menoufia are Ahmed el-Arousy in 1778, Mohamed el-Shinwany in 1812, Mohamed Ahmed el-Arousy in 1818, Ahmed el-Damanhougy in 1829, Hassan el-Quesny in 1834, Ibrahim el-Bagoury in 1847, Mustafa Mohamed el-Arousy in 1864, and Abdel Hamid Sleim in 1950. In addition, scholars like professors Mustafa Mahmoud, Sheikh Khalid el-Guindy and Sheikh Mabrouk Atteya come from Menoufia.
Founder and reciters of the holy Quran Radio Channel
FILE - Sheikh Abdel Fattal al-Sha’sha’y
Sheikh Abdel Fatah al-Sha’sha’y from Ashmoun (a city in Menoufia) was the first to recite Quran in Prophet Mohamed’s Mosque in Medina, Saudi Arabia. Also, the list of famous Quran reciters include highly-esteemed names from Menoufia such as Sheikh Mohamed Mahmoud el-Tablawy from Tala, Sheikh Mohamed al-Toukhy, Sheikh Ramadan el-Sayyad and Sheikh Ramadan el-Bouhy from Ashmoun.
Prince of Poets
Many historical documents indicate that the family of Ahmed Shawky, also known as the "Prince of Poets", is originally from Menoufia. Likewise, great poet Abdel Qader el-Mazny is originally from the village of Kom Mazen in Menoufia. Also, Writer Amin el-Khouly, the husband of Aisha Abdel-Rahman, known as Daughter of the Beach, poet Ahmed Abdel Muti Hijazi who is considered one of the pioneers of the movement of renewal in contemporary Arabic poetry were from Menoufia. Hijazi’s poetry has been translated into French, English, Russian, Spanish, Italian and German; he won the Egyptian Greek Cavafy award in 1989.
Journalists, actors and singers
FILE - Actress Tawfik el Dekn
Amongst Menoufia’s people are many celebrities and journalists such as Makram Mohamed Ahmed, former president of the Syndicate of Journalists and incumbent president of the Supreme Committee for Media; Ibrahim Eissa; Hamdy Qandil; Samir Ragab; satirist Mahmoud el-Saadany; and Amin Bassiouny, former president of the Egyptian Radio and Television Union.
As for actors, Tawfik el-Deken, Sa’eed Saleh, Magda el-Khatib and Mamdouh Abdel Aleem, Farouk al-Fishawy, Hatim Thul Faqqar, Mohey Ismail, Salah el-Saadany, and Safaa’ Abul Seoud are from Menoufia. Egyptian Presenter Sabry Salam, who was the first to utter the words “Our forces have crossed the Suez Canal” during the October 6 War was also from Menoufia.
Abd el-Basit Hammouda, Egyptian folk singer, is originally from Menoufia.
Egyptian football stars
File - Abdel Wahed El Sayed
Menoufia is the birthplace of the most famous football stars such as Mohamed Abdel Monsef, goalkeeper Abdel Wahed el-Sayed, Ahmed Ali and Ahmed Jaafar.
The secret of Menoufia
Education is the pillar of Menoufia’s capability to present all these famous and leading figures throughout the centuries. Historians say that when the British occupation came to Egypt, it sought and actually managed to destroy education; yet, Menoufia was the only governorate which thwarted the attempts of the British.
Menoufia could hold on to their right of getting education thanks to the people’s donations which were used for building Al-Masai Al-Mashkoura Schools for the poor; the rates of illiteracy in Menoufia are very low until today. Education for Menoufia's people is very essential as they all dream of reaching high-ranking positions; a dream that usually comes true.