Last year has certainly completed its miseries when it shocked us with the death of a father, a brother, a friend, and a teacher: Dr. Ahmed Sidki Al-Dajani (Abultayyeb). Where there was honesty and tenderness, where there was principality and strong standards, where there was a need for reason, logical thinking, and objective perceptions there was Al-Dajani. He believed in people’s right to be different and have different beliefs; he was an idol of calmness, tolerance, and consideration in facing opinions different than his own. He did not call those who he had political disagreements with as traitors. He did not call those who he had ideological disagreements with as conspirators with the west. He never avoided arguments nor did he use excuses to avoid debates. He chose to dedicate his life for literature, research, and ideological thinking. He chose not to be involved directly in political work but was in the heart of political work in its indirect forms.
There is a colonizer-related thought, adopted by some people in colonizer-nations, that there is neither refreshing nor development in what they perceive as a “stone-age” Arab culture. Al-Dajani proved this thought wrong. His work made sure that culture was blended with new-age ideology and methods; using new science and technology without forgoing one’s cultural history. He wrote about the integration of three main circles: local, Arab, and international. He differentiated between internationalization and globalization; interaction between nations in humanitarian internationalization versus oppressive indirect supremacy of powerful nations upon weak nations in colonizing globalization.
Al-Dajani was an exceptional man of flattery and principles. While most of our political leaders attempt to fill us with emotions and interest using high-pitched voices, Al-Dajani talks to us through his quiet and gentle tone, using logic to outreach minds and ignite thoughts. If the meter of a person’s development is his attitude towards gender and women rights I can say that Al-Dajani was a first class developed thinker. He did not talk about his beliefs in women’s rights, but showed this belief within his personal life and among his colleagues and students. He cherished his wife greatly and considered her a true friend while cherishing his daughters as much as his sons and made strong bonds of friendship with them. He was a lover of music, especially Arab music. He was open to various world cultures, but in the same time held within the soul of the Arab Islamic culture.
Al-Dajani was a loyal friend to women’s cases; when the Union of Palestinian Women in Cairo was planning an event he was always there for consultation, and always attended the union’s political and cultural events. He stated over and over again how important the role of women is in work, politics, unions, culture, and media.
Dr. Ahmed Sidki Al-Dajani dreamt about returning to a Palestinian free state. He dreamt about Arab unity, democracy, and respect to human rights. He dreamt about building an Arab Islamic civilization, and forming dialogue with the west. He stated his ideas in his books, articles, studies, and lectures. He was among those who founded the Palestinian Liberation Organization in 1964, the Arab Organization for Human Rights in the mid-eighties, the Arab Nationalist Conference in the mid-nineties, and the Islamic Nationalist Conference in 1994. He was an active member in the Royal Academy of Morocco, the Forum of Arab Thought, the Arab Thought Institution, the unit of Arab-European dialogue (as the Palestinian representative), the National Palestinian Council, and the Central Palestinian Council. In addition, he was the chairman of the council of culture, education, and science in the Palestinian Liberation Organization for two decades.
The membership dearest to Al-Dajani was that in the Arab Language Institute in Cairo; he adored Arabic language and literature and carried it with him in his daily life and all private and public occasions.
Abultayyeb, I will not forget those “kunafa” gatherings you made for Palestinian students who graduated from Egyptian universities, especially those who had their masters or PHD degrees. I will not forget the day when you persistently called me “doctor” after earning my PHD in Arab literature; when I asked you: why this persistence? You answered: so that people get used to using scientific titles, especially women; this is the only title one should persist on using, since it is scientific and not honorary.
Abultayyeb, I will not forget your unique presence in one of your daughters’ wedding; you spoke beautifully about the friendship, love, and forgiveness present in marriage; it was an untraditional speech. I was waiting for such a speech in my son’s wedding next month, but death will not let you be there; it stole you from your family, friends, and those who know that you are a treasure of knowledge and language and a sea of pearls and literature.