Secret language and the roots of evil in Damascus..The novel “Aljamiado” links the past of the Moriscos with the suffering of modern Syrians

The writer continues to investigate what he calls the roots of evil in Syrian society, including the episodes of Nazism, which he reveals for the first time with new names. With the course of language subjugation and the current of violence that began to take root more and more in the Syrian character, events and tales are reproduced in the footnotes and not only in the text. A work of fiction at the same time.

The novel “Al Khamiado” by the Syrian journalist and novelist residing in Germany Ibrahim Al-Jebin (born in 1971) was recently published. The events of this novel take place in several times, including the distant and immediate past, and even the future.

The events of the novel begin with a research project that brings together engineers, archaeologists and anthropologists to discuss the Roman amphitheater buried in Damascus under Souk al-Buzuriya (south of the Umayyad Mosque in Damascus), and to think about the reasons for its existence, its extension and its maps, and its reflection on public life, and what can be linked from the thread of terrible violence that ruled the country. Levant over thousands of years and rules it today.

The novel borrows the word “Aljamiado”, which describes the secret language of the Arabs of Andalusia, the language they invented to preserve their identity and civilization after they were prevented from using the Arabic language and threatened if they spoke or wrote it by referring them to the Inquisition.

But the Moriscos invented a ploy to continue through time and did not settle for defeat; That language was a key to the spread of science and ideas in the whole world.

Historical Approach

What happened and is happening in Syria in the last decade is a case similar to the past of the Andalusians according to the logic of the novel, because the language here is not only spoken and written speech, but rather the thought of it and it; That is, the mental system that Syrians have long suffered from suppressing at the hands of the authorities and depriving them of unleashing it, in return for subjecting them to a system that programs their lives, minds and dreams.

Damascus is the center of the event, but the event extends to reach many cities, including Cairo, Copenhagen, Tunis and Istanbul, and the Euphrates connects them as a lifeline, without being extended in the geography of this or that city.

So that the flowing river of civilizations returns – in the events of the novel – and brings with it the old scenes, which will meet the incident of the storming of the Grand Mosque in Mecca by Juhayman Al-Otaibi in 1979 with the storming of the Omari Mosque in Daraa at the hands of Bashar al-Assad’s army, and between the two moments in which the peoples lived, the next pictures pass from the details of the place Characters and their stories.

Remnants of the Nazis and the Syrian regime

The writer continues his investigation of what he calls the roots of evil in Syrian society, including the episodes of Nazism, which he reveals for the first time with new names, after working in his previous novel, “Eye of the East”, to shed light on the character of Alois Brunner, a senior Austrian officer who worked for Nazism in wartime. The second world (press investigations indicate that he died in Syria – where he hid for a long time – during the year 2010).

But this time there will be more Nazis who were stars in the Third Reich and committed atrocities during the era of Hitler, and who, no one would think, would have lived and worked in Damascus and influenced it and in the entire Arab region because of their dangerous connections with leading figures who made a future more than one Arab country.

Ibrahim Al-Jubein is a Syrian novelist who won the Ibn Battuta Prize for his book “The European Journey… The Journey of Fakhri Bey Al-Baroudi” (Al-Jazeera)

A new experience or a literary adventure?

With the course of language subjugation and the current of violence that has begun to become more and more entrenched in the Syrian character, events and tales are reproduced in the footnotes, not only in the text, so the novel is multiplied as if it were more than a work of fiction at the same time.

The adventure of experimentation with form is reflected in the narrator’s choice to include in his novel maps and designs of places such as ancient Damascus or “Rajm al-Hari” in the Golan (an ancient astronomical site from the Bronze Age), or even in his detailed explanations of European paintings that were considered obscure.

The experiment also shows in penetrating the Syrian fission, this time by observing the first moments of the spring of 2011 and how the Syrians interacted with it, not only on the side of those who believed in the revolution, but also those who did not understand it and those who rejected it and those who stood unable to take a position on it in the state structures and senior officials of various stripes .

The author is part of the novel

The game of the subject and the public still tempts the writer who likes to consider himself a part of the event and the scene, without being keen to be the center of the event, but rather one of its witnesses and a detail of its details, before moving to major issues, thought and philosophy.

The heroes of “Aljamiado” are ordinary people, and others whose names have become shining, some of them left their fingerprints without wanting to appear, and others etched their presence with their nails. Everyone is walking towards a future that will be difficult to photograph.

In the novel, which is located in 224 pages of medium size, it seems as if the narrator is trying to say that the civilization that arose in Syria is one civilization, regardless of its many faces and identities, embodied by a statue or a phrase that escaped from the time of the Umayyads, or an old clock on a wall, or an excerpt from a history book. .

What links all this is accuracy and cohesion, as nothing that happened on the Syrian soil was just a “futility”, but rather a connected context that will move towards the political scenes and the corridors in which decisions were taken that changed the fates of the Syrians before the time of the revolution, and in the turning points of the revolution itself.

Questions that need deep answers

The Syrian critic and writer Mustafa Abdel Qader describes “Al Khamiado” as a novel that takes you to the fragrance of history with its previously unseen back gardens, transporting you through distant times in a coherent form of thought according to a connected context that does not break in his long-term ideological visions, through irrefutable proofs (taboos) that have been rediscovered and represented , The threads are regular and regular.

Abdel Qader continued to Al Jazeera Net, saying that the novel in which the present relied on the past, and the successor on the predecessor, “you discover the semiotic ideological mating (the science of signs) and it has mixed and coalesced with anthropology in a deeply studied hierarchy, all according to the use of technical techniques furnished by the writer in a convincing formulation, in which they overlapped. Narrative structures and intertwined with their linguistic connotations and their intense symbolic signs, to produce a given structural coherent paving, rich in description, broad vision, which raises major questions that require answers of a degree of importance and attention.

The Syrian fate repeats the Andalusian fate

Ms. Beren Bersigili Mott, editor-in-chief of the Turkish “Farabi Kitap”, told Al Jazeera Net that the novel “Aljamiado” presents readers with an amazing picture of the experiences of the Syrian people, who had the same fate as the Muslims of Andalusia.

“Ibrahim al-Jebin brings us this secret Arabic that was developed to escape the Inquisition through different stories, centuries later. It reflects the condition of all of us through a forgotten language. It reminds us of the destiny we have to face,” Bersigili added.

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