Women Pioneers in Arab Press (1892-1925) > Labībah Mādī Hāshim > Biographay
Labībah Mādī Hāshim (Arabic: لبيبة ماضي هاشم, 1882-1952) was another pioneering Lebanese journalist and novelist. Born in Beirut, Labibah Madi received her primary education in French in Ecole des Soeurs de la Charité, then at English and American missionary schools. In 1900, her family, like many others, immigrated to Egypt, where she enrolled in the National University (Cairo), and continued her Arabic studies with Ibrahim al-Yaziji, who taught her the fundamentals of Arabic Language and literature.
A talented woman of varied interests, she was an educator, translator, writer, as well as a journalist. Hashim contributed to several periodicals, like Anis al-Jalis (أنيس الجليس), al-Bayan (البيان) and Al-Fajr (الفجر) while running her own periodical: Fatāt al-Sharq فتاة الشرق (1906-1939).
Later, she formed a literary salon, mostly composed of journalists and centered on her periodical. This circle was almost entirely dedicated to fighting for women’s education, their rights to hold public office, and a strong unified national school system to end dependence on the foreign missionary schools in Egypt. She met her husband Abdu Hashim at one of Cairo’s literary salons.
As a writer, Labibah published several novels and other nonfiction books. In her novel Qalb al-Rajul (The Heart of Man, 1904), Labibah used the Christian-Druze factional strife in Lebanon as a background. In its level of characterization and style, this novel represents a remarkable Step forward in women’s fiction. Her second novel, Shirin (1907), derived from the ancient Persian history, showed to what extent journalism and the exposure to Western discourse had now become incorporated into the Arabic literature. Her nonfiction works include Kitab fi al-tarbiya (كتاب في التربية) (The book of education) which was a collection of lectures and writings on the difference in men’s and women’s treatment of women’s issues.
In 1911, the Egyptian University invited her to give a series of lectures, dealing with raising healthy generations through moral and physical education at home and school. She became the first woman to hold a position of lecturer. The government of King Faysal I appointed her in 1919 as the general inspector of girls’ schools in Damascus, again, the first woman to hold that position. In 1921, she immigrated to Chile where she launched another Arabic written women’s journal, Al-Sharq wa-Al-Gharb (الشرق والغرب). However, she returned to Egypt in 1924, and resumed her activities there.
Habibah passed away in 1952, leaving behind a great legacy and brilliant works that left a mark on society, at a time when women's work and their intellectual output were rare, especially in the journalistic and literary fields.
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- Khairallah, Shereen. The sisters of men : Lebanese women in history. Beirut : Institute for Women Studies in the Arab World, c1996
- Zeidan, Joseph. Arab women novelists : the formative years and beyond. Albany, N.Y. : State University of New York Press, c1995.