We will not find an introduction to talking about the late doctor, writer Abd al-Salam al-Ajili, better than the great poet Nizar Qabbani’s description of him as “the most wonderful Bedouin the city has known and the most wonderful urban one the desert has known” and as “the most important writer and story writer in our country.”
Nizar’s praise of a writer with the value of Al-Ajili was neither the first nor the last on the part of the senior class of creators. The Egyptian writer Youssef Idris described the son of Al-Raqqa city as “the undisputed pioneer of the Arabic short story.” As for the Jordanian critic Muhammad Obeid Allah, he asserts that “there is no Arab writer at the level of Al-Ajili’s short stories.” He is absolutely amazing at it.”
We will leave the space for our late writer to tell us his biography as recorded by him in a press interview conducted with him a few years before his departure, where he tells us that he was born in the city of Raqqa in 1918 and it was at that time a small town where his father carried him as a baby to a cleric named Abdul Rahman Al-Hajjar, who named him Abd al-Salam until God bless him.
Al-Ajili was attached to literature. He started with him from a young age. He was fond of reading and was passionately reading everything that fell under his hand in his town, which was confined to religious books of all kinds and popular biographies such as Antara and Hamza Al-Bahlwan and One Thousand and One Nights. Although these books were not what made him a writer, but they were the basis For his talent when I went out to production and creativity.
When Al-Ajili moved from Al-Raqqa to the city of Aleppo to continue his secondary education at Al-Tajeh Secondary School, other reading sources became available to him. He read Arabic literature and translations of stories and novels from foreign languages, and when he learned French, he preferred to read works in it.
During his high school studies, Al-Ajili began publishing stories and poems under a pseudonym, and this continued for years throughout his life, until he used 22 pseudonyms, which indicates his asceticism in fame. from Halab).
When Al-Ajili obtained his secondary certificate, he moved to Damascus to study human medicine at its university, and there he was allowed to build friendships that lasted throughout his life with the great figures of literature and the press. The likes of Abdel-Ghani Al-Otari, Saeed Al-Jazaery, Haseeb Kayali and others.
Al-Ajili, who published his first book, a collection of short stories entitled The Witch’s Girl, at the age of thirty, returned to his city after graduating to open a clinic in which the people of that sprawling governorate were located, which was close to the size of the Kingdom of Belgium, as he used to say.
Al-Ajili’s involvement in public affairs and his keen interest in the issues of the people and the nation made him take two steps that affected his literary experience. He ran for the parliamentary elections for his region in 1947 and became the youngest member of the People’s Assembly. Then he volunteered to fight against the Zionist gangs with the Salvation Army in 1948, where he will talk about this stage later in his stories as In (Coffin of Hammoud) and (rifles in the Galilee Brigade).
But he will later describe his experience in political work as frustrating for him, because he found in it a contradiction between his convictions and his commitment to the interests of those he ran for. Nevertheless, he was called to participate in the governments that were formed after the separation of the union between Syria and Egypt, and he became Minister of Foreign Affairs, Culture and Information.
His stability in Raqqa and his work there as a doctor did not prevent him from continuous travel, as he roamed the earth, as he used to say, and his observations from his environment that combines Bedouin and countryside and his continuous travels were the greatest additions to him in the manufacture of his literature.
Al-Ajili believed that talent and instinct alone are not enough to make a writer, but that he should be more capable of observing and seeing what others do not see or discern.
In response to some critics describing his works as perpetuating a concept of tourism in literature, he believed that he had many writings in travel literature, but this trip always brings him back to his first place, such as the story of Sari published in his collection of Seville’s Lanterns and translated into Italian, French and Swedish and tells the story of a Bedouin young man who is exposed to an adventure that took him in the city Uppsala, north of Sweden, but the sequence of events brings him back to the speculators of his people on the island.
It was remarkable that Al-Ajili kept insisting on not giving literature from himself and his life more than he did, and he was putting himself in the field of the amateur writer, preferring to be called a doctor over a writer.
In this regard, the researcher Dr. Ali Al-Qayyim Siddiq the late says in his book “Dr. Abd al-Salam al-Ajili, the Jewel of the Euphrates”: “Al-Ajili has taken literature as an abstract pleasure since the beginning of his life full of giving. The city of Raqqa was present in most of his writings. As in his book Clinic in the Countryside, which was a recording of honest tales with their funny and misfortunes, it came as an expression of the environment in which he resided.
Al-Ajili was prolific, so he published 40 books, 7 in the novel, 13 in the story, 19 in travel literature, social and political notes, biography, and a collection of poetry, and he translated many of his books into 14 foreign languages.
And because our late writer is the son of his environment in his right and his connection to the inheritance is clear and unambiguous, he is the first to combine the tale and the story from our contemporary writers according to the writer Walid Ikhlasi.
To determine the extent of Al-Ajili’s identification with reality, we quote him, during an interview he gave to the Kuwaiti magazine Al-Arabi, that he once put in one of his stories the name of a street in the British capital, London, and when he found out that this street did not exist, he felt great sadness. .
In contrast to many writers of the modern era, Al-Ajili's stories and novels were full of joy, as the writer Muhammad Quraan asserts, and they were devoid of the tragic issue stemming from the creator's sense of the present life with all its events.
Al-Ajili preferred to live in Raqqa over others, but from the heart of this city and from his small clinic, he reached the heights of fame and glory. However, he did not care about all of that. Rather, his books carried his name to the horizons, and he was devoted to treating his patients, most of whom he did not receive any fees like that. His friend, the Hamwi poet Wajih Al-Baroudi.
Life extended in Al-Ajili and bid farewell to many of his friends who preceded him to the world of immortality. He even wrote a book that is considered one of the most beautiful written in contemporary elegy literature, “The Faces of the Departed.” Damascus in 2005 is his last, where he received the Order of Merit of the Excellent Class.
After he stopped treating patients in his clinic and left this profession to his son, the doctor Hazem, his pain and symptoms of illness intensified, so he sat in his home receiving calls from friends and fans and visits from lovers until he passed away on Wednesday, April 5, 2006. It was remarkable that he joined the great writer Muhammad Al-Maghut two days after his death .
Al-Ajili left us a lot, but he has a phrase that we should remember and act upon in the face of the circumstances that affect us, when he said as if he was addressing us today: “We Syrians have a duty to return to ourselves to find richness, strength and steadfastness in it.”