Rabi, Mubarak (1940–)
Moroccan novelist and short-story writer Mubarak Rabi (also Rabia, Rabiqa, Rabiq) is a psychologist by profession. He teaches psychology at Muhammad V University in Rabat and is the dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Ben Msik, in Casablanca. He is a member of the Union of Arab writers. His fiction works are influenced by his specialty and it is clear that he considers life and assesses various human situations with the tools of a psychologist.
Rabi was born in 1935 in Sidi Ma'ashu, near Casablanca, Morocco. His undergraduate degree is in philosophy from the Faculty of Arts in Rabat. He later received a master's degree in psychology in 1975. He received his Ph.D. in 1988. He started teaching in 1952 in elementary schools while pursuing his higher education.
He experimented with poetry at the beginning of his literary career but he soon abandoned it to concentrate on fiction, writing short stories and novels. Rabi is a prolific, gifted fiction writer. He was recognized as an outstanding author and awarded the Maghribi Prize for the novel and the short story in 1971.
INFLUENCES AND CONTRIBUTIONS
Rabi is primarily concerned with the human being in his writings. His interest in them begins at childhood, and he stresses the importance of education for children, a point he makes in his novel Badr Zamanihi (The Full Moon of his Time; 1983) and the essays he wrote in "Awatif al-Tifl" (The child's emotions), 1984, and "Makhawif al-Atfal wa alaqatuha bi'l-Wasat al-Ijtima'i" (Children's fears and their connection with the social environment), 1991.
He considers creative writing an activity without boundaries or restrictions, similar to scientific research. In his view, the novel is the history of the people, especially that aspect of their life not covered by historians. Despite the impressive number of books he wrote, Rabi feels that reality is more eloquent than fiction and he does not feel that he translates this aspect of life in his novels well enough to reflect it. He derives pleasure from writing, which is an exercise that provides him with joy even when he writes about a sad topic. He does not write to fulfill a mission, or to take a stand, or to defend a certain ideology. Some of his stories are rather a gallery of portrait for real-life situations.
Rabi is interested in studying the role of magic and traditional beliefs in the lives of the Moroccans as a common and widespread tendency in his society. This is best illustrated in his collection of short stories, Sayyidna Qadr (1969; Saint Qadr). One of the most touching stories in the collection is "Sayyidna Qadr"; it presents the case of a bold young woman whose dearest wish in life is to see hair grow. She prays to Sayyidna Qadr hoping for a miracle.
The writer is constantly trying to understand the motivations behind people's actions and the factors that control their good and evil tendencies. He deplores the loss of values in modern societies, which lead to conflicts between people. His fiction remains detached from the political turmoil in Morocco. This in no way means that the author lacks patriotism and did not champion the national cause when his country was under French control. His book, Min Jibalina (From Our Mountains; 1998), subtitled "Nida al-Hurriyya aw Urs al-Shahid" (The call of freedom or the wedding celebration of a martyr), celebrates the life and struggle of the Moroccan national hero, Muhammad al-Zarqtuni, one of the leaders in the struggle against French colonialism. The story of al-Zarqtuni's struggle offers an opportunity for the writer to describe Moroccan society in that time and the efforts made by many to recuperate their independence and end the exile of King Muhammad V.
A prolific writer, Rabi continues to write fiction. His latest works include a novel Burj al Su'ud (The Lucky Zodiac; 1990), a collection of short stories, al-Balluri al-Maksur (The Broken Crystalline; 1996), and a trilogy, Darb al-Sultan (The Sultan's Way; 1999–2000). His concern remains the human being and the good and evil tendencies that determine a person's actions, all seen with the eyes of a psychologist. As other writers of his generation, he sheds light on human greed, especially in rural areas where some acquire land through illegal means, as portrayed in al-Tayyibun (The Good Hearted; 1972).
Rabi's novels are anchored in Moroccan society and offer a panorama of its diverse population. His trilogy, Darb al-Sultan (Al-Sultan Street; 1999–2000), shed light on the changes that occur in his society. Most of his novels are related against the background of love stories that reflect the complexity of gender relations, especially in conservative societies.
THE WORLD'S PERSPECTIVE
Rabi is well known in the Arab world. His fiction works were published mainly outside Morocco, in Lebanon, Tunisia, and Libya. It is not clear whether the Western reader is familiar with his work. There are few translations of Rabi's work in a Western language. For those who meet him in international conferences he is primarily known for his specialty as a psychologist.
Name: Mubarak Rabi (Rabia, Rabi'a)
Birth: 1935, Sidi Ma'ashu, Morocco
Education: Undergraduate degree in philosophy, Faculty of Arts, Rabat; 1975, master's degree in psychology; 1988, Ph.D.
- 1952: Teaches elementary school
- 1969: Publishes Sayyidna Qadr
- 1971: Receives Maghribi Prize
- 1983: Publishes Badr Zamanihi
ALL THINGS INTERACT
One of many tours that the vendor takes, beginning in the farthest corner of the alley and ends the day at the farthest other end. Every day has its gain and its salability. No day goes by without some old and worn out merchandise, it is endlessly renewed and never dries up. It is incessantly renewed. Or is it the result of the call of an experienced caller…. It is a mobile suq, active, trade consisting like all trades, of exchange and quarrels in selling and buying. Its unsettling nature and its fluidity are the result of the smile of hesitation and the fear of greed. All things interact … all contrast and oppose. This does not deny the fact that the master of the mobile suq is the guest of his male and female clients, at the same time. Everyone is willing to accept, with a great spirit of dedication an invitation from a customer, to eat the left over breakfast that she hands him. He accepts it gratefully, uttering the most wonderful wishes to her intention like any holy man, as the customer turns into a benefactor, he reinforces his invocations and repeats Amen, Amen.
FROM DARB AL-SULTAN, DHIL AL-AHBAS, PP. 7-8.
Through his involvement in teaching, Rabi has the opportunity to impact generations of Moroccans. As an administrator, he interacts with faculty members who are certainly touched by the message in his writings. In combining the two activities, writing and teaching psy-chology, Rabi adds his name to an impressive list of Arab writers whose literary activities existed and flourished side by side with their careers. For example, naguib mahfouz, the Nobel Prize winner (1988), refused an offer from the Egyptian government to leave his work and devote all his time to writing, and Ala al-Aswani, the well-known author of Imarat Ya'qubian (2002; The Yacoubian Building, 2004), continues to practice dental medicine.
Williams, Malcolm, and Watterson Gavin, trans. An Anthology of Moroccan Short Stories. Tangier, Morocco: King Fahd School of Translation, 1995.
Aida A. Bamia