It also portrayed the confusion of man in his search for inner peace and happiness. How do we attain that stage when we will finally say that we are happy and we could not ask for more from God? The book ended in the protagonist’s continued search for happiness and peace. Will we, in our lifetime, experience those emotions or are our destinies similar with the narrator’s fate, which is to continue looking for it? Naguib Mahfouz, an Egyptian author who won the Nobel Prize for literature in 1988, wrote moving stories which depicted the ancient times and present situation in Egypt or in the Islam tradition.
Main themes in his books basically narrated the typical Muslim temptation, not of money and luxury, but of power or cult followers through violence against whatever the leaders characterized as evil. Mahfouz died at the age of 94 and is the most prominent literary figure in the Arab world. The “Zaabalawi” book is not so much as a criticism of the Islamic religion but moreso on its society. The author depicted the kinds of people that a person can encounter in Cairo.
There are those who now obey money and power; and there are those who are still motivated and draw astounding inspiration from what they perceive as God – or heaven. What is interesting in the book is the gradual change in the overall outlook of the protagonist that is only halfhearted. What ails him is something that no one can heal such that its only Zaabalawi who can deal with it properly. As the person started on his journey, meeting a variety of people with different “Gods” (i. e. , money, power, businesses, God / Allah, etc.) had opened his eyes to the workings of the society – what are the consequences of his/her choices; how many of us still truly believe in God/Allah?
Is there still a chance for spiritual freedom and liberation? Just like in the book, we will continue to seek “Zaabalawi”; the state to which each one of us will experience the inner peace and happiness that we have been pursuing through all of our lives. By just keep on going, learning and never losing hope, having faith at all times, we might be (just maybe) find our own “Zaabalawi” too.
References: Acosta – Fajardo. “Zaabalawi”. 19 November 2004. Retrieved from fajardo-acosta.com.