Prof. Mursi Al-Sayid Mursi Al-Sabbagh
Adham Al-Sharqawi is a heroic symbol of a rebellion against tyranny and injustice. His uncle was killed unfairly, so he decided to take revenge for his murder and operate out of the law. Even though he was officially a criminal, people empathized with and supported him against injustice, oppression and slavery that prevailed in his time.
It is significant to note that the official stance on Adham contradicts popular narration. Officially, he was a criminal who accused the government of his uncle’s death.
Adham was not perfect; indeed he was an ordinary man who had good characteristics as well as flaws. The heroism that was attributed to him by people stemmed from a spirit of compassion and sympathy.
Adham was arrested and sentenced to death, but the people paid a hundred Egyptian pounds to change the death sentence to a seven-year imprisonment. However he escaped from prison, and the authorities revoked the dead-or-alive order. It is said that he met the murderer of his uncle in prison and killed him, and that after his escape he killed the son-in-law of the Minister of Awqaf. This began a series of battles that ended with the killing of Adham by a policeman, according to the official story.
According to the folk narration, a traitor friend killed him. In both stories, his murderer is considered to have followed both Adham and the people’s enemy (i.e. the government)… and either way it was treachery!
Adham’s image was distorted intentionally by a British agent at that time who claimed that he was stealing from the rich to give to the poor; this story was grabbed by newspapers loyal to the authorities and publicized to demonize his heroic character.
Here I quote Ibn Khaldun who wrote in his introduction:
“Great historians were able to collect and understand the days’ news and wrote it down in pages of books, and then intruders mixed it with falsehoods and weak stories that they created and faked. Many then followed their narration and added to it so it reached to us as heard through generations without considering their truth and causes, or rejecting its nonsense.”