Alifa Rifaat (أليفة رفعت - June 5, 1930 - 1996) was a controversial Egyptian author, whose short stories reflect on the life of traditional Muslim women in rural Egypt. She was an anomaly in the Egyptian literary scene, speaking only Arabic but having left Egypt many times. She visited England, Germany, Canada , Morocco, Tunisia, Austria, Cyprus, Turkey, and Saudi Arabia to go on the hajj pilgrimage. Her books were translated to English, German, Dutch, and Swedish, among many other languages.
As a young woman, Rifaat had hoped to attend university, but this was opposed by her parents, who planned an arranged marriage for her instead. This acceptance of tradition figures prominently in her writing: she continued to embrace her Muslim faith, but was critical of how it was implemented with regard to women. Her stories describe the loneliness of purdah, and has gone so far as to call on husbands to respect the sexual needs and desires of their wives.
Her perspective was particularly challenging to some fundamentalist interpretations of Islamic traditions because she makes these statements within the context of what she considers to be the Islamic obligation of husbands to their wives, without ever falling under the influence of Western mores and norms.
Another key feature of Rifaat's writing is her vivid depiction of death. She was widowed at the age of 48 and raised three children on her own. Her best-known work in English is Distant View of a Minaret. Alifa Rifaat died in Cairo in January 1996.
(From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia))
(Translated from Arabic to English)