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The Contribution to Islam                  355
secured a more than ephemeral popularity. It will be of interest
here to illustrate the reactions of the modern poet to the refound
glory of ancient Egypt, as typified in the Pyramids. Hafiz
Ibrahim writes:
He mastered knowledge to his bent
That he might raise a monument
Above Nile's sloping banks, to be
A sign, a deathless memory.
What glowering frown wears yonder pile ?
Fond memory should ever smile.
What skill sublime and wondrous brave
Designed this broken tyrant's grave ?
Would art had had a worthier trust
Than thus to sanctify the dust!
For they had crafts beyond our ken,
And sciences that lesser men
Lack wit to grasp; with dexterous hand
To rich invention wed, they planned
Fair idols men might be forgiven
For worshipping, in hope of heaven.
These things they planned; their day is o'er:
Time seals their secrets evermore.
The celebrated philologist Ibn al-Hajib (d. 1248) studied in
Cairo and spent the greater part of his life in Egypt, dying at
Alexandria: his al-Kafiya, an epitome of Arabic grammar, has
been used by centuries of Muslim schoolboys, and countless
commentaries and super-commentaries have been written upon
it. Ibn Hisham (1308-60), at one time Professor of Qur'anic
Exegesis in Cairo, was a noted grammarian, while al-Damamini
(1362-1424), a native of Alexandria, achieved fame in the field
of prosody. Al-Zabidi (d. 1791), author of the great dictionary
Taj al-*arus9 was a Cairene student and spent most of his days
in Egypt.
The greatest of all Muslim encyclopaedists and polymaths,
Jalal al-Din al-Suyuti (1445-1505), was a native of Asyut and