Thursday, August 19, 2021

Egyptian Faces : Hafiza Rostom El-Alfi

I could not ignore that photo of this lady in a Victorian dress greeting me as I was heading to get my Covid-19 vaccination jabs at Giza’s Islamic Association Charity Agouza hospital aka Agouza hospital’s clinics' annexe.

A close-up enhanced photo of Hafiza El-Alfi, yes I used Remini as the photo was not great.
A close-up enhanced photo of Hafiza El-Alfi, yes I used Remini as the photo
was not great.

I took my mobile phone and snapped photos of the photo and a small statue bust.

Security guards were curious to know why I was doing that but how I could not when I see in front of me a very interesting Egyptian who should be remembered.

The commemoration photo of Hafiza Hanim Rostom Helmy El-Alfi at Agouza Hospital Annexe in Gaza
The commemoration photo of Hafiza Hanim Rostom Helmy El-Alfi at Agouza
Hospital Annexe in Gaza 

In the memory of Hajja Hafiza Rostom El-Alfi , the wife of Youssef Bey Naguib who passed away on 13 June 1936/23 Rabei Al-Awl 1355 as she gifted her money , properties and Jewelry to the Islamic Association charity to build Agouza hospital, Cairo Ambulance Authority, The Conservation of Holy Quran Society and the support of foreign students receiving education in Al-Azhar University. ” 

This commemoration photo and a very short biography in both Arabic and French “interesting choice of language” of Hafiza, as well as a small bust statue, are located at the entrance of the new annexe of the hospital “its new clinics complex” which was inaugurated in March 2015 by former PM Ibrahim Mahleb.

This is the first time I know that an Egyptian woman was actually behind Giza’s biggest charity hospital.

I searched for more information about that aristocratic lady who decided to donate her wealth to charity but I found very little personal information and more charity works and buildings that are still standing to this day. 

Hafiza Rostom Helmy El-Alfi descended from a well known and wealthy family in Pre-1952 coup Egypt that goes back to the controversial Mamluk leader Mohamed Bey El-Alfi who was very rich and influential. It is enough to know that Napoleon took over the palace of Circassian Mamluk in Azbakeya as his residence in Cairo due to its luxury. “El-Alfi bey who was known for his fierce attitude was in Upper Egypt as part of the local resistance against French invasion”

I won’t go into details about Mohamed Bey El-Alfi and his rivalry and fight with Mohamed Ali Pasha but I will jump in history and say his descendants were wealthy Egyptians in the 19th and 20th centuries including Pashas and Beys as well as businessmen.

Hafiza El-Alfi's bust
Hafiza El-Alfi's bust 

Again I could not find anything related to Hafiza El-Alfi and her life except that she was married to Youssef Bey Naguib whom also I could not find anything about to know why he was always mentioned.

Youssef Bey Naguib was surely a very wealthy man from a wealthy family who held an honorary title and was married to a very wealthy woman

Mrs El-Afli donated a large sum of money to build this huge hospital in Agouza, Giza governorate to treat the poor and needed.

Egyptian pioneer and legendary architect Mostafa Fahmy designed the Agouza Charity hospital according to the distinguished Neo-Mamluk style and I believe it is one of the most beautifully designed hospitals in Egypt with its vast gardens. 

Agouza charity hospital buildings designed by Mostafa Fahmy
Agouza charity hospital buildings designed by Mostafa Fahmy "Waly Center"

They do not build hospitals like that now for the poor anymore. 

Those neo-mamluk style details in the old hospital "Waly Center" 

Those photos from Tarek Waly Center’s especial PDF on the Chief architect of Egyptian Royal Palaces can give you how big the hospital is. You can read the PDF without download it in Arabic in this blog following Egypt’s High Council of Culture.

Agouza hospital buildings in the past and in our current time "Waly Center"
Agouza hospital buildings in the past and in our current time "Waly Center"

During World War II, the British forces put their hand on this hospital and turned it into a hospital for its Australian allies as far as I know.

You do not have to guess but the land alone worth hundreds of millions of dollars not pound now in Egypt.

Currently, Agouza hospital is one of Giza's main Coronavirus isolation hospitals following the Ministry of health but its Clinicals annexe operates as a centre for vaccination and to help other patients as far as I knew. 

Hafiza El-Alfi has also other buildings under her name in Cairo.

She commissioned the construction of the second Mosque in Heliopolis in 1930 and it is currently named after her “Hafiza Rostom Helmi El-Alfi”.

The Mosque was renovated recently and here are its location from Google Maps and its photos too. I found out that there are a street and a small park named after her.

There is an Al-Azhar Institue which is more of a school for girls named after her too.

In a way, I believe Hafiza El-Alfi had a true impact on millions of Egyptians for real even after her death 90 years later more than all the politicians from men, even more than her great-great-grandfather

It is a great gesture from the El-Shorbagy construction company which constructed the new annexe in the old hospital paying its respect to the lady who made it possible for the original big hospital to be there in the first place.

A Sadaqah Jariya for Hafiza Hanim

What Hafiza Hanim did from the charity is what we call in Islam “Sadaqa Jariya” or “Ongoing charity”, which is an important concept in the Islamic faith.

When a person dies, all their deeds end except three: a continuing charity, beneficial knowledge and a child who prays for them,” said Prophet Mohamed “PBUH” from 14 centuries ago.

The “sadaqah” is believed to erase sins for Muslims.

“Sadaqah extinguishes sin as water extinguishes fire,” according to Prophet Mohamed “PBUH”

El-Alfi was not alone in that age or time to follow the same way. In fact, there are many examples of rich men and women in the 19th and early 20th centuries that contributed to the Egyptian society to raise its standard of living in times of great social injustice and to have those blessings erasing their sins for a very long time

It is like a double combo.

Many of the big hospitals and schools in the Egyptian countryside were built in that way.

Already we got Princess Fatima Ismail and Sheikh Abdel Rahim El-Demerdash Pasha who donated his palace and its land to built Ain Shams University hospital “He and his daughter are considered from the founders of Ain Shams University”  as the most prominent examples.

Just Hafiza El-Alfi, he ordered that the hospital be open for all poor patients regardless of their nationality and religion.

May Allah bless them all whether Hafiza Hanem El-Alfi or Princess Fatima Ismail or El-Demerdash Pasha.

No comments:

Post a Comment

Thank You for your comment
Please keep it civilized here, racist and hateful comments are not accepted
The Comments in this blog with exclusion of the blog's owner does not represent the views of the blog's owner.