Preserving the past

Extensive encyclopedia series documents Al-Majar Al-Kabir’s rich history

MAYSAN — Ali Al-Aqabi, a poet and historian from Al-Majar Al-Kabir, a city situated 30 kilometers south of Amarah in Maysan governorate, has chronicled the rich history of his city through his extensive 12-volume series titled “The Encyclopedia of Al-Majar Al-Kabir.”

The city, divided by the Majar River into Majar and Yarmouk, has a diverse cultural heritage that spans two centuries but had remained under-documented until Al-Aqabi’s work.

This monumental collection encompasses a wide array of topics including literature, culture, art, sports, and religion, and serves as an essential resource for researchers and graduate students.

Notably, the series includes detailed accounts and visual documentation of the contributions made by various communities, including Jews, Sabeans, and Sunni Muslim traders, highlighting their significant roles in the development of the city.

In an interview with 964media, Al-Aqabi emphasized the city’s educational and political contributions to Iraq, stating, “Our city has produced over 3,000 doctorate holders and notable politicians, including former Vice President Khudair al-Khuzaie.”

Al-Aqabi’s work is partly published by the Iraq’s Union of Writers, with other volumes self-funded. He has been recognized with multiple awards, including one for his flash fiction in Egypt and an honorary award from a university for his book “Al-Majar Al-Kabir: A Cultural Memory.”

Detailing his journey, Al-Aqabi said, “I began as an athlete and later worked in youth and sports administration. My writing career started with online articles about Al-Majar Al-Kabir, documenting prominent figures and professions. I also wrote about the Jewish and Sabean communities that existed here centuries ago.”

His literary contributions include works such as “Al-Majar: A Cultural Memory” and “Al-Aal in Poetry and Prose,” which explore the city’s poetic heritage. “Al-Majar: A Sports Memory” focuses on local sports history, while “Al-Majar: An Artistic Memory” features artists like composer Kazem Fendi and painter Karim Mansour.

His 2021 publication, “Husseini Rituals in Al-Majar Al-Kabir,” documents 150 years of religious practices and features notable orators such as Sayyid Az-Zain Al-Qubanchi.

Al-Aqabi’s upcoming project, “The Encyclopedia of Maysan in Poetry,” aims to compile a vast array of poems about Maysan, celebrating its literary tradition through the works of prominent Iraqi poets in both Kurdish and Arabic.

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