AWEJ for Translation & Literary Studies, Volume 5, Number4. October  2021                                Pp.17-26

Bewilderment between Might and Right: Tawfiq al-Hakim’s The Sultan’s Dilemma  (al-Sulṭan al-Ha’ir)

Department of English Language
College of Education for Women, University of Baghdad
Baghdad, Iraq



The Egyptian writer Tawfiq al-Hakim (1898- 1987) is one of the leading figures in Arabic literature and drama. In his masterpiece, The Sultan’s Dilemma (1960), al-Hakim discusses an eternal question, which is mightier and has a lasting, influential role. Is it the power of authority or the power of the principles? Is it the sword or the law? The play is set in the medieval past, but its moral is addressed to the modern world. It explores the legitimacy of power through the character of a Mamluk Sultan raised into power. Suddenly, this Sultan faced a dilemma that he is neither a legible ruler nor released from the slavery of the earlier Sultan. Hence, the Sultan finds himself trapped between using forceful authority to establish his kinghood or applying the rightful law that might be difficult to be achieved, and it might take time. Sultan’s dilemma symbolizes the political predicament that the modern world is facing.

Cite as:

Muhi, M. T.  (2021). Bewilderment between Might and Right: Tawfiq al-Hakim’s The Sultan’s Dilemma  (al-Sulṭan al-Ha’ir) .
Arab World English Journal for Translation & Literary Studies 5 (4) 17-26.
DOI: http://dx.doi.org/10.24093/awejtls/vol5no4.2


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Asst. Prof. Maysoon Taher Muhi, Ph.D., currently works as a faculty member at the Department of English Language, College of Education for Women, University of Baghdad. Her major is English Literature. She received her Ph. D. degree from University of Science Malaysia (USM), in Penang, Malaysia. ORCid ID: https://orcid.org/0000-0002-1764-5775