Mohammad Yusuf Najm was born in Al-Majdal (Palestine) in 1925, and grew up in Beirut. He obtained a BA from the Department of Arabic at the American University in Beirut (AUB), an MA from AUB and MA and Ph.D. degrees from Fuad Al-Awal University in Cairo. Following his graduation in 1954, he worked at AUB until his retirement in 1998, and thereafter as Emeritus Professor of Arabic Literature at AUB.
Professor Najm was a distinguished scholar, educator and literary critic. He authored or co-authored numerous books, editions, reviews and articles dealing with different ingredients of Arabic literature (poetry, theater, modern literature and literary criticism). One of his most important contributions in terms of translating classic books of literary criticism was an articulate translation of D. Daiches’s Critical Approaches to Literature, which became a vital reference to students and scholars of Arabic literature. Najm also translated or co-translated several other books, including Stanley Hyman’s The Armed Vision jointly with Ihsan Abbas and others, and Hamilton Gibb’s Studies on the Civilization of Islam jointly with Ihsan Abbas and Mahmud Zayed.
Professor Najm served as a Visiting Professor at Kuwait and Harvard universities and invited lecturer at the universities of Indiana, California (Los Angeles and Berkley), New York, Berlin, Frankfurt, Gottengen, and Tübingen. He was also Chairman of the Permanent Committee of Arabic Culture, and member of the Theater Committee and the Institute of Arabic Manuscripts in the Arab League Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organization (ALESCO). He was also a member of Arabic language academies in Damascus and Cairo, the Royal Jordanian Academy for Islamic Civilization Research in Amman and the Tunisian Academy of Arts and Sciences.
In addition to the King Faisal International Prize for Arabic Literature, Professor Najm received prizes from the Arab League of Nations the Kuwait Foundation for the Advancement of Science, and Al Quds Medal for Culture and Arts. He died in March 2009.
Dr. Muhammad Najm was known for his work in the service of Arabic literature and criticism. Among his most important works in this area is the translation of D. Daiches’ “Critical Approaches to Literature” which has a prominent position in the history of modern literary criticism. Dr. Najm’s translation of this book is characterized by precision, faithfulness to the original and a solid and pleasant Arabic style.