Ahmad Faris Shidyaq

Ahmad Faris Shidyaq

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Ahmad Faris Shidyaq was an Ottoman
Ottoman Empire
The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

 scholar, writer and journalist. Maronite by birth, he converted to Protestantism
Protestantism
Protestantism is one of the three major groupings within Christianity. It is a movement that began in Germany in the early 16th century as a reaction against medieval Roman Catholic doctrines and practices, especially in regards to salvation, justification, and ecclesiology.The doctrines of the...

 and then to Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. He is considered to be one of the founding fathers of modern Arabic Literature.

Biography


Mystery shrouds the life of Ahmad Faris Shidyaq. Among the many autobiographical references found in his writings, we cannot easily differentiate romanticizing from reality.

Early life


Ahmad Faris Shidyaq was born in 1804 in Ashqout
Ashqout
Ashqout is an old Lebanese settlement located in the Keserwan District in the Mount Lebanon Governorate of Lebanon. The population is Maronite Catholic. It is the birthplace of Ahmad Faris Shidyaq and the Maronite Patriarch Paul Peter Massad ....

 , a mountain village of the Keserwan District
Keserwan District
Keserwan is a district in the Mount Lebanon Governorate , Lebanon, to the northeast of the Lebanon's capital Beirut...

 in the modern Mount Lebanon Governorate
Mount Lebanon Governorate
Mount Lebanon is one of the Governorates of Lebanon. Its capital is Baabda. The overwhelming majority of its population is Maronites, Greek Orthodox, and Melkite Greek Catholic Christians...

. At birth, his given name was Faris. His father's name was Youssef. His mother came from the Massaad family, from Ashqout.

His family, Shidyaq, was a notable family, tracing its roots to the Maronite muqaddam
Muqaddam
Muqaddam is an Arabic title, adopted in other Islamic cultures, for any of various civil or religious officials. The literal meaning is something like "expediter", "facilitator", or "assistant"....

 Raad Bin Khatir from Hasroun
Hasroun
Hasroun is a village located in the Bsharri District in the North Governorate of Lebanon. It is situated in the Valley of Qadisha, overlooking the southern branch of this valley, the Qannoubine Valley....

. His family was very well educated and its members were working as secretaries for the governors of Mount Lebanon
Mount Lebanon
Mount Lebanon , as a geographic designation, is a Lebanese mountain range, averaging above 2,200 meters in height and receiving a substantial amount of precipitation, including snow, which averages around four meters deep. It extends across the whole country along about , parallel to the...

.

In 1805, the family was obliged to leave Ashqout following a conflict with a local governor that cost the life of Butrus Ash-Shidyaq, the grandfather of Faris. The family settled in Hadath, in the suburbs of Beirut
Beirut
Beirut is the capital and largest city of Lebanon, with a population ranging from 1 million to more than 2 million . Located on a peninsula at the midpoint of Lebanon's Mediterranean coastline, it serves as the country's largest and main seaport, and also forms the Beirut Metropolitan...

 at the service of a Shihabi prince.

Faris joined his brothers, Tannous (1791–1861) and Assaad (1797–1830) and his cousin Boulos Massaad
Paul Peter Massad
Paul I Peter Massad , , was the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch from 1854 until his death in 1890.-Life:...

 (1806–1890), in Ayn Warqa school, one of the most prestigious Maronite schools of the 19th Century. Again, a conflict opposing the family Shidyaq to the Prince Bashir Shihab II
Bashir Shihab II
Bashir Chehab II was a Lebanese emir who ruled Lebanon in the first half of the 19th century.-Life:Bashir was born 2 January 1767 , son of Emir Qasim ibn Umar Chehab of the noble Chehab family which had came to power in 1697...

 obliged Youssef Ash-Shidyaq to take refuge in Damascus where he died in 1820. Faris left school and continued his studies with his brothers Assaad and Tannous. He joined his brother Tannous, as a copyist at the service of the Prince Haydar Shihab, his brother Assaad being the secretary of the Sheikh Ali Al-Emad in Kfarnabrakh, in the Chouf District
Chouf District
Chouf is a historic region of Lebanon, as well as an administrative district in the governorate of Mount Lebanon....

.

What was to determine the career and life of Faris was the tragic destiny of his brother Assaad.

Expanded description


Around 1820, the encounter of Assaad Shidyaq with Jonas King, a missionary
Missionary
A missionary is a member of a religious group sent into an area to do evangelism or ministries of service, such as education, literacy, social justice, health care and economic development. The word "mission" originates from 1598 when the Jesuits sent members abroad, derived from the Latin...

 of the American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions
The American Board of Commissioners for Foreign Missions was the first American Christian foreign mission agency. It was proposed in 1810 by recent graduates of Williams College and officially chartered in 1812. In 1961 it merged with other societies to form the United Church Board for World...

, was to lead him to become Protestant. He was excommunicated under the automatic excommunication
Excommunication
Excommunication is a religious censure used to deprive, suspend or limit membership in a religious community. The word means putting [someone] out of communion. In some religions, excommunication includes spiritual condemnation of the member or group...

 edicted by the Maronite Patriarch Youssef Hobeich (1823–1845) against all dealings with the evangelical missionaries. Assaad was later detained in the Monastery of Qannoubine in the Qadisha valley where he died in 1830

Already in 1825, Faris have left Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 to Egypt
Egypt
Egypt , officially the Arab Republic of Egypt, Arabic: , is a country mainly in North Africa, with the Sinai Peninsula forming a land bridge in Southwest Asia. Egypt is thus a transcontinental country, and a major power in Africa, the Mediterranean Basin, the Middle East and the Muslim world...

, being tormented by the ordeals of Assaad. The death of his brother will influence permanently his choices and his career. He never forgave his brother Tannous and his cousin Boulos Massaad
Paul Peter Massad
Paul I Peter Massad , , was the Maronite Patriarch of Antioch from 1854 until his death in 1890.-Life:...

 (who became later Maronite Patriarch (1854–1890)) their role in the tragic events that led to the death of Assaad.

In 1826, he married Marie As-Souly, daughter of a wealthy Christian Egyptian family, originally from Syria
Syria
Syria , officially the Syrian Arab Republic , is a country in Western Asia, bordering Lebanon and the Mediterranean Sea to the West, Turkey to the north, Iraq to the east, Jordan to the south, and Israel to the southwest....

. They had two sons: Faris (1826–1906) and Fayiz (1828–1856).

From 1825 to 1848, Faris was living between Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

 and the island of Malta
Malta
Malta , officially known as the Republic of Malta , is a Southern European country consisting of an archipelago situated in the centre of the Mediterranean, south of Sicily, east of Tunisia and north of Libya, with Gibraltar to the west and Alexandria to the east.Malta covers just over in...

. He was the editor in chief of an Egyptian newspaper, Al Waqa'eh Al Masriah and in Malta, the director of the printing press of the American missionaries. He also studied Fiqh
Fiqh
Fiqh is Islamic jurisprudence. Fiqh is an expansion of the code of conduct expounded in the Quran, often supplemented by tradition and implemented by the rulings and interpretations of Islamic jurists....

 in Al-Azhar University
Al-Azhar University
Al-Azhar University is an educational institute in Cairo, Egypt. Founded in 970~972 as a madrasa, it is the chief centre of Arabic literature and Islamic learning in the world. It is the oldest degree-granting university in Egypt. In 1961 non-religious subjects were added to its curriculum.It is...

 in Cairo
Cairo
Cairo , is the capital of Egypt and the largest city in the Arab world and Africa, and the 16th largest metropolitan area in the world. Nicknamed "The City of a Thousand Minarets" for its preponderance of Islamic architecture, Cairo has long been a centre of the region's political and cultural life...

. It is thought that it was during this period that Faris converted to Protestantism. It was a period of solitude and study that was interrupted in 1848 when he was invited to Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

 by the Orientalist
Oriental studies
Oriental studies is the academic field of study that embraces Near Eastern and Far Eastern societies and cultures, languages, peoples, history and archaeology; in recent years the subject has often been turned into the newer terms of Asian studies and Middle Eastern studies...

 Samuel Lee (1783–1852) to participate in the Arabic translation of the Bible.

The translation of the Bible was published in 1857, after the death of Samuel Lee. This translation is still considered one of the best Arabic translation of the Bible.

Faris stayed in England for almost 7 years. He settled first in Purley
Purley
- in England :*Purley, London**Purley Way, out-of-town retail area*Purley-on-Thames, in Berkshire- People :*David Purley , British race driver*Purley, several members of a fictional family in 1996's Secrets & Lies...

 and then moved to Cambridge
Cambridge
The city of Cambridge is a university town and the administrative centre of the county of Cambridgeshire, England. It lies in East Anglia about north of London. Cambridge is at the heart of the high-technology centre known as Silicon Fen – a play on Silicon Valley and the fens surrounding the...

. At the end of his English stay, he moved to Oxford
Oxford
The city of Oxford is the county town of Oxfordshire, England. The city, made prominent by its medieval university, has a population of just under 165,000, with 153,900 living within the district boundary. It lies about 50 miles north-west of London. The rivers Cherwell and Thames run through...

 where he became a British citizen and kept trying in vain to secure a teaching post. Disappointed by England and its academics, he moved to Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

, France
France
The French Republic , The French Republic , The French Republic , (commonly known as France , is a unitary semi-presidential republic in Western Europe with several overseas territories and islands located on other continents and in the Indian, Pacific, and Atlantic oceans. Metropolitan France...

 around 1855.

Faris stayed in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 till 1857. It was one of his most prolific periods in thinking, writing, but also in having an intense social nightlife. It is in Paris
Paris
Paris is the capital and largest city in France, situated on the river Seine, in northern France, at the heart of the Île-de-France region...

 that he wrote and published his major works. It is also in Paris that he was introduced to Socialism
Socialism
Socialism is an economic system characterized by social ownership of the means of production and cooperative management of the economy; or a political philosophy advocating such a system. "Social ownership" may refer to any one of, or a combination of, the following: cooperative enterprises,...

 and where he became a Socialist.

A keen admirer of Shakespeare, Faris argued that Othello suggests a detailed knowledge of Arabic culture. Faris even suggested that Shakespeare may have had an Arabic background, his original name being "Shaykh Zubayr". This theory was later developed in all seriousness by Safa Khulusi
Safa Khulusi
Safa Abdul-Aziz Khulusi was an Iraqi historian, novelist, poet, journalist and broadcaster. He is known for mediating between Arabic- and English-language cultures, and for his scholarship of modern Iraqi literature...

.

His wife died in 1857. He married an English woman. Her name was Safia and she was one of the few English ladies to embrace Islam
Islam
Islam . The most common are and .   : Arabic pronunciation varies regionally. The first vowel ranges from ~~. The second vowel ranges from ~~~...

. They got one daughter, Rosalinde Faris. The couple moved to Tunisia
Tunisia
Tunisia , officially the Tunisian RepublicThe long name of Tunisia in other languages used in the country is: , is the northernmost country in Africa. It is a Maghreb country and is bordered by Algeria to the west, Libya to the southeast, and the Mediterranean Sea to the north and east. Its area...

, called upon by the Bey
Bey
Bey is a title for chieftain, traditionally applied to the leaders of small tribal groups. Accoding to some sources, the word "Bey" is of Turkish language In historical accounts, many Turkish, other Turkic and Persian leaders are titled Bey, Beg, Bek, Bay, Baig or Beigh. They are all the same word...

 of Tunis. He was appointed as editor in chief of the newspaper Al Ra'ed and supervisor of the Education Directorate. It is while in Tunisia that he converted to Islam from the Maronite Church
Maronite Church
The Syriac Maronite Church of Antioch is an Eastern Catholic Church in full communion with the Holy See of Rome . It traces its heritage back to the community founded by Maron, a 4th-century Syriac monk venerated as a saint. The first Maronite Patriarch, John Maron, was elected in the late 7th...

 in 1860 and took the name Ahmad. He soon afterwards left Tunis
Tunis
Tunis is the capital of both the Tunisian Republic and the Tunis Governorate. It is Tunisia's largest city, with a population of 728,453 as of 2004; the greater metropolitan area holds some 2,412,500 inhabitants....

 for Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

, Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

, being invited by the Ottoman Sultan
Ottoman Dynasty
The Ottoman Dynasty ruled the Ottoman Empire from 1299 to 1922, beginning with Osman I , though the dynasty was not proclaimed until Orhan Bey declared himself sultan...

 Abdel Majid I
Abdülmecid I
Sultan Abdülmecid I, Abdul Mejid I, Abd-ul-Mejid I or Abd Al-Majid I Ghazi was the 31st Sultan of the Ottoman Empire and succeeded his father Mahmud II on July 2, 1839. His reign was notable for the rise of nationalist movements within the empire's territories...

.

Ahmad Faris spent the last part of his life in Istanbul
Istanbul
Istanbul , historically known as Byzantium and Constantinople , is the largest city of Turkey. Istanbul metropolitan province had 13.26 million people living in it as of December, 2010, which is 18% of Turkey's population and the 3rd largest metropolitan area in Europe after London and...

 where, in addition to his position as an official translator, he amplified his journalistic talents founding in 1861 an Arabic newspaper Al Jawa'eb, supported financially by the Ottomans, as well as by the Egyptian and Tunisian rulers. It was modeled on the modern Western newspapers and continued appearing till 1884. Ahmad Faris was a keen defendant of the Arabic language heritage and Arabic culture against the Turkization attempts of the Turkish reformers of the 19th Century. Ahmad Faris Ash-Shidyaq is considered one of the founding fathers of modern Arabic literature and journalism.

Death and afterward


Ahmad Faris Shidyaq died on 20 September 1887 in Kadikoy
Kadiköy
Kadıköy is a large, populous, and cosmopolitan district of İstanbul, Turkey on the Asian side of the Sea of Marmara, facing the historic city centre on the European side of the Bosporus...

 , Turkey
Turkey
Turkey , known officially as the Republic of Turkey , is a Eurasian country located in Western Asia and in East Thrace in Southeastern Europe...

 and was buried in Lebanon
Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

 on 5 October 1887.

Many of his works remain unpublished and some manuscripts are definitely lost.

Philosophical and/or political views


Since 2001, a redescovering of Ahmad Faris Shidyaq seems to take place among scholars around the world. Several books were dedicated to his life, thought and unpublished works.

Shidyaq major works were dedicated to
  • the modernization of the Arabic language,
  • the promotion of the Arab culture in opposition to the turkization movement of the 19th Century Ottoman Empire
    Ottoman Empire
    The Ottoman EmpireIt was usually referred to as the "Ottoman Empire", the "Turkish Empire", the "Ottoman Caliphate" or more commonly "Turkey" by its contemporaries...

    ,
  • and the modernization of the Arab societies.

Works


Several works were published, since 1980, containing unpublished works of Shidyaq. Some important studies were dedicated to his thought and his life. Among others, we can cite:
  • Jubrān, S., & Shidyāq, A. F. (1991). Kitāb al-Fāriyāq: mabnāhu wa-uslūbuhu wa-sukhriyatuh. Dirāsāt wa-nuṣūṣ adabīyah, 6. Tel Aviv: Jāmiʻat Tall Abīb - University of Tel Aviv.
  • Shidyāq, A. F., Ṭarābulsī, F., & ʻAẓmah, ʻA. (1995). Aḥmad Fāris Shidyāq. Silsilat al-aʻmāl al-majhūlah. London: Riyad El-Rayyes. ISBN 9781855132887
  • Shidyāq, A. F., & Ṣulḥ, ʻI. (1982). Iʻtirāfāt al-Shidyāq fī kitāb al-Sāq ʻalá al-sāq. Bayrūt, Lubnān: Dār al-Rāʼid al-ʻArabī.

Published works

  • Shidyāq, A. F., & Sawaie, M. (2004). Rasā'il Aḥmad Fāris al-Shidyāq al-maḥfūẓah fī al-Arshīf al-Waṭanī al-Tūnisī. Beirut: al-Muʼassasah al-ʻArabīyah lil-Dirāsāt wa-al-Nashr.
  • Shidyāq, A. F., & Maṭwī, M. a.-H. (2006). Sirr al-layāl fī al-qalb wa-al-ibdāl fī ʻilm maʻānī al-alfāẓ al-ʻArabīyah: al-muqaddimah wa-mukhtārāt. Beirut: Dār al-Gharb al-Islāmī.
  • Shidyāq, A. F., & Williams, H. G. (1866). A practical grammar of the Arabic language: with interlineal reading lessons, dialogues and vocabulary. London: Bernard Quaritch.
  • Shidyāq, A. F. (1973). al-Jāsūs ʻalá al-Qāmūs. [Beirut]: Dār Ṣādir.
  • Shidyāq, A. F., & Khāzin, N. W. (1966). al-Sāq ʻalá al-sāq fī mā huwa al-fāryāq: aw Ayyām wa-shuhūr wa-aʻwām fī ʻajam al-ʻArab wa-al-aʻjām. Bayrūt: Dār Maktabat al-Ḥayāh.
  • Fāris, S., & Shidyāq, A. F. (1871). Kanz al-raghāʼib fī muntakhabāt al-Jawāʼib. [Istanbul]: Maṭbaʻat al-Jawāʼib.
  • Shidyāq, A. F. (2004). al-Wāsitah fī ma'rifat ahwāl Māltah: wa kasaf al-mukhabbāʼ ʻan funūn Ūrubbā 1834-1857. Irtiyād al-āfāq. Abū Ẓaby: Dār al-Suwaydī. ISBN 9789953365893
  • Shidyāq, A. F., & ʻAmāyirah, M. A. (2003). Mumāḥakāt al-taʼwīl fī munāqiḍāt al-Injīl. ʻAmmān: Dār Wāʼil lil-Nashr. ISBN 9789957112257
  • Shidyāq, A. F., & Khawam, R. R. (1991). La jambe sur la jambe: roman. Domaine étranger. Paris: Phébus.
  • Shidyāq, A. F., Khūrī, Y. Q., & Ībish, Y. (2001). Mukhtarat min āthar Aḥmad Fāris al-Shidyāq. Bayrūt: al-Muʼassasah al-Sharqīyah lil-Nashr.
  • Shidyāq, A. F., & Shawābikah, M. ʻ. (1991). al-Shidyāq al-nāqid: muqaddimat dīwān Aḥmad Fāris al-Shidyāq. ʻAmmān: Dār al-Bashīr.
  • Shidyāq, A. F. (1992). Kitāb ghunyat al-ṭālib wa-munyat al-rāghib: durūs fī al-ṣarf wa-al-naḥw wa-ḥurūf al-maʻānī. Sūsah, Tūnis: Dār al-Maʻārif lil-Ṭibāʻat wa-al-Nashr. ISBN 9789973162465
  • Shidyāq, A. F. (1881). Kitāb al-bākūrah al-shahīyah fī naḥw al-lughah al-Inkilīzīyah. Qusṭanṭīnīyah: Maṭbaʻat al-Jawāʼib.
  • Shidyāq, A. F. (1983). Kutub al-Muqaddasah, wa-hiya Kutub al-ʻAhd al-ʻAtīq ... wa-Kutub al-ʻAhd al-Jadīd li-Rabbina Yasūʻ al-Masīḥ. Ṭarābulus: Maktabat al-Sāʼiḥ. Society for Promoting Christian Knowledge (Great Britain).
  • Shidyāq, A. F. (1882). al-Lafīf fī kulli maʻná ṭarīf. Qusṭanṭīnīyah: Maṭbaʻat al-Jawāʼib.
  • Shidyāq, A. F. (1880). Abdaʻ mā-kān fī ṣuwar Salāṭīn Āl ʻUthmān = Album des souverains ottomans. Constantinople: Maṭbaʻat al-Jawāʼib.
  • al-Shidyāq, A. F. (1855). La vie et les aventures de Fariac; relation de ses voyages, avec ses observations critiques sur les arabes et sur les autres peuples. Paris: B. Duprat.
  • Church of England, & Shidyāq, A. F. (1840). Kitāb al-ṣalawāt al-ʻāmmah wa-ghayrihā min rusūm al-kanīsah. Fālittah: [s.n.]. Malta.
  • Shidyāq, A. F., Mavor, W. F., & Damīrī, M. i. M. (1841). Sharḥ ṭabāyiʻ ʼal-ḥayawān. ʼal-Juzʼ 1, Fī dhawāt ʼal-ʼarbaʻ wa-ʼal-ṭayr. Malta.
  • Shidyāq, A. F. (1858). Iʻlâm; prospectus. Marseille: Impr. orientale d'Arnaud.

External links