Mikha’il Sharubim (1861-1918)

MIKHA’IL SHARUBIM (1861-1918)

A Coptic historian. At the age of seven, he enrolled in the Coptic of Harit al-Saqqayin, where he became proficient in Arabic, English, French, and the elements of Coptic. In his early youth, he began to write interesting stories in Arabic, and at the age of fourteen, he was employed as a redactor in foreign languages in the ministry of finance. He was later moved to the post of private secretary to Isma‘il Pasha Siddiq until the of his employer in 1876. Afterward, he was transferred to the customs department in Alexandria, where he remained until 1880, the date of his return to Cairo.

For two more years, he was recalled for service under English and French heads of departments owing to his skills. Then he was selected by Muhammad Sultan Pasha to establish a new department to deal with all matters connected with the British occupation army. After the suppression of that department, he returned to the ministry of finance as a translator. In 1884 he moved to a judicial capacity for the region of the east Delta comprising the provinces of Daqahliyyah and Sharqiyyah as well as the governorates of Damietta, Port-Said, and al-‘Arish.

Because of his steady progress in the administration, the conferred the title of bey on him, and he was also decorated by the Greek monarch, the shah of Persia, and the king of Spain.

In 1888, he decided to retire from service, owing to differences between him and the minister Riyad Pasha. Then he devoted his life and energy to pursuits and to the writing of his monumental history of Egypt entitled al-Kafi, with which he became identified.

In 1894, he was solicited by the minister of finance, Ahmad Mazloum (Pasha), and his English under-secretary to return to service as director-general of the important survey department. He remained in service until 1903 shuttling from one department to another. During that period, he was decorated by the Ottoman sultan and by the Ethiopian emperor. At this point, he was eager to resume his historical writing of al-Kafi that he had begun five years before. He thus prevailed upon his superiors to accept his resignation from public office and devoted his remaining years to caring for his property in the provinces of and Ban Suef and to the completion of his history.

He was able to publish four volumes. The first comprised ancient history to the end of Roman domination and the advent of the Arab conquest. The second deals with the medieval period and rule of the Islamic dynasties until the emergence of the Turks and Selim II’s Ottoman conquest of Egypt in 1517. The fourth treats the modern history of Egypt with the leading to the establishment of the MUHAMMAD ‘ALI DYNASTY, which he followed down to the reign of the Tawfiq Pasha. He spent the remaining years of his life in preparation of materials for the fifth volume, which unfortunately was left unpublished. His library was donated to the Coptic Museum, and his notes for the fifth volume are in the process of being published.

AZIZ S. ATIYA