PHILUTHAWUS IBRAHIM AL-BAGHDADI (1837-1904)
An Egyptian clergyman. He was born in Tanta, capital of the Gharbiyyah Province in the Delta, and received his early education in Coptic schools. He then worked as a clerk while learning Italian, which was then the language of commerce. He joined public service for two years in the province of Rawdat al-Bahrayn, which comprised at that time the Gharbiyyah and Minufiyyah provinces.
In 1855 he decided to move to Cairo, where Pope CYRIL IV recruited him for the study of Coptic language and theology within the patriarchate. Subsequent to graduation, Philuthawus headed a Coptic school in al-Mansurah, where he taught Coptic until it was closed after the death of the pope. Consequently he returned to Cairo to teach Coptic in the school of Harit al-Saqqayin while assisting ‘IRYAN JIRJIS MUFTAH, who also taught in the Coptic College, founded by Cyril IV. Shortly afterward, he decided to join the Coptic priesthood and returned to officiate in his native Tanta in 1863. Here he was elevated to the rank of HEGUMENOS in 1865.
In 1874 he was selected to preach in the Coptic cathedral in Cairo, where he ultimately became its chief priest.
In the meantime, he taught both Coptic and Coptic theology in the newly established CLERICAL COLLEGE, while fearlessly supporting the reform movement and the constitution of the Coptic COMMUNITY COUNCIL, even at the risk of incurring papal displeasure. Owing to his extraordinary eloquence as a preacher, he was solicited to extend his visit to Upper Egypt to combat the proselytizing movements of the Protestant missionaries.
In the matter of reform, he opposed the Holy Synod in the erroneous decision that the Community Council was contrary to the rule of faith and stood fast in the defense of all movements of reform. His literary productivity in the fields of theology, the defense of Coptic traditions, the personal status laws, and many other disciplines are well known.
He was respected by Copts and Muslims alike, and the authorities, with the approval of the khedive, decorated him with two Ottoman orders. The emperor of Ethiopia in 1902 decorated him with the Star of Ethiopia.
- Riyad Suryal. Al-Mujtama‘ al-Qibti fi al-Qarn al-Tasi‘ ‘Ashar. Cairo, 1984.