Sim‘An Ibn Kalil (Ca. 1145-Ca. 1235)

IBN KALIL (ca. 1145-ca. 1235)

A Monk, theologian. Like a number of other great figures in Copto-Arabic literature (including Sawirus ibn al-Muqaffa‘ and Shams al-Ri’asa Abu al-Barakat ibn Kabar), ibn Kalil ibn Maqara began his career as a bureaucrat in government service. In 1173, he was (financial) secretary in the Department of the Army under none other than Salah al-Din al-Ayyubi, the famed Saladin. According to his great-nephew al-Makin Jirjis , remained in government service until sometime during the sultanate of Salah al-Din’s younger brother al-‘Adil (1200-1218), but then withdrew and became a monk at the Monastery of St. the Little in the , where he enclosed himself in a cell for more than 30 years.

He wrote a number of books, including biblical commentaries and a philosophically informed apology of the faith. His most beloved work, however, is Rawdat al-farid wa-salwat al-wahid (The of the and Consolation of the Solitary), in which explains the and commends the life of virtue in 12 chapters of beautiful rhymed prose. Read throughout the Arabic-speaking Christian world, it was published in Egypt in 1873 and again in 1886, but awaits a modern edition.