YA‘QUB NAKHLAH RUFAYLAH (1847-1908)
An Egyptian historian. He was born in Cairo and received his early education in a primitive Coptic school, where he learned Italian and English while perfecting his knowledge of Coptic. He was appointed teacher at the Coptic School of Harit al-Saqqayin, from which many celebrated personalities graduated prior to the foundation of the COPTIC COLLEGE. Later he left the field of education and became a proofreader for the Bulaq Government Press. This experience proved to be invaluable for him in the establishment of the Coptic printing presses of the daily newspaper Al-Watan and the Tawfiq Society.
He occupied several government posts. Later, he moved to the Fayyum Province, where he was appointed secretary of the Fayyum Railways Company and founded welfare societies and two schools, one for boys and one for girls.
Throughout his educational and administrative career, he retained his literary interests and wrote numerous books on the teaching of Arabic to English-speakers and on the teaching of English to his native countrymen. But his masterpiece was a Coptic history in Arabic entitled Tarikh al-Ummah al-Qibtiyyah (History of the Coptic Nation, Cairo, 1899).
Notwithstanding his official duties and his literary productivity, Rufaylah found time to participate in community affairs and in the reform movements of his age. He was the founder of numerous religious societies and clubs for the edification of the Coptic youth. Moreover, he was an active member of the Coptic COMMUNITY COUNCIL. He was undoubtedly one of the most effective members of the Coptic community in the nineteenth century.
- Ramzi Tadrus. Al-Aqbat fi al-Qarn al-‘Ishrn, 5 vols. Cairo, 1911-1919.
- Tawfiq Iskarus. Nawabigh al-Aqbat wa’Mashahiruhum fi al-Qarn al-Tasi ‘Ashar, 2 vols. Cairo, 1910-1913.
AZIZ S. ATIYA