Ya‘Qub Nakhlah Rufaylah (1847-1908)


Historian. He was one of the most active Copts who participated in the reform movement initiated by Patriarch Cyril IV. He was born in Cairo and joined a Coptic school where he learned English, Italian, and Coptic. He taught at the Coptic school of Harit al-Saqqayin that Patriarch Cyril IV established. He was appointed as a proofreader in the governmental press of Bulaq. Rufaylah established two schools in the city of Fayoum; one of them was for girls. He founded a number of welfare societies there.

He compiled a number of books on the teaching of Arabic to English speakers and on teaching English to Egyptians. In one of the very first significant publications on the history of the Copts, “Tarikh al-Ummah al-Qibtiyah: History of the Coptic Nation,” which appeared in Arabic in 1899, Rufaylah exhorted intellectual Coptic laymen to preserve the surviving, unparalleled Coptic monuments, and he proposed a petition to the patriarch that they be protected, together with scattered manuscripts, in one place reserved for the purpose. His vision was fulfilled by Marcus Simaika and Yassa ‘Abd al-Masih.


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