Rifa‘a Rasi al-Ṭ ahṭawis travel to discover, study and learn the secrets of the European modernity

Journal title STORIA URBANA
Author/s Laura R. Galeotti
Publishing Year 2016 Issue 2016/151 Language Italian
Pages 24 P. 63-86 File size 442 KB
DOI 10.3280/SU2016-151002
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In the XIX century, Moḥ ammad ‘Alī, the Governor of Egypt, who wanted to reshape a modern version of the society, sent some of the best scholars to the West, in order to discover and understand the European technological progress. On May 15th, 1826, after a 32-days-long journey, the fi rst party of scholars, which included 44 people, arrived at Marseille; from there, they travelled north to the French Capital, where they started an important period of study abroad. These researchers studied secular sciences, and after a long period of learning and researching, they returned home to teach all that they had assimilated to the Egyptian people. Many of those travellers didn’t understand French, they were fl uent only in Arabic and Turkish. The party was composed by renowned scholars; among them, Rifā‘a Rasī al-Ṭ ahṭāwī (1801-1873), a religious fi gure, was particularly important. He was specifi cally appointed as the guardian of faith, and his task was to oversee the behaviour of his companions. This young and religious scientist became much more famous than all the other travellers, thanks to the detailed diary he wrote during his long staying in Paris. Many orientalists acknowledged to al-Ṭ ahṭāwī’s account the "value of the fi rst meeting" between the Arab Middle East and the European modernity. For this reason it is not surprising that many of those who wanted to know to the Paris way of life relied on that report, an original repertoire with the most accurate details.

Keywords: Al-T ahtawi Egypt Islamic Reform Muslims travellers Orientalism

Laura R. Galeotti, Rifa‘a Rasi al-?ah?awi in viaggio per scoprire, studiare ed imparare i segreti della modernità europea� in "STORIA URBANA " 151/2016, pp 63-86, DOI: 10.3280/SU2016-151002