SHIDYAQ, AHMAD FARIS AL- [1804–1887]
Lebanese writer, linguist, and literary critic who played a leading role in the Arabic literary revival of the midto-late nineteenth century.
A Maronite who converted to Protestantism in 1826 after witnessing the Maronite clergy's persecution of his brother Asʿad, Faris al-Shidyaq was sent to Egypt by the American Protestant missionaries in Lebanon so that he could pursue his studies in Cairo. From 1834 to 1848, he taught at the American Protestant mission school in Malta, undertook a new Arabic translation of the Bible, and edited the publications of the American press there. For several years afterward, he traveled widely through Europe and the Near East, and worked as editor of the official Tunisian journal al-Ra'id al-Tunisi between 1854 and 1860. He converted to Islam during his stay in Tunis and adopted the name Ahmad Faris. In 1860, he relocated to Istanbul at the invitation of the Ottoman authorities. While there, he undertook his most important project: the publication of the Arabic-language newspaper al-Jawa'ib, a mouthpiece for Ottomanism which soon became a leading forum for the discussion of the political and cultural issues of the time and can be considered a pioneer of modern Arabic journalism. In addition to the many pieces of literary criticism that he wrote for this journal and others, Ahmad Faris al-Shidyaq is also remembered for his own writings in prose and verse and for his travel writing. A writer whose influence was felt throughout the region, he was one of the architects of modern literary Arabic.
See also OTTOMANISM .
Salibi, Kamal. The Modern History of Lebanon. New York: Praeger, 1965.
Sharabi, Hisham. Arab Intellectuals and the West: The Formative Years, 1875–1914. Baltimore, MD: Johns Hopkins Press, 1970.
GUILAIN P. DENOEUX