[Also Seyahatnāme. سياحت نامه].
Large 8°. 259 pp. reverse collation (pp. 213-216 with the usual mispagination 209-212), contemporary full calf binding with a flap, decorated with embossed lines and floral central ornament (Very Good, binding slightly age-toned, waved and stained, small wormholes throughout the text, paper slightly stained, otherwise in a good condition).
A rare book in Ottoman Script was published by the Bulaq Press, the first official and governmental printing press established in Egypt, and includes the description of the voyage to Paris by the Egyptian scholar Rifa'a al-Tahtawi (1801–1873).
Rifa'a al-Tahtawi was a linguist, translator and a pioneer of the modern Muslim educational system. He was known as a one of the first Egyptian scholars to write about Western cultures.
With a support of the contemporary Khedive (Viceroy) Muhammad Ali (1779-1849), a progressive leader, who wanted to modernize the country, al-Tahtawi travelled to Paris from 1826 until 1831 to learn about the modern educational system. Viceroy Muhamamd Ali started several reform programs with a goal to create a modern Egyptian society after the European model, the press being a part of the modernisation program. Muhamamd Ali is noted to establish the modern Egypt as an independent country.
Upon his return to Cairo, al-Tahtawi, supported by Muhammad Ali, founded a school for languages called Al-Alsun, based on the western educational system. The study lasted first 5 and later 6 years, and classes expanded on the sciences, law and commerce. The school was the basis of today’s Ain Shams University in Cairo.
The description of the travel, or a Seyahatnāme (سياحت نامه), was originally written in Arabic language. Muhammad Ali liked the text so much, he had it translated to more widely understood Ottoman language. The book with the title Travelogue of Rifa’a Bey or Sefarat man-ye Rifa’at Bey (سفارت نامه يى رفاعت بك) was published by the Bulaq Press in 1839 and was distributed among the students, officials and was even brought in large quantities to Constantinople.
The al-Tahtawi’s voyage to Paris is considered one of the groundbreaking travels of a Muslim scholars to the Western world. In the second half of the 20th century his story received more attentions and several texts and dissertations have been written on the subject. The text of the book has been translated into English (Daniel L. Newman, An Imam in Paris: Account of a Stay in France by an Egyptian Cleric (1826-1831)).
The Bulaq or El-Amiriya Press, the first official and governmental printing press established in Egypt, was founded in 1820 by the viceroy of Egypt Muhammad Ali (1769-1849).
Already five years before, in 1815, the first delegation was sent to Milan to learn the printing techniques. After the building for the press was finished in the autumn of 1820, it took another two years to transport the machines and train the employees. The first book, an Arabic-Italian dictionary, was published in 1822.
We could only find four institutional copies (Universitätsbibliothek Bern, McGill University Library, Library of Congress, SOAS London).
References: OCLC811247298. Hebatallah Fathy, Orient im Okzident und Okzident im Orient: Die Reisebeschreibungen von Adam Olearius Vermehrte newe Beschreibung der muscowitischen und persischen Reyse (1656) und Rifaa al-Tahtawi Ein Muslim entdeckt Europa (1834) (Universität Kairo), 2015; Daniel L. Newman, An Imam in Paris: Account of a Stay in France by an Egyptian Cleric (1826-1831), 2004; Karl Stowasser, At-Tahtawi in Paris. Ein Dokument des arabischen Modernismus aus dem frühen 19. Jahrhundert, übersetzt, eingeleitet und erlläutert. Dissertation im Seminar für Semitische Philologie der Philosophischen Fakultät der Westfälischen Wilhelms-Universität zu Münster, 1966; Arthur Goldschmidt, Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt, 2000, pp. 205-207.