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Sheikh Nasif Al-Yaziji (1800-1871)

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Portrait of Sheikh Nasif Al-Yaziji

(Service to SPC 1867-1869)

A prominent Lebanese writer, educator, and poet who played a significant role in reigniting interest in the classical language among Arab intellectuals in the 19th century. Born in 1800 in the village of Kfar-Shima in Lebanon, he received his primary education from his father and completed it under a Maronite monk, along with his own extensive reading habits. Sheikh Nassif studied grammar, rhetoric, language, and poetry. He also mastered logic and had broad knowledge of medicine, philosophy, music, and jurisprudence. He wrote in all these sciences and was also an innovative poet, especially in Al-Azjal. Prince Bashir al Shahabi selected him to join his court for his excellent reputation in mastering calligraphy and poetry. He helped Eli Smith and Cornelius Van Dyck edit their publications and translate the Bible. He became a member of the Syrian Society, which attracted many scholars to benefit from his remarkable knowledge of Arabic. In 1863, Buṭrus al-Bustani employed Nasṣif Al-Yaziji to teach at the National School, al Madrasah al-Watanieh, that he founded in Beirut, and both cooperated on editing the first part of Muhit Al-Muhit. When the Patriarchal School was founded in Beirut, Sheikh Nassif was one of its prominent teachers, and later was invited to join the Syrian Protestant College (later the American University of Beirut), as an instructor of Arabic language and literature. Orientalists from around the world contacted him and became his students. He also devoted himself to authoring academic books.

Sheikh Nasṣif Al-Yaziji urged the Arabs to contribute to reviving their culture and spreading it, which was an indirect call to Arab national awareness and awakening.

Sheikh Nasif continued to study, teach, and author books and articles until he died in 1871.