al-Nafais/ al-Nafais al-'Asriyya - النفائس العصرية
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About this newspaper
Title: al-Nafais/ al-Nafais al-'Asriyya - النفائس العصرية
Available online: 1 January 1908 - 1 November 1923 (117 issues; 4,646 pages)
Region: The Middle East
Country: Ottoman Palestine / Mandatory Palestine
Collection: Jrayed - Arabic Newspaper Archive of Ottoman and Mandatory Palestine
Frequency: Weekly / Bi-Weekly / Monthly
Al-Nafa'is al-'Asriyya was considered the most important Arabic language literary journal published in Palestine under Ottoman rule and the British Mandate. The journal was founded by author and journalist Khalil Ibrahim Khalif, known as Baydas (Nazareth 1874-Beirut 1949). He was a graduate of the new Russian Seminary in Nazareth (1886-1982). At the start of his career, Baydas worked in education, later serving as director general of the Russian schools in Palestine and Syria (1908) and as a teacher in the Orthodox school in Haifa. He translated from Russian to Arabic and vice versa, including works by Tolstoy, and published many original literary works as well as essays on history in Arabic, and textbooks in various fields, and is considered a pioneer of the Arabic novel. Baydas also wrote essays and short stories, including Prison Stories (Hadith al-Sujun), about his detention and prison experiences in Jerusalem at the hands of the British Mandatory regime. Baydas apparently supported the Arab revolt against Ottoman rule, which led the authorities to sentence him to death. The Jerusalem Orthodox Patriarchate’s intervention led to a significant easing of the sentence and, with the entry of the British army into the country, eventually to his release. In early 1909, Baydas was appointed to the Orthodox Communal Council in Jerusalem. Subsequently he took up residence in Jerusalem, even moving the journal’s offices there. Baydas refused to work in the Education Ministry of the British Mandate, even after being offered to head the Arab education department, and preferred instead to continue working as a teacher in the local Saint George (Al-Mutran) school in Jerusalem, established in 1899. Baydas also participated in demonstrations against the Mandatory regime and against Zionism. For example, following a wave of protests on February 27th, 1920, in Jerusalem, Jaffa, and Haifa, Baydas was arrested and tried (along with many others, including Haj Amin al-Husseini, 'Arif al-'Arif, and Musa Kazim Pasha al-Husseini). Demonstrations followed the announcement of the sentences. Upon Herbert Samuel’s assuming office on July 1st, 1920, all the detainees were released. In May 1948, Baydas moved to Jordan and from there to Lebanon, where he died in 1949. The first issue of the journal, originally published as a weekly, was on November 1st, 1908. From the second issue, the journal was printed at the National Printing House (al-matba'a al-wataniyya) in Haifa. From the tenth issue (January 1st, 1909) the journal became a bi-monthly and its name was changed to Al-Nafais Al-'Asriyya (this, it seems, because of a Lebanese newspaper with a similar name), and was published at the Syrian Orphanage (dar al-aytam al-suriyya) printing house, located near the Schneller Orphanage in Jerusalem. Like other newspapers and journals, it ceased publication during the First World War, and the last issue came out in October 1914. The journal resumed publication as a weekly on July 26th, 1919, until issue 6 (August 30th, 1919). From issue 7 (September 15th, 1919) it was published in a twenty-page format twice a month. From its first publication, the journal succeeded in establishing itself as a premiere literary magazine and sparked literary discussions as far away as Syria, Lebanon, Jordan, and Egypt. The journal even reached European countries and the United States. It published important intellectuals, authors, poets, and educators, including Is'af al-Nashashibi (Jerusalem 1882- Cairo 1948), Khalil al-Sakakini (Jerusalem 1878-Cairo 1953), 'Ali al-Rimawi (Kfar Beit Rima, Ramallah district 1860-Jerusalem 1919), and Iskandar al-Khuri al-Bitjali (Beit Jala 1888-1973). The journal finally ceased publication in 1923 or 1924.
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