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Rifaa al-Tahtawi was a prominent historian man of letters translator and journalist He was one of the most distinguished and outstanding literary figures of his time He was characterized by a conscious thought penetrative insight and extraordinary ideas which were thought to preced his age He was and still is seen as one of the banners of enlightenment in Egypt In fact he succeeded in tackling the most difficult economic issues and expressing his worthy views to solve them He was the first Egyptian to have an intellectual ingress into modern western civilization He called for an opening up to the west and challenged the rigid quarters of the Salafiah Movement or religious antecedentalism Tahtawi was born in Tahta Upper Egypt in 1801 His parents although of noble descent were poor He came from a very highly eduated family though and it was said that his ancestors had always assumed positions of authority and responsibility As a child Tahtawi was able to memorize the Quran from an early age and he took his lessons in jurisprudence from his uncles Tahtawi studied in Al-Azhar University for about 5 years until the age of 21 He then successfully passed a difficult test for teaching in AL-Azhar Rifaa was taught by Sheikh Hasan al-Attar one of Al-Azhars scholars He then moved on to work in France and while there he wanted to liberate the women and emphasized that women should be equally educated along with men Tahtawi can be called the reformer of the womens movement for it was him that taught all of the wonderful things about educating women and appreciating them for their minds and intellect not for their bodies
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