Kurd Ali, Muhammad Farid

   Muhammad Farid Kurd Ali was one of the most important Syrian authors in history. His father was a Kurd, while his mother was Cerkes. Fluent in Turkish and Arabic, he also learned French from the Lazarist fathers in Damascus. Kurd Ali enjoyed playing with words and joking and was a noted conversationalist. His literary style reflected all of these qualities.
   In 1905, he founded in Cairo the review al-Muktabas. After returning to Damascus in 1908, he continued to publish it until the Ottoman authorities closed it down in 1914. In 1908, he traveled to France, where he became especially interested in the Academie Francaise. On a trip to Italy in 1913, he spent time in the library of Prince Leone Caetani, whose Annali dell Islam gave him insights into methodologies not yet used in the Middle East. It was here that he also collected much of the documentation for his definitive history of Syria, Khitat al-Sham.
   Following World War I, Kurd Ali was appointed general secretary of the Committee for Public Education. From this position, he helped to establish an Arab Academy. He headed it for much of the remainder of his life with the exception of two terms of office as Minister of Public Education.
   See also Literature.

Historical Dictionary of the Kurds. .

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