Egyptian Islamic scholar. Born c. 1801, died 1873.
From 1826 to 1831, Rifaa Rafi al-Tahtawi lived in Paris, France, providing spiritual guidance to a group of young Egyptian students who had been sent there (by the viceroy Muhammad Ali) to acquire a European education. While he was in Paris, al-Tahtawi wrote a book on French politics and culture, which was an instant success, and has since been published in numerous editions.
Upon returning to Egypt, he oversaw the translation of many important European works into Arabic.
In speaking for a modernisation of Islamic education, he managed to incur the wrath of the religious Establishment, and during the reign of the conservative viceroy Abbas I (1848-1854), he was exiled to Sudan.