Guide for the Sensible to the Attractions of Europe


Irshād al-allibā ilá maḥāsin Ūrūbbā (Guide for the sensible to the attractions of Europe) is the travel diary of Muhammad Amin Fikri and his father, ʻAbd Allah Fikri Pasha (died 1889) of their trip to attend the Eighth International Congress of Orientalists held in Stockholm, Sweden, and Christiania (present-day Oslo), Norway, in 1889. ʻAbd Allah Fikri Pasha was a poet and writer of major importance. He was invited to lead the Egyptian delegation, which included his son, who looked after his father who was in fragile health. Upon their return to Cairo the pair set about organizing their large quantity of travel notes. ʻAbd Allah died before the job was complete; his son finished the organization of the papers and saw to their publication in this meticulously detailed account. Muhammad Amin Fikri studied law in France and later held the post of chief prosecutor in Cairo. The Fikri family was closely allied with the royal family of Egypt and shared its commitment to creating a modern state. Irshād al-allibā offers an excellent example of the commanding place that Europe occupied in the thinking and aspirations of Egypt’s 19th century cultural leaders. The book is part travel guide and part report to Khedive Abbas Hilmi (ruled 1892‒1914) to demonstrate that expenditure on the journey was not misplaced. Every stage of the trip is documented, including train and sea travel, visits to museums and cultural landmarks, and introductions to European royalty and scholars. The book was published at al-Muqtataf Press, whose founder Ya‘qub Sarruf was a significant figure in what is called the Arab renaissance of the second half of the 19th century. Sarruf shared in the Fikris’ wholehearted admiration for European culture. As a publisher, Sarruf founded the general interest press and magazine al-Muqtaṭaf in 1876 and al-Muqaṭṭam in 1889.

Date Created

Subject Date

Publication Information

Al-Muqtataf Press, Cairo


Title in Original Language

إرشاد الألبا إلى محاسن اوروبا

Type of Item

Physical Description

823 pages ; 24 centimeters


  1. Arthur Goldschmidt, Biographical Dictionary of Modern Egypt (Boulder, CO: Lynne Rienner, 2000).

Last updated: July 28, 2017