The complete archive of Akleel Al-ward magazine by the Dominican fathers in Mosul

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Akleel Al-ward is the first Iraqi non-governmental magazine, published in Mosul between 1902 and 1908. It was published in 3 languages (Arabic, Syriac and French), each language had different subjects, but the main line of the magazine was religious and cultural.

The complete archive of Akleel Al-ward 1902-1908

History of the magazine

By Dr. Ibrahim Al-Allaf

It is not rare or strange that the people of Mosul established a newspaper, a magazine, a modern school or a modern press regarding the Arabic renaissance movement between the late 19th and early 20th century.

History of Mosul records that the first press in Iraq was the stone press of the Dominican Fathers that was established in Mosul in 1858. Soon they started to enlarge their press by adding Arabic, Syriac and French letters to it bought at the people’s press in Paris. They also added a forging technique for new letters and a department for book gilding and binding.

Many other presses followed, in 1863 Rafael Mazgi started the Chaldean press and  in 1910 Isa Mahfouz and Fathullah Sarsam established together the press of Nineveh. And so we find many presses in Mosul in early 20th century that participated in flourishing journalism that empowered the Arab renaissance.

“The Mosul Newspaper”, that started in June 1885, was the first newspaper in the city, followed by “Nineveh Newspaper” in July 1909 and “Al-Najah Newspaper” in November 1910. There was also a comic newspaper in Mosul called “Jeke-Baz” that started in June 1911. In this atmosphere the Dominican fathers started their “Akleel Al-ward” magazine in 1902, to be the first Iraqi magazine. The first edition had 20 pages that soon raised to 24-28 pages in (18 x 11.5 cm).

I was able to see the complete archive of the magazine at the monastery of Mar Bahnam in Mosul as I was writing my Master’s degree. The magazine was published in three languages, Arabic (650 editions), French (400 editions) and Syriac (350 editions). The Arabic, Syriac and French additions were not merely a translation of each other but each addition had different topics and articles.

Many editors contributed to the magazine, including Father Abdulahad Gourgi, Father Basil Bshouri and the writer Farajullah Kesbu. The articles varied between health, politics, social and cultural topics. They were interested in educating and counseling their readers, including the deployment of humanitarian character stories or publish words and wisdom aphorisms, e.g. (Do not delay the work of today to tomorrow) or (Do not use third parties to accomplish work that you can do by yourself) and (Don’t buy what you don’t need even if it was cheap) or (Don’t spend your share before it could be collected) and (count from 1 to 100 before you speak, if you were angry).

The magazine also published book reviews, like the review of (Answers to Grammatical questions) by Salim Hasson in February 1907and the review of the French novel (the death of Theseus) in March 1903.

The magazine was also concerned of presenting scientific topics to the readers, in November 1907, it wrote about the Daniel Comet, and a long article in October 1909 about the newest inventions says: (our time is the time of renaissance and innovations like the Telegraph, the Automobile, the Baloon or the new bicycles). The magazine wrote also about Oil and it`s importance and about journalism in France in which it said (in France there are 6866 newspapers in 1900, but many of them are not good from the ethical point of view).

The magazine had standard pages, like health, current news, and others for economic and political topics. The magazine appeared regularly for six years, the last edition was in December 1909.

Even if the magazine had some Christian standards and religious topics but it was a real mirror reflected news and events from the Iraqi society in a period were journalism was still crawling in Iraq.

Many thanks to all the people who established and published Akleel Al-ward for all their contribution to Iraqi culture and the city of Mosul.

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