Images from the pages of al-Funun
Amin al-Rihani was born in the village of al-Furaykah, Lebanon in 1876.  He lived there 12 years before he emigrated with his uncle to New York City to join his father who had opened up a shop that served the flourishing peddling trade in which the majority of Lebanese-Syrian immigrants engaged. 

Amin’s early years in New York were governed by his work as a clerk in his father’s shop. However, this occupation did not suit the young Amin and he ran away at 18 to join a traveling theatrical troupe. This troupe folded a short time later and Amin was forced to return home. 

During his early years, in addition to his helping his father and his theatrical interests, Amin studied law briefly—all the while working to improve his English as many of the younger generation of emigrants did in order to fit into American society.1

Amin al-Rihani, al-Funun 1, no. 7 (October 1913)

Amin al-Rihani (1876-1940)

When he achieved a mastery of the English language, he began publishing a number of works in English. His monograph “The Book of Khalid,” published in 1911, is an example of his English material.

Al-Funun provided Amin, as it did Gibran and the other Arab-American writers of his day, the ability to publish their literary and artistic material in a journal devoted to the Arts. Previously, each writer could only publish bits and pieces of their work, which had to appear along with material that had no relationship to it. 

For further information about Amin al-Rihani, visit the site devoted to him at:

Select other images from the pages of al-Funun here: 

1 See Encyclopaedia of Islam, Al-Rayhani, Amin, CD-ROM Edition.

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