ESSAY 3 REG 1320

Open Posted By: ahmad8858 Date: 29/04/2021 High School Proofreading & Editing


1. Two to three typed pages will be required; (double spaced, or 1.5 spacing; no fancy fonts; no cover page; put your name in upper left corner first name first; put the topic title in the centre). The substance as well as the manner of organization and expression of the information and ideas will be evaluated. In other words, the content, as well as the style and grammar of the paper, will be graded. 

The work, ‘In the Name of Identity’, discusses the crisis of identity, particularly the Islamic religious identity when the Arabic countries encountered the Western world. In your paper, please firstly present the author's point of why Islam was always associated with violence and of why Islam could not realize modernity in their societies, and secondly show your critical response to the author's arguments.


Category: Accounting & Finance Subjects: Accounting Deadline: 12 Hours Budget: $100 - $150 Pages: 2-3 Pages (Short Assignment)

Attachment 1

In the :J{ame of IDENTITY Viofence and the Neecf'to Be�

AMIN MAAL OUF Transfa.tecC from tfie French. 6y Bar6ara Bray


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Published in Penguin Books 2003

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Maalouf, Amin. [Identites meurtrieres. English]

In the name of identity: violence and the need to belong / Amin Maalouf; translated from the French by Barbara Bray. tst North American ed.

p. cm. ISBN. 1-55970-593-0 (hc.)

ISBN 0 14 20.0257 7 (pbk.) 1. Group identity. I. Tide.

HM753 .M3313 2001 302.4 dc21 200 1 (}24929

Printed in the United States of America Designed by API

Except in the United States of America, this book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher's prior consent in any form of binding or cover other

than that in which it is published and without a similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.

for Andree for Ruchdi Jor Tarek for Ziad

In the !ft/.ame of IDENTITY


How MANY TiMES, since I left Lebanon in 1976 to live in France, have p eople asked me, with the best intentions in the �or1d, whether I felt "more French" or "more Lebanese"? And I always give the same answer: "B oth!" I say that not in the interests of fairness or balance, but b e cause any other answer would be a lie. What makes me myself rathe r than anyone else i s t h e very fact that I a m p o ised b e tween two countries , two o r three languages and several cultural tradi­ tions. It is precisely this that defines my identity. Would I exist more authentically if I cut off a p art of myself?

To those who ask the question, I patiently explain that I was b or n in Lebanon and lived there until I was 27; that Ara­ bic is my mother tongue; that it was in Arabic translation that I first read Dumas and Dickens and Gulliver� Travels; and that it was in my native village, the village of my ancestors, that I experienced the pleasures of childhood and heard some of the stories that were later to insp ire my novels. How c o uld I


fo rget all that? How could I cast it aside ? On the o ther hand, I have li ved fo r 2 2 years o n the soil of France; I drink her wate r and wine; every day my hands touch her ancient stones ; I write my b ooks in her language ; neve r again will she be a foreign country to me.

So am I half French and half Leba nese? Of course not. Identity can't b e compartmentalis ed. You can't divide it up into halves or thirds or any �ther separate segme nts . I haven 't go t seve ral identities: I 've got j ust one, made up of many c o mponents in a mixture that is unique to me, j ust as other people 's identity is unique to them as individuals .

Someti mes , after I 've been gi ving a detailed account of exactly why I lay claim to all my affiliations, someone comes and pats me on the sho ulder and says "Of course, of course but what do you really feel, deep down inside?"

For a long time I found this oft-repeated questi on amus­ ing, but it no longer makes me smile. It seems to reflect a view of humanity which, though it is widespread, is also in my opinion dange rous. It presupposes that " deep down inside " everyone there is j ust one affiliation that really mat­ ters, a kind of "fundame ntal tru th " about each individual , an " essence " determined once and for all at birth, never to change thereafter. As if the rest; all the rest a p erson's whole j o urney through time as a free agent; the beliefs he acquires in the c ourse <?f that j ourney; his own individual tastes , s ensibilities and affinities ; in short his life itself c ounted for nothing. And when, as happ ens so often nowa­ days, our co ntemp o raries are exhorted to " assert their iden­ tity," they are meant to seek within themselves that same alle ged fundamental allegiance, which is often religious ,



national, racial or ethnic, and having located it they are s�p ­ posed to flaunt it proudly in the fac e of others .

Anyone who claims a more complex identity is margin­ alised. But a young man born in France of Algerian parents clearly carries within him two different allegiances or "belong­ ings," and he ought to b e allowed to use b oth. For the sake of argument I refer to two "belongings:' but in fact such a youth's personality is made up of many more ingredients. Within him, French, European and other western influences mingle with Arab, B erber, African, Muslim and other sources, whe�her with regard to language, beliefs, family relationships or to tastes in cooking and the arts . This represents an enriching and fertile experience if the young man in question feels free to live it fully if he is encouraged to accept it in al its diversity. But it can be traumatic if whenever he claims to be French other people look on him as a traitor or renegade, and if every time he emphasises his ties with Algeria and its history, culture and religion he meets with incomprehension, mistrust or even out­ right hostility.

The situatio n is even more difficult on the other side of the R hine. I ' m thinking of the case of a Turk who might have been bor n near Frankfurt 30 years ago and who has always lived in Germany. He speaks and writes German better than the language of his ancestor s . Yet for the society of his adopted country he iSn't a German, while for that of his o ri­ gins he is no longer c ompletely a Turk . Common sense dic­ tates that he should be able to claim both allegiances . But at present neither the law nor people's attitudes allows him to accept his c omposite identity tranquilly.



I have quoted the first examples that came to mind, but I could have used many others. For instance, that of someone born in Belgrade of a Serbian mother and a Croatian father.

That of a Hu tu woman married to a Tutsi, or vice versa. Or that of an American with a black father and a Jewish mother.

It may be said that these are special cases. I don't agree. The handful of people I've cited are not the only ones with a

complex identity. Every individual is a meetil).g ground for many different allegiances, and sometimes these loyalties con­

flict with one another and confront the person who harbours them with difficult choices. In some cases the situation is

obvious at a glance; others need to be looked at more closely.

Is there any citizen of present-day Europe who doesn't

sense a kind of tug-of-war, an inevitably ever-increasing con­ flict between on the one hand his affiliation to an ancient

countr y like France, Spain, Denmark or England, and, on the other, his allegiance to the continental entity that is in the

process of for ming? And there are many dedicated "Euro­

peans," from the Basque country to Scotland, who at the

same time feel a strong and fundamental attachment to a par­ ticular region and its people, its history and its language. Can anyone in the United States even today assess his place in society without reference to his earlier connections, whether

they be African, �ispanic, Ir ish, Jewish, Italian, Polish or other?

That said, I'm prepared to admit that the first examples I cited are to a certain extent special. All the people concerJ?ed in them are arenas for . allegiances currently in violent conflict with one another: they live in a sort of frontier zone criss­ crossed by ethnic, religious and other fault lines . But by virtue



of this situation - peculiar rather than privileged - they have a special role to play in forging links, eliminating misunder­ standings, making some parties more reasonable and others less belligerent, smoothing out difficulties, seeking compromise. Their role is to act as bridges, go-betweens, mediators between the various communities and cultures. And that is precisely why their dilemma is so significant: if they themselves cannot sustain their multiple allegiances, if they are continually being pressed to take sides or ordered to stay within their own tribe, then al of us have reason to be uneasy about the way the world IS gomg.

I talk of their being "pressed" and "ordered" - but by whom? Not just by fanatics and xenophobes of all kinds, but also by you and me, by each and all of us. And we do so pre­ cisely because of habits of thought and expression deeply rooted in us all; because of a narrow, exclusive, bigoted, sim­ plistic attitude that reduces identity in all its many aspects to one single affiliation, and one that is proclaimed in anger.

, I feel like shouting aloud that this is how murderers are

made - it's a recipe for massacres! That may sound some­ what extreme, but in the pages that follow I shall try to explain what I mean.



My Identity, My Allegiances

ALIFE SPENT WRITING has taught me to be wary of words. Those that seem clearest are often the most treacherous. "Identi ty" is one of those false friends . We all think we know what the word means and go on trusting it, even when it's slyly starting to say the opposite.

Far be it from me to want to keep o n redefining the idea of identity. It has been the fundamental question of philoso­ phy from S o crates's "Know thyself!" through c o untless other masters down to Freud. To approach it anew today would c all for more qualifications than I p ossess and for very much greater temerity. The task I set myself is more modest . I want to try to understand why so many p e ople c ommit Grimes nowadays in the name of religious , e thnic, natio nal o r some o ther kind of identity. Has it always b een like this since time immemorial, or is the present era influenced by hitherto unknown fac tors? Some times what I say may seem rather simplistic. If so it's b e c ause I want to set my argument out as


calmly, patiently and fairly a s possible, without resorting to jargon or unwarranted shortcuts .

What's known as an identity card carries the holder's family name, given name, date and place of birth , photograph, a list of certain p hysical features, the holder's signature and s ometimes also his fingerprints - a whole array of details designed to prove without a shadow of doubt or confusion that the bearer of the document is so-and-so, and that amongst all the millions of other human beings there isn't one - not even his double or his twin brother - for whom he could be mistaken.

My identity is what prevents me from b eing identical to anybo dy else.

Defined in this way the word identity reflects a fairly precise idea - one which in theory should not give rise to confusion. Do we really need lengthy arguments to prove that there are not and cannot be two identical individuals? Even if in the near future someone manages, as we fear they may, to " clone " human beings, the clones would at best be identical only at the time of their "birth " ; as soon as they started to live they would s tart b eing different.

Each i ndividual's identity is made up of a number of elements , and these are clearly not restricted to the particulars set down in official records . Of course, for the great maj ority these factors includ e allegiance to a religious tradition; to a nationality sometimes two ; to a profession, an institution, or a particular social milieu. But the list is much longer than that; it is virtually unlimited. A person may feel a more or less strong attachment' to a province, a village, a neighbourhood, a

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clan, a professional team or one connected with sport, a gro up of friends , a union, a company, a parish, a community of people with the same passions , the same sexual prefer­ ences, the same physical handicaps, or who have to deal with the same kind of pollution or other nuisance.

Of c ourse, not all these allegiances are equally strong, at least at any given moment. But none is entirely insignificant, either. All are components of personality - we might almost call them " genes of the soul" so long as we remember that most of the m are not innate.

While each of these elements may be found separately in many individuals , the same c ombinatio n of them is never encountered in different people, and it's this that gives every


individual richness and value and makes each human being unique and irreplace able.

It can happen that some incident, a fortunate or unfor­ tunate accident, even a chance encounter, influences our sense of identity more strongly than any ancient affiliatio n. Take the case of a S erbian man and a Muslim woman who met 2 0 years ago in a cafe in Saraj evo, fell in love and got marrie d . They can never perceive their identity in the same way as does a couple that is entirely Serbian or entirely Mus­ lim; their view of religion and mother country will never again be what it was before . . Both partners will always carry within them the ties their parents hand!!d down at birth, but these ties will henceforth be perceived differently and accorded a different imp ortance.

Let us stay in Saraj evo and carry out an imaginary survey there. Let us observe a man of about 50 whom we see in the street.

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In 1980 o r thereabouts h e might have sai'd pro udly and without hesitation, " I ' m a Yugoslavian!" Questioned more closely, he could have said he was a citizen of the Federal Republic of Bosnia-Herzegovina, and, incidentally, that h� came from a traditionally Muslim family,

If you had met the .same man twelve years later, when the war was at its height, he might have answered automatically and emphatically, "I'm a.Muslim! " He might even have grown the statutory beard. He would quickly have added that he was a Bosnian, and he would not have been pleased to be reminded of how proudly h e once called himself a Yugoslavian.

If he was stoppe d and questioned HOW, he would say first of all that he was a B osnian, then that he was a Muslim. He'd tell you he was j ust on his way to the mosque, but he'd also want you to know that his country is part of Europe and that he hop e s it will one day be a member of the Union .

How will this same p erson want to define himself if we meet him in the same place 20 years hence? Which of his affiliations will he p u t first? The European? The Islamic? The Bosnian? Something else again? The Balkan connection, p erhaps?

I shan't risk trying to predict. Al these factors are part of his identity. He was born to a family that was traditionally Mus­ lim; the language he speaks links him to the Southern Slavs, who were once joined together in a single state, but are so no longer; he lives on land which belonged sometimes to the Ottoman and sometimes to the Austrian Empire, and which played a part in the major dramas of European history. In every era one or other of his affiliations swelled up, so to speak, in



such a way a s t o eclipse al the others and t o appear t o represent his whole identity. In the course of his life he'll have heard all kinds of fables . He'll have been told he was a proletarian pure and simple. Or a Yugoslavian through and through. Or" more recendy, a Muslim. For a few difficult months he'll even have b een made to think he had more in common with the inhabi­ tants of Kabul than with those of Trieste!

In every age there have been people who considered that an individual had one overriding affiliation so much more important in every circumstance to all others that it might legitimately be called his " identity." For some it was the nation, for others religion or class. But one has only to look at the various conflicts being fought out all over the world today to realise that no one allegiance has absolute supremacy. Where p e ople feel their faith is threatened , it is their religious affiliation that seems to reflect their whole identity. But if their mother tongue or their ethnic group is in danger, then they fight ferociously against their own co­ religionists . Both the Turks and the Kurds are Muslims, though. they speak different languages; but does that make the war between them any less bloody? Hutus �nd Tutsis alike are Catholics, and they speak the same language, but

. has that

stopped them slaughtering one another? Czechs and Slovaks are all Catholics too, but does that help them live together?

I cite all thes e examples to underline the fact that while there is always a certain hierarchy among the elements that go to make up individual identities, that hierarchy is not immutable; it changes with time, and in so doing brings about funqamental c hanges in behaviour.

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Moreover, the ties that count in people's lives are not always the allegedly maj o r allegiances arising out of language, complexion, nationality, class or religion. Take" the case of an Italian homosexual in the days of fascism. I imagine that for the man himself that particular aspect of his personality had up till then been important, but not more so than his profes­ sional activity, his p olitical choices or his religious beliefs. But suddenly state repression swoops down on him and he feels threatened with humiliation, deportation or death. It's the re collection of c ertain b o oks I 've read and films I 've seen that leads me to choose this example. This man, who a few years earlier was a patriot, perhaps even a nationalist, was no longer able to exult at the sight o f the Italian army. marching by ; he may even have come to wish for its defeat. Because of the p ersecution to which he was subjected, his s exual p references came to outweigh his other affiliations , among them even the nationalism which at that time was at its height. Only after the war, in a more tolerant Italy, would our man have felt entirely Italian o nce more.

The identity a p erson lays claim to is ,often based, in reverse, on that of his enemy. An Irish C atholic differentiates himself from E nglishmen in the first place in terms of reli­ gion, but vis-a.-vis the monarchy he will declare himself a republican; and while he may not know much Gaelic, at least he will speak his own for m of English. A Catholic leader who sp oke with an Oxford accent might seem almost a traitor.

One could find dozens of other examples to show how complex is the mechanism of identity: a complexity some­ times benign, but some times tragic. I shall quote various instances in the p ages that follow, some briefly and others" in

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more detail . Most o f them relate t o the region I myself come from - the Middle E ast, the Mediterranean, the Arab wo rld, and first and foremost Lebanon. For that is a country where you are c ons tandy having to question yourself about your affiliations , your origins , your relationships with others , and your possible place in the sun or in the shade .


ISOMETIMES FIND MYSELF " examining my identity" as other p e ople examine their consCience. As you may imagine, my object is not to discover within myself some " essential" alle­ giance in which I may recognise mys elf. Rather the opposite : I scour my memory to find as many ingredien�s of my iden­ tity as I can. I then assemble and arrange them. I don't deny any of them.

I come from a family whic h originated in the southern part of the Arab world and which for centuries lived in the mountains of Lebanon. More recendy, by a series of migra­ tions , it has spread out to various o ther p arts of the world, from Egyp t to B razil and from Cuba to Australia. It takes pride in h aving always been at once Arab and Christian, and this probably since the second or third century AD - that is, long befo re the rise of Islam and even before the West was converted to Christianity.

The fac t of simultaneously being Christian and having as my mother tongue Arabic, the holy language of Islam, is


one of the basic paradoxes that have shaped my own identity. Speaking Arabic creates b onds between me and all those who use it every day in their prayers , though most of them by far don't know it as well as I do. If you are in central Asia and meet an elderly scholar outSide a Timuride medersa, you need only address him in Arabi c for him to feel at ease. Then h e will speak to you from t h e heart, a s he'd never risk doing in Russian or English .

This language is common to us all - to him, to me and to more than a billion others . On the other hand, my being a Christian - regardless of whether I am so out of deep reli­ gious conviction or merely for sociological reasons - also creates a significant link between me and the two billion or so other Christians in the world. There are many things in which I differ from every Christian, every Arab and every Muslim, but between me and each of them there is also an undeniable kinship, in one case religio us and intellectual and in the other linguistic and cultural .

That said, the fact of being at once an Arab and a Chris­ tian puts one in a very special situation: it makes you a mem­ ber of a minority - a situation not always easy to accept. I t marks a person deeply and permanendy. I cannot deny that it has played a decisive part in most of the decisions I have had to make in the course of my own life, including my decision to write this book.

Thus, when I think about either of these two compo­ nents of my identity separately, I feel close either through language or through religion to a good half of the human race. But when I take the same two elements together, I find myself face to face with my own specificity.



I could say the same thing about other ties. I share the fact that I'm French with 60 million or so others ; the fac t that I'm Leba nese with b etween eight and ten million, if you include the diaspora; bui: with how many do I share the fac t that I'm both French and Lebanese? With a few thousand, at most.

Every one of my allegiances links me to a large number of people. But the more ties I have the rarer and more partic­ ular my own identity b ecomes .

If I went into my origins in more detail I 'd have to say I was horn into what is known as the M elchite or Greek Catholic community, which recognises the authority of the Pope while retaining some Byzantine rites . S een from a dis­ tanc e , this affiliation is no more than a detail, a curiosity; but seen from close to, it is a defining asp ect o f my identity. I n a country like Leb anon, where the more powerful communi­ ties have fought for a long time for their territory and their share of p ower, members of very small minorities like mine have seldom taken up arms , and have been the first to go into exile . Personally, I always declined to get involved in a war that struck me as absurd and suicidal; but this j udgemental attitude, this distant way of lo oking at things , this refusal to fight, are not unconnected with the fact that I belong to a marginalised community.

S o I am a M elchite; B ut if anyone ever bothered to look my rt�me up in the admi�istrative records - which in Lebanon, as you may imagine, classify people in terms of their religious persuasion - they would find me mentioned not among the Melchites , but in the register of P rotestants . Why? it would take too long to explain. All I need say here is

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that in o ur family there were two rival family traditions , and that throughout my childhood I was a witness to this tug-of­ war. A witness , and sometimes even the b one of contentio n too. I f I was sent t o the French school run by the Jesuit fathe rs it was because my mother, a determined Catholic, wanted to remove me from the Protestant influence prevailing at that time in niy father's family, where the children were tradition­ ally sent to British or American schools. I t was because of this conflict that I came to speak French, and it was because I spoke French that during the war in Lebanon I went to live in Paris rather than in New York, Vancouver or London. It was for this reason, too, that when I started to write I wrote in French .

Shall I set out even more details about my identity? Shall I mentio n my Turkish grandmother, or her husband, who was a Maro nite Christian from Egyp t? Or my . other grand­ father, who died long before I was born and who I am told was a p o et, a freethinker, perhaps a freemason, and in any case violently anti-clerical? Shall I go back as far as the great­ great,-great-uncle who was the first ·person to translate Moliere into Arabic and to have his translation staged in 1848 in an O ttoman theatre?

No, there 's no need to go on. I ' ll merely ask: how many of my fellow men share with me all the different elements that have shaped my identity and determined the main o u t­ lines of my life? Very few. Perhaps none at all. And tha t is what I want to emphasise: through each one of my affilia­ tions , taken separately, I possess a certain kinship with a large numb er of my fellow human beings; but because of all these



allegiances, taken together, I possess my own identity, com­ pletely different from any other.

I scarcely nee d exaggerate . at all to say that I have some affiliations in c ommon with every other human being. Yet no one else in the world has all or even most of the same alle­ giances as I do. Out of all the dozens of elements I can put forward, a mere handful would be enough to demonstrate my own particular identity, different from that of anybody else, even my own father or son.

I hesitated a long time b efore writing the pages that lead up to this one. Should I really start the book by describing my own situation at such length?

On the one hand, I wanted to use the example with which I was most familiar to show how, by adducing a few affiliations, one could simultaneously declare one's ties with one's fellow human b eings and assert one's own uniqueness. On the other h and, I was well aware that the more one analy­ ses a special case the more one risks being told that it is only a special case.

But in the end I took the plunge, in the belief that any person of goodwill trying to carry out his or her own " exam­ ination of identity" would

. soon, like me, discover that that

identity is a special case. Mankind itself is made up of special cases. Life is a creator of differences. No " repro duction" is ever identical . Every individual without exception possesses a composite identity. He need only ask himself a few questions to uncover forgotten divergences and u nsuspected ramifica­ tions, and to s e e that he is complex, unique and irreplaceable.

That is p re cisely what characterises each individual iden­ tity: it is complex, unique and irreplaceable, not to be con-



fused with any other. If I emphasise this point it's because of the attitude, still widespread but in my view highly pernicious, which maintains that all anyone need do to proclaim his iden­ tity is simply say he's an Arab, or French, or black, or a Serb, or a Muslim, or a Jew. Anyone who sets out, as I have done, a number of affiliations , is immediately accused of wanting to "dissolve" his identity in a kind …

Attachment 2

Violence in the Name of Identity

Nikki Boudreau

Ask anyone to define their identity and they will immediately rattle off a list of affiliations: race, gender, nationality, religion. Upon closer inspection, however, the subject of identity is much more complicated and conflicted. While an individual considers that their own identity is what makes them unique, their natural response is to define it by a characteristic that associates them with a larger group. An “us” versus “them” mentality results because whenever a person finds belonging with one group, it simultaneously separates from all other groups. Unfortunately, the tragedy in this need to belong is that it ultimately makes it impossible to identify with the largest of affiliations—the human race. Furthermore, this situation is becoming increasingly exacerbated as advancing communication technology encourages world cultures to grow more similar. This gives individuals even more reason to feel threatened because they feel that the qualities that are specific to their culture are coming under attack by this homogenization of world culture. This fear, this desperate need to belong, causes many people to commit fanatical and murderous crimes in the name of their identity.

In his book In the Name of Identity,1 Amin Maalouf explores how violence can erupt between different groups of people when they limit the definition of their identity to only one facet of their being. This belief that an individual is defined essentially by their nationality, race, language, or religion “presupposes that ‘deep down inside’ everyone there is just one affiliation that really matters, a kind of ‘fundamental truth’ about each individual, an ‘essence’

1 Amin Maalouf, In the Name of Identity: Violence and the Need to Belong, trans. Barbara Bray (New York: Penguin Books, 2000)

determined once and for all at birth, never to change thereafter” (2). This, Maalouf explains, is “a recipe for massacres” (5). A Christian who grew up in Lebanon and later moved to France, Maalouf has personally felt the conflict that can exist between different elements of a person’s identity. Quite simply, he writes that people “often see themselves in terms of whichever one of their allegiances is most under attack” (26). Recalling the nights he spent with his pregnant wife and young son in an air-raid shelter, Maalouf knows that “fear might make anyone take to crime” (27).

His focus on the conflict between the Middle East and the West gives relevant insight to contemporary world events. However, he also emphasizes that the examples he puts forth are not special cases. Every individual is a unique combination of allegiances which have the potential to come into conflict with one another—whether they are ties to a profession, an institution, a village, a language, or a country. And whereas “each of these elements may be found separately in many individuals, the same combination of them is never encountered in different people, and it’s this that gives every individual richness and value and makes each human being unique and irreplaceable” (11). Early on in Identity, Maalouf argues against the skeptics who claim this tendency towards violence to be an innate characteristic of the human race. He explains that “many ideas that have been commonly accepted for centuries are no longer admissible today, among them the ‘natural’ ascendancy of men over women, the hierarchy between races, and even, closer to home, apartheid and the various other kinds of segregation” (34). Despite the fact that his suggestions are admirable and inspiring, their plausibility is sometimes doubtful.


Maalouf also notes differences in the development of the West and the Middle East and how this has led to conflict between the two. First, Maalouf defies the notion that Christianity is inherently good and Islam innately evil. By showing that Christianity’s contemporary tolerance has arisen from centuries of violence, whereas Islam’s current tendency towards violence has erupted from a long period of remarkable tolerance, Maalouf notes that while the text of a religion does not change, people’s interpretations of it clearly do. In order to remain relevant and preserve its place in society, western religion relaxed and updated its doctrine. Conversely, Islam never modernized. Also, the West came to power when, for the first time, the technical means for world dominance were available. Nor can the influence of economics be ignored, as the Middle East is “poor, downtrodden and derided, while the West is rich and powerful” (64).

Citing how the past efforts of Egypt to modernize were stomped out by Great Britain, Maalouf shows that the West desires only obedience and not imitation. As a result, much of the rest of world fears that modernization is simply Americanization and that they must “admit that their ways were out of date, that everything they produced was worthless compared with what was produced by the West, that their attachment to traditional medicine was superstitious, their military glory just a memory, the great men they had been brought up to revere—the poets, scholars, soldiers, saints and travelers—disregarded by the rest of the world, their religion suspected of barbarism, their language now studied only by a handful of specialists, while they had to learn other people’s languages if they wanted to survive and work and remain in contact with the rest of mankind” (74-75).

The world, Maalouf notes, is entering a unique phase in which knowledge advances at a rapid speed, but the dissemination of

knowledge is even faster, thus leading all societies to become increasingly alike. In this era of “harmonization and dissonance,” humankind has never “had so many things in common—knowledge, points of reference, images, words, instruments and tools of all kinds. But this only increases their desire to assert their differences” (93). To help alleviate the danger of future conflict, Maalouf proposes a few ideas. Firstly, he explains that identity must be seen as “the sum of all our allegiances, and, within it, allegiance to the human community itself would become increasingly important, until one day it would become the chief allegiance, though without destroying our many individual affiliations” (100). Secondly, he makes the somewhat obvious point that only in “the context of democracy [can] the question of choice arises” (148) but adds depths to this observation by noting that the “law of the majority” is sometimes synonymous with “tyranny, slavery and discrimination” (152). As a remedy, he emphasizes the need for safeguards, such as the United Kingdom’s special electoral system that does not depend solely on majority rule because of the problem of the Catholic minority in Northern Ireland. Maalouf also dreams of the day in which a presidential candidate will be judged for his “human qualities” rather than his religious and ethnic affiliations. Thirdly, he explains that religion will never become obsolete because human beings will always have spiritual needs—however, religion does not have to be associated with the need to belong to a group, and spiritual needs can be fulfilled without religion.

In addition, he points out that language cannot be separated from identity any more than can our nationality or religion. His intriguing proposal is that every individual should speak three languages: the language of ones origin, English, and a third language of ones choice. Knowing English is crucial, but


alone it is not enough. Knowing two languages in addition to the language of one’s origin would instantly connect every person to a much vaster population of the world, and to a greater array of resources in art and literature. However, it is doubtful whether the desire or even the need exists for so many people to be multilingual. Most individuals can function in everyday life quite well knowing only one language. Also, in countries such as the United States, the educational system is only rarely structured to require or encourage the learning of multiple languages.

In a very effective way, Maalouf’s In the Name of Identity provides us with a cultural and historical understanding of the current conflict between the Middle East and the West. Maalouf explores a number of widely discussed issues, but also adds uncommon insight to help derail several striking misconceptions about the Middle East and the West.

In the final analysis, Maalouf’s hopeful projections for the future might appear overly optimistic, especially in the context of the discouraging struggle between the United States and Iraq, ongoing contestation in the Middle East, and issues concerning undocumented immigrants in the U.S.. After all, dealing with identity on an individual level can be an immense struggle in itself — indeed, we must wonder where this restructuring begins, and just whose responsibility it is to attempt it on a more massive level. The day when people can learn to forsake their tribal associations and embrace the human race as a whole appears to be a long way off, if not simply beyond reach. However, Maalouf’s insights do not fail to inspire or cause the reader to question his or her own role in the global conflicts caused by the search for identity.