More on Lebanese Maronites

The Canadian-American scholar T. B. Irving wrote:

Source Islamic Renewal in Iberia and Latin America: Its Needs and Preconditions T.B. Irving 1981
a lecture delivered at the University of Brasilia

Frankly it has been hard to gather much data on this subject. Yet even the Christian Lebanese immigrants to South America (and I might include much of Africa where these Lebanese have also gone as mer­chants and entrepreneurs) owe much to their over‑all Arab heritage, even though many of them try to call themselves “Phoenicians”.

It was the Maronite Catholics, NOT usually the Lebanese Muslims, who regularly fell into this Phoenicianism. The Lebanese Muslims tended to be pan-Arabists.

However, it was the Maronite Catholics who form the bulk of Lebanese immigration to the West, and hence the confusion in the data. They will call themselves Maronites, Lebanese, or Phoenician, but will differentiate themselves from Arabs in general. Again, not all of them, but enough to create havoc with the data.

This may be changing as of late, but the damage to the census data has already been done. I have run into Lebanese who get quite angry when referred to as Arab.

The point to this is that academics note how the Lebanese Maronites create confusion with their insistence on labelling themselves as Phoenician or Lebanese, not as a subset of Arab; but as an identity distinct from Arab. Hence the quite common and absurd transnational statistics where the Lebanese will outnumber the census of Arabs in a given country

NOTE: Dr. Irving was a Princeton educated professor of Arabic and Spanish, who taught at the University of Tennesse for 40 years. However, he was a bit daft, and converted to Islam. His scholarly achievements are many but he could pepper them with such idiocies as: “… the original countries which are now called Spain and Portugal enjoyed nine centuries of Islamic rule”1

However, given his proficiency in Arabic and Spanish, he is an excellent source for historical data on the civil disabilities attending Muslims who did not convert in Latin America, even if Dr. Irving’s religious judgements are suspect.


1Source: (Click Here) Apparently, the Spanish and Portuguese thought otherwise. They threw the Muslims out.