You could read a dozen large tomes on the his…

You could read a dozen large tomes on the history of Islam from its very beginnings and you still wouldn’t understand what is going on in Algeria. But read 30 pages on colonialism and decolonisation and then you’ll understand quite a lot.

The twentieth century will have taught us tha…

The twentieth century will have taught us that no doctrine in itself is necessarily a liberating force: all of them may be perverted or take a wrong turning; all have blood on their hands – communism, liberalism, nationalism, each of the great religions, and even secularism. Nobody has a monopoly on humane values.

People sometimes imagine that just because th…

People sometimes imagine that just because they have access to so many newspapers, radio and TV channels, they will get an infinity of different opinions. Then they discover that things are just the opposite: the power of these loudspeakers only amplifies the opinion prevalent at a certain time, to the point where it covers any other opinion.

Taking the line of least resistance, we lump…

Taking the line of least resistance, we lump the most different people together under the same heading. Taking the line of least resistance, we ascribe to them collective crimes, collective acts and opinions. “The Serbs have massacred…”, “The English have devastated…”, “The Jews have confiscated…”, “The Blacks have torched”, “The Arabs refuse…”. We blithely express sweeping judgments on whole peoples, calling them “hardworking” and “ingenious”, or “lazy”, “touchy”, “sly”, “proud”, or “obstinate”. And sometimes this ends in bloodshed.” – Amin Maalouf “On Identity

The past is bound to be fragmentary, bound to…

The past is bound to be fragmentary, bound to be reconstructed, bound to be reinvented. It serves only to collect the truths of today. If our present is the child of the past, our past is the child of the present. And the future will be the harvester of our bastard offspring.

Nothing is born of nothing, least of all know…

Nothing is born of nothing, least of all knowledge, modernity, or enlightened thought; progress is made in tiny surges, in successive laps, like an endless relay race. But there are links without which nothing would be passed on, and for that reason, they deserve the gratitude of all who benefited from them.

Our ancestors derived less from life than we…

Our ancestors derived less from life than we do, but they also expected much less and were less intent on controlling the future. We are of the arrogant generations who believe a lasting happiness was promised to us at birth. Promised? By whom?

let us thank God for having made us this gift…

let us thank God for having made us this gift of death, so that life is to have meaning; of night, that day is to have meaning; silence, that speech is to have meaning; illness, that health is to have meaning; war, that peace is to have meaning. Let us give thanks to Him for having given us weariness and pain, so that rest and joy are to have meaning. Let us give thanks to him, whose wisdom is infinite.