I am an Arab

Identity has been a huge issue for me growing up. With many “cultural camps” surrounding me, each trying to pull me to its path, I came to my own personal solution.

What makes you an Arab (or any other culture)?

I have what I call the “Opinion Theory”. You are an Arab if you have opinions -negative or positive – about everything Arab. Hummus, kibbeh, Myriam Fares, dabkehs, argeelehs, Palestine… If those words invoke a reaction inside you, then by my theory you are pretty much one of us. You might hate shawerma, or you might not stand two minutes of Fairouz, but just by having experienced this world enough, with its tastes, sounds and soul, part of you has become one with us.

To me, that sounds more logical than the descendants theory: being the son of ย an Arab doesn’t make you one any more than having a religious ย father gets you the blessings. Plus over 90% of us aren’t descended from the ancient Arabian tribes anyways.

Here’s the catch in my theory, I’m also a full-blooded Armenian. I have all the cultural experiences of being one checked, and I’d take great offense if someone implied that I’m not one. But can I have two identities at the same time?

To anyone who tries to pigeonhole me I answer, why the hell not! To speak conservatively I’m 99% Arab and 99% Armenian. Come to think of it, I’m also 15% British 2% Turkish 0.8% Japanese and 0.6% French (I like pattiserie).

You see, culture is something dynamic. You pick up what you can, hope to pass on some of it to your kids, what you find most important. It’s those little “idea genes”, the ones Dawkins coined memes, passing back and forth, evolving, getting extinct, going viral.

Your “heritage” is to collect and cherish those memes you love, build on them, so that your culture may prosper…

Explore posts in the same categories: Arabs, Armenians, Syria

11 Comments on “I am an Arab”

  1. Dee Says:

    I loved this post, 3omro ma 5atar 3a bali to even think what makes me arab.

    ps. it always seems like you stop writing mid-way..it feels like there might be more for you to say.. so don’t worry about making posts a little longer.. just throw in a picture or something :p. Or you can write posts in parts.

    • seleucid Says:

      Shoo i7keelek la2i7keelek… About people embarrassed by their own identity, trying to opt out as Phoenicians or God knows what, jealous of me because I have this other identity, this other passport to deny my Arab existence.

      Or should I tell you about my childhood, being pushed from camp to camp, not knowing what I’m supposed to care about, not knowing who I am. Rebelling, assuming identities radically different from who I am. Then finding my way back.

      How about the oppressors, who will strip you from your identity if you ever dare to differ from their viewpoint. Swooning and beating their heads over how much of a traitor you have become.

      I have much to say, and it’s bound to show at some post or other in this dear blog of mine ๐Ÿ˜€

  2. Wa3d Says:

    I’ve been a closet reader for some time but since I am fascinated with the concepts of culture and identity I had to comment on this one ! I love your outlook on this issue and I somewhat agree ! =D
    We are functions of our experiences but unlike you ,some people lose themselves while experiencing something new and will end up a deformed blend that belongs to neither of the cultures they were experiencing!

    I am blabbering ,5alas =D

    • seleucid Says:

      Thanks for the post Wa3d. Oo ahla oo sahla on my humble blog :).

      About people losing themselves:

      I find it pretty hard for someone to “lose” his identity. In my opinion it never happens. You don’t stop being something you’ve been for twenty years just because you went to Venezuela for a decade. Your kids might be lost, but the causes for that are different.

      About people living in an Arab culture and never being Arab. It can happen, and I have seen it happen. But it requires a strong conscious effort. You have to really really want it to get it. When those people realize they have no identity because they were rejecting the Arab one. I generally have no sympathy for them…

  3. Anas Qtiesh Says:

    I’m proud of my Arab heritage and definitely don’t shy away from it. My problem is with using Arab identity to over shadow other ethnic minorities that we share space with. The Syrian Arab Republic, has Armenians, Kurds, Assyrians and many many other ethnic minorities that are struggling to be recognized and be allowed to teach their language and culture.

    • seleucid Says:

      Well to be honest, I as an Armenian can’t complain. We have everything a minority can ask for. Schools, youth clubs, representatives. Armenian cultural days are virtually bi-annual in Aleppo.

      My post was about people thinking that having one heritage will deny you the other, for example I should walk the path of the Armenian, or the path of the Arab, I can’t be both. I don’t accept that restriction.

  4. tabosho Says:

    ูŠุงุฑุจูŠ ุฏุฎูŠู„ูƒ ูˆูŠู† ุงุฑูˆุญ ุจุญุงู„ูŠ ุชุฏูˆูŠู† ูˆุงู† ุงู†ูƒู„ุด ุตู†ู ุฌุฏูŠุฏ ู…ู† ุงู„ู…ุซู‚ููŠู† ู„ุงุฒู… ูŠูƒุชุจ ุนู†ู‡ ๐Ÿ™‚
    ุชุญูŠุงุชูŠ ู‡ู‡ู‡ู‡

  5. I think I’ve told you before but I’ll tell you again: READ IN THE NAME OF IDENTITY!

  6. Steve Says:

    Tho I’m 100 percent Japanese, by country of birth, I am also 100 percent Canadian.

    Due to culture coming a synthesis between the two cultures has led to the unutterable feeling that the twain of East & West met & bit my ass. :p

    Even tho Arabic is foreign to me, and Hebrew too, it just is that Latin went left-to-right & both Arabic & Hebrew went ass-backwards. ๐Ÿ˜‰

    Not so the cultures when they transcended religious orthodoxy and modernized.

    In my 51 years I thus am also fervently pro-Arab & pro-Jewish; indeed, I am pro-Semitic & am of the pacifist, non-violent kind.

    Your article demonstrates that culture does not have to be myopic and bound to one and only one ethnicity, but is able to transcend all ethnicity and be embraced by all colors and creed.

    Props to you, man!

  7. daedul Says:

    As 50% as I am, I am a 100% Arab too. I hear ya!!!

    Fairooz, the 4 cats, koosa, labneh, ka3k, Shaam, ahway ALL envoke a reaction, yes.

    Seriously good work!! ๐Ÿ™‚

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