Ameen Rihani Organization
"... A revealing account of Abdul Aziz's court in the 1920s by Ameen Rihani, a Lebanese-American author, remains just as valid today"
Max Rodenbeck, 2002
.: Quotations

My first wish is to be simple in my actions, truthful in my speech, honest in my opinions, and natural in my behavior. In other words, I want to be clean in mind, heart, and body.

Ameen Rihani, 1905




I want to accept all the difficulties that face me in life with perseverance and patience.

Ameen Rihani, 1905




The duties I ask of myself are obligatory for absolutely every individual, everywhere. Moreover, just as I recognize these rights and duties of others, I would like the others to recognize them form me as well.

Ameen Rihani, 1905




If I were capable of assisting someone, I would do it in a manner that would cause the person seeking assistance to work, so he assists himself.

Ameen Rihani, 1905




If I had in me something that inspires people towards the good and raises them one step on the ladder of mental and spiritual progress, I want to show it by example, indication, and deduction, not by preaching, threatening, and conspiring.

Ameen Rihani, 1905




My wish is to live without disliking anyone,
To love without being jealous of anyone,
To rise without being elevated over anyone, and
To advance without stepping on anyone or becoming envious of those above me

Ameen Rihani, 1910




An object is great in proportion to its power of resistance to time and the elements. That is why we think the pyramids are great. But see, the desert is greater than the pyramids, and the sea is greater than the desert, and the heavens are greater than the sea.

Ameen Rihani, 1911




True knowledge is power; but in order to feel at home with it, we must be constitutionally qualified. And if we are not, it is likely to give the soul such a twist as to deform it forever.

Ameen Rihani, 1911




What is life without its angles of difficulty and defeat, and its tip of triumph and power?

Ameen Rihani, 1911




Our Phoenician ancestors never left anything they undertook unfinished. Consider what they accomplished in their days, and the degree of culture they attained.

Ameen Rihani, 1911




Virtue, once bragged about, once you pride yourself upon it, ceases to be such.

Ameen Rihani, 1911




Breathless and unharmed, we emerge from the mazes of metaphysics and psychology where man and the soul are playing hide-and-seek.

Ameen Rihani, 1911




Foreign culture is as necessary to the spirit of a nation as is foreign commerce to its industries.

Ameen Rihani, 1911




Light, Love, and Will – the one is as necessary as the other; the one is dangerous without the others. Light, Love, and Will are the three eternal, vital sources of the higher, truer, purer cosmic life.

Ameen Rihani, 1911




Those brave Phoenicians, ah, how bravely they thought and fought! What daring deeds they accomplished! What mysteries of art and science they unveiled!

Ameen Rihani, 1911




I am for reformation by emigration. The emigration of the mind before the revolution of the state. The soul and mind must be free before one has a right to be a member of a free government.

Ameen Rihani, 1911




I renounce falsehood, whatsoever be the guise it assumes, and I embrace truth, wheresoever I find it.

Ameen Rihani, 1911




Turn not from me your eyes. They reflect the pearls of your soul and the flowers of your body.

Ameen Rihani, 1911




Like matter itself, an ideal is mutable, but indestructible. It does not die; it only undergoes a change.
... And if Europe gives Arabia a railway, Arabia gives Europe an idea -- which I think balances the account.

Ameen Rihani, 1921




Like the seasons of the year, like history, truth always repeats itself...

Ameen Rihani, 1921




The footsteps of a pioneer become ultimately the highway of a nation.

Ameen Rihani, 1921




My American walking shoes are new, and my Oriental eyes are old.

Ameen Rihani, 1921




I deposit in many banks including the bank of wisdom. The more I draw on my accounts, no matter how big the sum, the bigger my balance becomes.

Ameen Rihani, 1921




We are not of the East or the West; no boundaries exist in our breast; we are free.

Ameen Rihani, 1921




The West for me means ambition, the East contentment. My heart is ever in one, my soul in the other.

Ameen Rihani, 1921




In the Lakes of Light, Love and Will, I would baptize all mankind.

Ameen Rihani, 1921




Freedom of the Spirit is the cornerstone of all freedom.

Ameen Rihani, 1921




At this moment, my soul is in Lebanon, my heart in Paris, and my body in New York.

Ameen Rihani, 1921




....And especially to my friends, the writers, I invite you to travel with me to a land [Arabian Peninsula] that is magical despite its poverty, to a people that is generous despite its conflicts and disagreements, and to a nation that is free and dignified despite its limitations.

Ameen Rihani, 1924




Had courage, wisdom, and reason always prevailed in people, there would not have been oppressions and oppressors.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




Ignorance and fear are twins whose mother is slavery and whose father is oppression, and the mentality of the whole family is that of slaves.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




Fire and light compete today in the East. But there is a lot of green firewood in this fire, and there is a lot of smoke in that light.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




... However, there is another method, other than revolution, which is that of natural evolution, or rather the intellectual method with all its modes of education and up-bringing.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




Yes, I am calling for an intellectual revolution that sweeps away the corruption, absurdity and error, which prevail in morals, customs, traditions, and doctrines.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




Knowledge is one of our direst needs. But it is insufficient on its own. If knowledge was stripped from true up-bringing, it would increase man’s strength, but not his morals.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




I give priority to up-bringing over education because the ultimate goal of up-bringing is morals, and we have a more urgent need for morals than for knowledge.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




True up-bringing is restricted to two types of welfare; the welfare of the body and that of the mind.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




Self-reliance leads to intellectual independence. Each man must think for himself, must train the mind to think, must habituate the soul to observe and analyze.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




Training the will in trivial and grave matters increases its strength and flexibility, and enables man to constantly strive and persevere.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




The will is the spirit of perseverance, and perseverance holds clear success.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




I started calling 25 years ago, and have continued to call, for raising nationalism above religious and sectarian fanaticism.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




We have to dissolve all the denominations in order to form from them the greater denomination of the homeland.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




We must strive to form a comprehensive sublime nationalism whose first principal is national geographic unity and must strengthen this unity with deeds not with words.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




You teacher, teach your pupils freedom in thought and deed, honesty in thought and deed, and tolerance in thought and deed.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




Whether you were Moslem, Christian, Druze, or Israeli, remember, God protect thee, that religious fanaticism for political goals or political fanaticism for religious purposes is the worst kind of fanaticism.

Ameen Rihani, 1925




The [religious] fanatic drew a small circle and left me, the infidel, outside it. However, I, with the help of love, won over him – I drew a large circle and included him.

Ameen Rihani, 1927




Truth breeds power, and truth never perishes.

Ameen Rihani, 1928




I proceeded in my national mission, seeking to pave the way for an understanding between His Majesty [King Husein of Hijaz] and the other ruling princes of Arabia.

Ameen Rihani, 1930




I state the threefold purpose of my travels in Arabia: to see the country, to write about it and to be of some service to its people and their cause – that is what brought me from beyond the seas, from America.

Ameen Rihani, 1930




Genius everywhere is one. In the Orient and in the Occident the deep thinkers are kin, the poets are cousins, the pioneers of the spirit are the messengers of peace and good will to the world. Their works are the open highways between nations, and they themselves are the ever living guardians and guides.

Ameen Rihani, 1930




When we go deep enough or high enough, we meet. It is only on the surface that we differ and sometimes clash. True, we do not always find our way to the depth or the height, or we do not take the trouble to do so.

Ameen Rihani, 1930




The broader and higher aspects of life are international…. There is a goal towards which all nations gravitate, and there is a common ground upon which all nations meet.

Ameen Rihani, 1930




A poet is a poet, whether he rides in a Ford or on a donkey; a sage is a sage, whether he plays golf in New Jersey or bathes in the Ganges, or prays in the desert; and a fool is a fool, whether he be a maharaja or a president of a post-war republic.

Ameen Rihani, 1930




To us all, life is a gift, liberty is a right, and the pursuit of happiness is the object supreme. But our conduct in the pursuit differs in accordance with the measure of justice we uphold. A common measure is only possible when we begin to understand and learn to appreciate each other’s point of view and point of direction.

Ameen Rihani, 1930




Mutual tolerance is the stepping stone to mutual respect. A hospitable mind is the key to a neighboring or an alien spirit, looked by dogma and guarded by tradition.

Ameen Rihani, 1930




The heart yields spontaneity; the mind bends to understanding.

Ameen Rihani, 1930




We can not understand each other, if our sympathies are always safely tucked away; we can not understand each other, if our approaches are always academic or conventional; we can not understand each other, if we crawl back into our shells every time we see a worm across our path.

Ameen Rihani, 1930




In the desert you become a discoverer. You discover your soul, which had been submerged in vain pursuits, which had been lost in the coils and toils of modern life. You discover your kinship with nature and man, which is evoked by the naturalness and the gentle humanity of the natives of the desert, and you will also discover God.

Ameen Rihani, 1937




I heard the Phoenician describe the benefits of his Cedar wood to the Pharaoh in Egypt. The wood is robust, colorful, aromatic, decorative, weathered, and resistant to termites. This wood is magical – it is soft as glass, and beautiful as a rose.

Ameen Rihani, 1939




I think of you a while and speak of you whenever I find a pure ear worthy of hearing your name. How happy I will be when the days reunite us in one city, to stand together before the face of the sun and to reveal to our conscience what God has laid within our soul.

Kahlil Gibran, 1910




I stood yesterday before a statue fashioned by Michael Angelo and I remembered you because in that statue there are certain characteristics and virtues like yours...

Kahlil Gibran, 1910




It is long since I have looked into a book (The Book of Khalid) so enchanting with its blended charm of two disparate worlds, its unstaled philosophy, quaint mysticism, poignant irony and delightful humor. The West has never hitherto witnessed itself in the flashing mirror of such a mind...

Michael Monahan, 1911




I will not bid you a happy new year, but will bid the new year happiness in having you, and I will not wish you what people wish each other, but I will wish for people some of what you possess -- for you are rich in yourself, and I am rich in you.

Kahlil Gibran, 1911




Mr. Rihani is a man of ardent poetic temperament, a clever poet, and a man of unworldly ideals.

Edwin Markham, 1912




I found in the great nationalist and reformer, my dear friend Ameen Rihani, a real concern in the Arabs and the Arab League. I admire his literature, knowledge, and sincere citizenship.

King Abdul Aziz Al-Saud, 1923




Venice makes me think of you always. Here, where the East and West have mingled and created a rare and perfect loveliness, I can always find something of your spirit.

Charmion Von Wiegand, 1925




In reading Ameen Rihani… I seem to have become absorbed to the point of forgetting my prejudice... and my envy of Mr. Rihani because he was permitted to enter many remote parts of Arabia which were barred to others.

William. B. Seabrook, 1928
N.Y. Herald Tribune





There are a few oases in this desert of silence which the American may find for the seeking. The springs of one of them, strangely enough, have gushed at the very gates of the New World. They are the sparkling waters of information and understanding to be found in the writings of Ameen Rihani.

Elizabeth P. MacCallum, 1929




With Ameen Rihani the matter is diametrically opposite to Alois Musil’s Arabian Desert, in purpose, in point of view and, above all, in personal psychology... I have considerable admiration for Mr. Rihani as a writer, an authentic poet and a philosopher...

William B. Seabrook, 1931




The real contribution of Rihani consists in having given us, in both Arabic and English, what may be considered the most vivid and interesting account of common-day life as it is lived at present in the hitherto little known Arabia.

Philip K. Hitti, 1931
N.Y. Herald Tribune





A genial and cultured Arab, Ameen Rihani, whose English is perfect and whose eloquence is astounding. He will discuss with equal eagerness and knowledge the merits of Picasso or Van Gogh, or the Zionist question, or the British achievements in Arabia.

Kenneth Williams, 1933




Mr. Rihani’s name, as the most distinguished living Arab who has contributed to world culture and civilization, is inscribed along with distinguished men and women whom the Italian group of Cleveland, Ohio, has sought to honor.

Pedro Gardo, 1935
President, Italian Culture Garden Assoc.





The value of Ar-Rihani in the intellectual world lays down in his pioneering steps into unknown areas, and this is where his glory stands...

May Ziade, 1939




... It was always such a pleasure to see Mr. Rihani and to read his books, that we shall miss him greatly. He had a delightfull original and independent point of view about so many things in life, that it was stimulating to be with him. He also had an unusual share of genius and we all looked forward to the books which he planned to write.

Bayard Dodge, 1940
President, American University of Beirut





We were brought up with the literature of Ameen Rihani. I knew him personally during his late years and I appreciated tremendously his high ethical values.

Charles Malek, 1940




The nation that gives great men like Rihani is a nation that never dies.

Yusef As-Sawda, 1940




A man of distinguished, beautiful eloquence, and persistent, over pressing thought… Ameen Rihani was one of the foremost pioneers of modern illumination. He firmly believed in the significance of reviving the Arab spirit and protecting the freedom of thought and the freedom of human conscience...

Mikhail Naimy, 1940




Ameen Rihani carries a flame that will never extinguish. He is a writer of literary battles. Once on stage he knows how to conquer his opponent...

Maroun Abboud, 1941




An everlasting illumination, Ameen Rihani left for the Arabs and the whole world a lot of disciples, friends and believers.

Fares Al-Khoury, 1941
Prime Minister of Syria





The leaders of the Arab countries who are meeting at this moment in Cairo to sign the treaty of the Arab League are, at the same time and by this specific act, paying tribute to Ameen Rihani.

Gibran Tweiny, 1945




I read the first messages of Arab nationalism through the eyes of Ameen Rihani. A prophet from Lebanon, Rihani took the responsibility of building the solidarity among the kings of Arabia. He gave all his life for this noble message.

Hussein Al-‘Uwainy, 1948
Prime Minister of Lebanon





A man of distinguished reputation, Ameen Rihani carried the torch of Arab thought from East to West and came back with it to become a mentor for the new generations and a model for authentic thought and genuine research.

Choukri Al-Kuwatly, 1954
President of Syria





I found Ameen Rihani was not merely a versatile writer in English and Arabic, but one who was passionately devoted to freedom, who attacked all opponents of true liberty, whether Western or Eastern. He sought, not merely the outward freedom of Arab nationalists, but above all the inward freedom of the spirit...

J. Spencer Trimingham, 1965




The Prophet of Kahlil Gibran presents many common traces with Khalid, Rihani’s hero in his novel The Book of Khalid. The Prophet published in 1923, almost twelve years after Khalid, reminds us of Rihani’s novel with its biblical allure and style together with its mystic inspirational thought...

Nicola Saade, 1972




Had it not been for Ameen Rihani, today the richest oil fields in the world (the Arabian Peninsula) would be in British rather than American hands.

Leonard Mosley, 1973




Rihani played an important role in the period between the world wars by acting as a cultural emissary between the Middle East and the West… Rihani immersed himself in his work, publishing a number of books expressing his own particular blend of Eastern-Western philosophy...

John Munro, 1978




Ameen Rihani, unofficial ambassador-at-large and go-between for the Arab States and the West, had definite views on the difference between the two worlds he got to know so well.

John Munro, 1978




Ameen Rihani was to the Arab nation what Tagore was to the Indians, and what Emerson and Thoreau were to the United States of America.

Zaki Najib Mahmoud, 1980




Rihani made it his life's mission to try to kindle among his fellow Arabs the ambition, idealism, and cohesion that he so admired in the USA.

Robert Lacey, 1981




Ameen Rihani shaped and revitalized the modern Arab intellectual renaissance, and his views remain an important legacy for the Arabs and, indeed, for the world as a whole.

Suheil Bushrui, 1990




The theory of Rihani is an interdisciplinary approach to culture and politics, biography and history, and a blender of the ideal and the real… Ameen Rihani is an Arab testimony of the Twentieth Century.

Carmen Ruiz Bravo-Villasante, 1993




Extremism and Reform ia an extremely interesting and impressive book. The words of the thinker Ameen Rihani are most persuasive and thought-provoking. While we live in a society to which freedom of belief and expression is essential, the more one studies this extraordinary and fascinating book the more one is impressed by its arguments.

Ann Austin, 1995




A prolific writer of poetry and prose Ameen Rihani never forgot his dream. America did not pollute him and the Arab World did not repress him.

Johanna Thomson, 1998




Ameen Rihani unmasked Bolshevism when it was just emerging from its most idealistic phase. The French Revolution finally found its Burke in the figure of Rihani, although he approached his critique with a great deal more subtlety than the Englishman.

Christopher Vasillopulos, 1998




I wish that Rihani's dream of the modernization of the Eastern World and the spiritualization of the Western World finds the means for realization.

John Hawley, 1998




Our generation, while looking for the shape of its coming achievements, is proud to inherit an outstanding legacy such as the one of the great Ameen Rihani.

Ghassan Tweiny, 1999




Ameen Rihani, one of the earliest Arab Americans, devoted his life to bringing the East and the West together. We are not of the East or the West, he wrote. No boundaries exist in our breast: We are free.

Kofi Annan, 2000
Secretary General of the U.N.





... A revealing account of Abdul Aziz's court in the 1920s by Ameen Rihani, a Lebanese-American author, remains just as valid today

Max Rodenbeck, 2002




There is an openness and sincerity in his writing that is charismatic. Rihani is the voice that trumps any notion of a fundamental incompatibility between East and West.

Philip Kennicott, 2002
Washington Post





Whirl, whirl, whirl, Till the world is the size of a pearl.
Dance, dance, dance, Till the world's like the point of a lance.
Soar, soar, soar, Till the world is no more.

Ameen Rihani, 1921




We can not understand each other, if every time we venture out we stick the feather of cocksureness in our caps. No, we can never wholly understand each other, and rise to the level of mutual esteem at least, if we do not invest in that fellow feeling that triumphs over class and creed and race and color.

Ameen Rihani, 1930




In these present volumes of Ameen Rihani [Maker of Modern Arabia] it is our excellent fortune to share the vision of the Oriental himself. The command over the subtleties of our anomalous language, revealed in theses pages, is uncanny. The read [this book] is to enjoy the pleasure of music.

P. W. Wilson, 1928 - The New York Times




This book [Ibn Sa’oud of Arabia, His People and His Land] has two distinct sides, the one is political, the other is historical and descriptive. Now for the first time we have a book in English written by a man whose native tongue is Arabic. To students of current politics the book is very valuable.

Sir E. Denison Ross, 1928 - The Observer, London




Centuries will pass and Rihani will be the everlasting hero and a part of the Lebanese, Arab and World heritage… The government [of Lebanon] shares with the Lebanese people the memory of Ameen Rihani who has chosen the whole world as a stage for his intellectual activities.

Rasheed Karameh, 1963 - Prime Minister of Lebanon




Sown in the East, but grown across the ocean, and cultivated in both sides, and blest, Ameen Rihani, like a dream in motion, roamed in-between, tall with a pilgrim’s devotion, to bridge a gap between the East and the West...

Amado M. Yuzon, 1970
Congressman in the Philippines





Remember what your great citizen Ameen Rihani said over seventy years ago: Our country is just beginning to speak, and I am her chosen voice. I feel that if I do not respond, if I do not come to her, she will be dumb forever. This saying revives in you every national pride and integrity. Let us all respond to Rihani’s call.

Amine Gemayel, 1983 - President of Lebanon




The Book of Khalid is like a Persian rug, confusing at first glance in its pattern, but is immensely suggestive, and in some of its details, quite elaborate.

Charlotte Teller, 1912




Mr. Rihani, we met once a thousand years ago and we may not meet again for another thousand years.

William Hocking, 1930
Prof. at Harvard Univ., Boston





For most of the world, there's no greater symbol of America than the Statue of Liberty. It has been an inspiration to generations of immigrants. One of these immigrants was a poet-writer named Ameen Rihani. Gazing at her lamp held high, he wondered whether her sister might be erected in the lands of his Arab forefathers. Here is how he put it: "When will you turn your face toward the East, oh Liberty?"

President George W. Bush, 2008