BAHRA d Ninveh

Those who don't learn from history
are doomed to repeat it


   and the Aramaic Language 

Maronites are part of the Aramean nation that lived in Mesopotamia, the Aramean Crescent and especially the Levant (Phoenicians & Mount Lebanon) and Syria of today. These Aramean people believed in Christ in very early stages of Christianity. e.g St. Maroun (351 A.D – 410 A.D), St. Afrem (373 A.D), the Aramean king Abgar and his Aramean Kingdom ( North of Syria of Today) was the first to accept Jesus teachings


 According to story in the book " Church History" by Osapius Caesar (263 A.D-339 A.D) that was translated word by word from Aramaic scripts that go back to year 30 A.D in Eddesa, South of Turkey today: " king Abgar of Edessa sent messengers to meet with Jesus during his ministry on earth and they returned back to him with image of Jesus in a piece of cloth".
The Aramean Christian Nation includes all these groups in the Middle East:

  1. The Aramean Syriac Maronite
  2. The Aramean Syriac Orthodox
  3. The Aramean Syriac Catholic
  4. The Chaldeans
  5. The Assyrians
  6. The Greek Orthodox Church & Greek Catholic Melkite Church ( until 12th the people of these churches spoke Aramaic)
  7. and all other Christians groups that their people originated from the Middle East, like the Latin Church, and others.

    All these groups constitute one big Aramean nation with one Aramaic Syriac language and one history of passion and discrimination in the Middle East since the 7th century. Their homeland was occupied by other nations that forced them to switch their language to hide and adjust to the new rulers especially Arabic Nowdays. They didn't have a freedom with practicing their religion and building any churches for more than 1000 years. "As was told by anthropologist, Havel:" In order to paralyze a nation memory, null and avoid their books, language, history, culture, and then a third party writes a new history books and new language to be forced on them and then this nation will forget who they are and what they are and the world will also forget about them".   (This happened with the Welsh in UK, the Ukrainians, the Jews in the Middle East and other nations in recent times until they revitalized again their own national language).   

See full size imageThe Maronite word is derived from the monastery of Maroun, which was named after St. Maroun, a fifth century ascetic who lived in Syria of today. All who followed the faith of the monks of that monastery were called Maronites (Ad-Dibs 1905, Moosa 1986).  Although the ecclesiastical Maronite leaders teach that the Maronite Church appeared with the emergence of St. Maroun and his followers in the 5th century, and thus its emergence was on religious grounds (Ad-Dibs 1905, Fahed 1985), some scholars believe that the Syriac Maronite Church appeared as a response to the Islamic invasion of the Middle East in the 7th century, and thus political and not religious factors prompted this emergence (Moosa 1986, Rustum 1988, Khashan 1990 Myhill 2006). Nevertheless, both sides agree that the Maronites physically resisted Islamic Arabic rule. The Maronites were initially aided in their struggle against the Arabs by the Greeks and established their first state by the end of the 7th century and lasted until 1305 A.D. Later, they cooperated with the crusaders, being the only Aramean Christian community in the Middle East to do so; their homeland on Mount Lebanon was only conquered by the Muslims in 1305 (Phares 1995).

During the Crusades, the Aramean Maronites enhanced their relationship with Europe, a relationship that continued to develop during Ottoman rule and after its collapse, culminating in the declaration of the establishment of Lebanon in 1920 under the French mandate, which had been the dream of the Maronites (Khashan 1990, Phares 1995, Myhill 2006) and some other historians call the establishment of Greater Lebanon " The Old Sin", since from that time Aramean Christians and especially Maronites lose their domination in Lebanon their homeland and demographically they became minority in their own homeland being controlled by their Arabs Muslims neighbors with facing great difficulties in expressing their own thoughts. (e.g the last Lebanese civil war, the Aramean Maronites and other Christians rejected Palestinian and Arab fighting against Israel from their land but this opinion lead for a tension and a bloody war for 15 years). 

Before that period the Mount of Lebanon, the Aramean Maronites homeland was an independent area with about 95 % Aramean Christians and other Christians groups and the Maronites were the Majority among them, the establishment of greater Lebanon put the Christians in Lebanon and the Armean Maronites in an extremely difficult bloody wars trying to maintain and preserve their last presence in the Middle East, their unique Aramean identity and their culture. They preferred a democratic civil country in greater Lebanon instead of keeping or establishing their national Aramean Christian homeland in the last piece of land that they still have for more than 3000 years. This national Aramean homeland could be a heaven for any discriminated Christian minority that face massacres by any group in the Middle East.

        Maronites have had Aramic Syriac as their sacred language since the beginning of their existence.       

They maintained it as their spoken language until Mount Lebanon was co nquered by the Arabs at the beginning of the 14th century. The Arabs then began to impose their language on the Aramean Maronites, and Aramaic Syriac began to decline as their spoken language, as it already had among other peoples of the Levant, although in a few places in Lebanon the language continued to be spoken until the 16th century (Fahed 1985, Ad-Dibs 1905).  The Aramean Maronites tried to maintain the language, and although they started to pray in both Arabic and Aramaic Syriac around the 18th century, all the prayers, whether in Arabic or Aramaic Syriac, were written in the Aramaic Syriac script.

   This continued to be the case until the end of the 19th and beginning of the 20th century ( Ancient Aramaic books that exist in all Aramean Maronite Churches bear witness for these facts until today), when the Arabic script began to appear next to the Aramaic Syriac script in the prayer-books (1935 A.D).    

In spite of the decline in the use of Aramaic Syriac, Maronites still feel an attachment to this language much more than non Uniate Catholics feel towards their sacred language, Latin. The Maronites' attachment to Aramaic Syriac is due to the fact that they resisted Muslim domination more than any other Christian group in the Middle East (Khashan 1990), and consequently, they have maintained their attachment to their identity and their sacred and ancestral language. This might explain why Maronites, especially in Lebanon, reject labeling themselves as Arabs (Khashan 1990, Myhill 2006). 

   Aramean Maronites still live mainly in Lebanon, their ancestral homeland. But many Maronites have immigrated to other countries, and as a result there are Maronite communities in Mexico, Venezuela, Uruguay, Ghana, Sierra Leon, Liberia, Egypt, Sudan, Australia, New Zealand, France, Italy, England, Spain, Belgium, Switzerland, Germany, Syria, Turkey, Kuwait, Cyprus, Canada, USA, and Israel.   

  The Aramean Christians in all their sects and especially the Maronites were the first people to  educate other communities in the Middle East in the last centuries. Their cooperation with the west and the Maronite college in Rome on the 16th century that educated many Maronites leaders helped spreading knowledge and education in the Middle East with the help of some Westerner Christian groups.

Today, the Aramean Christians in general in the Middle East are facing lots of obstacles and specifically the Aramean Maronites in Lebanon that continue to struggle for their own homeland and defend their forefathers land and identity.

Some of great Aramean Maronites famous characters are Gibran Khalil Gibran, Ralph Nader, Siman Simani, and many others.


"The Birth of Maronites"
Coming soon on BAHRA website 

        A brief history of Maronites in Lebanon .. Coming soon on 

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