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Philip Khuri Hitti

Philip Khuri Hitti

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Philip Khuri Hitti(1886 - 1978), born in Shimlan
Shemlan is a village in the Aley District of the Mount Lebanon Governorate in Lebanon, located about 25 km from Beirut.- History :...

, Ottoman Syria
Ottoman Syria
Ottoman Syria is a European reference to the area that during European Renaissance from the late 15th to early 18th century was called the Levant within the early period of the Ottoman Empire, the Orient until the early 19th century, and Greater Syria until 1918...

, now modern day Lebanon
Lebanon , officially the Republic of LebanonRepublic of Lebanon is the most common term used by Lebanese government agencies. The term Lebanese Republic, a literal translation of the official Arabic and French names that is not used in today's world. Arabic is the most common language spoken among...

), was a scholar of Islam and introduced the field of Arab culture studies to the United States. He was of Maronite Christian
A Christian is a person who adheres to Christianity, an Abrahamic, monotheistic religion based on the life and teachings of Jesus of Nazareth as recorded in the Canonical gospels and the letters of the New Testament...



Hitti was educated at an American Presbyterian mission school at Suq al-Gharb
Souk El Gharb
Souk El Gharb is a village in the Mount Lebanon Governorate, Aley District, in the country of Lebanon. The name of the village translates to "Western Market."...

 and at the American University of Beirut
American University of Beirut
The American University of Beirut is a private, independent university in Beirut, Lebanon. It was founded as the Syrian Protestant College by American missionaries in 1866...

. After graduating in 1908 he taught at the American University of Beirut before moving to Columbia University
Columbia University
Columbia University in the City of New York is a private, Ivy League university in Manhattan, New York City. Columbia is the oldest institution of higher learning in the state of New York, the fifth oldest in the United States, and one of the country's nine Colonial Colleges founded before the...

 where he taught Semitic
In linguistics and ethnology, Semitic was first used to refer to a language family of largely Middle Eastern origin, now called the Semitic languages...

 languages and got his PhD in 1915. After World War I
World War I
World War I , which was predominantly called the World War or the Great War from its occurrence until 1939, and the First World War or World War I thereafter, was a major war centred in Europe that began on 28 July 1914 and lasted until 11 November 1918...

 he returned to American University of Beirut and taught there until 1926. In February 1926 he was offered a Chair at Princeton University
Princeton University
Princeton University is a private research university located in Princeton, New Jersey, United States. The school is one of the eight universities of the Ivy League, and is one of the nine Colonial Colleges founded before the American Revolution....

 which he held until he retired in 1954. He was both Professor of Semitic Literature and Chairman of the Department of Oriental Languages. After formal retirement he accepted a position at Harvard. He also taught in the summer schools at the University of Utah and George Washington University in Washington, D.C. He subsequently held a research position at the University of Minnesota. Philip Hitti almost single handedly created the discipline of Arabic Studies in the United States.

In 1944 before a U. S. House committee, Hitti gave testimony in support of the view that there was no historical justification for a Jewish homeland in Palestine. His testimony was reprinted in the Princeton Herald. In response, Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein
Albert Einstein was a German-born theoretical physicist who developed the theory of general relativity, effecting a revolution in physics. For this achievement, Einstein is often regarded as the father of modern physics and one of the most prolific intellects in human history...

 and his friend and colleague Erich Kahler
Erich Kahler
Erich von Kahler was a renowned mid-twentieth-century European-American literary scholar and essayist best known for scholarly works like The Tower and the Abyss: An Inquiry into the Transformation of Man ....

 jointly replied in the same newspaper with their counter-arguments. Hitti then published a response and Einstein and Kahler concluded the debate in the Princeton Herald with their second response. In 1945 Hitti served as an adviser to the Arab
Arab people, also known as Arabs , are a panethnicity primarily living in the Arab world, which is located in Western Asia and North Africa. They are identified as such on one or more of genealogical, linguistic, or cultural grounds, with tribal affiliations, and intra-tribal relationships playing...

 delegation at the San Francisco Conference which established the United Nations
United Nations
The United Nations is an international organization whose stated aims are facilitating cooperation in international law, international security, economic development, social progress, human rights, and achievement of world peace...

. In 1946, Hitti was the first Arab witness at the Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry
The Anglo-American Committee of Inquiry was a joint British and American attempt in 1946 to agree upon a policy as regards the admission of Jews to Palestine. The Committee was tasked to consult representative Arabs and Jews on the problems of Palestine, and to make other recommendations 'as may be...

 on Palestine. Bartley Crum
Bartley Crum
Bartley Cavanaugh Crum was a prominent American lawyer.Bartley Crum was a confidant of William Randolph Hearst and the 1940 U.S. Presidential candidate Wendel Willkie...

, an American member of the committee, recalled that
Hitti.. explained that there was actually no such entity as Palestine- never had been; it was historically part of Syria, and "the Sunday schools have done a great deal of harm to us because by smearing the walls of classrooms with maps of Palestine, they associate it with the Jews in the minds of the average American and Englishman"... He asserted that Zionism.. was an imposition on the Arabs of alien way of life which they resented and to which they would never submit.

Hitti was a distant relative of Christa McAuliffe
Christa McAuliffe
Christa McAuliffe was an American teacher from Concord, New Hampshire, and was one of the seven crew members killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster....

, a teacher-astronaut who was killed in the Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
Space Shuttle Challenger disaster
The Space Shuttle Challenger disaster occurred on January 28, 1986, when Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart 73 seconds into its flight, leading to the deaths of its seven crew members. The spacecraft disintegrated over the Atlantic Ocean, off the coast of central Florida at 11:38 am EST...

 on January 28, 1986. McAuliffe's mother was Hitti's niece.


  • The Syrians in America (1924)
  • The origins of the Druze people and religion: with extracts from their sacred writings (1928)
  • An Arab-Syrian Gentlemen in the Period of the Crusades: Memoirs of Usamah ibn-Munqidh
    Kitab al-I'tibar
    Kitab al-I'tibar is the autobiography of Usāmah ibn-Munqidh, an Arab Syrian diplomat and soldier of the 12th century.Usāmah's autobiography is part of the literary genre known as adab which aims at "pleasing, diverting and titilating" its readers, as well as instructing them. Philip K...

  • History of the Arabs (1937)
  • The Arabs: a short history (1943)
  • History of Syria: including Lebanon and Palestine
    History of Syria: including Lebanon and Palestine
    History of Syria: including Lebanon and Palestine is a book written by Philip Khuri Hitti.Amazon.com writes about it:...

  • Syria: A Short History (1959)
  • The Near East in History (1961)
  • Islam and the West (1962)
  • Lebanon in History (1967)
  • Makers of Arab History (1968)
  • Islam: A Way of Life (1970)
  • Capital cities of Arab Islam (1973)

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