"The Arab world is in turmoil, real turmoil. Since the 'Arab Spring' started, ignited by the self-immolation of Tunisian fruit seller Mohamed Bouazizi in December 2010, dictators have been toppled and totalitarian regimes have crumbled. Democracy, however, which many around the world hoped would replace those regimes, never came. Instead, extremist Islamism sprouted, accompanied by mass killings, ethnic and religious cleansing, and suppression of freedoms. What went wrong? In Hostage to History, Elie Mikhael Nasrallah seeks to understand and explain the reasons for the failure of the Arab states. He virtually “scans” the Arab body politic to identify the causes of this tragic situation and find a realistic remedy. Born and raised in Lebanon and having lived in Canada for decades, therefore knowing the Arab culture in depth and having been immersed in the Western way of reasoning and thinking, the author is capable of assessing the status of the Arab world as an “insider from the outside”! This book offers an objective explanation of the causes that led to this state of affairs in the Arab World, focusing on the role Arab culture played as a catalyst. Mr. Nasrallah offers a roadmap that can help restore order and progressively establish a democratic system based on the culture and traditions of the region. An excellent in-depth analysis and a praiseworthy initiative!" —Massoud Maalouf, former Ambassador Lebanon to Canada, Poland, and Chile
"It’s easy firing criticism from the outside—it takes enormous courage to do it from within. Elie Mikhael Nasrallah has guts. He also has something important to say." —Roy MacGregor, author of Canadians: Portrait of a Country and Its People
"Provocative yet inviting discussion, Nasrallah has taken a bold step to ignite accountability in the Arab world. Inspired by his origin, he paints a bleak picture of the failings caused by a sick culture that rewards few and represses many. Those who are in positions of authority in the Middle East need to look in the mirror, join the discussion, and be the agents of change that Nasrallah pleads will lead the Reformation. He even provides a twelve-point prescription for the sick patient." —Warren L. Creates, B.A., LL.B.
"A complex socio-political research ..... intriguing, insightful, poignant, intellectually-driven, and mind-enriching. Elie M. Nasrallah says it all in the brilliant title of his latest book, "Hostage to History: The Cultural Collapse of the 21st Century Arab World" How can a simplistic analysis be utilized in a world region which—for many centuries—has been plagued by hegemonic regimes and ruthless forms of governships? Well, it is almost impossible to do so! However, the author tried genuinely to endeavor in a root cause analysis of the dilemmas and redundant debacles shadowing the Arab World while driving it into a deeper societal regression instead of seeking a renaissance that will sustain progress, promote growth and ensure self-sufficiency. Mr. Nasrallah's book covers many sensitive facets, of which some are untouchable in the Arab World ..... Be it religious indoctrination & bigotry, sectarianism, illiteracy, sexual repression & gender discrimination, poverty & malnutrition, environmental mischiefs, economic injustice, and more...! A comparative model is drawn between the ailing Arab World and other evolving yet stable societies. Subsequently, the book offers numerous corrective actions based on constructive self-critique, accountability, assuming responsibility and fostering a collective willingness to overcome monumental hurdles while adopting a versatile socio-economic system with embedded democratic and humanistic values. The author's extensive work is commendable, his output offers added value in understanding contemporary events, and his findings/recommendations are merited." —Ghassan H. Elias, Activist, Los Angeles. Professor of Engineering -- California State University, Northridge (CSUN).
"[Nasrallah] delivers his ideas with a refreshing bluntness, confident that his generalizations and his observations make sense. He knows the Arabs once were world leaders in science and literature; one millennium ago it appeared they had a far greater future than the Europeans. But today they are hobbled by ancient attitudes....a remarkable book." - Robert Fulford, Journalist, Broadcaster, Editor and Author of the National Post article Hope for the Arab world?
For None Of The Above published August 2014
"Good morning Elie: I finished reading your book this morning and wanted to send you a short note to tell you how much I enjoyed the content. Now that I'm (over 60 and) retired, I find that life and many of its issues have become simpler and more black-and-white. I read to challenge that blissful state and to force myself to think about other perspectives and "..a bigger picture outside of the frame". Your subject is one of those that I had accepted for myself when I walked out of a Catholic church during an uncomfortable sermon, in 1970. As an obvious "None", I've spent the past 40+ years assuming that I was in a minority and often wondering whether I should feel some guilt about giving up on all organized religions. Clearly, I'm not alone as an 'unaffiliate' and moreover, your book has allowed me to recognize that there is legitimacy to my choice. I read now to be challenged and to be provoked - and you have. I'm glad that I stopped to speak with you in Chapters, I'm pleased that I bought your book and I'm relieved that I read it." Best regards Dan
"Nasrallah asks the key questions about the changing expression of religion in modern society: What is the difference between religious affiliation and religious practice? Are the statistics describing a decline or a transformation? Is ‘religion’ changing, or human spirituality? Is society changing? Are we changing as human beings? Perhaps these questions cannot be fully answered, but Nasrallah responds to them from his unique experience and perspective, drawing on the wisdom of such diverse thinkers as Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens, Joseph Campbell, Kahlil Gibran, Freud and Durkheim, including such Canadians as Margaret Somerville, Alice Munro, Lori Beaman and Peter Beyer." —Tom Sherwood United Church minister and Adjunct Research Professor, Carleton University
"Motivated by his own experience, Nasrallah engages a social phenomenon that is growing in Canada, the United States and the world—the increase in the numbers of people who do not identify with an established world religion. None of the Above provides a global review of the phenomenon, offering recent statistical infor- mation and commentary from scholars of psychology, theology, anthropology, sociology, religious studies, history and political science." —Tom Sherwood is a United Church minister and Adjunct Research Professor at Carleton University.
"Outrage has sparked Nasrallah to embark on a path of expression and protest that few travel. Exposing himself to the likely ridicule of the culture of hostility, the hypocrisy of religion and the politics of division of the Lebanon that he fled many years ago, this is a cathartic oeuvre that has a strong basis in research. Canvassing the ideas and the publications of many scholars before him, Nasrallah asks the reader to recognize a growing world trend and its importance, and to also join it." —Warren L. Creates, B.A., LL.B., Civil rights advocate, immigration, citizenship, and refugee law certified specialist
"Elie Nasrallah is a man of great courage as well as conviction. In writing None of the Above he has tackled the thorniest issue known to humanity—the value or curse of religion—and in doing so he has challenged all readers to think hard about what is real and what is not." —Roy MacGregor, author of Canadians: A Portrait of a Country and Its People
"The transformation from an altar boy to a “None “ is a compelling story that is told in vivid recollections by Elie Nasrallah in his book showing how religious fanaticism shapes lives in the Middle East. Now living in Canada, the author is free to reflect on his childhood experiences and recollections and to relate them to a twenty-first century interpretation of religious values. His is a story of emancipation and liberation. A refreshing antidote to prevailing religious extremism so evident in the Middle East and beyond." —Mikhail Nasrallah, Emeritus professor, Cornell University, Ithaca, N.Y.
"Elie Mikhail Nasrallah grew up in Lebanon where religious identity permeates and darkens many aspects of daily life. His book is a response to this and a revolt against this. It’s a much-needed, highly original plea on behalf of the religious unaffiliated, the Nones." —Michael Young, Opinion editor of The Daily Star and author of The Ghosts of Martyrs Square, An Eyewitness Account of Lebanon’s Life Struggle
"What Elie Nasrallah’s book has taught me is why the Middle East is so messed up. I hadn’t realized the depth of its disabilities. Tradition, programming, the soul’s voice disagreeing with the voice that has been beaten into it. Nothing can come of that but an irrepressible rage to ignore what is actually true. We have such pride, we cannot accept that we might not be right about something." —Sherrill Wark, editor, Crowe Creations
"Born in Lebanon, Elie M. Nasrallah is all too familiar with the hate and suffering that inevitably spring from sectarian differences. As a high school student he was witness to the first five years of the Lebanese Civil War, an extended conflict that resulted in an estimated 150,000 fatalities. He moved to Ottawa in 1980 and attended Carleton University and there had the opportunity to reflect on the role of the religiously unaffiliated from a raw Middle Eastern perspective.
A fan of Christopher Hitchens, Nasrallah is a passionate and persuasive writer who recognizes how organized religion has poisoned and continues to poison just about everything it touches. Unlike Hitchens, he is not an aggressive atheist. What he is, however, is well read and articulate, and None of the Above is, as a result, both lucid and informative." — Warren Layberry, editor, FriesenPress
"Elie M. Nasrallah has written a passionate book that allows you a glimpse into the mind and heart of a “None.” I think that many of the things he believes are not true or mistaken. However, it is always helpful to know what others think and believe, and his book makes clear what he and probably many other “Nones” believe and desire. So his book is helpful for understanding, and hopefully for conversation." —The Rev’d George Sinclair, Lead Pastor, Church of the Messiah, Ottawa, Ontario.
"Drawing on his own life story, Elie Nasrallah has written a book that explores the important subject matter of “nones,” who are rapidly coming to represent a significant proportion of the population. Nasrallah’s is one of a growing number of voices to insist that one can be good without god. Agonizing over the deadly consequences religious identity cards had in Lebanon and other religion linked atrocities, Elie Nasrallah sees the “none” choice as a logical response." —Lori G. Beaman, PhD, Canada Research Chair in the Contextualization of Religion in a Diverse Canada, University of Ottawa.
"In writing this modern imperative toward redefining religion’s place in people’s lives, Elie Nasrallah pushes back against the cornerstone ideas that support the castles of organized religion. What he lays out is a startlingly raw and impassioned case for the unaffiliated—the spiritually rich among us who choose to identify their religious attachment as 'None of the above.'" —Brian McCullough, journalist, author of Virtual Reality and Sailfleet Rubicon
"From my private conversations with Elie Nasrallah, and during radio interviews on my radio show, Dialogue with Diversity, it became clear that Elie is acutely aware that religion, or non-religion for that matter, is a private conviction for each human being, which should never be used to oppress, harm or marginalize people. That the number of “Nones” in the world is steadily increasing suggests that millions share his point of view. That makes this book, one liberally punctuated by quotations from leading thinkers on the subject, a timely and welcome publication." —Qais Ghanem, author of Forbidden Love in the Land of Sheba