Despite Charles Malik’s prolific career and accomplishments on the world stage, his written legacy has largely been lost to history, falling out of circulation or never making it to print. It survives in hard-to-access libraries and sometimes in languages foreign to Western readers.

The Library of Congress in D.C. holds the largest collection of Malik’s work with 114.8 linear feet of material. Below you will find the Charles Malik Institute’s ongoing effort to mine this archive, with occasional additions from other libraries, and bring Malik’s work back into public discourse.

Find a Charles Malik Original Quote

There are two ultimate dangers besetting present-day preoccupation with the problem of human rights. The first is … the danger of materialism. Who is not clamoring today for his economic rights, for what is called a decent standard of living?…

There are two ultimate dangers besetting present-day preoccupation with the problem of human rights. The first is … the danger of materialism. Who is not clamoring today for his economic rights, for what is called a decent standard of living? . . . There is a deadly danger that in our enthusiasm for economic and social justice we forget that man cannot live by bread alone . . . The second danger is … the danger of humanism. We have been endlessly speaking of human rights, as though there was nothing except man in the universe, as though he was the center of existence … It is very well to speak of human rights, but may it not be that these rights have of late been disturbed or disregarded precisely because man—modern man, clever man, proud man, sensuous man, self-sufficient man—has ceased to stand in fear and awe before that which is above him? If we have our rights, God also has His rights over us; and in vain shall we seek our rights until, confessing our sins, we recognize in all brokenness and humility the dominion of God over the course of history and of human life.

Source: Human Rights in the United Nations 1

Faith | Human Rights | United Nations |

Nothing is as important in the world today as for the Christians of America to grasp their historic opportunities and prove themselves equal to them.  I say ‘the Christians,’ but I must add also ‘the Jews’ because what is fatefully…

Nothing is as important in the world today as for the Christians of America to grasp their historic opportunities and prove themselves equal to them.  I say ‘the Christians,’ but I must add also ‘the Jews’ because what is fatefully at stake today are the highest spiritual values of the Judeo-Christian tradition.  If the highest Christian values are overturned, so will the highest Jewish values.

Source: The Two Tasks 1

Faith | Western Thought |

The West does not only incorporate Western countries and British overseas dominions, but those that are united by the Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian tradition. Four factors enter into this unity: the existence of free centers of learning and research, the presence of independent…

The West does not only incorporate Western countries and British overseas dominions, but those that are united by the Greco-Roman-Judeo-Christian tradition. Four factors enter into this unity: the existence of free centers of learning and research, the presence of independent churches (the distinction between the religious and the secular realms), the belief that authority (of the government) arises from the will of the people, and the relationship between the government and material wealth, in which governments do not monopolize the means of production. Thus we can read Truth, God, Government, and Wealth which goes back to the afore-mentioned tradition. The essence of this relationship lies in the subordination of Man to God and the recognition of the ultimacy of the individual person.

Source: The Relations of East and West 1

Faith | Western Thought |

I believe in reason, meaning that sound reason with the proper training is capable of grasping and comprehending things.  Science itself is a rational power.  Investigating reason wonders at everything and probes everything from the highest of beings—God—to the humblest. …

I believe in reason, meaning that sound reason with the proper training is capable of grasping and comprehending things.  Science itself is a rational power.  Investigating reason wonders at everything and probes everything from the highest of beings—God—to the humblest.  Under no circumstances should any obstacles be placed in the way of responsible investigative reason seeking to understand anything.  The peoples and cultures that hinder reason and prevent it from exploring any subject responsibly will themselves go extinct, or they will be enslaved or continue to languish in slavery.  However, if reason is consumed with pride and begins to regard itself as everything, its powers turn demonic.  One of the qualities of sound reason is humility and its realization of its limits beyond which it cannot go.  Reason also does not mature in a vacuum or in isolation and at a distance from other rational minds.  Only by entering deeply and dynamically into the cumulative rational tradition that stretches for at least 3000 years can reason develop and advance.  Short of immersing oneself in this rich and living tradition of reason, it is impossible to wonder at anything from God down to the grain of sand on the seashore and to arrive at any results about these things that will be respected in Paris and Oxford and Boston and Moscow where this tradition is alive and creative.  Only in this way can you become an active part of this living tradition of rational discourse.  Reason therefore has its rules and its centers and its traditions, which means it is impossible for reason to concoct anything out of thin air or relying purely on the imagination.  Only by adhering to these venerable centers and being molded from within in the crucible of their methodologies and traditions can reason arrive at anything certain and hence respectable.  I believe that this certainty, arrived at by reason immersed in the living cumulative tradition, is truth. I believe therefore that truth exists and is not lost, as some maintain, and that reason is capable of searching for it and uncovering it—the truth about anything, from God to the sand grain, passing through the animal, the human person, and society.  Such a certainty only eludes the one who is incapable for finding it but is indeed accessible to the rational investigator.  And if this truth has not been discovered by any person so far, it remains existing in itself and in the mind of God.  To emphasize the existence of fixed truths about any subject, and reason’s ability to fathom as many of them as possible—this is one of the most important tenets of my faith.

Source: Shahadat ‘Umr 1

Faith |

But just as we are not alone with God and the Bible but also with others, so we are not only endowed with a soul and a will to be saved but also with a reason to be sharpened and…

But just as we are not alone with God and the Bible but also with others, so we are not only endowed with a soul and a will to be saved but also with a reason to be sharpened and satisfied.  This reason wonders about everything, including God, and we are to seek and love and worship the Lord our God with all our strength and all our mind.  And because we are with others we are arguing and reasoning with one another all the time.  Indeed, every sentence and every discourse is a product of reason.  And so it is neither a shame nor a sin to discipline and cultivate our reason to the utmost; it is a necessity, it is a duty, it is an honor to do so.

Source: The Two Tasks 1

Faith |

Great spiritual and intellectual leadership is lacking. The commanding voice, the resounding word, the towering mind, the lofty vision, the uncompromised conviction, are not in sight. The Pope alone rises now and then to these heights. But on the whole,…

Great spiritual and intellectual leadership is lacking. The commanding voice, the resounding word, the towering mind, the lofty vision, the uncompromised conviction, are not in sight. The Pope alone rises now and then to these heights. But on the whole, there is utter mediocrity in world leadership.

Source: Lebanon Between Hope and Despair 1

Crisis Leadership | Faith |

I must say in all humility that the leadership of the West in general does not seem to be adequate to the unprecedented challenges of the age. There is a tragic dearth of men, men who are so genuinely in…

I must say in all humility that the leadership of the West in general does not seem to be adequate to the unprecedented challenges of the age. There is a tragic dearth of men, men who are so genuinely in touch with the truth and with the hearts of their fellow men as to have only to open their mouths to be loved and believed and followed. The world desperately cries for masters; for it is only the voice of conviction and truth that is going to save us. 

Nor is it sufficient in this cruel century to be happy and self-sufficient. You must step forth and lead, and not only in material things. It is not enough to realize good institutions and to leave it to others to copy them. For man isn’t only an ape: he does not only mimic the good example of others. Man thirsts after ideas. If the habits and institutions of the West are not adapted for the production of a ringing message, full of content and truth, satisfying the mind, appealing to the heart, firing the will, a message on which one can stake his whole life, then in the present world, in which there is, perhaps as never before, a universal hunger for truth and justice and rest, the West cannot lead. Leadership must pass on to others, no matter how perverted and false these others might be. For the Logos prefers and can finally utilize a false prophet far better than no prophet at all. If your only export in these realms is the silent example of flourishing political institutions and happy human relations, you cannot lead. If your only export is a distant reputation for wealth and prosperity and order, you cannot lead. Nor can you really lead if you send forth to others only expert advice and technical assistance. To be able to lead and save yourself and others, you must above everything else address their mind and soul. Your tradition, rooted in the glorious Greco-Roman-Hebrew-Christian-Western-European-humane outlook, supplies you with all the necessary presuppositions for leadership. All you have to do is to be the deepest you already are. The challenge of this epoch is not Communism, but is whether Western society, conceived in the joyous liberties of the Greek city-states and nurtured on Christian charity, can still recover from the worship of false and alien gods and return to its authentic sources. The challenge of the moment is whether modern man, distracted and overwhelmed by himself and by the world, can still regain the original integrity of his soul. (31-34)

Source: War and Peace 1

Communism | Crisis Leadership | Faith | Western Thought |

War arises either from hatred or from fear or from greed, and all three are fundamental sins against reason. For hatred at bottom wills the elimination of the other fellow, because it is blind to the possibility that there is…

War arises either from hatred or from fear or from greed, and all three are fundamental sins against reason. For hatred at bottom wills the elimination of the other fellow, because it is blind to the possibility that there is a truth, a community of the spirit, that can bracket you both, provided both of you are humbly and practically exposed to it. Fear, on the other hand, fears precisely that the other fellow rejects such a possibility, and therefore moves to strike first. Greed does not recognize the truth of objective justice, namely, that infinite desire is the source of all evil because while there may be enough and plenty for all our need, as a matter of fact there is not enough for all our greed. (29)

Source: The Spiritual Significance of the United Nations 7

Faith | United Nations | Western Thought |

…the spirit of man requires some identity of meaning if it is to live. (26)

…the spirit of man requires some identity of meaning if it is to live. (26)

Source: The Spiritual Significance of the United Nations 4

Faith | United Nations | Western Thought |

The spiritual comes into play whenever men seek in freedom something real beyond themselves. To be sure, the grade of spirituality is measured by the object sought, but regardless of this fundamental question of depth and order, wherever men agree…

The spiritual comes into play whenever men seek in freedom something real beyond themselves. To be sure, the grade of spirituality is measured by the object sought, but regardless of this fundamental question of depth and order, wherever men agree in freedom, there is a common bond among them which expresses and engenders spiritual energy. (22)

Source: The Spiritual Significance of the United Nations 1

Faith | United Nations | Western Thought |


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