The Ma’luf Family

While the primary building block of Western society can be said to be the individual, for Lebanon it is the family. And by family, I don’t just mean the husband, wife and children, or even a rich extended family of cousins, aunts, uncles and grandparents. For the Ma’luf family in particular, it extends back to Yemen some 2,000 years ago and has expanded to the many countries where family members have emigrated since the 19th century. It is this strong sense of family identity that has led to the selection of the Ma’lufs as the first Lebanese family to be featured in HOME For Magazine, to be followed by other families in future issues. 

It should be noted first that one of the complications of tracing families from Lebanon is that the original name is written Arabic ( معلوف ), but when Lebanese emigrate to non- Arab countries, it must be rendered into their alphabet, a process called “transliteration.” There is a standardized transliteration system used by most scholars, established by the U.S. Library of Congress. It renders the name into Ma’luf, which is why we are using that form of the name here. But common practices of transliteration are complicated by the fact that different languages pronounce their letters very differently. 

For example, “ و“ in Arabic is usually written “ou” in French, but “u” or “oo” in English, and many Arabic letters like don’t even exist in most languages.

In addition, some people incorporate the article “the” ( ال ) transliterated as“al” or “el”, with or without a dash, into their name. This partly explains why there are at least 25 variations of the Ma’luf surname used worldwide: Al-Maalouf, Malluf, Maa3louf, Maaloof, Maalooff, Maalouf, Maaluf, Maaluff, Mallof, Malloof, Mallouf, Malof, Maloff, Maloof, Maloofakis, Malooff, Malouf, Malouff, Maloufi, Maloufos, Malov, Maluf, Maluff, Melof, Meluf and Molof. 

In addition to those complications, many branches of the family have broken off, often choosing the first name of an ancestor a few generations back to be their last name. The organization Maloofs International, Inc. lists 165 family names who, through research, we believe were originally Maloofs.” 

In further acknowledgement of this problem, the organization welcomes people as full members “if your name, a parent, a grandparent or greatgrandparent’s name is Maloof or one of the variations – if you are born into one of the families who originated from the Maloofs or related families.” 

The existence of the website for Maloofs International, Inc. ( is another affirmation of the sense of identify the family has worldwide. The organization not only has a website, but also a regular newsletter and two annual family reunions that attract Ma’lufs from around the world, currently held in conjunction with conferences of the Southern Federation of Syrian Lebanese American Clubs.

Family Historians 

The primary historian of the Ma’luf family was ‘Isa Iskandar al-Ma’luf (1869-1956) who wrote many historical books including “في تاريخ بني معلوف  دواني القطوف  ” (Doany Alqtov in the history of the Maalouf) – an 800 – page history of the Ma’luf family published in 1907. George Hanna Malouf of Hereford, Texas, a published author, scholar and poet, published “Maloof, The Ghassani Legacy” in 1992 which includes a complete translation of the original manuscript of ‘Isa Iskandar Ma’luf, as well as the Maloof coat of arms (with explanation), plus a Maloof family tree showing its seven branches, and genealogical information on current Maloof families. It has been followed by a book by Charles Malouf Samah of Florida, who wrote “A History of the Malouf People of the Min’em Malouf Sub-branch, Including a History of Zabbougha, Lebanon, the Birth Place of the Min’em Malouf Progeny” published in 2005. A more personal Ma’luf history was written by the well-known author Amin Maalouf called Origins, which traces his own family back many generations.”

History of the Ma’luf Family

The Ma’luf family traces its history to Yemen where the family was part of the Ghassanid tribe that emigrated from Yemen to Houran in what is now Syria after a major flood of the Ma’rib Dam, some say as early as AD 102. While historical accounts differ in regard to when the Ghassanids converted to Christianity, it is most likely that they first converted in the Houran, since the current evidence of Christians in Yemen dates back only to the beginning of the sixth century.

The Ghassanids governed the Houran area until the Islamic conquest in AD 637.

In 1519, Ibrahim Ma’luf (nicknamed Abi Rajih) and his family left Houran for the mountains of Lebanon. Of Ibrahim’s seven sons, the families of Issa, Medlej and Farah retained the surname of Ma’luf, whereas the other branches adopted other surnames. 

In 1560, these three families, who were living in the village of Mhaydse, received permission from the ruling emir to relocate their HOMEs across the valley where they established the village of Kfar’aqab (Arabic: عقاب كفر – pronounced “Kfar’a-ab” in Lebanon). Kfar’aqab thus became the core settlement of the Ma’luf clan.

From Kfar’aqab, some members of the Ma’luf clan migrated to Zahlé and Niha in the Bekaa Valley, to ‘Ain el Qabou and eleswhere in Lebanon – and others emigrated to the U.S., Brazil, Australia and many other countries. While they were originally Antiochian Orthodox in Houran, many of the Ma’lufs converted to become Melkite Greek Catholics from the 18th century, and a smaller number of Ma’lufs became Roman Catholics, Maronites and Protestants.

Genealogies of the  Family

An important aspect of most families who treasure their heritage through many  generations is a genealogy or family tree. This has been  complicated for  the  Ma’lufs by the variations in spellings and names. ‘Isa Iskandar al-Ma’luf was able to minimize the problem since  his  genealogy was  in Arabic, but those  who write it in Latin script have  to decide  on whether  they try  to  account   for  all  the  variations in spelling, or use only one in the genealogy to allow for easy searches. Since   siblings   and   even   the   same person   often  spell  the  family  name in many different ways on different documents, it is usually best  to adopt one spelling for the genealogy. This is especially  important  if one  objective is to try to link the  family with major Geni’s  World Family Tree of over  89 million names. Thus, for example, Geni’s  website  (https://www.geni. com)has    135     Maalouf    profiles and   124   Malouf  profiles,   but  these cannot    be   integrated  together    due to  their  variations  in  spelling.  In the genealogical  records   of  the   family, some   fourteen   generations separate today’s generation from their common ancestor Ibrahim  Ma’luf, who  moved from the Houran and established his family in Lebanon  in 1519.

Notable Members of the  Family

As for  notable people in  the  Ma’luf family, the list is very long and includes a large  number poets,  authors, musicians   and   politicians.     Probably the   most well-known worldwide is who has lived in France since 1976. He was elected to the prestigious Académie  Française in 2011, and was subsequently honored with Lebanon’s National Order  of  the  Cedar medal with the Rank of Grand Cordon, bestowed upon  him by Lebanese President Michel Sleiman.

Amin  Maalouf’s  brother Nassim Maalouf  also moved his family  to France  because of the Lebanese Civil War, where he became an acclaimed classical  trumpet soloist who adapted the   trumpet to   Arabic   music.   His son   Ibrahim   Maalouf   has   become a very  accomplished trumpet   player and composer who has performed in a wide range of musical  styles, including   jazz   and   classical   music, improvisation played on the  quarter tone  trumpet”developed by his father. He has  earned prizes  in some  of the most  important trumpet  competitions in the world, and  in 2014 he was awarded Best World Music Artist at the French Music Awards.

Sam Maloof (who  passed away in 2009) was a renowned  designer and producer of furniture, and is considered one of the finest woodworkers of our time,  with some of his works in permanent  collections at the Boston Museum of Art, the New York Metropolitan Museum of Art and many other  fine  museums. The Sam and Alfreda Maloof Foundation for Arts and Crafts was established in 1994 to, as their website,, says, “perpetuate excellence in craftsmanship, encourage artists and  make  available to the  public  the treasure house  the Maloofs lovingly created.”

Elias Maalouf,  who  grew  up  in Ecuador,   plays  a leading role  in Lebanon  to restore  its train  heritage. His family  comes  from  the  railroad- centered town of Rayak, and  both  his grandfather and   great-uncle  worked for the railway, so it is understandable that he chose  to make  a documentary about    the   Lebanese  railway   for   a student   project   in   film  production. The   project   turned   into   a  passion for documenting and  preserving Lebanon’s railway history, and promoting the  revival of rail travel  in Lebanon  through  the organization he co-founded called  Train-Train  (

Other notable members of the Ma’luf family worldwide include:

Poets and novelists

  • Chafic Maalouf poet,  heart  of  the Arab renaissance in Brazil
  • David Malouf (born 1934), Australian author
  • Fawzi Al-Maalouf, poet
  • Riad Maalouf (born 1912) a great poet  who wrote poems  in Arabic and French                                                                                    


  • Adam L. Maalouf, percussionist and composer
  • Elie Maalouf (born in 1972) Pianist- composer and a buzuq player living in France
  • Fady  Maalouf (born 1979), Lebanese-German pop singer
  • Ibrahim Maalouf (born 1980), trumpeter, composer, arranger  and trumpet  instructor
  • Richard Maloof (born 1940), American  musician  who  played  bass and  tuba  for the Lawrence Welk orchestra
  • Rushdi Maalouf, prominent writer and musicologist

 Politicians  and government officials

  • Edgar Fouad Maalouf (born 1934) current  member of Parliament, Metn, Greek  Catholic Parliament, Zahle, Greek  Orthodox
  • Nasri Maalouf (1911–2005), Lebanese  politician,   former  member of Parliament, minister
  • Paulo Maluf (born 1931), Brazilian politician who was  state  governor   of São  Paulo,  mayor  of the  city of São Paulo,  congressman and  presidential candidate.
  • Raymond D. Maalouf (born  1928), Lebanese high court judge
  • Walid Maalouf,    a   businessman and  former  U.S. representative to the United  Nations   and   the  first United States    representative   to   deliver    a speech at the United Nations in Arabic. Miscellaneous
  • Edward Maalouf (born  1968), Lebanese   competitive     hand-cyclist, and   the   only  person   to  have   won medals for Lebanon  at the Paralympic Games (2008)
  • Jacqueline Malouf (1941–1999) California, actor,  artist and  teacher
  • Jacqui Malouf, television host, stand-up comedian, cook  and  author in Canada
  • Joseph Malouf (1893–1968),  the Melkite Greek  Catholic  Archbishop  of Baalbek,  Lebanon
  • Maloof family – business family of Las Vegas, owners of the Houston Rockets   and    later   the   Sacramento Kings sports teams
  • Maria Maalouf, Lebanese journalist and political analyst 
  • Maurice Maalouf, actor
  • Remi Maalouf,  news   anchor for Russia Today in Moscow

Not    all    people   with   the    Ma’luf surname (however it is spelled) consciously  identify with their  shared family heritage or even with their Lebanese heritage. Thus,  I  could  not find any  reference to Lebanon  in the website or subject matter of David Malouf,  the  author  in Australia  or on the website of Sam Maloof, the master wood-furniture maker  in California, though  that does  not mean that either of them are unaware of their heritage. As   with   all   emigrants   worldwide, some  identify with their heritage while others   assimilate   so   effectively  that they have  little or no  connection with their  cultural  past.   That  is  especially true for later generations whose Lebanese   connection  is   diluted   by time, distance, lack of contact and intermarriage with people from other heritages.  Nevertheless, it is likely that the Ma’lufs as a whole probably have more  of a conscious  identity with their surname and  its history than any other Lebanese  family,  with  a  genealogy that goes back 14 centuries,  published historical records, archives, poetry, websites and  international family reunions   on  a scale   that  would  be hard  to match.

I would like to thank the following sources for their contributions to this article:

  • The library and   archives   of  the Lebanese Emigration  Research  Center at Notre Dame University-Louaizé, Lebanon
  • The library  and   archives   of  the
  • American University of Beirut, Lebanon
  • Maloof’s      International,      Inc. (both its website http://www. and correspondence with Lori Malouf Coronado, its secretary/treasurer/ newsletter  editor.
  • Interview with Elias  B.  Maalouf, president and cofounder of Train/ Train Lebanon
  • Wikipedia – many different articles Other     websites     online     providing information   on   the   Ma’luf   family, the  Ghassanids, Yemeni  history,  and other related  topics