It is a well-known anachronism of historians to treat areas within the Ottoman Empire (Egypt, Syria) as if they had a meaningful existence of their own in the prenationalist period. There is no question that before the appearance of nationalism in the later part of the 19th century the major political community was Islam, whose actual political manifestation was the Ottoman state. It is assumed that as a consequence, no other form of collective identity could exist at the time. The received wisdom on this issue may be expressed by one study of Arab nationalism which claimed:“None of the [Arab] new states was commensurate with a political community. Syria, Lebanon, Iraq, Transjordan, Palestine—these names derived from geography or classical history.” Yet it is possible that the debate over these issues is not yet over. One is entitled, for example, to doubt whether we know enough in social psychology to determine that the human mind is so simple that it cannot accommodate multi-faceted phenomena such as double identity, both in terms of regional Egyptian nationalism, for example, and all-inclusive Arab identity. Dichotomization makes for sharper and more impressive arguments, but sometimes it can be pushed too far and thus rendered misleading. In line with this last consideration, the argument of this paper is that though the all-inclusive identity of Middle Eastern Muslims under the Ottomans was Islamic and Ottoman first, territorial identities existed beneath them and that these territorial communities are commensurate with the modern Middle Eastern states.