Sunday, 20 April 2008


It is becoming more necessary to me to be able to use some Arabic phrases simply out of courtesy and respect for the culture I find myself in. The population of Qatar is only 14% Qatari people but in fact there are around 53% Arabic speakers, with 33% of other nationalities, so you can see that we are outnumbered by far. The other Arabic speakers of course come from many surrounding countries and many of them have made Doha their permanent place of residence. My doctor is Jordanian, the dentist from Lebanon and our Admissions Officer is from Sudan. This is just a tiny example of the nationalities represented here but my decision to learn basic Arabic is so that I can at least greet people correctly and exchange the niceties that this long greeting requires. The type of Arabic spoken here is Fusha, which is very rich in phrases and respect gestures as well as being a social language. Body language and facial expression is used a lot as well and you often hear people conversing in loud voices. This makes the classes at school sometimes pretty noisy!
My favourite greetings so far are:
assalam alaykum: peace be upon you
wa'alaykum salam: and upon you be peace
sabah al khair: good morning
sabah an noor: may your morning be bright
misaa al khair: good afternoon/evening
misaa an noor: may your evening be bright
marhaba:          welcome
marhabtain: a double welcome to you
ma'a salaamah: farewell/go in safety
Allah yesalmik: May Allah save you
al hamdu lillah: By God's grace
enshalla:       If God wills

If I manage to feel comfortable about these I will be happy for now. My main observation about conversations and talks that I have attended so far is that God(Allah) is included as a centrepiece to people's lives here as a natural and normal way of living. The laws of this country are underpinned by the teachings of the Koran, which is God's law. I know that there are some groups of people who have interpreted these laws in a negative and hostile way but I am thinking that we humans tend to interpret things in the way that suits us, to excuse our actions. Around the world we can find many such groups from many sources. I, personally, am always looking for the pure essence of truth teachings I study and I am finding  that love and kindness is this essence, reflected clearly in the true teachings of Islam.
Abu Jahl saw Muhammad and said:
"What an ugly son of a bitch!"
Muhammed replied:
"You're rude, but you're right."
Abu Abkr saw Muhammed and said:
"You're the beautiful shining sun!"
Muhammed said:
"You're right, my friend.
You've seen through."
Someone listening to this asked:
"How can they both be right 
when they are contracting each other?"
Muhammad said:
"I am a mirror polished by Allah.
In me everyone sees themselves."


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