Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Arabic - English Loan Words: H-M

Today's posting follows on from various wgaw blog archives and continues the list of English words whose roots are said to have been borrowed, or loaned from the Arabic.

Words in the list below start with the letters 'H' to 'M' and are listed in alphabetical order. The English word is followed by the root word in Arabic [xxx] and then the Arabic meaning. On the line below is the meaning in English.

If I needed help with the English definition I used: 'The Oxford English Reference Dictionary' ISBN: 0-19-860046-1


hadit: tradition
A collection of traditions containing saying of the prophet Mohammed which with accounts of his daily practice constitute the major source of guidance for Muslims after the Koran

Outer covering for head and body worn by Moroccan Arabs

hajj: pilgrimage
The annual pilgrimage of Muslims to Mecca

one who has been on a pilgrimage

halal: lawful
Food that is fit for a Muslim to eat because it has been killed as prescribed by Muslim law

halwa: sweet confection of sesame flour and honey

literally the pronoun meaning more than one woman
The women of an Arabic household, living in a separate quarters

hasis: dry herb
The resinous product of the top leaves and tender part of hemp, smoked or chewed for its narcotic effects

az-zahr: chance luck
Danger or risk

hijra: departure from one’s country
Mohamed’s departure from Mecca to Medina in AD 622 which marks the consolidation of the first Muslim community

tropical shrub having small pink, red or white flowers
The plant gives off a reddish dye form its shoots and leaves and is used to colour hair

Hizbullah: party of God
A Shi’ite Muslim group which has close links with Iran and whose flag depicts an AK 45 rifle against a yellow background

huqqah: casket
An oriental tobacco-pipe with a long tube passing through water for cooling the smoke as it is drawn through

hawra: gazelle like eyes
A beautiful young woman, esp. in Muslim paradise


Leader of prayers in a mosque

submission to God, the religion of the Muslims, a monotheistic faith, as revealed through Mohammed as the prophet of Allah


jarrah: large earthenware container


ornamental shrub with white or yellow fragrant flowers

yarbu: flesh of loins
Small desert rodent

jihad: fight, struggle
A holy war

jinn: spirits, plural of genie

gulab: rose water
A sweet drink, esp. as a vessel for medicine


ka-ba: square house
A building in the centre of the great mosque at Mecca, containing a sacred black stone, in the direction of which Muslim must face when praying

kafir: infidel

kas-ba: citadel
The citadel of a North African city

kaffiyah: a bedouin’s kerchief worn as a head-dress;  qirmiz: related to crimson
Small evergreen oak, of the Mediterranean region

khamseen: fifty
An oppressive hot south or south east wind occurring in Egypt for about fifty days in March, April and May

Kisma: destiny, fate

black powder usually used as eye make-up

Koran or Qur'an
kuran: recitation;  karaa: read
The holy book of Islam



Small tree or shrub with fragrant pale pinkish-violet or white blossoms

Lime limah rounded citrus fruit, like a lemon, but smaller

lufah; the plant
A climbing gourd like plant, producing edible marrow like fruits. The dried fibrous vascular system of this fruit are used as a sponge

al ud
A plucked stringed musical instrument, fretted and with a round body resembling a halved pear


The art of knotting cord or string in patterns to make decorative articles

makhazin: plural of makzan storehouse;  khazan: to store up
A place to keep ammunition and provisions for use in war

The spiritual and temporal leader who will rule before the end of the world and restore religion and justice

murabit: holy man;  ribat: frontier station

hermit or monk

maskara: buffoon;  sakira: ridicule
Covering for all or part of the face

mastabah: bench
Ancient Egyptian tomb, rectangular in shape with sloping sides and a flat roof, standing to a height of 5 - 6 metres

al matrah: the place, a cushion;  taraha: throw
A fabric case stuffed with soft, firm or springy material used on or as a bed

A city in western Saudi Arabia which was the birthplace of the prophet Mohammed

The port on the red sea from where the coffee first came from - coffee of fine quality

mukayya: choice, select
The hair of the Angora goat

mawsim: fixed season;  wasama: to mark
A seasonal wind in southern Asia, especially the Indian ocean

masjid: a Muslim place of worship

mudajja: permitted to remain
A subject Muslim during the christen re-conquest of the Iberian peninsula from the moors who was allowed to retain Islamic laws and religion in return for loyalty to a Christian monarch

muadhdhin: criers;  adhana: proclaim

mufti; part of afta, decide a point of law
A Muslim legal expert empowered to give ruling on religious matters

mujahidn: one who fights a jihad


a Muslim learned in Islamic theology and sacred law

body of a human being or animal embalmed for burial, esp. in ancient Egypt

muslim: part of aslama
A follower of the Islamic religion

a fine delicately woven cotton fabric from Mosul in Iraq where it was made

A gum resin from trees in the near east, used in perfumery, medicine, incense etc

Saturday, April 18, 2009

Jet Skiiing

And now for something completely different.

I was sent these photos today and I thought I'd share them with you.  What you see below is a completely clothed Qatari, jet skiiing.  You can tell he's a Qatari because of the tea bags hanging down from his agal.

It's quite normal to see women in the water fully clothed, but this is the first time I've seen a man covered up whilst on the water. I'd love to have some of his confidence ...

Thursday, April 16, 2009

How to Read & Write Arabic 12: ZAAY

The letter zaay, like raa, is written in two ways; as an independent and as a connector with the previous letter:


Meidal or Final, connecting with previous letter

N.B. The red colour indicates the previous letter

As we've said before, non-connectors never connect with the letter which follows them, which means there will always be a gap following them, even if they occur in the middle of a word. Having learnt these two letters you now know all the non-connecting letters in the Arabic alphabet.

Here are some examples of the letter zaay when it connects to the letter before it:


And here is an couple example of the letter zaay when it is written in its independent format:

(Diraz is the name of a tiny village in Bahrain)

Hide & Seek

Here are two photos which contain the letter zaay. See if you can find them and then decide in  which format they occur:

Practice/ Homework
Should you wish to practice writing the letter 'raa':

Complete the hide and seek activities in the article above
Using lined paper write the letter 'zaay' in its two different forms, as many times as you can; final and independent. Because 'zaay' is a non connector you'll have to write one of the other letters you already know before the 'zaay' in order to connect it. A minimum of 20 repetitions is suggested, always remembering to write the lines first, then the dots.
Re-read the previous wgaw blog posts {wgaw subject/ labels 'How to Read and Write Arabic} and try to find the letter zaays in the postings. Then decide if raa is in its independent or final format.

1. The tenth letter of the Arabic alphabet is called, 'zaay'
2. The are two forms of the letter 'zaay'; independent and final
3. Zaay is one of the six non-connectors and never-ever-ever connects with the letter which follows it, even if it occurs in the middle of a word.

What's Next?
Next week we’ll have a break from the alphabet and for a change take a look at the Arabic numerals 0 - 10.

Wednesday, April 1, 2009


 For the longest time I've beome more and more tired of the restrictions, all the superior fearfulness of people telling you, 'you shouldn't do this ...' and 'you shouldn't do that ...'  Not only does it seem to clog up the news networks across the world but the blogs are full of it too.

Doesn't anyone but me get sick to the back teeth with it?  Doesn't anyone but me feel a tightening of the stomach and a ringing in the head and a wish to shoot the bully who is telling me how to live my life?

So why am I thinking about it today?  Because I've just read an article about legalising rape in Afghanistan. Why am I posting this particular issue on a blog which is supposed to be about the Middle East? For two reasons, many people connect these kind of laws with Muslims ~especially if they don't know the area, but do know the religion of choice in Afghanistan is Islam~ and because I'm so saddened by what I have just read.

The article is cut and pasted in its entirity, as I couldn't say it any better, from: JEZEBEL

U.S.-Backed Afghan Government Passes Pro-Rape Law To Win Election
US-backed Afghani President Hamid Karzai is poised to issue a law on women's rights that the UN Development Fund for Women has warned against and a female Parliamentarian calls "worse than during the Taliban."

The law would legalize marital rape; require women to seek their husband's permission to leave the house; additionally mean that women obtain their husband's permission to see a doctor, go to school or work; and eliminate the child custody rights of women in the event of divorce or widowhood. No, for real. This is what the government we've installed is about to do to half its citizens. Our government — which is happily handing out Viagra in tribal areas to ensure the military and intelligence cooperation of impotent warlords — is backing the President of a country who is putting into effect a new law which legislates away what few rights those warlords' wives have. I guess somebody in the embassy forgot to read Hillary Clinton's confirmation hearing testimony in which she promised to elevate the status of women's rights in foregin policy.

And why do you think our puppet government is perfect happy to legislate away the hard-fought rights of half its citizens — rights, by the way, that the U.S. actually sort of fought for on their behalf? To increase Karzai's chance of winning re-election in a country that is sick of his increasingly corrupt and ineffective government. There's a reason they call the guy the Mayor of Kabul.
After seven years leading Afghanistan, Karzai is increasingly unpopular at home and abroad and the presidential election in August is expected to be extremely closely fought. A western diplomat said the law represented a "big tick in the box" for the powerful council of Shia clerics.
Leaders of the Hazara minority, which is regarded as the most important bloc of swing voters in the election, also demanded the new law.

Ustad Mohammad Akbari, an MP and the leader of a Hazara political party, said the president had supported the law in order to curry favour among the Hazaras.

And if that's not fun enough, check out how well the Islamic supporters of the law can parrot the talking points of American conservatives when it comes to women and "innate" differences.
But [Akbari] said the law actually protected women's rights.
"Men and women have equal rights under Islam but there are differences in the way men and women are created. Men are stronger and women are a little bit weaker; even in the west you do not see women working as firefighters."

By the way, Akbari says that women can refuse sex with their husbands if they are sick or have a "reasonable" excuse — not that they could, like, prosecute that or anything — and they would totally be allowed to leave the house without permission in an emergency. There's, naturally, nothing in the law that defines a reasonable excuse or an emergency, but I'm assuming that will be for the husband or male authorities to determine.

Of course, Afghanistan's Western allies (ie., the U.S. and its allies) have been suspiciously quiet about this heinous new law, being as Karzai's people have convinced us that it's the only way he can win the election.
"It is going to be tricky to change because it gets us into territory of being accused of not respecting Afghan culture, which is always difficult," a western diplomat in Kabul admitted.
Soraya Sobhrang, the head of women's affairs at the Afghanistan Independent Human Rights Commission, said western silence had been "disastrous for women's rights in Afghanistan".

"What the international community has done is really shameful. If they had got more involved in the process when it was discussed in parliament we could have stopped it. Because of the election I am not sure we can change it now. It's too late for that."

Some diplomats are claiming that we'll, like, totes object when the law is final.

Some female Parliamentarians are trying to see the silver lining in the big black cloud of this law, at least until their husbands rescind their permission to work. Some female politicians have taken a more pragmatic stance, saying their fight in parliament's lower house succeeded in improving the law, including raising the original proposed marriage age of girls from nine to 16 and removing completely provisions for temporary marriages.
"It's not really 100% perfect, but compared to the earlier drafts it's a huge improvement," said Shukria Barakzai, an MP.