The Mystery of the Arabic Pamphlet

I haven’t been a world traveller so I can’t vouch for other countries, but everyone in Pakistan seems to have some strange affiliation with the Arabic language. 

Arabic Keyboard

One part of me understands that. Seeing that the Quran is recited in the Arabic language, it is bound to be respected in this Muslim majority country. But the respect borders on bizarre.

Arabic and Urdu (Pakistan’s national language) are written in the the same script: hence every one can ‘read’ Arabic even if they don’t know what the words mean.  

Now there seem to be some unwritten rules about the Arabic language which are understood to stand true. Every child of this nation is taught one Theorem since the day he was born. But don’t worry: its easily explained: I call it the

 

Theorem of Arabic Islam

This theorem clearly states:

EVERYTHING written in Arabic is directly related to ISLAM.

But wait. That’s not it. There are several corollaries to this theorem.

Corollary 1:

If something is written in Arabic, keep it in a safe place. It is pious. And to be respected.

Corollary 2:

Do not, under any circumstances, try to learn the Arabic language. That must be left to the scholars.

Corollary 3:

Everyone who talks in Arabic is a pious person. They embody the epitome of piousness and religiousness

Corollary 4:

If you are even the slightest interested in religon, you must drop about as many Arabic words as you can in day to day conversation.

Sub Corollary of 4: MashaAllah and InshaAllah are words that the common man uses. Try saying ‘yaa’ni‘ in the middle of every sentence and remember to pronounce Pakistan as ‘Al-Bakistan.’

That makes you sound like an original Arab and hence, oh you guessed it: A GOOD, PIOUS Muslim.

Sub Corollary of 4- II:

Everything has an ‘Al’ behind it. It is ‘Al-Mc Donalds’ and ‘Al Basmati Rice’. If you want, you can call your children ‘Al-Children’ and you would be a better person for it.

 

Now keeping all these things in mind, try to understand what happened:

A guest hands me an ‘Arabic pamphlet’ that she found lying on the floor in my house.

‘Why was this on the floor? Bayhurmati! (disrespect)

Me: ‘Aunty this is…’

Anonymous Aunty: ‘Hai its written in Arabic and you’ve thrown it on the floor! If you don’t want to read it, at least put it in a high place’

Me: scanning the pamphlet But this is…

Anonymous Aunty: What?

Me: This is an informational pamphlet.

Anonymous Aunty:  *still scowling at me* ‘Kis kisam ka? (what type)

Me: This came out of my contact lens solution. Its an information pamphlet.

Anonymous Aunty: Are you sure? Can you read Arabic?*doubtful smile*

Me:  feeling it futile to argue ‘Jee, may sambhal daitee hon.’ (Yes, I’ll take care of it and put it in a safe place)


Know what?

 

I think I’m going to bring out a new Arabic keyboard.

 

Al-Mc Halal Keyboard: The Real Keyboard, for Real Muslims. 

 

There’s definitely a market out there.

 


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39 Responses to The Mystery of the Arabic Pamphlet

  1. falakk says:

    Number 1 is followed in our house. We are not allowed to put our arabic work on the floor, even if it just says stuff like, “This is a pencil. This is a file. This is a..etc etc.” In Arabee, though.

    They keyboard thing just cracked me up.

    Good work, Baji. You is an ace blogger. 🙂

    Thanks FalakK

    Love, Falak

  2. Awais says:

    Lolz. You are very right about that!

    My key-board already has Arabic alphabets written on its keys 😉 An uncle sent it from Saudi Arabia.

    Oh my, you’re onto the latest trends then… an Arabic keyboard: how trendy! And from Saudi itself! Whoa!

  3. Pingback: The Mystery of the Arabic Pamphlet | Tea Break

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  6. imtheonlyme says:

    i know wht u mean! will we be able to buy these keyboards, haha?!!

    You’ll have to wait till *I* acquire some first! 🙂

  7. bint battuta says:

    Hilarious!

    Thanks Bint Battuta. Interesting name, btw!

  8. Pingback: bint battuta in bahrain: the theorem of arabic islam

  9. raniyas says:

    I think over the centuries only the being able to read the arabic is important and the understanding arabic has been lost. I once met another Muslim, also from a non-arabic speaking country, and he was shocked to know that I could read arabic (Quran) but not understand any of it.

    Being able to read Arabic is ‘necessary but not sufficient’, like they say in maths. Sadly, people just don’t understand that

  10. Great idea – the Halal Keyboard! Does this mean one has to always be in state of Wudu?

    The poem is beautiful though. Did you do that on purpose?

    ATW

    Of course! Wudu is part and parcel of using the keyboard!
    The poem IS beautiful. I just understood the second last line so I thought, why not put this up and see how many people understand this, LOL. 🙂

    Thank you for dropping by and commenting. I’m a great admirer of your writing and a subscriber of your blog.

  11. za3tar says:

    hehehe .. .. that was very funny 😀
    It is also ironic because Arabic is my native tongue, and it seems to me that many Arabs treat English as a superior language and often “drop” as many English words into a conversation as possible :-p .. even if they are only talking to other Arabs 🙂

    Thanks Za3tar. Your name makes me glad I didn’t fit in the ‘numbers into words’ part too because it really confuses me when people use 3 for ‘ain’ and all. 🙂 Thank God I know what Zaatar is…and I really love it too. The herb, I mean. 🙂

    What you pointed out is true of Pakistan too. If someone’s a bit educated, they’d take and mix as many English words into their language as possible. If they’re religious, however, they’d drop Arabic.
    If educated AND religious..oh don’t even ask about the language shake they conjure!

  12. Saadat says:

    Al-Specs-al-Bakistani!

    SubhanAllah! Your post is al-hilarious. Ana tayyab about your idea of Al-Mc Halal Keyboard. Please let me construct al-prototype of this keyboard. Jazakumullah!

    By the way, kull-u-Bakistan needs to understand that al-songs-al-Arabiyyah are blasphemy. Al-haram!

    You do know that commenting on a girl’s blog is also al-haraam from what I’ve read in places.

    P.S. You just said ‘I am good about your idea of the Halal keyboard’ LOL.
    That reminds me of the time I was dining with an Arab friend and i said ‘khana bahut al’a hey’ and she’s like, ‘ala means HIGH’ you just said the food is very HIGH. I’m all, no, I was talking in Urdu, not Arabic. Don’t copy paste words from one lingo to the next. But she still ribs me about the ‘high food’ 😦

  13. Saadat says:

    Seriously, though, it’s a sad, sad, state.

    A friend once told me about an acquaintance of his who was serving as a guide in the Northern Areas to a group of foreign tourists. One morning, he was reciting the Quran, and a tourist asked him what he was reading. The guide replied that that was the book of his faith. The tourist again asked to tell him what the lines being recited meant. The guide apologetically told the tourist that he couldn’t understand it.

    The tourist, then, laughed and called out to his buddies. “Hey, have a look. This Johnny here believes in something he can’t understand.”

    Ouch.

    Ouch, indeed. But it hit so hard because its the sad truth. Its not just him, its all of us too.
    Somedays, I just can’t understand why someone would want to leave religion to the scholars only and let people tell them what to do when they have a book that requires a little help from the scholars but is basically addressed to the common man like us.

    Its a tragedy, indeed.

  14. In India, among the Hindus, replace Arabic with Sanskrit .

    I had no idea it was the same in other places too! That’s very shocking. And on a level, really sad.
    Thanks for commenting, Eye for India and welcome to my blog.

  15. Last Raja says:

    I live in Saudi Arabia and always wonder how much our Pakistanis respect the Arabic language.
    there is a misconception many peoples have about any body speaking Arabic that he must be saying good things or reciting Quran.
    One of my friends told me that during his visit to Malaysia he was shocked to see people standing in full respect when the tuned a radio to an Arabic channel broadcasting an Arabic song and every body were thinking that it is a recitation from Quran sharif…

    Thanks for dropping by and commenting, Last Raja.
    That anecdote is really shocking! I guess that just goes to prove the theorem then. Its a very sad state of affairs, indeed.

  16. nadia says:

    Ah, same scenario in my grandparents home. I can totally relate. But you’ve presented this in such a hilarious manner! Very well-written, Specs 🙂

    Thanks Nadia! Grandparents? Its the same in my PARENTS home.
    But wait. We’re talking the same age group since I’m a late kid. Hehehe.

  17. Exquisite says:

    lol… the way you have described those ‘theorems’ really brings out the myths or rather ignorant beliefs that are predominate in our society. However, one thing should be kept always in perspective and the fact is undeniable: Arabic is indeed the language of Quran, the perfect book ever written.

    Of course, Exquisite. I’m not denying the importance of this language in our daily lives because if we’re of the faith, we should at least know the language of the Book. So, like I pointed out in Corollary 2, we don’t ever learn it. just leave it to the scholars. Which is wrong.

  18. Hilarious, I love it. Better not buy a trash can with Arabic text – I can’t imagine what might happen then!

    Yeah, haha. Like a comment above points out, even porn is published in Arabic too. So, even if the can says ‘use me’, people might get nasty about it!

  19. “This came out of my contact lens solution. Its an information pamphlet”

    lolll!
    you sure have to look after that mann
    😀 !

    can we buy those keyboards?

    Send me a 100 dollars and I’ll send you the keyboard.
    Hey, a 100 dollars for a halal keyboard ain’t THAT much. No price on eman, eh?

  20. boba says:

    I don’t understand what’s funny :S It not just me right? This post is NOT FUNNY AT ALL!

    I know it isn’t THAT funny. But who am I to talk; I got all these nice comments, LOL

  21. quest says:

    just blogged about this arabization of islam myself — somehow, fitting it into the topic of marriage in the west for muslims. as a sister too. yeah I think u did a better job 🙂

    Happy blogging!
    Q

    Thanks Q. I had no idea you had moved blogs…i thought that previous one was ended so i unsubscribed and here i find you writing awesome stuff again! 🙂

    Islam has been Arabized for some reason..and its not limited to the lower classes; literate, educated people think the same.

  22. Smee says:

    Class act specs…absolute class!

    Thank you Smee. You haven’t commented in a long time! Nice to see you again. 🙂

  23. Achelois says:

    You have a very nice poetic piece in Arabic right at the beginning. It is quite romantic 😉 Hope that didn’t come out of the contact lens solution box!

    From what I understand of it with my not-so-good command of the language, if it came out of the lens solution box, i’d put an advert in the paper for the man who wrote something this beautiful! 🙂

  24. GeekiSiddiqui says:

    woah, I go missing for a couple weeks, come back and everythigns changed! I like the new look 🙂

    And that post is hilarious. And I know what you mean, things like this and also just in general mixing culture with religion is something that really bothers me.

    I liked the new theme because I can use the default font on it. Its not very teeny meeny.

    Thank God you know what I mean… I’ve had to face some criticism because of this post!

  25. boba says:

    No hate mail 😦

    Life is unfair at times… take heart, my friend. *pats Boba on the back*
    The hate mail shall come.
    One day…

  26. boba says:

    Well, no love mail for that matter either.

    That is a sad case indeed. Want me to write that ID on the wall of A’s school?

  27. Ateeq says:

    It’s between man and Lord God. Mankind has always respected God and preserved his message and that is why many languages are regarded to be Holy and of course they are most Holy take example Arabic, Hebrew and Sanskrit.

    These are Holy languages yet hard to learn and Arabic is the most classic i know of.

    your corollary 1 has been answered.

    Corollary 2: An absolutely mistaken notion, vast resources exist for everybody to help them develop their Arabic vocabulary.

    Corollary 3: Again this is an awful misconception I’m somewhat intrigued after reading this corollary. any Arabic literate should not be regarded as a pious unless he really is a pious,holy,religious entity.

    Corollary4: Depends on the individual I’d say, he maybe doing it by heart or it could be an act of pretentious display.

    Sub corollary of 4: well we all should use these words more often. MashAllah means By God and InshAllah means By God’s will in case you didn’t know.

    No matter what language you speak, No matter what your religion is use of these words will grow you close to Lord God.

    As for “Al Bakistan” it is how Pakistan is pronounced in Arabic and it’s the right way since the character “Peh” doesn’t exist in the original Arabic characters “Peh” has it’s root in the Persian Farsi.

    Sub corollary 4 2: haha you’re a funny Specs “Al-Children”.
    Al is the equivalent of “The” and it is used before every noun it also has a twist but i won’t be writing about that now.

    In case anybody finds himself / herself interested in Arabic or any other language feel free to contact me. 🙂

    The piece I wrote was meant as satire, not a genuine wondering. I speak 6 languages and I’m pretty fluent in conversational Arabic myself so I know it didn’t take a lot of effort to learn it: truthfully, German was harder.

    Al-Bakistan, etc, that was all sarcasm because a Pakistani talking in Urdu has no reason whatsoever to start saying ‘Al-Bakistan’

    Try to take life a little on the easier side, dude.

    Thanks for the explanation; I’m sure interested readers will contact you so keep to your word and help them conquer the lingo!

  28. Nikki says:

    As a matter of fact learning Quran and professional Arabic since KG till 8th class most of us still fail to learn it 😛 though i suppose it isnt a hard language to learn. But yet its been portrayed by most of us in a way as if it’s something that can be done only by the privileged! 😉

    I know! Its an attitude that really ticks me off! Like you pointed out, people assume that they can’t do it.

  29. In our family we follow 1&3, when my dad found out i was learning Arabic he cracked a big smile and said ” well, next time we go to Saudi, you can understand what all those traders say!”
    But no thankyou, on the keyboard it is pure genius but i wouldn’t be able to understand it – i dropped Arabic last year.

    If you can’t understand is, all I can say is ‘Tauba Astaghfar’ :p

  30. Ateeq says:

    -And the piece i wrote simply conveyed what i feel and whai i know about these languages, unfortunately you took it like i was spooning you a lesson but wait i guess my answer to corollary 3 sparked things up.. hell i should use more emoticons to convey my emotions… 😐

    *This pomegranate drink sucks bigtime bshhhh*

    No, actually, you were giving out a lesson and it was your answer to corollary 4 and its subs that sparked y answer: SURELY you do not think that everyone doesn’t know the meaning of ‘al’. Even the pamphlet aunty knew it! It was supposed to be a joke that everyone could understand, not a thesis in linguistics.

    **adds some salt and sugar to the pomegranate juice** Dude, you should spice it a bit: that’s why it sucks so much.

  31. shine87 says:

    ughh I am so angry, Our country-folk have a subservient attitude towards two languages. Arabic and English, I guess years of being ruled by foreigners will do tht to you!!!!!

    True, Shine87. Very true. its part of the subservient mindset that leads to these things being symbols of class or power… or piety as the case maybe.

  32. ymiss says:

    This really made me laugh…first time im visiting so hello 🙂

    Hey ymiss, welcome to my blog! Glad you enjoyed the piece.

  33. Ateeq says:

    hmmmmm right, now reading the corollary 4 and subs i realize that was obvious info *damn boy*.

    I’ll ask my gravatar to watch out for me…. 😛

    You do that, haha

  34. rubina malik says:

    funny thing is that i grew up in saudi arabia, i figured this attitude of our elder genration early on, i detested the fact that arabs always made fun of us for showing respect toward Quranic language. so in return i hated them , right
    or wrong , i always look for arabs negative aspects and approaches toward other nations. i don’t think they have such attributes as a nation which we should .
    follow.
    so i say you are right on the money

  35. “Everyone who talks in Arabic is a pious person. They embody the epitome of piousness and religiousness”

    Awwww shucks eSbecs!! I’ve never been told I embody the epitome of anything before, let alone piousness and religionsness
    Not that I’m fluent by any means, but I’m a-workin’ on it. And one day, I too shall embody the epitome of piousness and religiousness (I really like that line….)

    But I hate the idea of definition or characterization through language. The same thing goes on in Syria, but for English. Anyone who speaks English fluently (but it has to be in the ‘right’ accent) embodies the epitome of civilization, modernity, and blah, blah, blah.
    But I guess that’s not to say that Arabic and English aren’t both important, in their own right.
    But I guess I’ll stop now because any sense I was making is rapidly deteriorating =P

  36. By zuh way. I got half was through the poem (I think) but I can’t read the rest. Or understand half of what I read, for that matter =(
    Care to provide a translation-nation for us illiterate (and therefore unpious and unreligous) beoble out here?

  37. ambhi says:

    haha.. I coulda written your post. That was hilarious! Gotta show this one to the hubby.. lol

  38. knicq says:

    This post caught my eye, simply because of the arabic in there… and when I got to the part about this being an information pamphlet, I stopped, went back and read the poem again. I manage conversational arabic as long as the topic of discussion stays close to my area of work, and it took a few readings before I could glean the gist of the poem. The inclusion of poem makes the post all the more amusing.

    I have long lamented the fact that I am not fluent in Arabic despite having had this golden opportunity to learn it pretty much all my life. During Ramadan as Arab Muslims burst into tears while the Quran is recited during taraveeh prayers, my sense of deprivation amplifies manifold. I have since realized why my namaz is a ritual and my fortunate arabic speaking brother’s salat is a learning opportunity while the imam recites from the Quran.

    On the other hand, I have little tolerance (and shorter attention span) for the Maulanas who start speaking Urdu in Arabic. – such a fundamental failure in communication technique, isn’t it?

    The excessive resbect and honorr reserved for Arabic in El-Bakistan is amusing – but I also find it very endearing. 🙂

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