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A Treasure from Arabia

30 Oct 2017

A Treasure from Arabia By Noelle Alyagout The Arabian horse, known for his unsurpassed beauty, lively spirit, strong character, and great courage in battlefields, is a living treasure and integral part of Arabian history. The elegant features of this exceptional equine include his sculptured, refined head, his small pointed ears, his long, arched neck, his graceful stance, and his vibrant intelligent eyes. The origins of the Arabian horse are difficult to confirm. Some historians trace the horse to northern Syria, southern Turkey, or the area along the northern edge of the Fertile Crescent near the Euphrates in Iraq. Other historians offer evidence that the horse originated in the southwestern part of Arabia near three great river beds. Regardless of its beginnings, by 1500 B.C. this mighty horse had been domesticated by the people of Eastern lands. The horse was harnessed by the Pharaohs for use with chariots, and by the Empires of the Babylonians, Hurrans, Hittites, Kassites, Persians, and Assyrians as instruments of war. They were also widely used throughout the East as a communication 'pony express'. Legends abound about this hot-blooded horse of great power and courage. The Arabian horse is also known for his loyalty. The horse was an important part of the Bedouin people's survival in the desert and great care was provided to the animal. In return, the animal has demonstrated remarkable allegiance and devotion. The gentle, affectionate nature of the horse is now an inherited trait and Arabian foals show no fear of man. The Bedouin established strict traditions of breeding to keep the breed 'asil' or pure. Five highly valued strains, or families, of the horse were bred, known as 'al-khamsa' or the five. In Arabia they are called the Kehilan, seglawi, Abeyan, Hamdani, and Hadban. Each family can be recognized and identified by tis characteristics. Many Arabian horse pedigrees can be traced back to desert origins. Substrains developed as the horse was exported to Europe and the Far East. Cross breeding the pure Arabians with international strains has resulted in well-known horse breeds such as the Throughbred, the Lipizzaner, the Andalusia, and the American Quarter horse. For horse enthusiasts interested in owning or viewing an Arabian horse, stud farms are located in Kuwait and throughout the Arabian Gulf. The Derrinstown Stud farm empire in Dubai, UAE (owned by Sheikh Hamdan bin Rashid Al-Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and UAE Minister of Finance and Industry) has made a name throughout the international breeding and racehorse world. The 1998 highest-rated race horse, Intikhab of Derrinstown stock, was also the 1999 Group 1 Dubai World Cup winner. Additionally, the Derrinstown horse Istabraq is a champion hurdler in Ireland. Locally, in one of Kuwait's well-known stud farms, Ajmal Farms, is the magnificent horse known as Ansata Hejazi. This beautiful snow white stallion was brought to Kuwait at great expense in 1999 by Mohammed Al-Mazouk for the purpose of breeding. Presently, there are a number of stud farms and private breeders in Kuwait. To assist local breeders, the government is sponsoring a project known as 'The Arabian Horse Center' which has recently purchased the horse Ansata Sirius. Under this project and through the efforts of local breeders, the purebred Arabian horse will be restores to its native land.

The 24-point Pledge (Oath) of the 21st Century Leader

02 Feb 2011

There is doubt that the leader of today must outshine the leader of yesterday especially in this fast-pased 21st century in order to achieve desired results both personally and professionally.

Traditional Clothing in Kuwait and the Gulf

16 Dec 2010

A visitor to Kuwait, which is home to 100 various nationalities will notice a variety of clothing. This article gives you an overview of different kinds of clothes that Kuwaitis and Arabs in the Guld wear.

Common Kuwaiti Phrases

12 Dec 2010

If you want to break the ice with Kuwaitis, you need to learn some Kuwaiti Phrases that will help you achieve that. Here are the phrases:

Etiquette in Public Places in Kuwait

12 Dec 2010

Like it or not, every person is an ambassador of his race, his country, his culture, his town and his family. This article gives you some tips on how you ought to behave in public places in Kuwait. The main points covered are: dress code, gestures, generosity and speech. You are welcome to read and then write down your comments.

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Tips on learning Arabic

09 Dec 2010

The Arabic Language

 

Arabic ranks sixth in the world's languages, with an estimated 186 million native speakers. As the language of the Qur'an, the holy book of Islam, it is also widely used throughout the Muslim world as a second language.  There are many Arabic dialects: classical Arabic – the language of the Qur'an – was originally the dialect of Mecca in what is now Saudi Arabia. An adapted form of this, known as Modern Standard Arabic, is used in print and broadcast media, in the mosques, and in conversation between educated Arabs from different countries (for example at international conferences).  For general purposes it's best to focus on learning Modern Standard Arabic, for which numerous courses and textbooks are available.  There are also many local dialects, the major ones being Egyptian, Gulf, Iraqi, Levantine and Maghrebi (North African).  They vary to the extent that a Moroccan might have difficulty understanding an Iraqi, even though they speak the same language.  If you want to master one of the local dialects the only really effective way is to spend a few years in the place of your choice.

Learning to read Arabic is very easy, since it is a phonetic language, perhaps the only one. There are 28 consonants, some of which are unique to Arabic and difficult for foreigners to pronounce exactly.  There are also three vowels – a,  i, u – which can be short or long, depending on the diacritical marks above the letters.  These marks indicate the pronunciation and stress of the syllables, resulting in a phonetic language that can be mastered rather quickly.  However, although you may learn to read in a matter of hours, understanding what you have read is a different story!   

Learning spoken Arabic takes much more time and practice, but it is less complicated than Latin or German since there are not many irregularities in the grammar.  Arabic follows a root system, which is an unfamiliar to native speakers of European languages.  Arabic words are constructed from three-letter "roots" which convey a basic idea. For example, k-t-b conveys the idea of writing, such as kataba (he wrote). The addition of other letters before, between and after the root letters produces many associated words, for example: ki-TAA-bun (book), KAA-ti-bun (writer), MAK-ta-bun (desk), ma-KAA-ti-bun (desks), mak-TA-ba-tun (library), KA-ta-buu (they wrote), ka-ta-BUU-hu (they wrote it), ka-TA-ba-taa (they (dual, fem) wrote), ka-TAB-tu (I wrote).

The normal word order of a sentence is verb/subject/object. The function of nouns in a sentence can also be distinguished by case-endings (marks above the last letter of a word) but these are usually found only in the Qur'an or school textbooks.  Arabic has very few irregular verbs and does not use "is" or "are" at all in the present tense: "the king good" means "the king is good". Subtle alterations in the basic meaning of a verb are made by adding to the root. These changes follow regular rules, giving ten possible "verb forms" (though in practice only three or four exist for most verbs. For example, the root k-s-r produces:  form I kasara, (he broke), form II kassara, (he smashed to bits) and form VII inkasara, (it was broken).

If you decide to learn Arabic, consider the following recommendations:

 

1-      Start by learning how to write and pronounce the alphabet in the Arabic script. Becoming familiar with the Arabic alphabet, written and oral, is a very solid first step towards learning basic vocabulary and phrases.

 

2-      After learning the basics of reading and writing the alphabet, learn simple greetings and small talk either in classical or colloquial Arabic. With some commitment and determination, phrases and sentences to express yourself in daily interactions can also be mastered.

 

3-      Expand your vocabulary by learning words based on a three letter root. Unlike most European languages, Arabic does not have many words that resemble those in English, making learning slow at first.  But it becomes easier once you have memorized a few roots and their forms.

 

4-      Watch TV, listen to the radio, and read as much as you can to increase understanding, vocabulary and proficiency in pronunciation.

 

The rewards of learning Arabic are worth the effort as you will be able to experience firsthand the polite, positive and poetic manner of speaking and writing that is typical of Arabs.  The definitive goal worth striving for, however, is to experience the eloquence of the classical Arabic language, whose zenith is in the unparalleled majesty of the Holy Quran.

 

 

 

References:

http://www.al-bab.com/arab/language/lang.htm

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Arabic_language

 

History of the Arabic language

09 Dec 2010

History of the Arabic Language

 

Arabic language is the mother tongue of about 160 million people around the globe. It is the language of the Arab world, comprising North African countries, the Arabian Peninsula and the Middle-East. Arabic is also spoken by large numbers of Muslims around the world. For it is the liturgical language of 600 million Muslims around the world.  Since its earliest appearance as an international language in the seventh century CE, it has been characterized as having two versions viz (1) standard classical Arabic, which is revered as the language of the Holy Qur'an, culture and education. (2) Colloquial Arabic, which serves as the mother tongue of most speakers and is the natural means of communication throughout society.

 

At the peak of the Arab conquests after the death of Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him), the Arabic language was introduced together with Islam to a large part of the Levant and Near Eastern countries. Arabic language played a very big role as a language of literature and administration. However, Arabic language is different in many respects from other Western languages.

 

Arabic and non-Arabs: The contact between Arabic speakers and inhabitants of the conquered territories was a catalyst of restructuring of the Arabic language, which led to an opposition between standard classical Arabic and different dialects. In spite of the existence of some differences between classical and colloquial Arabic, there are still some sociolinguistic similarities and relationships between both in the contemporary Arabophone world.

 

Arabic in the middle ages: During the middle ages (8th – 13th centuries), Arabic speaking people were the bearers of the torch of civilization. Arabic was then the medium of communicating science and philosophy of Greece and other ancient civilizations. These civilizations were recovered, supplemented or transmitted in such a way that paved the way for the European Renaissance. 

 

The Importance of Arabic: The geopolitical importance of the Arab World is evident to everyone, especially nowadays. That is due to its oil wealth as well as its strategically important position between Eastern and Western hemispheres. It is thus a prominent source of international concern. Arabic is the language of the Qur'an and Sunnah (acts, sayings and approvals of Prophet Muhammad.) It is one of the official languages at the United Nations. So it cannot be ignored.

Is Arabic difficult? Unfortunately, the answer is "yes." Native speakers of English find learning Arabic a more daunting and taxiing task than learning Latin languages such as Spanish, German or French. However, it is certainly not impossible to learn; many Westerners have found it easy to learn as well as a challenging and rewarding experience. It is also a fun, especially if the approach is tailored towards quick progress in communication skills.

 

What kind of Arabic will you learn? It is very important for a prospected Arabic student to understand that there are two types of Arabic – classical and colloquial. The latter is spoken at home, on streets and in public casual gatherings but not written. The former is spoken in schools, colleges, universities, on radio and television, and is written in newspapers and books. This is the language that is recommended to Western potential students who may need to use it for literary purposes.

 

The Arabic Alphabet: Arabic has both vowels and consonants. However, the vowels are not actual letters. They are rather symbols that you can place on top of or below consonants to create certain sounds. As for consonants, Arabic has 28 different letters that form its alphabet. The Arabic alphabet consists also of diphthongs, which are, in essence, monosyllabic sounds that begin with one vowel and then slide into another. Arabic language has only two diphthong sounds used to distinguish between the "yaa"   (?) and the (?) "waaw".

 

 

By:

 

Hasasan T. Bwambale

AWARE Education Manager

 

References:

 

1-      Al-Sa'hib Fie Al-Lugha by Ahmed Sager

2-      Arabic Grammar Made Easy by Bilal Philips

3-      The Arabic Alphabet by Nocholas Awde

4-      The Connectors in Modern Arabic by Nariman Naili.

Why Islamic Lunar Year?

08 Dec 2010

Islamic Calendar

 

Why an Islamic Calendar?

Since before the time Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was born and until the era of Abu Bakr (the first caliph in Islam), Muslims used to measure the passage of time in relation to important events in their communities.  For example, it is recorded that Prophet Muhammad was born in "the Elephant’s Year," in which a great army led by Abraha with elephants marched from Yemen to Makkah to destroy the Ka'bah – an attempt that God foiled. It was natural, therefore that early Muslims began to chronicle their events according to the first year of Prophet Muhammad's emigration to Medina (Hijra or Hegira) after due consultations among Prophet Muhammad’s companions.

 

Like today, the Arabs of the past followed the lunar calendar, and the names and order to the months have not changed since before the prophet's time. Although the arrival of the prophet in Medina was on 12 Rabi al-Awwal, or the third lunar month, the Hijri calendar, for consistency's sake, is chronicled back to Muharram, which is the first month in the Arab's lunar calendar.

 

Why the Hijri calendar?

It was during the reign of Umar bin Al-Khattab (the second caliph in Islam), that many events happened that were worth recording for reference, which necessitated a more accurate calendar than months and important event systems that were used at that time. It was also needed to facilitate planning. As a caliph he would often issue decrees and rulings to his governors and viceroys in various parts of the Muslim world, which would be followed by other explanatory letters or orders to ignore them for one reason or the other. This action created some sort of confusion amongst those governors and viceroys as to their sequence.  He eventually decided to fix an Islamic calendar to simplify the matter for him, his governors and Muslims at large.

 

Chronicling of the Islamic Calendar

There were many suggestions regarding the event to which the Islamic Calendar would be chronicled. Some of Umar’s companions, friends and great thinkers suggested chronicling the calendar either back to the birth of the Prophet or the beginning of his mission as a messenger or his emigration to Medina or his death. The majority of the Muslims were of the opinion that the Islamic Calendar be chronicled back to the year of Muhammad’s emigration to Medina. They gave many reasons for that, the most prominent of which was the tremendous achievements of Prophet Muhammad and the Muslims in Medina. The Islamic Calendar thus marks the birth of an Islamic community with political, economic and legislative autonomy under the leadership of Prophet Muhammad. The Islamic calendar follows the lunar months which are either 29 or 30 days. As such, it is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian solar calendar.

By:

Hassan Taha 
AWARE Education Manager  

 

 

 

 

 

AWARE Center

Advocates for Western Arab Relations

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