Where Minds Meet
A: Although Muslims try to dress modestly according to the requirements of their religion, all the above-mentioned Arabic types of dress do not have any religious significance. They are totally cultural, and a matter of custom and personal taste. To compare it to a western tradition, it is like blue jeans and white sports shoes.
A: No, certainly they would not. On the contrary, it would be a pleasure and honor for them.
A: This is a custom with roots in Islamic, not Arab culture. It’s based on the principle that a man’s tongue should not be idle, but should always be busy praising God with phrases such as Subhan’Allah (Glory be to God), Alhamdulillah (Thanks be to God), and Allahu Akbar (God is Great).
The beads, called “misbah” or “sibhah”, were made to facilitate repetitions, and they usually are comprised of 33 beads divided into sections of 11. It should be noted, however, that the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) and his companions did not use such beads, but rather counted on the three folds of their fingers.
Today, the beads are used for their original purpose as well as for ornamentation or as “worry beads”. You will often see men fingering with beads, especially when relaxing or waiting in line
A: In the Arab world in general, personal relationships are considered more important than time or transactions. Impatience is not an asset. A great amount of time may be spent in exchanging pleasantries. If you are the businessman/woman, you may find it will take several visits before the client is ready to “get down to the nitty gritty” and talk about business.
A: A key element, indeed the cornerstone, of a Muslim’s belief system is that only One Deity exists and that is God alone. A Muslim is required to strictly avoid assigning power of any sort to anything other than God alone. The construction of religious sculptures could lead people to pray to those sculptures. Paintings of religious figures could distract a person from the purpose of Muslim prayer, the worship of God alone. A re-occuring theme throughout Islam is to avoid that which could lead people to stray from a strict monotheistic belief, whether now or in the future
A: The plant souk (market) located in front of the Friday market on Fourth Ring Road, between highways 55 and 60 is the best place for plant shopping. Local farmers sell their plants at reasonable prices and can provide very useful gardening and plant tips. Bags of soil and gardening accessories can also be purchased.
A: It is a common way of calling someone using their eldest son’s name. Umm means mother of. Abu means father of. “Umm Muhammad” is mother of Muhammad. This is what friends might call her as a sign of respect.
A: Muslims often name their children after prophets in the Quran. Arab Christians often name their children after people in the Bible. Although names can give an indication of a person’s religion, don’t assume. Arab traditions call for the father’s name to be the middle name of their offspring.
However, here in Kuwait, when a Kuwaiti child is born the parents choose a name and then the rest of it’s name is by the baby’s paternal lineage. Therefore, if the baby is named Ahmed and his father is Muhammad son of Jassim, son of Abdullah and the family name for example Al-Sabah. The baby’s full name would be, “Ahmed Muhammad Jassim Abdullah Al-Sabah. His sister’s full name would be, Fatima Muhammad Jassim Abdullah Al-Sabah.
A: The Arabian culture stresses the importance of honoring guests and pampering them. The host will try his best to ensure that his guests are very comfortable. The host will serve food in excessive quantities to ensure that every guest will be fully satisfied. Another custom is that the host and his sons should be the last ones to start eating as a sign of honoring the guests. Also, even if the host has actually finished eating, he will continue to act as if he is still eating until everyone has finished. In this way, the host ensures that the guests were not rushed into finishing. If you are invited to dinner or lunch in a restaurant, it is customary that your Arabian host pay for it. It will leave a nice effect on your Arabian guest if you do the same when he visits you. When you invite your Arabian partners, note that Muslims abstain from consuming alcohol or eating pork products. It is even considered sinful to sit at a table where alcohol is consumed.
A: The Arabic word ‘Halal’ means lawful. In the Holy Quran, God commands Muslims and all of mankind to eat of the Halal things. Among the many verses of the Quran that convey this message, here is one:
“Eat of the that which God hath bestowed on you as food lawful and good, keep your duty to God in Whom ye are believers.” (5:88)
There is not an extensive list of lawful and unlawful foods in Islam. Those things, which are forbidden by God, are specifically mentioned, (i.e. blood, carrion, pork, intoxicants etc.) and all else is lawful. A Muslim, thus may partake of the bounties of God, so long as he avoids the stated prohibitions. This means, however, that a Muslim must use judgement in eating foods. Besides avoiding forbidden foods, he must also keep in mind the injunction to eat what is good for him.
A: Because although they may have some good, they are considered more harmful than good. Many studies confirm the dangers of those food and drink which in Islam are prohibited.
A: A Bedouin is someone whose family roots are from nomadic tribes. Here in Kuwait, although they no longer live in the desert they usually keep strongly and proudly to their Bedouin traditions.
A Bedoon is someone who is stateless. Bedoon in Arabic means ‘without’. So someone who is ‘Bedoon’ is without a passport. Many of the Bedoon in Kuwait were Bedouins roaming the desert in the past before Kuwait’s independence. Some came into the city to register as requested, others didn’t.
Therefore most Bedoon are Bedouins but not all Bedouins are Bedoon
A: When offered Arabic coffee it is polite to accept at least the first cup. Up to three cups is expected but you need to know how to stop it, otherwise it will just be continually poured. When you don’t want more coffee, as you hand the cup back to the server, give the cup a little shake from side to side & tilting it up and down. Unless you do this no matter what you say or do it will be automatically refilled.
A: It is common for Kuwaitis to live as extended families. When a son marries he will usually bring his bride to live with him in his family's house until they get their own house or decide to move out. Therefore elderly parents are usually living with one of their adult sons or daughters. It is very rare for the elderly to live completely alone.
Therefore the houses tend to be big to accommodate all the 3 generations of the family as well as maids/drivers etc.
A: In Islam it is highly encouraged, almost obligatory, for men to pray in the mosque if possible. However, women are not required to pray in the mosque. This is because God knows that in general, it is the women who have many responsibilities particularly at home and with the children, which makes it impractical for them to pray in the mosque 5 times a day. Therefore they can pray at home. However, all mosques in Kuwait have women’s prayer rooms as well as the shopping malls etc. Therefore, if women are out and about at prayer time they can pray at the mosque or prayer room.
A: Islamically, when a child reaches puberty they are then considered adult as far as the religion goes, they are responsible for themselves and to do everything which is required. Therefore, upon reaching puberty a girl is required to wear hijab, However, here in Kuwait, the government/society does not enforce girls/women to wear hijab. It is the individual’s decision, although some families will promote/encourage it while others discourage. It’s not uncommon to find 3 sisters who all dress differently i.e. one who doesn’t wear hijab, one who wears hijab and one who wears hijab and niqab (face cover).