In this way, Muslims have maintained the holy text’s resonant eloquence and assured themselves that no part of the Quran has been altered (a huge concern for Muslims). Use the right hand to eat, touch and present gifts. A great tension exists between different ethnic groups in the Middle East. Avoid Public Displays Of Affection. Small talk and ritual greetings is normal. The forms that the fertility rites assumed varied from region to region, depending on climate and geography. Strong religion beliefs often govern family life and their way of life. In 1988, this author went to a small Afghan hospital in Peshawar to visit one of my Afghan students who’d developed typhoid fever. Some of the influencers of Lebanese culture are Phoenicians, Assyrians, Romans, Ottoman Turks, Greeks, Persians, … The geographical location of any given society close to certain physical features may shape the social life of people. Modern Standard Arabic is used primarily for official speeches, television newscasts, newspapers and magazines, books, and so forth. Travel Tip: Ditch those Western ways! It’s helpful at times, to have a pack of cigarettes, even if you don’t smoke. Even more diverse than the different English dialects spoken in Australia, Ireland, England, Canada, New Zealand, and the United States, Arabic has a vast array of dialects so distinct that an uneducated farmer from Morocco likely couldn’t communicate with an illiterate farmer from Lebanon. 26:5). You can pretty much answer any question you don’t want to answer with “Inshallah!” It’s a great phrase – sort of like “we’ll see, sort of, I don’t know, maybe, probably not!”. The Middle East, as defined above, encompasses four distinct culture areas: Arab, Turkish, Iranian, and the newly evolved Israeli culture. Each section describes the staple foods, meal patterns, cooking techniques, and food-related customs and traditions. The literary language of pre-Islamic poetry, the Quran, and classical Arabic literature has survived today in a version called Modern Standard Arabic, or fusha. Related and sometimes useful is a bag of small cheap plastic hair barrettes to hand out to little girls – comes in handy when you want to take pictures. Many of these characteristics and customs apply as much today as they did in ancient times, while other traditions have died out. Box 7152, Berkeley, California 94707. As a result, religious affiliation is essential to every… If you plan to travel to this regio… … This article on ethnicity is designed not to express the scope of tension between ethnic groups across the region (an endless topic touched upon throughout the historical sections), but rather to help explain the importance of language and its link to ethnicity. Within that area is a diverse group of people bound together primarily by language and religion. If people don’t look like they’re eating snacks or drinking coffee while walking in the street, you shouldn’t either. A little politeness and a smattering of a few Arabic words will earn you dividends one hundred-fold when encountering the local people in any of the Arab lands. The headscarf option may be of more use in the more rural areas as city women tend to dress far more “western”.  This is true for cities such as Marrakech, Istanbul, Damascus, Beirut where the rules about head scarves are much more relaxed – however, ALL mosques require you to be respectful and cover yourselves before entering. Arabic describes the language they speak, whereas Arab refers to the people. Not all Iranians are Persian though. This formal Arabic is in many ways an artificial language because almost no one really grows up speaking Modern Standard Arabic at home (although most Arabs try to convince you their dialect is closest to fusha). Today, the cultures of the world can be divided into two main parts such as the Eastern and Western culture. Bedouin men seem not to care and will usually pose handsomely, but ask anyway. Some are Arabs, Turkish, Kurdish, or Baluchi. For single women travelling alone, it is suggested to bring a ring that looks like a wedding band, and possibly a picture of any man that you can refer proudly to as “my husband”. In fact, before the late 19th century, almost no one grew up speaking Hebrew at home. When the State of Israel was founded in 1948, Hebrew was decreed as one of its two official languages (the other one, Arabic, being the language of the Arab Palestinians who remained in Israel). Many of the place names in the region of Haran are tied in with Abrahamic history: Serug, Nahor, Terah.4 If you offer a cigarette to the person selling the thing (if it’s a man 9 times out of 10 he’ll be a smoker), you start to become more like a friend than a customer, “Oh, we’re just sitting here, two friends, talking about something I like.”, Always handy is a good story to tell while haggling for the product you want –  “it’s for my cousin who is getting married” for example. “No, thank you.” said firmly and clearly is better and will let them exit to find another victim. Watch what the local women wear and your trip will go a bit smoother. British Foreign and Commonwealth Office Travel advice for British citizens including travel warnings. Make sure you keep any expensive cameras in cases and preferably out of view in a bag or rucksack, or at least carried towards your body rather than in view of wandering hands on the street. When I told him the United States, he leaped up, shook my hand, expressed his pleasure in meeting me, and informed me that I was free to enter the hospital. This question is a good place to start. Many Muslims believe that reading the Quran in translation to understand it is less of a blessing than reading it in the original Arabic, even if you can’t understand the meaning. The you-are-what-you-speakparadigm works pretty well for Berbers (speaking Berber), Pashtuns (speaking Pashtu), Panjabis (speaking Panjabi), Uzbeks (speaking Uzbek), Kurds (speaking Kurdish) and so on. People in the East are rigid in their ideologies and beliefs; they are often reluctant to challenge an… In South Asia, for example, Pashtuns, Punjabis, Sindhis, Hazaras, Tajiks, and other groups are in constant conflict. DO NOT TAKE PICTURES OF ANY WOMEN WITHOUT ASKING. Family. Therefore, reading for prestige (or blessing) takes precedence over reading for meaning. •“In-Group”-Make statements that show an appreciation of the culture, “Tell me about your culture, I love learning about other cultures”. Turkish Weddings: Colorful and Lavish Traditions 2. In art history, literature and cultural studies, Orientalism is the imitation or depiction of aspects in the Eastern world.These depictions are usually done by writers, designers, and artists from the West. Given Arabic’s special status in Islamic tradition, the consensus among Muslims is that any translation of the Quran into another language dilutes the meaning and full impact of the Quran’s message, not to mention the loss of resonant eloquence that you can only attain in Arabic. Address: P.O. Guide Written by Erika Linden Green-Rafeh. Fertility of agriculture, of edible animals, and of the human population was a paramount factor in the life and religion of the ancient Middle East. Yiddish vs. Hebrew: What’s the Difference? The high antiquity of civilization in the Middle East is largely due to the existence of convenient land bridges and easy sea lanes passable in summer or … Many Bedouins in Morocco believe taking a photo image of them steals their soul – it’s serious stuff in their culture. Also a large number of Afghans speak a dialect of Persian they usually call Dari. You know, I really have to be going now. Our M.A. Prophetic and ṢūfÄ« healing traditions continue to flourish in many parts of the Middle East, particularly in the countries of North Africa. They’re just trying to make a living to feed themselves and their family. This includes Collectivist vs. Individualistic … Padan-Aram, Deut. Warning, though, if there is a crowd of kids, they will descend on you – better to use this nicety if there are only one or two children present. For this reason, you could say you are what you speak. Making Enemies: Egging on bartering shop keepers, ranting in English, taking unrequested photos of people, especially the Bedouin. Storytelling traditions vary all over the world, yet have many things in common. However throughout the years, the two have come to influence one another consta… Bye!”. Language, Ethnicity, and Tradition in the Middle East. Watch how the locals dress, greet each other and follow suit. The use of Hebrew became a defining trait of Zionism, and Jewish youngsters in Eastern Europe studied Hebrew when preparing to immigrate to Palestine. Stay away from crowds and never get involved in the local demonstrations.  Steer clear of heavily guarded American embassies, except if you’re going in to register, and always steer clear of military-looking areas. The people in eastern countries are more traditional than people in the West when we consider their rituals, customs, clothing, etc. A guide to Moroccan eating and hospitality. The revival of spoken Hebrew is due in great part to Eliezer Ben-Yehuda, who emigrated from Russia to Palestine in 1881, and promoted the use of Hebrew in everyday life. Many matters of etiquette in the Middle East are connected to Islam as it is written in the Qur'an and how it has been traditionally understood and … When visiting a Mosque or a holy shrine, as a woman or a non-Muslim you are required to wear a headscarf, no exceptions, but you’ll win points if you put it on automatically for respect. Bedouins like this young man wearing a fez are traditionally renowned for their hospitality . Eastern philosophy, art, literature, and other traditions, are often found throughout the region in places of high importance, such as popular culture, architecture and traditional literature. The culture of a community or a nation depends upon the surroundings, the values and beliefs that they are brought up upon. World Bank data for 2017 estimated the population of the Arab world at 414.5 million. Today you can find children all across the non-Arab Muslim World reading and reciting the Quran in an almost flawless Arabic under the patient guidance of a mullah (who has normally donated his time) even though these young children don’t have a clue what they’re saying. For travel in Middle Eastern countries, taking a lightweight  headscarf is highly recommend for women. The Arab, Turkish, and Iranian cultures are heirs to great Islamic empires that had their centers in the region and represent three distinct variations within the global Islamic civilization. In the Middle East, for instance, getting a cup of coffee (or tea) is a significant part of each day, with cultural and social importance. Arabs are individuals who speak Arabic as a native tongue. 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