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Egypt - Perfumes

    It’s well-known that perfumes affect the psychological state of the individual, affecting his heart, brain, all his organs, and reflecting his personality. Perfumes can please a person or upset him, so man cared a lot about extracting perfumes from different types of flowers and plants. These perfumes appear in the shape of oils, incense, bukhoor, body-sprays, etc…

Arabs and Perfume

Pharaohs were the first to know about perfumes but they kept the composition of these perfumes secret. Then the industry moved to Arabs, especially Iraqis, who discovered the secrets of making perfumes and extracting them from different plants. Nowadays, we find each Arabian country having its own perfumes for men and women that characterize this country from other countries, reflecting its culture, and we find this care for perfumes especially in the Arabian Gulf, India, and Pakistan.

Perfumes in Syria

Syrians care a lot about perfumes after a period of stagnancy in this industry. They mainly depend on using the Damascus flower, which is planted only in Syria in the manufacture of perfumes, along with the Arabian jasmine, narcissus, and violet. We also export the Damascus flower to Europe. The Syrian perfume merchants make their perfume compositions in front of their customers as they order them, some like emotional perfumes and others like strong perfumes. We characterize the Syrian perfumes as very cheap compared to the international perfumes, with a very near excellence.

Perfumes in Egypt

Egyptians used perfumes since the pharaohs; moreover, perfumes were used in medicine, curing senility illness. We find the French people fond of pharaohs and the perfumes they used, and lately an Egyptian-French fair was opened about the pharaohs and their perfumes, and some research found that the Pharaohs manufactured the most complex and charming perfumes.

Casablanca

Casablanca, ‘ad-daar ‘al-bayDaa’ in Arabic, is located in Western Morocco on the Atlantic coast, and it is the biggest city in Morocco with a population exceeding three million people. Thanks to its strategic location, the port of Casablanca is considered the main port of Morocco, the largest port in North Africa, and the largest artificial port in the world.

The name Casablanca is originally Portuguese and it means “the white house.” The Portuguese influence started when Portugal conquered the city in the fifteenth century to put an end to the pirates that used the port as a base to attack Portuguese ships.

Spain and Portugal eventually abandoned the town after a great earthquake destroyed it along with the capital of Portugal, Lisbon, in 1755. The city was then rebuilt again under the Moroccan ruler Mohamed III who kept its name in Arabic as “the white house.”

A walk around Casablanca will demonstrate that which distinguishes it the most - its contrast between the exotic Old Town and the art deco design of New Town with its elegant, lavish, and ultra modern style.

In fact, Casablanca has an almost entirely art deco town called New Town and it is the largest collection of art deco architecture remaining in Morocco. The main streets of the New Town, its buildings, and architecture were designed by the French architect Henri Prost, and were a model of a new town at that time. In the midst of its hassle and noise, Casablanca has conserved its incredible charm, the combination of oriental Mauresque style and art deco architecture.

The Brides Festival

The Festival of Imilchil has become recognized around the world. The more common name of this festival is the Festival of Brides, it has been to attract huge numbers of tourist from around the world to attend days on tribal wedding ceremonies At the end of each summer. On this day the tribal women of that area will pick their husbands for the rest of their lives. The festival is a huge celebration in both Morocco and Imilchil. The legend behind the festival is that there were two tribes called Ait Yaaza and Ait Ibahim that were always in a constant war. Then a woman from one clan fell in love with a man from the other, but their parents wouldn’t let them get married.  Because they were not allowed to marry they shed many tears, and it is legend that they created the two lakes, Tislit and Islit, in reference to the two people that were in love. Because of this parents gave their children the right to choose who to marry.  This is not the only attraction of the Festival of Brides, however, there are also other ritual events, such as lamb offerings and henna tattooing.

Cultural Class: The Heart of Ramadan

Ramadan ( رمضان ) is a special month of the year for millions of Arabs and Muslims in the world. Interestingly, the start of Ramadan is determined by a combination of physical sightings and astronomical calculations done based on the lunar calendar. The lunar calendar being some 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar, Ramadan migrates through the seasons.

The most important characteristic of Ramadan is the fasting from the breaking of dawn to the setting of the sun.  While fasting has existed in many societies and in many forms, fasting
during Ramadan is not just refraining from eating and drinking but carries the added significance of worship, psychological comfort and morality.

Another important change that comes along with Ramadan, is that workplaces and schools change to special schedule. The workday or school day ends around 4:30 pm, giving time for people to return home, rest, and prepare food for breaking the fast at sunset. In Arabic, there is a special word for the meal during Ramadan and it’s al-’ifTaar, (الإفطار ) which during this time of the month unites families and neighbors in a social gathering to break the fast.

Different countries serve different food at al-’ifTaar. In Morocco, for example, people typically break the fast with dates and follow it with a warm and rich soup called “Harira” ( حريرة ). Some people even jokingly say that without Harira, there is no Ramadan! The end of Ramadan is celebrated with a 2-day holiday called “the Festival of Fast-Breaking”.

The act of fasting is said to redirect the heart away from worldly activities, its purpose being to cleanse the inner soul and free it from harm. It also allows Muslims to practice self-discipline, self-control, sacrifice, and empathy for those who are less fortunate; thus encouraging actions of generosity and charity. Many believe that feeding someone al-’ifTaar as a form of charity is very rewarding.

After all, the word “Ramadan” derives from an Arabic word for intense heart..!

Cultural Class: Argan Oil- A Treasure from the South

Perpetually in the search for beauty and youth, people flock to spas and search for products to add to their beauty regime. However, one answer to preventing wrinkles and eliminate scars might be Argan oil, which originates from the South Western part of Morocco.

The oil is actually extracted from a shell nut from the round and green fruits of the Argan tree, which grows exclusively in the South Western part of Morocco. This tree is very resistant to the harsh climate of the region, and prevails in a semi-desert environment. It is actually thanks to this amazing tree’s roots, which grow deep in search for water, that retain some humidity in the soil, limiting the advance of the desert.

The harvesting of the tree’s fruits and the laborious process of the oil extraction is still almost completely done by hand. For centuries, the women of this mostly rural region have been producing Argan oil, which was used for their consumption and traditional Moroccan medicine. Argan oil is also believed to help skin conditions, including wrinkles and scars; such that now, it is being exported to prestigious laboratories and the most luxurious spas in the world.

Because of its importance, it is called “The Tree of Life”, as it has sustained a living for generations in periods of drought, and now belongs in the UNESCO World Heritage List.

Have you ever experienced the benefits of Argan Oil?

Cultural Class: Where East meets West

Casablanca, A-dar l-bayda’ in Arabic, is located in western Morocco and it is its biggest city; with a population exceding 3 million people.

Thanks to its strategic location the port of Casablanca is considered the main port of Morocco, and it is the largest port in Africa, as well as the largest artificial port in the world.
The name “casa blanca” comes from Portugese, meaning “the white house.”

The Portugese influence is here because in the 15th century, Portugal conquered the city and put an end to the pirates that used the port as a base to attack Portugese ships.

Spain and Portugal eventually abandonned the town after a great earthquake destroyed it in 1755. The city was then rebuilt and kept its name, “the white house.”

A walk around Casablanca has a rich contrast between the exotic Old Town and the Art Deco design of the New Town with its
elegant, lavish and ultra modern style.

In fact, Casablanca has an almost entirely Art Deco town called New Town and is thelargest collection of Art Deco architecture in Morocco.

In the midst of its hussle and noise, Casablanca has kept its charm, the combination of oriental Mauresque style and Art Deco architecture. Don’t miss the chance to visit this charming port, rich in influences, history, and beath-taking architecture!

Islamic Culture and Holidays - Eid ul-Fitr

This is a celebration that begins on the last day of Ramadan and is called ‘Festival of Breaking Fast’ or `Eid ul-Fitr. The celebration goes on for three days as children knock on the doors of other people and take chocolate, money and sugar from them. People take this time to forgive each other. The children kiss the hands of the adults and everyone spend time visiting with each other.

At the end of the fast and beginning of this festival, Muslims are obligated to repeat the Tabkir all three days of this celebration. People greet each other with “Happy Eid or Blessed Eid.”

The first day begins with getting up early and eating a very small breakfast portion. After that they go to the Mosque where they collaborate in a special Eid prayer. Muslims take this time to dress up in the best apparel; sometimes new clothes, if they can afford it and go to the Eid prayer.

After the Eid prayer, there is a sermon preached and then a time of forgiveness and assistance for the entire human race in the world. People sitting on opposite sides of each other then begin to embrace each other in greeting and love.

The ceremony ends and then Muslims all over go about visiting their friends, relatives and associates as well as visits to the grave of their loved ones who may have died.

Their fasting is a ritual that acknowledges the sovereignty of God and the weakness of man. So marking the end of Ramadan is significant to the Muslim religious traditions.

Eid ul-Fitr also symbolizes the significance of the Muslim belief that the angel Gabriel descended on all of Prophet Mohammad’s’ grandsons dressed in white clothing.

The Shia of the Iran culture takes this event very personal. They will go out of their way to give to charity and to the people in the Muslim community. They will give food to the needy and visit the elderly.

They will kill a young lamb or calf as a sacrifice and recognition of this important occasion. This is really very admirable to them since this kind of meat is an expensive commodity in Iran.

Muslim / Islamic Holiday - Ramadan Begins Arabic

The Islamic faith consists of different times of the year that the Muslim takes time away to worship. Ramadan is one of those holy times that are an important part of the Muslim beliefs. On the Islamic calendar, this is considered to be the ninth month of the year.

The Muslim people have certain religious obligations that they have to follow and the five pillars of Islam is part of the acceptance to the religion. Ramadan is one of those five pillars. The entire month is spent in a time of fasting each day from dawn to sunset.

The process of fasting during this month is indicative of the removal of their sins. They believe that their Qu’ran was initially sent down to the earth at this time and so they consider it to be important in relation to how they practice their faith.

The Muslims believe their Prophet Mohammad’s saying that during this month, the entire heavens would remain open to them and that hell would be closed.

Muslims usually want to physically see the moon to appreciate that it is the beginning of Ramadan. Because of the location of the new moon in different countries, the celebration of Ramadan may be off by a day depending on where the Muslim worshipper is located.

It is important to note that every year Ramadan begins ten days earlier than it began the previous year. This particular month is dedicated to extreme fasting and additional prayers.

Muslim take this month very seriously as it pertains to their faith and will not engage in any form of employment during this time. They spend this time to recognize the significance of important things and people such as the wife and grandson of Mohammad, the prophet, the Torah, Battle of Badr, the Psalms, the Qu’ran, and the Injeel.

Fasting is probably the most important of all events during this time of Ramadan. They get up early and eat and then pray, but before the first prayer is announced, there can be no further eating until the announcement of the fourth prayer.

They use the process of fasting as a way to redirect their minds from the activities of the world and focus more on their god than on their own personal pleasures.

Muslim Holiday / Arabic Holiday - Lailat al Barat

The Night of Emancipation or the Night of Fortune is the Arabic Holiday known also as Lailat al Barat. It is a Muslim holiday that is celebrated on the fourteenth night of the month of Shabaan as depicted by the Islam Hijra calendar.

It is a special day to the Muslim faith because it is also mentioned in the Qu’ran and is a symbolic reference that is authentic to the Prophet Mohammad. It is also known as Shabe-e-Baraat in India and Iran, which demonstrates a night of forgiveness or recognition of the Day of Atonement.

The Muslims think that this Arabic holiday is a preparation for them to seek forgiveness for their sins when they pray to their gods two weeks before the beginning of Ramadan. The Prophet Mohammad pointed out in the Holy Qu’ran that this is a very significant night for those who practice the Muslim faith.

It is a time for succinct acknowledgement that they need to be forgiven so that they can be in good standing when their creator makes a decision on their health, wealth, life, death and relationships.

Some view this particular night as a serious reflection of their past and future. They think that it is the Night of their Salvation and the importance of it cannot be understated for the Muslim faith. The night is celebrated with an expectation that their destiny for the future hinges on how they worship and ask for repentance. The women prepare meals and distribute bread to those who are poor.

The Islamic faith spans countries such as India, Iran and other Arab countries so this night is celebrated in these countries as well as others. People of the Muslim faith meet in different location to observe this Arabic holiday as part of their obligation to the faith.

The Lailat al Barat holiday originated from Iran where people believed that it is on this night that the dead are remembered and their souls come back to visit their relatives.

Legend connected to this holiday indicates that it is on this night that the trees are shaken and the leaves drop with names of those who will die in the coming years.

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year From ArabicPod101.com!

Happy Holidays and Happy New Year from everyone here at ArabicPod101.com! We’re grateful to have listeners just like you, and we’re eagerly waiting for the upcoming year to learn Arabic together!

And when the New Year comes around, be sure to make a resolution to study Arabic with ArabicPod101.com!

Have a healthy and happy holiday season.

From the ArabicPod101.com Team