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My favorite Arabic Proverbs - by Lena Dahdal

Updated: Apr 3, 2023

I stood for a long time and contemplated these phrases, they were attractive and captivating to me. Beautifully formulated interconnected words that tell a lot, and despite their small number, they are loaded with meaning. Proverbs are the memory of people, a repository of their experiences and expertise, and they are a true translation of their feelings written in the spoken dialect.

Arabic proverbs are one of the most important gateways to the Arabic language and they represent the cornerstone in understanding the culture of the people, As they mirror the human experiences of the people who speak the same language and share the same culture. They have addressed many aspects of people's lives, including healthy practices of individuals, such as

"There is a remedy for every disease,"
"Cold is the cause of every illness,"
"Take a walk after dining, and have a nap after lunch".

"The cold is the cause of every illness."

People have found that direct exposure to cold weather can cause many changes in the body, especially in children, the elderly, and those with chronic illnesses. This proverb was said to help draw attention to this observation and to take it into account in order to maintain health and prevent many diseases, especially in winter season.

"Take a walk after dining, and have a nap after lunch".

This proverb is used to advise people to reduce their food intake in the evening, and if unable to do so, then they should walk after having a large evening meal.

There are also proverbs that have become associated with religious meanings.

"What is written on the forehead must be seen by the eye"

Which so truthfully expresses the idea that there is no escape of fate and destiny.

"The rope of lies is short."

This proverb means that the liar will soon be exposed, and that truth is better than lies.

"Excuses are uglier than sin."

The story behind this proverb goes that a king once said that if anyone came with an excuse uglier than the sin, they would be rewarded greatly. One day, while the king was dozing off in the garden of his palace, his servant came and kissed him, causing the king to wake up in anger and order the servant to be whipped. The servant pleaded, "My lord, I am innocent. I did not know it was you sleeping, I thought it was the queen." The king's anger increased and he ordered the servant to be executed. The servant then said, "My lord, this excuse is uglier than the sin, for I did commit the sin of kissing you, but when I came to you with an excuse, you ordered my execution. Therefore, I deserve the reward."

"Not every time you hand over the jar."

This proverb is used to warn someone not to repeat an action or to advise them to change their course of action that has caused a crisis and has not been effective.

We also see that proverbs are not without verbal music, as they contain a musical bell and harmony between their words, which always fascinated me. How beautiful is this concise artistic expression, that is formulated to depict a situation or incident derived from human experience and that serves as words of wisdom to live by in a similar situation.

With love,


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