Sunday, July 14, 2024 | Muharram 7, 1446 H
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Ancient Arabic Proverbs: 6


35) Between Hana and Mana Our Beard was Lost: there was a man who had to two wives: Hana and Mana. Hana was young and whenever she saw greys in her husband’s beard, she plucked them out claiming that it would make him look younger. While Mana the old wife, did the opposite: she plucked out the black hairs so that he looks his age. One day the man looked at the mirror to realise that he’d lost his beard completely between the two wives and exclaimed: “Between Hana and Mana our beard was lost!”. This became a proverb used when being unable to reach middle ground.

36) He Returned with Hunain’s Slippers: Hunain was a famous cobbler in Al-Hira (Iraq). He was visited by a Bedouin riding a camel who liked one of the slippers and started haggling over the price. After hours of futile argument, the Bedouin left the shop without buying which angered Hunain who’d lost time and customers. Knowing the Bedouin’s route, he decided to avenge himself and took a short cut to reach the Bedouin’s path. There he left one of the slippers that the Bedouin liked earlier. When the Bedouin reached that point, he saw the slipper and thought to himself: “This looks like Hunain’s slipper! I wish they were a pair!”. He left it and walked for a distance to find the second slipper- that was placed intentionally by Hunain as well- and regretted not taking the first one. He abandoned his camel with its cargo and went back to get the first slipper. Hunain was hiding nearby and took the camel back to his shop as a compensation for his wasted day. The Bedouin came back with the slippers to find his camel gone. Returning home, he told his story saying that he’d returned with Hunain’s slippers. It became a proverb indicating disappointment and despair.

37) God Bless He Who Knows His True Self-Worth: Omar ibn Abdul-Aziz (682-720 A.D) was the 8th Umayyad Caliph well-known for being pious and devout. One day he learned that his son had bought an expensive ring and sent him a letter saying: “It reached me that you’d bought a ring for 1,000 Dirhams. Sell it and feed 1,000 famished. Buy yourself a steel ring instead and inscribe on it: “God Bless He Who Knows His True Self-Worth”.

38) The Rain had Reached the Trap: It’s said that there was a hunter who used to set traps for lions in Arabia. His traps were primitive: a hole in the ground that he covered with branches and put a bait on top of it. One day, it rained so hard that the traps were filled with water that he said: “The rain had reached the trap”. It became a proverb used when you can’t go quiet about something anymore.

39) Today is Wine and Tomorrow is Another Matter: Imru Al-Qais (500-540 A.D) was a famous poet in Al-Jahiliya time. He was a son of a king who denounced him for his waywardness and Imru spent years vagabonding. When the news of his father’s assassination reached him, Imru was drinking and said: “God have mercy on my father. He lost me young and burdened me with his revenge old. No sobering today and no drunkenness tomorrow! Today is wine and tomorrow is another matter!”. It’s used when focusing on doing one task.

There are more than 300 existing ancient Arabic proverbs that are still actively in use. I hope you enjoyed those few chosen ones. Ramadhan Kareem to all!

Rasha al Raisi is a certified skills trainer and author of The World According to Bahja. You can reach the authoer at

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