47. Why do some
Arab women wear garments that cover their faces or heads?
This is a religious practice, not a cultural practice. It is rooted in
Islamic teachings about hijab, or modesty. While some say that veiling
denigrates women, some women say that it liberates them. Covering is not
universally observed by Muslim women and varies by region and class. Some
Arab governments have, at times, banned or required veiling. In American
families, a mother or daughter may cover her head while the other does
48. What garments
might a woman wear to practice hijab?
One interpretation is that everything should be covered except hands, face
and feet. Long clothing and a scarf would accomplish this and the head
scarf might be called a hijab or chador. The long, robelike garment is
called an abayah, jilbab, or chador. In Iraq and Saudi Arabia especially,
a woman may wear a cloak that covers her head. Beneath a robe, a woman may
be wearing a traditional dress, casual clothes or a business suit. The
veil, in particular, has been made controversial by governments, gender
politics and religious biases. Most Muslim women in the United States do
not wear veils.
49. Some Arab men
wear a checked garment on their heads. What is that?
It is called a kafiyyeh and it is traditional, not religious. Wearing the
kafiyyeh is similar to an African American wearing traditional African
attire, or an Indian wearing a sari. The kafiyyeh shows identity and pride
in one's culture.
50. Why do some
Arab women dress in black?
Remember that black is a popular color in contemporary American fashion
and may not have any special significance. When it does, it may be a sign
of mourning. Black, when worn in mourning, may be worn for a few days to
51. What is an
appropriate way to greet an Arab American?
This is not difficult or tricky. Remember that most Arab Americans grew up
here and do not require special greetings. Be yourself, and let them be
themselves. If they are practicing Muslims or recent immigrants, watch for
cues. A smile, a nod and a word of greeting are appropriate in most
situations. Some Muslims feel it is inappropriate for unrelated men and
women to shake hands. Wait until the other person extends his or her hand
before you extend your own.
52. What are the
customs for paying compliments?
Again, be yourself and be observant. In most cases, there is no reason to
behave differently than you would with anyone else. For some recent
immigrants, be a little more reserved. Complimenting a possession may be
misunderstood and the person, out of generosity and hospitality, may feel
compelled to offer you the object. There can be a lot of difference
between one person and another, even a parent and child, so don't assume
one way is always best.
53. What about
The giving of token gifts is a polite practice in many cultures and
American businesses. A gift, then, can put journalistic integrity and
cultural sensitivity into conflict. You will have to balance your
journalistic ethics against the risk of offending someone by refusing a
gift. Consider your ethics policy, the giver's intention, the effects of
acceptance or denial, as well as the value of the gift. You may need to
consult with your supervisor or explain yourself to the giver.
54. What is
Middle-Eastern food like?
Tasty! It is varied, but has some staples. Wheat is used in bread,
pastries, salads and main dishes. Rice is often cooked with vegetables,
lamb, chicken or beef. Lamb and mutton are more common than other meats.
Arab recipes use many beans and vegetables, including eggplant, zucchini,
cauliflower, spinach, onions, parsley and chickpeas.
55. What is that
pipe I sometimes see people smoking?
It is a water pipe that filters and cools tobacco smoke, which often is
flavored with apple, honey, strawberry, mint, mango or apricot. Such pipes
are used in several parts of the world and are not an exclusively Arab
apparatus. They are known by several names, including sheesha, hookah and
argilah, or argeelah.
Contents :: Overview
:: Origins :: Language
:: Demographics :: Family
Religion :: Politics
:: Terminology :: Stereotypes
:: Coverage :: Resources
Content © copyright 2001 Detroit
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