April 24, 2015

The Concept of Friendship in Arab Culture

Hi, Good morning. I’m back, I have leisuretime, I do not have any task, so I can write post in my blog. I hope you will enjoy reading anything here, or maybe you want to ask me questions, just let me know, ok. You have my facebook, twitter, or email. Do not be shy haha, I am kidding, bro.
This morning, we are going to talk about the concept of friendship in Arab culture, do you know where Is the Arab World? You should open your book and try to find it if you really do not know. Haha. The Arab world stretches from Morocco across Northern Africa to the Persian Gulf. The Arab wolrd is more or less equal to the area known as the Middle East and North Africa (MENA). Although this excludes Somalia, Djibouti, and the Comoros Islands which are part of the Arab World.
One of my friends said “I do not really like Arab, no offense. Most of them are a bit arrogant. When I was young, I used to think Arab are humble. Now, I realize, out of 50, only one are humble. They made people stereotyped them, they took high pride in themselves and they race. Some that I know mention, they feel like other race are so slow that they should not mingle with them. Yes they are rich, they are from the prophet land, but they should not be too prideful.”
Ok, I do not want to talk about what my friend said to me. We are going to talk about something else haha, I just want to ask you a simple question, it’s a part of the concept of friendship in  Arab culture. I discussed about it with my friend when we were having lunch. I have a lot of friends from the Middle East in my University, and sometime I do not understand about their culture.
“Have you ever asked “Why do Arab people of the same gender hold hands?”
It happened to me a lot. Example, when I was in the Mall with my friend from the Middle East. We prayed maghrib and after that he hold my hands and kissed my cheek in front of Jamaah. he did that a lot, not just in the mosque, but also in public. That’s why I ask you this question. I do not feel comfortable with that.
We realize that we have different culture with Arab. In Indonesia, when you hold hands with the same sex in public, people will think that you are gay, but, in Arab world, you will see a lot of man hold hands with the same gender. Do you know why they do that? I tried to ask my friends from Saudi Arabia and he explained to me that Arab tradition is not like others. I tried to read a journal about Arab Culture. In Arab culture, a physical contact such as holding hands between people of the same sex considered a sign of affection without any sexual connotation. It’s considered a sign of warmest affection and respect – a sign of solid friendship.
Body language takes on extra significance in Arab culture. The body language is distinctly different and must be learned in order to effectively reinforce the intended message, and perhaps more importantly to not give unintended insults. Let me tell you about body language and greetings in Arab tradition:
Shake hands with right hand only at the beginning and end of visit, shakes hands longer but less firmly than in the West. Left hand grasps elbow. In fact, in Arab culture if a man chooses to not touch another in a greeting, it can be considered a sign of distance or rudeness. The same goes for women. Close friends or colleagues hug and kiss bot cheeks upon greeting. Kissing cheeks, long handshakes, and holding hands are meant to reflect friendship, peace, and equality. When it comes to strangers, they do not kiss cheeks or hold hands. Of course, greetings then would be more formal, such as a quick handshake and nod of the head. But, some people from Arab kiss cheeks or hold hands with people from other country, when they really know them. Placing a hand on your heart along with slight bow is a signed of resfect. This is usually done during greeting.
Loghandshakes, grasped elbows, even walking hand in hand by two males is common place in the Arab world. A considerable number of Arabs touch more between the same sex. They hold hands, hug each other. As Arab society condones the outward display of affection between male friends, one may see Arab men, even officials and military officers, holding hands as the walk together or otherwise converse with one another. If and individual Arab does not touch you, he does not like you-or he may be trying to restrain himself because you are not used to being touched. A full body embrace, accompanied with hugging, should not be initiated until you are sure that the Arab is a close friend. If the Arab initiates it, participate and consider yourself honored and/or accepted.
So, we may not judge them or you will be judged, because we have different culture. Rasulullah said on the hadith “Difference of opinion in my community is a mercy”.
“My feeling about seeing the World is that it’s going to change you necessarily, just the very fact of being out there and meeting people from different cultures and different ways of life.” (Ewan McGregor)