At Indiana Farm Bureau Insurance, we are committed to promoting inclusivity and learning more about the different cultures that form our diverse communities. In addition, our organization is comprised of employees and agents from various backgrounds and cultures. As an organization and as individuals, we are on a journey of learning more about the customs and traditions of other cultures. As part of that educational journey, we are pleased to share information about Arabic culture.
Arabic history and diversity
There is not a specific answer for what defines an Arab person. An Arab person can be someone whose first language is Arabic.; it can be someone who has Arabic heritage or it can be someone who both speaks Arabic as their first language and has Arabic heritage.
There are 22 countries in the Arabic world. Most of these countries are in the Middle East and North Africa also known as the MENA region. The 22 Arabic countries are as follows: Algeria, Bahrain, the Comoros Islands, Djibouti, Egypt, Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait, Lebanon, Libya, Morocco, Mauritania, Oman, Palestine, Qatar, Saudi Arabia, Somalia, Sudan, Syria, Tunisia, United Arab Emirates and Yemen.
Contrary to popular belief, Islam is not synonymous with Arabic culture. Islam has had an influence on Arabic culture, but many Arab people don't follow Islam. There are many who practice other religions such as Christianity or Judaism.
Interesting facts about Arabic culture
Arabic language influenced the English language. English words like algebra and alkaline, and others that start with “al,” have Arabic roots.
Arabic is the fifth most spoken language in the world.
Windmills, soap, the toothbrush and the clock are just some of the inventions that originated in Arabic countries.
As a guest in an Arab home, it is considered an insult to refuse food or drink, but make sure you leave a small amount of food on your plate. Tea and coffee are viewed as signs of friendship.
Singers Paula Abdul and Ariana Grande, actress Salma Hayek and actor Vince Vaughn all have Arab roots.
Arabic common customs, traditions and festivals
In Arabic culture, family is a top priority. Family bonds are very strong, and most activities are family-based. Decisions are usually made based on what’s best for the family, not what’s best for the individual.
Hygiene is very important in Arabic culture. It is essential to have clean, washed hands before eating because utensils aren’t provided with a meal. The utensil used during mealtime is the right hand. To eat individuals use the thumb, index finger and middle finger pinched together to create a scoop. The left hand is considered unclean and is not to be used for eating or greeting someone.
Ramadan is an Islamic holiday that plays a big role in Arabic culture. This is similar to Christmas. Families gather to visit, celebrate and exchange gifts. The dates for Ramadan change each year. Muslims follow a lunar calendar and Ramadan begins on the first day of the ninth month. During the month of Ramadan, Muslims fast from dawn to sunset. Food and drinks (including water) must be consumed before dawn and can’t be consumed again until sunset. The purpose of Ramadan is for Muslims to focus on their relationship with God by eliminating distractions. Eid al-Fitr, a three-day feast and celebration of breaking the fast, marks the end of Ramadan.
This is just a brief synopsis of the Arab culture. There are many other facts, traditions, events and details behind Arab culture. It is crucial to have an understanding for other cultures, separate of your own. Recognizing and educating yourself on different aspects of individuals’ lives can help show how our world is made up of diversity and culture.
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Office of The Deputy Chief of Staff for Intelligence US Army Training and Doctrine Command Ft. Leavenworth,
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Factsheets. [Infographic]. FAS.org. https://fas.org/irp/agency/army/arabculture.pdf
UAEMoments team. (2021, June 16). Celebrities You Didn’t Know Were of Arab Origins. MSN.
Watt, W.M., Cachia, P. (n.d.). Who Is an Arab? University of Pennsylvania – African Studies Center.
*The information in this article was compiled from a variety of sources and is intended to provide helpful tips only.