Armenian Jerusalem
This project has been supported by the Gulbenkian philanthropic Foundation, the Armenian Patriarchate of Jerusalem, and members of the worldwide Armenian community. Reproductions of the genealogical documents [domar’s] are courtesy Photo Garo, Jerusalem. Copyright © 2007 Arthur Hagopian
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Al banat ham lal mamat      Daughters are an object of worry until death.             This   saying   probably   harks   back   to   the   practice   of   female   infanticide   during   the   pre- Islamic   Arab   dark   age,   Al   Jahiliya,   (literally,   the   era   of   ignorance).   Like   a   desert khamseen,   Islam   wiped   out   this   horrible   custom   of   burying   newly   born   daughters   alive for   fear   of   letting   them   fall   captive   to   raiding   parties.   This   was   one   of   the   worst Jahiliya   abominations   that   Mohammed,   the   prophet   of   Islam,   promptly   abolished.   The Quran,   the   holy   scriptures   of   Islam,   endowed   women   with   privileges   they   had   never dreamed   of   enjoying   before.   Among   them,   the   provision   of   a   prenuptial   dowry   by   a prospective   groom   and   the   laying   aside   of   a   special   sum   at   the   disposal   of   his   wife should he decide to divorce her later.
A NOTE ON TRANSLITERATION 
These    sayings    are    an    oral    tradition, voiced     in     the     Arabic     of     the     local Jerusalem   vernacular,   which   is   often   a sharp    diversion    from    the    written    or spoken   classical   Arabic.   Reproduction   in the     native     tongue     therefore     poses difficulties   since   a   faithful   rendering   in Classical   Arabic   would   not   be   possible. The   best   that   can   be   done   is   a   close approximation.       here       are       English transliterations   for   those   unfamiliar   with Arabic     as     well     as     references     and explanatory     notes     where     applicable. Please   note   computers   which   lack   Arabic support may not display that alphabet. 
kaghkatsis having some “assal”
Qadi al awlad shanaQ Haloh -      The children's (court jud)ge hanged himself [i.e, in frustration].             To   anyone   trying   to   settle   differences   between   children,   this   would   be   an   apposite declaration. Try   to   find   out   who   broke   the   window-pane   in   a   house   full   of   children   -   and you'll   end   up   with   a   Rashomon   scenario   -   with   as   many   different   versions   or   points   of view with regard to the truth, as there are children.
al Qrd fi 'ayn immoh ghazal      In the eyes of its mother, a monkey is a gazelle.                No   matter   how   comely   a   child   may   look,   in   the   eyes   of   its   mother   it   will   always be   as   beautiful   as   a   gazelle   -   an   animal   Arabs   consider   one   of   God's   greatest   gifts to mankind.
iss al 'an al jar Qabl al dar     Find out about your neighbor first before deciding on a house.             The   Arab   remains   a   gregarious   animal,   delighting   in   the   company   of   others,   in the   mellifluous   flow   of   his   musical   tongue.   The   common   saying   "The   Prophet [Mohammed]   recommended   that   you   look   after   your   neighbors   and   honor   them,   up to   the   seventh   from   your   house,"   aptly   reflects   the   feeling.   Who   has   not   heard   the story   of   Hatem   al Tai,   the   legendary Arab   chieftain   who   felt   no   compunctions   about sacrificing   his   finest   steed   to   feed   a   guest   when   he   ran   out   of   other   offerings? When   you   break   bread   with   an   Arab,   you   become   a   valued   guest   and   no   harm should   befall   you   whenever   you   are   under   his   roof. Another   famous   saying,   this   one from   Egypt,   carves   this   out   in   stone:   "We   have   eaten   break   and   salt   together."   That cements   our   friendship.   Therefore,   a   man   looking   for   a   house   to   rent   or   purchase would   be   more   interested   in   finding   out   who   or   what   his   neighbor   is,   for   to   an Arab, a good neighbor is worth more than a dozen relatives.
la taQool lil mooghanni ghanni wala lil raQQas irQos                Don't   tell   a   dancer   to   dance,   nor   a   singer   to   sing.   Or,   let   the   player   play whatever tune he likes.                An   admonition   against   being   nosy,   presumptuous   or   a   busybody.   People   know what   they   are   doing:   they   do   not   need   to   be   told   or   reminded   of   their   tasks   or responsibilities.   If   you   ask   a   painter   to   give   your   kitchen   a   new   coat   of   paint,   don't stand   there   telling   him   how   to   hold   a   brush.   In   another   context,   this   saying   also warns   against   meddling   and   influence   peddling:   if   a   person   does   not   want   to   do something,   leave   him/her   alone.   Don't   try   to   make   that   person   change   his/her mind.
  al aQareb 'aQareb      Relatives are like crabs [i.e., untrustworthy].                A   crude   condemnation   of   disloyal,   covetous   or   treacherous   relatives.   Compared to   a   faithful   friend   or   neighbor,   many   relatives   come   up   short   in   a   society   that expects   brothers   and   sisters,   uncles   and   aunts,   to   remain   true   to   the   bonds   of blood.
  Timsek turab, yi?leb dhahab      May the earth you touch, be transmuted into gold.             A   favorite   grandfatherly   blessing.   Wheneer   I   tried   to   kiss   his   hand,   as   was   the custom   in   those   halcyon   days   (and   not   in   flattery   out   of   love   and   respect),   he would   pull   it   way   and   give   me   a   light   tap   .   The   analogy   with   the   Midas   Golden     Touch is evient.  
  shayfeh Halhah zayy khariet al suboH      She is as arrogant as an early morning poo.           This   is   a   gem   by   itself,   a   flagrant   expression   of   envy   and   dislike,   with   a   nice poetic   and   graohic   undetone. The   particular   deposit,   becmorningause   it   is   the   day's first   emanation   and   therefore   fresh,   sits   or   squats   arrogantly   (in   the   bowl).   Like   the person being derided.
yifdaHni wa la yistaHni      I'd rather it [breaking wind] betrayed me rather than blew me up.             Should   a   person   feel   the   need   to   break   wind,   foremost   in   his   mind   would   be   the thought,   "the   heck   with   it,   I'd   rather   the   wind   and   smell betray   me   and   embarrass me rather than burst me."
yom 'assal yom bassal      One day we have honey, the next day onions.                Mainly   a   reflection   on   the   state   of   one's   trade   or   business.   Some   days   you   make money,   and   some   days   you   do   not.   This   little   gem   has   even   migrated   into   the   Jewish lexion
  yalli makhedh al Qird 'ala maloh, byirouH al mal byidal l Qird 'ala Haloh              If   you   marry   a   monkey   for   his   money,   [beware]   the   money   is   soon   gone,   but   the stays put: you're stuck with him.                Marrying   a   person   for   his   or   her   money   is   perhaps   a   grave   mistake,   particularly   if that   person   is   physically   unattractive.   For   the   money   will   in   time   dissipate,   but   the unattractiveness   will   remain.   At   the   time   this   was   coined,   plastic   surgery   had   been unheard   of.   People   could   not   visualize   the   possibility   of   re-arranging   one's   face.   But in today's brave new world, there is no place for homeliness.
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