Category Archives: Traditions

Don’t worry my Tripoli.. We still love you!

It has been a long time since I thought about my feelings for the troublesome city I live in..

Today, I decided I still love my Tripoli.

Passing through its streets, I felt how lucky I was to be part of its insignificant background..

My Tripoli, the city of ancient history, where you could walk into to a mosque that was built thousands of years ago, or down the streets into markets that served sultans…

My Tripoli, the city of  amazing familiarity, where you could easily identify faces, where everyone knows everyone or is related to someone who knows them..

My Tripoli, the city of simple joys, where the special taste of a kaakeh is addictive ,where you know which store sells the best sweets and which offers the cheapest, yummiest Felafel..

My Tripoli, the city of sparkling beauty, where the tempting sea lazily hugs the length of its shores, and is always a few minutes away..

My Tripoli, the city i was raised to love, the city i lived every sweet moment of my childhood in, the city where I met my best friends and where i know every corner, every building, every cafe.. well almost 🙂

I still love you my Tripoli.. All the efforts to make me forget what you mean will not work.. I know better..

I know that whatever happens, a few black clouds could not hide your glorious rays for long..

I know that whoever is trying  to turn you into a war zone would only succeed if we let him..

I will always love you my Tripoli..  I promise!

My Tripoli

 

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Are You Ready?

Ramadan. A month so special it refuses to be defined by a specific date of the year. It comes and goes and we wonder how time flew so quickly.I know it is a month of religion where  Muslims all around the world seek forgiveness and acceptance from Allah so eagerly it becomes a month of prayers and Qur’an.

I also understand the importance of the social aspect of this great month: it is the month of family gatherings over food, talk and entertainment. A month where people decide to become generous, to forgive, to share, to be kind, to accept.. People change,some even become so different they’re hardly recognized.

What saddens me the most is the fact that most people think it is enough . Ramadan becomes the month where you do your “duty” and you are free to do otherwise all year long: You don’t have to pray after it ends, you don’t have to be at family gatherings, you don’t have to stop cheating or lying or .. you don’t have to do any of those things until the next Ramadan comes.

People always ask at the beginning of this month: are you ready for Ramadan?

I ask: are you ready for after Ramadan?? are you prepared to keep your daily routine of praying and reading Qur’an? are you willing to stay “good” after this month ends??

Are You Ready??

Even the moon we rarely notice when Ramadan ends

Why Muslim?

This is not a post about anyone else but myself.. This is only my point of view, I’m in no place to consider my words those of a sheikh, or a da3iya.. I’m just a muslim girl, proud to be that, and willing to share why..

I was born muslim of course, in that respect I was quite lucky. Discovering Islam was not so difficult or so outstanding.. I was raised to love the Prophet, to know his teachings and to worship Allah, the one and  only God.

That is not why I’m muslim now, nor why I’m veiled.. In every person’s life comes this moment where he doubts everyone and everything.. especially those teachings he was raised to adore..

I will share this story because I think it was enough  for me to decide I’m going to be muslim for the rest of my life.. It’s Him, His story, the story of our Prophet!

The first time we were told of his story, we were too young to understand its full meaning, too foolish to really appreciate its greatness..

Then, out of habit, all people used to repeat parts of it, just small shreds of greatness that served the purpose of their argument…

I, being a great reader, was intrigued to know more. I read a lot of books from different sources. Then I was able to know the full sides of His personality and character..

Our Prophet began his life as an orphan. His father died before he was born and his mother shortly after.. He was taken in by his grandfather who loved him greatly, but shortly after died too. Next, his guardian was his poor uncle who treated him gently but was too poor to provide for him. He had to work! He became a shepherd when he was too young.. But this was not it.. this is not why I admire my Prophet, why I love Him..

It was His impeccable character: his high ethics and sweet personality..  way before he was Prophet, he was known to be “Al Sadek, Al Amin” which translates to the honest and trustworthy..

I could tell you stories about his kindness in every aspect, his selfless acts, his wisdom…

I could tell you more about how he respected women, and ordered muslims to treat women right..

I could tell you how he won the hearts of people before he appealed to their logic..

I could tell you how he believed so hard in the message he carried that he endured all the harm and how he prevailed…

I could tell you how great a father he was, how faithful a husband, or how true a friend..

I could tell you so many things.. but I won’t..

I will only tell you about his humanity..

When he lost his loved ones, he grieved..

When his boy died, He was saddened..

When he felt lost, he desperately sought help from Allah..

When he wanted to decide something, he asked for opinions..

When he loved, he was jealous..

When he made mistakes, he apologized..

This is why I’m muslim, this is why I want to be muslim till the day I die.. I’m muslim because my Prophet showed me what a human being can become.. with all our human shortcomings, with all the ups and downs of life, He stood tall.. He was Human, but He overcame all that came his way..

He gives me hope everyday.. I want to become a better person because he showed me I can.. I want to try my best and behave like him, because He is the proof it can be done…

This is why I’m muslim.. And proud!

Our Brass Brazier.. A tale as old as time

It’s winter. I don’t have to remind people about it since it is one of the coldest winters we’ve ever witnessed. I love everything about this season, but the first thing that comes to my mind when I think about winter (besides the bone-drilling cold) is our brass brazier.

I doubt I have any winter memory: an evening we spent, an episode that occurred, even food or drinks.. that happened without our faithful Brazier as a witness.

It always provided our home with warmth. I still don’t know why, but no other means of heating is as efficient! Even our neighbors, whenever they came for their daily visit, used to book their  spot near it in advance “hayda ma7alli”, and if by chance they came and we still haven’t placed it, there would be a lot of complaints.

Let me explain to you the science of a good warm brazier: its contents are divided into 3 or 4 layers depending on the need.

If it is for a short period of time, we need three layers: the “Safweh” or ashes, that is used to hold the hot material. It acts as an insulator and also serves to cover the coal to preserve it for a longer period of time. “Temmi l narat” or cover the ashes is a very common phrase we shout to whomever was closest to the brazier.

The second layer is the “De2” . Now THAT is difficult to explain in English! but here’s the best I can do: The Do2 or Dok, is made from the residual waste of olive juicers. It is mainly the solid part inside smashed into small pieces and burnt just a bit. They have a black color and offer a lot of heat when burnt without the odors of the coal. These are very useful when the brazier is used to prepare food: grilling “Kastana” (Chestnut), or a cheese sandwich.. It is even said that the coffee prepared on coal is tastier than anywhere else!To ignite the Dok, you only need a small amount of burning Coal..

Which  brings us to the third and most important layer: “el narat” or burning Coals. The coals are carefully selected in order not to get a “3rrada” (a piece of coal that produces a bad smell when burnt),  then placed in a special container “Al she3aleh” on the fire to be ignited. Once ready, they are placed on top of the “Do2” to ignite it too.

If the evening is long, and there is a need for a renewal of warmth, the forth layer is a few extra coals buried beneath the ashes. When needed, and just before the brazier loses all its heat, you dig them out, and they re-burn as hot as you need them. An extra amount of Do2 can be added as well…

I know it might be boring, but this is not the point. I think that our old brass brazier is the most important ritual of our winter. All I wanted was to document that. The feelings I can only describe, but trust me nothing can be as warm as sitting in front of it, your legs close to it, with a hot drink warming up your hand.

Care to give it a try?

Bargees… Ancient but still exciting!

Traditional games are often considered out of date and boring. This is not, however, how I feel about “Bargees”.

Bargees is a complex ‘cross-and-circle’ race board game. It might be as old as from the 4th century A.D. and was regarded as The National Game of India. How it moved to our middle-eastern culture I’m not sure.But it did and it’s now part of our traditions.

It’s a bit complicated to explain how the game works and I will not attempt to (unless I get overwhelmed with demands 😉 ).This is why I googled an explanation. This is the best one I found:

“Barjees is a 2 player game where each player has 4 pieces and must move all their pieces across the board from start to finish. Rather than using dice to determine the moves, Barjees uses cowry shells instead. Traditonally the game is also played on a cloth board.”

Although there are 2 sets of pawns one for each player, this game is better when played in groups , “partners” as we call them. It can be played in groups of 2, 3 or 4… the more the merrier! There is an amazing sense of companionship, “camaradrie” if you want that overwhelms you while playing in groups, but mostly there is fiery competition! For a competitive person (moi) you cannot ask for a better game!

To be honest, when we used to play this game as kids, I understood little of how the mystical pawns moved but I loved playing  with my grandma anyway. “Tayta” is a great player, she enjoys the game a lot and I learnt to love it because she did. She had passed the passion to her kids, of course. My mom, and my aunt both play this game with almost the same passion as her and with as much skill. She was also a very patient teacher that instructed me well on the basis and tricks of Bargees.

The most interesting aspect however  is when we tease each other about the game! Amazingly, even the sentences and the taunts are inherited:

” Shakkeh…bl berkeh”
” Bara …. Ya khsara”

” Dast.. w 3mer, dasten ….w 3mren…”

” Banj.. Banajaki Allah”

As a result, I fell helpless victim of its charm and I’m a hopeless addict! I wouldn’t miss a chance to play and often nag for a long period of time until someone obliges me.

This is an open invitation for all of you out there who, like me, are Bargees “addicts” : whenever you feel like playing a game..Choose ME!