We Four in Egypt

Now back in the US!

On foreheads and prayer

Mr. Four and I both have noticed that some people in Cairo seem to have a dark smudgy spot on their foreheads, almost like what you see Catholics sporting on Ash Wednesday. We finally figured out that the marks were from praying, which requires Muslims to bring their foreheads to the ground.

Well, wouldn’t you know just as Mr. Four and I were speculating, the New York Times has a whole article about the topic.

What’s most interesting about the callus, called a zebibah, is that it’s unique to Egyptian men and quite the fashion, apparently, as folks struggle to display their piety. The article says,

There are many rumors about men who use irritants, like sandpaper, to darken the callus. There may be no truth to the rumors, but the rumors themselves indicate how fashionable the mark has become.

The article compares the zebibah on men to the hijab (the head scarf that covers the ears and hair, but not the face) on women. I’ve heard about this religious revival from some Egyptian colleagues, who have told me that hijab was rarely seen in Egypt even ten years ago. I’ve also heard some Egyptian women–some who don’t wear hijab–say that scarf is a trend and absolutely not required by the Qoran.

I’ll leave religious arguments to people who actually practice the religion and note that I’m only passing along what others have told me. But if you have even an inkling of interest in Egypt or Islam, take a look at the New York Times article. And then let me know what you think.

18 December 2007 - Posted by | our life in egypt

1 Comment

  1. I have read your comment about getting the correct source for understanding Islam and of course the lifestyle that goes with being muslim. If you want the correct information do as the muslims do read the Quran and study the hadiths. This is the source of life for us. The New York times as wonderful magazine, it is not the faith of the muslims. As a new revert to islam for the past three years I wear the hijab cause it helps me with modesty and as my new husband is to come from Egypt soon he did have a good laugh about your misinformation of the Egyptian culture ten years ago. There is no arguments or compulsion in islam. He also prays and has no dark marks on the forehead and it comes to some as they are heavy on their heads. It is not a sign of an award, they do not think in this manner. They are taught not to drawn attentions to themselves in this way. This is haram or another word a sin. Thank you for this opportunity and may Allah bless you trip in Egypt

    Comment by Wheels_1955 | 27 December 2007

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