Tuesday, January 29

The Zebibah

I was struck by the strange mark on this chap's forehead. The mark is apparently a sign of a pious person. You get that mark when you are praying in the Muslim manner and the constant rubbing of the forehead against the mat makes it go all calloused and stuff.

But so here is a charity worker, a pious man, so pious that he gets calluses in the pursuit of God, and he wants to lop off an innocent man's head like a pig. Can somebody see the incongruence? Welcome to terrorism. And notice how almost every story relating to terrorism has a Pakistani angle? Epicentre?

Here is an interesting article on this new fangled Zebibah business. Some quotes:

The zebibah, Arabic for raisin, is a dark circle of callused skin, or in some cases a protruding bump, between the hairline and the eyebrows. It emerges on the spot where worshipers press their foreheads into the ground during their daily prayers.

“The zebibah is a way to show how important religion is for us,” said Muhammad al-Bikali, a hairstylist in Cairo, in an interview last month. Mr. Bikali had a well-trimmed mustache and an ever-so-subtle brown spot just beneath his hairline. “It shows how religious we are. It is a mark from God.”

“If we just take it for what it is, then it means that people are praying a lot,” said Gamal al-Ghitani, editor in chief of the newspaper Akhbar El Yom. “But there is a kind of statement in it. Sometimes as a personal statement to announce that he is a conservative Muslim and sometimes as a way of outbidding others by showing them that he is more religious or to say that they should be like him.”

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.

Sandpaper? OUCH!

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