I came across  a piece about customs that distinguish people from each other, and it was amazing how a subject is approached differently by people of different nations; even in different parts of the same country. There is no doubt that every nation has its own exclusive customs due to various factors such as geopolitical location, environment, history and even civilizations that existed there.

In many cases, the existence of certain customs in a place does not mean they will not spread somewhere else. Our current world seems to be a very small town when it comes to social media, communications and ease of travel.

If we look at languages for example, we find Arabic is described by many as the most difficult language to learn, and its difficulty comes from the sound of some of its alphabets. Actually it has one alphabet that is exclusive to it – dhad – after which the language is described or referred to.

Yet I am amazed at the number of people from all parts of the world -from the US all the way to China – who learn and speak the language with its grammar and the masculine and feminine differentiations!

Sometimes it seems that some customs are universal, although with some modifications here and there. In the Gulf region for example, we have Girgian during the month of Ramadan, where children go from house to house singing traditional songs while carrying specially-sewn bags to collect candy and even money. This reminds me of the trick or treat custom in the West, although the backgrounds of both are totally different.

Another custom that exists in this part of the world has to do with weddings. On the eve of the wedding party, the female relatives of the bride will be invited to celebrate a henna night, during which the hands of the bride will be decorated with henna and the women will sing and dance the night out to mark the end of being single. Is not this close to what is called a bachelorette’s party in some other countries?

It seems that as much as there are differences, there are similarities regardless of language, location, color, belief and so on.

On a lighter note, I was amazed at hearing one supposedly educated person who was claiming that we have a highly effective remedy for COVID-19, which is actually a dish that is very popular in Egypt and the rest of Arabia. It is mulukhiya!

He said that if it is eaten in the shaloulou way, it will not allow the virus to find refuge in your body. I do not know about this but I mentioned mulukhiya because it was a dish exclusive to royalty in Egypt before it became popular – mulukiya actually means ‘it is royal’.

Finally, Allah says: “O mankind, indeed We have created you from male and female and made peoples and tribes that you may know one another. Indeed the most noble of you in sight of Allah is the most righteous of you. Indeed, Allah is Knowing and Acquainted.” — Holy Quran (49:13)