Monday, August 30, 2010

Omani Chests/ Traditional Boxes in Oman

For the Omani home: omani chests and traditional boxes are ornate works of wood and brass, including studs and elaborate inlaid work. Because Omani homes traditionally had no wardrobes or built-in-closets, the Omani chest is of particular importance for storing goods and clothes. Before chests were used for transporting goods. Nowadays, omani chests are used for storage of valuables particularly the bridal chest which is traditionally passed down from generation to generation and traces a history back to the 18th century.

Nowadays, for weddings the bridal gifts (maher) are often gifted to the bride in one of these boxes. They come in a variety of colours, black and tan being the most populat but also green and red. You can get a beautiful one made along the UAE border in Al Bahrimi, or purchase one from Nizwa souq. Obviously, boys, your new in-laws think bigger is better ;p if the box is being used for the maher and the maher is your bride's weight in gold;D. Sorry. Yet again I will rant against high mahers being the cause of great ill in Omani society.

I want to read this book: "In the Service of the Sultan"

I want to read Ian Gardinar's account of the war in Dhofar. I like war stories (my family has more than 1 or 2 soldiers) and think Oman TV (yeah right people say now) should make movies or series about things like this. This book would BE PERFECT for a movie or series. Anyways....

I almost bought it at the airport (which is more expensive than anywhere else). But I waited. So next paycheck, I am purchasing it.

Arabic Phrases: MashaAllah

"Mashallah" is an Arabic word that litterally means "thank Allah/praise Allah".

Its cultural meaning in Oman?

It is Arabic for "I love that-but don't give it the "evil eye"" lol.
When you see something beautiful you say it, to show people you aren't jealous of them or that if you are, lol, it is jealousy in a good way, where you wish more for yourself, but that they keep and increase what they have.
Islamic meaning: It means you are aware that everything comes from Allah, that Allah can give and take at any time, so what blessings one or others is/are given, one should be thankful for.

Al Madina A'Zarqa aka Blue City: Omani Architecture and City Planning Attempted

Even if they never finish it, you can see Oman's development plans for Blue City here http://www.almadinaazarqa.com/.

Omani Shopping Phrases

If you want to point at something and pick it up and ask what it is worth say: "Kam hatha?"

Make sure you know your Arabic numbers!

If it is too expensive say: "wagid galy!" (or you can say "wajid galy", same same).

Sunday, August 29, 2010

WHY I LOVE OMAN: from an Islamic Perspective

People [usually Muscati Omanis and Arab Expats] are always asking me why I gave up the "good life" in my home country to live here for less pay, a smaller home, and foreign surroundings. Why I want a passport but don't need one anyway, for a love of Oman is already in my heart.

Expats from my home country generally have tons of reasons, ranging from salary and lifestyle, to love of adventure and the natural beauty of Oman. My perspective is a little different. So I don't fit the usual ignorant hick statement of "go home rich expat before you criticise Oman and Islam in Oman." Really? LOL :XD
For an Islamic reason I love Oman first and foremost because in Islam there is a blessing on the place from Allah subhanu wa ta'ala.

A historically documented saying of the Prophet Mohamed after the Kings of Oman accepted Islam after receiving his letter inviting them to the religion:
“My religion is Islam, and the people of Oman will be granted the blessings of Allah [fertility and game]. Blessedness is guaranteed for those who… believed in me without seeing me. Allah will strengthen Islam in the hearts of [the] Omanis.”

Oman came to Islam (UNLIKE the Quraysh tribe in MECCA IN SAUDI ARABIA) without fighting the Prophet Mohamed sallalahu alahi wa salaam, and without him ever visiting here, IN THE LIFETIME OF THE PROPHET MOHAMED sallalahu alahi wa salaam. For this reason, the Prophet said there would be a blessing on the land FROM ALLAH of animals and vegetation, and that Omanis would be granted the oppurtunity to have strong hearts in Islam if they continued to believe in Islam [see, you are not GUARANTEED THIS by your birth as an Omani, but by you being in/practicing Islam and being an Omani, Allah subhanhu wa ta'ala will take special care to strengthen your heart in Islam.

Umar, the second Caliph [leader] of the Muslims after Mohamed salalahu alahi wa salaam said to the Omanis, "Oh people of Oman, you willingly embraced Islam. You obeyed him and you caused no division or strife, so God has strengthened you for the purpose of good... and what the Prophet has said about you is honour enough until judgement day."

Like Al Madinah (formerly Yathrib in pre-Islamic days) Oman has a blessing from Allah on it.

***As a history buff, Oman has many Islamic sites of great historical value, such as Izki, where zakat [Islamic charity] was first taught to the Omanis, as testament to its rich Islamic history.***Oman is no longer an "Islamic country" in that it is part of a Caliphate (there is no Caliphate left BASED FROM ANY COUNTRY IN TODAY'S MODERN WORLD and the Global Muslims are weak in practice and belief and knowledge of their faith, and in that, divided within their selves). It is a Muslim-majority country nonetheless.

Islam governs (more than the country) the personal lives of the majority of the citizens of Oman, and they apply Islamic rulings about is or isn't to be done in their lives on a personal level.

Which is good for foreigners, as rulings in Islam that are for Muslims to take upon themselves (like fasting, not drinking alcohol, and women wearing jilbabs [abayas] and hijabs [headscarfs]) are not enforced upon them. As the Qu'ran forbids drinking, and showing skin and hair ect, it IS FOR the INDIVIDUAL MUSLIM to take upon themselves on a personal level, not for a governing body of Muslims to punish. Obedience or disobedience to these things for Muslims is direct from their Creator, not a governmental authority. Saudi Arabia (aka the Royal Saud Family), Iran, and Afghanistan (some parts of Pakistan too and Sudan ect) ARE WAAAAAAAY SCREWED UP IN THIS.

I love in Oman that I can do the beneficial act of wearing the face veil if I do so for God alone and not government or culture [some women in Oman, due to culture, I know, do not have this right but they should fight for it under Islam], but that should I not be so pious [I'm not] I can walk around with my face uncovered and or even not wear uber modest clothing at all, and I won't be harassed for it.

The benefit of this is Oman had less (not none) hypocrites than other so-called practicing-Islam countries I have visited. If men want to date and have sex, they do, and if they don't, they don't. If women want to wear hijab they do or they don't. If people want to drink, they do or they don't. While it is still looked down on by majority of society [and culture inspires hypocrisy and cowardice in some], such acts outside of Islam are legal on a governmental level, so if people want to be good, they are free to, and are better for it, and the ones that are bad, at least can be more obvious about it so they hurt the rest of the practicing Muslims less.

Yet, the laws that are for all peoples (even those in a Muslim land) are generally carried out. You kill someone, Muslim or non-Muslim, practicing or non-practicing, the law applies to you the same (at least a governmental ideal and general purpose).The thing I love about Oman the most though, is the Muslims here are no divided the same way they are in other countries. Sunni (me, you could say, I suppose, but I am supposed to be just a Muslim and not divide ourselves into sects), Shia (some good friends who I have learned from despite us supposed to be enemies lol), and Ibadhi (the Omani majority-and my aquaintance and friend majority) all get along here. We learn from eachother. If we are weirded out by the other, why they do something we don't, we ask why, and they tell us. If we think they are right after that, we change our practice. If we think they are wrong, we try to show them with evidences why we think we are right. If someone still has differences, we agree to disagree.

Islam is a religion of respect and wisdom, of teaching and constant learning. Other Gulf countries seem to forget this.

Oman also respects other religions. Oman has churches and temples. It isn't Mecca, this is halal. We want to learn from what the Christians and Hindu et all have to teach us, and if we don't respect them, how will they listen to us when we try to say why we are not as they are, why we think maybe we know something a little more in regards to how obtain peace?

Respect is a big issue in Oman, and I hope it is never abandoned by Omani Muslims as this same respect led them to listen about Islam in the first place, and to become Muslims.

Omani Humble Homes pt. 2

Yet again, not sure where this is, but I like it.

Saturday, August 28, 2010

Omani Beduoin Architecture and Interior Design


In Oman, a very typical feature of Beduoin homes is the use of palm fronds to compose structures. Often ropes are hung to hang blankets used for colder evenings from, and rug and carpets line the floors. Lighting comes from Coleman lanterns.Weaving blankets, tents, and baskets is a craft for the bedu and they are typical items of use and decoration in a beduoin home. Beduoin encampents have inspired many tourist attractions and restaurant and hotel attractions in Oman: