Tuesday, 6 July 2021

Words I Made Up — The Eighteenth

Omar Cherif at Full Lunacy Drum Circle at Dockweiler Beach in L.A, March 2018, Words I Made Up — The Eighteenth

The previous Words I Made Up — The Seventeenth was published on 13 April 2019. Today we are 6 July 2021. Instead of the average one article every few months, it took me two years and two months to come up with ten novel words. Quite a telling realisation, which says a whole lot about my latest state of mind. As mentioned before, I used to wake up with some words on the tip of my tongue, not much the case these days. Oh well. Onward Forward, even if at certain parts of the journey we move significantly slow; or even if we stop for a while to look around, or to assess the situation, or to just smell the flowers. What is most important is that, in the Big Picture, one is moving ahead. Enjoint.   

  • Happee: When you’re so cheerful you urinate a little.

  • 3abeedient: Obedient like an Arabic-speaking slave.

  • Capricorn: Edible plant grown on an Italian island.

  • Chai Tea: Meditative martial art solely practised by tea drinkers. 

  • Procrastination: A country in which everyone is always late. 
  • Ossodoku: Braised veal shank which can only be eaten after solving a mathematical puzzle. 

  • Bon Appétitty: A salutation to a toddler who’s about to breastfeed. 
  • Standoffice: Being cold and distant at the workplace.
  • Cairopractor: Practitioner of complementary medicine treating misaligned joints who is based in the Egyptian capital. 

  • Fish Finder’s Fees: Commission paid to someone who facilitated the location of fish underwater using their own sound-energy instrument. 

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Friday, 11 June 2021

OLS Reflections Settanta­quattro

Omar Cherif on the Red Sea

  • There is nothing like finding those who vibrate at similar frequencies and whose passions vibe with yours.   
  • Whenever someone comes to me speaking ill of a person behind their backs, I let it go. If they returned to talk badly about a different person, I still let it go. If they did it a third time, I stop listening. Simply because then and there I know they speak ill of me as well. 
  • “I loved you” may be one of the most heartbreaking phrases to ever be uttered.   
  • Compared to what women go through by giving life then investing in their offspring, the male contribution to the process seems like somewhat of an embarrassment. 
  • Some parents lead such lost and unreliable existences, their children end up feeling they are the ones taking care of them. That is in addition to having to rely on, and take care of, themselves. 
This role reversal naturally messes with the kids’ development, often leading them to grow up becoming compulsive caretakers — among other deep emotional scars which survive well into adulthood. 
  • It is rather strange to see people immigrate to a new country then become militant nationalists of that adopted country. Waving flags and celebrating national holidays, it seems as though they perhaps really hate their country of birth or have been wronged by it and are doing it as some form of revenge. 
  • An indescribable amount of love for my mother resides deep within my inner being. However, it is the awareness of the unconditional love she also has for me — and how she believes in me — that gave me incredible strength and confidence during many crossroads of life when nights were the darkest. Knowing that not many are fortunate to be able to say the same while truly meaning it, it makes me feel eternally grateful for our mutually trusting relationship. Not just as a mother and son; but also as friends, as humans souls sharing this fleeting life on Planet Earth. May Love, Health, and Happiness be your everyday companions. Forever and Ever.  
  • The truly fortunate ones are those who are reborn several times throughout their lifetimes. With each rebirth novel insights are unleashed deep within their inner being. Thereby allowing the chaos of their life experiences to alchemically forge their spirit into a shape which is more wholesomely themselves — ever transforming and reinventing their life stories in the process. Life, my friends, is a work in the progress. Like this morning sun shining high up in the sky, it is to be taken day by day, moment after the other. Time is always Here. Space is always Now. Anything other than that merely means dying and decaying into oblivion. A waste of life, of unlimited abilities and potentials, of yourself. Do what you can with that which you got. For you are the sculptor of your own reality... as well as the marble. Shine On and On and On.  
  • The Zen life is not about meaning. It’s about being — fully present in the moment.  
  • In a world where speaking one’s mind is, by definition, unsettling, when I took art in general and writing in particular as vocations I promised myself that I would never betray my inner being or sell out. To be true, genuine, authentic, and real. To be someone I can love and understand. From repression to expression, this meant not to censor oneself. For one could gain the world but lose their soul. At some point along the way I came to accept that, having an unquenched appetite for the different, the original, the unordinary, my views will always seem to convey a distaste for conformity and the established norms of the day; that which is considered “popular” by the masses. As an outsider swimming upstream against the current who’s looking in at humanity — and through it — rather than looking out. As such, I shall carry on speaking my unfiltered, anti-conformist, anti-establishment mind till the day I die. The true artist who does not fit in often ends up standing out.

    Coutcha and Flop Face To Face, OLS Reflections Settanta­quattro, One Lucky Soul



 OLS Reflections

OLS Reflections Deux

OLS Reflections Vier

OLS Reflections Khamsa

OLS Reeflections Yedi

OLS Reflections 八

OLS Reflections Ten

OLS Reflections Onze

OLS Reflections 13

OLS Reflections Quince

OLS Reflections Sixteen

OLS Reflections Dix-Huit

OLS Reflections تسعة عشر

OLS Reflections Veinte Uno

OLS Reflections 22

OLS Reflections Dreiundzwanzig

OLS Reflections Twenty-Four

OLS Reflections Vingt-Six

OLS Reflections Ventisette

OLS Reflections Veintinueve
OLS Reflections 30

OLS Reflections Einunddreißig

OLS Reflections  إثنان وثلاثون

OLS Reflections Thirty-Three

OLS Reflections Trentaquattro

OLS Reflections 37

OLS Reflections Trente-Neuf

OLS Reflections Forty  

OLS Reflections Einundvierzig

OLS Reflections — The Spiritual Edition 

OLS Reflections Cuarenta y Cuatro

OLS Reflections 45

OLS Reflections Quarantasette

OLS Reflections — The Unpublished Edition

OLS Reflections Forty-Nine

OLS Reflections 50 

OLS Reflections Cincuenta y Dos

OLS Reflections Cinquantaquattro

OLS Reflections पचपन 

OLS Reflections 57

OLS Reflections Cinquante-Neuf

OLS Reflections Sesenta y Uno

OLS Reflections ثلاثة وستون 

OLS Reflections Soixante-Cinq

OLS Reflections 67

OLS Reflections Sixty-Eight 

OLS Reflections 69 



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Tuesday, 27 April 2021

OLS Reflections Settantatre — The Flagrantly Fun Ones

  • Right between Seventh Heaven and Cloud Nine there is a Magic Eight-Ball. 

  • As a kid I once fell into a well. The experience remained quite traumatic until I learned to let go of the hole thing. O’ well.  

  • There is something about drinking water in a coffee mug and coffee in a “water glass” that makes it unappealing. 

  • I never just flirt with disaster. We cum together and then we snuggle.

  • Discarding the large garbage bag in the kitchen and forgetting to replace it with a new one then while making eggs later you throw away the drippy shells straight into the garbage and Noooo! It’s remarkable how only when it’s airborne do you remember there is no plastic bag. Obviously not before, but usually not much after either. The action and the thought are occurring almost at the same time. Eugh! Off to washing the insides. Top Five most annoying kitchen happenings — Fo Sho.  

  • You’re not a real man until you can change attire in less than five minutes. 

  • Throughout 10 years of cooking I don’t think I’ve ever used just one clove of garlic — even when the recipe says so.

  • I’ve always been a walking paradox… until I learned to sit down.

  • Marriage is called an ‘institution’ because you must be somewhat mental to get into it. You first seek asylum but end up living in one. You don’t believe me? Well, in Spanish ‘Esposas’ means wives as well as handcuffs. But hey, that’s just a linguistic coincidence.

    Marriage jokes aside, if I’ll ever decide to get into a relationship again, I have three matters to investigate first. Do you agree with “Correlation does not imply causation” and what does it mean to you? The second would be finding out if she’s one of those travellers who clap right after a plane lands, thinking that the pilot can hear them. A final stop would be taking them to a trip somewhere where the Internet is ridiculously slow — just to get to know who they truly are at the core.

  • When you only have sex in the missionary position it shows on your face. 


Flip and Flop by Omar Cherif, El Ein El Sokhna - 29 December 2020


OLS Reflections Sixty-Six — The Outrageously Fun Ones

OLS Reflections 64 — The Dangerously Fun Ones

OLS Reflections Sessantadue — The Scandalously Fun Ones

OLS Reflections 60 — The Sensationally Fun Ones

OLS Reflections 五十八 — The Shamelessly Fun Ones

OLS Reflections Fifty-Six — The Notoriously Fun Ones

OLS Reflections Dreiundfünfzig — The Playfully Fun Ones

OLS Reflections Cinquante-et-Un — The Corruptly Fun Ones

OLS Reflections Treinta y Seis — The Wickedly Fun Ones

OLS Reflections — Facebook Edition

OLS Reflections — Facebook Edition Deux

OLS Reflections ثمانية وعشرون — The Tranquilisingly Fun Ones

OLS Reflections पच्चीस — The Soothingly Fun Ones

OLS Reflections Venti — The Quiescently Fun Ones

OLS Reflections Siebzehn — The Peacefully Fun Ones

OLS Reflections Quatorze — The Mitigatingly Fun Ones

OLS Reflections Девять — The Pacifyingly Fun Ones

OLS Reflections Seis — The Mollifyingly Fun Ones

OLS Reflections Tre — The Mildly Fun Ones

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Monday, 19 April 2021

Creativity Shall Set You Free

 “A creative person has little power over his own life. He is not free.
He is captive and driven by his daimon.”
― Carl Jung


Last week I wrote about a colourful experiment I conducted as well as an experience I went through while drumming. Basically, I wouldn’t follow a repetitive beat with a certain tempo as I would normally do; but rather, go to the very opposite of where my hands and mind want to “head”. Consciously snapping out of any patterns I would find myself beginning to get immersed in — most of them known and probably had been played before. Doing that, I would prompt myself to make mistakes then make it part of the dance. Dealing with the uncertainty and the unknown with an open heart and mind. Repeatedly for one hour.

While in the first article I explained the experiment and how it made me feel, in this one I’m reflecting upon it after recording another free-form jam session here on the Red Sea beach [shared below]. Again, the solitude empowered me to get as weird and wacky as one is allowed.

Another addition that greatly widened my perspective on the topic is a Netflix documentary called The Creative Brain. In it, neuroscientist David Eagleman interviews a wide variety of creative minds — and souls — about the creative process in general and, more specifically, what creativity means to them, as artists and artisans — those who work with their hands, minds, and hearts alike. How to nourish creativity is likewise covered.

By the end of this hour I had connected seemingly invisible dots together, leaving me significantly richer in ideas. At the same, some of my pre-existing ideas about creativity were reinforced by the novelty while some of my arguments were strengthened. As a creative person myself, I could relate to almost everything that had been said in this illuminating doc; the novel insight turned out to be of great help in perceiving a bigger, fuller picture.
The video essentially starts with an explanation of what creativity is. One of which is how by getting two seemingly different ideas or concepts together in one equation the result becomes a third amalgamation, a hybrid between the two. As such, creativity allows us to freely — and playfully — mix and match, even in-between two different fields all together. Interestingly, this balance-amidst-polarity notion lit a familiar lightbulb above my head as it took me straight to my recent exposé: A Dialectic With Myself: Practical Yin Yang Approach to Coincidentia Oppositorum

The Hegelian dialectic comprising three dialectical stages of development: a thesis, giving rise to its reaction; an antithesis, which contradicts or negates the thesis; and the tension between the two being resolved by means of a synthesis. In more simplistic terms, one can consider it thus: problem → reaction → solution.” A baby is born.

Now, since creation is the resulting baby, then the more incoming stimulus, and the more diverse it is, the more creativity. Simply because we have more input to play with, more senses to decipher, and more feelings to channel. This entails more experience; more going out in the world and more doing. The diversity enriches our palette, allowing us to paint our reality in more colourful colours and hues. 
Connecting with said diversity empowers us while also making us feel whole. A reason why creativity gives significance to one’s humanity while making us feel that our lives matter.    
It reminds us that we are true co-creators of the universe and the soul pilot of our reality; the warriors of our own saga. 

One dares saying creativity is essential to our well-being and happiness. 
After 10 years of working for the vapid, passionless corporate world I left it all behind and travelled to Canada where I rediscovered myself, taking art in general and writing in particular as vocations. It was also where I detoxed from a decade-long toxic lifestyle. Creativity then and there became this transformative energy propelling me forward while helping me deal with the sober eyes. Upon awakening from a quasi kind of life like a zombie for this decade, I suddenly began noticing the huge load of sensory input, or information, constantly bombarding me. Writing and photography then came to the rescue. For I found myself in my writings and photos.

Following three years in Canada came four years in the U.S, most of which were spent in Venice Beach where I also began djembe drumming at the Venice Beach Drum Circle. 

Slowly but surely I began to master the art of harnessing my creative muse. The various art forms started to melt in my mind and many babies were the results: Writings, photos, and videos about drumming and the Drum Circle — even philosophy and psychology. Some glorious mixing and matching ensued. Almost simultaneously I became captive and driven by his daimon.  

I had first began experiencing Flow State when I first started writing in Canada. How to spend three or five days totally consumed by a certain piece. You forget to eat, to shower, to sleep, and, when you sleep you dream of that which you are working on. Surprisingly, your body does not tire while in The Zone. The energy is limitless. Indeed, mind over matter. The Fire of the Soul is too great, so it carries you on throughout the process. 
The Writing Process and the Creative Block is an earlier piece about the topic, focusing on creativity in writing.

There is also these two previous exposés in which creativity is explored: Artists Between Mindset and Motivation, in which Intrinsic and Extrinsic Motivations are compared and contrasted, as well as The Intertwining of Genius and Insanity.

On a parallel note, I came across a YouTube video titled Neuroscientist David Eagleman with Sadhguru – In Conversation with the Mystic, which some may enjoy. 

Not Einstein to whom it is often attributed as shown by Quote Investigator

The documentary then carries on explaining how originality in its most absolute sense doesn’t exist.
 This echoes with what Mark Twain wrote to Helen Keller when she was accused of plagiarism: “All Ideas Are Second-Hand”. 
Instead, creativity is constantly borrowing from the previous. The Here and Now —- of the creative mind — seems to always be affected and inspired by the past, even if subconsciously. Memories then become the incoming stimulus. Being able, then, to see unseen connections and perceive novel combinations is the key to originality. Perhaps the sole true creativity in the equation. This is accomplished by bridging the gap between the familiar and the new; in order to create a hybrid that has never existed before. In that regards, creativity is one almost sure way to becoming immortal — through creating that which has never existed before, which will hopefully last long after the creator artist departs this physical existence. 

Speaking of that B.R.I.D.G.E, here is an example that instantly invaded my mind as soon as I typed the word. I went to a diner that offers “breakfast at any time”. So I ordered a Spanish omelette during the Inquisition. Waaa waa wa. Sound familiar? Well, only if you know about the brilliant Steven Wright and his hilarious paraprosdokians and non sequitur one-liners. Let me enlighten you: So, the original joke is: I went to a diner that offers “Breakfast At Any Time”, so I ordered French Toast during the Renaissance. Then by “stealing the concept” one can come up with their own sentences. 

This brings us to snowclone. In linguistics, it is a cliché and phrasal template that can be used and recognised in multiple variants. The term was coined as a neologism in 2004, derived from journalistic clichés that referred to the number of Eskimo words for snow. It is a customisable phrase which can be adapted for different situations by changing only some of the words. It is something I haver been using in my writings for few years now, especially while using humour, without knowing it had a name, despite my prior knowledge that it exists. “X is the new Y” is one example of a snowclone.

Do you see how we can eclectically connect quite the significantly different fields by sharpening our senses? Drumming, writing, Dialectics, philosophy, and psychology. Because the pallet I came to amass through life experiences is equipping me to do so. Without it, I would never be able to entertain such distinct topics, let alone the reconciliation, by creating a hybrid synthesis and offering a novel “solution”. Create your own reality is therefore not a hippy dippy slogan, but an actual potentiality that can transform your life around.   

Do you now see how we constantly ‘steal’ without plagiarising. Openly sharing with you how this joke came about reminds me with “Creativity is the art of concealing your sources” by C. E. M. Joad. This sentiment was repeated time and again throughout the age only through different wordings. Other than purely for the purpose of explaining how the creative process unfolds, I tend to agree. It is again, connecting the dots in your own original way so that you may see a bigger picture no one has seen before. More about the topic is covered in Connecting the Dots — a Storyteller Way of Seeing the Big Picture

New video

Now back to the newly-found no-form drumming. Remember I mentioned putting myself there right outside my comfort zone, and almost forcing myself to making mistakes. On purpose. Then take note from there. Moment by moment by moment. A convenient term repeated in the doc multiple times is: The path of least resistance. Or as I had previously called it: The easy way out, which we are conditioned to seek and follow. As a species, it helps saving our energy. The key to heightened creative output, however, is to abandon this path of least resistance and tread uncharted territories. Take a leap of faith and do not be afraid to make mistakes or to fail. Mind not the confusion, the uncertainty, the unknown, or even the occasional frustration. For it’s part of our human experience as well as the creative process. In fact, plunge into all of them head first. This is precisely how we learn. If we don’t learn, you see, we don’t evolve. Simple stupid. Stepping outside your comfort zone is a bold courageous act as it is a humbling and educational experience.

A question then naturally arises: Why do we create? About four years ago I tried to answer this existential query in Why I Share Stuff. Later again in The Intertwining of Music and Sexuality ― A Djembefola’s Tale, in which the evolutionary purpose of creating music was discussed. As it turned out, playing music — as well as dancing to it — came to serve as an advertisement of health and well-being, which remains essential to mating. This is in addition to the intrinsic benefits and communicative properties of music.

One answer from the doc starts by reminding us that we are a novelty-seeking species, for whom the old and the familiar is constantly becoming less and less stimulating. Much like tolerance to drugs. This resonates with me on many levels. In our drumming experiment here on the Red Sea beach it seems quite clear that I was lacking stimulation. After four years of drumming every weekend in Venice Beach, playing along all these very different tunes and beats among all those stunning dancers and photographers and tourists, my current solitary seclusion leaves one with a whole lot to fantasise about. 

You see, drumming alone is a totally different experience than drumming with others, let alone playing at drum circles. So the lack of stimulation and excitement had probably pushed me to tackle new horizons and try something new, seeking to absorb new sensory input to enrich my palette. 
One secret, it is said, is to walk along The Path Of The Razor’s Edge and find balance between the old familiar on one pole and the new wacky from the other. Balance, it seems, remains the name of the game. Almost everywhere.  

The documentary ends with three points about how to harness your creativity and make it work to your favour. 
The first is leaving your comfort zone and doing more [new] things in life. Abandoning the path of least resistance.
The following is reminding the viewers to always push their boundaries while exploring a wider range of possibilities and probabilities. We do so to experience the limits of what works and what needs to be discarded. Just like a ruthless editor: Keep the good and remove the bad. “Pushing the envelope” or the boundaries — we have created ourselves —  also keeps our creations fresh.
As previously mentioned in Unshackled by the Red Sea, one of the beauty of the creative process is the unknown. You see, before it’s finalised, any creative work of art faces the possibility of being shred into a million pieces then set on fire. In other words, never seeing the light. Ever. Really, sometimes it all just crumbles down. And if you feel it is right, you should allow it every once in a while; for destruction often breeds creation.

The third and final advice presented in the doc on how to harness your creative potential and juices is not being afraid to make mistakes or of failing. A certain degree of risk-taking is always invigorating. If you live your life trying to avoid making mistakes or failing, you will probably end up doing nothing at all. Nothing worth mentioning, that is. From the mistakes and failings emerge a novel perspective, offering a newer truth. At least one. Perhaps it would be the mere realisation that you absolutely hate what you had worked on or created and want it annihilated beyond recognition. Now that is, in and of itself, a new perspective, added to you only because you dared to take a leap of faith into the unknown. 
So make mistakes and fail, consistently. Become better at both. But only after getting off the path of least resistance, the easy road. Only then can we get the chance to create that which has never existed before and reach immortality. 

It is certainly a refreshing attitude to have in life that keeps us young at heart.  

At the very end, creativity and imagination are our gateway to brilliance and magnificence. Without them we wouldn’t go too far as a species. Creating art is mere magic that colours up our lives and makes it much richer and more interesting. Radical artistic expression should be a life philosophy. Everyone is a genius, for no one can come up with an idea quite like you. No one will ever be YOUER than you. Now fearlessly leave you imprint on the universe to gently shake the world.


The first video

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Monday, 22 March 2021

From Hebrew ‘Tzedakah’ to Arabic ‘Sadaqah’: A Linguistic Tale of Origin of Charity and Righteous Giving in Judaism and Islam

‘Tzedakah’ and ‘Sadaqah’, One Lucky Soul

I happened to be watching an easy-going movie called Wish I Was Here. At some point, the lead character who’s also the director, Zach Braff, mentioned the Hebrew or “Judaic” word: Tzedakah. The word instantly rang a bell and sounded highly familiar. Like the Arabic or “Muslim” word ‘Sadakah’ (صدقة), meaning righteousness as well as charity and benevolence; from the three-letter root ‘Sedk’ ( صدق ), honesty. The same root gives us ‘sadeek’ ( صديق ), friend. 


Before going further, the context began making even more sense. So in the movie, the struggling actor’s father gets ill and cannot pay for his grandchildren’s school as he had been doing, so his son begins to wonder if he could convince the Rabbi to keep his kids in school as an act of Tzedakah. Aha. It began to seem that they are almost the same word, even concept, in both Hebrew and Arabic as in Judaism and Islam.

Tzedakah (n.) [/tsɛˈdɒka/] on one hand means charitable giving among Jewish people, typically seen as a moral obligation. One common form of tzedakah was to allocate a portion of the harvest for the poor.

On the other hand, the Arabic Sadaqah in the modern context has come to signify “voluntary charity”. According to the Quran, the word means voluntary offering, whose amount is at the will of the ‘benefactor’.

Taken from an article titled Tzedakah 101: The Jewish Law of Philanthropy:

Tzedakah (pronounced suh-dack-uh) is the Hebrew word for righteousness or justice — also “fairness”. The word relates to tzaddik,” the name for a righteous Chasidic spiritual leader. Both words come from the Hebrew root word tzedek’, meaning justice. Tzedakah is an ethical obligation that the Torah mandates, also known as a mitzvah or law. Many Jews give tzedakah before Shabbat (the sabbath) and festivals such as Purim and Shavuot. Its intention is to show the Jewish people’s determination to improve the world.

Though many Jews typically perform tzedakah by giving money, many do volunteer work to pay their dues. Examples include volunteering at a soup kitchen, participating as a school field trip chaperone or visiting the elderly or sick. The Jewish sages of the Mishnah taught that every Jew has something to contribute, whether it be money, time, or attention.

Perhaps Mr. Tzaddik was a great friend. 
In actual fact, Tzadik (צַדִּיק) [tsaˈdik], as in “righteous or holy one” — also zadik, ṣaddîq or sadiq — is a title in Judaism, rather than name, given to people considered righteous, such as biblical figures and later spiritual masters. The root of the word ṣadiq, is ṣ-d-q (צדק tsedek), which means ‘justice’ or ‘righteousness’. When applied to a righteous woman, the term is inflected as tzadeikes/tzaddeket.

Tzadik/Sadik is equally defined as a servant of God and of other people as well as someone who loves people, as explained in this 6-minute YouTube video titled TZADIK - Secrets of the Hebrew Letters, kindly sent by a reader.

Parallelly, Sadaqah in Arabic literally means righteousness and refers to the voluntary giving of alms or charity. In Islamic terminology, sadaqah has been defined as an act of Giving something without seeking a substitute in return and with the intention of pleasing Allah”. Meanwhile, according to Ar-Rageeb al-Asfahaani, sadaqah is what the person gives from what he possesses, like Zakah, hoping to get closer to Allah.

Just as
Tzedakah is not solely about giving money, Sadaqah also can include other acts such as administering justice between two people, removing harm from a road/removing thorns, bones and stones from paths. A good word. Guiding the blind. Supporting the weak with the strength of your arms. Cooking for and even smiling at others.

The following is taken from Wikipedia:
The term 'sadaqah' stems from the Arabic root word ‘sidq’ (s-d-q) ص د ق, meaning honesty, truthfulness, and sincerity and it is considered as a sign of sincere faith. The three-letter root of this word, S-D-Q, also means, “to speak the truth”, “to be sincere”, and “to fullfill one's promise”. All of these aspects of honourable behaviour indicate the links between generosity and a healthy society. Some modern researchers also try to etymologically link the word sadaqah to the Hebrew צדקה‎ sedāḳā (almsgiving). Some experts hence conclude that sadaqah is a loanword.

Aha. Knowing that charity and giving is spread throughout most religions and even philosophies, perhaps the very concept has been borrowed as well and not just the word.

Sadaqah in Quran
Taken from the Quran
By then throughout my search, another Arabic “Muslim” word came into play: ‘Zakah/Zakat’ (زكاة). 

Apart from their similarities as words [just visually remove the middle ‘da’], ‘Zakah’ is likewise one of the cornerstone foundations of Islam as well as an ethical obligation — one of its five pillars, actually. 
Then I was left with a mix and match between these three uncannily similar words: ‘Tzedakah’, ‘Sadaqah’, and ‘Zakah/Zakat’. 

Zakah (Arabic: زكاة zakāh translates as “that which purifies”. There is a more specific form that is Zakat al-mal ( زكاة المال ), “Zakah on wealth/money”, is a form of almsgiving treated in Islam as a religious obligation or tax, which, by Quranic ranking, is next after prayer (salat) in importance. As the second of the five pillars of Islam, zakah is a religious duty for all Muslims who meet the necessary criteria of wealth. It is a mandatory charitable contribution, often considered to be a tax.

You see, charitable gifts or givings to relieve the poor is common with the teachings of most other faiths and more particularly the biblical traditions, the Quran repeatedly emphasises the moral value of giving. While the term ‘almsgiving’ may suggest a somewhat simple and unfocused act of charity directed at the poor and needy, the Quran articulates through a variety of terms, especially Sadaqah and Zakah.

Wooden tzedakah box from Amazon and sadaqah/zakah jar, One Lucky Soul
Wooden tzedakah box from Amazon and sadaqah/zakah jar

ersonally, however, as a human being, I’ve always regarded Zakah as The number one priority. Ever since our school at Les Jésuites in Cairo used to teach us through Cours de Vie/Cours Spirituelles to habitually give to the poor, to the sick and elderly we used to visit at nearby hospitals or hospices, or to the leprosy populations. It made more sense to my developing mind as it does today three decades later. Simply because the act of sharing goes beyond the me-trip encapsulated in praying — namely the number one pillar in Islam — or even meditating, to actually doing something constructive and useful for others; be it on a personal level, or on the level of the community, or society, or humanity as a whole. Beyond the wishful “Thoughts & Prayers”. You feel you really are making a difference. In fact, I would argue that giving to someone who can probably never pay you back is the best source of fulfilment and gratitude. There is also a spiritual empathetic angle in the equation. 

While born Muslim in a liberal family, at some point during my early life I fortunately freed myself from the musts and the rules and the dogmas. You can read more about my spiritual experience in My Journey Towards Self-Transcendence.

But giving to others remained with me to this very day. Be it money, food, clothes donations, even organising free Full Lunacy drum circles part of the One Lucky Soul community, of which goers vary between 8 and 92 years old. Giving becomes a way of life. Giving, I might add, without expecting anything in return, neither blessings nor damnations. Because let us be honest, if one is doing it because they’re expecting to be rewarded or due to fears from some deistic retribution — or simply to be seen — then their ego is just trying to make a deal to benefit itself. This is actually the case of countless number of religulous folks, for whom fear becomes the name of the game. In Islam, however, this behaviour has a name, Reyaa ( رياء ), which is worshipping just so that people see them. It is, in fact, one way to ruin any Sadaqah or Zakah one gives.

Fear, as you know, breeds hate, fanaticism, xenophobia among many other ailments of our times. Thanks, but no thanks. If your religion is teaching you fear and absolute submission, well, good luck trying to decondition yourself from such a mindset. Some spend years and years trying to unshackle themselves.   

While religion tends to be fear-based, spirituality tends to be love-based. One of the most liberating experiences one can go through in life is unlearning the fear and embracing the love — as a driving force. You see, we are not responsible for the conditioning we were exposed to during our childhood. But as adults, we are fully responsible for fixing it. Truly, confusing religion with spirituality is like confusing education with intelligence.

Echoing with Leo Buscaglia’s piercing words: The fact that I can plant a seed and it becomes a flower, share a bit of knowledge and it becomes another’s, smile at someone and receive a smile in return, are to me continual spiritual exercises.

Garlic bread to anyone hungry by Omar Cherif, Venice Beach
From Italian restaurant take out in Venice Beach which I use to leave on a
bench at the Washington Blvd bus stop.

Linguistically, Arabic and Hebrew both belong to the Semitic language family, making them similar languages. Both found under the tree of the BiDi “Bidirectional“ languages, written from right to left. Words, pronunciations, and sentence structures resemble one another. Being language cousins — like Romance languages such as French, Italian, and Spanish — both share a variety of similarities, including words, words that sound similar like numbers, some common grammatical concepts, alphabets that look reminiscent, and similar vocalisations, such as the tendency to utter ‘kh’ ‘خ’.

They also both rely on systems of three-letter consonant roots; groups of “triliteral roots”, which are the foundations of verb and noun forms. Remember ‘S-d-k’

. Despite the similarities, however, both languages are not mutually comprehensible.
So yes, it is not really a surprise. But it was certainly a delightful educational Aha-Moment regarding Comparative Languages and Linguistics as well as Comparative Religion. When you come to think about it, learning multiple languages allows us the opportunity to understand how language influences people’s sense of reality while bridging some gaps.

 Mayhap more importantly, it reminds us that we’re all essentially One. 

The movie turned out to be pretty decent, too.

Similarities between Hebrew and Spoken Arabic by Discover Discomfort
Similarities between Hebrew and Spoken Arabic by Discover Discomfort

After finalising the article I decided to Google ‘Tzedakah’ and ‘Sadaqah’ together, just to see what had been written before, perhaps if any. Man, am I happy I hadn’t done it at the beginning, because probably I wouldn’t have written any of this. Here they are for additional information on the topic.

The first is a link titled Tzedakah-Sadaqah: A Series of Intercultural Service Projects by the Faith and Spirituality Centre of the University of Calgary. This only includes a broad definition of both terms.

The second is an article, Tzedakah and Sadaqah: Charity tradition gets Jews and Muslims together by Medill Reports Chicago - Northwestern University.

Then finally an actual comparison in Tzedakah and Sadaqah… the laws of charity in Islam and Judaism by Judaism-Islam.com.

Now here is a fun note to end this article with: As a kid I had no idea what a bar mitzvah is. Slowly I began to get a clearer understanding of what it might be: When a teenager has finally become a man, so his family takes him out to a bar for celebration. Yep. I kid you not. It
’s not too far out, though. Thank Djod for education. Of course, Thank You, Internet as well. Actual bar mitzvah is Hebrew for “son of commandment”; and it is a coming of age ritual for boys, whereas bat mitzvah is the equivalent for girls.

All this Tzedakah/Sadaqah-
Tzadik/Sadik business discussed herein made me remember Tzatziki (cacık), the dip, soup, or sauce found in the cuisines of Southeast Europe and the Middle East; it is made of salted strained yogurt or diluted yoghurt mixed with cucumbers, garlic, salt, olive oil, sometimes with vinegar or lemon juice, and herbs such as dill, mint, parsley and thyme. And how the first time I ever heard the word at a shawerma shop in Toronto, I thought the guy behind the counter was asking me if I was his sadiqi, or friend. Or that I was ordering the sandwich to my sadiqi. Bwahaha. The more language we know, the more these peculiarities increase in numbers.

I hope you enjoyed reading this as much as I did researching and writing it. Learning can be intrinsically fun when we're not forced or coerced to do it. Knowledge is free — and it frees you rather than freezes you.

Salam and Shalom, consanguineous Brothers and Sisters. Now spread the Love.


Tzedakah 101: The Jewish Law of Philanthropy, Borgenproject.org
Tzedakah, Wikipedia
Sadaqah, Wikipedia
What similarities are there between Hebrew and Arabic?, Quora
Similarities between Hebrew and Spoken Arabic, Discover Discomfort 
TZADIK - Secrets of the Hebrew Letters, YouTube


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