During the last week of October, Muslims all around the world will celebrate Eid al-Adha (the Greater Eid). Eid al-Adha is an important religious feast celebrated annually on the 10th day of the Islamic Month Dhu al Hijjah; it starts after the Hajj (the annual pilgrimage to Mecca by Muslims) and lasts for 4 days. Islamic and Arab countries announce official holiday during those days.
Muslims and Arabs keep several traditions during this Islamic festival; they dress up with their finest clothes and go to mosques to pray the Eid prayer and visit their families and friends. Those Muslims who can afford, sacrifice an animal and distribute third of its meat on the poor, usually it is a cow or a goat or sheep depending on the region. Distributing meat amongst people, making contributions to the poor, charity work and families’ visits are prominent traditions of this festival.
In Egypt it is no different than any other Muslim country, however there is one special thing that is common in all Egyptian homes but not anywhere else which is the iconic meal of “Egyptian Fatta”. Egyptian Fatta is a ruling dish in Eid al-Adha, and consists of meat, rice, bread and red sauce.
You can uncover more about Islam, Arabic culture and traditions when you learn Arabic. Learning the Arabic language will open you up to the deep and rich world of Islam. You can spend a summer, semester, or full year abroad practicing your Arabic language skills and learning firsthand about Arab culture. At Arab Academy, our on-campus students had the chance to live this formidable Islamic festival while taking Arabic lessons. They learnt how to cook the Egyptian fatta on the hands of one of Egypt’s many talented chefs.
Eid ul-Fitr marks the end of the fasting month of Ramadan. Eid prayer is performed in congregation in open areas like fields, community centers, etc. or at mosques. Gifts are frequently given to children and immediate relatives; it is also common in some cultures for children to be given small sums of money by adult relatives or friends (3idiya). Children will wear their new clothes and go out to amusement parks, gardens or public courtyards. Family gatherings involve cooking and eating all kinds of Egyptian food, but the item most associated with Eid al-Fitr are Kahk, which are cookies filled with nuts and covered with powdered sugar.
On such occasions, students learning Arabic abroad (in Egypt) usually get to indulge into Arabic culture. They live those traditions themselves and have the chance to eat the yummy Kahk. For those who take Arabic lessons online, they will get to explore more the Arab communities and their people.
Arab Academy has partnered with “PT BENTARA AGUNG SEJAHTERA” whereby the latter would start opening Arabic centers across Indonesia. Those centers would follow the Arab Academy curriculum and teaching system. Arab Academy will pay evaluation visits to the Center for quality assurance purposes. Students graduating from those centers are entitled to an “Arab Academy” certificate.
The small class sizes and friendly atmosphere at Arab Academy naturally leads to friendships between our teachers and study abroad students. Often the two groups enjoy socializing outside of class time. Last Friday, a number of teachers and students decided to go to al Azhar Park together.
Al Azhar Park is one of Cairo's success stories. For 500 years, it was a garbage dump covering 74 acres in the heart of Islamic Cairo. Then the Aga Khan Trust for Culture decided to transform it into a beautiful green space that commands a panoramic view of the city of Cairo. During the building of the park, archaeologists found a wall built 800 years ago by Salah al-Din that they restored. In this city of 20 million, a park such as this provides a much-needed breathing space for citizens and visitors to enjoy the great outdoors.
The weather was lovely for the outing and the teachers and students enjoyed speaking Arabic, seeing the historical sites and learning and playing some traditional Egyptian games.
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At Arab Academy, we believe that learning the Arabic language is enhanced by knowledge of Arab and Egyptian culture. Therefore, Arab Academy offers free weekly lectures (in Arabic or English) to all study abroad students. These lectures are given by instructors and staff on cultural topics about which they have a lot of knowledge. Not only do these lectures increase the cultural knowledge of students, but they also help develop students' Arabic listening skills.
This past week Ustaza Mervat (الأستاذة مرفت) gave a lecture entitled "Journey of the Egyptian Woman throughout Modern History" (رحلة المرأة المصرية عبر التاريخ الحديث). In this lecture, she spoke about the status of women in Egypt in the late 19th century and the beginning of the women's movement in Egypt during the 1919 revolution and about the leader of the women's movement, Huda Shaarawi.
The students are able to practice their comprehension and composition skills by writing essays the next day about what they learned during the lecture.
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On my way back from Washington, I could not resist taking a picture with President Obama! That was a nice end to a pretty exciting short trip to Washington, D.C. I stopped in London for 3 nights to visit my daughter who lives there, then returned happily to Cairo to resume my exciting work at Arab Academy.Read the rest of this entry »