Daily Archives: April 13, 2008

Sheesha Pipes: Loved And Yet Stigmatized Against In Oman

An Ibri gentleman enjoying the comforts of a local sheesha cafe.

This sheesha cafe worker is from Egypt. They periodically bring hot coals around to replace the slowly dying embers lying on the tin-foiled tops.

A typical sheesha pipe (also known as the hooka or nargila) which comes with a number of tobacco choices: apple, mint, cherry, strawberry, banana, fruit mix… The water in the main body acts as a natural filter, some which believe make it healthier than smoking and yet others believe that it makes it all the more dangerous.

YES, I am smoking that thing but NO, it doesn’t mean I smoke regularly! The last time I puffed on one of these suckers was in Israel back in 1999, I think.

The sheesha-pipe smoking master extraordinaire, Blair

It’s funny how many people (when you ask them personally) enjoy puffing on a sheesha pipe but yet they realize that people don’t look favorably upon those who admit it. Therefore, they would not like anyone to know that they enjoy it from time to time. (And a few of those people may be relieved to know that their photos with the sheesha pipe are NOT on my blog, ha!ha!)

The Original “INSHALLAH”!

    “Inshallah” is Arabic for “God willing“, or “Allah willing” to be exact. What many of the people here don’t know is that the concept of “God willing” originates from the Bible which was written hundreds of years before the Koran. The Bible quote above comes from the book of James, chapter 4, verses 13 to 17.
Unfortunately, it is so overused here and rolls so easily off the tongue that many times when people say “Inshallah” it sounds to the foreigner like “Don’t hold your breath” or “Don’t count on it“.
“When do you plan on handing in your late assignment?
“Tomorrow, Inshallah.”
“Can you fix my leaky pipes?”
“This afternoon, Inshallah.”

The problem with overusing such a phrase is that the concept loses its power and is cheapened with every failed attempt to come through in the simplest of tasks. Something I would say to my students in the case of their piously answering “Inshallah” to late assignments and such would be, “God IS willing. The question is “Are YOU?!”

The Old Testament Jews used to use a similar mantra that slowly lost its meaning over time. That expression was “As surely as the LORD lives” which was a solemn oath used by God Himself numerous times to highlight certain promises or consequences. The more they used this expression casually, however, the more God was angered by their lack of awe and respect for His name.
“And though they say, The LORD liveth; surely they swear falsely.” (Jeremiah 5:2)

These are, what I believe to be, 2 examples of taking the LORD’s name in vain, which is the 3rd Commandment.
“Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain; for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain.” (Exodus 20:7, Deuteronomy 5:11)