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Zebibah~when fashion & faith meet

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Egypt
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While I was in Egypt last year about this time I noticed this mark on the heads of men. I wondered if it was a genetic thing or maybe sun damage and I asked my Husband why did so many of these men have that mark on their heads? He amusingly replied, "Oh sooo you notice that"? He explained that it was a sign of devotion in how much one prayed and that it is developed when the forehead meets the ground. :idea: Dur. I saw he was developing a Zebibah and I mentioned casually to him that I didn't like this and I hope that he doesn't chose to develop one further and to please be kind with his forehead. He then mentioned that this mark the "zebibah" is mentioned by The Prophet, Muhammad, as the best mark a man may have on him, it is from God. Those may not be my Husband's or The Prophet's exact words but that is the way I understood it to mean.

Is the Zebibah a topic of conversation with your SO's? Does your SO have one or is developing one? Is the Zebibah common in other MENA countries? Did the Zebibah help your Husband economically in anyway as the article claims it is a door opener?

This article comes a little late but I was amused to find it in the New York Times none the less and would like to share it if it hasn't already been posted.

Fashion and Faith Meet, on Foreheads of the Pious

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Shawn Baldwin for The New York Times

Pressing the head into the ground in prayer, as this man is doing in Cairo, can leave a callus, or zebibah.

By MICHAEL SLACKMAN

Published: December 18, 2007

CAIRO — There is a strong undercurrent of competition in Egypt these days, an unstated contest among people eager to prove just how religious they are. The field of battle is the street and the focus tends to be on appearance, as opposed to conviction.

It is not that the two are mutually exclusive, but they are not necessarily linked. As Egyptians increasingly emphasize Islam as the cornerstone of identity, there has been a growing emphasis on public displays of piety.

For women, that has rapidly translated into the nearly universal adoption of the hijab, a scarf fitted over the hair and ears and wrapped around the neck. For men, it is more and more popular to have a zebibah.

The zebibah, Arabic for raisin, is a dark circle of callused skin, or in some cases a protruding bump, between the hairline and the eyebrows. It emerges on the spot where worshipers press their foreheads into the ground during their daily prayers.

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Shawn Baldwin for The New York Times

A man reading the Koran has a zebibah, seen as a sign of piety in Egypt.

It may sometimes look like a painful wound, but in Egypt it is worn proudly, the way American professionals in the 1980s felt good about the dark circles under their eyes as a sign of long work hours and little sleep.

Two decades ago, Egypt was a Muslim country with a relatively secular style. Nationalism and Arabism had alternated places as the main element of identity. But today, Egypt, like much of the Arab Middle East, is experiencing the rise of Islam as the ideology of the day.

With that, religious symbols have become the fashion.

“The zebibah is a way to show how important religion is for us,” said Muhammad al-Bikali, a hairstylist in Cairo, in an interview last month. Mr. Bikali had a well-trimmed mustache and an ever-so-subtle brown spot just beneath his hairline. “It shows how religious we are. It is a mark from God.”

Observant Muslims pray five times a day. Each prayer involves kneeling and touching one’s forehead and nose to the ground. All five prayers require placing one’s head on the ground for a total of 34 times, though many people add prayers and with them, more chances to press their heads to the ground. Some people say the bump is the inevitable result of so many prayers — and that is often the point: The person with the mark is broadcasting his observance, his adherence to one of the five pillars of Islam.

But the zebibah is primarily a phenomenon of Egypt. Muslim men pray throughout the Arab world. Indeed, Egyptian women pray, but few of them end up with a prayer bump. So why do so many Egyptian men press so hard when they pray?

“If we just take it for what it is, then it means that people are praying a lot,” said Gamal al-Ghitani, editor in chief of the newspaper Akhbar El Yom. “But there is a kind of statement in it. Sometimes as a personal statement to announce that he is a conservative Muslim and sometimes as a way of outbidding others by showing them that he is more religious or to say that they should be like him.”

There are many reasons for the Islamic revival that has swept Egypt and the Middle East, from the rise of satellite television, which offers 24 hours of religious programming, to economies that offer little hope of improving people’s lives, to the resentment of Western meddling in the Middle East.

But there is also peer pressure, a powerful force in a society where conformity and tradition are aspired to and rewarded.

“I will learn more about someone when I get to know him, but the appearance is the first impression,” said Khaled Ashry, 37, a security guard at a private school.

Hanaa el-Guindy, 21, an art student in Cairo, covers her head and wears a long loose-fitting dress to hide her figure. “The outward appearance is important,” Ms. Guindy said. “It says, ‘I am a good person.’ This is a good thing. On Judgment Day, this sign, the zebibah on their forehead, will shine. It will say, ‘God is great.’”

In much of the Arab world, symbols of extreme observance are fairly standard and tend to stem from the conservative religious cultures of Persian Gulf nations, like Saudi Arabia. There is the long beard. In extreme cases men wear a loose-fitting robe that stops at their ankles, just as the prophet Muhammad wore his own gown at ankle length.

Those symbols have seeped their way into Egypt, and are growing in popularity. More and more women, for example, are covering their faces with a niqab, a black mask of cloth that has come to Egypt from the Persian Gulf. The zebibah, however, is 100 percent Egyptian, and does not carry the negative connotation of imported symbols.

Men with long beards can still find it hard to get a job. The zebibah, on the other hand, can open doors. “The zebibah can help,” said Ahmed Mohsen, 35, a messenger for a law firm whose own mark was pinkish, bumpy and peeling. “It can lead to a kind of initial acceptance between people.”

There are no statistics on the zebibah’s prevalence. But today, perhaps more than any other time in recent history, Egyptians are eager to demonstrate to one another just how religious they are.

“In Egypt, it’s the way we pray; we probably hit our heads harder than most in order to get one,” said Ahmed Fathallah, 19, as he played dominoes one evening in a Cairo coffee shop. “You also have to understand that people here like to show off their piety, maybe almost more than in the rest of the Middle East.”

There are many rumors about men who use irritants, like sandpaper, to darken the callus. There may be no truth to the rumors, but the rumors themselves indicate how fashionable the mark has become.

Not everyone has a zebibah. Plenty of Egyptians still regard their faith as a personal matter. But the pressure is growing, as religion becomes the focus of individual identity, and the most easily accessible source of pride and dignity for all social and economic classes.

“You pray, but it doesn’t come out,” said Muhammad Hojri, 23, as he gently teased his brother, Mahmoud, 21, recently while they worked in a family kebab restaurant. Muhammad has a mark. Mahmoud does not, and did not appreciate his brother’s ribbing.

“I pray for God, not for this thing on my forehead,” Mahmoud shot back.

Mona el-Naggar contributed reporting from Cairo.

Source


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Filed: Other Timeline

Well I was a Muslim long before I met Ashraf and I have friends that have met men that think this mark is a sign of a pious person.I disagree,because to me piety is in a person's heart not anything that is outward.And I hope Ashraf does not decide he needs this to show his faith.


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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Egypt
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I noticed this on my first trip to Egypt. After a few days I thought that something was wrong until my fiancee laughed when he found out that I was actually paying attention and was amazed. No, he does not have this. He does pray the 5 times a day but I have noticed that he touches the ground very softly with his forehead. He and I believe like Ashandran that it is in the heart not a callous on the forehead. Anybody can make that callous from kneeling and putting their head on the ground but if you aren't living your life and with God in your heart it will not get you where you need to be in the end.

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Filed: Country: Palestine
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The most religious man I know does not have this thing on his head.

The whole idea kinda reminds me of


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Filed: AOS (apr) Country: Egypt
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My husband doesn't have one but his father did. I don't know why some get it and some don't but I have a feeling some just make it so that people will think they're more pious than they are. I mean it doesn't even make sense why women don't get it. I have never seen this on a woman and yet that is not part of the head that is covered during prayer so why wouldn't a woman get it just as much as a man would?


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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Morocco
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My husband doesn't have one but his father did. I don't know why some get it and some don't but I have a feeling some just make it so that people will think they're more pious than they are. I mean it doesn't even make sense why women don't get it. I have never seen this on a woman and yet that is not part of the head that is covered during prayer so why wouldn't a woman get it just as much as a man would?

Exactly. They must really have to rub their foreheads pretty hard to do that. "See, look how pious I am!" "My mark is bigger than yours!"

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Filed: Citizen (pnd) Country: Egypt
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I also saw this the times I was in Egypt. Maybe I'm wrong, but it seemed to be a status symbol kinda proving "hey I pray 5 times a day" kind of thing. Anyone can have a callous on their head, but it's what in their heart that matters.

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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Morocco
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I too have heard of this developing over time but at least in Morocco I don't remember seeing anyone with this. My husband has prayed 5 times a day for like 15 years and he doesn't have anything that even looks like this starting - so that would be head touching 34x's prayer by 5 = 170 touches a day. By 365 a year = 62,050 touches a year by 15 years = 930,750 touches so far in his lifetime. So we could round to a million since there's additional prayers thrown in there and more prayers during Ramadan. I think these dudes are going down and rubbing their heads into the carpet too much....it's just supposed to be a light touch.....


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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Jordan
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Yeah, my husband had this one rug that eventually was wearing thin on the head part with wear at the feet, but this was in use for like 20 years, you know? And there was no corresponding build- up of callous on his head!


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Filed: Country: Libya
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I think the reason this mark appears on some people and not on others is due to the varying degrees of skin sensitivity everyone has and I don't believe this is the mark of prostration mentioned by Allah in the Quran.

My husband and son both have this same mark on their feet.... my husband has had it for a while and my son has recently began developing one (he has eczema like me so hot water can irritate his skin)... because of the way they sit in the prayer.

It's kind of sad if someone would try to make themselves have this mark just to try to make an outward show of their piety.


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Filed: Citizen (apr) Country: Jordan
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My husband and son both have this same mark on their feet.... my husband has had it for a while and my son has recently began developing one (he has eczema like me so hot water can irritate his skin)... because of the way they sit in the prayer.

My husband has one from teh way he puts his feet in prayer too. I never had a clue how he got a callous like that until last winter when I was sitting with one leg crossed under me while at the computer every day doing stuff-- well i started to get a callous on the top of my foot and then it dawned on me what his was from. I honestly had no idea until it started happening to me. I just changed my leg position and used a pummice stone!


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Filed: IR-1/CR-1 Visa Country: Egypt
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my husband is a practicing muslim al hamdulillah and he does pray regularly but he has a very light one becoz of his type of skin!! it really makes a difference of how big or small :) .

but for everyones info: In Islam actions are not accepted without the right intention from the heart, that this action is only for the sake of Allah (being sincere and faithful( and attaining his pleasure.... any action done for the sake of anyone/anything else is not accepted!! that is number one rule in Islam for a practicing muslim's deeds to be accepted by God! So those who compete for superficial features just to get ppl's attention to call them pious or not "for the sake of humans" these actions will not be accepted by God and thats a sin in itself!

back to our topic lol :D if he wants to get rid of it they can apply face cream everytime they perform ablution but trust me no man wd ever want to get rid of it becoz as ur husband said its a good sign:D

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Filed: Country: Morocco
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i remember when i was in egypt i noticed that and wondered what in the world was on their heads too! i don't understand why anyone would think that a bigger callous means you are more religious. to me it just means you like you bash your head in on a carpet to prove to others that you pray. i would think someone who does it more gentle could be just as religious (if not more) because they know within their hearts how pious they are and don't need to show it off. *shrug* how would i know, i'm not muslim.


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