Getting Your Wordsworth

September 13, 1990|By Joseph Gallagher

IRAQI PRESIDENT Saddam Hussein has called for a jihad -- a holy war, against the U.S. Jihad in Arabic simply means a contest, a struggle to which one ''applies'' oneself. Arab (whence Arabia and Araby) is Arabic for a desert dweller, a

desert/er. A Bedouin is also a desert dweller, but here the emphasis is on the idea of a camp (badw). A desert is land that is deserted. (Dessert is what is served after the main course has been cleared away, i.e., de-served.) Most of Arabia is ruled by the Saud family. Saudi Arabia is the only country named after a family.

The chief religion of the Arabs is Islam -- the religion of ''surrender'' to Allah, as preached by the Arab Mohammed. The Prophet's name means ''praised,'' as does the ''Judah'' that gives us Jew. A Moslem (Muslim, Mussulman) is one who has ''surrendered.'' The root Arabic letters ''s/l/m'' pertain to being safe, being at peace -- because you have surrendered, $l accepted. The greeting, salaam, is from the same root, as is the Hebrew shalom. Some scholars think our expression ''so long,'' derives from the ''salaam'' heard from Arabic sailors.

Baltimore Sun Articles
|
|
|
Please note the green-lined linked article text has been applied commercially without any involvement from our newsroom editors, reporters or any other editorial staff.