Friday 13th superstition special: 13 Arab beliefs that jinx and bless the Middle East

Published September 13th, 2013 - 05:17 GMT

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Are Arabs more superstitious than the rest of the world? Here are 13 superstitions that are common in the Middle East to help you decide.

It’s that time of the year. It’s Friday the 13th. It’s time to get superstitious. 

Stepping into a bathroom with your right foot? Stop! Entering the toilet with the correct foot first is just one of many wacky superstitions to pay attention to in the jittery Middle East.  Continue reading below »

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Henna has been a symbol of good luck and health in the Arab world for as long as Arabs have ridden camels. Women apply this organic body dye ahead of their nuptials. In the West, fans of body art get good luck symbols tattooed. Angelina Jolie’s new tattoo is in Arabic! There’s a lucky strike!
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Image 1 of 13:  1 / 13Henna has been a symbol of good luck and health in the Arab world for as long as Arabs have ridden camels. Women apply this organic body dye ahead of their nuptials. In the West, fans of body art get good luck symbols tattooed. Angelina Jolie’s new tattoo is in Arabic! There’s a lucky strike!

Enlarge
If looks could kill: Arabs fear the evil eye enough to not announce good news till the very last minute! They're not alone - non-Arabs subscribe to getting ‘the evils’: those envious eyes. Blue eye talismans or the Hand of Fatima can ward off bad vibes - babies get adorned in ‘eye’ accessories. Not to be confused with Big Bro watching you.
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Image 2 of 13:  2 / 13If looks could kill: Arabs fear the evil eye enough to not announce good news till the very last minute! They're not alone - non-Arabs subscribe to getting ‘the evils’: those envious eyes. Blue eye talismans or the Hand of Fatima can ward off bad vibes - babies get adorned in ‘eye’ accessories. Not to be confused with Big Bro watching you.

Enlarge
Before you skip to the loo, make sure you’re doing it 'right'! Arabs say if you enter the toilet with the right foot bad things will happen. Like getting stuck in the bidet? So much for getting off on the right foot! A new bride must enter her crib right foot first. Luckier brides get to keep both feet off the ground - carried over the threshold!
Reduce

Image 3 of 13:  3 / 13Before you skip to the loo, make sure you’re doing it 'right'! Arabs say if you enter the toilet with the right foot bad things will happen. Like getting stuck in the bidet? So much for getting off on the right foot! A new bride must enter her crib right foot first. Luckier brides get to keep both feet off the ground - carried over the threshold!

Enlarge
Owl-shaped fashion products may be gracing the cover of Vogue Magazine as their latest must-have accessory, but Arabs don’t share the West’s view of them as “wise and positive.” In fact, they believe that hearing an owl toot means something bad is afoot. Hand me that owl purse, darling!
Reduce

Image 4 of 13:  4 / 13Owl-shaped fashion products may be gracing the cover of Vogue Magazine as their latest must-have accessory, but Arabs don’t share the West’s view of them as “wise and positive.” In fact, they believe that hearing an owl toot means something bad is afoot. Hand me that owl purse, darling!

Enlarge
Little donkey, big trouble: Don’t expect to see any donkey charities in the Arab world like you'd find West. Considered dumb and used as the ultimate insult (byword for stupid), a donkey’s bray (ee-aww) for Arabs is a sure sign that the devil is in the vicinity. Just like elsewhere, where hearing a black crow or raven squawk can portend death.
Reduce

Image 5 of 13:  5 / 13Little donkey, big trouble: Don’t expect to see any donkey charities in the Arab world like you'd find West. Considered dumb and used as the ultimate insult (byword for stupid), a donkey’s bray (ee-aww) for Arabs is a sure sign that the devil is in the vicinity. Just like elsewhere, where hearing a black crow or raven squawk can portend death.

Enlarge
Salty superstitions: For many cultures, it is unlucky to spill salt - maybe because Judas spilt the condiment at the Last Supper. Throwing salt over your left shoulder wards off the bad luck. Arabs, aside from keeping their salt close to their arteries, seem nonplussed about the whole superstition, but do often kiss bread before throwing it away.
Reduce

Image 6 of 13:  6 / 13Salty superstitions: For many cultures, it is unlucky to spill salt - maybe because Judas spilt the condiment at the Last Supper. Throwing salt over your left shoulder wards off the bad luck. Arabs, aside from keeping their salt close to their arteries, seem nonplussed about the whole superstition, but do often kiss bread before throwing it away.

Enlarge
Rice: Arabs believe that throwing rice brings good luck at weddings and can be seen hurling the grains after won wars in thanks. This is not surprising. Arabs love rice with most of their meals, and hence associate rice with all things positive. Got rice? Cook it. Or throw it. It’s all good.
Reduce

Image 7 of 13:  7 / 13Rice: Arabs believe that throwing rice brings good luck at weddings and can be seen hurling the grains after won wars in thanks. This is not surprising. Arabs love rice with most of their meals, and hence associate rice with all things positive. Got rice? Cook it. Or throw it. It’s all good.

Enlarge
Well-wishing and Arab money: If you’ve a coin, make a wish and throw it in a fountain or well. Arabs, on the other side of the coin love to keep their coins in their pockets, so you won’t be seeing any coin-tossing around here! But, seriously, Arabs are a generous bunch - all joking at their 'expense' aside.
Reduce

Image 8 of 13:  8 / 13Well-wishing and Arab money: If you’ve a coin, make a wish and throw it in a fountain or well. Arabs, on the other side of the coin love to keep their coins in their pockets, so you won’t be seeing any coin-tossing around here! But, seriously, Arabs are a generous bunch - all joking at their 'expense' aside.

Enlarge
No use crying over spilt milk? For Arabs, the right stain can be cause for celebration, not lamenting extra laundry. The west is cool about being pooped on by birds, but Arabs are chill about coffee spills. Spilling coffee bestows good luck. Spilling hot water however is brings bad luck. A victim of spilt scalding water better believe it!
Reduce

Image 9 of 13:  9 / 13No use crying over spilt milk? For Arabs, the right stain can be cause for celebration, not lamenting extra laundry. The west is cool about being pooped on by birds, but Arabs are chill about coffee spills. Spilling coffee bestows good luck. Spilling hot water however is brings bad luck. A victim of spilt scalding water better believe it!

Enlarge
Broke a glass at a dinner party? Don’t fret. Breaking glass in the Arab world literally means breaking a spell of bad luck. However, don’t go around breaking crockery at a dinner party in the West, where people have markedly different opinions towards broken glass - remember, breaking a mirror is believed to bring bad luck for seven years.
Reduce

Image 10 of 13:  10 / 13Broke a glass at a dinner party? Don’t fret. Breaking glass in the Arab world literally means breaking a spell of bad luck. However, don’t go around breaking crockery at a dinner party in the West, where people have markedly different opinions towards broken glass - remember, breaking a mirror is believed to bring bad luck for seven years.

Enlarge
Bottoms up? Arabs do not wish to see the flipside of your flip-flops. See an Arab squirming in the seat in front of you? Check for unworn shoes with their soles turned up in your vicinity. Upturned shoes are considered a sign of bad luck in the Arab world. Turn those sneakers over. And watch the haunted 'souls' regain their composure
Reduce

Image 11 of 13:  11 / 13Bottoms up? Arabs do not wish to see the flipside of your flip-flops. See an Arab squirming in the seat in front of you? Check for unworn shoes with their soles turned up in your vicinity. Upturned shoes are considered a sign of bad luck in the Arab world. Turn those sneakers over. And watch the haunted 'souls' regain their composure

Enlarge
One person’s medicine is another’s curse: We all know that laughter is the best medicine, but 
for Arabs laughing too much is bad luck (those miserable gits)!
Reduce

Image 12 of 13:  12 / 13One person’s medicine is another’s curse: We all know that laughter is the best medicine, but for Arabs laughing too much is bad luck (those miserable gits)!

Enlarge
In the West, buildings will not have a floor tagged 13 (unless the setting of a horror movie). Friday 13th is greeted with dread by the superstitious and you should never seat 13 at a table - it's so Last Supper. Yet, having many guests over for dinner is par for the course for more-the-merrier Arab hosts, who lose count and have no number fear!
Reduce

Image 13 of 13:  13 / 13In the West, buildings will not have a floor tagged 13 (unless the setting of a horror movie). Friday 13th is greeted with dread by the superstitious and you should never seat 13 at a table - it's so Last Supper. Yet, having many guests over for dinner is par for the course for more-the-merrier Arab hosts, who lose count and have no number fear!

Enlarge

1

Henna has been a symbol of good luck and health in the Arab world for as long as Arabs have ridden camels. Women apply this organic body dye ahead of their nuptials. In the West, fans of body art get good luck symbols tattooed. Angelina Jolie’s new tattoo is in Arabic! There’s a lucky strike!

Image 1 of 13Henna has been a symbol of good luck and health in the Arab world for as long as Arabs have ridden camels. Women apply this organic body dye ahead of their nuptials. In the West, fans of body art get good luck symbols tattooed. Angelina Jolie’s new tattoo is in Arabic! There’s a lucky strike!

2

If looks could kill: Arabs fear the evil eye enough to not announce good news till the very last minute! They're not alone - non-Arabs subscribe to getting ‘the evils’: those envious eyes. Blue eye talismans or the Hand of Fatima can ward off bad vibes - babies get adorned in ‘eye’ accessories. Not to be confused with Big Bro watching you.

Image 2 of 13If looks could kill: Arabs fear the evil eye enough to not announce good news till the very last minute! They're not alone - non-Arabs subscribe to getting ‘the evils’: those envious eyes. Blue eye talismans or the Hand of Fatima can ward off bad vibes - babies get adorned in ‘eye’ accessories. Not to be confused with Big Bro watching you.

3

Before you skip to the loo, make sure you’re doing it 'right'! Arabs say if you enter the toilet with the right foot bad things will happen. Like getting stuck in the bidet? So much for getting off on the right foot! A new bride must enter her crib right foot first. Luckier brides get to keep both feet off the ground - carried over the threshold!

Image 3 of 13Before you skip to the loo, make sure you’re doing it 'right'! Arabs say if you enter the toilet with the right foot bad things will happen. Like getting stuck in the bidet? So much for getting off on the right foot! A new bride must enter her crib right foot first. Luckier brides get to keep both feet off the ground - carried over the threshold!

4

Owl-shaped fashion products may be gracing the cover of Vogue Magazine as their latest must-have accessory, but Arabs don’t share the West’s view of them as “wise and positive.” In fact, they believe that hearing an owl toot means something bad is afoot. Hand me that owl purse, darling!

Image 4 of 13Owl-shaped fashion products may be gracing the cover of Vogue Magazine as their latest must-have accessory, but Arabs don’t share the West’s view of them as “wise and positive.” In fact, they believe that hearing an owl toot means something bad is afoot. Hand me that owl purse, darling!

5

Little donkey, big trouble: Don’t expect to see any donkey charities in the Arab world like you'd find West. Considered dumb and used as the ultimate insult (byword for stupid), a donkey’s bray (ee-aww) for Arabs is a sure sign that the devil is in the vicinity. Just like elsewhere, where hearing a black crow or raven squawk can portend death.

Image 5 of 13Little donkey, big trouble: Don’t expect to see any donkey charities in the Arab world like you'd find West. Considered dumb and used as the ultimate insult (byword for stupid), a donkey’s bray (ee-aww) for Arabs is a sure sign that the devil is in the vicinity. Just like elsewhere, where hearing a black crow or raven squawk can portend death.

6

Salty superstitions: For many cultures, it is unlucky to spill salt - maybe because Judas spilt the condiment at the Last Supper. Throwing salt over your left shoulder wards off the bad luck. Arabs, aside from keeping their salt close to their arteries, seem nonplussed about the whole superstition, but do often kiss bread before throwing it away.

Image 6 of 13Salty superstitions: For many cultures, it is unlucky to spill salt - maybe because Judas spilt the condiment at the Last Supper. Throwing salt over your left shoulder wards off the bad luck. Arabs, aside from keeping their salt close to their arteries, seem nonplussed about the whole superstition, but do often kiss bread before throwing it away.

7

Rice: Arabs believe that throwing rice brings good luck at weddings and can be seen hurling the grains after won wars in thanks. This is not surprising. Arabs love rice with most of their meals, and hence associate rice with all things positive. Got rice? Cook it. Or throw it. It’s all good.

Image 7 of 13Rice: Arabs believe that throwing rice brings good luck at weddings and can be seen hurling the grains after won wars in thanks. This is not surprising. Arabs love rice with most of their meals, and hence associate rice with all things positive. Got rice? Cook it. Or throw it. It’s all good.

8

Well-wishing and Arab money: If you’ve a coin, make a wish and throw it in a fountain or well. Arabs, on the other side of the coin love to keep their coins in their pockets, so you won’t be seeing any coin-tossing around here! But, seriously, Arabs are a generous bunch - all joking at their 'expense' aside.

Image 8 of 13Well-wishing and Arab money: If you’ve a coin, make a wish and throw it in a fountain or well. Arabs, on the other side of the coin love to keep their coins in their pockets, so you won’t be seeing any coin-tossing around here! But, seriously, Arabs are a generous bunch - all joking at their 'expense' aside.

9

No use crying over spilt milk? For Arabs, the right stain can be cause for celebration, not lamenting extra laundry. The west is cool about being pooped on by birds, but Arabs are chill about coffee spills. Spilling coffee bestows good luck. Spilling hot water however is brings bad luck. A victim of spilt scalding water better believe it!

Image 9 of 13No use crying over spilt milk? For Arabs, the right stain can be cause for celebration, not lamenting extra laundry. The west is cool about being pooped on by birds, but Arabs are chill about coffee spills. Spilling coffee bestows good luck. Spilling hot water however is brings bad luck. A victim of spilt scalding water better believe it!

10

Broke a glass at a dinner party? Don’t fret. Breaking glass in the Arab world literally means breaking a spell of bad luck. However, don’t go around breaking crockery at a dinner party in the West, where people have markedly different opinions towards broken glass - remember, breaking a mirror is believed to bring bad luck for seven years.

Image 10 of 13Broke a glass at a dinner party? Don’t fret. Breaking glass in the Arab world literally means breaking a spell of bad luck. However, don’t go around breaking crockery at a dinner party in the West, where people have markedly different opinions towards broken glass - remember, breaking a mirror is believed to bring bad luck for seven years.

11

Bottoms up? Arabs do not wish to see the flipside of your flip-flops. See an Arab squirming in the seat in front of you? Check for unworn shoes with their soles turned up in your vicinity. Upturned shoes are considered a sign of bad luck in the Arab world. Turn those sneakers over. And watch the haunted 'souls' regain their composure

Image 11 of 13Bottoms up? Arabs do not wish to see the flipside of your flip-flops. See an Arab squirming in the seat in front of you? Check for unworn shoes with their soles turned up in your vicinity. Upturned shoes are considered a sign of bad luck in the Arab world. Turn those sneakers over. And watch the haunted 'souls' regain their composure

12

One person’s medicine is another’s curse: We all know that laughter is the best medicine, but 
for Arabs laughing too much is bad luck (those miserable gits)!

Image 12 of 13One person’s medicine is another’s curse: We all know that laughter is the best medicine, but for Arabs laughing too much is bad luck (those miserable gits)!

13

In the West, buildings will not have a floor tagged 13 (unless the setting of a horror movie). Friday 13th is greeted with dread by the superstitious and you should never seat 13 at a table - it's so Last Supper. Yet, having many guests over for dinner is par for the course for more-the-merrier Arab hosts, who lose count and have no number fear!

Image 13 of 13In the West, buildings will not have a floor tagged 13 (unless the setting of a horror movie). Friday 13th is greeted with dread by the superstitious and you should never seat 13 at a table - it's so Last Supper. Yet, having many guests over for dinner is par for the course for more-the-merrier Arab hosts, who lose count and have no number fear!

Reduce

Are you the type of person who’s also superstitious for the remainder of the year? Do you subscribe to universal codes of superstition by avoiding wandering under ladders or straying in the path of a black cat? Do you keep your brolly closed indoors, or does the Arab in you take over in determining what's good luck and what's not? Does a braying donkey fill you with jeepers creepers? Do you shudder when you hear an owl toot or quake in your boots at the siting of a black crow? Does the saying that a pregnant woman who spies a rabbit or hare will deliver a cleft-lip (hare-lip) child ring true? Do you think all left-handers are cursed? 

Here, we cast a fun light over some peculiar Arab beliefs and their western counterparts. Find out what the Arab near equivalents of four leaf clovers and horseshoes are and learn if one culture's lucky charm is the Arabs' jinx. Feeling that freaky Friday 13th spell? Then lose your misgivings for long enough to dip into our pot-luck selection of lucky charms and fate tempters as we guide you through the minefield of superstitions that litter the Middle Eastern mind-set - played off against their Western counterparts.

 

 



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