It’s a ‘shmall’ world, after all! A lopsided look at left-handers in Arabia

Published August 16th, 2015 - 19:36 GMT

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Every year on August 13th, lefties around the world celebrate their minority dominant hand on International Left-Handers Day, an event inaugurated in 1976 to raise awareness about living in a right-handed world. Left-handers face physical challenges, to be sure - but what happens when we overlay culture?

Pity the poor lefty. Southpaw science tells us they’re creative and smart (most geniuses are left-handed). But they are also live shorter lives (research says nine fewer years!) with a higher risk of psychosis, accidents, insomnia and alcoholism. Lefties are prone to dyslexia and allergies and 40 percent of schizophrenics are left-handed, according to a Yale University study. No need to consult a palm reader to see that’s an awful analysis. Continue reading below »

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Islamic culture generally sees good deeds as related to right hands, while unsavory actions are left to the left. There’s also some spin ‘round suspicion that the devil rules those left-handed acts. Could be why he’s often depicted as a southpaw?
Reduce

Image 1 of 14:  1 / 14Islamic culture generally sees good deeds as related to right hands, while unsavory actions are left to the left. There’s also some spin ‘round suspicion that the devil rules those left-handed acts. Could be why he’s often depicted as a southpaw?

Enlarge
That rep's reinforced by some pretty big voices! The United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington, D.C. doles out free website diplomacy to visitors traveling to Muslim countries that says,”Do not eat with your left hand, which is considered unclean.”
Reduce

Image 2 of 14:  2 / 14That rep's reinforced by some pretty big voices! The United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington, D.C. doles out free website diplomacy to visitors traveling to Muslim countries that says,”Do not eat with your left hand, which is considered unclean.”

Enlarge
Right hands get good press in the Bible with 100 positive mentions. Left hands grab just 25 nods, all negative. The The Quran doesn't restrict eating or drinking with the left hand, but secondary Islamic doctrine puts that paw into retirement, saying it’s how Satan sups. (Forget the hand, just pass me some Devil’s Food cake!)
Reduce

Image 3 of 14:  3 / 14Right hands get good press in the Bible with 100 positive mentions. Left hands grab just 25 nods, all negative. The The Quran doesn't restrict eating or drinking with the left hand, but secondary Islamic doctrine puts that paw into retirement, saying it’s how Satan sups. (Forget the hand, just pass me some Devil’s Food cake!)

Enlarge
Jinn are mystical beings made by Allah 1,000s of years before he created Adam. They live on earth in a parallel world to ours, hidden from our view. Author Sarah Bartlett says that in pre-Islamic Persian history, the jinn were often described as left-handed. But as Jinn are invisible to man, who can say?
Reduce

Image 4 of 14:  4 / 14Jinn are mystical beings made by Allah 1,000s of years before he created Adam. They live on earth in a parallel world to ours, hidden from our view. Author Sarah Bartlett says that in pre-Islamic Persian history, the jinn were often described as left-handed. But as Jinn are invisible to man, who can say?

Enlarge
Arabic and Hebrew are the only major scripts written right-to-left. But Hebrew characters are formed left-to-right, so that leaves only Arabic (including Urdu and Persian) as fully favoring lefties! This means no smeared ink for southpaws, and somehow the right-handed Arabs seem to cope.
Reduce

Image 5 of 14:  5 / 14Arabic and Hebrew are the only major scripts written right-to-left. But Hebrew characters are formed left-to-right, so that leaves only Arabic (including Urdu and Persian) as fully favoring lefties! This means no smeared ink for southpaws, and somehow the right-handed Arabs seem to cope.

Enlarge
Arabic handwriting loves lefties, but most computer keyboards pose a southpaw problem, since number pads, arrow and return keys are on the right hand side. The QWERTY keyboard gives lefties a lift - studies show that 56% of touch-typing keystrokes are made with the left hand.
Reduce

Image 6 of 14:  6 / 14Arabic handwriting loves lefties, but most computer keyboards pose a southpaw problem, since number pads, arrow and return keys are on the right hand side. The QWERTY keyboard gives lefties a lift - studies show that 56% of touch-typing keystrokes are made with the left hand.

Enlarge
Driving lefties are more likely to suffer through bad music as dashboard design favors righties. Lefties risk their lives by fiddling with the dials with their weaker right hand just to silence Rola Saad!
Reduce

Image 7 of 14:  7 / 14Driving lefties are more likely to suffer through bad music as dashboard design favors righties. Lefties risk their lives by fiddling with the dials with their weaker right hand just to silence Rola Saad!

Enlarge
Look close at the cats crawling 'round Cairo and Amman. A study by Ataturk University proved the majority of cats are right-pawed (50%), 10% of them are ambidextrous, and the remaining 40% favor their left paw. Clearly not a problem when they handle 'a mouse'.
Reduce

Image 8 of 14:  8 / 14Look close at the cats crawling 'round Cairo and Amman. A study by Ataturk University proved the majority of cats are right-pawed (50%), 10% of them are ambidextrous, and the remaining 40% favor their left paw. Clearly not a problem when they handle "a mouse".

Enlarge
Righties are better with rifles, leaving lefties out when it comes to spraying the sky with bullets at weddings and when tawjihi scores come in. Some lefties learn to shoot on the side of their dominant left eye, but you still have to deal with empty shells flying across your line of vision.
Reduce

Image 9 of 14:  9 / 14Righties are better with rifles, leaving lefties out when it comes to spraying the sky with bullets at weddings and when tawjihi scores come in. Some lefties learn to shoot on the side of their dominant left eye, but you still have to deal with empty shells flying across your line of vision.

Enlarge
The Great Ramses II was a leftie. The phamous pharaoh is perhaps best known for dissing Moses - and his kingdom was subsequently plagued by frogs, locusts, and boils.  His entire army was then swallowed by the Red Sea. (Stubbornness is a lefty characteristic!)
Reduce

Image 10 of 14:  10 / 14The Great Ramses II was a leftie. The phamous pharaoh is perhaps best known for dissing Moses - and his kingdom was subsequently plagued by frogs, locusts, and boils. His entire army was then swallowed by the Red Sea. (Stubbornness is a lefty characteristic!)

Enlarge
Left-handed actor and producer Khalid Abdallah - another famous Egyptian - starred in Green Zone and The Kite Runner. He said his role as a terrorist in the film United 93 called on all aspects of his identity 'as an Arab, a Muslim, and an actor.'  And dont forget, as a lefty!
Reduce

Image 11 of 14:  11 / 14Left-handed actor and producer Khalid Abdallah - another famous Egyptian - starred in Green Zone and The Kite Runner. He said his role as a terrorist in the film United 93 called on all aspects of his identity "as an Arab, a Muslim, and an actor." And dont forget, as a lefty!

Enlarge
Former Israeli prime-minister (and lefty!) Ehud Olmert was busted for corruption in 2009, when Jerusalem District Court  indicted him on five criminal counts, including the 'money envelopes affair'. In 2014, he was convicted of bribery and sentenced to eight months in prison. Wonder which hand accepted the bribes?
Reduce

Image 12 of 14:  12 / 14Former Israeli prime-minister (and lefty!) Ehud Olmert was busted for corruption in 2009, when Jerusalem District Court indicted him on five criminal counts, including the "money envelopes affair". In 2014, he was convicted of bribery and sentenced to eight months in prison. Wonder which hand accepted the bribes?

Enlarge
Did you know that the President Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Prime Minister of Israel both lean to the left? Yup, Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu are both left-handed.
Reduce

Image 13 of 14:  13 / 14Did you know that the President Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Prime Minister of Israel both lean to the left? Yup, Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu are both left-handed.

Enlarge
Research shows a link between left-handed people and delinquent behavior, as the last few slides have hinted. Osama Bin Laden was left-handed, but then again so was George H.W. Bush.  Maybe there is some truth to Satan being a southpaw?
Reduce

Image 14 of 14:  14 / 14Research shows a link between left-handed people and delinquent behavior, as the last few slides have hinted. Osama Bin Laden was left-handed, but then again so was George H.W. Bush. Maybe there is some truth to Satan being a southpaw?

Enlarge

1

Islamic culture generally sees good deeds as related to right hands, while unsavory actions are left to the left. There’s also some spin ‘round suspicion that the devil rules those left-handed acts. Could be why he’s often depicted as a southpaw?

Image 1 of 14Islamic culture generally sees good deeds as related to right hands, while unsavory actions are left to the left. There’s also some spin ‘round suspicion that the devil rules those left-handed acts. Could be why he’s often depicted as a southpaw?

2

That rep's reinforced by some pretty big voices! The United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington, D.C. doles out free website diplomacy to visitors traveling to Muslim countries that says,”Do not eat with your left hand, which is considered unclean.”

Image 2 of 14That rep's reinforced by some pretty big voices! The United Arab Emirates Embassy in Washington, D.C. doles out free website diplomacy to visitors traveling to Muslim countries that says,”Do not eat with your left hand, which is considered unclean.”

3

Right hands get good press in the Bible with 100 positive mentions. Left hands grab just 25 nods, all negative. The The Quran doesn't restrict eating or drinking with the left hand, but secondary Islamic doctrine puts that paw into retirement, saying it’s how Satan sups. (Forget the hand, just pass me some Devil’s Food cake!)

Image 3 of 14Right hands get good press in the Bible with 100 positive mentions. Left hands grab just 25 nods, all negative. The The Quran doesn't restrict eating or drinking with the left hand, but secondary Islamic doctrine puts that paw into retirement, saying it’s how Satan sups. (Forget the hand, just pass me some Devil’s Food cake!)

4

Jinn are mystical beings made by Allah 1,000s of years before he created Adam. They live on earth in a parallel world to ours, hidden from our view. Author Sarah Bartlett says that in pre-Islamic Persian history, the jinn were often described as left-handed. But as Jinn are invisible to man, who can say?

Image 4 of 14Jinn are mystical beings made by Allah 1,000s of years before he created Adam. They live on earth in a parallel world to ours, hidden from our view. Author Sarah Bartlett says that in pre-Islamic Persian history, the jinn were often described as left-handed. But as Jinn are invisible to man, who can say?

5

Arabic and Hebrew are the only major scripts written right-to-left. But Hebrew characters are formed left-to-right, so that leaves only Arabic (including Urdu and Persian) as fully favoring lefties! This means no smeared ink for southpaws, and somehow the right-handed Arabs seem to cope.

Image 5 of 14Arabic and Hebrew are the only major scripts written right-to-left. But Hebrew characters are formed left-to-right, so that leaves only Arabic (including Urdu and Persian) as fully favoring lefties! This means no smeared ink for southpaws, and somehow the right-handed Arabs seem to cope.

6

Arabic handwriting loves lefties, but most computer keyboards pose a southpaw problem, since number pads, arrow and return keys are on the right hand side. The QWERTY keyboard gives lefties a lift - studies show that 56% of touch-typing keystrokes are made with the left hand.

Image 6 of 14Arabic handwriting loves lefties, but most computer keyboards pose a southpaw problem, since number pads, arrow and return keys are on the right hand side. The QWERTY keyboard gives lefties a lift - studies show that 56% of touch-typing keystrokes are made with the left hand.

7

Driving lefties are more likely to suffer through bad music as dashboard design favors righties. Lefties risk their lives by fiddling with the dials with their weaker right hand just to silence Rola Saad!

Image 7 of 14Driving lefties are more likely to suffer through bad music as dashboard design favors righties. Lefties risk their lives by fiddling with the dials with their weaker right hand just to silence Rola Saad!

8

Look close at the cats crawling 'round Cairo and Amman. A study by Ataturk University proved the majority of cats are right-pawed (50%), 10% of them are ambidextrous, and the remaining 40% favor their left paw. Clearly not a problem when they handle 'a mouse'.

Image 8 of 14Look close at the cats crawling 'round Cairo and Amman. A study by Ataturk University proved the majority of cats are right-pawed (50%), 10% of them are ambidextrous, and the remaining 40% favor their left paw. Clearly not a problem when they handle "a mouse".

9

Righties are better with rifles, leaving lefties out when it comes to spraying the sky with bullets at weddings and when tawjihi scores come in. Some lefties learn to shoot on the side of their dominant left eye, but you still have to deal with empty shells flying across your line of vision.

Image 9 of 14Righties are better with rifles, leaving lefties out when it comes to spraying the sky with bullets at weddings and when tawjihi scores come in. Some lefties learn to shoot on the side of their dominant left eye, but you still have to deal with empty shells flying across your line of vision.

10

The Great Ramses II was a leftie. The phamous pharaoh is perhaps best known for dissing Moses - and his kingdom was subsequently plagued by frogs, locusts, and boils.  His entire army was then swallowed by the Red Sea. (Stubbornness is a lefty characteristic!)

Image 10 of 14The Great Ramses II was a leftie. The phamous pharaoh is perhaps best known for dissing Moses - and his kingdom was subsequently plagued by frogs, locusts, and boils. His entire army was then swallowed by the Red Sea. (Stubbornness is a lefty characteristic!)

11

Left-handed actor and producer Khalid Abdallah - another famous Egyptian - starred in Green Zone and The Kite Runner. He said his role as a terrorist in the film United 93 called on all aspects of his identity 'as an Arab, a Muslim, and an actor.'  And dont forget, as a lefty!

Image 11 of 14Left-handed actor and producer Khalid Abdallah - another famous Egyptian - starred in Green Zone and The Kite Runner. He said his role as a terrorist in the film United 93 called on all aspects of his identity "as an Arab, a Muslim, and an actor." And dont forget, as a lefty!

12

Former Israeli prime-minister (and lefty!) Ehud Olmert was busted for corruption in 2009, when Jerusalem District Court  indicted him on five criminal counts, including the 'money envelopes affair'. In 2014, he was convicted of bribery and sentenced to eight months in prison. Wonder which hand accepted the bribes?

Image 12 of 14Former Israeli prime-minister (and lefty!) Ehud Olmert was busted for corruption in 2009, when Jerusalem District Court indicted him on five criminal counts, including the "money envelopes affair". In 2014, he was convicted of bribery and sentenced to eight months in prison. Wonder which hand accepted the bribes?

13

Did you know that the President Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Prime Minister of Israel both lean to the left? Yup, Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu are both left-handed.

Image 13 of 14Did you know that the President Chairman of the Palestine Liberation Organization and the Prime Minister of Israel both lean to the left? Yup, Mahmoud Abbas and Benjamin Netanyahu are both left-handed.

14

Research shows a link between left-handed people and delinquent behavior, as the last few slides have hinted. Osama Bin Laden was left-handed, but then again so was George H.W. Bush.  Maybe there is some truth to Satan being a southpaw?

Image 14 of 14Research shows a link between left-handed people and delinquent behavior, as the last few slides have hinted. Osama Bin Laden was left-handed, but then again so was George H.W. Bush. Maybe there is some truth to Satan being a southpaw?

Reduce

But what happens when a left-handed person is born into a Muslim-majority zip code?

In Arab cultures, the left (shmall in Arabic) hand is considered unclean, but dislike goes deeper than basic hygiene. There's evidence that the ancient Mesopotamians and Egyptians were strongly biased towards the right hand, using it to eat, clinch deals, and conduct special ceremonies. The right hands of their gods were helpful and healing, while the left hands were used to punish.

Numbers vary, but up to 15 percent of humanity is left-handed (for comparison, Pew Research says 23 percent of us are Muslim) - that’s a healthy slice of world population that struggles daily with pants zippers, scissors, and a billion other artifacts made with a right-handed focus.

Take a glimpse into the 'gauche' Middle East where left-handed is not right!

 

 

 

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