Tag Archives tradition

Happy what?

Happy what?

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Here comes Ramadhan.

The month where almost no work gets done
When productivity of just about the whole Muslim nation grinds to a halt
And efficiency is not even a concept to be tolerated
Where people willingly stay up all night, and sleep all day
Where gluttony is the rule
And piousness is only the facade people wear
It has become indeed the most un-Islamic month in the calendar, by the habits that people bear and what they made it to be.

No wonder people celebrate when it’s over. So let me press fast-forward, and wish everyone a fantastic Eid! Did you enjoy the month-long break?



What unites a country? What unites people? What unites a family? Food, probably, is one of the most uniting factors known to man!

So in celebration of Bahrain and its people, in an attempt to show that we are all really one with the same passions, needs and aspirations. In an attempt to show that what unites us, are actually an awful lot more than what could ever drive us apart, this is a small offering from all of us at Gulf Broadcast, to the great people of Bahrain…

Please come with us on a journey of discovery of the most dextrous and loved of Bahrain cuisine. Follow the story of the simple (or not so simple!) Khobiz from its raw material to the mouth-watering varieties on offer.

Now go and buy a couple of khobiz and share it with a friend, an acquaintance or even a stranger.

Go ahead. Be bold!

Be Bahraini!


MtvSM time again, this time in honour of…

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After a long hiatus, MtvSM is back in lights!

What’s MtvSM I hear you ask? It’s that ancient Mahmood’s Den tradition where I authorise you to completely and unequivocally to lay the blame on a person or entity of my choosing. Fear not, they are not defenceless, they can – and have often done and are encouraged to – rebut your blames and claims or succumb to their inevitable premature death if they choose not to.

So my friends, this time, the honour goes to a friend who heretofore goes by a mere moniker and it’s up to them to make themselves known should they wish to. Regardless though, they still shall take the blame while I’m off on my business travels. For a whole week. So until I return, please do help me resurrect this tradition by copiously laying the blame at the feat of:

D K!

I completely blame DK for the Swine Flu and the opportunism of the Islamists who should blame DK for this pandemic, rather than killing defenceless and delicious piglets throughout the Umma.

I sit here now in the lounge waiting for my flight and see the dread painted on each of my fellow traveller’s faces when anyone sniffles, let alone sneezes!

Yes DK, you are to blame for this. You should be completely ashamed of yourself!


Mahmood’s Den Scapegoat of the moment

Mahmood’s Den Scapegoat of the moment

In keeping with the Den’s traditions, I have the honour in announcing the Scapegoat of the Moment who will have the unbridled responsibility of carrying ALL of the world’s ills on her shoulder; moreover, she will have to wear a beaming smile while doing so. Frowning and grumbling she is absolutely not allowed.

This she will do while I freeze my butt off in Washington DC and New York until my return to the homeland on March 7th.

Therefore, without further ado, I hereby announce that the Mahmood’s Den Scapegoat of the Moment to be:

bint Battuta!”

So if you wake up with a huge wart on your forehead, it’s bint Battuta’s fault; if you get food poisoning, it’s her doing; if Obama folds to Hillary, it’s absolutely bint Battuta’s doing. If it starts snowing in Bahrain at 40 degrees C, you know who is to blame; if you crash your car, you can bet that she had something to do with it.

You get the picture, I think.

My friends, go ahead and lay the blame at her feet without an atom of guilt, so let it rip and unwind, courtesy of the famed female traveller! 😀


Bahraini Harry Potter Campaign!

Niqab dress

I think that cinemas using their 34 screens to show Harry Potter’s latest movie in Bahrain should strive to involve the community considering the considerable takings they will reap from that film.

So in keeping with Harry Potter’s world-wide tradition, why not let people in appropriate costume watch the movie for free? And what better reward that the niqab costume wearers can hope for? They are perfectly represented in the movie. If the cinemas deem that as not their policy, at least make a special section in their halls especially reserved for those people.

So come on, let’s start a petition: Bahrain Cinema Company must allow niqabettes to watch the new Harry Potter movie for free!

Who’s with me?


Ashura, time for the community

Shilla cooking

A traditional activity during the Muharram Ashura commemorations is that various communities in Bahrain do different things, all of which are helping each other, especially taking care of the less fortunate by giving alms and/or food. The food is cooked by various entities and distributed for free to everyone who wants it.

The "Ajam Bahrainis" – that is, Bahrainis of Iranian descent have traditionally taken their part in these important festivities and cooked a specialty meal called "Shilla" which is really a very thick vegetable and meat broth containing many types of vegetables, rice, pulses and other goodness.

These pictures were taken at our neighbour’s father’s house who have made it into a tradition to cook Shilla every 5th of Muharram every single year and donate it all to the community. The pots, if you’re interested, have a capacity of 850 kilograms of food, and they cook 3 of these huge pots every year!

To take part in cooking the meal is considered auspicious for as you are helping in feeding the people, then God will take care of you, and so will Imam Hussain, the Prophet’s grandson who was killed in the famous Battle of Karbala in modern day Iraq at the hands of Yazid, the 2nd Umayyad ruler.

Another tradition done at the same time is lighting "wishing candles" and placing them in the vicinity of these huge pots. You can also wish whatever your heart desires while stirring the pot or helping in preparing the meal. They say that this is a potent way to get your wish granted.

Regardless of the superstitious nature of the event, the good thing about the whole Ashura thing is the community nature of the event, not only in communal mourning, but in communal giving and communal sharing.

It is traditions like these which enriches Bahrain as it celebrates its diversity, even though it is only 700 square kilometers in size!

For more information about the Muharram Commemorations around the world, please visit en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Remembrance_of_Muharram

update 17:53: links to Bahraini Muharram activities (pictures and video clips): http://www.al-imam.net/media and http://www.al-imam.net/gallery


Ancestral Vices

Stopping evolutionary change is like trying to stop a tsunami with a few bags of sand. It just doesn’t work. I think the rulers of the Middle East recognise that fact, but they think that hiding their heads deep enough in the sand will delay their populace’s recognition of the fact. The majority actually do blindly subscribe to that premise; however, an enlightened few don’t. It is those who are the little insignificant cracks in the dam which ultimately burst it, and create the deluge that would drawn all those who prefer to live in their fallaciously secure imagination, and the only people who will be spared are those who live at the cusp of, encourage, aid and abet that change.

We are really not bad people, us Middle Easterners, we’re just trapped into the turbid waters of historically skewed custom and tradition without strong enough leaders and visionaries to extricate us from our self-sustained quagmires. We are just normal human beings with the same needs, passions, and idiosyncrasies as any in the world. We are just trapped into a spiral of ancient traditions still enforced by those very leaders whose only worry is the continuation of their rule at any cost. It is therefore easier for them to enforce ancient custom rather than question it, and continue the momentum of perceived stability in calm waters rather than plan and even induce required winds of change.

The leaders might be of that mettle, but there is nothing stopping us ourselves from effecting that change. A small nick at a time, a nick that will enable the deluge of change which will take us – probably turbulently – to join the rest of the modern world which has become powerful nations built on the respect of the sanctity of human life.

Until then, of course, we will continue to have judges who sentence a victim to punishment, who separate legally married couples due to perceived tribal class imbalance and imprisoning those who dare to challenge accepted societal norms.

It is people like Abdulrahman Al-Lahem who will ultimately drag our blissfully ignorant societies into the light. It is supermen like him who are the vanguard of change.

There is nothing stopping any of us individually in joining this caravan if we do not want to lead it. All it needs is courage, and we should have plenty of that, if our history is to be believed.



Ashoora procession/haidar, originally uploaded by jamalaly.

Images of commemoration of Imam Hussain‘s martyrdom in Karbalah on the 10th of Muharram in 680 CE.

The “haidar” is a barbaric and completely unwarranted and unneeded custom which does more damage to Shiism than anything else.

The Shi’as pride themselves as “progressive” in that they have “Ijtihad” which is the act of re-interpretation of Islam taking into consideration the current state of affairs done by studios and respected central figures of the faith. But this single act of commemoration of the martyrdom of Imam Hussain, the grandson of the Prophet in 680 CE does away with all the gains of Shiism.

Admittedly, most schools within the Shiism ban this stupidity, but the “ultras” who belong to the Shirazi branch of Shiism allow it.

Morons galore.