The power of words: Haram

Haram, adj./noun: Prohibited in Islam
Halal, adj./noun: Allowed in Islam

Up until the early seventies, Egyptians were not used to inserting the words haram and halal in every minute activity of their lives. They lived with a version of Islam that embraced modern life while providing the spiritual bliss, moral support, and wisdoms needed from religions. They did not indulge in orgies nor drink their livers to death, they weren’t sinners nor blasphemers, just people trying to figure out their place in the world. After the 1952 coup, the quality of education in Egypt began declining steadily when all of its stages, from grade one to last year of college, were made free. Egypt could not offer free schooling to all citizens while maintaining quality. As a result, the Egyptian critical mind was dulled, just in time for the arriving preachers spreading Salafism like the plague on Saudi oil money during the seventies.

How do you plant an idea in people’s heads? An idea that grows and empowers itself? Keep it simple, one word, sufficient and powerful, Haram. But you need to support it with mental engines to keep it active. If you enter the bathroom with your left leg you invite the devil, if you stand naked before a mirror you will be possessed by djins, if you don’t cover your hair you anger God himself. Use the unknown, which works perfectly with a malfunctioning critical mind. There are djins everywhere ready to interfere in your life and harm you and there is a God willing to burn you for the simplest of things, the Saudis have the scriptures and interpretations to prove it.

If there are people who get paid to exorcise a house that constantly and mysteriously gets set on fire, don’t you think we have a financial motive to question?

Once an idea is planted in the collective consciousness of people it can gain new mental engines and even leave its old ones. It is extremely important here to mention the Egyptian middle class was taken over by peasants, technicians, fishermen, merchants and workers who migrate from upper Egypt and coastal cities to live, study, work, get married, and raise their children in Cairo; they come with their traditions and beliefs, djins included. The word Haram has became prominent in many discourses in Egypt, it’s new mental engine is “I need to be good, I must not do anything Haram, I have to ask the sheiks about Harams”.

Our good is being dictated by Saudi Sheiks on oil money, even some Egyptian Muslim conservatives are aware of this and they are furious.


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