Morgan Al-Moor Profile picture
Jan 30, 2018 15 tweets 6 min read Twitter logo Read on Twitter
Out of the goodness of my heart, here are corrections for some misinterpretations regularly seen in fantasy novels set in Middle-Eastern settings. A thread follows👇🏼.
#amwriting #amwritingfantasy #amreading
1. The Middle East is not all desert. Actually, the Middle East is not all hot and dry. Levantine winters are brutally snowy, and Tunisia is known among the locals as “Tunisia the Green”.
2. The word “Harem” comes from “hurum”, meaning “a sacred/forbidden part of a place”, and doesn’t mean women. It had nothing to do with concubines until the Ottomans, and when orientalist paintings started the idea of “whatever is happening in that forbidden part”.
3. The Arabian Nights are not actually Arabian. It is a collection of Indian, Egyptian, Persian, and Arabic folktales, named “The One Thousand & One Nights, AKA “Alf-Layla-wa-Layla”.
4. Speaking of which, but Aladdin is not an Arabian Nights’ story. It was added in the 18th century translation.
5. Dervishes are practitioners of a doctrine of asceticism named Sufism. Both are real-life things that have nothing to do with legendary warriors nor holy men.
6. Arabic names have clear meanings derived from three-lettered words called “sources”. Khaled means “Eternal”. Ali means “High”. Abdul is NOT a name, it’s a prefix that needs another name after it.
7. It’s late. If I remember anything else I’ll add it here.
We continue: #amwriting

8. Rosary beads were not exclusive to any specific faith. Many used them in prayer, but the rich used them as a lavish accessory, often crafted with gems. This one here is made of turquoise.
9. Ancient Arab kings didn’t wear crowns. This is a movie thing. Few tried them later to imitate Persian kings.
10. “Abu” is neither a man nor a monkey’s name. It’s another prefix that means either “Father of—“ or “Owner of—“, and must be complemented by a name or object.
I continue #amwriting
11. Jafar--a stereotype name given to the stereotype middle-eastern villain--is a real Arabic name that is pretty popular. It means "the water spring", and is indicative of its bearer's generosity.
12. Which reminds me of Agrabah--Aladdin's city in the movie--which is simply a mishmash of nonsense, mixing the Indian Taj Mahal with an Arabian "Sultanate".
You seem to be having fun, peeps. #amwriting

13. Harun Al-Rashid—the stereotypical Arab ruler in novels and video games—is a real historical figure who is absolutely nothing like the fictional. The clock gifted to Charlemagne, who thought it was bewitched? Harun did that.
14. By the way, Shaykh means “old man”. It is an ancient word that implies wisdom. It can describe a tribal leader, a holy man, or—wait for it—just an ordinary old man. It doesn’t automatically mean “oil baron”, nor an “ugly, crow-like, elderly womanizer”.

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More from @MorganAlMoor

Jun 23, 2018
Okay, so here's a thread for fellow writers who use Arabic names in their WiPs, and some of the common hair-raising mistakes that happen👇🏽
#amwriting #amreading
1. Don't mix up "Eastern"-sounding names:
This is a very common pitfall people. MANY authors mix up, for example, Arabic and Desi names. AKHTAR and KHAN are not Arabic names. Names that have "IBN" in them are not Desi names. Do your research and respect the cultures.
2. Don't mix up "younger" and "older" Arabic names:
Just like you wouldn't name him "Ricky Dumbledore", don't just pick up a "trendy" name from a baby website then toss it in your fantasy novel. Ask a RL Arabic-speaker how the name sounds to them.
Read 8 tweets

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