The hostile desert environment did not just lead to a total dependency between the individual and the clan, it also obliged to a fabulous hospitality towards other desert travelers. In the vast silence and brooding solitude of the Sinai, it was a special event to meet a stranger.
A new face is a reason for great interest, generosity and careful etiquette, all values that are celebrated in poetry, proverbs and songs of the Bedouins. A stranger could stay three days without being asked of his whereabouts. He was considered and treated as a guest and
be refilled by the host, holding the Bakra'ash in his left hand and the Finghel always in the right hand.
The cup is never placed on the ground during the ritual and the host will always taste and approve the coffee, which in earlier times made the guest feel safe.
The first cup is called El Dheyf (the guest), the second cup is called El
Heyl (the cardamom) and the third cup is called El Keyf (the addict...).
If guests have had enough (one drinks at least one cup and if they drink the third cup it's considered a compliment to the host), they keep the small coffee cup fixed by placing their hand over the cup and wobble
enjoyed full protection of the clan.
Diya'fa is strongly ritualized. If an animal is slaughtered for a guest, this is done in accordance with Islamic laws. Guests are ritually incorporated into their hosts' households and are protected as if they were family.
Upon arrival guests are welcomed and a rug is immediately spread out. They will be served sweet tea with a
local mint (Habbaq) in small glasses. Guests are honored and information is exchanged over and over again (a ritual of giving and taking) and it the most important ritual starts, the preparation of Qahwha - fresh Bedouin (Arabic) coffee:
- The beans are roasted, cooled and
the cup from the wrist a few times back and forth, indicating that they have had enough and say 'Ama'ar' (enough for me). Having coffee together means time to tell stories or sing. Coffee drinking is something of men, but older women (who can not have children anymore) also participate. Older women are not seen as sexually attractive but are
honored and they can talk to anyone.
Hospitality is in the blood of the Bedouin and where-ever you meet Bedouin in Sinai, the experience is: kindness and warmth. Diya'fa is a matter of honor but also a sacred duty because according to the prophet Muhammad (pbuh) '.. who
grinded with a little cardamom in a large wooden coffee mortar (Hawhant). The sound of the crushing of the roasted coffee beans in the Hawhant is the basis of the rhythm of the Bedouin music.
- An ornate metal coffee pot with a long spout (Bakra'ash) is filled with water and brought to the boil on the fire and the grinded coffee with
cardamom and sugar are added. The whole is brought again to the boiling point, and then it is allowed to rest in the smoldering fire.
The coffee is ritually served in small porcelain cups without an earpiece (Finghel), which are half full and in accordance with the ritual always will
ever believes in Allah and the day of resurrection, must respect his guests ...', so if you are good to your guests, you honor Allah and in return Allah will be good to you. Even extreme poverty is for a Bedouin no excuse for the rules of 3 days hospitality. One is largely judged on how one deals with guests. As a result, not accepting hospitality is therefore seen as an
insult. Although there are no religious sanctions, there are social sanctions and received hospitality always has to be returned. This is not possible when one receives tourists and therefore it is now accepted to ask a fee for serving to tourists.
Source: BEDAWI - R. W. de Jong
B E D A W I for Tourism
Office: Hay Al-Amal - Al Tur
Arab Republic of Egypt
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