Have you ever been in a situation where you’re witnessing a purely shameless act and you just think to yourself, “Wow, there are no honorable people left in this world.”? Well the majority of us have and if you’re familiar with this Arabic saying “اللي اختشوا ماتوا” (Illi ikhtashou matou) then you would most likely mutter it during such a situation. This proverb is widely understood to mean that those who feared shame are now dead and there are no bashful people left in this world. Even though many people in the Middle East use this proverb, few are familiar with the story behind it. So, where did this come from?
Although some people may debate on the origins of this proverb, the majority of people would agree that this famous Arabic saying originated from Egypt. It came about after an incident that happened in an Egyptian village. This is how the story goes: A fire broke out in an Egyptian bath for women. All of the women were faced with the decision to leave the building naked, or burn to death! The women that chose to leave the burning building naked survived the fire while those who had feared shame died.
This proverb is not only used by Egyptians. It has been adopted in many Arab countries and is used when speaking of situations concerning embarrassment or shame. In some contexts, it is used to make fun of people who are too shy to do something. This proverb has become the inspiration for numerous Facebook pages and it’s also an inspiration for an Arabic song by the Tunisian artist Saber Al-Rebai . There’s even an Egyptian film premiering next month with this proverb as its title.
Do you know any other Arabic proverbs that is widely used in your area? Share them with us in the comment box below and don’t forget to mention when they are used!