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What means the hand gesture in the Arabic salute "salaam"?

 
 
Reply Wed 8 Mar, 2006 04:39 pm
I know that "salaam" means "peace", and the salute is a form of showing respect for the one receiveing it. But I want to know a little more... As a kid, I remember seeing in an Omar Sharif movie this splendid Arabic salute. Traveling the world, I've met people saluting in the (so to speak) "traditional Salaam manner", by accompanying a low bow with a hand touching the forehead. The thing is, as I remember (from that movie), while performing the bow, the hand was touching the chest, the mouth and only then the forehead. What is the significance of these "touching points" in this salute, and which one is the real one: the simple one, or the complex one?
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Type: Discussion • Score: 6 • Views: 34,951 • Replies: 9
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boomerang
 
  1  
Reply Wed 8 Mar, 2006 08:03 pm
Interesting question.

I looked around under "hand gestures" but all I could really come up with is:

Quote:
Many different gestures are used throughout the world as simple greetings. In "Western" cultures, the handshake is very common, though it has numerous subtle variations of grip strength, amount of "pumping" involved, and use of the left hand.

In Japanese and Korean cultures, a simple bow from the waist (rei in Japanese, panbae in Korean) is used, with many regional variations seen. The Japanese keep the palms of their hands touching the fronts of the thighs, but Koreans hold their hands in hapjang (or hap-ch'ang): palms pressed together and fingers near vertical, a position similar to that usually associated with Christian prayer. This gesture is not found in Chinese societies in daily life, and a slight bow is used only in paying respects to the dead.

The Arabic term salaam, literally "peace" from the spoken greeting that accompanies the gesture, refers to a low bow performed while placing the right palm on the forehead. Some cultures use hugs and kisses even between two men, but those gestures show an existing degree of intimacy and are not used between total strangers. All of these gestures are being supplemented or completely displaced by the handshake in areas with large amounts of business contact with the West.

These bows indicate respect and acknowledgement of social rank, but do not necessarily imply obeisance.


http://www.indopedia.org/Salute.html
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roger
 
  1  
Reply Thu 9 Mar, 2006 12:17 am
I thought the order were reversed, and meant, "my mind, my breath, my heart".
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Never Mind
 
  1  
Reply Thu 16 Mar, 2006 02:35 am
Gracias, Boomy. I only get bits and pieces of information, so few people know about the "extended version" of this salute... But I'll find out the whole meaning, and I'll share it on a topic... someday soon.
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musings2
 
  1  
Reply Sun 14 Feb, 2010 07:26 pm
I just saw Sidney Greenstreet use this gesture on entering Rick's cafe, to his Arab-attired doorman. It happens near the beginning of the film. It's done very fast and off-hand, but seem to be the reverse of how Catholics cover the same territory the body immediately upon standing to hear the Gospel read by the priest. The Muslim gesture starts with the heart, moves to the lips, and ends with the forehead. The Catholic gesture is a mini-cross on the forehead, then the lips, then the heart. I imagine the opposite-ness of this must have some historical reason, such as one-upsmanship in the "Holy Land".
Petunia
 
  1  
Reply Wed 11 Apr, 2012 10:30 pm
@musings2,
For Catholics the gesture of making the small crosses on the forehead, the lips and the heart is the physical part of the prayer: "The Lord be in my mind, on my lips, and in my heart."
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roger
 
  2  
Reply Wed 11 Apr, 2012 10:57 pm
The "Grand Salami" is entirely different, of course. The left hand smacks the right biceps, causing the forearm and clenched to bend upwards. It is considered a rude gesture, for some reason.
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Macoyote
 
  1  
Reply Tue 19 Jul, 2016 05:32 am
I was always taught the three touched mean: my mind thinks well of you, my lips speak well of you, and you are always in my heart.
Hawkeye0001
 
  1  
Reply Fri 23 Jun, 2017 10:53 am
@Macoyote,
Whether or not that's true I'd like to think it is, it sounds like something everyone should greet & be greeted with. If I weren't an old Caucasian male living in Canada, I'd most likely be referred to a clinic if I did, I'd start doing it now.
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Freetraveltips
 
  -1  
Reply Wed 16 May, 2018 03:21 am
@Never Mind,
I know that “salaam” means “peace”, and the salute is a form of showing respect for the one receiveing it. But I want to know a little more… As a kid, I remember seeing in an Omar Sharif movie this splendid Arabic salute. Traveling the world, I’ve met people saluting in the (so to speak) “traditional Salaam manner”, by accompanying a low bow with a hand touching the forehead. The thing is, as I remember (from that movie), while performing the bow, the hand was touching the chest, the mouth and only then the forehead.
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