Kinship Terms in Arabic language

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Kinship Terms in Arabic languagein,Terms,terms

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    Kinship Terms in English and Arabic:

    A Contrastive Study

     Qassim Abbas Al-Sahlany Hashim Aliwey Al-Husseini

     University of Babylon University of Wassit / College of Education

     College of Education(Safi Al-Deen Al-Hilli)


     This paper investigates the nature of kinship terms according to various views in both English and Arabic . Kinship is the most basic principle of organizing individuals into social groups, roles, and categories. Some form of organization based on parentage and marriage is present in every human society. However, the nuclear family household is still the fundamental institution responsible for rearing children and organizing consumption. In nonindustrial contexts, kinship units normally have a much wider array of functions. They often serve as basic units of production, political representation and even as religious bodies for the worship of spiritual beings, who are themselves considered members of the kingroup. Many societies construct kinship groupings, roles, and relationships by tracing descent exclusively through the male - patrilineal - or female - matrilineal - line. Thus this

    paper will shed light on different views that are related to kinship terms in different societies according to the linguistic and/or religious point of views.

    1-Kinship Terms in English

    1-1 Introduction

    Generally speaking, language can be considered as the principal means whereby people conduct their social lives. When language is used in contexts of communication, it is bound up with culture in multiple and complex ways. But people use language differently because of the different linguistic varieties of each language. These varieties can be attributed to the cultural differences among the languages. Thus, we can say that linguistic variation is tied very much to the existence of different cultures.

    However, kinship (kin: henceforth) may be described as the bond of relationship created by procreation and defined by society, and the conception of what constitutes kin, will, therefore, be found to vary according to the social organization of the community in which the term is applied. It is significant of the general conception of kin that a distinction has to be drawn, almost at the outset, between biological and sociological parenthood; for in many societies the actual begetter of a child is not necessarily the individual treated by him as his father. Thus, where the levirate system is in force it is usual for a younger brother to marry his deceased elder brother's widow, and this system is frequently the survival of a period when a younger brother had access to his elder brother's wife until he was able to procure one for himself (Morgan: 1871:440-48).

    1-2 Kinship Terminology

     Some languages make it easy to express concepts which in other languages are at best very difficult to express. Such a difficultly may be attributed to the linguistic differences in each language as well as the different cultures in each society. Kin terminology represents a more interesting example of linguistic differences that are associated with culture. Kin terminology refers to the terms used for referring to people to whom one is related. Such terms are important not only as indicating the state of the person addressed or mentioned with reference to the speaker, but also because there often is no other mode of address (Hudson, 1984: 89;


    Thus, in pre-state societies, prior to the Urban Revolution of five thousand years ago, access to the social product was largely obtained through kin. For this reason, the study of kin is vital to an understanding of the classless societies that flourished for the millions of years before the emergence of class rule. Even after the rise of the state, however, kin continued to play a vital role, and continues to be important today( Wardhaugh,1986:227).

    People everywhere organize their domestic lives (cooking, eating, sleeping, procreation, and child care) through the family. But both the forms and precise functions of the family vary widely from society to society(ibid).

    Many sociologists and anthropologists see the nuclear family as a universal

    Murdock (1949), for unit, the basic building block of all societies. According to

    example, the nuclear family is a cultural universal that fulfills basic functions essential for social life. These functions are:

    1. Sex, the husband-wife relationship permits satisfaction of sexual needs in a legitimate manner that diminishes sexual competition;

    2. Reproduction, necessary if society is to continue;

    3.Socialization (or enculturation), newborn infants receive their basic socialization

    within the family unit; and

    4. Economic, the family is a unit of consumption built upon a sexual division of labor in which the man provides protection and sustenance to permit the woman to provide reproductive functions (cooking, child care, etc.).

     A kin terminology describes a specific system of familial relationship. The anthropologist Morgan (1818-1881) argued that kin terminologies reflect different sets of distinctions. For example, most kin terminologies distinguish between sexes (i.e., the difference between a brother and a sister) and between generations (i.e, the difference between a child and a parent). Moreover, he argued, kin terminologies distinguish between relatives by blood and marriage (although recently some anthropologists have argued that many societies define kin in terms other than 'blood').

    But Morgan cited in Encyclopedia Britannica (1968:478) also observed that different languages (and thus, societies) organize these distinctions differently. Morgan tries to classify kin terms and terminologies as either descriptive or classificatory. He (Ibid) defines descriptive terms as referring to only one type of relationship, while classifications ones as referring to many types of relationships. For example in Western societies there is only one way to express relationship with one's brother (brother- parent's son); thus, in Western society the word "brother" functions as a descriptive term. On the other side, there is more than one way to express relationship with one's cousin, i.e., the word cousin may refer to mother's brother's son, mother's sister's son, father's brother's son, father's sister's son, and the like). Consequently the word "cousin" is regarded as a classificatory term. Thus the Arab system is completely descriptive and assigns a different kin term to each distinct relative. Hence, in contrast with the western society, the word cousin is regarded as a descriptive term in Arab society since Arabic language has distinct terms for

    male or female and patrilineal or matrilineal cousin (Chambers's Encyclopedia,

    1962:231; Hatch and Brown,1995:34).

     Fox (1996: 27) describes the kin terms and marriage as the basic facts of life. He goes on to assert that they are about birth, conception and death. However, kin appears as a huge field of social and mental realities stretching between two poles. One is highly abstract: it concerns kin terminologies and the marriage principles or rules they implicitly contain or that are associated with them. The other is highly

    concrete: it concerns individuals and their bodies, bodies marked by the position of the individuals in kin relations. Deeply embedded in them are the representations that legitimize these relations through an intimacy of blood, bone, flesh, and soul. Between these two poles lie all the economic, political, and symbolic stakes involved from the outset in the interplay of kin relations or, conversely, that make use of them (Godelier, 1998: 387).

     According to stone (1997: 5), kin is the recognition of a relationship between persons based on descent or marriage. If the relationship between one person and another is considered by them to involve descent, the two are "consanguine" (blood) relatives. If the relationship has been established through marriage, it is affinal.

     The socially recognized relationship between people in a culture who are or are held to be biologically related or who are given the status of relatives by marriage, adoption, or other ritual. Kin is the broad-ranging term for all the relationships that people are born into or create later in life and that are considered binding in the eyes of their society. Although customs vary as to which bonds are accorded greater weight, their very acknowledgment defines individuals and the roles that society expects them to play (Encyclopedia Britannica at http: // www. Britannica. com.).

     According to Tonkinson (1991: 57) kin is considered as a system of social relationship that are expressed in a biological idiom, using terms like "mother" ,son, and soon. Kin is best visualized as a mars of networks of relatedness, not two of which are identical, that radiate from each individual. Consequently, kin encompasses the norms, roles, institutions and cognitive processes referring to all the social relationships that people are born into or create later in life, and that are expressed through, but not limited to, a biological idiom.

    1-3 Kinship as an ordinary conception.

     Ordinary kin has been, for more than one country, pursued most assiduously, and most theoretically, by social and cultural anthropologists, under two labeling: consanguine relations, by blood (descent theory), and affine relations, by marriage th(alliance theory). Kin terms are employed as a comparative cultural analysis by 19

    century pioneers (such as Morgan 1871), kin theory became a constant for anthropological analysis a cross functionalist, structuralists, symbolic, cognitive, Marxist, and other paradigms (Radcliffe-Brown: 1941; Evans-pritchard 1951; Levi-Strauss 1969; Pitt-Rivers 1973: 89-105).

     Meanwhile, kin theory developed a sophisticated analytic formalism replete with standardized neologistic terminology, forbiddingly complex diagrams, and algebraic matriculations- the "hands science" of social anthropology, holding promise for rigorous, empirical, comparative social study, and the discernment of homothetic propositions (i.e. Murdock 1949). In 1998 Fox stated that "kinship is to anthropology what logic is to philosophy." (Fox 1998: 10), i.e. rigorous, central, assertion.

     Naively, kin seems to entail the study of biological relationships realized that what they were studying was not biological per se, but rather a social construction whose relation to biology could not be ascertained a priori.

     However, recent kin studies tend to situate kin in its social and cultural context, attending to history, global political and economic forces, and individual practice, embracing process and conflict, and producing idiographic rather than nomothetic claims. There has been a sharp turn away from presupposing the cross-cultural validity of formal analysis, and an increased openness and sensitivity towards exploring kin's local cognate concepts, whose particular logic needs to be worked out historically and ethnographically, through a broad spectrum of disciplinary perspectives. This openness and sensitivity, in turn, makes it impossible to refuse

    consideration of social structures metaphorically linked to those concepts, such as so-called "pseudo-kinship", including the spiritual kind. Metaphorical conception of kin (ibid).

    2-3 Pseudo kinship

     It is an anthropological term designating social relations locally named kin terms, but also locally recognized to fall outside the literal scope of kin relations (however these may be locally construct in relation to local concepts of biological relation).

    Such kin is "pseudo" in that the metaphorical quality of the kin terms used to describe its relations is locally and openly acknowledged.

    Kin conceptions of biological relation, and definitions of metaphor are social constructions, subjectively understood, no precise, objective criteria are ever available to differentiate 'real' (ordinary) and pseudo-kin. Even if the boundary between 'literal' and metaphorical uses of kin terminology can be sharply drawn by social agents (a condition which cannot be presumed), close relations between ordinary and pseudo-kinship are likely to abstain, not least due to shared terminology. Thus, 'ordinary' and 'pseudo' kinship cannot be profitably studied in isolation; they should be considered together. But opening the door to pseudo- kinship entails inclusion of potentially far different, more variable, assortments of human relations which, though metaphorically related to biological ones, may be grounded in non- biological ideologies (Norbeck and Befu 1958: 102-17).

     The standard typology of pseudo-kinship, due to Pitt-Rivers (1968:408-12),

    differentiates three subtypes (without denying between them): (1) the figurative use of kin terms, which may also indicate a special status; (2) the attribution (rather than ascription) of ordinary kin status, often called "fictive kinship"; and (3) institutionalized relationships resembling kin, which are therefore named using kin terms, yet which are recognized as being entirely distinct.

     Both (1) and (2) are metaphorical extensions of ordinary kin, ultimately grounded by reference to biological ideology. In (1) use of kin terms is merely an expression of attitude, not corresponcting to any social institution, and not implying real kin status even as a fiction. Thus, in many societies children respectfully address parents, friends as 'uncle' or 'aunt'. Such uses are metaphoric, but nevertheless assimilated to biological relations, hence grounded in biological ideology. Likewise, in (2) kinship terms are metaphors supporting relations lacking independent ideological support; here the kin term is recognized as apt if fictional- the norms governing the way a fictive father treats his fictive son draw upon norms of ordinary fatherhood, because it is only the ideology of ordinary kinship that allows the fictive relation to exist (Ibid).

    2-4 Symbols used to represent kinship relations

     Anthropologist and other specialists of genealogies usually use a simple set of symbols to represent persons and connections. These symbols were largely inherited from the International federation of Egeni Organization in (1932) by the Sociological Research Committee of the Royal Anthropological Society of Great Britain.

     In the following lines, there are specific symbols used to represent kin connections. A male, whether a boy or man, is usually represented by a triangle. A female, whether girl or woman, as a circle. Additionally, there is a third symbol, the square, which means that gender difference is not of any importance, that the person can in a specific context be a male or a female. For example the English word "cousin" can be applied to a female, as well as to a male cousin. If it is wanted to represent what type of persons the word "cousin" designates, a square, instead of a triangle and a circle, is sufficient (Stone, 1997:9).

     This draws us to the first important rule to remember in kinship studies and genealogical representations. It is the rule of economy: graphic representations and verbal descriptions should always use the shortest and most efficient way and symbols to describe a relationship, unless other ways and symbols and information that changes substantially the understanding of the relationship. Connection symbols could be drawn as in the following:

    1-? female. A circle represents A woman or a girl.

    2-? male. a triangle represents a man or a boy. 3-? male or female. a square represents a person or position for which gender is not relevant.

    The aforementioned symbols lack many other manifestations that show the kind of the connection or the relationship that exist between the persons. Thus, there is a need to add symbols that allow showing how these persons are connected to each other. There are three types of connections: two persons are connected because they are "married", two persons are connected because they are "siblings" (brothers and sisters), and two persons are connected because one is the parent (father or mother) of the other.The latter type is called "filiation"(Dousset, 2002:7).

    A marriage connection, also called alliance, is represented as a line that goes from below a person to below another person. A sibling connection is represented as a line that goes from top of a person to the top of another person. A filiation (parent- children) connection is represented as a line that goes from below a person to the top of another person. In the illustration below you can see how the three basic connection types are represented.

     These connections are combined in genealogies, and every person is linked to one other person through at least one of these connection types.

    2-5 English Kin Terms

     English kin terms could have the following principles:

    1-The system is bilateral (no distinctions between father's and mother's relatives). 2-Distinctions mark differences in sex, generation, and collateral kinship distance. 3-Each family relationship receives a distinct term; more distant relatives are grouped into general categories(Sills,1968:390-99).

English kin terms can be summarized in the following diagrams:

Kin Term Kin Type

    Father F

    Mother M

    Uncle FB, MB

    Brother B



    Son S

    Nephew BS, ZS

    Aunt FZ, MZ

    Sister Z

    Daughter D

    Nephew BS, ZS

    Niece BD, ZD

    English Kin Terms Designated by Kin Type

    2-6.Componential Analysis and Kin terms

     Some languages make it easy to express certain concepts or words such as kin terms which in other languages are at best very difficult to express. Thus translating kin terms from one language to another is regarded as an illusion to be believed (Bolinger, 1975:192-4 ;Hudson,1984:89; Prasithrathsint,1990;1996: 261). An explicit analysis of kin terms in a particular language yields a clear picture of the kin system in the culture with which the language is associated. Hence the use of kin

    terms varies from culture to culture, so that what is viewed as an uncle/nephew relationship in English may be regarded as father/son or something else in another language (Nida,1975:33; Elgin,1979:27; Wardhaugh,2002:220-8) To understand and show the denotative meanings of a system of kin terms ethnosemanticists turn to an approach to lexical study known as componential analysis, which was introduced

    into ethnosemantic studies by Goodenough (1956)and Lounsbury (1956). The approach has been used with other lexical fields but seems to suit best an analysis of kin terms. This may be due to the fact that kin terms are of an appropriately limited, number and clear-cut denotations.

     In Arabic like many other languages (German, Thai) has male/female distinctions for cousin, nephew, aunt, uncle. Also, Arabic language distinguishes between relatives on the father's side and on the mother's side a distinction which English lacks(Hatch and Brown,1995:33-6; Krifka, 2001:1).This can be attributed to the fact that English language has no lexical or syntactic markers to distinguish between the two sexes while in Arabic language there are certain syntactic markers to distinguish between the two sexes. Thus Arabs use the prefixes ??با(son of) for male

    relative and ج??٠ (daughter of) for female kin; and they use the suffix (?) for female

    human kin as??????با-ت??????با (son-daughter)or ة د?????١?? د?????١??(grandson-granddaughter)


     Words as lexical entities have some contrasting features that could be of value in distinguishing between one word and another take for example the contrast between generation in kin can be observed, like the contrast between older and younger, male and female. The lexical items are in the boxes of the chart and the labels show the contrast in meaning of these lexical items. It is an easy task to correlate each lexical item with people in the non-linguistic world and what they call one another or how they refer to one another(Larson,1984:80-2). Consider the following diagram :

    lineal colineal


    masculine feminine masculine feminine

    Second generation grandfather grandmother Previous uncle aunt Previous generation father mother

     ego brother Sister Same generation cousin Next generation son daughter

    nephew niece

    Second generation grandson granddaughter


    2-Kinship Terms in Arabic language

    2-1 Introduction

    The term kinship has been given much more attention by the Divine Authority as well as the Arabic Islamic scholars since it is related to every part of life and every other social domains. Thus Allah the Almighty has mentioned the term kinship ( ??ع?) in the

    Holy Quranic verses to indicate the importance of such a term in social life among the human beings as in the following:

    1- ) "ا?ش????? ???ت?? ?ى????? ا?ش???ص?? ??ث???? ?????ؼ???? ا?ش???ت ?ء??و??ا ?ي?ه ?ق???? ?????ا ?????? "

     ) 54:ى??ش??ا()

    (It is He Who has created man from water: then has He established relationships of lineage and marriage: for thy Lord has power (over all things).( Yusufali 25:54)

    This can be attributed to the fact that the social domain of kin covers a broad range of relations such as genealogy and descent, marriage and divorce, inheritance and succession, etc. Thus kinship is a socially recognized relationship between people who are held to be biologically related or who are given the status of relatives by marriage, adoption or other ritual relations ( ???ع?د??ا, 1978:235; Encyclopedia

    Britanica, 1968:163a)

    2-2-Kinship According to the Islamic Point of View

    Islam has focused on respecting the ties of kin, or what is said in Arabic (Alrahm) ( ??س??ا ت???), among the members of the family and other relatives. Such a respect can be attributed to the fact that Allah the Almighty will reward and grant, in this world and hereafter, any person who maintains and fosters his/her ties of kinship. The reward in this life takes the form of an increase in income and wealth and longer life as well as being loved by his/her relatives (Ahmad, 2008:401-403). But, on the other hand, a person who severs his ties of kinship ( ??س??ا ت??١?ل) will be punished in this

    world and hereafter. Such facts of maintaining or severing the ties of kinship terms can be seen in different Quranic verses as:

     (83:ةس???ا) --????ع?? ?ض?????? ا?????ل?? ??١????ع????ا?? ?????خ?١??ا?? ??ت?ش????ا ????? ?????????إ ?ي??????ا??????ت?? - 1

    (--- treat with kindness your parents and kindred, and orphans and those in need; speak fair to the people;) (Ali 2:8)

     )22:د???()?ن???ه??????أ ا??ؼ?ط???ذ?? ???ز????ا ??? ا??د?ع???ح ???أ ???خ?١?????ح ???إ ???خ?١?ع?? ??????( -2

    (Then, is it to be expected of you, if ye were put in authority, that ye will do mischief

     in the land, and break your ties of kith and kin?).( Ali 47:22)

     ا????حا?? ?ء??ع???? ?اس١???? ??????ز ????????? ???ب?? ????????ش ??????? ?ك?????? ?ة?د??ا?? ?ط???? ???? ???ى?????? ??ر??ا ???ى?ب?ز ا????حا ?ض????ا ????٠?أ ??٠ ( -3

     )1:ء?ع??ا( ) ???١?ل?ز ???ى?١???? ????? ?????ا ???إ ?م?????????ا?? ???ب ??????ء??ع?ح ??ر??ا ?????ا

    (O mankind! reverence your Guardian-Lord, who created you from a single person, created, of like nature, His mate, and from them twain scattered (like seeds) countless men and women;- reverence Allah, through whom ye demand your mutual (rights), and (reverence) the wombs (That bore you): for Allah ever watches over you.) (Ali


     ?ن???????ؼ?? ?ن?????ظ ?ؼ?? ???????ث??ا?? ?ش???????و??ا?? ?ء???????????ا ?ي???ػ ??????????? ????ت?ش????ا ??? ?ء????ر??إ?? ى??????ا? ???????ؼ????ت ?ش?ه?????? ???????ا ?ى?إ ( -4

     )90:????ا( )?ى??ش?????ذ

    (Allah commands justice, the doing of good, and liberality to kith and kin, and He forbids all shameful deeds, and injustice and rebellion: He instructs you, that ye may

     receive admonition.)( Ali 16:90)

     ???أ ???????? ??????ح ???? ????????? ???أ ??????د??? ?أ ?س????ى??ا ???د????? ???ن??????٠ ?????إ ?????ع???إ ???٠?د??ا??????ب?? ????٠?إ ????إ ا??د?????ح ????أ ?ه?ب?ز ????ل?? ((-5

     ??????١?ب?ز ?????? ???????????زا ???ز ????ل?? ?ت??????س?ا ????? ?ي?ر??ا ???????? ???????? ???????ا?? ?) 23( ???٠?س?? ??????ل ???????? ????ل?? ???????س?????ح ???

     ??????? ???ب?س????ا ا?ذ ?ثآ?? )25( ?از?????? ??١?با????????? ?????? ??????ئ?? ??١???????? ا??????ى?ح ???إ ?? ?ى??ظ????? ??? ????ب ???????أ ???ى?ب?ز )24( ?اس١?ن??

     )27( ?از???? ?? ????ب?س?? ??????١????ا ??????? ??١????١???ا ??ا?????إ ا?????? ??٠?ز?ر??????ا ???إ )26( ?اس٠?ر???ح ?ز?ر???ح ??? ??١???ع?ا ???با?? ??١?ى?ع????ا??

     . ) 27-23:ءاسظ?ا( ) ?٨٢? ا?ز??ع?١?? ?????ل ?????? ????? ???????س?ح ?ه?ب?ز ??? ?ت?????ز ء??ن?خ?با ???????? ?????س???ح ????إ??

     (Thy Lord hath decreed that ye worship none but Him, and that ye be kind to

    parents.23 Whether one or both of them attain old age in thy life, say not to them a

    word of contempt, nor repel them but address them in terms of honor.,24 And, out

    of kindness, lower to them the wing of humility, and say: "My Lord! bestow on them Thy Mercy even as they cherished me in childhood." 25. Your Lord knoweth

    best what is in your hearts: if ye do deeds of righteousness, verily He is Most Forgiving to those who turn to Him again and again (in true penitence). 26. And

    render to the kindred their due rights, as (also) to those in want, and to the wayfarer:

    but squander not (your wealth) in the manner of a spendthrift. 27. Verily spendthrifts are brothers of the Evil Ones; and the Evil One is to his Lord (Himself) ungrateful. 28. And even if thou hast to turn away from them in pursuit of the Mercy from thy Lord which thou dost expect, yet speak to them a word of easy kindness. ) (Ali 17:23-


    It is important, therefore, to shed light on what is meant by maintaining and fostering the ties of kin as they are mentioned above in the verses of the Holy Quran.According to the Islamic and Arabic rules, a person's relatives are collectively called his Riham ( ??س??ا ) ('uterus').Linguistically speaking ,this word means 'womb'. This word Riham (??س???ا ) which is given to kinship is derived from the divine

    attribute of compassion and mercy Al- Rahman ( ???س??ا) .Thus Al Riham ( ??س??ا ) is

    used to include all the person's relatives whether patrilineal descent or matrilineal. Therefore maintaining the ties of kinship ( ??س??ا ت???) can be defined as politeness,

    kind treatment and concern for all one's relatives even if distantly related, corrupt, non-Muslim, or unappreciative (Baig,2003; ?شاس١???ا ,2005:102-7).On the other hand,

    the person who severs the ties of kin ( ??س??ا ت??١?ل) will be cursed and deprived from the

    Mercy of Allah the Almighty. Thus severing of kin ties will be regarded a great sin which will weaken the structure of Islamic society and undermine its very existence (Islamic Voice, 1999: Ahmed, 2008:404-5).

    Islamic rules have urged Muslims to study and develop their kin relations by teaching respect of family and elders and have celebrated sacrifice of self for family love (Ibn Khaldun (1958: 128). Ibn Khaldun states that all the social structure of the Arab tribal societies is rested on respecting kin relations because it has a central role in peoples‘ survival and thus he introduced a key term for such a phenomenon as

    (Asabiyya). Linguistically, 'Asabiyya' comes from the Arabic word 'asabah', which

    means the relatives of the person from the father side. These relatives are called 'asabah' because they strengthen and defend the person that makes him stronger. The tribal 'Asabiyya' in the Arab society has stemmed from andocentric notion of unity by blood coming down through generations from one-shared ancestor, usually the great grandfather. Ibn Khaldun describes 'Asabiyya' as a bio-psychological, social, political, and economic aspects all mixed in one phenomenon and can be regarded as the main source of social obligations, responsibility, norms, ethics, and the unity of identity(ibid: 289).

2-3 Family and kinship patterns in Arabic

    The Arabs are a proud and sensitive people whose culture is mainly derived from three key factors: family, language, and religion. No adequate understanding of Arab culture is possible without first examining these three major elements and the pervading impact they have had on their culture. To begin to understand the Arabs, one must first understand the Arabic family since it has been regarded as the basis of the Arab social structure. Thus the first major factor overshadowing all other societal demands of an Arab is that of family and kin. The kin characteristic includes a set of group dynamics that are built around the family. Any discussion of Arab culture must also include their dominant cultural concerns, such as continuation of the close knit family (Ibn Khaldun, 1958: 128-41).

    Traditionally Arab Sociologists and religious legislators have stressed on the importance of the family unit as the basic social institution of society. The structure of the Arabic family is much more rigid and highly emphasized in comparison to the

    West. The peace and security offered by a stable family unit is greatly valued and seen as essential for the spiritual growth of its members( ,1975 : 205 - ?شاس١????ا

    ?ع??ا,2005:86-7 ).

    Parents are greatly respected in the Islamic tradition. In Arab culture, parents

    are responsible for children well into those children‘s adult lives, and children

    reciprocate by taking responsibility for the care of their aging parents

    responsibilities that Arabs generally take on with great pride (ibid:87-95)(see 2-2).

    In the traditional Arab family, the father represents the authority figure (patriarchal tradition), and in return he shoulders the major responsibilities towards his family members. The wife joins the kin group of her husband (patrilocal kin), while the children take up the father‘s family name (patrilineal descent). In that capacity, the father is assigned the role of the bread-winner or provider for his family. This role puts him at the top of the pyramidal structure of his family. Also this role carries with it unquestioning compliance with his instructions as well as respect from all family members. The mother is assigned the role of the housewife, and in that capacity, she is closer to the children and actually exercises power over them, though sometimes she may use the father to threaten them. Some scholars may interpret that as a matriarchal system alongside the patriarchal system in the Arab family. However, it is believed that this matriarchal system supports the existing patriarchy, as it solidifies the pyramidal structure of the family ( ??اص??ا ,1937:45; Nosseir,2003:3).

    In Arabic families, younger fathers expected to provide for and support the other family members, while mother are to care for the children and the household. Then, once the children are grown, and the parents are aged, it is the children's responsibility to care for their parents even if it's at the children's own expense

    (ت?١???ا, 1986:408-12; Nosseir, 2003:6).

    The structure of the Arabic family is composed of four types of family units. The first and most simple structure is the nuclear unit ( ج?١??ا ?أ ????ا) (the house), which

    consists of the father, mother, and offspring. This type of family unit is the least significant in the culture of the Arab world and is used to specify the actual residence of a family or the group of people who live under the same roof most of the time. The second familial unit is the ( ت??????ا) (the extended family) or the joint family. It consists of father, mother, unwed children, as well as wedded sons and their wives and children, unwed paternal aunts, and, sometimes, unwed paternal uncles. In short, this unit is composed of blood relatives plus women who were brought into the kin through marriage. This unit is an economic as well as a social unit and is governed by the grandfather or eldest male. The third type of blood kin unit is the ( جش???ؼ?ا) or clan.

    It consists of all individuals, male or female, who claim descent from the same paternal ancestor. The Arab village community is normally composed of three or four such ( س?????) clans, which may be called the ( ت??١???ا), and each of these units of ( س?????)

    clans are composed of several joint families(??اص??ا ,1937:45-57).

    The Arab family is the center of all loyalty, obligation, and status of its members. The individual‘s loyalty and duty to his or her family are greater than any other social obligation. From birth until death, the Arab individual is always identified with other members of the joint family in name and social status. Once a child is born to a young couple, the people stop referring to the parents by their first names and begin calling them after the name of their child. Arabs used to call each others by using their euphemistic name 'surname' rather than the first name because such a euphemistic name will maximize and increase the honorific and respectable character of the person. Thus they say, for example, ' ??ع??ا ??بأ' 'Father of Al-Hasan' and ' ??ع??ا ?أ '

    'Mother of Al-Hasan rather than to say the first name (306 :1955 )ز??و?? ??با).A child

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