Forty: the age of the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) when he first received the relevation delivered by Gabriel.

Forty: the number of days and nights for which rain fell during Noah’s flood.

Forty: the number of thieves in Ali Baba and the Forty Thieves.

Forty: the number of years the Israelites spent wandering in the desert.

Forty: the number of days Saudi blogger Fouad Farhan has been stuck in jail as of today.

“To understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days.” – Arab proverb


  • 40 is a significant figure in different religious and cultural traditions as you pointed out.. Regarding Fouad Alfarhan’s case, i just hope the Saudi government doesn’t stretch the figure from 40 days to 40 months and, God forbid, to sometime more than that.

  • 40 days to understand a people…hmmm.

    I met a Swiss German woman in Cairo who was married to an Egyptian and when I told her I was studying Middle East Studies she guffawed and dismissed the whole concept. She told me the best way to try and understand Arabs was to marry one, and still they will leave you guessing. Twelve years later, I agree. Not sure I will ever understand all the ways and means around here. Not sure 40 years would do it either. But Allahu alim.

    InshAllah Fouad will not spend another 40 days in prison. May Allah ease his suffering.

  • OK!

    – Moses’ life is divided into three 40-year segments, separated by his fleeing from Egypt, and his return to lead the people out. Source

    – The dead are usually mourned for forty days in Muslim cultures. Source

    – 40 is the only number whose letters are in alphabetical order. Source

    – Women are pregnant for 40 weeks.

    – I have now 2 pockets of cigarettes which are in total of 40 cigarettes. 😀

  • Nas, can you provide the authenticity of the proverb above? because I think either the translation is wrong or the whole proverb is wrong.

    did you mean: “man 3ashara qawman 40 yawman asba7a minhom” ? if so then the proverb above must be corrected.

    I believe the right proverb is: “man 3ashara qawman 40 yawman amina sharahom” (one can avoid their evil)

    the one u mentioned implies that the first (understanding people) wont occur without the second (must live among them), which is not true. Yup I scored A+ in my PHI class 😀

  • i do agree that the translation is a bit confusing, but I think “To understand a people, you must live among them for 40 days,” is a rough translation of “man 3ashara qawman 40 yawman asba7a minhom”..

  • Nice one Naseem, keep it alive..
    “Less than 40 minutes to understand people in Jordan”, do you mean we are that dull, or that clear? did not get the vibe…

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