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Reviewed by Bruce Cook for Readers' Favorite
A delightful book of proverbs, Zarbul Masalha: 151 Afghan Dari Proverbs by Captain Edward Zellem is written in a language and culture little known to English language readers outside of Afghanistan. (It also includes helpful comments on pronunciation and the Dari language) Unlike the typical news story portrayals of Muslim culture, Zarbul Masalha: 151 Afghan Dari Proverbs honors Islam with the utmost respect. The author has selected 151 proverbs that are in common daily use in all aspects of Afghan society. Thus, while the beauty of these expressions seems rare, they are well known and loved in their country of origin.
The book was written and translated by a US Navy Captain, Edward Zellem, with the full cooperation of students from Marefat High School in Kabul. This is a remarkable achievement in US recognition of the importance of culture in an area where fighting goes on. Here, instead of “conquering” a village, the object is to understand the village’s people and culture. The result is extraordinary, for it answers the comment so often voiced in a place of combat – “If the army had just understood!”
I commend Captain Zellem for honoring and selecting these glorious proverbs.
As an example – just one of the 151 – consider this one from Page 9.
The literal translation: Mother shakes the cradle with one hand, and shakes the world with the other hand.
The meaning (quoted separately for each literal translation): Mothers play a very important role in the world, and how they raise their children affects everything.
This book represents a deliberate attempt to document the gracefulness of Islamic culture for the benefit of Western readers. I heartily recommend this book.