Welcome! You are Welcome

Welcome! You are Welcome

Welcome you are welcome.   “Ahalan Wa Sahalan”.  This is the greeting that I hear very often as I go about my daily chores and my shopping in Nablus and in Nablus Old City Often I will be invited in for tea or strong Arabic coffee and the welcome is genuine.

The welcome  this time for me, on this visit to Palestine  has been simply tremendous. I have been invited to the homes of people for meals and I am constantly being being given plates of fruit and food by my hosts here at St. Philip’s, Father Ibrahim, and his family  in my office in the church Hall, and meals in their lovely home located above the hall and adjacent to the church.

Picture : Afaf our host is 2nd from L  ( other names withheld for privacy reasons)



Picture : Afaf our host is 2nd from L  ( other names withheld for privacy reasons)

This is a picture (below ) of Afaf Abu Habil  who has been most generous with her hospitality. The other day she invited me to a large meal of “malfouf” followed by “kanafeh” a most delicious local desert.  She also invited her friends, three Muslim students, who attend the local University, An Najah . They are the most delightful young people – two sisters and brother. The older sister and the brother are studying law although she would like to devote herself to music in particular playing the Udd. The younger sister is studying interior design and she is almost finished her four-year course.


After the Sumptuous meal of  Malfouf  (Stuffed Cabbage Rolls With Meat and Rice )–  we were treated to Kanafeh (The white cheese used in the preparation of Knafeh is also called “Nabulsi” cheese. The best Knafeh in all of Palestine is undoubtedly  in Nablus )  When the meal was finished Afaf our host sung a beautiful song –  a hymn actually from the Christian hymn book. This was followed by a beautiful song in the Arabic Style by the older sister – it was quite enchanting as she has such an amazing voice.  At that point I felt embarrassed as I had nothing to contribute,  I didn’t dare attempt to sing I’m not accomplished in that way, and unfortunately I didn’t bring my flute.

I have been overwhelmed by the hospitality and it’s one of the reasons I love to come to this place I feel in many ways that I receive more than I give from these people who have suffered so much, and long so much for peace and freedom.

Notes :

Ahalan wa Sahalan : From the Internet :  Literal Meaning ‘ahlan wasahlan أهلا وسهلا comes from an old saying that shows Arab hospitality to strangers; ‘ahlan أهلا means “family,” as in “You’ve come to stay with family,” and sahlan سهلا here means a flat land or plain where grass/food is abundant and to be shared with visitors.

Oud : The Oud ( sometimes spelled Ud)  is a pear shaped  instrument with 11 or 13 strings grouped in 5 or 6 somewhat similar to a  lute.

Knafeh: (also Kanafeh)  is a Middle Eastern sweet cheese and cream dessert, topped with pistachios and drizzled with sugar syrup. It varies from region to region in the kinds of cheese or cream used.


One thought on “Welcome! You are Welcome

  1. Dad- I am so happy you are being welcomed so kindly. You said you didn’t bring your flute to dinner, but did you bring your tin whistles with you at all this time? And here’s a question: Is there an Irish bar in Nablus? (Yes, I know it’s not your mandate to seek one out… but I am curious!!!). Take care. xo Helen

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