Arabic Proverbs and Sayings

Arabic Proverbs & Sayings | Photo: Anas Nasheed/Creative Commons

A book is a garden carried in the pocket.

A book that remains shut, is but a block.

A borrowed cloak does not keep one warm.

A chameleon does not leave one tree until he is sure of another.

A change is as good as a rest.

A fable is a bridge that leads to truth.

A fat woman is a blanket for the winter.

A foolish man may be known by six things: Anger without cause, speech without profit, change without progress, inquiry without object, putting trust in a stranger, and mistaking foes for friends.

A friend advises in his interest, not yours.

A friend is known when needed.

A good deed dies when it is spoken about.

A good man is one who rejoices in the well-being of others.

A good orator makes us see with our ears.

A grateful dog has more worth than an ungrateful man.

A hand that has been chopped off cannot steal any more.

A heart free from care is better than a full purse.

A horse of good breed is not dishonored by his saddle.

A horse that will not carry a saddle must have no oats.

A house divided cannot stand.

A kind speech and forgiveness is better than alms followed by injury.

A kind word can attract even the snake from his nest.

A known mistake is better than an unknown truth.

A lazy man will be an astrologer.

A learned man without work is a cloud without rain.

A little and a little, collected together, becomes a great deal; the heap in the barn consists of single grains, and drop and rop makes an inundation.

A little bird wants but a little nest.

A little body doth often harbour a great soul.

A little debt makes a debtor, a great one an enemy.

A man cannot be a good physician if he has never been sick himself.

A man profits more by the sight of an idiot than by the orations of the learned.

A man who was always complaining was quite rightly sent to hell. A man who was always complaining was quite rightly sent to hell. “Why are you burning damp wood?” was his first comment.

A man’s worth depends on his two smallest organs: his heart and his tongue.

A mouth that praises and a hand that kills.

A mule can go to Mecca, but it will not come back as a pilgrim.

A poor man would like to have some fun, but he cannot find the right place.

A promise is a cloud; fulfillment is the rain.

A scholar’s ink is worth as much as the blood of the martyr.

A secret is like a dove: when it leaves my hand it takes wing.

A sense of humor is the pole that adds balance to our steps as we walk the tightrope of life.

A small tumbledown house is better than a communal palace.

A sponge to wipe away the past; a rose to sweeten the present; a kiss to greet the future.

A thousand curses never tore a shirt.

A wise man associating with the vicious becomes an idiot; a dog traveling with good men becomes a rational being.

A wise man’s day is worth a fool’s life.

A woman’s belly is a garden with many kinds of fruit.

A woman’s mosque is her home.

Act like you are an idiot and everyone will respect you.

Advice given in the midst of a crowd is loathsome.

After dinner, rest; after supper walk a mile.

After lunch, rest; after dinner take a walk.

All earthly goods we have only on loan.

All kinds of fame belong partly to others.

All mankind is divided into three classes: those that are immoveable, those that are moveable, and those that move.

All sunchine makes the desert.

Allah does not love the aggressors.

An army of sheep led by a lion would defeat an army of lions led by a sheep.

An eloquent cock crows as soon as it comes out of the egg.

An imbecile can manage his own affairs better than a wise man the affairs of other people.

An insult is but a short garment: it reveals the one who wears it.

An old lion will be mocked by the dogs.

An unjust king is like a river without water.

Another man’s bread will not fill your belly.

Any water in the desert will do.

Arrogance diminishes wisdom.

Arrogance is a weed that grows mostly on a dunghill.

Ask advice of an ignorant man and he will think you are his enemy.

Ask for your wife’s advice and then do the opposite.

Ask me what are my virtues, not about the color of my skin.

Ask the experienced rather than the learned.

Ask thy purse what thou should’st buy.

At the narrow passage there is no brother and no friend.

Attend funerals avoid weddings.

Be sure to have a controversial opinion, and men will talk about you.

Beauty doesn’t exist, men only dream it.

Beauty is power.

Beauty never travels in a group.

Believe what you see and lay aside what you hear.

Better a handful of dry dates and content therewith than to own the Gate of Peacocks and be kicked in the eye by a broody camel.

Better a thousand enemies outside the tent than one within.

Better make profit out of manure than losses with musk.

Better to be a free dog than a caged lion.

Better to have bread and an onion with peace than stuffed fowl with strife.

Beware of one who flatters unduly; he will also censure unjustly.

Beware the man who lavishes too much praise on you, he will later run you down.

Beware: some liars tell the truth.

Blind eyes see better than blind hearts.

Both the fast and the slow will meet each other on the ferry boat.

Bravery without intelligence is not bravery.

Call someone your lord and he’ll sell you in the slave market.

Children are buttonholes that hold their parents together.

Choose your neighbor before your house and your companion before the road.

Compete, don’t envy.

Conversation is like making love; the man is the question, the woman the answer, and the union of both will bear fruit.

Curses are like young chickens, And still come home to roost.

Dawn does not come twice to awaken a man.

Death is a black camel that lies down at every door. Sooner or later you must ride the camel.

Death is a black camel which kneels at every man’s gate.

Death rides a fast camel.

Death was afraid of him because he had the heart of a lion.

Diligence is a great teacher.

Diligence is the mother of good luck.

Discord between the powerful is a fortune for the poor.

Do not buy either the moon or the news, for in the end they will both come out.

Do not cut down the tree that gives you shade.

Do not ridicule the thin-bearded when you yourself have no beard.

Do not stand in a dangerous place trusting in miracles.

Do not tell a friend anything you would conceal from an enemy.

Do not tell secrets in front of servants.

Don’t pour away your water on the strength of a mirage.

Don’t think you are eloquent just because a fool applauds you.

Doubt is the key to all knowledge.

Dwell not upon thy weariness, thy strength shall be according to the measure of thy desire.

Eat whatever you like, but dress as others do.

Even the one-eyed man winks to women.

Every age has its book.

Every ambitious man is a captive and every covetous one a pauper.

Every day of your life is a page of your history.

Every dog is a great barker at the door of his own house.

Every future is not far away.

Every head has its own kind of headache.

Every sun has to set.

Everything is small at the beginning and then grows; except trouble, which is big at the beginning and still grows.

Evil people know one another.

Examine what is said, not him who speaks.

Example is better than precept.

Excuses are always mixed with lies.

Experiences are the spectacles of intellect.

Fate loves a rebel.

Fear not the man who fears God.

Fear the person who fears you.

Follow the advice of the one who makes you cry, not from the one who makes you laugh.

Forgiveness is more satisfying than revenge.

Four things come not back – the spoken word, the sped arrow, the past life, and the neglected opportunity.

Give a man some cloth and he’ll ask for some lining.

Give me wool and tomorrow you will have a sheep.

Go and wake up your cook.

God bless him who pays visits – short visits.

God gave the giraffe a long neck so that He would not have to bend the palm tree.

God grant us no neighbor with two eyes.

God has spared the naked man from washing his clothes with soap.

God sells knowledge for labor – honor for risk.

Good deeds banish bad ones.

Good qualities never cancel out the bad, just as sugar is no antidote for poison.

Great care is no defense against Fate.

Habit is the sixth sense that dominates the other five.

Haste is the invention of the devil.

He fasted for a whole year and then broke his fast with an onion.

He fled from the rain and sat down under the waterspout.

He gets his passage for nothing and then winks at the captain’s wife.

He hit me, started to cry, and went straight to the judge to sue me

He left us and we rejoiced; then an even more unbearable person came.

He promised me earrings, but then only pierced my ears.

He that counts his friend’s mistakes will be abandoned by him.

He that has long legs will go far.

He that has no money has no friends.

He that plants thorns must never expect to gather roses.

He who eats alone chokes alone.

He who foretells the future lies, even if he tells the truth.

He who has approved of wrongdoing is as guilty as he who has committed it.

He who has been bitten by a snake is scared of a rope on the ground.

He who has health has hope; and he who has hope, has everything.

He who is a slave of truth is a free man.

He who knows not and knows not that he knows not is a fool. Shun him. He who knows not and knows that he knows not is a child. Teach him. He who knows and knows not that he knows is asleep. Wake him. He who knows and knows that he knows is a wise man. Follow him.

He who lies for you will lie about you.

He who lives in a glass house should not throw stones.

He who looks up too much gets a pain in the neck.

He who loves thinks that the others are blind; the others think that he is crazy.

He who only thinks about what is in his belly is worth less than what comes out of it.

He who peeps at the neighbor’s window may chance to lose his eyes.

He who plants thorns must never expect to gather roses.

He who predicts the future lies, even if he tells the truth.

He who sees the calamity of other people finds his own calamity light.

He who starts a lawsuit makes a hole in the dike.

He who steals an egg will steal a camel.

He who uses bad incense must be careful not to burn his sleeves.

He who walks alone shall surely arrive first.

He who walks through a field of onions, will smell like an onion.

He who wants to sell his honor will always find a buyer.

He who would visit a vice, never has far to travel.

Heaven on earth is to be found on horseback, reading books and between a woman’s breasts.

I am a prince and you are a prince; who will lead the donkeys?.

I came to the place of my birth and cried, I came to the place of my birth and cried, “The friends of my youth, where are they?” And echo answered, “Where are they?”

If a dog offers to help you across the river, don’t ask if he is suffering from the mange.

If a man believes in a stone, that stone will serve him well.

If a man’s mouth were silent, then another part would speak.

If a poor man ate it, they would say it was because of his stupidity.

If a rich man ate a snake, they would say it was because of his wisdom; if a poor man ate it, they would say it was because of his stupidity.

If a wife is unfaithful then the husband is partly to blame.

If begging should unfortunately be your lot, knock at the large gates only.

If I had two loaves of bread, I would sell one and buy hyacinths, for they would feed my soul.

If man be a river, then woman will be a bridge.

If power is for sale, sell your mother to buy it. You can always buy her back again.

If someone says “There is a wedding ceremony in the clouds,” then the women would soon arrive with their ladders.

If the camel once gets his nose in the tent, his body will soon follow.

If the king says that it is night in the middle of the day, look up at the stars.

If there were no tears, our ribs would burn.

If we are both masters, then who shall lead the mules?.

If you are a friend of the captain, you can wipe your hands on the sail.

If you are offered a bull, do not ask how much milk he will give.

If you buy cheap meat, you’ll smell what you have saved when it boils.

If you cannot take things by the head, then take them by the tail.

If you don’t know where you are going, look back to where you’ve come from.

If you give in to a fool, he will say, “This is because they are afraid of me.”

If you have given away much of your wealth, then you have given a little of your heart.

If you have much, give of your wealth; if you have little, give of your heart.

If you have never seen evil, look closely at yourself some time.

If you hear that a mountain has moved, believe; but if you hear that a man has changed his character, believe it not.

If you stop every time a dog barks, your road will never end.

If you want to hit your mother-in-law, be sure to split her head.

If you want to kill a snake, chop off its head.

If you want to take revenge on a man, send him a really beautiful woman.

If your neighbor visits Mecca once, watch out for him. If he makes a second visit, you had better avoid him. After the third visit you had better move to another street.

In order to really love someone you must love him as though he was going to die tomorrow.

In the desert of life the wise travel by caravan, while the fool prefers to travel alone.

In the presence of Fate, the physician becomes a fool.

In the small lanes there are no brothers or friends.

Insults must be written in sand and compliments carved in stone.

It is a sign of weakness just to let things happen.

It is better to cut off the head that has no pride.

It is better to die in revenge than to live on in shame.

It is easier not to commit a sin than to repent it.

It is good to know the truth, but it is better to speak of palm trees.

It is not the bullet that kills you, it is fate.

It makes no sense to try to forge the iron whilst it is still cold.

It may be a fire today – tomorrow it will be ashes.

It’s all fate and chance.

Judge a man by the reputation of his enemies.

Judge not of a ship as she lies on the stocks.

Kiss the hand of your enemy if you cannot chop it off: Envy has no rest.

Know each other as if your were brothers; negotiate deals as if you were strangers to each other.

Knowledge acquired as a child is more lasting than an engraving on stone.

Knowledge is a treasure, but practice is the key to it.

Lending nourishes bad feeling.

Let the sword decide only after the plan has failed.

Lies are accepted once, not twice.

Life, like a fire, begins in smoke and ends in ashes.

Light your lamp first at home and afterwards at the mosque.

Live together like brothers and do business like strangers.

Look and keep silent, and if you are eating meat, tell the world it’s fish.

Love lasts as long as does the reproach.

Love makes a man both blind and deaf.

Love sees clearly, hate even more so, but jealousy sees the most clear, because it is equal to love plus hate.

Lying and stealing are next door neighbors.

Make do with bread and butter until God can bring you jam.

Make your bargain before beginning to plow.

Man is like a palm on the beach; moving with the wind of life.

Man was created in a hurry.

Mankind is made out of forgetfulness.

Many are the roads that do not lead to the heart.

Marriage is like a besieged castle; those who are on the outside wish to get in; and those who are on the inside wish to get out.

Meaningless laughter is a sign of ill-breeding.

Measure your guilt, then stretch your legs.

Meat and mass never hindered man.

Men fear, but time fears the pyramids.

Men laugh with their heart, women only with their mouth.

Men learn little from success, but much from failure.

Men must sew up tears with gentleness.

Misfortune is easier to bear if you share it with many others.

Mistrust before you trust.

Money can build roads in the sea.

More than one war has been caused by a single word.

Most people forget everything except being ungrateful.

Moustaches hide the imperfections of the mouth.

My debtor is a worse payer even than I am.

Never celebrate someone’s leaving, until you know who will succeed him.

Never give advice in a crowd.

Never sit in the place of a man who can say to you, Never sit in the place of a man who can say to you, “Rise.”.

Never speak ill of the dead.

Never tell your friends what your enemy may not hear.

Never trust a fool with a sword.

No crowd ever waited at the gates of patience.

No cure, no pay.

No man is a good physician who has never been sick.

None but a mule denies his family.

Not to use trickery is also trickery.

Nothing but a handful of dust will fill the eyes of man.

Obedience to a woman leads to hell.

Older than you by a day, wiser than you by a year.

On the day of victory no one is tired.

On the first of March, the crows begin to search.

Once you have decided to hit someone, then hit them hard because the retribution will be the same whether you hit hard or not.

Once you have found your rhythm, you will then know your God.

One coin in the money box makes more noise than when it is full.

One day in perfect health is a lot.

One hand cannot applaud.

One hand for oneself and one for the ship.

One is not born a warrior, you become one.

Only a mother can understand the suffering of a son.

Only death itself can end our hope.

Only he who understands is really sad.

Only the tent pitched by your own hands will stand.

Only three things in life are certain birth, death and change.

Pardon is the choicest flower of victory.

Patience is beautiful.

Peace is only possible after war.

Play alone and you’re bound to win.

Proverbs are the lamp of speech.

Put things into their places, and they will put you into your place.

Rather a slip of the foot than a slip of the pen.

Rather the cruelty of the Turks than the justice of the Bedouins.

Reproaches are the soap of the heart.

Righteousness is half of religion.

Salt will never be worm-eaten.

Search knowledge though it be in China.

Seek counsel of him who makes you weep, and not of him who makes you laugh.

Seven days king, seven days minister, slave for the rest of your life.

Seven trades but no luck.

Shall the gosling teach the goose to swim?.

Shallow waters mak’ maist din.

Show no fear to the man who picks up a big stone.

Silence is a brother of delight.

Silence is a cure for grief.

Silence is the best answer to the stupid. The fool has his answer on the tip of his tongue.

Silence is the interpreter of happiness.

Sinning is the best part of repentance.

Sins of omission are seldom fun.

So long as I can keep a secret it is my prisoner. If I let it slip then I am its prisoner.

So long as the pot is boiling, friendship will stay warm.

Sometimes even the intestine and the stomach disagree.

Spirit is the sword and experience the sharpening stone.

Spurs that are too sharp make even the mule rear.

Sunshine all the time makes a desert.

Talent without skill is like a desert without an oasis.

The angry hammer works off his fury on the steel.

The ass went seeking for horns and lost his ears.

The awakening of a giant shakes the world.

The barber learns to shave on the orphan’s face.

The benefits you get become the debts you owe to others.

The best act of generosity is that which is quickly done.

The best part of repentance is a little sinning.

The chameleon does not leave one tree until he is sure of another.

The corn will bend but it still ends up in the mill.

The cure for bad times is patience.

The dawn does not come twice to awaken a man.

The devil tempts all men, but idle men tempt the devil.

The different sorts of madness are innumerable.

The difficult is done at once, the impossible takes a little longer.

The dogs bark, but the caravan moves on.

The doorstep weeps for forty days whenever a girl is born.

The dreams of a cat are full of mice.

The dry reed does not seek the company of fire.

The enemy of my enemy is my friend.

The English are a nation of shopkeepers.

The excess of one is the shortage of another.

The eyes are of little use if the mind be blind.

The fire is winter’s fruit.

The first will get the credit, even if the second is better.

The fool has his answer on the tip of his tongue.

The fruit of silence is tranquility.

The fruit of timidity is neither gain nor loss.

The frying-pan says to the kettle, “Avaunt, black brows!”

The grave is our mother.

The greatest tranquility is when we desire nothing.

The hand of God is with the group.

The hasty and the tardy meet at the ferry.

The hasty angler loses the fish.

The hasty hand catches frogs for fish.

The house of danger is built upon the borders of safety.

The ink of a scholar is worth as much as the martyr’s blood.

The knife of the family does not cut.

The liar’s mother is a virgin.

The lion said: I am the best one to take care of my business.

The man with no patience waits for daylight, and when it comes he’ll be blind.

The men are the wool of the tribe, but the women are the ones who weave the pattern.

The mind is for seeing, the heart is for hearing.

The monkey looks into the mirror and sees a gazelle.

The most useful holy war is the one fought against your own passions.

The mother of someone who is killed can sleep; the mother of the murderer cannot.

The mouth of a canon is less dangerous than that of a scandalmonger.

The nail supports the hoof, the hoof the horse, the horse the man, the man the world.

The one-eyed person is a beauty in the country of the blind.

The poor always smell.

The rope of a lie is short.

The sinning is the best part of repentance.

The slave must be content with the joys of his master.

The soul of a fool is always dancing on the tip of his tongue.

The soul will only be at rest when it stops hoping.

The strength of the heart comes from the soundness of the faith.

The tongue of experience utters the most truth.

The tree of silence bears the fruits of peace.

The whisper of a pretty girl can be heard further off than the roar of a lion.

The word of the king is the king of words.

The words of the elderly are as sweet as honey, but if you do not listen they become as sour as bile.

The words of tongue should have three gate keepers.

The world is like carrion; those who love and eat from it are dogs.

The worst things in life are: To be in bed and sleep not, To want for one who comes not, To try to please and please not.

The wound of words is worse than the wound of swords.

The wound that bleedeth inwardly is the most dangerous.

The wrath of brothers is fierce and devilish.

The young goose is a good swimmer.

There are five ways in which to become wise: be silent, listen, remember, grow older and study.

There are four things Allah cannot do: lie, deny himself, die or look favorably on sin.

There are some words that look like salted jam.

There are two kinds of men: those who could be happy and are not, and those who search for happiness and find it not.

There has to be a first time for everything – even our most natural habits.

There is no greater misfortune than your own.

They have sowed the seed of the word They have sowed the seed of the word “tomorrow” and it has not germinated.

Think of the going out before you enter.

Those who argue with each other on the highway will often make up in the lane.

Those who foretell the future lies, even if he tells the truth.

Throw a lucky man in the sea, and he will come up with a fish in his mouth.

Throw dirt enough, and some will stick.

Throw him into the river and he will come up with a fish in his mouth.

Time is the master of him who has no master.

To threaten the brave with death is like promising water to a duck.

To you your religion and to me my religion.

Trees often transplanted never prosper.

Trust in Allah, but tie up your camel.

Trust makes way for treachery.

Two scorpions living in the same hole will get along better than two sisters in the same house.

Two weaklings conquered the fort.

Unfortunate is the man who has no fingernails to scratch his head with.

Unwrapping a gift wraps up enmity.

Visit infrequently, and you will get closer.

Visit rarely, and you will be more loved.

Walls are the notebooks of fools.

War is a disaster for winner and loser alike.

What is learned in youth is carved in stone.

What is learnt in the cradle lasts to the grave.

What the wolf mourns is food for the fox.

What wise men suppose is worth more than the certainties of fools.

When a door opens not to your knock, consider your reputation.

When a rich man wants children, he gets dollars, when a poor man wants dollars, he gets children.

When danger approaches, sing to it.

When God shuts one door, He opens another.

When God wishes a man well, He gives him insight into his faults.

When the judge’s mule dies, everyone goes to the funeral; when the judge himself dies, no one does.

When what you want doesn’t happen, learn to want what does.

When you die, your sister’s tears will dry as time goes on, your widow’s tears will end in another’s arms, but your mother will mourn you until the day she dies.

When you have spoken the word, it reigns over you. When it is unspoken you reign over it.

When you shoot an arrow of truth, dip its point in honey.

When your enemies attack, bathe in their blood.

Where there are poor, there are rich. But where there is justice, they are all brothers.

Where there is a will there is a way. Where there is no will there is an excuse.

Who does not choose dies of hunger.

Who does not go with you, go with him.

Whoever knew you when you were small will not respect you when you’re big.

Whoever lives within himself is burning with love.

Wisdom consists of ten parts – nine parts of silence and one part with few words.

Wishing does not make a poor man rich.

Wit is folly unless a wise man hath the keeping of it.

Without the companionship even paradise would be boring.

Words from the heart reach the heart, words from the mouth reach the ear.

Wrath begins in madness and ends in repentance.

Write the bad things that are done to you in sand, but write the good things that happen to you on a piece of marble.

You are like a tree, giving your shade to the outside.

You can always find good elements in the misfortune that strikes you.

You cannot carry two watermelons in one hand.

You know a man by the sweat of his brow and the strength of his word.

You may forget with whom you laughed, but you will never forget with whom you wept.

You only own that which you have earned.

You will get no nourishment from the flesh of a woman.

You won’t gain knowledge by drinking ink.

Your friend will swallow your mistakes, your enemy will present them on a plate.

Your tongue is like a horse – if you take care of it, it takes care of you; if you treat it badly, it treats you badly.

Youths are like waves of the sea, the elderly have strength instead of tide.