Season of Migration to the North Glossary
by Tayeb Salih
Glossary of Terms
Agricultural Project CommitteeA committee of villagers that regulates agriculture in Wad Hamid. Mahjoub is its president, and Mustafa Sa’eed serves on it.
arakA type of liquor made from dates, popular among the village people.
BedouinA nomadic, desert-dwelling group of tribes. Arab in descent, they live all over North Africa, Sudan, and the Arabian peninsula.
bintArabic for “daughter of.” Instead of surnames, the women of Wad Hamid use “bint” along with their father’s first name. “Bint Majzoub,” then, simply means “daughter of Majzoub;” we never learn her first name.
caravanseraiA special inn that has a large courtyard to host caravans.
circumcision ceremonyIn many parts of Africa and the Middle East, boys are circumcised at the onset of puberty, and not in infancy like in the West. The ceremony is a rite of passage that shows the boy is becoming a man.
collectsShort prayers associated with a particular day or season, which are said before the main prayer. Used in both Islamic and Christian traditions.
diwanReception room in houses, used to entertain male guests.
EffendiA title of courtesy, similar to “sir.” Even older people use it to refer to the narrator, because he has a high-level government job.
ewerA large water jug.
faienceGlazed ceramic pottery.
female circumcisionThe practice of cutting or removing a woman’s clitoris during childhood, for religious or cultural reasons. It remains prevalent in parts of Africa and Asia, and was even more common when Salih wrote Season of Migration to the North in 1966. The practice is illegal and extremely controversial in most Western countries, and many Western NGOs now focus on eradicating it abroad.
HajjThe pilgrimage to Mecca, required of all Muslims who are healthy and can afford to go.
harrazA tree whose wood is often used to construct houses in Sudan.
jibbaA long, collarless garment that people in Islamic countries wear over their clothes.
lorryTerm used in the U.K. and the Commonwealth for a truck.
MamurA high-level civil servant.
OmdaThe chief of a tribe or village.
sunnaThe part of Islamic law that regulates daily life.
wadiA dry riverbed.
Season of Migration to the North Essays and Related Content
- Season of Migration to the North: Major Themes
- Season of Migration to the North: Questions
- Season of Migration to the North: Purchase the Novel and Related Material
- Tayeb Salih: Biography
- Season of Migration to the North Summary
- About Season of Migration to the North
- Character List
- Glossary of Terms
- Major Themes
- Quotes and Analysis
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 1
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 2
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 3
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 4 and 5
- Summary and Analysis of Chapter 6
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 7 and 8
- Summary and Analysis of Chapters 9 and 10
- Sudanese Independence: Before and After
- Related Links on Season of Migration to the North
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- Test Yourself! - Quiz 1
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