Saturday, June 23, 2007


There are variant spellings for this word—Ferenghee, Feringi, Feringee, etc.—: all ultimately derive from the Arabic Farinji and/or the Persian Farangi. The word means “foreigner”, literally stemming from an Arabicization of the word “Frank”—the first Westerners encountered in any formidable sense by the expanding Muslims.

In a sense, Feringhee means “the Other”, which we Jihad Watchers know (unlike our PC-besotted brethren and sisters) is a supremacist concept cultivated par excellence in Islam.

A couple of years before 911, before Islam was on my “radar” in any significant sense (though I was fascinated by “Orientalist” literature, particularly of Gustave Flaubert, of Théophile Gautier, and of the homeronymous Thousand And One Arabian Nights), as I was rooting through Vietnamese and Thai lexicons while researching a novel I wanted to write, I came across the word Feringhee (though spelled slightly different), meaning “foreigner” and “Westerner” (Westerners being the quintessential foreigner). What hit me at that moment was my memory of a few months prior when I had been perusing a Kurdish dictionary and found the same word (again with a subtle orthographic permutation). I had a twinge of awe, and asked myself: How on earth could the Thai language and the Kurdish language share the same word!? I conjectured at the time that there must have been in history a vast “Muslim corridor” spanning from the Insulindian archipelagos of the Eastern Indian Ocean and Western Pacific all the way to the Atlantic coast of the Maghreb and Spain—since I had remembered from my comparative religions class at college reading about how Muslims had spread all the way from the Atlantic to the Pacific.


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