First encountered the word when I was in Sierra Leone, a call of endearment thrown my way by my then love of my life. It sounded very exotic, me having no understanding of Arabic word whatsoever, and I felt so much loved.
Habibi is an Arabic word directly translating as “my baby” or “my darling”; Habibti is feminine form of habibi, which means “my love”
Arriving in Palestine early this year, the first recognizable word I heard was Habibi, and I was culture shocked to hear it spoken between men — whoa! Only to be told I interpreted the exchanges wrongly (and maybe with malice) and should let it pass. I did, or so I thought, but I am not over it.
The word means my beloved, and in normal conversation, it is normally used between close friends of the same or opposite gender or between couples romantically involved.
For us non-Arabs, it can be (in English) “my friend / bro / sis” when used among friends, or “my love / baby” when used romantically. In Tagalog, it can be “pare” for men and no idea what can it be for women 🙂
After being here for a while, I can let it rest and accept it as part of the normal conversations in taxi, offices, and meetings but I will keep the first impression and feelings I had when I first heard it nine years ago.
I discovered too that there are books of the same title that tells stories about love … from the looks of it, maybe I should get then and start reading about my love …
The day after Liyana got her first real kiss, her life changed forever. Not because of the kiss, but because it was the day her father announced that the family was moving from St. Louis all the way to Palestine.
Habibi gives us a love story of astounding resonance: a parable about our relationship to the natural world, the cultural divide between the first and third worlds, the common heritage of Christianity and Islam, and, most potently, the magic of storytelling.
My dear habibti … hope you enjoy reading!