Wednesday, November 5, 2008

Ziad Rahbani - I'm Not a Heathen
زياد رحباني - انا مش كافر
Ana Mosh Kaffir

The context of this song is the sectarian violence of the Lebanese civil wars throughout the 1980s, where religion was used a tool to stir people up and make them want to fight with each other. This song is aimed at the religious and political leaders who used religious identity to instigate violence for their own political interests. The word I am translating here as "heathen" is "kaafir (كافر)," which in Arabic can be sometimes translated as "unbeliever" or "infidel" and is a derogatory term for those who deny Islam. Of course throughout different stages and places in history the word has had different meanings, meaning pagans, or atheists, or Christians and Jews, and even in South Africa was used as a derogatory term for black people. Here I've chosen "heathen" because its a translation that fits and English language context without destroying the original negative connotations of the Arabic word's meaning.

Ziyad Rahbani - I'm not a heathen

I'm not a heathen, but hunger is heathen
I'm not a heathen, but disease is heathen
I'm not a heathen, but poverty is heathen
And humiliation is heathen

I'm not a heathen, but what do you want me to do for you
When, all things heathen combine within me
I'm not a heathen

Those who pray on Sunday
And those who pray on Friday
Keep plowing us throughout the week

Just imagine he's the one who said he's religious and I'm the heathen
Take another look at the holy books
Take another look at the word of God
I'm not a heathen

I'm not a heathen, but the country is heathen
I'm stuck in my home and unable to get out
You're eating my food right out my mouth while your food is right in front of you man
And if I'm ungrateful you say I'm heathen

I'm announcing to all the Western countries and notifying all police stations
I'm not a heathen
I'm not a heathen, you're the heathen
I'm not a heathen, so long as you're the heathen
I'm not a heathen, we've said who's the heathen
And they know who's the heathen

I'm not a heathen, just as I'm telling you
You're putting it on me, your being the Sheikh of the heathens

رياد رحباني - انا مش كافر

أنا مش كافر بس الجوع كافر
أنا مش كافر بس المرض كافر
أنا مش كافر بس الفقر كافر و الذل كافر
أنا مش كافر لكن شو بعملك
أذا اجتمعوا فيي كل الإشيا الكافرين
أنا مش كافر…
يللي بيصلي الأحد و يللي بيصلي الجمعة
وقاعد يفلح فينا علطول الجمعة
هو يللي دين قال و أنا يللي كافر عال
راجعوا الكتب السماوية راجعوا كلام القادر
أنا مش كافر…
أنا مش كافر بس البلد كافر
أنا مقهور ببيتي و مش قادر هاجر
و عم تاكل اللقمة بتمي و أكلك قدامك يا عمي
و اذا بكفر بتقللي كافر
معمم عالدول الغربية و مبلغ كل المخافر
أنا مش كافر هيدا انت الكافر
أنا مش كافر مادام انت الكافر
أما مش كافر قلنا مين الكافر
و عرفوا مين الكافر
أنا مش كافر متل ما عم قللك
عم بتحطها فيي كونك شيخ الكافرين
و أمين


yaman said...

Your translation is incorrect in parts.

The 4th line in 1st stanza is not "shame," but "humiliation."

It's not, "what would it do to you," but rather, "but what do you want me to do for you, when..."

In the 3rd stanza, he does not say قاعد يفلح but rather واعد يفلح. Further, the translation of f-l-h is not "plowing" as in form I, but rather, "to make prosperous," as in form IV (as the word is used in the Qur'an). So he is saying, all you who pray on Fridays and Sundays, you are obligated to work all week long to make us prosper, the word play being on jum3ah-- as in, the time for nobility is not one day a week (friday-- al-jum3ah), but all week long (3la tul al-jum3ah).

I don't think he means "emigrate," by hajir, but simply, to move around. Also, it's not مقهور but rather مقبور, as in he's trapped in his home, as if he's buried there and it is a coffin.

Noa said...

this is for yaman -
I didn't quite get your explanation about the يفلح فينا part.
Who becomes prosperous from whose work? who prays? I understood the part about the word play, I think. I would be glad if you explained it again. I have known this song for a couple of years now, and haven't met any one who could explain it to me.

Anonymous said...

What does "هيدا " in "أنا مش كافر هيدا انت الكافر" mean?

Noa said...

هيدا means "this". It's lebanese for هدا.

sayed said...

هيدا means you in lebnan