Arab-Wannabe Syndrome (AWS)


Major symptoms and treatment



What with the recent media obsession with Ebola, swine flu and the like, there’s one global health hazard that has managed to remain relatively unnoticed. Arab-Wannabe Syndrome (AWS), rampant in many of the Muslim communities of the world, deserves much more attention than it has been accorded to date. Untold numbers of sufferers are crying for help, so to speak, without assistance forthcoming from any quarter.

While it may not trigger as much terror in the public as some of the other afflictions, AWS is perfectly capable of making life miserable for both its victim and the innocent bystander. With a view to helping both parties as well as spreading awareness in the general public, here’s a brief survey of AWS, its diagnosis, and treatment of its more manageable manifestations. If the author’s efforts lessen the misery of even one sufferer, they will have been worthwhile.

AWS is an uncontrollable urge to pretend to be, or to behave like, an Arab, when in fact the patient is not an Arab. There are two broad classifications: acute and chronic. Fortunately, most acute presentations start to subside after five to seven days. That is, provided a balanced diet, plentiful sleep, and decent company. Most of the chronic cases too can be treated without drugs provided an early enough diagnosis.

No living soul today doubts the influence of the subconscious on the conscious mind, thanks to Dr Freud. There’s an equally strong case to be made for the opposite process as well. Barring a few recalcitrant cases that probably require drugs, autosuggestion – alteration of the subconscious by repetition of conscious, rational thoughts – can be very effective in handling most instances of AWS. Major symptoms, along with the relevant advice to address each, are listed here:

Symptom: You have got Al Bakistan (in Arabic) printed on your vehicle’s license plate.

Treatment: Every night before going to sleep, meditate along these lines:

  1. There’s a very good reason why the Arabs refer to our beloved homeland as Bakistan — they don’t have the equivalent of p in their alphabet. Now, inasmuch as Arabic doesn’t have the p sound it’s a poorer language, despite its undeniable place in the pantheon of great languages. You have no such limitation and so there’s absolutely no reason why you should follow this particular suit.
  2. It’s egregious grammar to use the Arabic definite article al with a foreign noun, especially if it happens to be already quite definite. So unbeknownst to you, you have been guilty of making scores of noble Arab grammarians turn over in their graves. This needs to stop
  3. Having Arabic – correct of incorrect – on your license plate won’t make you an Arab any more than wearing boxer shorts makes one a boxer.


Al Bakistan


Stick to this regimen until the appearance of desirable results. Caution: if your number plate reads Al-Bunjab or Al-Bakhtunkhwa (still a rare manifestation, thankfully), please seek professional medical [and perhaps psychological] help immediately.

Symptom: You take offence when somebody says Khuda Hafiz, and insist on the use of Allah Hafiz instead.

Treatment: Consider:

  1. Khuda is Persian for Allah (the same thing, really).
  2. No real Arab ever said Allah Hafiz, so if the goal is to sound like one, this formula is obviously a non-starter

Symptom: In your weaker moments you toy with the idea of having a kunya.

Treatment: Bravely stare this uncomfortable fact in the face: While Abu Dawood, Sulaiman ibn Abdullah Al-Maraghimay be perfectly alright for an Arab, something like Abu Jamshed, Babar Tanvir sounds rather stupid.

Symptom: You sometimes have visions of yourself wearing thawb, ghutrah, and agal (or an alternative in the form of a doubled bicycle tube).

Treatment: Make yourself cognizant of the disturbing fact that you are only a step away from disaster. A funny headgear, aloose dress open at the bottom, juvenile delinquents and stones in copious supply everywhere, constitute an extremely volatile mix. Caution: If you already have a thawb and agal in your closet, see a registered medical practitioner now!

Symptom: You believe that a French beard is a symbol of piety in addition to being a fashion statement.

Treatment: This one is fairly easy to treat. Remind yourself that, while undoubtedly patronised by the powers that be in the Middle East, anything French can hardly be a sign of nobility, French fries being the only possible exception.

Note: While effective, none of the above guidelines goes beyond addressing the various symptoms of AWS. If at all possible, the real goal must be to strike at the root of the problem. Having a high self-esteem has been reported to have helped enormously in that respect.


  1. The letter J and Z should b removed from the Hindi alphabet because the Indians make a mess of those.

  2. Brilliant analysis !
    I too have been a close observer of this ridiculous Al-Bakistan malady & I too am full of scorn ( note: no concern on my part for the ridiculous sufferer! )
    Hassan Aftab Saeed (abu….whatever :), you have a gift for such writing…use it.
    And now I'll say KHUDA Hafiz, which is what We all in Pakistan grew up saying…I refuse to use the other !

  3. Sir, I didn’t have any idea that you are involved in subjects other than Mechanics of Materials (which you teach with mastery).
    A great piece indeed!

    Your student from class of 2015, EME

  4. Please kindly write one such master piece on WWS [western wannabe syndrome], HIV [hate Islamic culture virus],BAD [burqa allergy disease] and LNS [liberal narcissism syndrome].Seriously,not joking or something you might think but these epidemics are also very common among ebola and AWS,specially in Pakistan.KHUDA Hafiz

  5. Thankful to you for posting the extensive substance… I was hunting down something like this… I suspected that it was tranquil captivating, in a perfect world you will keep posting such sites

Comments are closed.