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Al-Khal al-Wafi

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The faithful friend (الخل الوفي) is a proverbial phrase in Arabic drawn from a poem (the author is unclear, but is cited as Safi al-Din al-Hilli[1] or an older poet identified only as Kamil[2]). The poem refers to faithful friends being one of three impossible things, the others being the ghoul and the phoenix.

The meaning of "the myth" of the faithful friend is that a truly faithful friend is more loyal to you than to himself and therefore such a person can not exist – that is it is a myth. This theory is that a friend can never have a truly loyal counterpart since the friend, who is also a person, must have his own life, feelings, and demands which might conflict or at least not conform in whole or in part with those he befriends. The saying suggests that a friend is considered to be a truly rare currency among Arabic speakers.

When Arabic speakers describe something impossible, they say it is among the “four impossible things” (adding to the three mentioned above).

The lines from the poem mentioned above are:

<poem> لَمَّا رَأَيْتُ بَنِي الزَّمَانِ وَمَا بِهِمْ خِلٌّ وَفِيٌّ، للشَّدَائِدِ أَصْطَفِي ,,ملا أيْقَنْتُ أَنَّ المُسْتَحِيلَ ثَلَاثَةٌ: الغُولُ وَالعَنْقَاءُ وَالْخِلُّ الوَفِي

</poem> “After viewing the fellows of my age, I found no true friend who could stand by you at times of need / I have known then that the impossible matters are three: the ghoul, the phoenix, and a faithful friend”

References[edit | edit source]

  1. “صفي الدين الحلي >> لمّا رأيتُ بَني الزّمانِ وما بهِم" (Safi al-Din al-Hilli >> After viewing the fellows of my age...”) al-Adab.com, the practical encyclopedia of Arab poetry 2005 http://www.adab.com/modules.php?name=Sh3er&doWhat=shqas&qid=20220&r=&rc=
  2. "The mythical ghoul in Arabic culture.." The Free Library. 2009 Cultural Analysis 14 Jan. 2019 https://www.thefreelibrary.com/The+mythical+ghoul+in+Arabic+culture.-a0249607720 page 10

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