Proverbs form an integral part of the collective memory of Lebanese society, emerging spontaneously when situations lend themselves to it. These linguistic expressions encompass moral teachings, popular wisdom, and experiential knowledge deemed worth remembering. Proverbs have diverse origins, with some drawing inspiration from religious texts such as the Old and New Testaments, the Qur’an, the Hadith, and the teachings of Imam Ali. Others find their roots in ancient verses of Arab poets, either reproduced in their original form or simplified. Finally, popular sayings can also be the fruit of observation and everyday experiences. Spoken in literal or dialectal Arabic, they are not attributed to specific authors. Proverbs are often very old and of folk origin, and therefore transmitted orally. In situations that are conducive to them, each proverb is prefaced by the phrase “there is a proverb that says” (في مثل بقول), followed by the recitation of the proverb itself.

Proverbs relating to heaven exhort humility, modesty, poverty, evoke luck or destiny commanded by God.

« Pride brought down the angels from heaven   الكبريا سقط الملاكة من السما

Proverb inspired by Christian theology which puts forward the idea that the devil was an angel, who became vain, was fallen from heaven

Whoever humbles himself will be lifted up to heaven من تواضع سما

This proverb, which praises the virtues of modesty, is taken from the New Testament 

No matter how much the tree grows, it will not reach the sky   الشجرة مهما كبرت ما بتوصل للسما               

Despite a successful life, you must know your limits and maintain a bit of modesty

Moses is dead, God is the master of heaven  موسى مات الله رب السموات                                                       

No one is essential or unavoidable

Who loves his mother-in-law has heavenly luck  حظه من السما يلي بحب الحما                                               

Who doesn’t have a mother-in-law has divine luck   حظه من السما هلي ما عنده حما                                        

These two proverbs highlight the hostility towards the mother-in-law

It is written on the door of heaven, no daughter-in-law loves her mother-in-law  مكتوب على باب السما ، ما في كنة بتحب الحما

The ground is his mattress and the sky his blanket      الارض فرشته والسما غطاه

It’s the poor homeless person

Be merciful to your fellow men, the heavenly father will be merciful to you                ارحمو من في الارض يرحمكم من في السماء

This proverb taken from a hadith teaches indulgence in relationships with one’s neighbor to deserve the afterlife.

Who puts his capital in the sky, never goes bankrupt     يلي رصيده بالسما ما بفلس                                                      

This proverb glorifies divine justice: believe in God he will reward you

 Entrust yourself to the God of heaven, you will be safe              سلم امورك لرب السما، تسلم                                       

Attitude of resignation of people overwhelmed by worries of which they do not see the end”

(Samadi Naaman Hana, 2013)

Dagher Joseph, « Parémiologie Et Village Libanais : Étude Socio-Linguistique De Quelques Matériaux » (Paremiology And Lebanese Village: Socio-Linguistic Study Of Some Materials), Arabica, January 1994.
Freiha Anis, Dictionary of Modern Lebanese Proverbs, Beirut : Librairie du Liban, 1954.
Rahm Abdelrazak, الأمثال العامية اللبنانية وأثرها في المجتمع , (Lebanese popular proverbs and their impact on society), Beirut: 1982.
Samadi Naaman Hana, Les proverbes de ma mère: Proverbes du Liban & leurs équivalents dans les langues du monde (, My Mother's Proverbs: Proverbs from Lebanon and Their Equivalents in the Languages of the World), Paris: Geuthner, 2013.
Yacoub Emile, الأمثال الشعبية اللبنانية, Lebanese Popular Proverbs, Tripoli: Jarrous Press.