The Bedouin looked upon tinned food as a dubious institution. One day, when Major Maynard was accompanying us on a journey over the desert northeast of Akaba, he handed a tin of bully beef to each of the men with us. They took the meat reluctantly and seemed to regard it as unholy. It was then we discovered how suspicious the Arab was of things in tins—but from religious, not hygienic motives. It is customary for an Arab, when he cuts the throat of a sheep or of any other animal, to say, as he inserts the knife, “In the name of Allah the Merciful and the compassionate!” When they opened the tins they repeated these same words, fearful lest the Chicago packers had not performed the ceremony according to the law of the Prophet.

Apart from a few such formal observances, the average Bedouin is by no means a religious fanatic….

—Lowell Thomas, With Lawrence in Arabia, 1924


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