Monday, September 25, 2006

A peaceful funeral

Friday, I went to the house of the Mohsins. Mohsins are my favorite set of 4+1 people on earth. They are genuine, straight-forward, and harmless. They wish good for others, and are so helpful, you want to ask them to stop. Above all, they are positive human beings who do not complain.

This Friday, there was a long-expected death in the family. When I reached there, the Mohsin girls had dried up their tears, and wore their kind smiles. The family is religious, but not dogmatic. They were a little sad, as all families are after such a loss, as to why had people attending the funeral turned back to their normal conversations so promptly.

I invited the ladies, seven of us in total, to say a prayer granted to me by a friend of God. We sat with eyes closed in an almost-circle, and called the name of God's self - Allah. Once each person felt they had the attention of Allah, they prayed for forgiveness and whatever was in the hearts.

This was the first time I didn't feel an immense darknes spressing on me as the leader of prayers - that may be because the company of the Mohsins and their cousins was so pure and sincere. Taz asked, "How do we know if the prayer has been accepted?" Izz rested her hand on her right side, and said, "You know it in the heart." I am still a little curious as to why her instinctive resting was on the right of the heart? Does she know that the left is where is the heart is, and the right is the house of the soul in human constitution? I must tell her another time...

After the prayers, everyone felt positively cheerful. It was uncontrollable: the glee, the light-heartedness. We turned to what we often do when together: Kiran brought up a question relating to the beliefs of a convert atheist, and we discussed with reference to the Book. I shared with my friends another insight that gives credibility to the Chinese theory of the Yin/Yang. They were as incredulous as I was when I first "saw" it.

Among other things, I also reminded my friends, who were curiously pondering over the translations of the Quran over matters relating to women, that they must remember the Quran has been translated by men; and like prior religions, men have given the meanings that they saw in the Quran, often appending their own words in translations or modulating the degree of a word... and the result is sometimes a translation that is all masculine. This was the subject of an academic research which I want to have access to now.

An example is the word "zauj" which means the gender-neutral "spouse," but is often translated as "wife" wherever the word zauj seems to have a secondary value.

Kiran wanted to "help" the atheist-convert; my view was that educated jaahils are the worst to deal with, because they do what they do on purpose. They know exactly what they are doing, and most of them are looking for excuses to do wrong.

However, we discussed a few matters of our personal faith, and then moved on to helping with dinner. By that time, we were almost laughing and getting rather noisy and playful. It happens after all funerals, yet this time I felt a genuine aura of happiness and contentment. The Mohsins are soulful people.

It was the most pleasant and peaceful funeral that I attended.



  1. Doesn't 'zaujah' means wife and not 'zauj', which actually does means spouse. Anyways, it was only a point. the thing is that yes, there are infact a number of instances of 'masculine' translations. Male chauvinism.

  2. Salam:

    "Zaujah" indeed means wife, but in the Urdu language. Whether "zaujah" is an Arabic word, meaning "wife," I am not sure. It was my plan to confirm from a source, ever since I saw that particular ayat again - which happens to be the first ayat of Sura-e-Nisa.

    I have a personal interpretation of it, which I am researching on.

    "Zauj" means spouse, of course, and "zaujeen" means a couple.

    So as we are both saying, in many places, the translation has been masculine... Also on the same day, we picked up two translations of the Quran, and one of them has the author's own words inserted in the main translation.

    The second translation was apologetic on the issue of dealing with suspicion of adultery, as it appended excessive explanatory words in the translation. Whereas I agreed with the point of view, the translator had inserted their own words, which were compatible with hadith, but were not the translation of the ayat in question.

    This act is not permissible either; just as masculinization must not be. We know that such discretions in translating the earlier Holy Books have been severely forbidden by Islam. Indeed, this is one of the crimes that led to the distortion of the message given to the Children of Israel.

    I'll write more on the topic, inshaAllah, with references. Thanks for your interest; do write to me if you know something on the subject that you'd like to share.

  3. Actually, your comment, read along with your post, has caused a rethinking in my mind of the traditional interpretations which Muslims widely follow and respect, just by pointing to a matter that we all take for granted. I'm not qualified enough to interpret the Holy Scripture as it is, but yes, the direction where you point needs exploration as there has come a realization that not only the translations of the Holy Book, but a whole lot of religious literature including the most respected and followed texts, specially those which fall under the domain of translations, does remain male oriented.

    As you've indicated about writing more about it in the future, there will remain anticipation as to what comes up from further observation and this anticipation will also be leading to a self exploration of the subject to gain further insights beyond what came out by reading your post and the accompanying comment.