Saturday, September 29, 2007

A Kulkhani at the Mosque

Yesterday, word suddenly reached me that someone close to my neighbour, a good friend of ours, had left for his heavenly abode. Since the departed had been ill, this was expected, nevertheless a sad time for all his relatives and friends.

A kulkhani was quickly organized at the Foundation, which I had to rush to attend, and my neighbour sponsored the iftar there. As I tucked into my generous portion of food, I wondered - how lucky was the brother who had passed away?

There is no custom of an eulogy in Islam, but so many of his friends and relatives who had come to the mosque spoke of how he had made a positive affect on their lives. They were not just being polite - one could see they truly shared the pain and grief of the family - yet held genuine affection in their eyes. Many had taken time out of their busy schedules to drive to the other part of the town just to pay their respects, and eagerly rolled up their sleeves and shared in the volunteer duties that sponsoring an iftar entailed.

They say the proper way to come into this world is for you to be crying, but for everyone else to be smiling. If, on the other hand, if you can leave this world with a smile while everyone else is in tears, as you are eager to meet your Lord, you have done well.

What matters to our Lord, I realized, is the intention behind our actions. Yet for others, our actions speak a great deal. All the lives that this man had touched, and changed in a very positive manner, spoke of a very philanthropic man who didn't hesitate to do the right thing, to share a bit of the blessings that Allah had given him.

Today, as I look around, I see that many a times, our actions do not jive with our words. Yes, Islam is a beautiful religion and yes, Islam does tell us to behave well with our neighbours, treat women with respect, never harm or discriminate based on ethnicity, never to lie or cheat in our business, to always educate ourselves and seek knowledge, to welcome the birth of a daughter with equal joy as that of a son, to not turn our eyes away from the suffering of others and to wish for others what we wish for ourselves.

Yet our actions do not match these ideals. We are eager to recount how the Indonesians accepted Islam not under the sword but influenced by the behaviour of the Arab traders - yet today our adaab - our manners - leave a lot to be desired. We are proud of our ancient scientists and philosophers, yet today we stifle education for half our children and freedom of speech is a defunct concept.

Yes, some of the problems are not ours, the Western world does provide blanket support to many a dictator in the Muslim world, but others are in our hands. We can all improve our personal behaviour to be an example to our neighbours. We can all contribute to welfare programs run by our community centres.

We can all be a positive influence on our society. Let's hope this Ramadan can bring forth a few of the jewels amongst us to light.


mousehunter said...

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un. What a beautiful post. Its truely saddening when such a person passes aways.

Anisa said...

great post and very true. the religion has the answers for us...if only we will truly live the life God has asked us to live. thank you for this great reflection.

Anonymous said...

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun.

Please can you explain what a Kulkhani is? I have not heard this word before.

Suroor said...

Ameen to your dua.

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un.

'liya said...

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajiun.

Anonymous said...

Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi raji'un.
Ps. What's a kulkhani??? Is it special prayers for the deceased? sf

squarecut said...

May Allah reward the deceased the highest level of Jannah. Indeed it is a blessed month to die! Imagine being so vigilant about every little thing we do and he angel of death finds us in complete submission. What can be better than that?

I will answer this in trepidation about "kulkhani"
It's really more of a cultural practice than anything else. There is actually no valid source for Kulkhani in Islamic practices. Many believe that this practice came to the people of Bangladesh from India, where Hindus offer something similar: invite a lot of people and feed them with mostly "fruits". It's actually an interesting idea. However, most 'ulema did identify it as "bidah" and my advise would be to stay from this or try not to attend. Of course you can't tell this to a people who are still mourning a death in the family. But slowly, at the right time, approach these people about it and teach them about the pure Islamic practice.

If I said anything wrong, please correct me !

Anonymous said...

Thank you to Squarecut for explaining what Kulkhani is. I am Bengali but never heard the word though the practice you described is familiar to me.

Thanks again.

mezba said...

mousehunter: thank you for the comments.

anisa: it is my sincere hope that we all use this Ramadan to reflect, and post-Ramadan we all are a little better versions of ourselves as compared to 30 days ago.

Anon: see below.

Suroor, Liya: thank you.

Sf: please see below (and squarecut's) for an explanation.

Squarecut: obviously there is some debate as to how Islamic the practice is. Personally, I believe that as long as people are just gathering, reading some Quran and saying some prayers for the dead soul, it's all good.

After all, it's not that they are invoking some unIslamic stuff there such as breaking a coconut or pooja-ing the dead guy's picture. The practice may be cultural, but in my opinion it doesn't make it unIslamic.

sonia said...

beautifully said mezba.

just so.