Monday, August 30, 2010

Funerals are Easier to Attend when you Attend the Right One!

This is a funny story, mixed with tears.  Our lovely Egyptian friend lost her father last week.  Very sad.  We went to the funeral to pay our respects, as you do.  We took our bus there, all of us expats from work.  The driver got lost many times, but we finally we found the mosque (it was one of thousands).  We all kind of looked at each other, and the Egyptians looked at us white people, and we took a deep breath and walked in.  When you go to a funeral, the room is divided with a wall, and the women sit on one side, and the men on the other.  The 2 men went to the men's side and we went to the women's.  Us white women sat in a row, facing about 6 Egyptian women, nodded and sat quietly. Our friend wasn't there, but we thought, its just the way here (by the way, it was about 930 at night!)  They begin whispering and poking each other, and finally, one comes over to tell us we are in the wrong place. (afterwards, my friend's said that would have been me if the situation had been reversed- I seem to be the spokesperson for our group!) The wrong place!  It is not Dalia's father's funeral, its someone else's!  Now that I look back, I laugh, because we went to the WRONG FUNERAL!

We left, and our friend's from work came to get us.  It turns out we were at the right mosque, but there were 2 funerals that night.  We just couldn't read the Arabic signs. So that was an interesting cultural/language experience!

Once we arrived at the funeral, it was very sad. It was more of a memorial, as her father had been buried the day before, on the day he died.  It is a Muslim tradition to wash and wrap the body in a certain way, and to bury it immediately.  I wonder if it also has something to do in the past from the heat.  
It was silent the entire time we were there, except for the man reading from the Quoran. It sounds beautiful.  I wish I could understand it.  We hugged our friend, and then sat down and it was a time to reflect.  And it was so deeply peaceful and heartbreaking to sit in silence and reflect on loved ones and loved ones who have passed, and to hold my grieving friend's hand. I found I really focused on the Quoran reading and it was such a profound experience, to sit in silence in a holy place and reflect on life and the passing of life. 

A Mosque in Islamic Cairo

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