Bhrigu's question

कभी जो याद भी आता हूँ मैं तो कहते हैं के आज बज़्म में कुछ फ़ित्ना-ओ-फ़साद नहीं - मिर्ज़ा ग़ालिब

Location: the valley, California, United States

Bay Area, Strategy Manager, Haas- U. C. Berkeley, Marathons

Wednesday, April 20, 2005

On the meaning of fateeha

The answer to the question in my previous post was X = Bahadur Shah Zafar, the last Mughal "emperor".

I use Platts dictionary for Hindi-Urdu translations. Suhail clarifies the term fateeha in the previous post:

[1]Fatehaa: is the opening chapter of Quraan. It is a v.general and short prayer. Basically it praises God, and it asks of Him to constantly guide us in the right path, and save us from the wrong path of sins.

[2]fatehaa: is also the term used for prayer which is read for the dead and many other ocassions. Consider it as a common noun for any prayer. However except for the words, there is no other linkage. This 2nd 'fatehaa' may or may not include the above Fateeha[1] amongst the other things. Strictly speaking technically this fateeha[2] has popular usage/currency only in the subcontinent. The same practice of prayers for dead isn't followed by the Muslims elsewhere. So in popular slang in Bombay, if we have to reference the end of some event or function or a boring lecture etc, people will say, "chalo bhaai fatehaa padh lo" ["let us come to the ending" ;)] - which if you see is quite contradictory to the reference of Fateeha[1] which means the opening chapter.

So here in the ghazal the poet references the second meaning

why should people come and pray on my grave,
why should people come and put flowers on my shrine
why should they light candles on my tomb,
when I am nothing but a mark of failure.

Of course to make matters confusing, once in a while some people also use the word 'fateeha' to denote the start of some ocassion(going by reference [1]), but this is more of an exception to the rule, and based on the context the crowd can understand what's going on :)


Blogger Suhail said...

"emporer" ??
I think, like me, you are also not "observating" your writings properly ;)

5:00 PM  

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