Mummy’s Quran

27 Jun

There used to be a very popular show on good ol’ PTV called ‘Neelaam Ghar’ (literally meaning ‘Auction House’). It was a general knowledge quiz show that ran for many many years through the 70’s and 80’s, hosted by a man who ended up becoming a household name throughout Pakistan.

You can’t talk about Neelaam Ghar without mentioning Tariq Aziz. The two are synonymous. Even as I type these words I can hear his deep sonorous voice saying those famously dramatic opening words….’Dekhti aankhon aur suntay kaanon, aapko Tariq Aziz ka salaam pohnchay.’

The show encouraged the audience to participate, with commercial sponsorships for specific questions or question rounds, and generous prizes as giveaways. Tariq Aziz would conduct the show with his characteristic informal bonhomie, frequently referring to audience members and guests as ‘mere dost’  or ‘mere bhai’.

I doubt if any other PTV personality could have pulled off the show with as much flair as he did.

Those were days when Pakistan Television (inaugurated by President Ayub Khan in 1964) was all we had in terms of visual entertainment and Neelaam Ghar was up there in the list of favourite shows, and Mummy watched avidly.  I remember my sister had even made a bunch of flash cards with Neelaam Ghar-style questions (answers written at the back) and the show would be re-enacted at home where my sister would be Tariq Aziz and I the hapless audience.

It was on one of the episodes that Tariq Aziz either introduced a guest who had written the entire Quran in his own hand, or spoke about someone who had done so. Mummy was struck by something he said at the time…something along the lines of God giving everyone the ‘naik taufeeq’ (good intention) to do something similar.

And that’s all the impetus Mummy needed. She decided she would write the Quran too.

All she had to bank on was her ability to write neatly and with precision, a skill that earned her a good reputation amongst her teachers at school. That, and her intrinsic willfulness that carries her through the most nitpicky tasks.

She was untrained in the art of calligraphy, but that didn’t faze her. She just sent my father to buy her some flat-nibbed pens and a pile of pretty bordered paper and set to work.

It took her around five years to complete the task at hand, page by painstaking page. It was very difficult going, and for my mother to say something like that tells you a lot. She had to write with grave concentration, as even one mistake meant she would have to do the entire page all over again. This she learnt the hard way.

So she wrote in the mornings when she was at her freshest, and even then for just half an hour, as that was the most she could manage. This is how five hundred and eighty three pages managed to get covered in neat, beautiful Arabic text, day after day, month after month, year after year.

And this gem of an endeavour, a testament to Mummy’s faith and tenacity, has been bound and covered in ochre velvet and lies on a shelf in the house, unseen, unremarked, forgotten by and large. Family and some friends are all who know about Mummy’s hand-written Quran.

What matters hugely to my mother is the fact that she managed to show her work to the spiritual leader of our community of Dawoodi Bohras,  Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, whom she humbly requested to inscribe in his own hand, the opening phrase.

quran bismillah

In the name of Allah, the most Beneficent, the most Merciful.

This Arabic phrase is spoken before embarking on anything significant, and having the ‘Bismillah’ written by Maula was a foregone conclusion in Mummy’s scheme of things…..which is why she left those areas blank, until the opportunity came along….

it had been written in blue ink but had faded over time, so Mummy went over it with a gold pen

Syedna Burhanuddin wrote the first Bismillah in his inimitable lovely hand atop the Surah e Fateha, and then, to the surprise of all present, passed it on to his second son, Shehzada Mufaddal Bhaisaheb, to grace the beginning of the first chapter with a Bismillah of his own, a move that sparked a buzz in the family as being something rather significant.

That was around 15 years ago.

Recent events have revealed the foresight and wisdom of Syedna Burhanuddin, a fragile yet powerful presence in our lives, whose centenary we all celebrated the world over, just a few months ago.

in the hand of Syedi Mufaddal Bhaisaheb

Mummy’s Quran will have the honour and distinction of being inscribed by two Da’i’s, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin, and his successor, now titled Syedi Mufaddal Bhaisaheb Saifuddin.

She has also stuck on the first page an autograph she procured sometime in the late 50’s, when she was still a school girl, of Syedna Taher Saifuddin, the eminent and much-loved father of Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin.

a revered autograph

this is stuck right above….

…this.

the first page…

the last page..

and all that lies betwixt..

the 100 names of Allah

Surah e Lahab

pages…

…and then some

And to think Mummy has Neelaam Ghar and Tariq Aziz to thank for the inspiration. 🙂

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44 Responses to “Mummy’s Quran”

  1. shazia hasan June 27, 2011 at 9:08 pm #

    very well written.Your mom will be so proud of you,i bet!

    • munira June 28, 2011 at 8:13 am #

      Thank you Shazia…:)

  2. Nafisa Miyajiwala June 28, 2011 at 3:42 am #

    Wow! What patience and perseverance! The Quran must be your mom’s most prized possession.

    • munira June 28, 2011 at 8:15 am #

      Indeed, Nafisa ben! It is a prized possession for us all. For Mummy, it is one of the feathers in her cap of seemingly insurmountable tasks.

  3. Moiz Miyajiwala June 28, 2011 at 7:43 am #

    WOW! I didn’t know of this until now. Really nice handwriting and what a history. I would love to have a copy of this Quran.

    • munira June 28, 2011 at 8:23 am #

      Hehe, I think Mummy was a bit jealous of all the attention Abbaji is getting on this blog 😉 This is Her long overdue turn to be in the spotlight!
      To be honest, we forget so many things that Mummy has done over the years, or we take them for granted. As I wrote this, I got the chance to really look at her Quran all over again and marvel anew at this amazing accomplishment. We’re talking 583 pages of careful calligraphy here after all!
      Thanks for your comment Moiz bhai, I’ll make sure Mummy reads it 🙂

  4. Shoaib A. Farooqui June 28, 2011 at 2:52 pm #

    A remarkable feat indeed AND the calligraphy looks like it was done by a professional! This is so impressive! I’m in love with the quality of paper, the design, alignment of the all the text, bookmark and even the binding. I think the best part of it all is that she is a part of the male-dominated league of those who authored Quran since the beginning of Islamic history. Hats off!

    • munira June 28, 2011 at 3:15 pm #

      I know! Never thought of it quite like that before though.
      Her writing IS pretty graceful isn’t it? The more I look at it, and these pictures above, I’m surprised I didn’t think of writing about this myself….Mum had to suggest it to me.
      Now I think this post is gracing my blog with its beauty 🙂

      • Shoaib A. Farooqui June 29, 2011 at 7:17 am #

        Heheh well better late than never 🙂

  5. Aziza June 28, 2011 at 4:56 pm #

    A totally awesome feat, and very lovingly expressed in this blog.

    • munira June 28, 2011 at 5:07 pm #

      Very awesome indeed, is what I increasingly feel. We didn’t pay all that much attention while she was writing it, it was just one of the various projects that she multi-tasked with over the course of a productive day.
      But it really IS something to be proud of. 🙂

  6. saks June 28, 2011 at 6:31 pm #

    Fantastic Mun. Love the way you’ve put thoughts and feelings into words. Your memory of neelam ghar and tariq aziz are remarkable. You refreshed my memory. i’m glad you have this blog for keeping coz the Quran is mine 😀 I’m writing this comment while mom sits next to me and abbaj prompts me from the back to not to forget to put in my email address … LOL

    • munira June 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm #

      HAHAHA! He’s so funny, he always puts in MY email address after writing his comments so when they appear on my blog it looks like I wrote the comment not him!
      Thanks Sax, and I’m glad you’re keeping the Quran….you’ll take amazing care of it I know 🙂

  7. Farida. Ht. June 29, 2011 at 9:56 am #

    lovely! =’)

  8. mohammedi June 30, 2011 at 4:19 pm #

    how can I really appreciate your writing efforts?

  9. Muffaddal Kapasi July 2, 2011 at 6:24 am #

    No human being in this entire world can hav correct and accurate words to appreciate the effort of ur mom, cOx the work she has done is simply remarkable and out of this world, Mashallah

    • munira July 2, 2011 at 6:12 pm #

      You’re right Mufaddal, that’s so true.

  10. Juzar Noorani July 3, 2011 at 5:06 am #

    Absolutely wonderful. Its truly applauded.
    The designs and the writing also seems wonderful from the picture.
    Then only thing I would request you to do is correct the phrases “Mummy’s Quran” in your article.
    BTW would love it if you could send this article to mumineen.org with emphasis on the Bismillah event.
    Thanks

    • munira July 3, 2011 at 6:49 am #

      Thank you for your comment 🙂 But tell me, why do you want me to correct the title of this post? What is your objection to it? Would be very interested to know….

  11. Rashida July 3, 2011 at 5:14 am #

    Simply a marvel! WOWWW! is all that i can come up with! Mubarak Mubarak Mubarak to her! AND to be able to get Mola to write the Bismillah, is another miracle in itself,,, not many people get that opportunity.
    Congratulations!

    • munira July 3, 2011 at 6:52 am #

      Will convey your mubarakbadis to my mother, Rashida, thank you so much for your appreciation!

  12. Muhammed Mustafa Bhinderwala July 3, 2011 at 10:04 am #

    Congratulations to your mom and the whole family who got the barakat of Our Spirtual Father Syedna Muhammed Burhanuddin ( TUS ) and his successor Syedi wa Moulai Aali Qadr Shazada Mufaddal Bhaisaheb

    • munira July 3, 2011 at 5:29 pm #

      Why, thank you! 🙂

  13. intersoul July 3, 2011 at 6:06 pm #

    Absolutely incredible! Beautiful handwriting and photography skills. Very inspiring and Mubarak for getting all three Dais to be a part of it, it is a grand accomplishment ! 🙂

    • munira July 4, 2011 at 9:50 am #

      Thank you for your comment!

  14. Mohamed Hussein July 4, 2011 at 3:47 am #

    Very inspiring and beautifully done. Thank you for sharing with us.

  15. A al-Anwar July 4, 2011 at 6:45 pm #

    I chanced upon this blog while trying to do some research on Sidhpur’s architecture. I, too, am Sidhpuri. I just wanted to say kudos for all your posts and more importantly, Mubarak for this Quran Majeed that rests in your home. Well wishes to your family, keep up the good work.

    • munira July 4, 2011 at 7:48 pm #

      Well, hello fellow Sidhpuri, how lovely to see you on my blog.
      Thank you for stopping to take a look, and for your warm wishes 🙂
      Hope to see you more often.

  16. Abde Syedna Murtaza July 5, 2011 at 1:53 pm #

    SubhanALLAH!
    All I can say is that inshallah this book is going to protect her & enlighten her grave.
    As Moula Muqaddas Nass & Mansuus has already rewarded her with their stamp of approval, ALLAH will reward her too here & there after Inshallah.

    Fi-aman-ALLAH

  17. Single Malt Monkey July 30, 2011 at 7:03 am #

    I think this is one of the most amazing things I’ve ever seen. So beautiful, written with such love and attention. Such dedication. What a family treasure !

    • munira July 30, 2011 at 9:55 pm #

      Awww, on behalf of my mom, thank you so much Alan!
      Yep, a family treasure alright 🙂

  18. auntyuta August 3, 2011 at 9:16 am #

    Yep, a family treasure alright. I admire dedication like this. I was also fascinated by the letter your father received from his father. Thank you so much for sharing it!

    In the 1980s our grandsons loved to play with our youngest daughter who was born in December 1978. Another daughter of ours was born twenty years earlier (in December 1958!). This daughter had twin sons in June 1979. The twins loved to come and visit to play with their aunt. When we took the three of them on outings people would often think they were triplets!

    • Munira December 7, 2011 at 12:47 pm #

      Wow Aunty Uta, that must have been so strange! 🙂

  19. Farida H December 6, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

    I discovered your post today from a friend and glad that I did. This is a lovely post – very well-written and such a great story. And what a valuable treasure for your family to preserve for years to come!

    • Munira December 7, 2011 at 12:49 pm #

      Thanks Farida H. I’m glad you enjoyed it 🙂

  20. Hozefa Dahod December 6, 2011 at 9:51 pm #

    I got this link from my one of friend, She posted this link on her facebook wall, Was quite enthu to click over it and see the reason behind her post.. Was really amazed to see a beautiful innovation created before 20 years , No words are enough to praise this good work, Excellent example of Calligraphy, and all i can say is her innovation and hard work has got his fruits by Hand written BIsmillah of Dai (T.u.s) and His mansus (T.u.s) . Mubarak , Mubarak to your MOM and your all family..

    • Munira December 7, 2011 at 12:52 pm #

      Awww, on behalf of my darling Mummy, THANK you for your lovely comment!
      And thanks for letting me know how you got here, I always find it interesting to know how my posts get around 🙂

  21. Barbara Backer-Gray October 26, 2012 at 12:25 am #

    My goodness, what a task! And beautiful handwriting.

    • Munira October 26, 2012 at 6:37 pm #

      Crazy level of dedication Barbara! 🙂

  22. mohammedi mamoowala January 29, 2014 at 7:29 pm #

    Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddinn ra has not missed an opportunity to hint at Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin tus as his successor (mansus) . Here why he did not ask to write Bismillah to any one except Mufaddal bhai saheb(at that time).on mummy’s Quran… Aaqil ko ishara kafi hai

    mohammedi mamoowala

  23. Husaina Aladine May 20, 2015 at 3:52 pm #

    I am very impressed by your Mummy and by you too. This post shows also the barakat of these two BismilLah. Thank you Munira behn.

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