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Mourning across the River: Honoring Gaza's fallen in Amman

Mourning across the River: Honoring Gaza's fallen in Amman

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Sunday 12 November 202305:16 pm
إقرأ باللغة العربية:

"الموت في غزة والعزاء في عمّان"... الحزن القادم من غرب النهر


The scenes of mourning in these homes do not differ much from the traditional mourning scenes in Jordan and the Levant. Men welcome mourners with black coffee, women hold booklets from the Quran, reciting verses for the deceased, followed by the collective prayers that end with a resounding "Ameen". In the background, the voice of Abdul Basit Abdul Samad or Sheikh Mustafa Ismail recites the verse "{Ya Ayyatuha An-Nafs Al-Mutma'innah}", a verse read for the soul of the deceased.*

What distinguishes these from your typical mourning ceremonies which take place at or close to home, is that the deceased is in fact in Gaza. However, not all mourning ceremonies in these homes are held by Gazan families living across the river.

"When all internet and phone lines were cut off, it felt as though the lives of our relatives in Gaza were lost. We almost lost all hope. But then hope was restored with just two words my aunt was able to send on our family WhatsApp group: 'I'm alive'"

Across Jordan, many Jordanian tribes have set up their own open mourning tents, and absentee funeral prayers are held in mosques in every city in Jordan on Fridays for the souls of those killed in Gaza.* At the Gaza Jerash Refugee Camp in the north of the Kingdom, where many residents have close familial ties to those in Gaza, a large mourning tent has been set up. Similar ones have been set up in a number of other refugee camps.

Raseef22 visited some of these homes, and this report details our observations.

“Even grief is delayed”

Many of Rouaa Farhan's relatives in Gaza, all from the Abu Daqqa family, have been killed in Gaza. Reflecting on this tragedy, she tells Raseef22, "In the early days of the war, whenever we would receive news of the death of a relative, the family would hold a day-long mourning ceremony. However, as the war intensified, and so too the number of family members killed, we replaced the idea of mourning with charitable donation and Zakat.”

Under such painful circumstances, Rouaa explains that “even grief for our loved ones is delayed.” Until the war ends, the family hides any genuine expressions of grief, instead contenting themselves by performing absentee prayers for their deceased family. “People have different approaches to sorrow during these times.”

"I open my home for condolences on behalf of the Gazan women who couldn't do so for their loved ones due to the war" – Maha, a Jordanian woman living in Amman

The two days in which Gaza lost communication were filled with anguish. She shares, "When all internet and phone lines were cut off, it felt as though the lives of our relatives in Gaza were also cut off. We almost lost all hope." Rouaa recalls the moment communication was restored, and thus too, hope. "Hope immediately returned with only two words my aunt in Gaza sent on our family WhatsApp group: 'I'm alive'."


“Today, all Jordanians are Gazans”

"I grieve on behalf of the women of Gaza"

We spoke with Maha Altayrawi, a Jordanian woman in her sixties living in Amman. On certain days of the week, she opens up her home to visitors and mourners who wish to offer condolences for those killed in Gaza. Although she has no family in Gaza, Altayrawi believes that “today, all Jordanians are Gazans.”

Her doors are open as a means to alleviate her sense of helplessness and in an expression of solidarity with the women of Gaza who have lost their husbands or children in the war, and are unable to properly mourn or grieve their loved ones. She says, "I open my home for condolences on behalf of the women who couldn't do so for their loved ones due to the war."

"I take part in absentee funeral prayers for those killed in Gaza. It makes me feel as though I'm standing in place of a wounded Gazan who has lost a family member and is unable to pray for their departed souls, which strengthens my faith and resolve"

Although some mothers are not accepting condolences, under the belief that those martyred have left us for a better place, Altayrawi believes that “they need at least one day designated for grief and crying.” At her open house, she seeks to offer this.


Prayers in absentia across Jordan's cities

Since the onset of operation "Al-Aqsa Storm", Omar Al-Nusoor, a Jordanian young man in his twenties, has been consistently waking up early every Friday to make the journey from his home in As-Salt city to the capital Amman. He travels to attend congregational absentee funeral prayers dedicated to the souls of Gaza's martyrs in the King Hussein Mosque.

Like many fellow Jordanians, Omar Al-Nusoor says “we’ve come to feel like we’re Gazans.’ Overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness, he travels from his home in As-Salt to King Hussein Mosque in Amman every Friday to attend congregational absentee funeral prayers.

Like many of his fellow Jordanians, Omar says “we've come to feel like we're Gazans ever since the intense war began on the Gaza Strip." Overwhelmed by feelings of helplessness, Al-Nusoor takes part in congregational prayers at the mosque. In doing so, he feels a greater connection with Gazans suffering and mourning, and those unable to pray for their killed family.

"Just like many, I find myself unable to truly show solidarity with the people of Gaza. So, to alleviate the weight of this helplessness, I take part in absentee prayers for those killed. During those moments, I feel as though I'm standing in the place of a wounded person from Gaza who has lost a family member in the war and is unable to pray for their departed souls. This strengthens my faith and resolve,” he explains.


I haven't held a memorial gathering for my departed family

Shirin Zaqout, a thirty-year-old Gazan who has been living in Jordan with her children since 2016, has yet to host condolences or perform absentee prayers for those she has lost. “I have reached a state of numbness,” she confesses.

Zaqout will grieve her dead relatives, she says, once she knows that her immediate family members are safe. Her sisters, still in Gaza, tell her over the phone that they wish for death. “Not because they love death,” she clarifies, “but because we’ve lost hope.”

She says she is drowning in the constant fear that she might receive distressing news about her family, "My family members are only waiting for death now, unable to mourn our fallen relatives and loved ones.. Everything is killing me mentally, like when my sister tells me, 'We've stopped dreaming of tomorrow. We dream only of today, wondering if we'll make it through another hour.' Or when I hear the phrase, 'We're still alive, Shirin'." She says, "My friends advise me to mentally prepare myself for the worst, but this is a thought I refuse to even entertain."

“The most heart-wrenching moment was when my father said to me: 'Don't be sad if we all become martyrs, my child, because at least we have you to pray for us, unlike entire families who have been wiped out, completely erased from the civil registry in Gaza'.”

She then confesses, "The most heart-wrenching words I've ever heard were when my father said to me: 'Don't be sad if we all become martyrs, my child, because at least we have you to pray for us, unlike entire families who have been wiped out, completely erased from the civil registry in Gaza'.”

This numbness, or what Zaqout describes as “complete paralysis”, is her last remaining coping mechanism.



* "Ya Ayyatuha An-Nafs Al-Mutma'innah": A Quranic verse translating to: 'O soul at rest, return to your Lord – you, well pleased with Him and He, well pleased with you. And enter My Paradise'.

* An absentee prayer, known as “Salat al-Ghaib” or “prayer for the absent”, is a type of funeral prayer performed upon a dead Muslim if they die in a place where there is no one to pray for the dead


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