Di Bawoh Rang Ikang Kering
Random Ramblings of A Retired Retainer


Thursday, June 30, 2005
First, read the news item here. You might have caught it in Wednesday's Malay Mail. The news had one Arab with what seems to be the highly unlikely name of Abu Faraj. It could not be a typographical error because it was spelled the same on all the sites.
If you are still mystified, faraj in Arabic, as learnt in religious classes is vagina. Vagina is not uncommon in the Arab world but naming someone "vagina" is definitely uncommon. And this Abu Faraj is a male to boot. People who knew him might be so pissed at him at times. In anger, they might call him a twat or a c*nt. But to have that name in your passport boggles the mind. Thus, when my eldest daughter chanced upon the news and brought it to my attention, we conjectured that:
1. The news was cooked up by somebody who knows nuts about Arabic.
2. Abu Faraj has parents with twisted sense of humour.
3. Abu Faraj has parents who wanted him to grow strong as The Boy Named Sue in the Johnny Cash song.
4. The Libyan who wrote out Abu Faraj's birth certificate had an axe to grind with Abu Faraj's illiterate parents.
5. Faraj means something else in Libya.
6. Abu Faraj is not his real name and Al-Qaeda ran out of noms de guerre simply because there were too many of them.

Whether Abu Faraj is a top-ranking Al-Qaeda operative as Bush and Condolezza Rice wanted to believe does not interest me as much as whether Al-Jazeera carried the story. If they did, how did they pronounce the name? I remembered, a long time ago, we had to purposely mispronounce the name of Zulkifar Ali Bhutto. While BBC and other broadcasters used boo-toh, we were told to say it as ba-toh. Same thing with a town in Sarawak. It gave problems to newsreaders, especially the ladies until the Sarawak government took pity on us and renamed it Sri Aman. The original name, if translated into Arabic would mean faraj too.

I wanted to get to the, er, bottom of this and Googled for the word. Boy, do I feel like an idiot.There seems to be other meanings of faraj. There must be because there is Doa Faraj although I am not sure what the supplication is for. Then, there was an Arab village by the name of Ummi-al-Faraj before it was destroyed. If you tour Egypt, you might want to visit the tomb of Sultan Faraj ibn Barquq. There is even an Arab poet named Faraj. The list goes on.
Just goes to show you that our ustaz and ustazah didn't tell us everything.