Sunday, November 11, 2007

Interview with Rohana, Part 1

Here is the first part of an interview with Rider of Rohan, a young Muslim lady. Her blog is called V & L.

I have worked on formatting, but left Rohana's answers mostly unedited (except for some obvious typos). When you see how many languages she speaks, the few mistakes she makes help to highlight how well she commands English, which is not her native language, and this, in turn, helps show just how smart and well-educated this young lady is.

My questions are numbered and in italics.

**Part 1 of Interview Follows**

1) Please describe the area where you live, without being too specific. For example, you could say "suburban Paris", or "a rural area in France", or "a major city in the American southeast".

Currently I live in a small agricultural village in the Southern part of India, close to the western coast, Arabian sea.

2) What is your native language? What other languages do you speak, and how well?

My native language is Dakhni Urdu. Its a mix of Urdu/Persian/and many words from South Indian languages. Urdu is derived from Persian though. I also speak English. I don't know about well. I've been educated using English as the medium of instruction. As you know, India was a colony of Great Britain. I can't guage my fluency. I've studied Englsih grammar in school. But I notice that my language often reflects colloquial (is the spelling right?) English spoken in well, Bangalore (where I studied).

Apart from the above, I speak French, though not as fluently. I can also speak Kannada, which is a local language of the state I live in. I can understand and speak very basic Tamil. Of course I speak Hindi , a North Indian language. I can understand a smattering of Italian, can understand a bit of written Spanish and Portuguese (the Portuguese were here too ;) I can read Arabic, though my comprehension of it sucks. Of course, given the proximity with Urdu, I can also read Persian.

3) About how old are you? Are you married, engaged, single?

I will be 26 soon. I'm single, and I'm looking for someone. Do you know anyone ? I doubt it.. :D

4) What kind of formal education do you have? High school diploma, some university studies, university graduate-4 yrs?

University - post graduate. I am currently studying environmental law.

5) You are a Muslim. How important is Islam in your daily life? Please describe your religious activities. Do you pray at home? Daily? Several times daily? Do you attend a mosque? How often?

Islam is the central point in my life. I realize that I do not and cannot do anything without it acting as a validation in my life. For instance, its impossible for me to fall in love with any man who isn't Muslim. I don't understand it. So practicing all the tenets of Islam is very important to me- the most visible for me are charity/feding the poor/practicing moderation in the way I live/being kind to animals/and human beings/speaking with politeness (which I often lack)/.. So basically, everything I do has a basis in Islam.

My religious activities are to pray five times a day regularly, read the Quran, ponder over its meaning, fasting for Ramadan and also if possible during the other months (which isn't obligatory), giving charity, celebrating Eid- muslim religious festivals that occur twice a year.

Yes, I pray at home. Five times a day - before daybreak, in the afternoon, before the setting sun, immediatley after sunset and at night. Rarely, very late at night.

I don't attend a mosque. As far as I know, women in India don't go to mosques to pray. And I'd rather not. I don't know about other countries but if women here ever gathered at mosques, there would be disaster- make up disasters/gossip /sudden appearance of period disasters/ marriage deals/ demeaning of other women.. etc etc I wouldn't want to go into details. Besides, mosques would not be able to accomodate women. They hardly have space for men.

**End of Part 1**

Her honesty is quite refreshing, as is her sense of humor.

More to follow!

Meanwhile, please visit her blog -- she's usually an occasional blogger, and as I go to press with this, her last post is from September 16th.


anticant said...

As you say, an interesting and accomplished young lady. But I find her outlook on life frightening. She attempts to make sense of everything by pondering on the meaning of the Quran. She says: "For instance, its impossible for me to fall in love with any man who isn't Muslim. I don't understand it." What is it she doesn't understand? The impossibility, or the concept of falling in love with a man who isn't Muslim, or both? Either way, this shows how reliance on an ancient sacred book for your ideas cripples independence of mind and a capacity for rational thought.

Yankee Doodle said...

To me, her views do not come off as crippled, but rather as stable.

You and I are not Muslims, and we disagree with Islam, but to me, it seems evident that Islam may be having a certain positive impact in this young lady's life. It helps stabilize her life.

This is in sharp contrast to much of what we see in the West, where "ancient sacred books" have been so denigrated that they are just not "cool" anymore. Having been deprived of a consistent frame of reference, young people are cast adrift in society, and are vulnerable to whatever rage gets propagated by the elite.

This is exactly why Europeans have no idea how to deal with the plight they are in. Brits are so PC because of the public pressure on them, that anyone proud of being British is a racist, anyone daring to accuse "Asian men" of a laundry list of crimes from pimping to drug-dealing to statutory rape is a racist, anyone daring to suggest those "Asian men" are Pakistani Muslims is a racist....

This freedom from "ancient sacred books" in the UK has resulted in lost girls getting filled with alcohol and ecstasy tablets, then being raped by their Pakistani "boyfriends" on their thirteenth birthday before being used as prostitutes.

Independence of mind can be just as crippled by overreliance on post-modern hedonistic secularism.

anticant said...

Freedom inevitably involves freedom to go to hell as you choose. Bad choices are the product of poor education, unintelligent thinking, and peer pressure. No-one is stupid unless they have physical brain damage. We are all capable of far higher mental and practical achievements than most of us aspire to.

The answer to a free society's ills is not authoritarianism, religious or secular, but encouragement to everyone to think for themselves, and to use the brains which God - as you would say - has given them. Reliance on sacred books does not automatically produce wisdom. If it did, Islam would be a paradise on earth and you would not be writing your blog.

I still want to know why it is 'unthinkable' for this young lady to fall in love with or marry a non-Muslim? Surely that is not a good thing?

We should beware of dismissively over-generalising about others as you do about Europe and the UK having "no idea", being "so PC" etc. I am sometimes tempted to make similar sweeping statements about Americans, but surely a little more discernment and depth is called for, don't you think?

Rider of Rohan said...

Let me put this in another way. Its not that I can't fall in love with someone who isn't a Muslim, its just that I wouldn't want to. I am human after all, but I'm not about to disclose my personal feelings/life in a public space. For me being in love with someone would also mean having some idea of where our relationship is headed, and I would like the end point of it to be marriage. And I feel its always better to live with someone who shares your values and your way of life rather than having to battle out every opinion and fundamental belief every moment except when you're feeling so "loving". So for me it makes sense that I'd rather be in love with someone who shares my values, and not only my religion.

I wouldn't call it a "crippling" of independance because its a choice I made to follow this way of life. Rationality is a state of mind.