Saturday, January 5, 2008

Interview with Rohana, Part 2

Here is the second part (Part 1) of an interview with Rider of Rohan, a young Muslim lady who lives in India. Her blog is called V & L.

My questions are numbered and in italics.

**Part 2 of Interview Follows**

6) How familiar are you with other religions? Specifically, how familiar are you with Christianity and Judaism? Are there other religions that you are familiar with? If so, name them. Do you have friends who are adherents to these religions?

I can't say I would know about the actualy practitioners of each faith but I could say I know fairly well about other religions. I am quite familiar with Christianity. I studied in a missionary school run by the nuns of Saint Joseph of Tarbes. My parents studied in such schools was well, so did my siblings. The reason being that they were the only kind of school that in those times offered excellent education and were segregated (girls only or boys only). I also know about Chrisianity beause I've attended mass several times, and no offence meant but it was really amusing to watch all the Catholic girls drink wine and eat bread at the mass. I used to sing all the hymns, and some of them even my mother used to sing. I've been to chapels and churches, and copied praying from my friends. I suppose that's how I know about Christianity. I know about Judaism from my parents who taught me about the three major religions that were important not only to Islamic history but also to Muslims in general. Though I've read parts of the Bible, I cannot say the same of the Torah. I've only read about the Prophets in Judaism. and you must know that India has long been associated with Judaism/Christianity and Islam. Many Baghdadi Jews who migated some eight hundred odd years ago still live here. And of course, St. Thomas you would know visited India. And there is an ancint Syriac Bible in Southern India, which was hid from the Portuguese during the Inquisition. Syrian Christians migrated here centuries ago. And then Islam - Arabs had conducted trade with Indians for centuries before Islam. And there was Hindu king from Southern India who met Prophet Mohammed in Mecca and became a muslim and built what is alleged to be the first mosque in India. I am only familiar because its part of Indian history, what we learnt in school. Right from Adam's foot in Sri Lanka, to the Middle Ages to the Crusades, to Islam in India.. its really part of having lived here.

I am familiar with Buddhism, Jainism, Zoroastrinism and Hinduism.

I've never had friends who were Muslims. Its a different story why. But I always had friends who were Hindus and many Christians, Parsis, Buddhists and Jains. Haven't come across any Jews in school except for my neighbour in childhood who was a Jew married to an Anglo-Indian woman. Brilliant man.

7) In the non-Muslim world, there is a concern about a concept from Islam known as al-taqqiyah. Please tell me what you know about al-taqqiyah. What place does it have in Islam? What place, if any, does it have in your life?

Taqiya is supposed to be a outer concealment of one's faith (i.e. Islam) when under imminent danger, as long as your heart contradicts the rejection of faith. But it is not to be used if a person does not have a responsibility towards family. Also it is used only in situations of grave peril. I'm not sure what the concern is about. Maybe concealment of faith by the terrorist .. ?

It does not have a very important place in Islam mainly because , barring the first few Muslims at the time of the Prophet peace be upon him, in later years there was no real danger to a Muslim professing his faith. And fighting an adversary who attacked you because of your faith was justified. I have heard of Shia muslims who declare taqiya to be an important part of Islam, mainly because of the persecution their religious leaders faced, or their community faced. So in my view its hardly a concept that is or should be given importance unless there is a situation of a danger, a threat to life, when you declare yourself to be a non-Muslim if only to safeguard your life. Eventually, its left to each person's conscience to decide on the best course of option.

Well, it doesn't have any place in my life. I don't think I'm interested in concealing my faith because I hardly believe such a situation would arise, and even if it did, I find it pretty useless; you know, those lie-detector tests etc.. :D Best to stand up for what you are.

**End of Part 2**

Rohana can be a little hard to get in touch with. I received these answers back when I received the answers to my first five questions. I also have an answer to Question 13. However, Rohana has not been in touch for a few months, neither has she been blogging, so I don't know when I can expect answers to 8-12.

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