- Guest Professor -
Today I feature a very interesting man, previously from Afghanistan, but now from America. He is a man who has been a professor and now is an author - Sayed Rohani.
Welcome Professor Rohani ...
TELL US A LITTLE ABOUT YOUR JOURNEY AS A TEACHER.
I taught English in Kabul University for five years. I came to the USA in 1986, and I taught from elementary to high school in both New York and New Jersey as a substitute teacher. Then I taught English in Essex County College for a few years.
WERE YOU A GOOD READER AS A KID?
I was a very good reader. I started reading when I was in the first grade. I finished reading Holy Quran when I was in the second grade. I taught three of my sons how to read in a single session of ten to twenty minutes, and they always mention about it.
WHEN AND HOW DID YOU BECOME A PROFESSOR?
I became a professor in 1980. My grades were good enough to be a professor in Kabul University.
WHAT DO YOU ENJOY MOST ABOUT BEING AN ACADEMIC?
Learning is the greatest incentive and accomplishment in one’s life. Learning means mental and spiritual growth. One should learn from cradle to the grave.
WHAT IS THE HARDEST THING ABOUT BEING A PROFESSOR?
As a professor, to be always well-prepared of what you are doing helps a great deal to deal with the academic perspective. Building good relationship with the students is very easy. Being a substitute teacher in New York public schools is the most challenging task. Substitute teachers are highly disrespected by the students.
WHAT WERE YOU IN A PAST LIFE, BEFORE YOU BECAME A PROFESSOR?
I was working in an Afghan Tourist Organization as an English and French guide.
WHAT IS YOUR GREATEST ACHIEVEMENT?
My greatest accomplishment is that I am man of faith and spirituality. I have tried not to deceive anyone, nor have I been a harm to anybody, nor have I envied people’s property. I have tried to live with honesty and faith. To explain why with faith, I want to quote a passage from my book Wedding in the Sand Castle:
“I know that the recent development created a gap between us, leading you to question my faith and conscience. Let me explain to you precisely and concisely my principles of life. When I say I am true to you, I have to be true to myself. One cannot be true to himself or herself unless he or she is true to God. There are a lot of people who say they are truthful, but they are not. How can they be truthful if they are not truthful to themselves? How can they be truthful to themselves if they are not truthful to God? In order to be truthful, you need a true foundation. A true foundation in human is a sound conscience. A conscience is sound when it has a sound foundation. A sound foundation requires a true faith. A true faith requires a sound foundation. And God is the perfect foundation for faith. Now that I am talking about I am sincere to you because I’m sincere to myself; sincere to myself because my sincerity is based on faith, which is based on God. Now if I’ll be insincere to you, I’m insincere to myself, which, in fact, necessitates my insincerity towards God. As I’m a man of faith, and I’m convinced that my faith is based on God, I should be sincere to myself. If I’m not, then I’m a reckless young man playing a fool. Now, Sahra, have I been able to explain myself to you?”
WHERE ARE YOU WORKING AT THE MOMENT?
I am self-employed.
WHAT’S YOUR CURRENT POSITION?
DO YOU ENJOY WHAT YOU DO?
Yes, and I know what I am doing.
WHAT TOPICS DO YOU COVER?
All the themes that include freedom, humanity, justice, and other values that enrich life.
DO YOU WRITE ANY PERSONAL WORK?
I do if it exemplifies a set of acceptable values for others.
DO YOU HAVE ANY TIPS FOR NEW WRITERS?
As the current technology has spawned a great number of writers, books grow and proliferate rapidly, prompting tremendous competition among the writers. This situation may galvanize the writers to do their best to succeed in the competition. Therefore, the writers not only should hone their ideas and talent but also come up with fresh ways to market their works successfully to emulate the race. The writers should develop their knowledge in all kinds of subjects. This may give them opportunities to be able to discuss various areas of knowledge with confidence and to choose all kinds of characters being able to express themselves with assurance and satisfaction. The writers should focus attention on values to improve life; to encourage liberty, humanity, and justice; to discourage social, political, and economical corruptions; to propagate faith and spiritualty; and to fight evil as a whole. The writers should be an integral part of the society to uplift it, to inspire it, and to vitalize it.
DO YOU SUFFER FROM WRITER’S BLOCK?
I have not yet faced with such an experience.
WHO IS YOUR FAVOURITE AUTHOR AND WHY?
Once I wrote on Twitter: “My novels are not just like a garden where to see the flowers and smell, but a garden with a library where to be both entertained and enlightened.” Therefore, a literary work should both entertain and enlighten. My favourite authors are Edgar Allan Poe, Ernest Hemingway, Honore de Balzac, Victor Hugo, Hector Malot, Emile Zola, Guy de Mupassant, Shakespeare, Charles Dickens, E. M. Forester, Euripides, Aeschylus, Aristophanes, and others for their plot, style, and perhaps content. And I enjoy works of Emerson, Hawthorn, Melville, and such, for being insightful and profound.
WHAT’S THE GREATEST COMPLIMENT YOU EVER RECEIVED?
People who have read my works have enjoyed them, and I have been reciprocated with complimentary remarks. You know that a lot of talents may have left us behind without having been recognized or even uncloaked. How can you be recognized or rewarded if people do not know about you and your works? Even if people know about your accomplishments, it depends upon how substantial and creditable these people are.
HAVE YOU WON ANY PRIZES OR AWARDS?
When I was a freshman in my hometown high school, and I saw my first short story published by the local newspaper, I was thrilled as if I got an award. Prior to that, I was in the seventh grade, when my poem was ranked as best whereof I got a small award.
WHAT DID THEY MEAN TO YOU?
During that time, they meant a lot to me, but in the passage of time, as I grew up, I found more satisfaction in spiritual development rather than worldly accomplishments.
OTHER THAN WORK, WHAT ELSE DO YOU LOVE?
I love to write, to help my children grow properly, to perform my duty against society, and to be graceful to God for His wonderful creation.
IF YOU HAD AN OPPORTUNITY TO SPEAK TO THE ENTIRE WORLD, WHAT WOULD YOU SAY?
My address to the people:
O peoples of the world, say good bye to the old days and keep up with the new order made possible by the recent technological breakthrough. It is imperative that you choose your own leaders, establish your own constitution and laws, and build your own democratic government. When you choose a leader, you should not depend on luck or chance, but on your firm conviction. You deserve to vote wisely to elect the best leaders to the best of your knowledge who are well versed not only with polity and politics but are also enlightened, refined, and cultivated in many ways. Your leaders should furnish you with all the opportunities available politically, socially, educationally, spiritually, and culturally. Your leaders should exert themselves to furnish their citizens with highest education, health benefits, employment, and other prosperities. Welfare should go to the deserving individuals, but soon they should be put to work to live on their own toils rather than others’ to avoid the incentive of dependency on the public assistance. Make sure that your leader besides being erudite and sensible be unassuming, creative, and compassionate. And if you are certain they lack these qualities, it is necessary that they acquire them.
My address to the leaders:
O leaders of the world, you are leading not a single person, not a single family, not a group of people, but, on the contrary, an entire nation. You are the most important people, not only because you are leading the people, but because you are carrying a tremendous responsibility, responsibility of an entire nation. In fact, an entire population have put their trust in you, and you should be worthy of this trust. You should have a great soul, a good heart, an extraordinary mind, and a sublime conscience to be conversant with your position, to shoulder your heavy responsibility, and to single you out as an exemplary role model worthy of leadership. Let not people comfort you, but you comfort your people. Let not the people cheer you on, but you cheer up the people. Let not the people ease off your burden, but you shoulder your people’s burden. If you want to perpetuate your name and your memory, this is the time and this is your opportunity. You will be remembered more than anyone else for whatever you may have done, and your actions will be justified.
History is witness that war, devastation and cold war have led to nowhere but further atrocities, mistrust, and breach of relationship between the governments, inducing proliferation of the most dangerous weapons; therefore, you must play an important role to bring the nations together to create trust, understanding, and sense of cooperation between the nations.
DESCRIBE YOUR PERFECT DAY.
My perfect day will be to be free to do whatever I want.
WHAT ARE YOUR PLANS / ASPIRATIONS FOR THE FUTURE?
My plans and aspirations for the future are to grow mentally, to grow spiritually, to get rid of financial worries so much so that my family and me can live decently. Of course, sharing my experiences with the people, attracting more friends, and cultivating seed of trust and understanding among the people. are some of my spiritual expectation. Propagating justice, humanity, friendship, and freedom through my writings is my lofty aspiration.
WHAT ARE YOUR FAVOURITE FIVE BOOKS?
Aristophanes’s Lysistrata, Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Hugo’s Les Miserables, Dumas’s Black Tulip, and Hector Malot’s San Famille.
WHAT MIGHT BE THE LAST SENTENCE YOU’D WRITE?
Dear friend Clancy, I would like to cherish your good sentiments, your beautiful mind, and your time and efforts to have recognized my endeavour and to have spent time asking these questions.
NB: Sayed has recently founded a project - 'Friendship Universe'. Here is the link:
NB: Sayed has recently founded a project - 'Friendship Universe'. Here is the link:
Clancy's comment: Thank you, sir. I am sure you and I could spend many hours discussing many topics and I look forward to that day. Appreciate you making the time for this interview.
Think about this!