August Issue 2010
Interview: Rooha Ghaznavi, painter and former photographer
“My advice to the youth would be, open the Quran and read it yourself instead of trusting someone else”
– Rooha Ghaznavi
Q: Have your religious beliefs changed with time?
A: Actually, I come from a religious family. At a later stage in my life, I naturally started reading the translation of the Quran and discovered religion.
Q: How have your religious beliefs changed your lifestyle?
A: I had always been very aggressive and domineering. But religion has influenced my life. I am God-conscious now and I try to be a better person. I started saying my prayers and I watch Peace TV regularly. Previously, I would step on other people’s toes, just for a few laughs. Now I am careful not to do that and hurt anyone’s feelings.
Q: Is Islam the panacea for all the ills plaguing this country?
A: I think we are only taught the five pillars of Islam and nothing else. The maulvis in the mosques don’t tell us about Haqooq-ul-Ibaad — how to behave in society and with family; not to accept bribes, lie and be hypocritical. I think all age groups are devoid of these qualities. Even I am not pure, but at least I am aware of my shortcomings.
Q: How does your work as a painter tie in with your beliefs?
A: I went from figurative drawings to calligraphy and still life. Bukhari’s hadith and several other hadiths prohibit figurative drawings. They don’t give any reasons for it, but I have stopped doing figurative drawings.
Q: Does your work reflect your belief in Islam?
A: I was conveying messages through my calligraphy. Translations of the Holy Quran and social messages are still present in my work.
Q: Are you regretful of your past and the work you had done?
A: I am not sure whether I am regretful of my past. But, yes, there are regrets.
Q: Did you give up photography as a result of your religious beliefs?
A: I gave up photography long before I got into religion. We just had a handful of models and I got bored. I quite enjoy my painting now. I do still life, I do foliage, but I don’t exhibit — and I am quite happy with that.
Q: Are we at odds with the West?
A: I don’t think the West should have an issue with our belief system. It has no bearing on it.
Q: Where do you get your knowledge about religion from?
A: I basically listen to Peace TV. I follow Peace TV because they reference all their work. I have also read several translations of the Quran.
Q: What do you think of Farhat Hashmi and Al Huda?
A: People say “Us ne Quran sab ke liye khulwa diya hai” (She introduced the Quran to all of us).
Q: Is the youth being led on a dangerous path in the name of Islam by certain vested interests?
A: It’s easy to mould the youth. It stems from their not being well versed in the Quran. My advice to the youth would be, open the Quran and read it yourself instead of trusting someone else.
Q: Does the world view of Islam bother you?
A: I don’t care about the world’s image of Islam. We lay too much emphasis on what the world thinks of us. I only care about what Allah thinks of us.
Maheen Bashir Adamjee is an APNS award-winning journalist. She was an editorial assistant at Newsline from 2010-2011.