An interview with Dr. Wahi Faruq LuqmanBlind Yemeni woman has doctorate [Archives:2005/803/Community]

January 3 2005

Ridhwan Al-Saqqaf
Dr. Wahi Faruq Luqman is not only a Yemeni blind woman who attained doctorate, but she is the first blind person that got a high degree after Taha Hussien. Dr. Wahi is now a staff member in King Abdulaziz University in Judah, Saudia Arabia. She is a professor in Law Department, Faculty of Economics and Administration.

She lost her sight while being in the end of the preparatory stage. She didn't give up, but went on joining the secondary, university and higher studies until she obtained the doctorate. She is now the first blind woman with this degree in the Arab World. She stands now in lecture halls in a very confidant and qualified manner to make her dream come true.

“I noticed that the years were passing and the light of my eyes was getting weaker and weaker. I realized the truth that I would be threatened on any day, but rather at any time, by the loss of the most important sense Allah gifts His slaves.”

These were the words that Dr. Wahi started her speech with. In an interview ran by Yemen Times, she started narrating the story of challenge with the loss of vision but not insight.

Following are edited excerpts from an interview with her.

Q: What is the real challenge in your life?

A: I started facing the new life and creating it as all people without weakening or surrendering. I announced challenging all troubles that might encounter me throughout my life. The real test for me was defeating weakness and turning it to success and adapting the requirements of new condition. My sight was weakening when I was 12 and I lost it completely when became 18. Then my father tried to treat me through some doctors who looked for medicine, but all of them failed and confirmed my loss of sight.

Q: Can you tell us how your study started?

A: I studied in normal schools till the secondary level when I got the prize of the Ideal Student. I decided to go to university; I went to the Faculty of Law, Sana'a University in which I had the bachelor degree with an excellent grade. Many people advised me to stop studying and to be satisfied with what I got, but I traveled to Amman to do my M.A. program after two years and a half. I stood in front of the judgment committee to discus “the exceptional conditions that take place in a contract after being signed” in 1991 in Jordan.

I went to Cairo to go on my scientific life, to discuss my doctorate in law about the responsibilities of managers of personal and shareholder companies in Cairo University in 1994. I got the doctorate in 1998.

All people appreciated that study which its discussion was attended by the president of the university who insisted on staying until announcing the result and congratulate me as the first Arab blind woman to attain this degree and a recommendation for exchanging it with other universities.

Since I was a child, I have been carrying a strong desire for self-satisfaction. When I lost my sight, I didn't like to be helped by others, I did my work myself.

Q: What was the way you implement in reading?

A: I rely on close people to read for me or I receive recorded tapes to listen to them. I am fond of reading in all fields; the worst time is when I want to read but I don't find a person to read for me. I don't consider this state a defect and I feel proud when I achieve a goal or accomplish something.

Q: What's after the doctorate? Your work now, as we know, is in King Abdulaziz University in Judah. Why have you chosen teaching?

A: My having chosen teaching is based on reasons. Of those reasons that direct me towards university teaching is my desire for research and study. The university is the place that allows its academic staff members to do and publish researches. I have also the desire to benefit others through presenting knowledge that I have been learning for years to them. I feel extremely happy when I could send information for others. Not only that, I feel that Allah grants me a humble ability of oration. I deliver lectures without being assisted by papers while lecturing; this is a blessing from Allah.

Q: After joining the academic work, how much you are content with it?

A: I think this the best field that is suitable for me and my circumstances, since I have the ability of improvisation. The other works require movements from a place to another or mostly they are administrative works. Therefore, the academic work and joining the university staff was an individual satisfaction that was based on logical reasons as I think.

Q: Haven't you once thought about practicing the legal profession?

A: I didn't choose the legal profession because the doctorate makes me occupy a degree in the university achieving what I have been dreaming of. I didn't have tendency towards the legal profession but I don't mind, however, to present legal consultations. I like to be consulted and to consult others; I offer my view about any topic and another lawyer present it in the court.

Q: How do you evaluate the relationship between you and your university students and colleagues?

A: My relations with my colleagues are well and they treat me respectfully. I always receive cooperation and recognition from them showing the high morality they have. I can't describe that; in short, I felt after a very short period that I'm an old staff member in the faculty. I say their respect for me is great in hearts and my respect for them is greater in my heart.

Q: What are your ambitions?

A: M y ambitions are galore; each one has their distinctive expectations in all fields of life. In the field of my work, I 'm about to make new researches to have promotions. I am now an assistant professor and I hope to have the degree of associate professor and then professor doctor if Allah wills. I have also the desire to open an office for the legal consultations if the circumstances allow me to do so.

Q: What are the difficult and embarrassing situations that you encountered?

A: There are no embarrassing situations. There are no situations that insult either students or the staff.

There's a repeating situation that needs clarification; it's the situation when I reveal that I'm blind. The majority of my acquaintances don't realize that by themselves at the beginning. They say that my eyes and movements are normal, I think that's also of Allah's blessings to me first and it is attributed to my dear guide and sister Rahmah. Her treatment with me makes me behave confidently.

There is another situation that is repeated in every semester, it's the situation when I am asked to introduce myself to the students explaining my circumstances. There's a positive reaction when doing that; I show them that I am sure of their cooperation with me. That's directly reflected in their treatment with me; there remain no barriers between us all.

Q: What is the way you use in preparing and delivering the classes and in making questions and marking them? Whom do you ask for help?

A: I depend on the special reader while preparing for classes and on some previous lectures of famous law doctors that were recorded for me before that. I listen to the books that were also recorded.

Regarding marking the tests, the special reader or Rahmah reads the answers for me with the punctuation mistakes they include and I put the mark accordingly.

Q: How do you spend your day inside the university campus?

A: I almost spend my time in the university in classes, I have 18-hour weekly schedule besides some office hours when I meet my students answering their questions. I meet my colleagues whether in my faculty or other faculties. All this take place with the help of Rahmah who doesn't depart me, control the class if necessary, taking the attendance and seeing other documents I may be obliged to look into. I don't forget to say that even other demonstrators help me in doing that.

Q: How do you spend you time outside the university?

A: I leave the university at 3 pm and I work in my office at home from 5 pm. I read newspapers and magazines and then I start preparing for the lectures of the coming day till 9. I share the family the important TV programs than I go to bed. At the weekend, I visit some relatives and friends and I practice some sport exercises.