|Imam Abu Hanifa Mosque in Dushanbe|
Monday, 27 May 2013
(59): Faith, civilisation and diversity (I)
“Please is there anyone going to Dushanbe,” said a gentleman standing before us at the Dubai International Airport, “I am the Consulate-General of Tajikistan, this week there are many people going to Dushanbe, so I have relocated my office to the airport to ensure that people travel without any difficulty, does any of you have a problem with visa?” This was the first impression I got of this central Asian country, former colony of the Soviet Union until 1991. Tajikistan is one of the countries called CIS (Commonwealth of Independent States) comprising other countries like Uzbekistan, Kyrgystan, Turkmenistan and Kazakhstan.
These countries have mixed heritage. They are predominantly Muslim, lived under the Soviet Union, and are now recovering from the disintegration of the Soviet Union to build a new economy. As we boarded the Somon Airline, while cruising through the sky, the clouds waving and the night gradually setting in, the man sitting by my side said “Assalamu Alaikum”, Wa alaikumussalam, I replied. How are you? his expression told me that he doesn’t understand what I was saying. Then he looked again and said in Arabic “min aina anta” where are you from? And I replied “min Nijeriya”, from Nigeria, I responded, surprised by the quality of his Arabic, and the authority with which he speaks, even though his outlook suggests something different from the language he speaks so eloquently. I quickly asked him “wa min aina anta” where are you from? and with a beautiful smile on his face, adjusting his chair and relaxing his seat-belt, he answered “ana min Tajikistan”, I am from Tajikistan.