“I’m from Palestinian origins and roots, Jordanian from the branches to the trunk, Lebanese from pit to the flowers; daughter of the Arab world and I’m proud of it.”
With these words Dr. Mona Sharafi Taym describes herself in her blog. She earned her doctorate in Arabic language and literature specializing in Literary Critique. She has three novels published in Arabic, as well as two literary critique books and from it a critique of the trilogy of Ahlam Mosteghanemi. Additionally she has several other publications to add to her name. She is a critique article writer in the London-based Al-Hayat newspaper, as well as a contributor to a number of Arabic newspapers and magazines.
To add to her literary achievements Dr. Mona is an advocate for the revival of the Arabic language and is keen to disseminate it; and with this mission in mind she participated in a number of conferences and seminars.
Arab Woman Mag is honored to have Dr. Mona Sharafi Taim among our inspirational ladies segment.
Dr. Mona, why did you choose to study Arabic language in particular at a time when many prefer to study foreign languages?
I have a Diploma in Interior design from Jordan, as well as a Diploma in Business Administration from England, as for my Arabic and literature education it came at a later stage in my life after marriage and children. I wanted to publish my writings, so I was keen to master the Arabic language in order to support my talent to present work worth reading. Initially my intent was to earn a bachelor’s degree, but the beauty and depth of the Arabic language and literature made me desire much more. I went on to earn my Masters degree and then PhD, and till today I am enchanted when I research the Arabic language. In my opinion the Arabic language is one of the most beautiful, most rich and most delicate of languages in the world. The real problem is that some of us are ashamed of using it and consider it a facet of underdevelopment and primitive means of communication; many believe that the mastery of foreign languages is an indication of progress, civilization and development. I am not implying that we shouldn’t learn other languages, and to acquire their skills, on the contrary it is a confirmation not to abandon our native language realizing its complexity.
Which one of your literary works is dearest to your heart and why?
Every one of my literary publications is dear to me as each one is distinguished by the topic it addresses.
Why do Arab readers prefer novels than other kind of publications?
Because modern Arabic novels occupy a vast place between modern literary arts, while it corresponds actively with cultural and civilizational development, and accompanies modernity, and has established itself as an intellectual system, which were collected from among the various humanities. Literature in its profound meaning carries psychological, social connotations and touched by the suggestive templates, this in itself is a great value, reflected in the mirror of social life and objective reality, stringing between benefit and pleasure. Novels are a mirror of society, governed by shifts and changes on values, while on the other hand goes along with the public’s taste and modern requirements, it is art that affects the public taste, and describes its values.
Arab women today are either accused of extremism or being superficial? Accused of being non-intellectual, and do not read? To what extent do you find this description correct? And what is the way for Arab women to rise from slumber?
Despite all levels of achievements and accomplishments whether in the work field or in education many Arab women misuse the notion of freedom which does not reflect their values or help in their pursuit. Unfortunately the prevailing negative image of today’s Arab woman is that she stopped self-developing and that she spends her time socializing or shopping and brags about expensive brands, not to mention the many cosmetic surgeries that change the way they look losing their uniqueness as if they have become duplicate images of each other. It must be pointed out here that the most degrading image for women is when using her body as a commodity in commercials turning her into something vulgar and cheap. All this points out that women are giving up their significant roles in society, and opted to hold on to artificial crusts instead. Women have to prove their ability to bring about change in all aspects of life, and their earnest desire to pursue all developments faced by the society at all levels.
Arabic Language today suffers from withdrawal from the Arabic reader, preferring easier foreign languages. Does the writer hold the responsibility for this as many write to please critics and other writers instead of aiming to please the average reader, using complicated words and phrases making his work less desirable? In your opinion what is the cause of this withdrawal? And how can we convince people the importance to come back to the Arabic language?
Voices continue to rise demanding Arab societies not to retreat from reading and books and we always point out the westerner that doesn’t put the book down. So why does the average Arab person stay away from reading books and novels written in Arabic; claiming that the language is too complex to understand and they prefer reading a book written in English or French or even translated into a simpler language? The answer is easy; it is summarized in the minds of many writers, “If the reader doesn’t understand therefor I am creative”.
The mysterious analytical way in writing is what prevails today using unrecognizable symbols and puzzles that drowns the reader into philosophical loss, places, time and meanings are unclear in a the fog of the complexity of the language used.
Personally when I write I try to reach all levels in society through simple flowing language yet filled with beauty that does the job to portray the plot and meaning, this draws the reader closer to the script making it easier to live in its details and complete the book till the end. I use the classical Arabic language as I am against using the everyday spoken dialect in writing not wanting it to overtake our original classical language. At the same time I am against showing off with over use of complex words that are not easily understood even by specialists and critics in the field.
The question that puzzles the mind is why don’t we read? And we are well aware that reading is the key to knowledge. Every book we read takes us to a journey of discovery and opens new horizons. How can we face dangers that surround us when we are oblivious to what is going on? How can we differentiate between good and bad if all we read are titles that have no useful content? How do we help ourselves to self-develop when we hardly read a few lines?
What advice you give any girl or woman who has a seed of creativity within herself?
I advise them to look inside themselves and get to know who they are, and if they have a talent to work on improving it and developing it through studying and research and not to be afraid of seeking new experiences and challenges.
The man behind Dr. Mona is he supportive? And is it a necessity for the woman to have the appropriate environment to be creative and excel?
The man in my life is my husband Dr. Ahmad Taym and he was always encouraging and supportive as he believes in my talent and capabilities and was not afraid of my success, as he too is very successful in his line of work and life. It is important to provide the right calm environment to help women be creative and shine, anxiety does diminish creativity.
We leave it to you to add any additional advice for our readers.
My advice to your readers is as follows:
We don’t always need people’s approval or acceptance on everything we do, and one shouldn’t believe everything that is said, I am not saying that to undermine anyone as we all live among each other, however we are all different from cultures to upbringing and interests; there are those who are driven by their emotions and other who are driven by judgments and logic and there are those who take up different colors and their judgment is based on personal experience. Each person must be his own true fair judge and search for that internal satisfaction that reflects one’s feelings.
It is our duty to follow in the footsteps of those who succeeded although it isn’t a given to succeed like them or outgrow their success and curse our bad luck and envy theirs, and if we do succeed one must remain humble.
To succeed one must self-evaluate before evaluating others, and persevere on giving your utmost, this in turn results in happiness and peace of mind that money, grandeur, fame or beauty cannot ever buy all this is achieved with satisfaction which is the true eternal treasure!
If we took the time to look at people’s lives without fake illusions and misconceptions that drowns us in excuses to find a reason to hang our failures on, we are probably better off than many; many times one might think that God gave others blessings and deprived us, while all along the opposite is the truth.
Finally I would like to thank Arab Woman Mag for choosing me as one of their inspirational women in this issue. May God help you to prosper and shine.