Wednesday 5 October 2022 \


Yemeni student’s adventures in Russia

Arab student from Yemen Rafiq Muhammad Salih Al - Humaid, a physicist by profession, is studying at Dagestan State University

Interview with an Arab student from Yemen, Rafiq Muhammad Salih Al – Humaid.

An Arab student from Yemen Rafiq Muhammad Salih Al - Humaid, a physicist by profession, is studying at Dagestan State University. He came from Yemen five years ago. He graduated from the Masters program here, and after that pursues post graduate degree. In an interview today he shares with our readers his  impressions about Russia and Russians, and talks about his studies and homesickness.

- Rafiq, why you chose Russia to go for study?

- Yemenis are sent to pursue studies to many countries: Germany, Britain, America but I chose Russia. Previously, Yemen was divided into two countries: the southern and northern Yemen. And then in the 90s they were united. In southern Yemen the law and order system is similar to Russian. I have two uncles who were educated in Russia. One studied in St. Petersburg and the other - in the Ukraine. They told us a lot about Russia and said that in southern Russia there is Dagestan, where Muslims live in majority. As culture and traditions of Russia are close to us, I chose Russia.

- After arriving in Russia did you meet your expectations or you find it something else?

- I found Russia to be a beautiful country. It turned out that I knew nothing about it. For example, we were told that Russia has no mosques; we did not think we would find mosque here. There are many mosques in Dagestan, and they are very beautiful. I fell in love with this country.

- Tell us a little about your student life. I think at first you did not speak Russian?

When our group of 20 people arrived in Moscow for the first time, we knew nothing. I was 28 years old. We met our fellow countrymen from Yemen, and were invited to the embassy, there we were assigned to different universities and cities, according to our wishes - Volgograd, Nalchik, Kazan. Only four people came to Dagestan. Not knowing the language, on the second day we went to class. As small children, first we learned the alphabets, words and then slowly learned the language. When traveling by train, we could not buy bread, because we did not know the language. I knew a little English, but still it was difficult at first.

- Why chose to study physics?

- In Yemen, of course, there are universities, but no graduate and post graduate studies in physics. There are very few professors. But the problem is not just professors, but also that there are no relevant instruments in laboratories. That is why we were sent to different countries.

- After returning to Yemen, what will you do? Will there be a job for you?

- Yes, Insha Allah. I am still employed as a teacher at school where I taught physics. But when we get the graduate degree, you can teach at the university, Insha Allah. And salary will be higher. But we wanted to learn not only for money, but for the sake of personal development, dissemination of knowledge in the country.

- What is your impression of Dagestani people?

- Dagestani people are very nice and hospitable. During five years of living here we found great support from among Muslims, at any time one can ask them for help. It was interested to know that in such a small region people speak over 30 languages​​! We have only one language - Arabic, there are, of course, some dialects. But you have only 3 million people, and 30 languages!

- You said that many mosques in Dagestan, do you have enough time to worship?

- Of course we do. We visit Friday prayers also. We do not very often go home.

- How do you rate your school?

- Satisfactory. In the master’s level very good. We are helped by our academic supervisors and lecturers. As a foreigner, I have not seen any problems. We are all treated very well.

- Tell us a little about your family.

- I have 12 brothers, mashaallah! In Yemen it is quite normal, but, probably, not only in Yemen. I myself am married and have four children: two boys and two girls. The eldest son is in the eighth grade.

- Your family visited you in Russia?

- No. I would like to live with my family, but it's hard. Children need schooling in Arabic. And, in general, to financially support is also difficult. Our scholarships are not enough for the whole family.

But we keep in touch with relatives. Friends also do not leave us to get bored, we have many friends among foreign students, for example, we have friends from Afghanistan, India, Oman, Iraq. Over there we are separated by borders, but here we live as one family.

- What can you say about Islam in Russia in Dagestan?

- Mashaallah , Muslims adhere to Islam in Dagestan very well. This is especially seen in the villages. People here have strong iman. Amazingly beautiful people.

- Many Arab countries have gone through what the journalists and politicians refer to as "Arab spring", how did it affect your country?

- Our president has resigned, the problems too, insha Allah, will leave. But his followers remained that create problems. When we came together in the 90s, he accumulated all the powers in his hands. Initially, there was a problem with the southern part, they wanted to live separately. Now the President and the Prime Minister are from South Yemen, and what will be in the future, I do not know. But at the moment the situation is calm.

- In those days the Arabs, your ancestors, visited Dagestan and have done a lot for the spread of Islam. In Kazikumuh there is ziyarat of a great scholar, Sheikh Ahmad al-Yamani. Descendants of al-Yamani still live here. You know anything about this?

- Yes, I heard about that ziyarat but have not visited it yet. I heard that there were Yemenis in Dagestan, who came many centuries ago for the spread of Islam. I would like to study these historical processes in details, I am very interested.

- You spent 5 years in Dagestan. What do you remember most?

- I remember the people, the city and living in the dormitory.

Interviewed by Muhammad Alimchulov.


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