Volkskrant journalist Fokke Obbema wrote an interview series about the meaning of life. At the end of this series, he called on readers to write a 'self-interview' with the main question 'What is the meaning of our life?' Saeed Al-Gariri took the challenge and wrote a reflection on his own life and the lessons he has learned.

By Saeed Al-Gariri

In the mid-1970s, when I was 16, I read The Woman and the Sex by the Egyptian writer Nawal El Saadawi, one of the most important and well-known feminists in the Arab world. In her book she breaks through many political, religious and sexual taboos, and is an opponent of those in power and their abuse of religion - all those in power, all religions. This important book opened my mind to forbidden questions about the existence, religion, afterlife and life of my conservative society. It also determined my intellectual direction. I went to university to study, majoring in literature and criticism. Later I became a writer, poet and professor at the university for more than twenty years. I was then one of the leaders of the peaceful national resistance.