Recording history

Abu Huraira reported Allah's Messenger (may peace be upqn him) as saying:

"Verily Allah does not look to your faces and your wealth but He looks to your heart and to your deeds".

Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) (Sahih Muslim - Book 45, Hadith 42)

Biography questions

Please find below a list of sample questions to help you/others recall your/their life journey (so far). Be sure to record facts and figures - but remember usually the most interesting information can lie in the smaller, finer details.

When interviewing others, actively listen to what they say. And though you should not be afraid to ask personal or deep questions, be respectful of their privacy and sensitive to their needs and feelings.

Full name: .......................................................................

1. Early childhood

  • 1.1 When and where were you born?
  • 1.2 Do you recall any interesting stories regarding your birth?
  • 1.3 What is your earliest memory?
  • 1.4 Who are your parents & grandparents? How did your parents meet?
  • 1.5 How many brothers & sisters do you have? Are they older or younger?
  • 1.6 What were your parents like? What is your strongest image of your father? What is your favourite memory of your mother? Which of their qualities do you possess?
  • 1.7 What was your childhood home like? Is there memorable moments or special events that you have with your mum/dad/family?
  • 1.8 How did your parents and grandparents pass away?
  • 1.9 Who was the most influential person to you as a child?
  • 1.10 What did you do during the summertime?
  • 1.11 What was your favourite game?
  • 1.12 Did you have any nicknames?
  • 1.13 What were you most afraid of as a child?
  • 1.14 Do you recall any interesting stories related to you by any of your elder relatives that you
have never forgotten and you think are worth telling your grandchildren?
  • 1.15 Do you wish you had been raised differently? How so?

2. School

  • 2.1 Which school did you attend? Describe a typical school day.
  • 2.3 Who was your best friend?
  • 2.4 What was your favourite subject to study?
  • 2.5 What was your favourite activity (e.g. sport)?
  • 2.6 Is there a teacher that you remember having been especially influential?
  • 2.7 How would you describe yourself as a student, both socially and academically?
  • 2.8 What did you like most about school? Least?
  • 2.9 Who was your hero growing up and why?
  • 2.10 What was your favourite songs & music growing up?
  • 2.11 What would people you know find surprising about you as a teen? What were some of the crazy trend you or your friends went through?
  • 2.12 Did you attend college or university? If yes, what did you do and why did you choose it? What was college/university life like? If you could do it again, would you take a different academic path, or are you satisfied with the route you followed? What on-campus activities did you participate in? If you didn't attend college or university, would you have like to gone? What would have studied and why?

3. Family

  • 3.1 How many children do you have and what are their names?
  • 3.2 What is your goal as a parent?
  • 3.3 What does the word "family" mean to you?
  • 3.4 How would your children describe you as a parent?
  • 3.5 How do you describe yourself as a parent?
  • 3.6 For each child: what memories do you have of your children being born, what habits did they have as a child, what are you most proud about them, any regrets, what hopes do you have for them, what advice would you give them?
  • 3.7 In what ways have your parents influenced you the most?
  • 3.9 What was your relationship with your parents when you were older?
  • 3.11 Who are you closest to in your family? Why do you think you're so close to them?
  • 3.12 Who do you admire most in your family and why?
  • 3.13 Is there any family member that you've lost whose death has deeply affected you? Why does their death affect you more than others?

4. Society

  • 4.1 What was the society like when you were younger? For example, how did people socialise, what job did most people have, what was the education like, how did people travel, what type of clothes did they wear, what was their daily meal, etc.
  • 4.2 What good qualities/practices have we lost over time?
  • 4.3 What good qualities/practices do we have in our modern life which the elder generation could have benefited from?

5. Optional: Living abroad (e.g. life in UK)

  • 5.1 When and how did you come to UK (legally, transport)? Other than UK what other countries were popular destination for Bengalis then?
  • 5.2 What was your first view of UK?
  • 5.3 How did the local/native treat you?
  • 5.4 How did you try mixing with other multicultural people? What was your first speaking encounter like with a native?
  • 5.5 Describe a typical day
  • 5.6 How did you stay in touch with other family or friends in UK?
  • 5.7 How did you stay in touch with loved ones back home? How often did you travel back (when did you first travel back)? What did you miss the most about Bangladesh?
  • 5.8 What pressure (e.g. financial, emotional) were you under? How did you cope with this?
  • 5.9 Is there any thing you prefer in UK compared to Bangladesh? How has living in UK changed you as a person?
  • 5.10 If the probashis wanted to go back, what advice would you give to help them settle quickly (e.g. cultural things to be wary off, how to speak with people, how to manage their home, seeking medical attention, etc)?
  • 5.11 Any advice to young Bengali generation living abroad?

6. Career

  • 6.1 What was your first job?
  • 6.2 What was your best job?
  • 6.3 What was your worst job?
  • 6.4 Who was the biggest influence in your career?
  • 6.5 Any funny or memorable moments from those early years?
  • 6.6 What tips would you give others seeking entry into your profession?
  • 6.7 What would've been your ideal job?

7. Marriage & children

  • 7.1 Who did you marry and when? How did you first meet?
  • 7.2 Describe your wedding.
  • 7.3 How long have you been married? Best and worst thing about your marriage? Did marriage change you in any way?
  • 7.4 What is the most special thing that you've done for your wife/husband?
  • 7.5 What is the most special thing that they've done for you?
  • 7.6 What advice would you give to the youngsters on how to have a successful happy marriage?

8. Hobbies & interests

  • 8.1 What is your favourite: food, fruit, drink, film, book, song, poem, holiday spot?
  • 8.2 Which sports do you like the most (if any)?
  • 8.3 What do you like to do in your spare time? Most memorable/funniest/embarrassing moment?
  • 8.4 How do you manage time for such activities?
  • 8.5 Who is your favourite sporting idol/movie hero/author?

9. Politics / history

  • 9.1 What do you consider to be the most significant political event that has occurred during your life?
  • 9.2 Which political figure do you most admire?
  • 9.3 Other than the present, which historical era/period would you like to have lived in?
  • 9.4 Have you ever fought for a political cause?
  • 9.5 What would you like to see change in the current political/social atmosphere?
  • 9.6 If you could meet any historical figure, of the past or present, who would it be and why?

10. General

  • 10.1 What is your definition of "happiness"? What is your happiest memory?
  • 10.2 What is your most memorable travel experience? Is there any place that you'd love to travel?
  • 10.3 What is the funniest thing that's ever happened to you?
  • 10.4 What things do you find yourself doing that you said you'd "never" do?
  • 10.5 What accomplishment are you most proud of?
  • 10.6 What are the goals you are still working toward?
  • 10.7 If you could possess one super-human power, what would it be?

11. Death & looking back...

  • 11.1 What is your greatest fear?
  • 11.2 What is your greatest hope?
  • 11.3 What do you think happens after death?
  • 11.4 What place does religion have in your life?
  • 11.5 What would you say are the major values or principles that you live by? Are there other principles you admire in others?
  • 11.6 What are the main lessons you’ve learned in life? Do you think these lessons still apply to young people today?
  • 11.7 Some people say that you can learn from difficult or stressful experiences. Is this true? Can you give examples from your own life. How did you cope with stress? Did this change over time?
  • 11.8 What can younger people do to avoid having regrets later in life? What is your biggest regret?
  • 11.9 As you look back over your life, is there any turning points that changed your life or set you on a different track? Do you regret any of those turns? Why or why not?
  • 11.10 Is there something you wish you could do over again?
  • 11.11 What would you say you know now about living a happy and successful life that you didn’t know when you were 20? What advice would you give your grandchildren?
  • 11.12 Any last wishes?
  • 11.13 How do you think people will remember you?
  • 11.14 How do you want to be remembered?

'Abdur-Rahman bin Abi-Bakrah narrated from his father that a man said:

"O Messenger of Allah! Which of the people is the best?" He said: "He whose life is long and his deeds are good". He said: "Then which of the people is the worst?" He said: "He whose life is long and his deeds are bad".

Hadith of Prophet Muhammad (Peace be upon him) (Jami' at-Tirmidhi - Book 36, Hadith 27)