Question 1: What is your favourite book that you would like to recommend?
My favourite book is, of course, the Book of Allah (swt) – the Quran. How fortunate are those who have managed to memorize, understand, and implement it. After the Quran, I would recommend others to read The Fundamentals of Tawheed by Dr. Bilal Philips and He Came to Teach You Your Religion by Jamal Zarabozo. Both helped shape my understanding of religion. Regarding Dr. Bilal Philips’ book in particular, I found it easy to read and understand as a teenager. I also found The Road to Mecca by Muhammad Asad to be an interesting read. Although I do not endorse many of the authors’ opinions and beliefs, Muhammad Asad no doubt led an interesting life. Moazzam Begg’s Enemy Combatant was also a fascinating book which I had trouble putting down.
Although I do not like to admit it, I am also a science-fiction reader. Even though it is not a perfect book, my favourite thus far has been George Orwell’s Nineteen Eighty-Four due to its powerful ideas and lessons. I have read it twice, and would not mind reading it again. I also don’t mind reading somewhat ‘sillier’ books as long as they are well-written such as Frederic Brown’s Martians Go Home.
Question 2: As a family, what is your favourite game/sport that you play at home?
At the moment, my children are quite young. Zainab is 4, Zakariya is 3, and little Maariya, who was born yesterday, is only a day old. As you can imagine, games with my children are limited to chasing them and playing hide-and-seek. When the kids are sleeping, I try to spend some quality time with my wife. Occasionally, we drink tea and play board games such as chess, Jaipur, Carcassonne, and Yinsh. I would encourage any couple to do this, and I would hardly categorize it as wasting time when one indulges in fun activities with one’s spouse.
I am also an avid archer. I took archery up last year after being inspired by many Ahadeeth encouraging Muslims to do so. I shoot almost every week for an hour or so. Few people actually realize how much skill is involved in archery as the archer needs to be aware of his grip, stance, and direction among other things. I also enjoy table tennis. I suppose the more competitive the game is, the more enjoyable it becomes. I have very recently joined a nearby gym as I believe it is important to be healthy. I train for at least one hour a day with various weights and cardiovascular exercises.
Question 3: What is your favourite food?
Although I have enjoyed Italian foods, such as a pizza, pasta, and Lasagña since childhood, I have recently tried to avoid them altogether as they are not the healthiest of foods. Like anyone else, I enjoy Biryani. My wife cooks an extremely tasty fish Biryani. Although my wife can handle extremely spicy food, I prefer the spice in my food to be slightly mild. I also enjoy a well-made butter chicken, and Karahi Gosht with Nan.
Question 4: Which website would you like to recommend for learning?
There are so many, Masha’Allah. However, the one which sticks out in my mind is kalamullah.com, as it has many useful books stored in pdf format. Qtafsir.com and linguisticmiracle.com are also neat sites for reading up on the Tafseer of the Quran. Muslimmatters.org has some great articles and analyses.
Question 5: Do you like to play video games?
No. I haven’t really played them since I was a child. Sorry.
Question 6: What are your pastimes?
I believe I have already mentioned reading and spending time with family as pastimes. Additionally, I enjoy watching well-made documentaries such as the type you may see on National Geographic or Discovery Channel. My favourite programs have included Taboo, Banged up Abroad, Mythbusters, and Dark Matters.
Question 7: Your message to the Ummah’s families.
I think it is important for families nowadays to follow Islam as best as possible rather than following cultural trends or practices which, frankly, get in the way of establishing a proper Muslim household. Many families seem to struggle through diverse challenges and difficulties. If I could select one thing, it would be to encourage the entire family, after believing in Allah (swt), to establish regular prayer within and outside the home.
Question 8: Your dream for this Ummah.
Given the Pakistani experience, one matter stands out in my mind. Prior to studying in Riyadh, I lived and studied in Karachi for a year. In my experience, it was sad to see that among some circles, people who practice Islam have very little regard within the community due to sectarianism or ignorance. I would like to see practicing Muslims given due regard in their communities. The only way this would happen is if such people contributed more to the community and were more active. May Allah (swt) give us the energy and commitment to be more active.