Celebrating “Hiba’s” five successful years – it seems almost unbelievable. But Allah (swt) makes things happen! He is also the only One, Who makes miracles. If this would have been someone else’s story, it would have seemed almost fictitious, but “Hiba” is a reality, and so are the people behind it.
It all began in 2003, when extremely frustrated with the secular print media I approached my teacher Huma Hassan, complaining bitterly about their ridiculous and biased editing policy that simply chopped off an innocent Quranic verse or Hadeeth from my articles, submitted as a freelance writer. Following my mournful expression, she casually suggested: “Why don’t you start a publication of your own?” I smiled at the notion and brushed it aside politely. But Allah (swt) knows that this idea stuck in my head like glue.
Together with a newly discovered friend Sabahat Anwar, I started exploring the possibility of the project. Family, friends and experts in the field all discouraged me, some hesitantly, while others quite candidly. It hurt that my skills and integrity were constantly questioned. But today I understand and even respect their sentiments. They could never see what I saw. The more people disappointed me, the more I inclined towards Allah (swt) for guidance and help.
“Hiba’s” pioneer team was formed with Amena Lali, Laila Brence, Mehreen Ganny, Roomana Khan, Rubina Mohsin and Uzma Rizvi. A few family members, certain friends and some complete strangers all coming together for one reason: Allah’s (swt) love. These ladies provided the initial fuel for launching “Hiba’s” value driven mission. We just believed in “not accepting failure without trying our best.” And surely Allah (swt) is with those who persevere, stand steadfast in His way and are ready to give sacrifices.
Struggle has very few friends and success has many. I feel gratitude for all those individuals, who believed in my leadership and supported “Hiba”, when it had no financial stability or credibility. They proved to be the pillars for “Hiba’s” fragile structure and helped it rise on firm footing. To me they will always be Assabiqoon Awwaloon.
The Ministry of Information’s bureaucratic procedures to grant permission for “Hiba” took a good nine months and proved to be a trial for the nerves. In 2004, after our feasibility report was prepared and the necessary ground work completed, “Hiba” was finally launched. We started operating from my two-bedroom apartment. We used my home furniture and computer for work.
However, the real challenge was not the non-availability of a properly equipped office. It was about establishing credibility with the readers. Since malice and mistrust is rife in our society, people eyed us with suspicion, caution and even disdain. Having no affiliation or patronage of any religious organization made matters even more difficult. People just could not understand the sanity behind a mission that was just meant to share knowledge, re-instate forgotten values and offer solutions in Islam. They kept digging deeper for hidden agendas.
The year 2005 was slightly comforting, as some caring individuals stepped forward to nurture “Hiba” in its infancy.
As the team expanded, the publication started to show hope for survival. But the bank accounts still sounded clink! clink! We prayed harder for finances and ran from pillar to post looking for benefactors for the cause.
A few of “Hiba’s” important team members made an exit by the year 2006, due to their personal commitments. This left us gasping for human resources. The subscribers’ strength picked up and started to show signs of growth. New writers, local as well as international, were discovered, who injected fresh ideas into the publication. However, advertisers and sponsors remained shy. A circulation of 3000 copies was not attractive enough for them to invest in “Hiba”. Nevertheless, Allah (swt) remained on our side and kept “Hiba” going.
The next year, the team focused harder on reaching out to more readers, acquiring subscriptions and generating funds for subsequent issues. They also ventured once again in search of sponsors to make “Hiba’s” balance sheet look more presentable and eventually be able to increase its circulation, but had little success. Interestingly, we found out that people not only mix business with pleasure, but also do not believe in mixing business with their faith! Nearly everyone had a piece of advice for us but not much to offer other than that. But when Allah (swt) decides to grant life to something, no amount of losses can seize it. The publication always had sufficient funds to bring out the next issue. How did that happen? Beats me!
The year 2008 brought challenges on a national level, when the country’s crippling economy was literally breathing its last. The little sponsorship that “Hiba” had was also withdrawn. Subscriptions were terminated by readers. Obviously, when the common man was suffering in misery, he hardly had time to think of holy causes. Nevertheless, “Hiba” still marched on. In fact, we launched our website and offered exclusive benefits to our readers. Our subscribers continued receiving free mailers, including free Dua pamphlets, etc. Since Allah (swt) had been so merciful to us all this time, “Hiba” did not want to strip itself of its sense of generosity.
It is 2009, and here we are alive and kicking by Allah’s (swt) grace! “Hiba” still operates from my residence; however, we have a bigger and more exclusive space. The team is more organized and the processes are improving. We continue to strive for excellence and explore new ideas. In spite of constant human and financial crises, “Hiba” moves forward and will continue doing so, until Allah (swt) has ordained it to!
When people around us criticize, complain, lament or do nothing, “Hiba’s” team works diligently to offer them hope, joy and purpose in life. Rain or shine, they neither stop nor look back. Rather, they just believe in fulfilling their commitments with sincerity. Dawah has unique dynamics of its own. Every day is a journey towards self-discovery, in which we confront our own fears and shortcomings. That’s when we find ways to help ourselves and others. Not a single day passes, when we don’t learn something truly splendid – something almost divine to help us become better human beings. And that’s how the team of “Hiba” aspires to extend the same benefit to others.
Thanks to Allah’s (swt) power of healing, I faintly remember the painful beginning of “Hiba” but will never forget His mercy and my team’s personal sacrifices. I am also greatly indebted to all my colleagues, who have joined later on and contributed meaningfully along the way. It is not possible to mention everyone’s name here, but whether they are with “Hiba” or not, may Allah (swt) preserve their Sadqa-e-jariya for them. They are the real strength behind “Hiba.”
I would like to take this opportunity to express my sincere gratitude towards the readers and partners of “Hiba.” They have truly been the main marketers of “Hiba” especially in the absence of an appropriate marketing budget. Their gift subscriptions, verbal and written appreciations, and recommendations to others have really helped “Hiba” grow.
On a personal note, I would like to mention my parents, my sister, my brother-in-law, my dear husband and our kids for their concern, love and understanding. Behind every successful woman is Allah’s (swt) grace and a supportive family unit!
As for me, I cannot thank Allah (swt) enough for granting me an opportunity to offer my humble skills and services. All my life I had been searching for something substantial. I did not know that I will find it only when serving Allah (swt). I earnestly beseech my Lord (swt) for His continued forgiveness and guidance, and pray that He accepts this modest contribution from His faulty servants. Ameen.