Exclusive Interview with Ustadh Asif Uddin

Hiba Magazine conducted an exclusive interview with Ustadh Asif Uddin who was on a visit to Pakistan recently.

Ustadh Asif Uddin is a graduate of Business and Information Technology from the University of North London. He further pursued a Masters in Information System at Brunel University. He has been heavily involved in Dawah from the time he was at university. He is a keen student of knowledge and has studied the Islamic sciences in Mauritania, Egypt, and Qatar, and continues that journey today. Ustadh Asif gives weekly circles on Aqeedah and Tafseer and is a lecturer for Sabeel (Muslim Research and Development Foundation) and Chief Editor at Islam21c.com.

The interview was conducted by Talha Arif, a 15-year-old student of L2L Academy, on behalf of Hiba.

You can listen to the audio of the interview below:

 

Islamic Online University

44 iou interview

Q1. How did Islamic Online University start its journey? Tell us a little about the initial days.

Alhumdulillah, the Islamic Online University (IOU) began its journey in 2001. Unfortunately, the programme ran into technical difficulties and had to shut down; however, the material developed for its courses was used to establish a department of Arabic and Islamic Studies at the Preston University, Ajman, UAE, and three years later, the department had its first batch of BA graduates. In 2007, IOU made a comeback with completely free diploma courses., and in 2010, the degree programme was launched and the first batch of Bachelor’s degree students began their journey of seeking authentic Islamic knowledge in a structured manner.

Q3. Where are the headquarters of the university? Are there any onsite campuses?

The IOU headquarters are located in Gambia, where we offer locally the Intensive English Course, which is also available offline in two other countries. Insha’Allah, we will also be launching Bachelor of Education offline in Gambia.

Q4. Tell us about the teaching staff: who are they and what is the criterion for their recruitment?

The IOU teaching staff is divided into instructors and tutorial assistants. Instructors explain lessons to the best of their abilities through recorded lectures. A minimum requirement to teach at the Bachelor’s level is Master’s degree in the respective field and higher, and Master’s or Ph.D. and higher for the IOU’s Master’s level. Most of our instructors hold either Master’s or Ph.D. degrees.

IOU tutorial assistants guide and help students during their semester. Each subject has its designated and highly qualified tutorial assistant, who is available to students through emails, various forums, Skype, or telephone. They have also recorded supplementary sessions to review and further explain given material. All IOU tutorial assistants must have at least Bachelor’s degree.

Q5. The IOU is a huge project comprising of so many faculties – how is everything organized and managed? Please shed some light on the efforts of the non-teaching staff too.

From across the globe, we have more than 100 administrative staff spread over different departments such as Registrar’s Office, Academic Coordination and Development Department, Promotions, IT, Human Resources, Chat/Info/Help Desk, and individual contributors, who form the admin infrastructure of IOU and work tirelessly in the backend to support the structure in its daily operations to ensure a smooth and comfortable study environment for IOU students. Alhumdulillah, we are glad to say that over the past years, we have gained a certain extent of expertise in global online staff management.

Q6. The concept of seeking Islamic knowledge online is a rather new one. How is the Muslim world taking it, especially with reference to IOU?

Alhumdulillah, Muslims are taking advantage of the Internet and participating in various educational activities that IOU offers. Word about the quality, authentic, and affordable education is spreading. The number of enrolled and graduate students is increasing with each semester. Alhumdulillah, the global IOU student body is comprised of 200,000+ registered students and 5000+ degree students from 228 different countries.

Q8. The university was founded with the vision “changing the nation through education” – do you now see this vision manifested?

The IOU students and graduates are probably our greatest assets and flag-bearers of changing the nation through education. Our students are involved in various activities that benefit their local or online communities.

Q9. What feedback have you received from IOU graduates? What are the major accomplishments of the university in terms of human capital?

Alhumdulillah, we have recently launched the M.A. in Islamic Studies programme, and most of our graduates have enrolled and continue their studies with us. Some of our students have started a second Bachelor’s programme at IOU. In addition, some students joined our administration team or faculty as tutorial assistants. This in itself shows that they are satisfied with IOU and the quality of education we offer, as they are continuing their journey with us. Moreover, we have received positive feedback from our students and alumni, who further recommend and present IOU to their local and online communities.

Q10. The university often arranges innovative programmes and workshops for youth, such as YL360 and Empowered Muslimah. What is their impact?

Our special workshops, such as the YL360 and Empowered Muslimah, have been a success primarily because these courses were aimed at helping the youth inculcate a sense of belonging, a sense of pride in our rich history, which is very much lacking in today’s generation. During one of the sessions of YL360 programme, students were taught to start a community project. Many sisters have even starting teaching the Empowered Muslimah course locally in their communities for the sisters, who do not have any Internet facility.

Q11. Your message for the Islamic world, especially Muslim families.

Acquisition of knowledge should be given a high priority. The only way to overcome the problem of Muslims getting radicalized is by educating the Muslim community about Islam. As Dr. Bilal Philips says: “Islam is not about kissing the Quran and keeping it on a shelf. It is about seeking knowledge by reading, understanding, and reflecting.”

Q12. What are the aspirations of the IOU team?

A new course packed with seven powerful sessions covering topics from improving one’s communication skills to acquiring the skills of working efficiently in a team called “The Seven Gems” will be introduced shortly. This new course is aimed at helping the youth out of the shackles that prevent them from achieving success, personally and professionally. With Allah’s (swt) help, more interesting and beneficial programmes will be coming soon.

Exclusive Interview with Abu Productive

productive_muslimMohammed Faris (Abu Productive) is the founder of ProductiveMuslim.com, an online social enterprise dedicated to boosting productivity in the Muslim World.

How did Productive Muslim come into being, and what was the inspiration behind it?

When I was at University doing my Masters, I used to have two jobs; I was the President of the Student Islamic society and was quite involved with the community. My friends started asking me: “How do you do it? How do you balance it all?”

Even though my friends said this to me, I felt unsatisfied with how I was managing my time, focus, and energy. I knew I could achieve more and do more; hence, I stumbled upon the science of productivity.

After reading some books on productivity, and seeing the practical positive effects these books had on me, I started thinking how best to share this with my friends.

Then on an early November morning in 2007, I was walking to Fajr and the two words “Productive Muslim” came to my mind. They seemed extremely suited for each other and I was excited to launch a blog under that name.

Initially, what were your aims and objectives? And have they changed over time?

Initially, my goal was to take all the latest productivity techniques and ideas that I was learning from the books and articles I was reading, and share them to the Muslim world.

However, a moment of inspiration came to me when I read the Hadeeth: “The early hours are blessed for my Nation” (Tirmidhi) It made me realize that Islam has a lot to teach us about productivity, but there hasn’t been a platform before that linked between Islam and Productivity.

It was truly an honour from Allah (swt) that we were the pioneers of this linkage and it has truly changed my life forever.

What is your vision for Productive Muslim?

By Allah’s (swt) Permission ­ my vision is to inspire every single Muslim and Muslimah out there to be their best versions. They should aspire to be productive citizens of the world; to be balanced individuals from a spiritual, physical, and social perspective.

I pray that this platform becomes the beginning of the Ummah’s long journey back towards success and prosperity by inspiring every individual to do their very best, every single day.

Most of your work is online – how do you organize everything as you have so many things going on at the same time?

This is from Allah (swt) ­ first and foremost. He has blessed me with a wonderful empowered team to do a lot for His sake, and given us technologies that make working collaboratively very easy.

We use a number of communication and virtual collaboration tools such as Slack, Podio, Gmail, Google Docs, Dropbox, GoToMeeting, Skype, and Lastpass, to keep everything manageable.

But most importantly, are the team members who have clear objectives and goals and who are self motivated to do their best for Allah’s (swt) sake and the vision of Productive Muslim.

Your team comprises mainly of volunteers. In this day and age, when people want to be paid for every work they do, how do you motivate your team?

Once again ­ this is from Allah (swt). Truly without His help, I would not be able to find the right team member to do the right task in the team.

Some of the key principles we have in the team include:

  1. We treat volunteers as professionals. This means we hold them accountable for results and treat them as if they are being paid. There’s no excuse for being an “unproductive” volunteer on our team.
  2. We have a very strict process to hire volunteers: we carefully select volunteers out of hundreds of applications, and then based on assessment, and after interviewing them, we give them a one month probation to try them out. If they are good, they stay, otherwise we ask them to leave.
  3. We invest in our volunteers: We ensure that volunteers are learning and developing so that their time with us is fruitful and beneficial. Some of our volunteers left Productive Muslim and started their own companies and websites which is wonderful!
  4. We meet regularly with the volunteers: When new volunteers join the team, I have a twenty minute conversation with them. Then they have regular meetings with their team heads and we have quarterly meetings abroad.
  5. Constant feedback: We give constant feedback to our volunteers ­ from the way they work, to the way they behave online and this helps them improve and learn and grow.

The articles on Productive Muslim are Masha’Allah well researched. ­ Can you let us know about your authentication process? As in, who proofreads them for Shariah compliance and to ensure the information is correct?

All the articles written for Productive Muslim go through two rounds of revision- first by the assigned editors and second by our Chief Editor.

Most articles are straightforward and there’s nothing controversial about them. However, if something is controversial or needs Shariah approval, we have access to scholars whom we can contact for advice Alhumdulillah.

What are some of the challenges that you face?

Currently, we’re trying to develop a sustainable business model for ProductiveMuslim that both offers free content as well as paid premium content.

We do not like to be dependent on donations or advertisement; hence, we avoided those two sources.

Insha’Allah, we’re converging on a business model that would satisfy most of our readers soon.

We have often read on your page disparaging comments about your workshops’ charges. In general, people’s attitude is that anything Islamic should also be free. What would be your response to that?

Firstly, there’s a lot of free content on ProductiveMuslim.com and the paid content is for those who are keen to go a bit deeper with our content.

Secondly, we’re not an “Islamic” knowledge website; we’re a productivity training and consulting company that is based on Islamic principles and values.

Thirdly, in order for ProductiveMuslim to grow and flourish, we need to run a sustainable business. My dream is to hire every ProductiveMuslim volunteer as a full time staff member; and this can only be done if our readers support us by purchasing some of our courses and other products and services.

What are your plans/projects for the future?

We’ve lots of exciting projects coming up including the launch of our new book with Awakening, a new ProductiveMuslim podcast, a new subscription service called Academy+, and many others Insha’Allah.

How can other brothers and sisters help you out in your work?

We ask people to help us in 7 ways:

  1. Consume our content: articles, videos, worksheets, etc.
  2. Engage with our content: by liking and commenting
  3. Make Dua for us every time you read/view our work
  4. Purchase our products and services.
  5. Let everyone know in your circle about ProductiveMuslim.com.

Any message for the Ummah

My dear Ummah, ­ Islam is waiting for you to be a productive citizen of this world. Rise up from the swamps of laziness and let’s work together to be a Productive Ummah again.

Anything else you would like to share.

Just wanted to share an advice that was given to me before I started ProductiveMuslim.com ­ Have sincere intentions and work hard. This is the formula for success in Dunya and Akhirah.

Interview of a Modest Fashion and Unique Abaya Designer

IMG_9953How and why did you start A’baa?

A’baa came into being, with the help of Allah (swt), in  January 2013. I, with my parents, started A’baa when I was in my first semester. I was new to entrepreneurship. Before becoming an entrepreneur, and joining an entrepreneurship program at IBA, I had always wanted to be a designer, but due to cultural reasons, my parents did not agree on letting me join the Fashion Design program. So I ended up joining IBA, and its mysterious entrepreneurship program. (I didn’t even know what the word meant at that point in time. (laughs). I started A’baa because I had always loved to create elegant, modest clothing. My main passion was to design casual and evening wear, full length gowns. But then, when I started wearing an Abaya, which was back in 10th grade- I became interested in designing Abayas, because of their lengths and grace. I, like many others, did not find any appropriate Abaya to wear. I had always been very conscious of what I wear. I had an eye for cuts, details, fall and flare. I used to spend hours designing my lawn dresses. So, that thing also reflected in the Abayas that I wore when I became a Hijabi. And thus, A’baa came into being.

The story behind the name “A’baa”?

There is an interesting incident behind the name. Before A’baa, my venture was a partnership with a friend- who was carrying out her Abaya business at a small level, from her home. My parents, who were quite reluctant for a business in the starting, advised me to partner with my friend (so that I would stop bothering them with my business idea). It started, and my mother surprisingly became active and got a collection ready- regardless of the presence of my friend’s help. We called for an exhibition; the turnout for my designs was surprisingly good. But due to the difference in speed, long distance and mismatching goals of me and my friend, we parted ways within 25-twenty five days.

I was good with social media; I branded and put in a lot of effort to make our combined brand’s page. I got pretty heartbroken when the page went to her, with the brand name. It all began with such difficulty; my family is completely non-business minded, and I thought it was the end. But Alhumdulillah, my mother encouraged me and asked me to create a new page. I was pretty hopeless, but at the same determined. I created the page, started thinking of names, but couldn’t find a single suitable name; and one day I searched for the Arabic translation of ‘gown’, and one of the words showed up to be A’baa. It was small, easy to pronounce, seemed attractive to me. So I picked it up.

What is the philosophy of A’baa?IMG_9950

A’baa is not just a venture, or a home-based business that is there to make money. A’baa is a story of passion, dedication and unwavering strength of its team, to make a difference to the world, translated into a brand, that exists to serve the modest women and those who wish to choose modesty in future; to help them find timeless elegance, versatility and style in their modest wardrobe, with no compromise on quality, and affordability of price.

We design the modest wardrobe in ways that allow no one to have the audacity to label Hijab or Pardah as something lowly, backwards, or insulting, be it a western or an eastern culture.

Describe your experience running A’baa as a Facebook-based business. Best experience and most annoying one. Spare no details!

Working for A’baa has been an absolutely excellent experience, including the good and bad. There has been a lot of learning, for both professional and personal growth. Every day I learn new things. Good customers motivate me to keep working with the same passion and bad customers teach me where I can improve, by showing me the gaps and weaknesses. And my tailoring team teaches me patience. (Inside joke)

How much scope do you think there is for the Pakistani Muslimah to run a passion-fueled business like A’baa? Any tips and advice you have for someone considering on cashing in on their artistic/creative talents?

The modest wear fashion industry has a LOT of scope, if you do it the right way. Right now, the industry is being run by business men and tailors who usually copy and import designs, and sell. Pakistanis also have an eye for making money from copied stuff, since it’s easier and less risky, but to be successful, you need to learn to fall in love with what you do. Industries are always led by the mad men of the field, who know how to work and bring new things. And the reason, for almost no existence of a proper modest wear fashion industry is that there have been very few or almost no big dreamers who could make a difference. Copying takes you nowhere, but close to a few bucks of money. Originality and passion are the two names of the game.

IMG_9949What made you venture into designing modest non-Abaya fashions? How much is the scope for selling this sort of attire?

Non-Abaya means casual or evening wear gowns. There is a small scope in Pakistan for that, but it’s there. It’s small because it’s not something cultural, and people usually prefer traditional dresses like Kurta, Qameez etc. Yet it exists, and it’s growing due to the global culture overcoming the regional culture. My idea behind non-Aabaya modest wear is to promote modesty, because even in our traditional wear, modesty is often compromised, which is just sad.

You use a mannequin or faceless photos for showcasing your pieces. How difficult is it to follow Islamic guidelines in the course of your work?

Islamic guidelines. I think the question is rather flawed in its nature.
I don’t know why we assume it’s difficult to do a business following Islamic guidelines. It is not actually. Trust me on that. Using a faceless mannequin or model is rather easier, because it’s so hard to find a suitable, beautiful model who could go with the feel of your brand, (laughs).

Yes, models actually contribute a great deal in building the image of the brand. So it is easier and better for the brand, because the face always catches more eyes than the dress, and I think that’s bad news. Doing faceless promotion converges all the attention on the dress, fulfilling the purpose of marketing the brand’s pictures. However, planning out how to deliver the feel and identity of your brands to the customer is rather a difficult subject; but that has nothing to do with Islamic guidelines, because it’s pure creativity and that’s exactly what has bothered the marketers throughout these years. Islam has always made things easier for us. And when people use un-Islamic ways in the name of Shariah related businesses, I feel sad for them. They might even get to the top in this world, but they are just making things harder for themselves in the hereafter.

Tell us about your blog, “BLAK”.

BLAK is a self-made nickname that I found for myself. I didn’t know what to do with it, and I loved to write, so I started a blog with a Facebook page of that name, sharing random thoughts, quotes, ideas and passions, and on it. I have been unable to update the blog due to the tough routine, but I keep updating the page, which is less time consuming.

A’baa is a family-run business. Your advice to parents whose daughters wish to go into business?

Tough question. It feels guilty to make things so hard for your parents. I would not encourage girls to go on a rebellion, but I will not ask them to give up. (And please do not do something that you feel has a lot of scope, or money; do something that you genuinely feel passionate about.)
And, I would definitely request parents to be less rigid about girls dreaming of doing something. Rather than nipping their ideas in the bud, and risking them going rebels- parents should facilitate them, and they will also start understanding their parent’s imitations.

IMG_9951Your message for girls of your age?

Stay clear headed, do not run after apparent attractions. I have seen that when girls become religious, they all start selling Abayas and Hijabs, when their passions could be something else. They are in reality following a Islamic stereotype, after exiting a non-Islamic stereotype. It is not true that practicing Muslim women have to give up their worldly passions and interests; and forget everything that exists outside the four boundary walls of their house. Islam encourages individual interests turning into something meaningful. Islamic Society needs people with varying interests. We need female doctors, engineers, teachers, shopkeepers, researchers, mathematicians, physicists, entrepreneurs etc., with an understanding of the Shariah. Pardah cuts us from the inappropriate and strengthens us with the appropriate; it doesn’t limit us from being functional in the society. If females stop participating in the society, and just do Pardah and sell Pardah, the society will become truly patriarchal.

Interview with Ustadh Kashif Naseem Dilkusha

azan-logoKashif Naseem Dilkusha is the founding member, lead instructor and project head of Azan. His passion for teaching is evident in his energetic approach and engaging style. He also heads an NGO, Mushkeeza, and is a valuable member of his family business setup. At present, Usdath Kashif is involved in various Dawah projects and activities held in Karachi, some of which include- LiveDeen and the delivery of Friday Khutbahs and lectures at numerous Masajid and other religious social gatherings. His articles have been published on MuslimMatters.org

1.      What is it about Islam that attracts a young man or woman today?

Islam is not only about faith; it is a complete and comprehensive way of life leading to a balanced way of living. Islam is a comprehensive system for all life affairs and human behaviour.

Youth is the prime time of your life; it is very precious to Allah (swt). Islam specifically addresses the youth, urging them to make the best use of this valuable period of their life.

Allah (swt) promises extra reward for the youth, if they are sincerely devoted to Islam. For example, the Prophet (sa) said that on the Day of Judgement, there will be seven types of people to whom Allah (swt) will give shade. As we all know, on the Day of Judgement, there will be no shade except for Allah’s (swt) shade. From amongst the seven groups who will have shade on that Day? One group is of those who spent their youth in the worship of Allah (swt). (Bukhari)

Islam puts a lot of significance on the grooming of our youth.

A few features that attract the youth of today to Islam are:

  1. The hope Islam gives.
  2. The fact that Islam is a permissive Faith. It allows us to have fun within some parameters.
  3. The fact that that there is no hierarchy. The care and concern for and the promotion of human rights, the importance of delivering justice to all. The upholding of the rights of the oppressed.
  4. This point is especially for the young Muslimahs of today. Women in Islam have a very special place, status and dignity that was unknown to humanity before the advent of Islam.

2.      Do you consider Muslim youth confused about their identity and future?

Yes, I think the Muslim youth is confused. The reason behind this confusion is the absence of Islamic material in our educational curriculum and false depiction of Islamic teachings. In addition to that, there are no specific activities from Dawah organizations to cater to the youth and bring them back to Islam. We need to encourage the youth to see Islam in a positive light and not as a burden, as it is often portrayed. Currently, no or very few organizations address the diverse and complex needs of the Muslim youth.

We need to encourage the youth to see Islam in a positive light and not as a burden, as it is often portrayed.

3.      Which qualities of our youth make you hopeful that, if they mend their ways and get connected to the Creator, our Ummah will improve?

Youth is the most energetic stage of life, worthy to make the best use of and a time to strive towards excellence. Youngsters are full of energy and passion. Their road is paved with hope, persistence and enlightened thinking. Indeed, it is a period of productivity. Muslim youth must be aware of the importance and value of their lives. To achieve the best outcome, they should be directed towards the right path. The age of adolescence is a very sensitive period that requires caring, reinforcement of good guidance to Allah’s (swt) way and good ethics.

We should teach our youngsters about Islamic history, which has a myriad of examples of great Muslim youth who were luminaries of humanity. Young people gathered around Prophet Muhammad (sa) to carry his call of Islam forward. To name a few, Zaid bin Thabet (rta), who collected the whole text of the Holy Quran, and Musab bin Umair (rta), who was the first ambassador in Islam. He was asked by Prophet Muhammad (sa) to go to Madinah to teach the Quran; through him and his teachings the people of Madinah converted to Islam. This young prince of Makkah sacrificed every luxury of the world when he embraced Islam, only for Allah (swt) and His Messenger Muhammad (sa).

The biography of Muhammad Bin Qasim should be part of our curriculum. We should teach to our youth, how he conquered Sindh and governed it in such a manner that even the non-Muslims wanted him to stay with them instead of moving on.

We should teach our youngsters about Islamic history, which has a myriad of examples of great Muslim youth who were luminaries of humanity.

They should be taught about Aisha (rta), a young woman, who was an extremely accomplished young woman and who fulfilled all her responsibilities as a wife as well. Teach them about the bravery of Asma (rta) and the firm faith of Sumayyah (rta) who gave her life for the truth.

If our youth connects to the Deen and make the Prophets (sa) their companions and the rightly guided people as their true role models, the affairs of our Ummah will definitely change positively.

4.      What is the best way for elders to treat the young? There seems to be much mistrust between them and the elders often don’t treat the youth with respect.

Elders must be open with them, listen to them and learn to do some of ‘their stuff’. They should accept that times have changed, and thus, the youth should be nurtured and groomed according to the standards of this time, not the past times that the elders experienced. One of the most effective mental exercises that a parent, teacher or youth mentor can undertake in order to enhance their empathy and compassion towards youngsters is to allow themselves to see things from the perspective of the youth.

5.      As a family, what is the positive role that parents must play in the lives of the youth?

Be a role model for them. Be proactive. Don’t just sit back and leave everything to the school and Maulvi sahib to teach them. Always remember: children listen with their eyes and not with their ears. So watch your life. Be the change you wish to see! Parents should keep a critical eye on their own behaviour and personal conduct.

6.      What advice would you give to the young and spirited?

Always be in the company of pious people who remind you of Allah (swt) and the Day of Judgement. If you have good company, you will be prosperous in your life.

In Surah Al Furqan, Allah (swt) says, “And (remember) the Day when the Zalim (wrong-doer, oppressor, polytheist, etc.) will bite at his hands, he will say: “Oh! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger (Muhammad (sa)). Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so-and-so as a friend! He indeed led me astray from the Reminder (this Qur’an) after it had come to me. And Shaytan (Satan) is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need.” ” (Al-Furqan 25: 27-29)

Be proactive. Don’t just sit back and leave everything to the school and Maulvi sahib to teach them.

The Prophet (sa) reminds us of the importance of good company in the following Hadeeth: “A good friend and a bad friend are like a perfume-seller and a blacksmith: The perfume-seller might give you some perfume as a gift, or you might buy some from him, or at least you might smell its fragrance. As for the blacksmith, he might singe your clothes, and at the very least, you will breathe in the fumes of the furnace.” (Bukhari, Muslim)

I believe that companionship is the most important thing after Iman. If they have good companionship, all the other good things will automatically be part of their personality.

Youngsters, nowadays, have all the fundamental elements of success and excellence. Schools, colleges, universities, cultural and scientific centers strive to offer the best education. They have the potential to play an important role in the advancement of Islam. The period of adolescence is a very important period in a Muslim’s life. If spent the right way, a person’s youth will not only benefit him, but others as well. They must realize their value and importance for the fate of the Ummah lies in their hands.

May Allah (swt) guide and protect us all on the Day of Judgement. Ameen.

An Interview with the Ameer of NAK Collection.com

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NAKCollection.com comprises a group of volunteers who are collecting Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan’s lectures on one website solely for the purpose of pleasing Allah (swt). Hiba got in touch with their Ameer to learn more about them and their work.

How did NAK Collection come into being? What was the inspiration behind it?

I founded NAK Collection when I was a medical student. The inspiration behind it was simple: every human being deserved to know what I had stumbled across only by chance. The divine knowledge transformed me. It made me an infinitely better human being, and gave me a great purpose of life. I believed that if properly delivered to every human being, this knowledge could transform their lives, and would eventually begin changing their communities, and finally the world at large, Insha’Allah. From day one, NAK Collection was a dream to share the divine knowledge with every single human being. Soon I found out that other individuals were ready to contribute towards this goal. The organization started to grow beyond my wildest imaginations by the Barakah of Allah (swt).

What is the vision of your organization?

The vision of our organization is to make Quranic education universal, free, and available at the state-of-the-art level to every human being with a single click. It should also be engaging, fun, and easy to learn.

Most of your work is online. How do you organize everything as, Masha’Allah, you have so many things going on at the same time?

Since nearly all our work is done online, we can engage the most capable and most motivated individuals from across the globe, as anybody with an internet connection can join us. The key to organization is having independent systems headed by individuals who are experts in their domains. For maintaining cohesiveness, they report to a single person. For example:

  • Br. Erfian Asafat (Head of Darul Arqam studios) is the head of illustration work. He is also my personal inspiration, and one of the finest people I have had the honour to work with.
  • Br. Adeel Ahmad (Head of Greenbird Media productions) is the head of kinetic typography work.
  • Sr. Haleemah Zia is head of transcripts work.
  • Br. Nishad is the head of mobile apps.
  • Br. Hussnain Javaid is the head of Whatsapp services.

We also have 22 different languages translation works, each being headed by different individuals. At the moment, we have volunteers from 35 different countries working directly with NAK Collection. The heads of different areas organize their respective volunteers to work on their respective specialties.

How do you motivate your team?

Nearly all these individuals are extremely self-motivated. I have found that one of the greatest motivation is the generous feedback from people benefitting from NAK Collection’s different works. Ultimately, seeing the impact of your work on millions of lives fuels your motivation like nothing else can.

How do you arrange funding especially since all the content you produce is free of cost?

Nearly all the work is being done by volunteers absolutely free of cost. I myself have not taken nor will ever take a penny for my personal needs. We do have one project that needs funding. We are proud to say we have developed the most advanced state-of-the-art Dawah studio for graphic designing. Every video is reaching millions of people, and the feedback has been so astonishing that it encourages us to believe in the amazing potential of this work.

Work on illustrations is being formally done by professional illustrators, who have taken great risks in their careers by devoting themselves full-time to making free state-of-the-art videos for the Ummah to benefit from. Unlike other volunteers, they are doing this as a full-time job. For example, I can attend to my job as a medical doctor and simultaneously do the work for NAK Collection in my spare time, but the development of illustration videos requires full-time commitment from illustrators. For this reason, we had two options. We could have used paid subscription option or utilized advertisements which we found too distracting and often portraying un-Islamic values.

Our last resort was to use funding. A considerable amount of funding is contributed by us from whatever we can afford to give at the moment. However, the majority of funding comes from the community which benefits from the videos. Each video reaches millions, so a few hundred viewers have decided to help fund this work, which enables us to produce more content and reach even more viewers. A spreadsheet containing all our expenses and funding contributed towards Darul Arqam Studios is publicly released on our website to ensure complete transparency.

If you are in Pakistan and would like to donate, you can just send us an email at nakcollection@gmail.com

Who authenticates the transcripts of Br. Nouman’s lectures?

Sr. Haleemah Zia, head of transcripts section, does this. They are word-to-word transcripts of entire lectures so not much authentication is needed other than double-checking them for grammatical errors.

What are your plans for the future?

Our plans for the future are very ambitious. If we can create state-of-the-art Quranic education, which is available on the internet absolutely free of charge, the potential is there for the entire world to transform. We are envisioning a world in which everybody understands the Quran directly, is fully aware of the Quran as the Word of God with all the miracles it contains, and is able to apply the teachings of the Quran to their daily lives.

How can other brothers and sisters help you in your work?

From time to time, we keep requesting for different specialties on our Facebook pages. If you think you have a talent that can prove valuable to us in helping spread the Word of God to the entire humanity, just send us an email at nakcollection@gmail.com along with the description of your talent.

Any message for the Ummah?

Our message for Ummah is simple. Allah (swt) has given us the ultimate miracle of the Quran, and has raised us in an age where just a little effort and dedication can allow us to reach out to the entire world with a few clicks. Each of us has a part to play. Creating digital content that can reach millions was the first part, Alhumdullilah. We are succeeding at it, but the next step is to deliver it further. We need huge dedication from every Muslim to learn the available knowledge and then deliver it to others.

The Internet has now opened a priceless opportunity for us to connect every human being to a lifelong process of learning and benefitting from the divine wisdom of the Quran. Regardless of who they are and where they are, it can all be available now soon with a few clicks and absolutely free of charge.

Anything else you would like to share with Hiba’s readers?

Keep your intentions pure (always have noble intentions for what you are trying to do with your life), believe in your finest dreams, be creative, be persistent, think positive, think big, and ask Allah (swt) in your Duas to show you a path and put Barakah in your endeavours. If Allah (swt) decides to put Barakah in your work, then there is no limit to what you can achieve. If properly trained and harnessed, each human being is capable of achieving astonishing results in any field that they dedicate themselves to.

In Spotlight: Fiqh of Social Media

FiqhofSocialMedia-logo

In this exclusive interview with Hiba Magazine, Br Omar Usman, founding member of MuslimMattersQalam InstituteMuslim Strategic Initiative, and Debt Free Muslims, talks about his project, Fiqh of Social Media (http://fiqhofsocial.media/). Brother Omar is a regular khateeb and has also served in different administrative capacities in various national and local Islamic organizations.

1. For people who haven’t yet heard of it, what exactly is Fiqh of Social Media? It’s a blog, it’s an e-book, it’s definitely a fantastic idea to address pressing issues related to social media… but how would you define it?

Social media has transformed our lives within the span of a couple of years. It’s like it crept up on us when we weren’t looking, and now we are trying to figure out how to deal with it. Fiqh of Social Media is a niche project under the guidance of Qalam Institute, and the goal really is to provide guidance on how to use our faith to navigate this new era. With that in mind we do have the ebook and blog, and we hope to develop more material in the future insha’Allah.

2. How did Fiqh of Social Media come into being, and what was the inspiration behind it?

The internet and social media has always fascinated me in general. I made my first website about 20 years ago when I was barely 13 years old, and was making Islamic websites in university. There is no singular inspiration point, but over the years I have been keenly aware of how these new technologies are affecting us – religiously and with our families.

It’s always bugged me that the Muslim community seems to be behind one step technology wise. When the world shifted to CD’s, we were still producing audio cassettes. When the world shifted to the mp3 age, we started producing Qur’an recitations on CD’s. Social networks now have impacted us in ways we can’t imagine.

When I was growing up, it was considered rude to take a phone call at dinnertime. If someone called, you would answer and tell them you would call them back after dinner was over. Now, many families can’t eat a single meal without everyone being attached to a device.

Our Islamic tradition is timeless and contains the solutions to these pains and problems we face – I feel it is at the point where there needs to be a dedicated resource for this.

3. Initially, what were your aims & objectives? And have they changed over time with social media’s evolution?

We are at the first time in human history where people have an abundance of relationships, but no friendships. We are able to connect with thousands of people we could not before. Before, people had to wait and clear a gate keeper to get on TV, publish a book, or even write an editorial to the paper. Now anyone can have a platform. This opens a lot of doors – but it’s an entirely new situation that raises a lot of questions. For example, how do we understand Islamic principles of friendship in an age where people have 5,000 friends on Facebook?

The aim for me has always been to connect these dots. What are the Islamic principles, and how do they apply to social media? What problems are we encountering online that we need answers to, and what are the solutions provided in our religious tradition? Those are the basic aims. What has evolved, though, is that connecting these dots is branching out into a number of subjects I never even imagined.

What problems are we encountering online that we need answers to, and what are the solutions provided in our religious tradition?

4. What is the current vision of Fiqh of Social Media?

To provide thought leadership in this area. It’s not just Muslims struggling with these issues. In fact, most of the materials I am finding are from secular sources. So there is definitely a huge problem here; I want to spread the message of how our faith addresses these issues.

5. Most of your work is online – how do you organize everything? Also, is this a one-man show or do you have a team working with you?

I wish I had a team. Right now it is a one-man show. The primary content mechanism is the email list, so I do my best to send out at least 2-3 newsletters a month.

6. You write on things people at times don’t even think of, like Food Instagramming. What kind of response do you receive on such blog articles? Are people receptive or they lash out?

Alhumdulillah the response is really positive. In the case of this article specifically I wasn’t expecting backlash – particularly because I was criticizing and analyzing my own photos (as opposed to someone else’s). A lot of items like this one are things that everyone notices, I just happened to take the observation one step further and write the article.

http://fiqhofsocial.media/40hadith

http://fiqhofsocial.media/40hadith

7. Your content and ebook is all free – how do you arrange funding?

Alhumdulillah most of the cost at this point is nominal (it’s just a couple of dollars a month) so it has not been an issue.

8. What are your plans for the future? Are you planning to get your book 40 Hadiths on Social Media formally published (in print)?

So right now there are 2 major projects being worked on. The first is an online course that is specifically for parents and how to manage social media with their kids. This will cover a number of things like kids being addicted to screens to how to reclaim family dinner time.

The second project is a formal book on the Fiqh of Social Media. This is a larger and more comprehensive undertaking so it will take some time. Please make dua Allah (swt) grants tawfiq to both projects.

9. How can other brothers and sisters help you out in your work?

The best thing is to subscribe to the email list at http://fiqhofsocial.media/40hadith – When they do this they will receive a copy of the 40 hadith as well as the new articles I am writing. The best way to help is to simply reply to those emails with your feedback. The hardest part about a project like this is understanding which material is useful or helpful, or how it resonates. So really if I had one wish, it would just be that people not just read the material, but let me know what they thought of it.

10. Any message for the Ummah

That is a really tough question. I’ll offer the advice here that I feel I need most for myself and that is simply to make more Dua to Allah (swt). It is so simple but cannot be emphasized enough.

18-24 is an incredibly formidable time, and also a time where people try out lots of different things. Embrace it, but just be cautious with what you post of yourself online.

11. Any message for Hiba’s readers in particular.

I would say just be careful. The internet is forever. Even things like Snapchat where your photos are supposed to get deleted are not that private. 18-24 is an incredibly formidable time, and also a time where people try out lots of different things. Embrace it, but just be cautious with what you post of yourself online.

12. Anything else you would like to share.

Jazakallahu khayr for doing this interview. May Allah (swt) bless your efforts with this magazine!

A Heart-to-Heart with Shaykh Furqan Jabbar

11a furqan jabbar interviewShaykh Furqan Jabbar is studying for his Masters degree in Islamic Banking & Finance in Melbourne, and is working as a contributor to Mercy Mission Australia in the Guardians’ Quran project.

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.

To read the rest of this interview and more, subscribe to Hiba Magazine

A Heart to Heart with Dr. Farhat Hashmi

two-hearts-overlap-hiIt was a usual sunny and bustling day of Karachi, when I reached my sister-in-law’s home in the heart of the city. A home that was always warm and welcoming to all, who were friends of Allah (swt). Her mum-in-law had very kindly invited me to meet with Dr. Farhat Hashmi visiting from Islamabad – the lady behind a magnificent brand called “Al-Huda International”.

I choose to call it a brand, because “Al-Huda” is truly a symbol of women entrepreneurship in obedience to the Lord (swt). It states what a Muslim woman ought to be: a doting daughter, a passionate and compassionate spouse, an inspiring mother and a self-aware and diligently contributing vital member of the Ummah. And this brand surfs forward against all tides of the time. And it is here to stay, by Allah’s (swt) grace.

Spotting Dr. Hashmi seated next to a perplexed young lady seeking her counsel, I noticed her body language – calm, composed and attentively listening to the heart felt miseries of someone, who sought valuable advice from her. No one would have guessed that this simple and serene lady was a source of spreading the love and knowledge of the Quran and Sunnah into the hearts and homes of unimaginable ailing souls.

Suddenly, I was shoved forward by a very sweet “Al-Huda” representative to take my seat as the next candidate; otherwise, I might miss my chance of a conversation. I quickly grabbed the chance I was offered and kept praying to Allah (swt) to enable me to make the most of this meeting with one of the Ashaab-e-Ilm (people of the knowledge). Amusingly at times, we are so mesmerized by certain personalities that we fear to make a fool out of ourselves. Thanks to the Lord (swt), Who saves ordinary people like me from utter humiliation and facilitates us in the best manner.

As I introduced myself to her, only wishing she remembered something about “Hiba”, Dr. Farhat stumped me by saying, “You wrote an e-mail to me some time ago and you have a sister in Dubai.” Only Allah (swt) helped me from stuttering and fumbling. I had only heard that a Hafizah has great memory. Here was a living testimony of it. My first lesson: pay attention to the people, whom you encounter, and don’t just brush them off, as merely a query or a complaint.

Her radiant and smiling face put me at ease, in spite of the fact that I was given little time with her due to a time pressured schedule of further meetings awaiting her. So I began …

Question: In your opinion, what are the top three things every Muslim should do today?

Dr. Farhat: First and foremost, every Muslim must rectify his/her relationship with Allah (swt) and ensure that his/her Iman and Aqueedah are correct. Next, he/she must possess Husn-e-Ikhlaq – a pleasing conduct and mannerism. Lastly, he/she must nurture a spirit of a well-wisher for all humanity in general. (I gathered that hate and undue anger has to depart from our lives!)

Question: How do you spend time with the kids in the family?

Dr. Farhat: My own kids have grown up, Masha’Allah. Hence, I spend time with my grandchildren. I personally adore kids and dearly love to hear them. It grants a deep insight into their feelings and thoughts. Tragically, adults today talk and tirade more and hardly listen to them patiently, which is why the gap is widening between them.

Question: But don’t you get itchy, when you hear them utter something wrong and the need to correct them suddenly takes over?

Dr. Farhat: I always let them question their choices. If they say something wrong or less correct, I ask them a reason for it, leading them to seek a solution for themselves. In that manner, they develop a sense of ownership of their actions and do not feel something is being imposed on them. It is my responsibility to educate them about Halal and Haram, but I cannot act for them. For example: When my grandson wants to pray at home, instead of the Masjid, I ask him, which act is greater in reward in the sight of Allah (swt)? He replies that praying in the Masjid is of course greater, and then I leave it to him to decide.

Question: How do you spend time with them?

Dr. Farhat: We talk and explore together. These days, I am reading a book by Iqbal Kilani Sahab “Kabeera Aur Sagheera Gunah” with my grandson. It opens ideas for discussion. I am not much of a screen person, as I belong to the earlier generation (chuckles merrily). But I love books. My grandchildren look forward to spending time with me, as much as I do with them.

Question: As a book lover, which publication would you like to recommend to the “Hiba” readers?

Dr. Farhat: “Fiqh Al Quloob” is written by Muhammad bin Ibrahim in Arabic. It relates to the understanding of the hearts. It also ingrains the majesty, magnificence and recognition of Allah (swt), which is the epitome of all relationships. This course is available on-line on our website as well as taking place at the Tariq Road branch of “Al-Huda” every Friday morning for those, who want to benefit from it.

Question: Jazak’Allah Khair for your valuable time and talk. As a concluding statement, what is your desire and dream for this Ummah?

Dr. Farhat: I pray to see every Muslim fulfill his covenant with Allah (swt). He/she should understand the reason, why he/she was sent to this world, because if something or someone does not fulfill his/her purpose in life, he/she is destroyed.

We are the inheritors of Anbiya (Prophets). They came with a mission to this world and have left it in our hands now to help heal the world. Hence, we must be committed to our obligation as a responsible believer.

“Hiba” is highly indebted to all those individuals, who arranged this interview and enabled the readers to catch a personal glimpse of Dr. Farhat Hashmi. It was, indeed, a reassurance to know that the Murabbis and coaches of the Ummah are striving very hard to uphold the principles of Islam; and they are truly the beacon of light that guide the society, when darkness overcomes our souls.

May Allah (swt) forgive all and guide all to become a source of pleasure for the Lord (swt). Ameen.

Dr. Farhat recites “Rabbi Zidni Ilma”, when she commences her travel. She believes that Allah (swt) transforms an ordinary journey of a traveller into a source of Ilm and Tarbiyah and grants profuse opportunities of learning, while one interacts with people around him/her. Such are the ways of people of wisdom and Hikmah. They don’t waste any moment of their lives. For they comprehend that every breath they take brings them closer to their death and meeting with Allah (swt). Hence, they stay alert and prepared.

This is a great and easy chance for those of us, who need to travel frequently, whether simply to collect our children from school, tuitions, etc., or to hustle back and forth for business needs. A simple Dua with a heart-felt emotion may transform our lives for the better, Insha’Allah.

“Sina” – Empower with Honour

Sina

“Hiba” spoke to Mrs. Zartaj Subhani of “Sina – Health, Education and Welfare Trust”, which focuses upon health, education, and social uplift in Pakistan. Mrs. Subhani, along with her colleague, Ms. Iffat, is also running a project under the banner of Sina that empowers women patients who visit the medical facilities running under Sina. 

1. What was the inspiration behind this brainchild and who was in your primary team?

Twelve years ago, a friend of mine suggested that I should start counselling women. I took her advice, and started the counselling. Initially, I was doing it on my own; however, after a while, I realized that most of the issues faced by women were due to a lack of finances. I felt that instead of just giving them handouts, we needed to empower them. A lot of these women could not go out and work due to the stigma in their communities and/or not having caregivers to look after their children. I spread the word around that I needed some volunteers to come and teach these women a skill and to help sell the products that they make. Along came Iffat eleven years ago and, Alhumdulillah, there has been no looking back.

2. What initial challenges did you face and how were they overcome?

We didn’t have any large funds to buy fabric, threads, etc., to invest in this venture. Also, these women were not professional seamstresses, so they did tend to mess up outfits, which we in turn could not sell. That was a drain on our meager funds until, Alhumdulillah, out of the blue, a friend’s husband donated a sizable chunk to really get this venture going. This way, we could afford to build up stock, pay these women much more than the market rate and even give them bonuses for the Eids.

3. Ten years down the road, do you feel the difficulties in empowering these women have reduced or multiplied?

It has definitely helped in empowering these few women that we have taken on. But it is a drop inthe ocean, as we can take on about fifteen women only! Since we just go in once a week and it is just Iffat doing the designing, explaining the stuff to be done, etc., and trying to sell the produce (we don’t have an outlet – selling is done through word-of-mouth from her place), we can’t take on more women. Also, a lot of the women can’t sew and/or embroider, so we need other ladies to come forward to teach them some crafts and then market them. There are too many women and not enough work! It is an uphill task, especially with the cost of living spiraling and their husbands/sons being laid off from factories or not being able to find jobs.

4. Would you like to share one story of success that gave your team immense gratification for the dedicated work you are performing?

Yes, Alhumdulillah! We had this lady come in, who was suffering from tuberculosis. Her husband did not contribute to their expenses – he would only come into their lives every now and then and was physically abusive. She used to work in a factory but, due to her poor health, could not continue.

Her landlady had heard about our clinic and brought her in. She has three children, who were really young at that time, and she had to see to their upbringing, too. Some kind soul was paying for their education, but she did not have enough resources for her day to day living, etc. We took her on and, Alhumdulillah, her daughter finished her matriculation and is now studying privately for her B.Comm and working in our clinic as a paramedic.

Our Trust tries to take on the educated youth from within the community, train them and then place them in our clinics around the city. They are much sought after, as their training involves a wide array of subjects, including communication skills, administration of drips, dressing, checking the vitals, etc. Since we have developed a system of patient records, computerized medical cards and a protocol, which the paramedic has to fill out with each assessment whenever a patient comes in, there is a check and balance, which allows the quality control officer to assess the paramedics and doctors – thus, there is accountability.

Anyway, this lady is now doing the sewing in the neighbourhood and has many clients, while her daughter has now taken on her work with us. Her two younger sons are doing well in school, and in the summer holidays, we enlisted them for summer classes in computers and English, as they were keen to learn. We also put her daughter through similar classes and, Masha’Allah, she plays a large part in helping her mum sustain the family.

5. If you had to advise others to take up a similar project, what would you have to say?

The key to any social work endeavour is consistency, perseverance and patience. There are a lot of well-meaning ladies, who want to help but give up after a while, either because they get bored or don’t think they are making a difference. We have to remember that if we all do something, no matter how small, to help the community, it causes ripples. If we are doing it for Allah (swt), then no deed is small – He sees our efforts and intention and that is of utmost importance. This keeps us in a positive mode and gives us the dedication to carry on with the cause, Insha’Allah. We have to keep in mind that we have to help make them independent and wean them from us gradually, so that they can take on whatever comes their way with a positive attitude.

6. Can your team train other affluent and skilled ladies to adopt your model and make a similar difference elsewhere?

We (“The Mind Health Group”) already did a Counselling Skills workshop for twenty affluent ladies. It was a ten-day workshop with doctors from The Agha Khan University and Hospital, social workers, psychologists, a psychiatrist and volunteers, who were actively involved with the project. On completion, we placed them at our various clinics around the city. Unfortunately, most of them dropped out after a few months due to their various commitments. If a bunch of women can get together, arrange for a venue and give us enough notice, I am sure, Insha’Allah, we can work out something. If there are other, similar/same crafts/skills that they can teach, we can try to arrange for them to use our clinics for getting the access to the women of the community, Insha’Allah.

7. Do you have trained staff to replace the existing team if required?

Alhumdulillah, there are a lot of girls, who are studying psychology, and a lot of women, who know about fashion and have their in-house design studios. It isn’t rocket science; anyone can take over, provided they are dedicated, have empathy and want to help change the world.

8. Having worked with this stratum of society, what is your observation regarding the one critical need of these women?

I can’t pinpoint just one critical need. The closest I can come up with is that they need some sort of education – not necessarily the formal type, but more like Tarbiyah, where they can learn life skills and how to apply them.

After spending many years with them, I have found that one of the main problems (apart from the finances, which is the major one) is that they don’t think out of the box. They have very little motivation to change their lives and get out of the rut they are in. They attribute whatever walls come up in their way, no matter how big or small, as their fate without putting up a fight or finding a solution. This resigned acceptance of their fate makes them complacent and then mentally lethargic. I try to help them come up with solutions for the betterment of their lives, motivate them and get them attached to Allah (swt), but that is done only after they have a comfort level with you and trust you.

9. If you wish to share something additional, please, feel free to do so.

When I go to the clinic every Friday, I really feel that I am so much better off than the majority, and, Alhumdulillah, this brings about a great feeling of Shukr for all that I have been blessed with. I have no reason to complain – ever! Insha’Allah.

Mrs. Subhani can be contacted at: ummefaysal@gmail.com

To learn more about Sina, visit their website: http://www.sina.pk/

In the print edition of the magazine, the name of the organization (“Sina”) has been erroneously mentioned as “Behbud” – the editorial team of Hiba regrets the error.

Fathering Results

fathering

By Ruhaifa Samir – Freelance journalist and staff blogger at yello.pk and perceptions.org.pk

Fathers find it challenging to earn a decent living, while attending to the social and emotional needs of the family. The fact remains that mothers, in general, still spend more time with the children and have more responsibility for their day-to-day care, while fathers have more responsibility for earning money.

Studies have shown that when fathers play an active role in the lives of their children, the results produce confident and secure individuals. A noted sociologist, Dr. David Popenoe, one of the pioneers of the relatively young field of research into fathers and fatherhood, says: “Fathers are far more than just ‘second adults’ in the home. Involved fathers bring positive benefits to their children that no other person is as likely to bring.”

Though the game is changing ever so slowly, Alhumdulillah, many fathers have been making efforts to be there for their children. This writer questioned some of these fathers on how their increased role and contribution in the family had affected their children, and also, what was the one thing they had done that had improved their relationship with their children and brought promising results, if not absolute success.

Azeem Pirani is a homeschooling father of eight children. His wife and children chose to answer this question on his behalf, defining the one single thing that he has done as: “Giving each of us TIME”. Due to the varied ages of his children, he gives each of them time the way they need it. In the words of his wife: “Once in a while, he takes the older ones out for a snack, where he can discuss growing up issues and their lives with them; he does the same for our ten and eight year-old boys, too. He also gives undivided time to the little ones to listen to them and talk to them.” He makes time for his wife by being her advisor, counselor and staying with the children, so she can take an uninterrupted nap when she asks for it.
Dr. Khalid Bhamba, a homeschooling father for his 11-year-old son and a very busy doctor, is involved in many charitable and social projects. However, he ensures that he keeps his Saturday and Sunday evenings free to spend time with his children and Monday mornings for his wife. Taking time out from his busy schedule has been instrumental in the positive upbringing of their children.

Shehryar Mohsin said that spending time with his family enabled him to teach his three-year-old daughter to take decisions for herself, seeking guidance only when needed, even though she was very young. He says: “My strategy is to teach her how to make proper decisions and get rid of the ‘fear’ that makes you a poor decision-maker in your life.” The effect of this has been improved faith and trust in her parents because “she feels more secure and protected knowing that even if she makes a wrong choice or takes an inappropriate step ahead, she’ll always have her father’s hand to guide her.”
Another father, Abu Muaz, is homeschooling his one-year-old son. He says that since his son is very young, simply giving him time in the evening and playing with him keeps him happy. But the one thing he has done that he feels will give him promising results in the near future and is already impacting his son indirectly is that he and his wife regularly discuss what their vision for him should be. He says: “We talk about where we want to see him when he grows up, and come up with routines and activities (not only for him, but for us, too, being his role models), which we then try to implement. Things like how often we should take him out, what we should be reading to him, how we need to increase our Dhikr of Allah (swt), so that he learns about this, too.”

Abu Shaheer was yet another person who offered his insights on this question. He said: “The one thing I have done as a dad in our family is to revive the Sunnah of ‘Shura’ or ‘Mushwara’ – that is mutual consultation. We have a weekly Shura about family affairs, sitting on the ground in a circle, going one by one with each kid and their mother; even if it’s choosing which restaurant to go out for dinner.” The Shura system in their house has not only provided quality time for interaction between them, but has also given an opportunity to their children to make valuable suggestions and feel important. This has had great results because not only has it inculcated responsibility in the children, but there are also no complaints with the outcome of the decision, since it was collectively made and not forced upon anyone. Abu Shaheer claims: “It has made the kids more mature for their age.”

Dr. Muhammad Abid Ali, a Master Mariner by profession, is also a holder of PhD in education, MBA in HR and Finance, and the initiator and founding member of two education research institutes. He is also the father of four grown-up children, who are, Masha’Allah, serving the Deen in their own capacity. When asked about his role as a father, Dr. Abid replied: “At times, I have tried to recollect what I exceptionally did to raise my children from the Islamic perspective, and all that I could remember was what I did not do and could have done better as a father. Later in life, I realize there were a lot of deficiencies in our upbringing of our four children. May Allah (swt) forgive us for that. People keep on learning in life and many will realize later the weaknesses in their obligations towards Allah (swt) in taking care of His trusts that we have been given as a test. Were it not for his mitigation of the harmful effects of our actions, the humanity would have long been done with. The little positive thing that I may have done is not to force them into any set of belief except that of basic Islam, and the freedom to think and express what ever they thought is correct. I believe I did not superimpose my ideas or beliefs upon their inexperienced but intelligent minds. Since my childhood, I have tried to remain strictly Allah-centred. If you put it in a slogan, it will be ‘All for Allah (swt) alone’. With the exception of Allah’s (swt) pleasure, nothing is of any avail in this life logically. I encouraged them to dedicate their lives to the service of Allah (swt), for that is the safest way of conducting life in this earthly sojourn. Alhumdulillah, I see them realizing this. On my part, I have tried to maintain an effective communication with my children, though I was frequenting the ship as my profession. However, I remember I maintained effective communication with them through letters and later, through e-mails.”

Indeed, the increased role and contribution of the fathers in their respective families has had a profound effect on them. The children learn, grow and thrive under the firm, loving and supportive hands of their fathers, enabling them to become well-rounded personalities in all respects.

However, sometimes, initiatives don’t bring about results that were expected, in which case the fathers try out new ways to impact their children. Abu Muaz puts it aptly: “Of course, there are times when some things don’t work out in which case we try to figure out where we went wrong and how to correct them in the future.”

Is anyone reading out there?

Read in the Name of Your Lord

Hiba Magazine got in touch with AFAQ Publishers to get their input. Muhammad Pervez, Teacher-Educator, AFAQ (Karachi) gave us the following response:

Assessment of readers’ demographics along with what they are reading is a very important topic to explore the tastes of the reader in this modern era.

In the digital age, we think the readers want to peruse material on pertinent issues with an innovative approach. It will be up to the writers and market researchers to find out which topics the audience wants to read along with its segmentation in term of taste, social requirements and age groups.

If we make an analogy with a fantasy novel, Harry Potter, and consider the reason it sold 450 millions copies and has been translated in 67 languages, the answer is very simple. A reader will buy and read if the writer has developed his/her thirst of knowledge and taken into consideration the basic structure of the literature (thrill, adventure, character, romance, etc).

It is an old debate that readers don’t want to read anymore. I think the importance of books and print media is not going to minimize. However, the dimensions and terminologies have changed. We are living in an age of competitive and challenging environments. Globally, we are facing too many issues and social problems. We are searching to get rid of their affects. A reader is keen to know and update oneself along with one’s community and next generation. At the same time, one also seeks escapism and relaxation in fictional literature.

The fact is a reader of today is the leader of the tomorrow.

No Age for Charity

No Age for Charity

By Naureen Aqueel – Freelance journalist

If you study the lives of great personalities, who have achieved something commendable, you will find a few characteristics that are shared by them all: determination, courage and hard work. Where these traits are present, Allah (swt) extends His help too. There could be no better example than in the case of Major Abbas Ali and his wife Sarwar Jehan Begum, founders of the Muslim Welfare Centre – a couple who defied old age and devoted themselves to provide selfless service to humanity during the ripe years of their lives.

Major Abbas chose to raise funds by charity walks and feats others would only imagine at an age like his. He walked over 10,000 kilometres to support charities in various countries around the world. On April 7, 1985, at the age of 64, on World Health Day, Major Abbas undertook to visit on foot children’s hospitals in the seven emirates of UAE, propagating Oral Rehydration Therapy (ORT). He covered 600 km on foot. In 1986, he also participated in the Sports Aid Programme organized by Unicef throughout the world to raise funds for the famine-stricken people of Africa in which he covered 191 km from Dubai to Abu Dhabi on foot.

In 1987, at the age of 66, he walked 2500 km in 90 days through the sandy deserts and camel trails across the Arabian Peninsula to perform Hajj and to collect funds for a charitable hospital in Karachi. He became known as the first man in modern history to walk for the Hajj.

In September 1998, at the age of 77, he sky dived from a height of 10,500 ft to raise funds for the ‘Support a Child, Save the Nation’ welfare project. In 2004, at the age of 82, he walked 100 km from Whitby to Mississauga to raise funds for a Seniors’ Home. His walks earned him the title of the ‘Volunteer Charity Walker from Pakistan’. He would often say “The rich pay Zakat on their wealth, I pay Zakat on my health.”

A retired major from the Pakistan army, Abbas Ali and his wife founded the Muslim Welfare Centre in Toronto in 1993 with the motto “Service to humanity is Service to Allah”. The organization was based in Canada but has operations in Pakistan and other areas of the world.

The Muslim Welfare Centre established a home for needy women and children in 1995. Over 3500 single women and mothers with children, irrespective of their backgrounds, have benefitted from it. The centre also operates four Halal Food Banks and Halal Meals on Wheels food distribution system for the less fortunate from all faiths in Toronto. Over 6500 needy families are helped by this initiative on a monthly basis.

The centre is also operating two schools and two charity clinics in the poor localities of Karachi. Moreover, it provided emergency aid for flood victims in Pakistan and is operating a water exploration project for the impoverished villages in the Thar desert region.

Major Abbas passed away in 2009 while visiting Pakistan to oversee these projects. Since her husband’s demise, Sarwar Jehan Begum has remained in Karachi and is serving as the President of the organization.

Major Abbas received a number of awards during his lifetime and others posthumously. The McLevin Park in Scarborough Canada was renamed to ‘Major Muhammad Abbas Ali Park’. The couple has taught us that if one has determination and will power, there is no age for charity work.

Youth: Future of the Ummah

cover - youth - Jul 11

Compiled by Tooba Mumtaz

It definitely goes without saying that the Muslim youth of today will be the leaders of the Ummah tomorrow. This is a role for which they have to be formally groomed, by their families, educational institutes, and the society at large. Today, the sad reality is that the youth are “lost” – they lack direction and they definitely are in dire need of role models to emulate and leaders to follow. So, what can be done to improve the situation and channel the youth towards a positive future?

Hiba interviewed a few prominent personalities, who have worked with the youth in different fields. These individuals included:

1)      Salman Asif Siddiqui: Director, Educational Resource Development Centre (ERDC), Educationist and Parent Counsellor.

2)      Amina Murad: Administrator, Star Links School and author of award-winning Flowers of Islam publications.

3)      Shujja-uddin Shaikh: Academic Director, Quran Academy.

4)      Saulat Pervez: teacher at Generations’ School, content researcher, and writer.

5)      Sumaira Dada: ex-teacher and writer.

The aforementioned individuals gave their valued input on three aspects:

Top three success strategies for working with the youth in order to motivate them to be the leaders of tomorrow

Salman Asif Siddiqui

1)      Respect the youth and nourish their confidence, self esteem and trust.

2)      Educate them about the culturally-rich history of Muslim leaders who were pioneers of the Islamic history/society. Tell them their success stories in the different fields of life.

3)      Thirdly, there should broaden their vision and keep the global perspective of humanity in mind, while being loyal to their regional identities. We want to produce world leaders.

Amina Murad

Act upon what you say

The youth need good contemporary role models to emulate. Be one of them: a sound practicing Muslim and follower of the Prophet (sa). Be a leader at home and in the community.

Communicate vision

Telling is not communication. Be visionary and give them a vision. Be their friend and show them ways of achieving their goal, despite the setbacks. Provide positive feedback to motivate them instead of continuous criticism. Help them focus by removing time wasters that sap their energy. Youth should be taught to find their special talent, develop it, and channelize their energy in that direction.

Involve them and channelize their energy

Muslim youth have fewer opportunities to channelize their energies. Authentic work experience and involvement in schools, colleges and family and community services will channelize their energies. Positive involvement will help them unleash their potential and help them gain confidence to work towards their vision. Their blurred vision of a glamorous world will be shattered and the harsh realities will excite them to share their resources with others. Leadership will thus follow.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

First of all, we should clearly define success. It is crystal clear from the Quran and Sunnah that the ultimate success is that of the hereafter. As such, I propose the following strategies:

  1. Try to inculcate real faith (through company of pious people and teachings of Quran and Sunnah), as faith is the fundamental motivating force for good deeds.
  2. Get authentic knowledge of what is Halal and what is Haram (through the teachings of Quran and Sunnah); we cannot move forward towards success unless we know the right path ourselves.
  3. Keep in view the life of the Prophet (sa) – according to the Quran, his role model is the best, followed by the Companions of the Prophet (sa).

Saulat Pervez

  1. Keep the communication lines open — instead of micromanaging the youth, have a trust relationship where they can come to you to discuss any problem.
  2. Educate them not only in the traditional intellectual subjects, but also in emotional, mental, and social areas so that not only are their SAT scores or O Level results high, they can also learn to empathize, to exercise self-control, and be civic-minded.
  3. Raise them to not only be good Muslims – but to be good humans and understand that the only way you can be a good Muslim, is to be a good human first and foremost.

Sumaira Dada

  1. Trust them: Our youth is constantly kept under check via a strategy of do’s and don’ts till they rebel. We need to realize that after giving them a guideline on the do’s and don’ts that Allah (swt) has laid down for us; we need to trust them to follow that guideline.
  2. Convey the message that the Muslim heroes of yesterday are as relevant for us today as they were then: The Umar and Uthman (rta) of the golden Islamic age are not just paragraphs in books on Islamic history; rather they have been real people who led a balanced life in this world. We need to make our youth realise this so that they stop looking for heroes in un-Islamic cultures.
  3. Channelize their talent in a way that Allah (swt) approves of. We need to guide them to the right kind of friends who will support them in their endeavour.

What are the top three issues facing the youth of today and how do you suggest they deal with them?

Salman Asif Siddiqui

In Pakistan, specifically, the identity crisis is the main issue which has developed in our youth. They have lost confidence in being recognized as Pakistanis and as Muslims. The only option is ‘escape’ from their country and religion. To change this mentality, we need to develop institutions confidence is restored in one’s identity.

Another issue is lack of emotional confidence; the youth has no personal opinion. It’s so easy for them to be moulded by others and react. To deal with it, the thought process needs a radical shift from extremism to a balanced state of mentality. Finally, the youth of the Ummah need to develop native language skills.

Amina Murad

Communication revolution

We need to educate the youth about the communication revolution and have one-to-one conversation as parents and teachers. Without any guidance, technology has become a giant monster; information is equated with knowledge and knowledge with wisdom. Communication revolution can revolutionize the fate of the Ummah if our adults and youth are educated to use it for acquisition of knowledge and dawah purposes.

Freedom from religion

In today’s secular environment, freedom of expression is an attempt to have freedom from religion. The youth are confused. Constant hammering of slogans of freedom to choose their lifestyle is redefining their conceptual framework. The youth need to develop love and relationship with Allah (swt) and Muhammad (sa) as role models with a sound knowledge base.

Bad companionship

All issues are linked with bad companionship; be it media or society. One’s relationship with the Qur’an and its lessons should be stronger than the relation with Facebook and its communities. Without guidance, the blitz of technology leads to self-love and narcissism: the personality trait of egotism, vanity, conceit, or simple selfishness. Sponsoring events that allow the youth to meet like-minded friends, interact with multi-generational society and provide Halal fun and entertainment and remember Allah (swt) is a practical way to deviate them from Haram fun all around.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

Lack of direction and supervision

For this, pious people (practicing Muslims) should be contacted who are sincere and willing to help.

Domination of western thoughts and isms

For this, our past history, where we were the leaders, should be revisited through books as well as a study of Muslim thinkers and philosophers, who contributed to human thoughts and civilization.

Limited concept of Deen

For this, they should go back to the original sources of Islamic knowledge (the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (swt)). Furthermore, it should be noted that unless we have a comprehensive concept of Deen, the non-issues would remain the issues and sectarianism will prevail in the society.

Saulat Pervez

Frustration with family and other authoritative figures in their lives

Be patient and understand that no person is truly one-dimensional. If you feel someone is always finding fault in you, stay cool and don’t label him/her. Try to talk to them logically and explain to them your side of the story; be ready to listen to their side, too. Reach a solution together.

Over-reliance on friends

Your friends are important, but do understand that just because they are ready to embrace you just the way you are, with no demands whatsoever, doesn’t mean that it’s always a good thing. Having someone older, wiser and more experienced as a guide post, who can distill all those “brilliant” ideas and plans, is truly essential in this age. Ideally, this person should be a parent.

Too plugged

I know it’s cool to log into your Facebook account on your Iphones and have wires sticking out of your ears all the time, but too often, we are exchanging real, purposeful experiences for virtual, meaningless encounters. Find a healthy balance between staying connected with those who really matter, listening to content which is truly inspiring and having social experiences which really challenge you to learn to live with people despite the differences.

Sumaira Dada

1)      Lack of heroes to look up to

2)      A strong influence of largely un-Islamic culture.

3)      Lack of opportunities to release energy and utilize talents.

What behavioural characteristics do the youth need to instill during the primary stages?

Salman Asif Siddiqui

The youth needs to realize the purpose of their life which has been defined by the Quran and Sunnah. They should have positive goals in their lives. Our youth is mainly inspired by Western ideals and beliefs. The west promotes ‘emotional intelligence’ which is being clever, however, the Islamic paradigm is ‘Tazkiya-e-Nafs’. The West works on cost-benefit analysis, whereas Islam teaches us ‘emotional well-being’. To teach these differences, parents must be trained to act as mentors on the divine principle of ‘falah’.

Amina Murad

Nurture their real nature

An Islamic personality should be our Fitrah. In the polluted environment, our Fitrah is suppressed and little priority is given to the remembrance of Allah (swt). The most beautiful ninety-nine names of Allah (swt) should be made the benchmark for all the characteristics taught.

Time management

Value of time means valuing life and self. Parents and teachers should help young children limit every activity and realize that it’s Satan who makes us lose track of our goals and waste our life. Set a routine and discipline from a very early age. From Salah to sports, from giving time to parents to people around them, all activities should nurture individuality which makes each human being a very independent and special entity in this world.

Creative thinking

With unlimited opportunities, creative thinking is a skill that needs to be developed to help our kids reach the level of excellence in all pursuits. We should remember our kids are and will be living in a very different world than ours. Unless we help them come up with challenging ideas, they will be unable to challenge the world of Kufr around them and become part of it. Leadership demands Muslims to be creative to solve the problems of humanity.

Shujja-uddin Sheikh

Sense of responsibility

We should remember the purpose of life and the real life ahead.

Live for others

People live for themselves but we, being the Ummati of the Prophet (sa) have to serve others.

Trust in Allah

No matter how many difficulties we face, we should have faith that nothing is impossible for Allah the Almighty.

Saulat Pervez

Foremost, we need to teach our children to think. At school and at home, we must give them practice in developing their thinking skills, so that they grow to be reflective individuals, just as the Qur’an encourages.

Secondly, we need to instill an awareness of their relationship with Allah (swt) from an early age. They need to understand that Allah (swt) loves us and He is Merciful, but He has also made us responsible for our own deeds and we will be held accountable for them.

This brings me to the third point: they need to be cognizant of the fact that “worship” is not only pure Ibadah such as Salah, Sawm, Hajj, Sadaqah, etc. Along with my prayer and my fasting, I must be honest in my dealings with people (even if they are parents and teachers). Too often, we pray, yet we cheat; we recite the Qur’an, yet we backbite; we give charity, yet we spread rumours without verification. Unfortunately, kids learn this dichotomy from adults.
All three reinforce each other towards a common goal: awareness that our life has a purpose and before it ends, we had better make ample preparation for the life which is eternal.

Sumaira Dada

  1. Self-confidence
  2. Positive thinking
  3. Realism

Conclusion

It is heartening to note that every individual, who is currently working with the youth, is very clear about their problems and solutions. One can only hope that these problems are addressed and these solutions are implemented, in order to ensure that the youth turn out to be the bright future of our Ummah.

Interview with Sarah Basar – An Aspiring Lawyer

Jul 10 - Interview with Sarah BasarTell us in detail how you managed to complete your studies, and especially how you took your exams.

I studied in a special school for the blind, so I was provided all the facilities a blind student requires. Fortunately, my family has always been extremely supportive, and with their help, I managed to pursue my studies further. In school (till grade 8), I took my exams in Braille. As far as board exams are concerned (from grade 9 to graduation), I took exams with a writer, who used to write while I dictated. I had a little trouble in mathematics, but, Alhumdulillah, it all went fine. I always carry a tape recorder to record notes and lectures, which later helps me in compiling my notes.

How do you manage to access the Internet?

I work on computer with the help of voice software called Jaws. I can browse and find my notes, cases (I am currently a law student), check my e-mail, use Skype, download anything, Alhumdulillah. I have absolutely no problem in writing what I am writing!

What are your interests and how do you pursue them?

I am very much interested in current affairs and sports. I am one of those fortunate people who have access to Braille books, and I love reading. I keep track of the news regularly and keep myself updated with the latest happenings in politics.

Tell us about Braille, and how it has helped you?

Braille is a special system devised especially for the blind. It consists of six dots and is read by finger touch. Braille has helped me a lot in studies. I used to use a slate and stylus. You put the paper between the slate and with the help of a stylus punch holes in the paper. Then I got my very own Braille, which is more like a type writer. It speeds up my work.

What is the reaction of your classmates to you being a special student?

Alhumdulillah, I have always had very good classmates, who have been very understanding and supportive. They have never showed any hesitation in interacting with me or helping me, or asking for help.

What can the youth do for the needs of special students?

I think youth should be given more information about the people with special needs. There are schools which need volunteers to help such students gain confidence and feel connected to the outside world. There are many children who are not as fortunate to get in touch with a lot of things I have. I would definitely encourage younger generation to volunteer at schools for visual, physical and mentally impaired people.

How does your family support you?

My parents both have worked twice as hard on me, as they had to go an extra mile for me. My mother learnt Braille especially for me. My siblings and relatives also support me in anything I do.

What are your plans for the future?

After I graduate, I plan to do my Masters degree. Then, I would love to practice as a lawyer independently, Insha’Allah.

Interview with Abdullah, a Young Imam

Vol 7 - Issue 1 Interview with a Young imamAllah (swt) has bestowed honour upon Abdullah, an 18-year-old Imam, who has been leading the Taraweeh prayers for hundreds of men in Sad Bin Abi Waqas Masjid, Karachi.

Tell us something about your early education and your journey to becoming an Imam.

I started my education at Bright Star Academy. Simultaneously, I also began my Quranic education at Sad Ibn Abi Waqas Masjid. My father was an Imam there. Then, I enrolled into Madrassah Bait-ul-Islam as a full time student of Hifz (memorization of the Quran).

I studied in the Madrassah from morning till Isha and in the next 9 months, completed my Hifz programme. In 2005, I learnt to lead Taraweeh prayers with the help of another senior Imam. In 2006 and 2007, I was assisted by another Imam in leading Taraweeh prayers. Alhumdulillah, for the past three years I have been leading Taraweeh without any assistance.

How did you conceive the idea of leading Taraweeh prayers?

My father was my main inspiration and guide, who sowed the seeds of love for the Holy Book in me. Unlike other households, we never even dreamed of watching television or listening to the radio. Since the Quran was all that we ever heard as children, there were various Surahs and Ayahs that we learnt by heart, before even beginning our formal education of Hifz.

At the age of 9, my father encouraged us to practice leading as Imams in the Masjid. Alhumdulillah, mainly due to consistent auditory learning at home under my parents’ guidance, I developed an interest in all my exercises of the Quran and began leading Taraweeh at the age of 13.

What are your future plans? Would you like to become an Imam in a Masjid, following in your father’s footsteps?

I do not worry too much about my future. I have trust in Allah (swt), Who will guide me to the right path.

As for my career as an Imam, firstly, I wish to lead a life of a responsible Muslim now and in future too. Secondly, it is my desire to be associated with the Masjid. I don’t want to impose myself on anyone. If the Masjid requires my services, I will do that. I would love to be associated with it in any way I can to please Allah (swt).

Would you like to leave a message to our youth?

I would only like to say, what the Prophet (sa) said: “In the difficult hours of Yaum-e-Qiyamah, there will be seven kinds of people, who will be granted shade under Allah’s (swt) throne. One of them will be the youth, who committed their time to obeying and worshipping Allah (swt) and following His Messenger (sa).”

This doesn’t mean that a Muslim youth is expected to hibernate in the Masjid. Rather, our Messenger (sa) used to encourage and pray for young people to engage in trade and earn lawful means of sustenance.

Nowadays, youngsters forget that they are not here forever. They ignore the Shariah, indulge in forbidden stuff and use all available tools to acquire what they want, daringly disobeying the Lord.

Another important matter is to ensure that the good deeds done are in accordance with the ways of the Prophet (sa) and not self-created or prescribed by a certain spiritual leader.

May Allah (swt) grant inspiration to others to follow in Abdullah’s footsteps and give to our Ummah young, well-guided and dynamic leaders. Ameen.