Azeem Pirani and Atefa Jamal recount Junaid Jamshed’s narration of his life in the media
His was not a story of a boy with a song in his heart; rather, Junaid Jamshed doesn’t recall being an ardent music listener at all. Living within a protected environment as a child (his father being an ex-air force officer), Junaid was a studious boy, who enjoyed sports and even played under-19 tennis for Pakistan. It was at college and later university, where he met music lovers and proficient music makers, that he discovered his ability for reproducing songs and soon taught himself to play a guitar for making music of his own.
Junaid’s interaction with the media began as a member of Pakistan’s first official band the Vital Signs. This group of professional musicians worked together for three years, before they caught the media’s attention. Music journalism was in its infancy then and matured with every step the Vital Signs took. The band worked hard to market itself. With no radio FM available then, they relied solely on television and print media. Once Pepsi took them under their wing, they no longer worried about economic stability and concentrated on their music.
Being a ground breaking band in Pakistan, the Vital Signs were celebrities and the first to taste the glamour that came with the role. What helped them to avoid becoming addicted? When Shohaib Mansoor, whom Junaid describes as a visionary, asked them about the basis of their money making, fan following and fame, they replied: “Our work.” To this, Shohaib added: “Don’t go after any of these three things. You will receive them all, but only on the basis of your work.”
“So we always focused on our work all the time,” explained Mr. Jamshed, “and, thanks to Allah (swt), we always considered the running of our houses more important than glamour. Man gets destroyed by the glamour world, when his focus shifts away from his work.” In fact, the Vital Signs made it a point not to discuss the matter of fame, so their only disagreements were about the work itself (sound of the music, etc.). Thus, they worked together for 13 years and remain good friends even today.
“But no doubt, there is a lot of glamour in this field,” Junaid Jamshed pointed out, “but it [glamour] is an unnatural life; it is a life of disobedience to Allah (swt), so there can be no Barakat in it. How can there be any? If I live in your house and disregard your every word, will I ever be at peace there? There will always be some problems to face. Similarly, no one can live peacefully in this world, while disobeying Allah.”
The Vital Signs eventually disbanded, because some of its members felt they had lost the appetite for the work. As most Pakistani music fans know, Junaid continued making music as a soloist.
But then, much to the media’s surprise, he began to change and announced that he would stop making music altogether. The media world was in an uproar. What brought about this sudden decision?
Junaid explains that he met an old school friend Junaid Ghani. This Junaid did not chide nor question his music making; rather, he silently made his presence felt in Junaid Jamshed’s life. All he asked from Junaid Jamshed was to participate in some Dawah work for the Pakistani Dawah group the Tableeghi Jamaat, in order to introduce people to Allah (swt) and His Prophet (sa). As this seemed simple enough, Junaid Jamshed began to enjoy doing it. However, while going door to door with Dawah, he also found many people unwilling to give him the time of day. Used to catching the media’s attention easily, this disregard of his presence deeply wounded him. “Then there was [also] Allah’s help, which is necessary,” Mr. Jamshed observed, “if you don’t lead your life according to the Deen, then no matter what plan for success you may have, you are ultimately going towards disaster and will face the effects of that disaster in this world and in the Hereafter.”
His Dawah work and several strange incidents continued to shake Junaid, giving him the strength he needed to turn away from music making. Once, for example, he was approached by a smart young man desiring to learn music. Junaid tried to dissuade him, when much to his astonishment the young man told him that he was a Hafiz of the Quran and had shaved his beard to be more like Junaid. Stunned, he realized that his music making was corrupting the Ummah itself.
Furthermore, he observes that the media makes a person seem like a public commodity. The gossip and fan following had disastrous effects on his family life. Junaid found his family drifting away from him, and he was constantly stressed by this.
When Junaid Jamshed finally announced his departure from music, the media’s reaction was severe. Although initially he gave up in front of the immense pressure from the media and sponsors, later he did manage to stand his ground.
Shaitan made him worry about what to do next. By Allah’s (swt) Mercy, Junaid Jamshed now runs a successful chain of clothing stores popularly known as “J.”.
Surprisingly, he is still working with the media. How did this come about? At the suggestion of Mufti Taqi Usmani and the support of Maulana Tariq Jameel, Junaid Jamshed released two albums of Nasheeds (musicless recitations for praising Allah (swt) and His Messenger (sa)) as an alternative to musical (Haraam) songs. He also gives Dars on television and is using the media towards making people aware of the Islamic banking as an alternative to the conventional (Riba based) banking.
The media attention now aids Junaid in Dawah and working towards gaining Allah’s (swt) pleasure. His family can clearly see and appreciate his efforts for the Deen. Though the people using the media for spreading good are assisting each other, Junaid Jamshed cautions: “One should not set out in the way of doing good on ones own; rather, he should ask for elders’ [wise people] advice and then do it. Otherwise, the efforts to spread good would spread Fitnah instead.”
Junaid Jamshed aptly concluded his narration by explaining Surah Ar-Rad (13:11): “Allah will not change the condition of a people, as long as they do not change the state of themselves.”
Junaid Jamshed aptly concluded his narration by quoting from Surah Ar-Rad: “Allah will not change the (good) condition of a people as long as they do not change their state (of goodness) themselves (by committing sins and by being ungrateful and disobedient to Allah).” (Ar-Rad 13:11)
Fear of loss obstructs the desire to turn away from sin. Junaid Jamshed observes that Allah (swt) will test one’s firmness of faith but then: “When Allah decides to make someone His friend, He makes that person beloved and respected by the people. Then, He exalts Himself and His Prophet (sa) through that person. An example is the Sahabahs – every Hadith first quotes the name of the narrator (Sahabah) and then the words of Allah and His Messenger. Such is the manner of respect Allah bestows upon His friends.”
Pakistan still sees Junaid Jamshed in the media eye, still holding a microphone, still using his voice. Now, however, he speaks for the pleasure of Allah (swt).