Bashka Voda – Part 2

Bashka Voda 2

“Where should we start from?” I asked. This raised a few eyebrows, as according to the picture Aida had painted, they were not expecting much interaction. I was supposed to have lectured like the Khutbah of the Friday prayer and leave; they were to listen respectfully and quietly.

I encouraged them by asking questions like how they were instructed in schools about Islam and so on. Finally, a 14-year-old sister said shyly: “Can you, please, start from zero? We were told in schools that there is no God.”

I was dumbfounded. This was the least of what I expected. I glanced at the rest of the class and found people nodding their heads. She was not alone.

I took a deep breath and started slowly and deliberately, as it would have been a disaster, if Aida misunderstood this delicate topic.

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A Meaningful Life

Meaningful Life

“If what we do today doesn’t impact this world a hundred years down the road, then it is simply a waste of time!” Suleman Ahmer, CEO “Timelenders”.

This rings true for parents, especially when we consider our parenting priorities and what we envision for our children. Are we simply feeding and schooling a child to become another ordinary but self-centered individual, who would depart from this world having contributed nothing to it? Or, are we moulding our kids into extraordinary individuals, who will impact the Ummah with such dynamism that its echo will sound hundred years from now?

How many of us even know what we want out of our own lives? Planning is a Sunnah of the Prophet (sa). Allah (swt) put in six days to meticulously create the heavens and the earth. What should be a meaningful life for us? Suleman Ahmer offers four key elements.

Strategic vision

There is no wrong or right definition of the word ‘vision’, as every person perceives it differently. However, it means ‘the picture of the future we want to see’. A long-term sound vision is a life which has clarity and correctness.

A parent might wish for his/her child to grow up to be a good Muslim. However, although correct, this vision is unclear. Do they want him/her to serve the Ummah, while pursuing religious education? The child may become a Khateeb (speaker), an Imam, a Mufakkir (thinker or scholar), or a Mufti (religious law expert), etc. Likewise, do the parents wish for him to become a doctor, a lawyer, an economist and serve Islam and Muslims in these spheres of life? We should try to balance out what we want for the lives of our children with what they want to become. If we want him to become an engineer, while he would prefer to be a writer, there would be a clash of visions the parents have and the child has. Parents should be facilitators, helping their children to move towards their own goals. It is also the responsibility of parents to train their children such that it makes them wish for worthy goals.

Kamila: She Dared Where Many Men Hesitated (Part 3)

Kamila

“Assalam Alaikum, brother Yusuf,” I notice the British accent. “The refugees had told me about you and brother Abbas.”

She was around twenty years of age, with south Indian features and not more than five feet tall; her slight built would not let her look short. She looked simple in a Hijab, someone you would hardly notice on an average day in a Muslim country. In Orebic’, that December afternoon, she was nothing less than a mystery. I was seized by curiosity: “Who is she? What made her come? How did she make it?”

I returned her Salam and sipped on the dark bitter coffee – the only expression of hospitality that life in exile allowed the Bosnians. “I have gathered that you will be visiting the other rest house,” she started out, “I would like to come along, as I have to visit a seriously ill girl there.”

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Book Reviews

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“The Embattled Innocence: Reflections of a Muslim Relief Worker”

Author: Suleman Ahmer

Publisher: Presslenders, 2009

Available at: Timelenders (http://www.timelenders.com)

“The Embattled Innocence” covers the time period when Suleman Ahmer was involved in Muslim relief work. The book consists of three parts – the Balkans, the Caucasus, and Central Asia – and each contains stories from the areas he visited.

The Balkans section begins with a story about a nine-year-old Bosnian girl Aida, whom the relief workers saw each time they visited Mostar. The story of Aida was the first one Suleman Ahmer wrote. Since the story drew responses from people he had never met, he decided to start a series of stories. Later, these stories were combined into a single book. The subsequent stories are as full of sincere emotions and vivid experiences as the one about Aida. We meet Kamila, a passionate young Muslimah from England, who, moved by the sufferings of Bosnians, had resigned her secretarial job to come to the war afflicted areas to help her Muslim brothers and sisters. We also meet Basheer, who gave up his engineering studies in Algeria to help out in Afghanistan during the Soviet invasion and then joined the struggle of the Tajiks. At the age of 34, Basheer embraced martyrdom after he was shot seven times in the chest and the head.

These first-hand experiences of war sufferings draw tears to eyes and bring into heart gratitude that Allah (swt) has blessed us with peace and freedom to practice our religion, which many of our Muslims brothers and sisters died for.

- By Laila Brence

“Guess the Prophets”

“Animal Kingdom in the Quran”

“Excellent Examples”

Publisher: Flowers of Islam

Availability: Dawah Books

“Flowers of Islam” have successfully accomplished the three Es in the stunning flashcards they have created. These flashcards promise to entice, educate and enchant your young ones with their unique approach. If your children are between the ages of seven and eleven, then these flashcards are truly meant for them.

The main objective of “Guess the Prophets” flash cards is to teach about the Prophets in a fun and interactive way. These stories can help young minds get an insight into the lives of the blessed Prophets of Allah (swt) and inspire them to assimilate their teachings in their daily lives.

“Animal Kingdom in the Quran” uses riddles to teach children about the various animal stories mentioned in the Quran. In this manner, the young believers can learn about the diverse animal facts and incidents.

“Excellent Examples” uses a myriad of examples and interesting similitudes to help the young believers understand such concepts as Iman and Mumin. The goal is for the young minds to explore, question and attain a better understanding of the true meaning and purpose of a believer’s role in this world.

The cards can be used as a learning tool in schools or as an educational toy at home, since they simultaneously educate and entertain.

- By Uzma Javed

Dare to Think!

Jul 10 - Dare to thinkBy Suleman Ahmer

I was surprised by the knock. It was late at night and I was the only guest.

I opened the door. It was the manager along with the cook.

“Sir, we wanted to ask you something that has been troubling us for the past few days.”

“Sure,” I replied, while asking them in.

The guest house belonged to Dr. A. Q. Khan Research Labs (KRL), where I had come to conduct a workshop.

KRL is Pakistan’s nuclear research powerhouse with some of the finest scientists that you can

find under the sun.

After sitting down, the cook spoke: “Sir, our scientists have brains so big that it would take us a few lifetimes to have our brains grow to that size!”

I was amazed at the clarity of the expression, knowing that here was an unschooled young man with his whole world limited to his village and now Rawalpindi, a town next to Islamabad, the capital of Pakistan.

“You are right,” I said, knowing that I had in my workshop seasoned PhDs in subjects such as nuclear physics, power electronics, vibrations and vacuum systems. And these scientists know how to make things happen; just ask Dr. ElBaradei, the former Director General of the International Atomic Energy Agency (IAEA).

“Sir,” the cook continued, “daily these scientists spend the whole day in your class. We don’t understand what is it that youare teaching them?”

I was stumped. What a wonderful observation!

And what a wonderful predicament!

How do I explain to these simple folks that I teach organizational restructuring based on strategic visions and then introduce the framework for converting these visions into short term actionable and quantifiable plans?

I was pushed into deep thought.

“I cannot teach anybody anything,” Socrates once said, “I can only make them think.”

Socrates believed that people can’t be taught; rather, people can be facilitated to discover what they already know. I disagree with him. It is only partly true. Through prophetic revelations, we learn many things that we didn’t know before.

Socrates was known to exaggerate. I believe that he was purposely exaggerating to provoke people, because provocation forces people to think; for this, I respect the guy for his noble agenda to force people to examine their beliefs, assumptions and paradigms. No wonder he made so many enemies.

I have come to believe that sincere people, who disbelieve us and challenge us, are among our greatest assets. Professors know it. Teachers know it. Trainers, like I, know it. We all know that one of the best rewards of teaching is to come across a sincere, naïve and aggressive man or woman, who doesn’t buy into what we hold to be correct or believe we know well. And if that person happens to be your spouse, then all the better!

On that cold winter night in Rawalpindi, I realized that I had come across such people.

In the few moments of silence that followed, by the grace of Allah (swt), a thought came to me, which has indebted me to those simple men forever.

“You know,” I carefully picked my words, “these scientists have knowledge much greater than mine. They are experts in their fields. I can’t teach anything that is related to their area of expertise.”

I could see that they felt relieved. How can someone much younger and an outsider teach their scientists? It just didn’t make sense to them. And now I had vindicated them. They were right after all.

I looked into their eyes and said: “You know what Iteach?” I held their attention: “I teach people that if what you do today – however big or small – doesn’t impact the world a hundred years later, then doing that is plain useless. It is just a waste of time.”

I sat back.

Amazingly, their eyes glistened with understanding and smiles erupted.

“You are right. This is absolutely true.” They were in complete agreement. I had told them something that they knew all along.

“We now understand what you teach. That is something good that you are teaching. Keep it up.” Saying this and with satisfaction written all over their faces, they left me to rest. Not realizing that they had left me exactly the opposite: restless!

I thought about it for many days. I pondered and reflected, and agonized. “In my urge to make things simple,” I questioned myself, “had I lied to them or misled them?”

Then it dawned upon me that just like them, I had also known this all along my life. I had never clearly articulated it to others and, most importantly, to myself. All I needed was an innocent question from those innocent men, who had no fear of being called naïve, with no reservations and no artificial persona of ‘look we know’!

And they taught me something that I had not been able to learn through books or by my travels across the globe.

Look deep inside your heart and you will realize that you know it too: if what we do today doesn’t impact this world a hundred years down the road, then it is simply a waste of time!

Dr. Yousuf Al Qardawi writes that there are people who die before their death, while being counted amongst the living. Others, however, continue to live after their death, because they leave behind good deeds, beneficial knowledge, pious children and able students, who keep increasing their life. In the words of William Wallace, the character in the movie “Braveheart”: “Every man dies, but not every man really lives!”

Please reflect on things that you know. Seek people who will challenge you. Hear them out patiently. Cherish them. You may have some valuable knowledge that is waiting to be discovered by none other than yourself.

Keep in mind the words of Socrates: “An unexamined life is not worth living.”

And my advice to you today: please dare to think!

Suleman Ahmer is the Founder and CEO of “Timelenders.”