Were you mischievous as a child?
As a young child, probably no; as an older child, probably yes. When I went to school and reached my teenage years, I was not a great kid.
Who was you role model growing up? Who do you follow?
I was very arrogant, when I was young, so I don’t think there was any person to whom I was attracted to or impressed by. I used to go to a public school. It was not a high quality school and people over there were not very clever. I used to find studying very easy, I used to pass exams very easily, so I became very arrogant. I was not impressed by others. I used to think that people are impressed by me, so I did not have any role model.
If I was to name people whom I really loved when I was young, then they were Waseem Akram and Eric Cantina. These are the two people to whom I looked up to.
As a teenager how do you rate yourself as a practicing Muslim?
As a practicing Muslim, I would rate myself at 4.
Tell something about your family. How did you tie your knot?
My parents were always very traditional, as they were from a typical strict Pathan family. Even though I was not practicing so much when I was young, I was very disciplined due to my father, and my values were very tight. I was happy to maintain those values. My mother liked my cousin, since we were teenagers, and she wanted me to marry her. I was happy for that to happen.
Above all the professions, why did you choose to become a Shaikh?
I did not actually. As I said earlier, I found studying easy. I wanted to be a doctor but my attitude was not disciplined enough in terms of studying for achieving it. So I never got into serious medicine, but I did the basics of becoming a pharmacist. When I actually began practicing pharmacy, I realized that this job was not intellectually stimulating enough for me. So I started practicing my religion and I found it fascinating. I studied and memorized huge amounts. My teacher told me that I needed to study formally, which I did. I began with my teachers in Manchester; then, they sent me abroad, where I realized that I needed to go for perfection in this field. Alhamdulillah that made me who I am today.
Why do you think that teens are adapting the western culture?
In the West, they never sell their language, as it comes with their culture, just like their films come with their values and their music – with their concepts of entertainment. So it is like a package deal for them.
Muslims, especially the young ones, think that they are getting individual components only and that they are protected but they are not. Thus, our youth start slowly suffering from spiritual and intellectual diseases because of the western culture they have picked up. The irony is that people in west may be safer, because they can see straight through it, they are no attached to it, addicted to it, whereas in Pakistan, where the western culture is not seen as native culture, it is more dangerous than abroad. In Muslim countries, western culture is seen as superior, which is why people strive to learn it.
What place do you think sports have in a Muslim’s life?
Sports are absolutely essential – it is a majority halal area of life. Many forms of entertainment kill the heart and involve disobeying Allah (swt). It does not mean sports industries are full of angels; however, the point is that sports industry is not intrinsically Haram, whereas the other entertainment industries are intrinsically Haram. In sport industry, you have to actually do Haram things in order for it to be Haram. Things are added to make it Haram, whereas the Assal (pure) is Halal. Basically, sport is the perfect outlet for the entertainment.
Can you believe that cricket can be used as the Dawah?
Of course! One of my best friends is Moeen Ali. His values are Islamic, appearance is Islamic, his practices are Islamic, so this man is a clear example of doing great Dawah. People will automatically gravitate towards a sportsman, who is brilliant and excellent in his field having strong character and personality and also a practicing Muslim.
Transcribed by Faiza Rizwan