Youth Club Blog presents to you some very candid Q & A with our CEO Raja Zia ul Haq. These questions were asked at the WOC 2014 event ‘Around the Bonfire’. Raja Zia ul Haq talks about his relationship with his car, his family and his wife, and his inspiration behind the popular workshops ‘Lovestruck’ and ‘Qabool Hai’.
YOUTH CLUB: A lot of us have seen the video about the change in your lifestyle (http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=B4cdc7Hpirk). Sky diving, theatre, partying, fancy cars- it seems you had it all. Do you sometimes miss the lifestyle that you left behind? Don’t you ever feel tempted to go back?
RAJA ZIA UL HAQ: I don’t miss the bad bits but I do miss my car. I really, really, really miss my car. I had a Dodge-Charger, an American Muscle car and I lost it in an accident. She was my baby; we had a very good relationship alhamdolillah!
My wife can tell you how much I miss it. Sometimes when she says: “Where have you kept the charger?”
My response is: “Ohhh! Don’t say ‘The Charger’. It just breaks my heart every time I hear that name.”
However, I don’t miss those things which were taking me away from Allah. I flee from anything that would reconnect me to things from the past that were displeasing to Allah. I would rather be boiled in oil or shot in the head three times than go back to that lifestyle. Wallahi, I’m not even kidding. So I have absolutely zero regrets for the things I left behind.
There’s nothing wrong in enjoying life and having a nice car or good clothes. But, if your wealth or luxuries or entertainment take you away from Allah Subhanahu wa Ta’ala, then this is a massive problem.
Alhamdolillah, I still have a lot of fun with sports activities or games. Allah loves the strong believer. Practicing Islam does not mean you stop having fun. You can have fun; you can enjoy life; you can chill out with righteous friends; you can entertain yourself. Just don’t indulge in haram things. You can eat and drink whatever you like, except for the very few things that are haram. If you want to have fun, you can do it in a halal way. You want to have a relationship, you can have four as a brother, but it has to be halal!
I make dua for Allah to increase His love in me, because that makes you enjoy a very fruitful, wholesome and holistic lifestyle.
YOUTH CLUB: Your workshop ‘Lovestruck’ is a super hit. What was your inspiration for choosing this topic? How did you put together the content?
RAJA ZIA UL HAQ: The people of Rawalpindi and Islamabad were my inspiration behind the ‘LoveStruck’ workshop. Visiting different schools, colleges and universities, I realized that a very common problem the youth are facing is: love affairs. This is a recurrent issue everywhere. When we ask young boys and girls what is the hindrance between them and Allah, it turns out that many of them are deeply entangled in haram relationships. They get really motivated and buzzed up by talks and lectures, but these relationship issues become a barrier between them and Allah.
So, I met one of the top scholars in Lahore, and I discussed this problem with him. He recommended the book Dawae Shafi by Ibn al Qayyim. I went straight to the bookstore and bought it the same evening. Little did I know that this book was written in very difficult Urdu. I made it a mission to understand and absorb its content, because the Sheikh had convinced me that this book contains the solution to the problem. I tried reading it twice, I kept on going back and forth, reflecting over it. In the end, I had developed three workshops out of it: Sinless, Lovestruck and Qabool Hai.
I realized that our classical scholars have done a lot of work in terms of tazkiyyah (spiritual purification). We don’t need to look anywhere else. I was surprised at the gems I was extracting from this book. It contains things that are relevant even today; it contains some very deep philosophical stuff that people can benefit from. That book really changed it for me.
YOUTH CLUB: People who start practicing often face opposition from their families. How is one supposed to deal with his/her family and make Dawah to them? Tell us about your own experience in this regard.
RAJA ZIA UL HAQ: When someone doesn’t know your past, it’s easy to give Dawah to them. But your family knows your past; they know you inside out. It’s very tough to make Dawah to them but it has to be done- it has to be done with wisdom, love and patience. Initially, I made a lot of mistakes. I would be quite aggressive with my family. When they would challenge my Deen, I would sometimes shout back at them. When they saw me attending a lot of halaqahs (study circles), they expressed the fear that I would become an extremist. It got to the point where I wondered if I had told them I was a homosexual, that would have been easier for them to accept than to know that I was becoming a practicing Muslim.
I soon realized that my hostile approach with my family was totally wrong and it was not working. In Islam, it is not permissible to say ‘uff’ (the slightest word of irritation or contempt) to your parents. You have to be patient and kind with them. You have to show them through your actions that following Islam has made you a better person, a better son and brother. Before you give Dawah to your family or to anyone else, you need to smash your ego. Do it purely for the sake of Allah. And you will find a million and one ways to do it inshaAllah. Just don’t give up on them.
YOUTH CLUB: Your workshop ‘Qabool Hai’ (which is a sequel to ‘Lovestruck’) is also a very popular one and lots of couples have benefitted from it. It seems like you are some kind of a relationship guru. How is your relationship with your wife?
RAJA ZIA UL HAQ: No, I’m not a relationship guru and I don’t have perfect relationships. I married in my days of jahiliyah (ignorance). Ours was a love marriage, though I don’t endorse love marriages. From the beginning, I had a very good chemistry with my wife. We had mutual respect. The thing that I laid down from the start was that we would always address each other with words of respect, even in fights and arguments. Even in those situations, we would never lose our dignity. Whoever lost it, the other person had the right to remain quiet and walk away. Otherwise, we wouldn’t walk away until the problem was resolved.
So even in our fights, we would say, “Aap aisay hain, aap aisay hain”. It actually seems very polite and courteous when you’re using the “Aap” word in an argument. Because of this attitude, we overcame a lot of hurdles and obstacles.
When I started to research Islam, properly and come towards it, that respect, love and mutual agreement made it easy for me to talk to my wife about Islam, and for her to talk to me. Alhamdolillah, I’m very blessed that both of us entered Islam together. We learnt from each other and we gave each other good advice. Being on the Dawah scene, sometimes I would also lecture my wife a bit more than was required and my wife would say: “This is a lecture, isn’t it?” And I would say: “No its Naseehah, its good advice.”
A lot of my Dawah techniques were honed by giving Dawah to my wife. I would always be gentle and convince her that the only reason I was giving her Dawah was because I cared about her and wanted the best for her- there was no other perspective. That love and mercy became part of my Dawah style.