By Nadeem Ashraf
NOTE: This article was based upon a few lectures that I gave at some schools in Faisalabad, including LGS, City School & Educare Academy. The article has purposefully been published in a lecture format so as to be of use to other brothers and sisters that would like to deliver a lecture at a school based upon this.
I’m not a preacher. Not a scholar. Not an imam, just your everyday guy. Just another Muslim struggling through this life to achieve the pleasure of our Creator.
I am an English language teacher by profession. Born and raised in England, I emigrated to Pakistan in 2011, to live amongst the Muslims (this is the point where people raise eyebrows – crazy eh?). Yes: to those who view the world from a worldly point of view, this choice would be perceived as crazy. However, those with real vision, those with the vision of getting past the hurdles of the Hereafter, would sympathize with this move.
I was at one point someone who used to look up to British hooliganism – I was a slave to my desires. I wanted to become a gangster! I used my intelligence for my own selfish, evil needs. But Alhamdolillah, I was guided to the truth. I have since been involved in multiple projects aimed at changing society for the better, and have been with all sorts of organizations that want to make the world a better place. I have had the immense privilege of being around people of great stature, people with great wisdom, sincerity, clean hearts and big visions.
So now I want to reach out and share a few points with you, my young readers, with the hope of inspiring serious thought. These points will, God willing, do the following:
(a) make you think about life,
(b) make you take life a bit more seriously, and
(c), make you a successful person in this world and in the next.
Now that sounds like a formula one should stick to, doesn’t it?
So here goes…
There are a lot of ideas that people hold onto in the world, and live their lives according to. In my experience, however, people’s ideas about life revolve mainly around three key themes: fun, love, and money. Especially at your age. You don’t want to have worries or concerns – just pure chilling, yeah?
First off, let’s discuss the likes and dislikes of your average Pakistani teenager. (I will also touch upon the average UK teenager’s likes and dislikes.)
Ask the audience: Which celebrities (musicians, movie actors, entertainers) do you admire and look up to? Which celebrity posters do you put upon the bedroom wall?!
In my time, we used to look up to Dr. Dre. Who else? Here’s a few:
Oasis & Robbie Williams!
So what’s the in thing these days?
And what do you Pakistani kids do for fun?
(Get some shout outs from the audience)
Okay, so that’s actually not bad – but maybe there are Pakistani kids in 2014, that smoke cigarettes? Take drugs? Have “special” friends among the opposite gender? Yeah?
Now, that being the case, my question is: why do you do these things? Have you ever thought about it? Or is it just because everyone seems to be doing it? Well if that’s the reason, are you sheep? Are you sheep that follow each other and go wherever the herd goes without thinking for themselves?
Let me put in another way.
If all of your friends, teachers, and everyone in the society around you says, hey, let’s all follow this particular path, and at the end of this path there is an edge. And they jump off, and there’s a huge fire below – would you still follow them? I don’t think so!
Why not? Because you are someone who is sane. You have a mind of your own. Right? So why are you letting people tell you what to do with your life? Because, wake up, that’s exactly what is happening with you right now – you are letting other people dictate your life!
Second, consider this: what if all this entertainment – those music videos, Pakistani and Western, Bollywood movies, the magazines, the commercials, the morning shows – what if this is all being fed to you just so that you DON’T THINK? What if it’s really just a distraction from really thinking about the reality of life, and about that one matter which every human has to experience: DEATH!
These celebrities, will they help after you die? They don’t even know you! And if you just indulge in these things because it makes you feel good, then think again: really, does it? I doubt that. In fact, I would argue that it’s a very fake and temporary buzz. It. Won’t. Last!
Think about it. Now, next.
The world is mad about it. We have been fed the idea that we cannot survive without making tonnes of it. And sure, it helps. Sure, you should try and work hard at your studies and become successful businessmen (and women), teachers, IT professionals, and accountants, and so on. Of course it’s good to have big salaries – but just don’t make it the only thing worth living for.
My philosophy is: Do not chase money. Chase the worship of Allah Subhanahu Wa Ta’ala. And money will follow.
Think about it. The whole world is chasing money – but is the world a good place to live in right now?
Oppressive wars. Acute poverty. Family breakdown. En masse greed. The problems go on.
What does Allah tell us?
“..And whosoever is conscious of Allah, He will make a way for him to get out (from every difficulty). And He will provide him from (sources) he never could imagine…” (Surah at Talaq: 2,3)
Center your life on taqwa (God-consciousness). Make it about Allah. The world will follow. Allah is in charge of it – how can He not take care of your affairs when you focus your life on Him?
The Prophet (sallalahu alaihi wasallam) said:
“Miserable are those who worship money and fine clothes. They are happy when they are provided (with things) and upset when they are denied.” (Bukhari)
Think about that too. And finally *drumroll*
Ahhhhh – love! I bet everyone has either fallen in, or wants to fall in, love.
Our good old friend Bollywood, with Amir Khan, Shahrukh and Hrithik jumping around flowers and over Swiss mountains, has made sure you become hopeless romantics! And we just carry on watching that nonsense and we let it take over our minds and hearts.
So tell me if I am wrong: when you are at the bazaar or the shopping mall, or at the school functions or at weddings, do you not try to get a glimpse of the opposite gender, and hope to fall in love? Bollywood style? Admit it!
Is this the definition of love? Look beautiful/handsome, hopelessly pine after the man/woman of your dreams, hide it from the world, break your heart and walk away? Says who? Again, have you ever stopped to think about it?
Real love is something much deeper and purer. It is when the person takes your hand through the sacred and honourable covenant of Nikah, and stays by your side through thick and thin.
We, as da’wah-men and women, as Youth Club members, have real fun. We talk and laugh and eat out and travel and make friends. But we strive to do it the only way that makes sense. We strive to think about why we do what we do.
Our real wealth is not to stress about money
We are slowly falling madly in love with Allah. That is serenity personified.
“And surely, in the remembrance of Allah do hearts find rest.” (Surah ar-Ra’d: 28)
You can have fun. You can earn money. And you certainly can fall in love. BUT.
Do it the right way. Do it the way that makes sense.
Don’t let other pieces of creation dictate to you who to love and HOW to love.
Who created your heart? Who created feelings? Who controls the time of your death?
That’s right: Allah!
So does it not make sense that you take heed of the ONE that created all these rather than the limited, flimsy creation?
In a practical sense, I would advise you to do the following:
Study the names and attributes of God. That will make you want to love him. And when you really love Him, it will be easier, even pleasurable, to follow the limitations placed by him.
Then read about Paradise. You can have your dream hunk/princess! You can own your own Ferrari to take you to (a much better version of) Dubai or Paris or NYC for shopping. Unlimited shopping. Unlimited fun. Unlimited wealth. Unlimited love. You can have all this and whatever your mind can imagine – and more!
Just be patient, for a while. Listen to your teachers. Listen to and respect your parents. Establish the prayer. Keep away from what is not allowed. Get away from the corruption of the music and entertainment industry. Take time to reflect about your life. Obey Allah’s commands — and it’s not hard, trust me; just avoid the haram. Before you know it, the dunya will be gone, and the akhirah will be the only reality. The eternity. Work on making that pleasant!
So here’s your homework:
Go home, switch everything off – your iPhone/Android, laptop, iPad, TV, radio, mp3 – everything. Close your door and for ten minutes, think about Allah, your Creator. Think about what he provided you with. Think about your return to Him. And pray to find good strong company!
Study the deen. You really will find peace, and love, and fun and money – believe me. Allah does not let you down!
I leave you with the inspiring promise of the Quran:
“Whoever does good-whether male or female- we will grant to him a goodly life, and We will reward them according to the best deeds that they did.” (Surah an-Nahl: 97)