Tag Archives: money

Fun, Love, Money.. Or is there more to life?

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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?

Fun…

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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:
Tupac.
Warren G.
Madhuri.
Aishwariya Rai.
Oasis & Robbie Williams!

So what’s the in thing these days?
One Direction?

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.

Money…

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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*

Love!

love

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.

In conclusion..

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)

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Mobile Phone: Boon or Bane

Cell phone

Order in the court room.

Ladies and gentlemen. The task before us today is to use all our faculties of reasoning and understanding to judge whether the Cell Phone, the communication miracle of the twentieth century, is guilty of being one of the biggest technological nuisances that ever existed and whether it should be banished from social life. Let us first hear what the prosecution has to say.

Prosecution: “Your honor, I place before you, a series of arguments against the defendant, presenting offences in their order of gravity, moving from the least to the most grave.

One, the cell phone has no sense of social propriety or decorum. Let me recount to you a familiar scene:

There was perfect silence in the class room except for Dr. So and So’s voice. Students were sitting in a state of rapt attention (or a state that successfully emulated a state of rapt attention) and all of a sudden, out of the blue, the ambience of earnest academic activity is shattered with some totally disco ring tone. People turn to look at the offender with an air of amusement, feeling smugly superior that their cell phones are safely turned off or put on vibration. The unfortunate offender fumbles for the phone in her handbag, manages to find it after an embarrassingly long interval and turns it off with a gesture that says, “Shut up!”. Then she looks up with a sheepish look on her face and the academic activity resumes. Behold, the cell phone has successfully made its presence felt at the most inappropriate of places and times.

This, however, is only the tip of the iceberg. Like an impertinent toddler, it wakes you up at 2 am in the morning, interrupts you in the middle of conversations, doesn’t leave you alone when you are driving, disturbs you in the middle of the congregational prayer and in short has no manners at all!

Two, it is playing a role in the steady deterioration of human language. Text messages are a very sorry spectacle as they show blatant disregard for any grammatical correctness, spelling accuracy or punctuation. The “Urdish” that we Pakistanis speak, which is already a very ineloquent combining of two languages, becomes even more incoherent when we get it down in the short-hand of a text.

Three, it is another mouth to feed for the middle classer, devouring piles and piles of money and still not losing its appetite. Just like a high maintenance wife, it never tires of demanding more and more money.

Four, it is a cause of further class-based segmentation in the society and product-oriented materialism. People who own the blackberry are a quite a different class than those who use some obsolete model of nokia. You are no longer known by the company you keep. What matters now is the mobile you keep. Many develop this irrational need to change their phone every six months, wanting to own and show off newer and newer models.

Five, like a typical teenager, it is obsessed with pseudo-love. It mediates in all sorts of inappropriate inter-gender “friendships” engaging the youth in a mindless tangle of delusional relationships. The tirade of advertisements by the mobile companies encourage such unacceptable activities as all-night talkathons and letting your thumbs ‘say it all’ for their own vested interests.

And finally, like the television epidemic that preceded it, it has substituted natural human-to-human interaction with artificial encounters. It has added to the frenzy of wanting entertainment all the time.  So any serious contemplation of life and existence is dulled by a constant need for mindless entertainment. Your honor, this is all that I have to say”

The defense may now commence.

Defense: “Your honor, although the cell phone does exhibit all the weaknesses that have just been mentioned, it is no worse than the humans which conceived it. If it has these flaws, they are a reflection of the flaws of the twenty first century man, our flaws, rather than weaknesses inherent in the cell phone. The cell is but a machine. It does not act of it own accord. And cannot be held accountable for whatever it does. If it is an impertinent toddler, it is up to us to socialize it. If it is a high maintenance partner, it is our duty to make it affordable. If it is used for  non productive activities, it is we who have to ensure its appropriate use. And if it is eroding our contact with nature and human beings, it is our responsibility to restore that contact by restricting its use.

If we look at the positive aspects of the mobile phone, everybody will testify that it is by far the handiest everyday tool available to us. It is our information resource, our task organizer, our alarm clock, our camera, our link to people in our lives and even our lifeline in an emergency. But what many don’t realize is that it is much more than just a tool. It offers solace in the face of hardships. We as a nation have been engaging in a sort of mass catharsis by forwarding texts that lament our disillusioning experience with democracy, our disappointment with leaders who cannot deliver, our bewilderment at the extent of mismanagement in the country and our exasperation at the energy crisis. I propose that the cell can be effectively used to mobilize the masses against injustice and oppression. I would say that in addition to being a tool for political activism, it can also effectively enhance our sense of personal well being. It is, in a sense, our own personal mini-therapist in the pocket, giving us our daily dose of humor which is very necessary in the kind of dismal times that we live in, letting us ventilate by spilling out our feelings and frustrations to friends who understand and enabling us to receive support, advice and assistance. Last but certainly not the least, the cell phone can be an effective da’ee, calling people toward Allah’s deen through texts consisting of ayahs, ahadith or other message that convey the wisdom of Islam in a brief and compelling way. Ladies and gentleman it is for you decide whether the mobile is more of a blessing or bane for us”.

The court has heard the arguments for and against the defendant and rules that the merits of the mobile phone outweigh its demerits. Therefore it cannot be banished from social life. In agreement with the defense, the court feels that the faults of the mobile phone are not its own. Rather they are the faults of the humans who use it. And so it is the humans ultimately who should rectify them.  For that reason, we find the defendant NOT GUILTY as charged.

The 2013 Youth!

So who is cooler and who makes more sense?! You decide!

So this first guy is your typical everyday 19-year-old Pakistani guy living in Islamabad and Lahore or any other major city in Pakistan.

He gets up every morning, shaves.. Because all ‘young’ people have to shave right ?! Because EVERYONE does it and says so right? .. The scratches, the itchiness, the stress on the face  is all worth it because then he’ll get looked at by mates at Uni and if lucky, a pretty girl will stare at him and fall in love with him, yeah?!  Hmmm.. Spends over 2 hours getting ready, combing every strand of his hair to perfection..! Creams his face.. Stares at the mirror almost asking the question.. “Mirror mirror on the wall..”!! He wears his tight jeans ’cause you know that’s the ‘in’ fashion nowadays! Doesn’t matter if they are uncomfortable..
Gotta look good !
Gotta look sharp!!
Puts on his best shirt, perfumes himself, bye to the family, catch the ‘wagon’.. Maybe stare at the pretty girl! You know, cheap thrills, yeah! Hoping she would look back! But no she doesn’t!! Oh well, plenty more fish in the sea (Uni), he thinks.
Gets to campus.. Meets his mates! High fives as  if they are Americans – accidentally happen to be in Pakistan(!). Gets invited to a party or 2.. Then talk about cricket.. “What a shot, what a chakka!!”.. Followed by “The government is so messed up man.. Followed by “Did you see that girl in that lecture?” .. Followed by “Let’s go Munchies/Savour/McDonald’s later yaaaaaaaar!!”.. Followed by “Oh this amazing song in that Aamir Khan movie.. Wow yaaar!” or “Have you downloaded that new track by Radiohead/Rihanna/Atif Aslam?!”
He misses all the prayers because none of his ‘friends ‘ are going to pray.. Plus he thinks he has got all his life to pray right?! Go Hajj when aged 40 and then pray regularly.. But right now I’m young! I’m cool! Wanna enjoy life! Death doesn’t come to youngsters at all right(!) right?!
Then he talks about exams stress. Lack of money.. Wish he had a Bollywood-type girl friend, had a car.. And just complain about life.. Go to the lectures.. Chill out with mates.. Go home.. More studies.. Sleep.. But before he sleeps he thinks what a boring life.. Everyday a let-down.. Why am I not at peace..? Everyday I try hard to impress the people  but the demands get higher!
Next day he goes through the same routine. Excited in the morning followed by disappointment towards the end of the day.. Same conversations. Same complaints.. Same have-to-get-this-and-that-but-can’t-get-it thinking! Frustration.. Lack of peace.. Working hard to please people.. Neglecting his duties towards the ONE that made him and therefore risking…

HELLFIRE!

OR

This other guy, who is also 19, that wakes up every morning to worships his Creator. He also goes to Uni dressed nicely, clean, without the intention of impressing his mates.
HE decides what he wears and not be dictated by some freak obscure designer in Lahore, Milan or New York. He has a beard because he wants to emulate the greatest human being that ever lived!
He goes to Uni and studies hard..
Greets his friends with greetings of peace and hand-shakes!
The kind of mates he meets are those that are thinking deeply about life! The type of conversations he engages in are:
“There is an Islamic lecture organised by YC [Youth Club].. Shall we go? We could all chip in for the taxi ride.” Followed  by “Do you have any suggestions for concentrating during Salah [prayer]?”
Followed by “Did you listen to that beautiful recitation by Qari so-and-so?”.. Then discuss a few points raised by a closet atheist.
Conversations but intellectual productive ones.
He prays his Salah.. He attends amazing thought-provoking, inspiring lectures after Uni. He has a vision for life based around worshiping the Creator. He is young, has feelings.. Wants a beautiful girl.. Some money.. Nice house.. To chill and relax.. But he knows not yet.. Not in this life.. He knows he needs to struggle and follow the commands of Islam on a daily level. His focus is excellence in worship because he knows that the wealth, the women, the fame, the compliments from people, the good food will either be given to him in this life, or better still, in..

JANNAH!

So which guy do you want to be? The one that tries hard to please this world and tragically doesn’t get what he wants and potentially loses his hereafter?
Or
The guy who is at peace, looking beyond what the people think and more concerned about what the creator of those very people thinks and is aiming to get to Paradise?

you decide

YOUTH CLUB

(Street Da`wah Team)

Work Hard For The Rest Of Your Life

The Life Expectancy of males in Pakistan is 64 and a half years. Assuming that is how long I would live, I have already spent more than 1/3rd of my life. How much time in these years have I spent working and worrying for the life that’s NEVER GOING TO END? And how much have I worked for the few more scores of my life left in more than 22 years I have been breathing?

We are told by our parents and relatives “Beta, bas matric he sab kuch hai. Iskay marks sari zindagi sath chalnay hain. Achay college main chalay gaye tou agay asanian hongi (Son, Matric is everything. These marks will be with you all your life. You would have ease ahead if you get into a good college).”

When you get in a good college this statement changes to “Beta, bas FSc main achay marks le lo. Entry test k liye achi achi tayyari karlo. Aik baar achi university chalay gaye tou kuch ban k he niklo ge (Son, just take good marks in FSc. Prepare well for the entry test. Once you get into a good university you’ll come out as something at least).”

After you’re in a good university they tell you to work hard since your job depends on GPA. Be presentable in the interview. Don’t keep your pants above your ankles it won’t look good. Do anything you can but just get a job. You won’t get married without it of course.

Once you have a job it’s still not over. You have to keep working hard and harder. This is the age. You’re young and can work hard. This is the age. Do something for your wife and kids. Make the rest of your life easy for you.

Rest of my life? That’s a joke right? Because I’m 40 and my body has started to become weak now. I get tired easily. I can’t do the things that I “dreamed” of doing. What was the ease that I was looking for? Where is the “whole life ahead of me” that I was promised I would be able to enjoy?

Oh but wait, I’ve made a lot of money. I have a good name among people. They respect me because of my status – my worldly status. Now I can use this status to trap other youngsters into this game. I’ll do that because I lived my life this way and now this world is all I see. I’ve been institutionalized. It all makes sense to me. This is all that matters. Dying is easy now, since I’ve achieved my purpose in life. This is how our lives are supposed to go. This is how our lives do go….

It’s sad. It really is. This is what happens to most of us. This is what is happening to most of us.

Sweet Slavery

I graduate in 2 months, if Allah wills. I’ve gone through all of this and still going through it. There are times when you just stop and think what are you doing? How many books have you read, yet not read the Quran with understanding? How you’ve stayed up all nights to prepare for your exam tomorrow, yet not stayed up even part of a night to prepare for the exam in the hereafter. How you’ve felt your nerves stretch for the fear of your result, yet you feel ease about the only result that would really matter. You get headaches thinking about what you would say in the interview, yet you do not get headaches thinking how you would answer the Lord of the Worlds.

It almost drives you crazy sometimes. Just look at the sky, and imagine these stars falling over you. Put your hand on the fire and imagine yourself burning, your whole body, for about 10 minutes? You can’t even imagine to bear the pain. Gives you the chills.

Or feel the gentle breeze touching your skin, the peace and calm you feel inside by it. Then imagine Jannah, the rewards Allah has promised. It leaves you immovable for a while.

We’re all in this mess. And I won’t tell you how to “escape” from this, for we all have different problems and you’ll have to find your way out of yours. Just remember if you’re sincere about your Akhirah and you rely on Allah then HE WILL get you through this. You’ll find a way out of it if you truly rely on Allah.

That is what the messengers did when they were threatened by their people.

“And why should we not rely upon Allah while He has guided us to our [good] ways. And we will surely be patient against whatever harm you should cause us. And upon Allah let those who would rely [indeed] rely.”
[14:12]

There are a million things one can keep writing, but the crux of it all is this: WE NEED TO GET SERIOUS ABOUT OUR LIVES. We need to stop worrying so much about our worldly life and start worrying more about our AFTERLIFE! The Quran is full of examples. We might read the translation but we seldom think upon it. I know I don’t. Because when you start contemplating upon the words of Allah then you start seeing how wrong you are living your life they way you’re living. We are lying to ourselves, all of us to some extent, and we need to stop that. We need to wake up before it’s too late and when there’s nothing left but regret. This is a reminder to myself first and foremost…
And Allah is the source of all strength. May He grant us enough to wake up to the reality of this world and do more for our hereafter than we do for this world. All good is from Allah and only the mistakes are mine.