Tribute to a Scholar and Grandfather, By Muhammad Jameel Yushau
Allah swt says in this ayah that they are such people that nothing in this world, literally, neither trade nor commerce — no trading, buying, selling, no commercial activity — nothing can distract them from the dhikr of Allah swt. Tasawwuf is just a method. It is not the necessary method. It is not a method.
This engagement in the world, and the last stage of baqaa is the work of the prophets, it is dawah. This is the way dawah is done in tasawwuf; a person makes themselves a person of dhikr, they get this connection with Allah swt , and they bring that connection to the dawah.
This is the way Hadrat Maulana Ilyas [Kandhlawi] rah used to make dawah. He was sahib-e-dhikr and sahib-e-nisbat. Today, people are trying to do dawah without dhikr. Similarly, how are you going to do this type of khidmet of deen, i. You should not listen to the dawah of that person. Fanaa means passing away from the self and baqaa means abiding in God. These are loose translations. So fanaa i. Baqaa, those of you who know Urdu would know the word baqi, it means to subsist due to the will and command of Allah swt.
Normally, what human beings engage in is called self-preservation. You are conscious of yourself. You are keeping yourself alive. At that stage of fanaa, you lose the consciousness of your own self. So what is keeping you alive is the wish and will and the hukm of Allah swt. And then you realize that even when I was conscious of myself, the only thing that was keeping me alive was the wish and will of Allah swt.
I am utterly needy and dependent on Him. My being is dependent on His Being. Only His Being is independent.
You do not become one with Allah swt , so he is making it clear here. Fanaa and baqaa are experiential, not existential. This is one of the most famous things that Imam Rabbani rah is known for. And he has written many letters on this topic. But they have an extensive critique of wahdat al-wujud, that they thought it was wujudi when it was actually shuhudi. Let me explain. The English here is good; these are the proper philosophical terms. Wujudi would be translated as existential and shuhudi would be translated as experiential.
But this loose translation does not mean that you understand the concept. Wujudi i. Wujud, existentially means in actual reality. So in actual reality you have not passed away. You exist. You cannot eliminate your existence. Every human is eternal. It is the wish of Allah swt , He has created us that way. There is nothing any human being can do that, from Syedna Adam as all the way to whoever the last human being would be, no human being has the power and ability to eliminate their existence.
In reality, they cannot cease to exist. So he says that this is not a reality. What is it then? Instead, it is shuhudi. It means experiential, in perception. In his world of perception, he was unaware and not conscious of that arrow, just like that a person in dhikr, in ibadah can become unconscious of their own self.
I will give you the opposite example as well. You are sitting in class and you are not even aware of the itch on your nose. You just start praying, and then you notice it. You lasted two hours in class and it was completely fine. We are the opposite. We are so engrossed in the dunya that we are unaware. When you are deeply involved in something, you become unaware. Forget even qalb, let me go to a lower faculty which is the human mind; it is lesser than your spiritual heart.
Sometimes a person is so lost in their thoughts that they become unaware. You would say to that person snap out of it, because that person is so engrossed in some thought that they become unaware. You being unaware does not mean you stop to exist, you still exist, but your awareness stops to exist.
Your self-awareness stops to exist. He says that when these people came up with the doctrine of wahdat al-wujud, they misunderstood. When they re-opened their awareness of themselves, they perceived themselves to be Allah, and that was the mistake they made.
The mistake they made was they thought fanaa and baqaa were wujudi, when actually they are shuhudi. A human being does not become Allah swt , and is not united with Him. There is no unity, ever. There are wicked theorists who think fanaa and baqaa are wujudi, that the man discards his ontological limitations and unites with the primal source. Sometimes people who support wahdat al-wujud give this example that Allah swt is an ocean, and He created everyone out of drops from that ocean, and when we experience fanaa, we return to that ocean and become a part of that ocean again.
And this is also, by the way, what Agha Khani Ismaili theology teaches, this is what they believe. They think that they are going to be the drops that will become reunited with the ocean. So, this belief is incorrect. What does limitation and determination mean?
To put it simply, you exist in time-space. Allah swt exists outside the realm of time-space. So on the side, he is giving a philosophical refutation as well. That the drop of water loses itself and mingles in the ocean, it casts away its individuating limitations and becomes one with the absolute. May Allah swt save us all from their blasphemous ideas. Real fanaa so what is fanaa in reality? Earlier he had said that wilayat is nothing but ubudiyyah in totality.
So fanaa is nothing but ubidiyyah. And real baqaa is to fulfill the wishes of the Lord. Whose wishes am I fulfilling? They say that now I have no will and wish left, whatever is the will and wish of Allah swt , that is my will and wish. Just like in this world, a slave does whatever his master tells him. The slave sleeps when the master tells him to sleep. He gets up whenever the master tells him to get up. If the master tells you to get up at 4 A.
This is the beauty of it, this is submission, this is tasleem, this is Islam; you are still who you are. You wish only that what Allah swt wishes for you.
When we do that i. After writing this, he does mention that some of the writings by some of the sufis seem to suggest otherwise. Even some of the writings by the rightly guided mashaikh of tasawwuf sometimes just seem to suggest otherwise, so he is going to talk about that.
In the writings of some sufis, one comes across words like mahw ; to erase, efface and izmehlal ; dissolution, to dissolve, to fade away. What they mean by these words is experiential effacement, not existential effacement. The identity of the person of tasawwuf disappears only from his vision. It is never abolished in reality. Now he is talking about when the person is really deep into that dhikr. In the dream-like state, your experiences in the dream are so overpowering that they can even make you forget who you are in reality.
Similarly in dhikr, sometimes a person has an overpowering experience that they forget who they are. They have an overpowering experience in ibadah. When some people go for tawaf, they forget everything, they are lost.
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In other words, in the beginning when we were in alim-e-arwah, in ruh form, before Allah swt put us in our body in the womb of our mother, at that moment the only thing our ruh was aware of was You, the only thing our ruh perceived was You.
And now that we have been put in this world, now we are perceiving all of these multiple realities. These people are just blind. They do not see that no matter how perfect one becomes, one cannot transcend their humanity if nothing else, your very humanity will prevent you from becoming one with Allah swt ; human limitations, imperfections, deficiencies etc.
Hence the ontological return of multiplicity to unity makes no sense. If they think it will happen after death, they are infidels. They deny the reality of punishment in the Hereafter and they falsify the teachings of the prophets as. You may remember earlier that Imam Rabbani rah mentions sometimes when a sufi is in a state of ecstasy, he makes an utterance. In English you would call it an utterance; it means something someone says uncontrollably.
I will give you its example from a Hadith. And what is he saying? Nafaqa Hanzala, nafaqa Hanzala. At that moment when he was saying those words, he was not making an aqidah creedal statement that I have become a munafiq hypocrite. And everybody knows that.
No commentator of Hadith has ever suggested that these words should be taken literally. Because he was overpowered by an emotional state. What was that emotional state? So later on the Hadith continues that when he goes to the Blessed Prophet sws and he explains his emotional state that he realized that O Rasool Allah sws when I am with you I am one way, and when I am separate from you sws my spirituality goes down.
Just like Syedna Hanzala ra never even had the slightest drop of nifaq in him, even for v8 smartwatch firmware smallest fraction of a second, just like that when some of these people in tasawwuf said something, they were not united with Allah swt even in the slightest of drop even for a fraction of second.
The example for this he gives you; Glory be to me. Abu Yazid al-Bastami said this. So the question is, if you look at these words technically, if you take them, again, at the surface value, then it should be an incorrect statement, because that is what we only say for Allah swt. Now how will this operate? If you are looking at this as a scholar of aqidah and kalam, you would immediately get him off the hook of kufr anyway. Because these are words, even though it may not be appropriate, but you could use them for ghairullah.
Sometimes you praise somebody so you say you did a really good job, you tell somebody he was saying such high praises of you. We say Allahu Akbar. So a theologian would get him off the hook using that method of husn-e-zan I had told you before.
That was the fair reading. But if you take the honest reading, however, then at that moment something was happening to Shaykh Bayazid Bastami rah because of which he said this statement. What was that emotion that made him say this? He takes the honest reading just to understand what was the experience that was going on in tasawwuf. Let me explain what he meant. Allah swt and the world are separate this is the view that Imam Rabbani takes Wrong position: Allah swt and the world are the same.
Second wrong position: the world is a shadow of Allah swt. So he says the correct position is that Allah swt is completely separate and the world is completely separate in terms of being completely distinct and different separate entities.
But there is a relationship between the two and this is what is called the relationship of Allah swt to the world. His fadhl, His fayz, His karam, His rehmah, so many things that He sends. In Arabic, they try to come up with just one word to encompass all of these things which are the relationship of the things that Allah swt sends on this world.
For example, one is wardat, tajalliyat, one is shuyunat, ihtibarat, all of it means the way Allah swt relates with the world. He is completely different from the world, but He is not an absent Lord. He is completely dynamically focused on and engaged in that world.
And those engagements, and that interaction and relationship, that is what Imam Rabbani says is the shadow. So, for example, Allah swt uses this metaphor, very famous ayah they call it the ayat-e-nur and so many commentators have tried to comment on it. And Allah swt gives this whole long simile of the nur, and the lamp, and the lantern and the niche. There must be some reason Allah swt chose to say it. So the nur of the hidayah is a shadow of the nur of Allah swt.
Because Allah swt is beyond everything, shadows and appearances mark the beginning of the way, they are only aids and means. Next letter. Praise be to Allah swt and peace be upon his chosen people. I received your letter which tells of your commendable attainments. I was very much pleased to read it. In the path of love, in this path of muhabbah, a lot of strange experiences happen. You must pass over those experiences and changes and try to reach that One Being Allah swt who produces those states.
Reach means qurb. You think a person is not going to feel that? That, however, is an existential reality. They may not understand that feeling sometimes, they may not be able to express those feelings in words sometimes, because feelings and words are two separate things. Feelings cannot always be expressed in words.
For example, Imam al-Ghazali rah loves to give example of a fruit. If we take a mango, can you really express how mango tastes in words? Just like this one cannot be perfectly captured in words, the other one can also not be perfectly captured in words. And you will never be able to understand it by the words. You will never understand.
You can never understand the words of tasawwuf through words. You will only understand the words of tasawwuf through feelings. If I say the word tasty, it comes to your mind. If I say the word sweet, it comes to your mind. The word sweet, because you have experienced sweetness, produces an understanding in your mind, not because of the word, but because you have experienced sweetness.
Just like that, when they are going to say words here, Imam Rabbani rah was writing to people who had experienced these realities, so the word is just a marker — and this is all what philosophy of language teaches anyway — word is just a marker and a place-holder for a meaning, and the person who knows the meaning, understands the meaning from the word.
Shiraz Uppal: A Journey from Soulful Pop to Soul-Searching
You all know the difference in how orange and apple juice taste. You know that because I am pretty sure almost all of you here have drank both. If I tell you ikhlas and tawakkul, these are also two words, but do you know what the difference is in feeling them? Actually, the word here used is strange.
If you know Urdu, the word is ajeeb. Ajeeb can hold the meaning of wondrous, amazing, mind-boggling, inexplicable, not capturable in words. If afterwards you are given true knowledge, you would be really fortunate. Mind one thing, everything that comes to you in vision and understanding all of your feelings, inspirations, kaifiyat, ahwal, kashf, ilham negate all of it. Everything is ghairullah, your own kashf, your own ilham, your own kaifiyat, your own ahwal, feelings, states, stations, experiences — all of that is also ghair.
Sometimes some murids are so into these experiences that the shaykh produces in them. This causes problems. They thought shaykh was the person who was supposed to give me spiritual feelings. So now they run around looking for feelings.
Then what happens is that suddenly they stop feeling these feelings from one person, then they go to the second one, then he makes them feel the feelings, then they go to the third, then fourth, then the fifth one. They are just like spiritual groupies. They are running around looking for one thing to another. I see them in the bayans, they are always sitting at the back and I know they are not listening to me, they are not looking at me, rather they are listening to and looking at the crowd.
Yes, these feelings happen to a person, they get these feelings. We are emotional creatures and Allah swt has structured deen in such a way that it will move and motivate you emotionally.
Shaykh Mawlana Kamaluddin Ahmed
But all of that is for ubudiyyah, for the servant-hood and slave-hood to Allah swt. So, he says, negate your vision and understanding; even the vision of union and multiplicity for the real unity does not appear multiplicity.
What actually appears is a reflection that we are His creation. When you see a unity in creation, you are just looking at the fact that we are all His creation, you are not perceiving the wahdaniyat of Allah swt Himself, the Oneness of Allah swtthe singularity of Allah swt Himself, you cannot witness that in this world.
So the best thing for you at this stage is to repeat the words la ilaha illallah. This is the great kalimah of tawheed. This is why Imam Rabbani rah used to teach this later instead of starting dhikr at la ilaha illallah. For example, in sufi silsila in other silsilas, the first lesson they give a person is la ilaha illallah. In Naqshbandi silsila, the first lesson that is given is what we call ism-e-zaat, dhikr of Allah, Allah. So the person is getting love for Allah swt in their heart, and they are getting detached from the love of the world.
In that process, what happens is that they have the love for Allah swtthey have these feelings, experiences. You should just have the pure, servant-hood love for Allah swt.
Take the sword of la ilaha illallaha and run it on all of those experiences. You had a vision, or a dream, and the murids they love — this is not the letter they want — they want a reply that mashaAllah you had such a great dream.
You have such a higher ruhani maqam spiritual statureyou are such an elevated person. Imam Rabbani knows so he says do la ilaha illallah, keep doing it. You should go on repeating this kalimah until nothing is left of your ilham.
Finish it. You think you know Allah swt? Keep repeating la ilaha illallah and you will realize you are completely ignorant of Allah swt. Knowing Allah swt is to know that you can never know Him.
To ultimately know Allah swt is to know that you can ultimately never know Him. This is called ajz humilityto be ajiz. Real ajz is real marifah, and real marifah is real ajizi. And then the only experience that you feel is hairat. Unless you reach wonder and unknowing, you will not attain fanaa. Fanaa means that you know yourself intimately that you can never really know Allah swt. His reality is unknowable to you, and you will just be lost in a state of wonder and amazement of Allah swt.
So what you think to be fanaa is actually nothing. It is certainly not fanaa. So first reach unknowing, then you will realize fanaa. This is the first step on the way. And then he quotes a poet: How can you reach swat [? You will have feelings when you fall in love with Allah swt.
You will have experiences. This is correct. So here you are getting a very inside look into a sort of this advance teaching of tasawwuf of Imam Rabbani rah.
But you must go beyond those experiences. Blessed are those who follow the guidance and walk in the path of the Blessed Prophet sws. And that is to come out of all of those experiences and do the work of dawah, the work of khidmet, the work of ihya-e-deen revivaltajdeed-e-deen reformationkhidmet-e-deen service.
This is the way sufis are rightly established that they do these two things. And my best wishes to you. Ever changing states and experiences are not to be relied upon. Those are momentary. These are called ahwal and kaifiyat in Arabic. The goal is altogether different. It transcends whatever you hear or see, because the goal of tasawwuf is not something that can be heard, seen or felt or experienced.
Because the goal of tasawwuf is to make yourself the slave of Allah swt. These things are just like sweets and cookies to please the children of suluk. For your own tears? They had the feelings, but they were always negating the feelings. This is exactly describing what the Sahaba ra were like. They felt all of these feelings. They were unaware, they just kept negating them. That was their whole life. If you look at the great mufassarin, muhadithin, fuqaha, usuleen, mujtahidin, the awliyah kamileen, siddiqeen, saliheen, you will find exactly the same thing.
You read about them, especially towards the end of their life, acting as if they never had a moment of taqwa in their life, they are so terrified, talking about themselves as though they are truly nothing, although in our eyes they were amazing. That was the type of a human being they were, that despite all of those feelings, they viewed themselves to be nothing.
The real thing to seek is different from these petty things. He is calling these ahwal and kefiyat petty. He was doing this to train the person. If in a dream you see that you are a king, you do not become a king. Muftis here cannot put up with Punjabi and Siraiki poetry, but there was one wali who used to address himself like this — you wake up in the night, why do you celebrate yourself?
So you are up every night, you pray tahajjud, so the rooster is also up every night at tahajjud as well. This is real humility. And those people were humble despite their accomplishments. In naqshbandi tariqat, visions and experiences are not to be counted on. You will find this couplet in the books that mashaikh of tasawwuf use to explain this: I love the sun, I sing of the sun.
In other words, dreams, or these feelings, take place in the night. But what a person is in love with is the sun. The sun is symbolic for the nur and the Majesty of Allah swt. When one state comes, the other goes, there is nothing to be sorry for, there is nothing to be happy over.
This is an important teaching that the mashaikh used to teach that some people, when they do dhikr, they feel something. They get sad. So he is saying that happiness and sadness are not about feeling and not feeling.
They are worried about that. But when they commit a sin, they are not worried about that. I actually empathize with a lot of you because, except for a handful of you, you absolutely had no idea whatsoever is in Maktubat-e-Rabbani. So you may have not actually signed up for all of this theoretical stuff. But I wanted to show you that sometimes when you see something in its full force, it makes you appreciate it. And maybe sometimes for people to appreciate tasawwuf is to actually see it in full force.
Though we may not be able to experience these things, we may not be at that level yet to experience it at a full force ourselves, but — look, can you even imagine, we would be even lucky to have the experiences this person wrote about, let alone moving to that stage where we negate those feelings with la ilaha illallah.
There are very few people alive today who probably even had the experiences he wrote about in the first place. It just shows you how deep deen is, and how deep these people were. And if you really want to understand or appreciate any person in any field or discipline of learning, sometimes you have to look at the accomplishments of excellence in that field.
The real power of deen of Islam is to make a human being even on earth close to Allah swt. Today we want to revive the economic power of deen, or its political power. We have underestimated the spiritual power of deen.
So when we get a glimpse into some of these people who are on the right path, and how they were working and training trying to create people who are like that, we get quite amazed. With regards to dreams, what can be the response to a friend who believes their dreams came true? We are living in a day and age in this ummah where there is no single aspect of Islam that has not been misunderstood.
Even in terms of faraidh, and haram, which are complete black and white cases, people have misunderstood those things. So when it comes to stuff like this, a lot of people have misunderstandings.
My own experience has been that sometimes Allah swt tests a person who has such a misunderstanding, and sometimes Allah swt can also punish such a person who has such a misunderstanding by making that misunderstanding appear to be true.
What does it mean for Allah swt to misguide? A lot of the mufassirin have written in detail, because this is a very important concept, and it is also something that comes up in the whole predestination and free-will debate, as in how much free-will do you have if Allah swt misguides you?
When I was in college, I wrote a paper on this. When I did that study, I saw that every single time Allah swt talks about misguiding, He is talking about misguiding someone further who has chosen already to be misguided and has refused repeated calls to come back to the path. Sometimes, in that case, Allah swt can make things happen. It can be tarot cards, it can be palm reading, it can be, quote unquote, reading the future. My point is that being correct or incorrect is not necessarily the measure of whether someone is rightly guided or incorrectly guided.
Obviously, there are people who will try to couch and explain their visions and experiences in the authentic language, and it is difficult to tell. They can ask someone who they believe is authentic and capable of guiding them, they can seek guidance on that on how their response should be to that. Because, as it genuinely happens, every time they get a dream, they are going to get worried if it would come true or not and it could lead to a whole set of psychological and emotional tensions.
That person should themselves seek guidance. It is not a certain, authoritative, guaranteed proof in deen. So nobody can think that what I have been shown is going to happen definitively, they can just think that it may possibly happen. If the event actually happens, the course of the event confirms the thing that they saw. How does this happen? Where did they get it from? I would like to thank you all for liking and enjoying my music… It was a Beautiful Journey but everything comes to an end one day… So I said Good Bye to my Musical Career by my own choice… I just wished and prayed to my Creator that how can i make u happy???
And He poured a light in my heart that opened my eyes and the path was lying clear in front of me… May Allah guide us all to the right… Amin I kept thinking what would people say. I have a single-track mind. I could not carry on anymore. It was the similar to when I graduated from the MBA program in and I wanted to decide whether to go into music or do a proper job. Inmy father, a retired air-force officer was working for a private aviation contractor, died in a helicopter crash going from Bahawalpur to Lahore.
That incident helped me make up my mind and I started a job. However, my heart was always in music, so in I asked my mother and my wife permission to pursue music as a career. I needed three years from metro 2 compliance dispute letter in which I would not be contributing to the family income, at all.
I just needed to prove myself and work hard towards what I wanted. Soon I started getting popular and soon I was well established in the business. Keep supporting MuslimMatters for the sake of Allah Alhamdulillah, we're at over supporters. Help us get to supporters this month. The Prophet SAW has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small.
Set it and collect blessings from Allah swt for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it. I have always considered A. Rehman my guru. I always admired how spiritual he was, despite being in an industry dominated by Hindus Rahma is a convert to Islam. We are born Muslims, we have had religion handed down to us on a plate. Rehman keeps his prayer mat right next to his keyboard and is able to blend both his music and his religion without a problem.
I had many talks with him on this subject. We would discuss our religion, dreams that we had, about balancing our music with our deen. Then I met Aisha and I wanted to prove myself to her that I could get the grades and I was suitable for marriage. Thus, when I decided that I wanted to do something that was totally halal and there was no doubt in it, I knew that I had to quit. She has always stood by me in my music but it was always her desire that I grow a beard and start practicing.
Then my eyes opened. Allah has given equal brains to all then why not use it in ways other than music. Even my son is very pleased with my decision. She is a woman who regularly prays 5 times, so I convinced her that it was the right step. Now she agrees with me. My fans have been very supportive and I have received so much encouragement from them on my Facebook page that I am very surprised.
They were congratulating me on this step. My fans have increased in these past few days as I gained so many of those who never listened to my music but now want to support me in this decision.
Some of them cried when they heard the news. Many said you are making us look bad by quitting. I have no hard feelings against them. I am not an authority of whether it is halal or not. I am not passing judgment on anyone.