I finally had the opportunity to attend the LiveDeen event here in Karachi. It was a lecture + workshop = lectureshop titled 'Faith - The Next Level' held at the Imperial, Clifton in Karachi on Jan 22nd, 2012. Three speakers were to present three topics related to the theme, and they had flown over to Karachi all the way from the UK. They were:
1. Brother Adnan Rashid
2. Shaikh Abu Abdissalaam
3. Brother Kamran Kiyani
And the lectureshop was to be conducted from 10.30 am to 4.15 pm. I reached there by 10.15 am, and was greeted with a pleasant surprise. Volunteers sitting on the front desk were filling out registration forms and the one I went to, turned out to be a junior from my A'Level days :). Brought back some memories!
The event started at 10.30 with the recitation of the Holy Quran by one of my acquaintances again, Abdullah Ali. Masha Allah, beautiful qirat. Then the first lecture began. The first speaker (Brother Adnan Rashid) was speaking on 'Where are the Salahuddin Ayubis of today?'. Interesting topic no? I was quite intrigued. The talk began with an introduction of Tipu Sultan! Br. Adnan explained that he's talking about Tipu Sultan (kinda more familiar to us subcontinental-history-knowing folks!) because this man had lots of similarities with Salahuddin Ayubi. And for that, he quoted some verses of Allama Iqbal regarding Tipu Sultan. In his British-accented Urdu, he was quoting Iqbal! And we were staring at him quite dumbly. At least I was (and people in my vicinity were). Something to be ashamed about!
The most important point that was highlighted throughout his speech was that Salahuddin Ayubi and Tipu Sultan, both could have chosen to live (literally) like kings. They could have all they wanted: wealth at their disposal, luxuries, good food, etc. Why then, did they choose to live in constant battle, and constant hardship? What made them die and not leave behind huge bank accounts? What made them do things that made them physically exhausted, away from their families for months at end... what drove them? The answer lay in their principles. They knew their responsibilities as kings, and they knew the suffering of the Ummah. They knew that they were in a position where they could make a difference to respective pathetic state of the Muslims at their times and their locations. So they didn't care about the luxuries they could indulge their whole lives in, they just cared about their duty towards Allah Subhanahu wa Ta'ala and their duty towards Islam.
Message for us: We all know that the Ummah is in crisis today. Be it economic, social, political, moral, you name it, we're in it. We're all Muslims, and we all have amazing lives. By amazing I mean we (or whoever is reading this anyway) are educated, don't worry about the next day's meal, don't worry about whether we have a place to sleep at night, etc. We all are fairly average/above average individuals. What is stopping us from putting in our bit of effort towards the betterment of Muslims in the country/world today? What makes us indulge in the self-involved lifestyle that we indulge in today? What makes us so involved in stuff like trying out different cuisines, entertainment avenues, complain about them etc? Why don't we take some action?
So this was the wake up call of a speech, presented by Br. Adnan Rashid.
The second speaker was Abu Abdissalam. His topic was on 'The Battle Between Hearts and Minds'. The topic was pretty interesting in the sense that he really talked about personal stuff which we could all relate to. He started by telling his story; how he was a rebellious kid being raised in the UK, who just knew he was a Muslim (by birth) but had no association with Allah SWT. Then, one day he saw a pamphlet on the floor which was titled 'Do you know this book?'. He picked it up. It was a booklet that explained the Quranic references to science. And one of the aspects was that the universe is expanding. When he attended his Physics class, his professor was (coincidentally) explaining that science has discovered that the universe is expanding. So he asked the professor how long science has known this fact. The prof answered '40 years'. He was flabbergasted. The Holy Quran had revealed the fact 1400 years ago. This marked the change in him, and the quest to know more and more 'about the book'. This was the turning point in his life. And his whole talk was on how you have to be convinced from your brain and heart, that this is the way of life to follow. Until and unless you're convinced, you're always going to remain a 'born and bred Muslim' and nothing much beyond that.
Message for us 'born Muslims': Have we taken the time to research Islam to the extent that our hearts and minds are totally convinced that Islam should be part of each and every thing we do in life? It should be there in our academics, our social interactions, our patterns and schedules etc etc.
The third speaker, Mr. Kamran Kiyani was a management trainer/expert. His research was focused on deriving leadership and management principles from Islam and the Sunnah of the Holy Prophet (Sallallahu alaihi wasallam).
His talk was very interactive. The first thing he did was, that he woke us all up (we had just had lunch - excuse us). He started off like this, "When you want to answer 'yes', please stand up. So my first question is, Have you had lunch?"
Majority of the room scrambled to its feet.
Second question "Who hasn't had lunch". Some volunteers stood up of course.
And it went on. The fun (and very inspiring) part was that he narrated specific incidents from the time of the Holy Prophet and asked us to form pairs and discuss which leadership principle is derived from each incident. We had 15 seconds to discuss and then come up with the answer. So it went like this:
Incident 1: The Holy Prophet carried bricks himself to build the Masjid-e-Nabwi in Medina.
Answer: Leadership principle is 'leading by example'.
Incident 2: The Holy Prophet signed the Treaty of Hudaibiyah even though in the short term, Muslims were humiliated.
Answer: The leader has long-term vision.
Incident 3: The Holy Prophet did not say anything to the bedouin who came to the Masjid-e-Nabwi and started relieving himself.
Answer: The leader doesn't get emotional. He guides people kindly.
This is how it went. Only too soon, the talks ended. Finally, there was a panel Q/A session where the three speakers were called onstage and they were asked questions which had been written down during the course of the lectures, and passed onto the moderator. Questions were pretty relevant and interesting. Unfortunately, my question was never answered. We ran out of time.
Some interesting questions were:
1. Everybody can't be Salahuddin Ayubi. There has got to be other practical stuff that people can do.
Ans (given by Br. Adnan Rashid): Yes, everybody can't be Salahuddin Ayubi, but the talk was intended to make you think that now that you have faith, there is a 'next level' which basically means 'action'. You can't just sit there and declare you're a Muslim. You have got to take some action. And action is taken according to circumstances, and skills. Different people have different skills and they can take various actions accordingly. Everybody is a leader in some aspect. They should identify their leadership positions and then try to educate the followers. Some examples are:
If somebody is a good writer, they should use this skill in spreading the knowledge of deen. It doesn't have to the primary thing you should do. It can be secondary. But at least, it should be there.
If somebody is a mom with 3 kids, she is in a position of authority over those kids. She should try her best to educate/nurture them on the straight path.
If somebody is the head of an organization, or a project leader - he/she can try to make the people whom he/she influences follow the right path.
If somebody is a techie, why not use technology to further the cause of deen?
There are hundreds of ways you can help out. Why limit yourself?
Other questions were interesting too. I guess this post has gone on long enough :). I've been meaning to write about my amazing experience for ages. The conference proved to be a turning point in my life at least. Jazakallah Khairan to the speakers, the organizers, volunteers, and the people who forwarded the invitations so that it reached me :):).
May Allah Guide us all, Ameen!