My story

It was a hot, humid morning in the middle of August 2003. We had recently moved to Islamabad. The house was still in a mess with everything scattered about the rooms haphazardly. The settlement process; slow, messy and exhausting as usual.

I remember I had just come back after dropping my children off, at their new school and was feeling anxious and lonely. “Well life does go on…… They are not babies after all”, I tried to console myself. Feeling at a loss, I just took up the T.V. remote control and started surfing through the channels. I was just flicking the buttons one after the other when the smiling face of Dr. Ghulam Murtaza Malik appeared on the screen and I stopped to listen to his soothing voice. The first sentence that he spoke went right through my heart and shattered it into a thousand pieces. What he said was:

“The person who does not have any purpose in his life is living like an animal”

I simply froze in my place and tears started streaming down my cheeks. And I cried out to Allah “Why don’t I have any purpose in my life. Tell me what is my goal? Why am I existing on this earth anyway…?”

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Of course, this was not the first time that such a thought had crossed my mind. Although I had everything a woman could wish for, I had often felt an awful void in my heart. As if there is something missing and I am not complete without it. As far back as I could recall, my days and nights had been accompanied by a quiet emptiness; a nagging dissatisfaction which sat quietly in a corner of my mind waiting to explode whenever things got too much on my nerves. And I would ask myself, time after time: “Why are you not happy? What is missing? After all, you have everything that anyone could possibly wish for! So what more do you want?”

When I looked around myself and saw my wonderful, caring husband; my beautiful, healthy children, full of energy and life; my clean, orderly house; my own reflection in the mirror; my quiet peaceful world…………..I would feel guilty to harbour such ungrateful thoughts. And I would be disgusted at my self-pity. So I tried to suppress those unsettling questions and would get myself busy with my housework and my hobbies. But in the depths of my heart I knew that these were just diversions and I needed to have that “solid” purpose in my life that would justify my existence on this earth.

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And now once again that wound had been opened up by the words of the soft spoken scholar (May Allah rest his soul in peace). Wiping my tears I got up with a heavy heart and started to put things in order, trying to organize the newly occupied house. A short while later the phone rang; it was a friend of mine. After the initial exchange of pleasantries, she asked me if I would accompany her to Al-Huda (an institute for Islamic studies).

It had been my desire to learn the truth about my religion and to study the Quran in depth, since a long time but somehow I had not been able to do that. Now seemed a good opportunity, so I told her I’d be glad to go with her whenever she wanted. She expressed her happiness in finding a willing companion and it made me feel good too……. Little did I know that it was going to change my world! I was too ignorant about Allah to know that He had answered my prayer…

The next day we went to the main campus of Al-Huda. I was very excited and eager to discover for myself what it was really like. I had heard many contradictory opinions about this institution but I don’t give any importance to rumors, as a principle. I believe in trying out something for myself before making any decision about it. Allah has given us enough sense to judge between the good and the bad, provided we don’t cover it up with prejudices.

As soon as we entered the building, a feeling of peace descended on me as if I had entered a sanctuary. Girls clad in white uniform were going about cheerfully. One of them saw me and said “Assalaamualaikum” with a big smile, and I mumbled “wa-alaikumussalaam…….. trying to remember who she was; obviously she had recognized me but my mind was totally blank as I tried to keep smiling even in my confusion!! A second later as I was still fumbling with my brain’s memory cells, she was gone, leaving me stunned! I moved on to the reception area trying to solve this puzzle, when I came upon a group of girls who repeated this “smile—salaam-–disappear” act. Only then did I realize that they were just being cordial and were greeting me in the Islamic way. And my heart cheered for them and for this religion that had taught them to smile in this hostile, unsmiling world. I felt welcome, as if I belonged.

A smiling receptionist guided us to the main hall in the basement. My friend and I took off our shoes on the rack at the entrance and entered the world of Quran!

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As I descended down the cool white marble steps, a strong feeling of tranquility and peace enveloped me and the sound of Dr. Farhat Hashmi’s voice, echoing in that enormous hall, seemed to hold my heart. I have a very critical nature and so was afraid of being put off by any show of artificial piety or false sainthood. Therefore I was relieved to see such a practical, scientific and down to earth approach towards the Ayaat of the Quran. It was a pleasant surprise to see the discipline in the whole environment. The posture of the girls; the way they were writing in their Quran-copies, reflected their focus and sharp reflexes. They made it look so easy and natural! The incharges, gliding along the aisles, in their floor length gowns, quietly helping out the students, guided us to the listener’s area. I had never experienced such pin-drop silence in my life! I sat down and took out my diary and pen but I felt like an illiterate in that room full of learned people who had reached the end of 21st Para. So I continued to just sit there and let the sound of the Quran wash over me…….

Little by little, I seemed to come out of my “hypnotic” state and began to make out what the teacher was saying. I realized that it was the explanation of Surah Ahzaab and the teacher was telling about how the Prophet s.a.w. and His companions dug up the trench in one of the battles with the “kuffaars” of Mecca. I opened up the Quran to see the verses. It was so strange that I must have read these verses countless times in my life, but had I ever felt the heat of the on-coming battle? Had I ever felt the tension that brings your heart to the throat? The following words of the Quran made me feel as if I myself was standing in that hot desert, digging the hard earth, with stones tied to my belly to ward off the hunger pangs…………

“When they came upon you from above you and from below you, and when the eyes grew wild and the hearts reached to the throats, and you were harbouring doubts about Allah. There, the believers were tried and shaken with a mighty shaking.” (33:10-11)

It was unbelievable but true that I had read these same verses all my life without attaching any significance to the message in them. To me they were just sacred words of an unknown language and I had hoped to gain “sawab ” or reward by just reciting them. Therefore it was a completely new experience for me to feel this turmoil in my heart and I thought that if just a few verses could do this to me then what about the whole of the Quran? No wonder Allah says in surah- Al-Hashr verse 21:

“Had we sent down this Qur’an on a mountain, you would surely had seen it humbling itself and rending asunder by the fear of Allah.” (59:21)

I had barely come out of this wave of unexpected enlightenment, when the voice of Saad Al-Ghamidi filled the hall with the most beautiful recitation I had ever heard…“Oh my God!” my heart cried out in wonder, Is this your Quran? Was it always there and my eyes were closed to it? Was it always being read out like this and I was not listening to it? Have I spent 35 years on this earth without understanding your words that were meant to guide me and to protect me from the misery of confusion and lack of direction? How did I let this happen to myself?

And that afternoon, I made a firm resolve to myself and to Allah that I was going to learn this Quran, whatever it takes.

But even at that moment, I did not know that it was that “something-solid” that my soul had been yearning for….I was not to know that until a few days later.

My friend and I continued to make our visits to Al-Huda as listeners, inspite of the difficulty of leaving home and getting the housework done on time. On top of that my washer woman as well my servant, both took off on emergency leaves. The problem was that my family had always been used to a “stay-home-mom” and I had also enjoyed the comfort and luxury associated with such an arrangement. Therefore it was a real test for me, to work extra hard to be able to attend the classes without creating any fuss at home.

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The next moment of awakening came when, after a few days, we were going through the explanation of Surah Fatir. By then I had started taking notes in my diary. I was scribbling away trying to capture as much as I could yet at the same time listening intently to the teacher, when all of a sudden I had this strange feeling that the teacher was addressing me alone ! I looked at the Quran and saw that she was explaining ayat 32 in which Allah SWT says:

“ Then we gave the Book ( the Quran ) for inheritance to such of our slaves whom we chose (the followers of Muhammad s.a.w.) Then of them are some who wrong their own selves, and of them are some who follow a middle course, and of them are some who are, by Allah’s leave, foremost in good deeds. That– that is indeed a great grace.” (35:32)

As the meaning of these powerful words of Allah was revealed to me, I felt myself to be swept away by a tide of emotions and in that moment of absolute clarity, I saw myself as my Allah had wanted me to be. All the pain and anguish that I had endured all along my life in the solitude of my soul, came to surface, and I wept like a child who cries in the arms of his mother after a long separation.

“O my Allah! Am I really something other than just a meaningless creature that I had thought myself to be? Am I really worth this great heritage of the Quran? Did you actually make me for this?”

And a voice inside me answered, “ Yes, of course!”

This was the blessing that was missing from my life. This was “the purpose”, that all my faculties and resources were destined to be used for.

As I was being showered by these thoughts and my eyes were blinking and trying to adjust to this sudden brilliance of awareness, I decided then and there, what my course of action should be.

Allah SWT had given me three choices; either to ignore this heritage and do zulm (injustice) on myself (as I had been doing up to that point) or to take it half heartedly (which was unthinkable now) or to do my UTMOST effort in utilizing all I have, in the way of receiving and spreading this message to the whole world. No matter how ignorant, or incompetent, or inadequate I might seem to myself for this great responsibility………I just knew that it was going to be my choice and my destiny, Insha’Allah, I also believed that if Allah could bring my wandering soul out of its ignorance to this day and this place, then he will surely guide me the rest of the way too.

Oh, the peace! The tranquility, in knowing that I have found my way. And that I have found my Friend, my sustainer, my guide, who will hold my hand and tell me where to go. The best thing is that He will always be with me, watching over me and protecting me.

I got myself the Audio cassettes of the course with a view to start it from the beginning. Fortunately my friend and I came to know about a branch of al-Huda In our vicinity. So we joined the class there at the end of September, just as they had started the first Para……

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Thus began a new way of life for me. My whole routine went through a complete turn over. Where once I used to have so much time at my disposal, now there began a race against time as I struggled to fit in a whole series of activities related to my Quranic studies with my housework and my time with my family. I had vowed to myself that my family should not be affected in any way so that they should not blame my studies for anything. To achieve this simple goal was not so simple! But since I was doing it all for Allah, I did it in good spirit. My body ached because of this unaccustomed exertion but my spirit soared!

I would get up in the morning with anticipation and a renewed sense of wonder at being alive. The miraculous effects of the Quran taking hold of my heart and soul day after day. Allah’s words gave me a new vision and from these open eyes I saw, as if for the first time, the vast blue sky; and the endless expanse of earth, the beautiful mysterious Margalla Hills, the flowers and trees swaying in the wind, rain pouring from thick clouds, all these and much much more, singing the praise of their Creator, the one and only Allah!

And, in the midst of this unimaginably vast universe, stood my own self….. A tiny structure, a human being, which is Allah’s best creation.

The Quran made me see myself as I really was. Never before had I seen my image in such a mirror which gave me such an unbiased, clear picture of where I stood. What were my plus-points and weaknesses. Usually if someone points out something bad in us we tend to become defensive but in this journey of self purification it used to feel good to identify and remove my flaws. Just like in illness it relieves you to get a reliable diagnosis and to begin the right treatment. It felt so good to see how my Allah had blessed me with all these faculties which I had always taken for granted.

Only then did I understand that the Quran is not just an ordinary religious book with just a long list of instructions. Rather it has a life of its own. It talks to you like a friend. It not only scolds you on your misdeeds but also gives you hope of salvation. It makes you dream of Jannat, and warns you of hell-fire, of Allah’s wrath. It doesn’t force you rather it makes you WANT to become a much better person that you are and most of all it gives you a hope that it is possible to do so!

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There is so much that I can tell you about the Quran, but I don’t want to spoil your pleasure of discovering everything for yourself as you go along the verses one by one. However, let me give you a glimpse of its endless treasures of wisdom and inspiration.

Surah Fatihah, ( the most repeated Ayaat ) is the opening page of the Quran. Millions of Muslims recite it daily in their Salat. Yet, very few know what it really means. The very first words: Al-hamdulillahi Rabbil Aalamin contain a wealth of knowledge. It means that the ultimate gratitude and praise is for Allah. But what is the effect of the combination of gratitude and praise and how do we experience it ? Actually hamd is that beautiful feeling that arises in your heart when you appreciate and wonder at a blessing of Allah. When you see a half opened rose on a bright spring morning; when you inhale the sweet fragrance of the dry earth after the rainfall; that experience of delight and thrill when you hold a new-born baby; if you want to describe all these feelings in one word…….that is Hamd. Through this one phrase Al-hamdulillah the Quran connects me to my Allah, every time I see a sign of His creation, which, in fact, is a sign of His presence. If I can truly absorb this one basic concept then how is it ever possible for me to spend any time without Allah’s remembrance??

Even in a social aspect, in my dealings with people and things in general, it has given me a positive attitude towards life. I have learned that most of my problems arise from a lack of gratitude. Most of the time I am complaining of something or the other. And unless I saw myself in the mirror of Quran I would not be able to admit it. Only this great book has the power to make us realize what we truly are !! And through our daily contact with this Book we can learn to correct ourselves.

It was this daily contact that taught me the value of my five daily prayers. Previously I just used to fulfill a “duty” by chanting words; while my heart and mind would go astray, forever pondering on the worries of the duniya and its endless cycle. Now I came to know that Salat is actually, my direct communication with Allah, as well as my timely dose of a spiritual tonic to ensure my stability (and sanity !!) How merciful is our Rabb to have given us this blessing and making it the first and foremost obligation so that we might not be deprived of its numerous benefits. Al-Hamdulillah !

After outlining our complete agenda for life in surah Fatihah, Allah introduces his book in the most amazing introductory lines I have ever read:

Zaalikal Kitaabu Laa Raiba feehi Hudallil muttaqeen

This is the book in which there is no doubt, a guidance to those who are Allah-conscious” (2:2)

How much confidence these words inspire in a person who is plagued with doubts of all kinds in this uncertain world ! It seems to beckon to you “Come here, there is no doubt, Take it with an easy mind, everything here is for your own good.”

How could I not be moved? But you have to listen to Allah to believe it. I cannot give you the real taste of it by any description, however beautiful. Just like if I give you a description of grapes or mangoes or any fruit. I can only tell you my own feelings but you will have to taste it yourself to recognize and enjoy its flavour and fragrance.

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Writing all of this, takes me back into time and I remember how exciting it was to discover all this and much much more. The program of our Quranic studies was also very interesting, and apart from the daily Tafseer lectures, we had to learn the translation, review the explanation and prepare for the tests too !

I became a child again, as I sat with my children in the evenings and tried to put my rusty brain into action. How it creaked in the beginning ! But I carried on; my passion to be the best in Allah’s eyes, driving me forward. I thrived on this exercise of comprehension and memory; and derived a unique pleasure in reading out the translation in the class without making any mistake! Learning the “Tajweed” (proper recitation) was also a new experience for me. I did find it very difficult in the beginning but with the passage of time I learned to love this activity so much that it became quite natural for me to follow any Qari (recitor) that I liked.

Then came the best part, the tafseer (detailed explanation). Although we were going through the lectures by listening to tapes, yet our teacher, seemed to be present right in front of us. I used to hang on every word she spoke. Her love for Allah, her belief in the Akhirah and her passion for the Quran seemed to affect us too. How well she taught us to look carefully at the text, to concentrate on the meaning and then to absorb the gist of every word, every verse and every chapter as it came along. Her biggest “Ehsaan” (favour) on me is that she taught me to love Allah and His Prophet s.a.w. and made me feel proud of being a learner of the Quran.

Seerah classes, (which is a study of the Prophet’s life) were also conducted. I came to know how much ignorant I was about this topic. It’s a pity that we spend so many years in the name of education yet hardly a few of us really know who our Prophet was or How he spent his life. How can we claim to love him when we don’t even know what his teachings and mission were all about??

After the class there used to be some time for mutual discussion on whatever we had learned that day. All of us were encouraged to speak out. Alhamdulillah I got over my fear of public speaking from day-one. It surprised me how I could express my views in front of all those strangers.

But then, they did not remain strangers for long. Gradually we got to know one another and developed an easy friendship. Where I had always remained reserved and aloof, I found an environment in which I could also let go of myself and make friends. They did not care “who” I was but “what” I was. Every morning a whole bunch of buddies would welcome me with “real” smiles on their faces and genuine warmth in their handshakes. No wonder I had felt so alive, so happy in the absolute sense of the word.

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It would have been impossible not to bring that happiness into my home! With open eyes and an open heart I saw my loved ones and was grateful to Allah for giving me such a lovely family. Not only my home life but my relationship with my relatives and people in general, took a positive turn. I still had the tendency to fall back onto previous habits but at least I could see where I was going wrong instead of always finding fault with others. When you realize that the solution to most of your problems lies in yourself then it’s just a matter of making that extra effort. At least you stop feeling helpless because you know Allah is with you to help you in any rough spot that you might fall into. So even if I had to face setbacks and disappointments; sometimes by my own behaviour sometime by others, I still had the assurance that I am not alone. Besides, I had no time to brood ! There was enough work to occupy my mind and my time.

And time flies………. Soon our stay at Islamabad came to an end. With a heavy heart, I said farewell to my friends and teachers and moved to a new phase of my life at a small station, in the beginning of July 2004.

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Alhamdulillah , by that time I had done eight paras and was very confident that Allah will not let me go astray if I stayed true to my commitment . I set up my house at record speed so that I might get in touch with my studies with the shortest possible gap. Thanks to the Al-Huda website, I downloaded the lessons and after my children started school, I resumed my “class”…………this time alone in a quiet room. We had a jungle at the back of our small, ancient house; and with its low roof and narrow galleries, I almost believed myself to be transported into another world. It brings to mind a verse that I read somewhere :

“Connected to a timeless place

A world where I am me

A dream where I walk at my own pace

And see what I can be”

It took me some time to adjust to the quietness and solitude but soon I realized that it was Allah’s special plan for me that I should be able to give my whole attention to the continuation of my study of the Quran without any distractions whatsoever. The lesson of positive attitude i.e. Sabar and shukr that I had learned at the start of my course was being tested here. I could choose to call this situation, a great blessing from Allah and make use of this time; or I could complain about my loneliness and lack of human support and bonding, and waste this opportunity in self pity. I took the first choice and Allah granted me immense peace and inner joy of a unique kind.

The only disturbing factor was that inspite of all my efforts I could not complete the paras at a good pace. I was too slow in my writing. But I kept in touch with the correspondence department of Al-Huda and took the tests of the paras regularly which they sent me by post. It was good for my evaluation besides giving me a feeling of being connected. Every time I would get a checked paper, it gave me a childlike joy to discover my marks! So I kept moving on, at a slow and steady pace and completed 17 paras by 31st march, 2005. I remember that date because of a most shocking incident that happened the next morning and which left a permanent mark on our lives.

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On the morning of April 1, 2005, my uncle was held up and shot twice in the head at point-blank range, no more than one hundred meters from his home in Karachi DHA, as he was being driven to work. He died instantly. He was a most loving, generous and kind hearted person. And he did not have any feud or even a quarrel with anybody. That is what made this tragedy even more difficult to accept.

For my whole family it was extremely painful to bear his loss. But I had a firm belief that Allah is kind and merciful. He loves us. He cannot do “Zulm” (injustice) on his creatures. There has to be a meaning in such a devastating tragedy. So instead of complaining “Why did he do it?” I should ask Allah for sabar and try to concentrate on what I should do and what is it that He wants me to do?

In the words of the Quran in surah Mulk verse no.1 and 2 Allah says:

“ Blessed be He in whose hands is the dominion, and he is able to do all things. Who has created death and life , that He may test you which of you is the best in deed. And He is the All- Mighty, the Oft-forgiving.” (67:1-2)

I was once again amazed at the soothing power of the Quran and its strong hold over my heart and soul. Not only did it give me solace in my grief, rather it was a means to keep my thoughts in the right perspective. And I was convinced that my uncle’s death is not without purpose. It is a test by which Allah wants us to change our lives and become Akhirat-concious.

So I expressed these thoughts in a letter and mailed it to all my relatives, inviting them to read the Quran and start thinking about what we have been doing so far. I also stressed the point that we will be doing this for my uncle’s “Isaal-e-sawab” as well as our own salvation.

I was amazed at my courage because I had never done anything like this before. Then I got an answer to my letter but in a totally unexpected way. Some people came to offer condolences and a lady started off by saying the usual things…….. How sad it was and so on. But I answered her in the same words that I had written in my mail……….. That Allah is merciful and He does not do anything without a plan………..and all that I had been thinking, poured out.

She gave me a call a couple of days later and asked me if I could teach her the Quran. I was glad and terrified at the same time. On the appointed day, I spent the whole night with open eyes and a fearful (yet hopeful) heart. And she came and Allah put the love of the Quran in her heart as well. She is MaashAllah such a bright learner. And then some days later I met another woman who was devastated by the death of her two small children. I tried to comfort her by showing her the healing power of the Quran. This time I was more confident because by that time I had realized that it was not me who was doing it but Allah was putting this love of people in my heart, which made me want to help them.

The strange thing is that I am not out-going at all but Allah kept sending these women to me, one after the other, who were totally strangers and now they are my best friends They are all learning the Quran through cassettes and online lectures and I just maintain a regular contact for moral support.

So whenever I think about my uncle, and how tragic his departure was from this world, I turn my thoughts to Allah and my heart is filled with peace that his pain will not go unrewarded.

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All of this and a lot more that has happened to me so far, would not have been possible without the light of the Quarn. As Allah says in a beautiful verse of surah Al-Maida Verse – 16:

“Wherewith, Allah guides all those who seek his good pleasure, to ways of peace , and He brings them out of darkness, by his will, unto light, and guides them to a straight way” (5:16)

So life moved on and by the middle of August 2005, my husband was transferred to a non family post and I moved, with my children, to Rawalpindi. This was again a test of nerves in which I sought comfort and support from my ever growing belief in Allah and His mercy. It was not easy to put aside my fears completely but as soon as we moved in our apartment, Allah’s help came in the form of my neighbour who welcomed me wholeheartedly. She told me how she had wanted to study the Quran but there was no class nearby. I wasted no time in telling her about my own pattern of study and so began our friendship. We would do our lessons separately and then got together for discussions. And so it was the Quran that helped me in those difficult days of living without the support of my husband.

Soon afterwards , I started writing short comments on the Ayaat of the Quran. It was very important for me to record all the impressions because as I neared the end of the Quran, the pictures of paradise and hell became more and more vivid; and at times the day of recompense seemed to be waiting just around the corner.

The scenes of Hell are terrifying. As in chapter-78 , verse-21—25, Allah says;

“Truly, Hell is a place of ambush; A dwelling place for those who transgress the boundaries. They will abide therein for ages; nothing cool shall they taste therein, nor any drink. Except boiling water, and dirty wound discharges (i.e. pus etc ).”

On the other hand there is the paradise, for those who strive to please their Lord in this world……………

“So Allah saved them from the evil of that day, and gave them a light of beauty and joy. And their recompense shall be Paradise, and silken garments, because they were patient. Reclining therein on raised thrones, they will see there neither the excessive heat of the sun nor the excessive bitter cold. And the shade thereof is close upon them and the bunches of fruit thereof will hang low within their reach” ( 76: 11—14)

The Quran urged me forward:

Wa fi zalika fal yatanaafasil mutanaafisun (83:26)

And for this, let those compete, who want to compete !!

After going through all this , I wonder how is it possible not to change our attitude towards life, towards people, towards Allah, towards each and every object in this universe that has been made for us.

In that third and final phase of my journey I had the most excruciating experience of Tazkiyah ( self-analysis) as ayat after ayat prompted my brain to bring forth long forgotten memories and the negative emotions associated with them. It was very difficult at times to face all the evil inside me but I also knew that until and unless I admitted those flaws, I would never be able to extract them out of myself. So I underwent a sort of major surgery in which the surahs about the Day of Judgment and hell, simply tore at my heart and soul, but side by side Allah would put the soothing balm of hope by depicting the most picturesque scenes from Jannat. Its beauty and bliss, the waterfalls of crystal clear water, the dense green gardens, the various fruits, the graceful people………….no more worries, complete and ultimate satisfaction, happiness, Success……….all of this seemed to mesmerize me and moved me towards making myself good enough for all those rewards.

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The last two paras were especially eye-opening, and my excitement was reinforced by an ever increasing sense of responsibility. To know that from now on I cannot do anything rash, that might harm the image of Quran, weighed heavy on my conscience. And on the other hand it was balanced by a feeling of intense gratitude and humility that Allah had chosen me to receive this extraordinary blessing of Quran. I knew it in my heart that the most beautiful way to do shukr was to act upon its teachings and also to connect others with their Creator through Quran. In other words, I had finally found the purpose of my life.

But putting it into action is my real test. How to confront age old prejudices in the hearts of people who have been conditioned into thinking that they can do without religion. How to make them realize that there is a vacuum in their lives which can only be filled by knowing Allah, by having a day to day communication with Allah. How to make them see the absurdity of saying that they believe in the Quran without their ever having read a word of it? I want to ask all the religious people that if religion was just acting upon a few rituals then why did Allah send the Quran ? Why did our beloved Prophet spent 23 years of his life in all sorts of trials and tribulations while receiving the revelation little by little. Are we not even curious to find out, after all, what was about this Book that changed their world in just a few years?

At times it seems to be almost an impossible task to reach out to people. But in this also, my Quran is my perfect guide and mentor. One of my most favourite verses are from Surah Ha-meem As-Sajdah;

“Verily, those who say : our lord is Allah and then they are steadfast, on them the angels will descend (saying): ‘fear not, nor grieve! But receive the glad tidings of Paradise which you have been promised. We are your friends in the life of this world and in the Hereafter. Therein you shall have (all) that your inner-selves desire, and therein you shall have (all) for which you ask for. An entertainment from (Allah), the Oft-forgiving, most Merciful.”

And who is better in speech than he who invites (men) to Allah and does righteous deeds, and says: “ I am one of the Muslims.” The good deed and the evil cannot be equal. Repel (the evil) with one which is better, then verily! He, between whom and you, there was enmity, (will become) as though he was a close friend. But none is granted it, except those who are patient , and none is granted it except the owner of great portion (of the happiness in the hereafter)

And if an evil whisper from Satan tries to turn you away, then seek refuge in Allah. Verily, He is the All-Hearer, the All-Knower. (41:30-36)

These verses remind me of my commitment with Allah and the purpose of my life in this world. There is a strong message in them that if I want to be the best in Allah’s eyes then I will have to keep the rewards of Akhirah in my mind and let go of my ego in every situation. I will have to bear negative attitudes with patience and do good even if someone doesn’t “deserve” it, in my opinion. Only then can I hope to achieve the level of success that has been stated in this passage.

I also have to keep reminding myself that self development is a life long process. It takes patience and hard work. On one hand I have to keep praying to Allah and on the other hand I should seek His protection from our biggest enemy…..the shaitan.

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By the Grace of Allah, I reached the end of the Quran on 21st February 2006.

My heart overflows with Love and Gratitude for Allah that He has given me the greatest blessing of Quran. It has been the most amazing experience of my life through which I came to know the truth about Allah and His Prophet s.a.w. and learned how to relate that knowledge to my own self and the world. My days and nights have been filled with an ever present joy and deep contentment of having a constant relationship with Allah through His Book, about which Allah says

“O mankind! There hath come to you a direction from your Lord and a healing for the (diseases) in your hearts,- and for those who believe, a guidance and a Mercy.

Say: “In the bounty of Allah. And in His Mercy,- in that let them rejoice”: that is better than what they hoard”

I am forever grateful to my parents for their love and kindness. And to my husband and children, for their openheartedness (and courage!) who have put up with me, all along. And to all of my friends and teachers for their valuable support.

I would like to end, by extending my heartfelt gratitude and prayers to my wonderful teacher, Dr. Farhat Hashmi, who made the Quran so easy and interesting for me to understand. May Allah make every student of hers a sadqa-e-jaria for her. Ameen.

43 thoughts on “My story

  1. Bismillah
    Assalamu alaikum Shaheen.
    I got notification of this blog of yours via an email sent out by Al-Huda. I have been forwarded your writings in the past as well, so it’s not the first time I am reading what you’ve written. Your reflections stir me so much. Alhamdulillah I am also an alumnus of Al-Huda. I thought you were in Canada? Or are you still in Islamabad?
    I just wanted to drop a line to encourage you to keep writing, sister. Many people will benefit from your blog on the Internet, even after you’ve left this world, insha’Allah. It’s the greatest sadaqah-e-jariyah. I too, am a writer, and it gives me great joy to write! 🙂
    Wassalam.

  2. JazakAllah khairan for your interest and encouragement. May Allah accept our efforts and enable us to do even more…

  3. In the name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful.

    Assalam-u-alaikum Shaheen.

    I came to know about your weblog through Ms.Farooqi. As site steward of Islam channel on Helium.com, I am always searching for dedicated writers who can enrich this site with their knowledge and love of Islam. I am currently looking for writers who can do tafseer of Quran Surahs and your writing brought tears to my eyes.

    I wanted to invite you to write for Helium. Your Surah Reviews will be viewed by thousands of visitors and help spread the knowledge of Islam to those who misunderstand or misjudge it or those who want to know more about Islam.

    If you have any concerns or questions, please contact me. I really hope you’ll consider writing for Helium. I anxiously await your response.

    May Alalh help us and guide us in our endeavours.Wassalam.

  4. Assalamu alaikkum,
    I came to know about your blog through Saudi Gazette as I have gone
    through your article,would like to suggest you that

    You can do a lot in Dawaa.
    As you know about western culture and the people very well,so efforts should be made to spread the essence of Qura’an and sunna in to them.

    May allah accept your amal as swalih.
    Rabbana thaqabbal minna innakka antha sameeul aleem wathubu alaina
    innakka antha thawwabu rraheem.
    Jeezakhalla khair.
    AbdulRasheed.

  5. AOA
    JAZAKALLAH KHAIRAN FOR THIS STORY OF URSELF. IWOULD LOVE TO MEET U N SHARE MY EXPERIENCES N MATERIAL COLLECTED 4 UR WORK.
    UR STORY TOUCHED ME N BROUGHT TEARS 2 MY EYES.
    MAY ALLAH SWT REWARD U ABUNDANTLY.
    WISH U SUCCESS!

    • jazakAllah khairan for your kind words. May Allah enable me to fulfill my commitment with Him…ameen

  6. assalamualykum,

    May Allah protect you.Quran is really so amazing.Reading it verse by verse truly changes our view on everything.May Allah give haidayath to all of us.

  7. aslam e liakum anty mme is kumael …i hope u remba me ..i meet u in cmh i m saads frnd saad shukran the guy who lost his brother in prade lane blast…well i red da articles deyr brilent mashalah ..i myself rote few articles on patience i wanted u to see it den if lke it canu put it on ur blog.??

    • Wa Alaikum Assalam… yes kumael I remember you and am so glad you wrote this comment. You can post your article in the comment box and then I will publish it inshaAllah. May Allah keep you well and may you always walk on the straight path…ameen

  8. Assalamualikum
    Literally i dont have those words, which i can use to appreciate ur work.Indeed ur work is sadqa e jaria. This is actullay what we can do for our religion.There are few people in this world who really care for islam.
    May Allah be merciful on all of us. May Allah give u more courage and power and help u all ur life.

    At the end i just want say that , please do remember me in ur prayers, just as ur own son.

    • Dear son, I am really so happy that you are also among those people who care for islam. Now it is our responsibility that we become obedient slaves of Allah and connect others to Allah too. You can contribute in this by learning Quran and Hadith and spreading that knowledge to your friends, teachers and as many people as you can. May Allah guide you to the best way of life always. wassalam

  9. ASAK!

    “Friday and a glimpse of Qiyamah” brought tears to my eyes. The fear of losing a loved one in this fitna around us seems so close…….. Its a test of patience for every Believer, it doesn’t matter where we live in this world. I always make dua for those innocents wrongly incarcerated, going through the most difficult times. May Allah (SWT) give their families the imaan to bear their trials and tribulations with sabr.
    Jizakallah sister for keeping up our faith!

    Rakhshanda, mother of Azzam and Humaam

  10. A salaam alikaum Shaheen,
    “My Story” oh it brought tears to my eyes as well as opened my heart and soul. May Allah shower his blessing upon you and may we all be guided to the right path. Ameen. sister your power of writing simply shows that it is purely an act of God to have blessed you with this power of thought and explanation with such simplicity and effectiveness. Pray for me and my family.

    • Wa AlaikumAssalam Wa Rahmatullah:)
      Dear Sister, thankyou so much for your encouragement. You have highlighted a great truth that whatever we do for the sake of Allah is possible only because of His Power and His mercy. The only thing which we will be rewarded for is to make a sincere intention and then to put in our utmost effort towards its fulfillment… making duas all the time because we know that we cannot do anything without His help. The rest is all in the hands of Allah… It is such a joy to be His “worker”… to use my life for the one who gave me this life:) May He enable us to make full use of our talents and skills in spreading the peace of our religion in the whole world, Ameen

  11. ASAK READING YOUR ALL PAGES SINCE YOU TOLD ME ABOUT YOUR WEBSITE INCREDIBLE WORK IN VERY EASY LANGUAGE. NOW FROM RAMADAN I AM REGULAR READER BUT WHEN TODAY I READ YOUR STORY IT MOVED ME A LOT.PRAY FOR ME ALSO TO UNDERSTAND QURAN AMIN.GOD WILL BLESS YOU INSHALLAH

    • JazakAllah khairan for your heartwarming comment. I am so glad and thankful to Allah for making my work beneficial for you. I hope to keep hearing from you inshaAllah. Please feel free to give any suggestion or ideas to further improve my blog… May Allah bless you and your family:)

  12. aswrwb,
    Great job, sis.
    May Allah swt continue to bless you with the best of both worlds.
    I am also a student of alhuda. We are at the end of Juz 23.
    Our Incharge has given us homework today to lookup your para reviews.
    I am glad she did. Have read your forwarded articles before but didnt know this blog was your too.
    “My Story ” is very heart-warming and something that we all can relate to.
    JazakAllah khair kaseer again.

    • JazakAllah khairan for your comment… I hope and pray that you might get a lot of benefit from the articles especially the reviews of the surahs which will give you a glimpse of the beauty and magnificence of Quran. May Allah help us to understand and act on its guidance… ameen

  13. Dear sister, Assalamu Alaikum.
    Thank you for visiting my blog.
    Actually, I regret that i was not knowing about your amazing blog from before. Having found such a great blog, alhamdulillah, I can’t stay away from giving a link in my blogroll 🙂
    by the way, I invite you to read this post which is one of the best viewed:
    http://yassarnalquran.wordpress.com/2011/11/05/then-he-will-not-neglect-us/
    Vassalam.
    PS: please review your url as it was not working through my dashboard.

    • I am so happy that Allah made my writing pleasant for you… basically all we need is to be connected to Allah more and more so that he will guide us towards the good deeds which make him happy… to me this is the purpose of life and this is what I want to convey to the whole world inshaAllah:) I am sorry I cannot recall our meeting… can you please tell me in some detail so that I can remember you? JazakAllah khairan kaseeran

  14. aoa wr wb shaheen,
    MashAllah, its a truly praiseworthy effort that u’ve been given tawfeeq of:)…May Allah Pak except all your effort and time for our beautiful Deen, Ameen.
    I gather that you are from the Army family, so am I sis, wish I could meet u somewhere, I t would be an honour really:)

    many duas wassalam,
    Rabia.

    • Wa Alaikumassalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuhu
      Dear Rabia… what a pleasure it was to read your comment last night. Thanks and JazakAllah khairan for your kind words which made me feel like I have found a friend who loves Allah and His religion… may Allah increase your good thoughts and actions and give you the best rewards too… ameen
      Praying and hoping to meet you whenevr Allah wills:)

  15. Assalamualaikum dear sister,
    Masha Allah :’) this is very inspiring subhanallah. i just read this today after all this while. Jazakallahu khairan kathira for this article.

  16. MashaAllah sister! you seemed to have had,and are having, a wonderful journey in our beautiful religion.I read your post through the end and I was truly inspired both by your skillful style of writing,as a novice blogger, and how Almighty has blessed with you such amazing fruits as rewards of your hard work in this path. In fact, I found myself nodding and agreeing to most of the facts you mentioned before you began your journey,thinking most of us had this tendencies to take the blessings that’s obvious to us for granted and realized I’m taking the same steps you took as a beginner of a student of Qur’an. In sha Allah, I can be as productive and determined as you have been 🙂

  17. Assalam mo alaikum
    it was so great reading your story …I really almost felt it was me in the beginning becuz i hav also somehow felt the same ..as if I am worthless having no purpose in life..though I am only 13 years I have learned a lot and now I am trying my best to be a true Muslim and live life the way the Quran says and please Allah…..
    so thank you again and I pray for you
    “May Allah bless you and your family and all of us Muslims with the best in this Life and the best in the Hereafter” Ameen
    Wasalaam

  18. Assalamualaikum wb.

    Apart from the fact that Allah swt has blessed you with eloquent writing skills, this is something with which one can totally relate to hence it serves as a motivational force for people like me who are going through similar struggles.

    May Allah swt bless us all with the “hidayah” of using our faculties for his pleasure.ameen.

    • May Allah make things easy for you and make you a source of motivation and guidance for many more to come … ameen

  19. Totally enjoyed reading ur story. Very inspiring Ma’sha’Allah. I haven’t read other articles on this blog yet…..just this one. I’ll keep reading Insha’Allah. May Allah bless u….amin!

    • Assalamualaikum dear sarah.. and welcome to my blog:)
      I am so glad you enjoyed my story… thanks and jazakAllah khair for your feedback… hope to keep hearing from you!!
      wassalam

  20. Dear Sis. Shaheen,
    I need to ask you a question. Would you be at all willing to read my book, “How to be a Happy Muslim Insha’Allah” and to write a review about it (what you think)? I would truly be honored if you could do this! I could email the book to you and you could read it at your earliest convenience. JazakAllah khair.

    • It is such a coincidence that the same topic is hovering in my mind for the past few days and I was hoping to start writing on it… so your book would be an added inspiration I am sure:) Do send me on help.guidance@gmail.com and I’ll be too glad to read it… in sha Allah
      thanks and Jzk 🙂

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