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Junaid Jamshed: A Munshid Par Excellence

Jameel 2

Naath Khwaan, Munshid, Pop Singer, Entrepreneur, public figure, family man and devotee; Junaid Jamshed was a beautiful person with a beautiful voice who displayed some of the most melodious ensembles and works of art that the Muslim world has ever known.

Although born and raised in the United States, I grew up listening to the Sabri Brothers, Nusrat Ali Khan, Mehdi Hassan and the Vital Signs. My cousins (Muhammad Saadullah and Muhammad Saeedullah of the nasheed group 786) and I would spend countless hours listening, practicing, listening, practicing and honing our vocal/instrumental skills based upon the exceptional work of these icons. At that time the group Vital Signs was new. They were the trailblazers of their time. They were constantly booked and overbooked. Their popularity knew no bounds. This “Pakistani Boy Band” was the new face of resurgence for Pakistani youth. They had the support of some of the most powerful political and entrepreneurial figures not only in Pakistan, but also around the world.

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Amidst all of that noise, Junaid Jamshed (May God give him peace, forgive his sins and raise him to the highest level in paradise) only heard one voice:

“So remember me; I will remember you. And be grateful to Me and do not deny Me.”

The Holy Quran: 2:152

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It called to him, to his soul, which was a precursor to the biggest challenge in his life, making the transition! Keeping things in context: He was handsome, youthful, popular, influential. The world was at his fingertips, yet he still felt empty, he yearned for more…

A series of circumstance led him to abandon his iconic status in the realm of pop culture and to embrace a calling towards using his passion, his voice and his brand equity to spread the beautiful message of Islam. Junaid Jamshed had himself committed to a higher cause!

He was a trailblazer of his time. His was a perfect case study of a human being who presented us with a storyboard showcasing an individual who had the guts and the will to transition to a higher ground.

When one door closes another one opens —the bounties of God are endless and He showered his blessings upon Br. Junaid and all of his work. Envious am I of his devotion towards praising the Mercy to the worlds, Sayyidina Muhammad Mustafa ﷺ. Junaid Jamshed has performed Naat/Nasheed (Poetry praising the Prophet Muhammadﷺ) in thousands of gatherings across the world. He became one of the top reciters in his field.

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IUwYOpDcrYg[/youtube]

There is a tradition of the Prophet ﷺ that states that every gathering where Muhammad’sﷺ name is not mentioned becomes a liability on each person in that gathering. Think of how many gatherings were saved because he showered blessings upon the Prophet ﷺ in the most beautiful of ways.

As an entrepreneur, God Almighty opened a way for him to make Halal Rizq (Righteous provisions) by making several investments into businesses that would benefit the people. One of his more famous outfits was his clothing line. I myself would make it a point to always stop by his store in Houston and grab several sets of Shalwar/Khamees (Traditional Pakistani clothes) when I was in town for a speaking engagements not only to support his business, but because like his voice, he produced such a high quality products and made them affordable for everybody.

Like all humans he too made mistakes. I remember how people would ridicule him on various issues and try to demonize and defame his character when he stepped out of his lane (In terms of expertise). I also remember how he handled these challenges by publicly apologizing, emotional with tears in his eyes and begging people for forgiveness. I thought to myself that when a person is close to the Prophet ﷺ and the Kalamullah (The word of God), one cannot help but to have a soft heart guided by sincerity. I thought to myself, this is what it means to be a human being, these are the steps towards repentance and his was a true model of leadership owning up to his mistakes and empowering the people with the opportunity to forgive his transgressions.

I remembered hearing about how he was beaten publicly by an angry mob of people, how they humiliated him, caused him grief and harm. I also remember his silent response to this atrocious event and his patience in the wake of calamity. I thought to myself that these people have incurred crimes against a man that is favored, that has devoted himself to spreading the word of God and praising the Prophet ﷺ as a way of life.

As a Muaddhin, Qari, Munshid and Naat Khwan, I cannot help, but feel sorrow in my heart for the loss of this wonderful human being, peer and mentor. The story of this man was elevated, because of a brilliant decision that he made to choose Allah ﷻ above everything else. Another giant reclaimed by the Lord of the worlds and another void in the fabric of our global community. He will be missed, but the ambassadorship of his devotion must carry on. He was a devoted to the Prophet ﷺ not only through his speech, but also through his actions. He was given a lot and he turned around and gave it all back to glorify the religion of Al-Islam for the pleasure of Allah ﷻ.

May Allah ﷻ forgive all of his and his families’ sins. May they be raised to the highest pinnacle in the heavens without accountability and may he then reside by the fountain of Al-Kauthar in the blessed company of the beloved ﷺ. May our singers, vocalists, composers, musicians and producers use their talents in a similar manner to elevate themselves by serving humanity.

I may begin reciting naats and nasheeds again… I may do this in the privacy of my own home. I may continue to the famed Diyanet Center of Maryland or I may find myself in Madinah “The Radiant” as I walk barefoot in her alleyways, making my way into the heart of Masjid An-Nabawi…

“Everyone upon the earth will perish, and there will remain the Face of your Lord, Owner of Majesty and Honor. So which of the favors of your Lord will you deny”

– Holy Quran, 55: 26-28

[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sEirbUAurFg[/youtube]

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Jameel Syed, “The Muaddhin” is an international speaker, traveler, author and marketing executive based in Auburn Hills, Michigan. In 2015, he became the first person in the history of the world to make the Adhan - Islamic call to prayer across all 50 states in America: Record span of 35 days while reciting the last sermon of the Prophet Muhammad ﷺ. He is the brainchild behind the historical “50 Mosque Man Tour”. Jameel is a columnist for two of the most prestigious online Muslim Media sources in the world: The award winning blog, muslimmatters.org and the internationally famed ilmfeed.com. He is the feature of a podcast series under the banner of “Greed For Ilm” that airs bi-weekly about Muslims in America.Jameel attained his education from The University of Michigan School of Kinesiology and Ross School of Business. In 2004, he founded the Fluidvisions Marketing firm, specializing in strategy consulting, building brand equity and launching new ventures.Jameel’s focus in the traditional Islamic sciences center around the Fara’id and Sunnan of calling the Adhan, the rights/duties of the Muaddhin & the last sermon of the Prophet Muhamad ﷺ , knowledge which he attained and has the permission to disseminate from Sheikh Mohamad Mwafak Algalaieni PhD. He has Ijaza (license to teach) in Tajweed from his late father Qari/Dr. Salam A. Syed and teaches locally in his community. He is currently pursuing the memorization of the Qur’an under the guidance of Sheikh-ul-Hadith Qari Ilyas and Qari Nouman Ilyas. For information about booking speaking events, go to: www.jameelsyed.com.

34 Comments

34 Comments

  1. Avatar

    Hassan

    December 8, 2016 at 12:16 AM

    May Allah shower His mercy upon Junaid, and forgive his shortcomings.

    In retrospect. his death has made me realize why he was having trials for last year or so. Not to compare the status or work, but Imam Bukhari said something, that was misunderstood (about Quran being created versus Allah’s speech) and he had hard time in his own land before his death.

  2. Avatar

    Naomi Macklin-Carr

    December 8, 2016 at 5:18 AM

    May Allah show mercy and elevate his ranks. This was a great insight to his life, and a great example of someone that sacrificed the enjoyments of this world.

  3. Avatar

    Waz

    December 10, 2016 at 4:11 AM

    The man that Junaid Jamshed was died a long time ago. That man was an artist who spread joy and positivity through music. Then he became a ten-a-penny mullah, the kind that Pakistan is bursting at the seams with, spewing the usual misogynistic and bigoted crap. Still had a nice voice and sold some funky kurtas, though.

    • Avatar

      Anonymous

      December 10, 2016 at 9:07 PM

      It’s the trait of a good Muslim and a good person too, that he does not speak ill of the deceased, but instead speaks of the good they left behind in this world.

      • Avatar

        Waz

        December 14, 2016 at 5:54 AM

        Thank you. No doubt i could be both a better person and a better muslim, but Junaid Jamshed really meant something to me and my sadness at his passing brought all my disappointment and regret to the fore. I did allude to the good above, but my memories of him are bittersweet. I acknowledge i may have been a bit blunter than intended.

        On a related note, it is remarkable how this trait you mention is practiced so selectively by so many good muslims. While everyone is rushing to eulogise JJ, you should have heard the things people said (when they said anything at all) about Salman Taseer, Shahbaz Bhatti, Rashid Rehman and Sabeen Mahmud among others – these are people (nearly all Muslim!) who stood up for their fellow Pakistanis and for human rights at the cost of their lives. I guess this “speaking good” only applies to the hardcore sunni establishment, which lately seems to be the main segment of the Ummah that this site caters for. It is fortunate for JJ that he was a poster boy for this establishment.

    • Avatar

      Beats

      December 13, 2016 at 12:44 AM

      Typical Pakistani liberal slander. Your hatred of Islam is showing, degenerate. Nothing bigoted or misogynistic about Junaid Jamshed. He was a great Muslim role model. May Allah(swt)forgive his sins and grant him Jannah.

      • Avatar

        Waz

        December 13, 2016 at 8:41 AM

        It’s not slander for two reasons:

        1. It’s in writing;
        2. More importantly, it’s true. He had expressed sexist and regressive opinions in public, which made me very sad.

        You seem to suffer from the hair-trigger sensitivity that afflicts many of my compatriots regarding perceived “insults to islam”. I am frustrated by the mullah dominated culture that has taken over Pakistan (paid for by our Gulf overlords) that has made us a bigoted and intolerant society that denigrates anyone who does not conform to some austere sunni muslim ideal. I am frustrated that people are glorifying that JJ embraced this regressive mindset and abandoned his potential as an artist for the people. He was still a muslim before, you know, but he was for all Pakistanis.

        Has mullah now become a synonym for muslim, so that criticism of the former constitutes an attack on the latter? For me, Islam is very personal and not to be imposed on others. Is there no room for muslims like me in Pakistan anymore?

        Also, you seem to use “liberal” as an insult. Liberal properly means standing up for the rights and freedoms of all members of society, not just the ones that fit some privileged criteria. For example, in the west it is usually liberals that defend the rights of the muslim minorities. I am proud to be liberal, i think all Pakistanis deserve the same rights, freedoms and opportunities – our society and constitution are discriminatory and need to change, but that can only happen when people acknowledge these problems.

      • Avatar

        ZAI

        December 14, 2016 at 9:39 PM

        Mashallah Br. WAZ…

        Well said. May be people of Pakistan and its neighboring countries be freed from this malignant grotesque use of Islam that has overtaken the Pakistani state, military, media and too many in society. Ameen!

        An Afghan Brother.

      • Avatar

        Beats

        December 15, 2016 at 7:18 PM

        @Waz,

        You’re right about one thing, slander is spoken, you’re engaged in libel against Junaid Jamshed. The rest of your insipid diatribe just confirms how utterly inept and intellectually bankrupt Pakistani “liberals” are. Your tired references to “Mullahs” and “Gulf overlords”(a qasi-racist implication) that we Muslims worship Arabs further confirms you anti-Muslim caricature of practicing Muslims ala the notorious Islamophobe Tarek Fatah. Referring to Jamshed’s spiritual growth as “regression” is a transparent attack on Islam. We get it, you hate Islam, and Jamshed because no longer appealed to your “tastes.” The same degenerate Pakistani liberals also attacked the philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi when he died. He too was a practicing Muslim. And there’s NOTHING a Pakistani liberal types hates more then a practicing Muslim.
        I’ve lived in the West most of my life so don’t lecture me on how “great” liberals are. Your lack of education, critical thinking, and Pakistani inferiority complex is really showing, believing in false paradigms, poor fellow. Islam isn’t something “personal” but a faith and active way of life which we Muslims aspire to practice as best as we can. You’re welcome to languish in your vices and, but not to lecture Muslims in any way or form. Last time you lot were in power you looted the country blind so don’t pretend you have any moral high ground here. A cursory look at how the West’s liberals actually treats minorities would give any intelligent person pause. You don’t care about anyone’s rights but your own so spare us your posturing. No wonder Imran Khan referred to you “liberals” as “scum.” Your mindless worship of the West is really nothing less then Pavlovian style slavery. Today thousands of Pakistanis attended Junaid Jamshed’s funeral, he will be remembered for his music, but far more so for being a great role model for Muslims. The same can’t be said for those like you. You will not be missed.

      • Avatar

        Beats

        December 25, 2016 at 4:07 PM

        Asalamu Aliakum Br. Aly

        Jazakallah Khair for the reminder. I have better things to do with my time then “debate” trolls but I felt compelled to respond to “Waz’s” trolling. He is no brother of mine, he couldn’t even hide his contempt for JJ, even in death. Liberals like Waz are extremists of the lowest order and should be banned from this site.

        • Aly Balagamwala

          Aly Balagamwala

          December 27, 2016 at 2:50 AM

          Dear Brother.

          I am deeply saddened by your words. Almost six years since I took over the moderation of this website and I have seen the ugly side of Muslims, non-Muslims, trolls, aliens, etc. And it has helped me become more tolerant of not only my fellow Muslims but also my fellow humans.

          May Allah allow us to learn tolerance, to discuss rather than debate, and to understand that sometimes our viewpoint may not be acceptable to others as much as theirs is not acceptable to us.

          WasSalamuAlaikum
          Aly

    • Avatar

      Anonymous

      December 14, 2016 at 8:37 PM

      You’re welcome. Junaid Jamshed meant a lot to all of us. The whole world felt his loss, and it just goes to show how many people he touched, Ma Sha’Allah.

      And as for your other statement, the truth is, although I am Pakistani, I do not live in Pakistan, so I had to research those names you listed. I had heard about some case, and the others, I didn’t know. But I can tell you straight out that I don’t agree with what happened to those people. No one should be treated that way, Muslim or no. And I do know that the sectarianism that some groups of religious people are promoting is destroying.

      Maulana Tariq Jameel, one of the closest friends of Junaid Jamshed, says that himself. He recognizes this problem and says, “I give you glad tidings in your beliefs; I don’t want to change them. But I want to say, live as one Ummah, and love one other.” He teaches this wherever he goes, so much so that the Shia Imam of Pakistan once welcomed him, and it was there that he addressed the Shia community. (It’s on YouTube, if that interests you). He prays behind leaders and people of other sects as well. He emphasizes Islam that has no relationship with politics, sectarianism, or violence. Junaid Jamshed was just like him in this way; Maulana Tariq Jameel was his beloved teacher, after all. If you listen to their lectures, you’ll find that they consistently preach love. When Maulana Tariq Jameel preaches to the students of religious schools, our future scholars, he begs them to preach love and teach their people to live with other sects of Muslims peacefully.

      I know that there has been a lot of negative consequences in Pakistan from the rhetoric these types of scholars preach. But I have hope that one day, through people like Maulana Tariq Jameel and Junaid Jamshed, and In Sha’Allah so many others, it will stop, and Muslims will begin to love each other. No one, absolutely no one, must be dehumanized just because they believe differently. This is the basic human right of a person, and it is also emphasized in Islam.

      Remember the Prophet SAW’s mercy at the incident of Taaif? He later said that it was the worst incident of his life, even after the battle of Uhud, where he was almost killed. He could have had those people, who had hurt him so much, crushed between the two mountains. But he rejected the offer, and he prayed for their guidance instead. He chose mercy over hatred. Truth be said, we Muslims have a lot to learn.

    • Avatar

      Beats

      December 15, 2016 at 7:19 PM

      @Waz,

      You’re right about one thing, slander is spoken, you’re engaged in libel against Junaid Jamshed. The rest of your insipid diatribe just confirms how utterly inept and intellectually bankrupt Pakistani “liberals” are. Your tired references to “Mullahs” and “Gulf overlords”(a qasi-racist implication) that we Muslims worship Arabs further confirms you anti-Muslim caricature of practicing Muslims ala the notorious Islamophobe Tarek Fatah. Referring to Jamshed’s spiritual growth as “regression” is a transparent attack on Islam. We get it, you hate Islam, and Jamshed because no longer appealed to your “tastes.” The same degenerate Pakistani liberals also attacked the philanthropist Abdul Sattar Edhi when he died. He too was a practicing Muslim. And there’s NOTHING a Pakistani liberal types hates more then a practicing Muslim.
      I’ve lived in the West most of my life so don’t lecture me on how “great” liberals are. Your lack of education, critical thinking, and Pakistani inferiority complex is really showing, believing in false paradigms, poor fellow. Islam isn’t something “personal” but a faith and active way of life which we Muslims aspire to practice as best as we can. You’re welcome to languish in your vices and, but not to lecture Muslims in any way or form. Last time you lot were in power you looted the country blind so don’t pretend you have any moral high ground here. A cursory look at how the West’s liberals actually treats minorities would give any intelligent person pause. You don’t care about anyone’s rights but your own so spare us your posturing. No wonder Imran Khan referred to you “liberals” as “scum.” Your mindless worship of the West is really nothing less then Pavlovian style slavery. Today thousands of Pakistanis attended Junaid Jamshed’s funeral, he will be remembered for his music, but far more so for being a great role model for Muslims. The same can’t be said for those like you. You will not be missed.

      • Avatar

        Waz

        December 16, 2016 at 3:17 AM

        @brother beats

        Your feathers are clearly ruffled enough to post the same comment twice, but i don’t get why you’re so angry. Clearly we disagree about Junaid Jamshed’s legacy, and many other issues. However there is really no need for such vicious and baseless attacks, i never attacked you personally.

        I am a muslim and have no inferiority about being a Pakistani. I have no idea what vices you refer to or why you keep calling me a degenerate. I have split my years between Pakistan and the west enough to have seen how things are in both places, and i don’t worship the west or consider it to have any absolute moral superiority, there’s good and bad everywhere. I’m not sure what you mean by “my lot” and i assure you that neither i nor any relatives of mine have held power or embezzled anything. I do not hate any group, my feelings depend on the individual in question. It is no secret about Gulf funding of madrassas in South Asia, spreading the rigid wahabi doctrine – why is it racist to point this out, or even to point out that most Pakistanis have a real complex when it comes to Arabs? I don’t hate Junaid Jamshed at all, as I explained before i was just disappointed.

        And mate, seriously NO ONE attacked Edhi that i saw at all. I’m not sure what you’re on about there. In any case Edhi, who i really admired, famously said religion is not above humanity, which is a decidedly liberal viewpoint and one i agree with.

        On the subject of “liberal” please consult a dictionary. I think you are conflating liberals with libertines. I am most certainly NOT the latter. Imran Khan is quite demonstrably a hypocrite and i attach no importance to his opinion, although i think you should pass him the dictionary once you’re done with it.

        I stated my opinion about Junaid Jamshed which is not libel. Your unwarranted personal attacks on me do constitute libel. Also, is that a threat at the end of your post?

      • Avatar

        Beats

        December 17, 2016 at 5:41 AM

        Duplicate posts = “ruffling my feathers,” Waz? Talk about desperately grasping for straws. I’ve thoroughly refuted your lies and misrepresentations, and you’re going to complain about being “personally attacked” after your filthy trolling? What a disingenuous hypocrite! You stated that Junaid Jamshed “DIED” when he left music as far you were concerned. That’s all he was to you, an entertainer. You didn’t respect him in life and you disrespected him in death calling him a “ten-a-penny Mullah.” And you wonder why this would upset anyone? What a callous and petty ba5tard. To us Muslims, he was a great and admirable brother. He was also an obedient son, he was a devoted husband and he was a good father. Above all he was an exemplary Muslim personality. Your “opinions” aka libel are garbage.
        You’re not a Muslim. Just a petty secular agnostic or atheist fool babbling nonsense. And yes, you do have an inferiority complex, your mindless worship of the west is crystal clear proof of this. Ran into plenty of you elitist buffoons in college, with that familiar slavish thinking worshiping at the altar of a US visa. And YES, Pakistani liberals smeared Edhi(why don’t you quote him about practicing islam?) many times claiming he was pocketing donations to his organization. They had no proof but made it up because they simply disliked him because he was a practicing Muslim, just like JJ, but I guess they were just graduates of some “wahabi” seminary right? You liberals think any practicing Muslim incorporating even the most simple Sunnah of the Prophet(pbuh) is an Arab wannabe. Note the racism. Stop playing games and come out and say you hate Islam and seek to undermine the Islamic character of the nation. Not only do you need a dictionary(look up hypocrite, and then go look in the mirror), but a course in critical thinking, and an introductionary course on Islam. Imran Khan(not a hypocrite) was dead right about you liberals when he labeled you “SCUM.” Threat? Guess you need a dictionary to look that as well. Quit posturing and playing victim, crybaby. You’re not even worth a threat. Do you why, Waz? Because you’re a nobody. An insignificant know nothing who will amount to nothing. Junaid Jamshed has returned to Allah(swt) and thousands attended his janaza. How many will attend yours? More importantly will anyone even care?

      • Avatar

        Waz

        December 17, 2016 at 6:59 AM

        Beats,

        I’m sorry but name calling, takfir and strawman arguments are not a refutation of anything. Have a great life.

      • Avatar

        Beats

        December 17, 2016 at 6:26 PM

        Drop the pretense, Waz. Name calling as in calling the recently diseased Junaid Jamshed a “ten-a-penny mullah”? Straw man arguments and distractors like Saudi funding of certain seminaries. And, but you sure know how to scream “takfeer” once I question your identity! Guess you do know something about Islam(when it suits your agenda) after all. It’s a fact that Pakistani liberals aren’t religious whatsoever, in fact the majority of you have disdain for Islam, most being closeted atheists. Your words and deeds are proof of this so why deny it?
        Don’t fool yourself, Waz, not only were you refuted, now you’re being humiliated, and deservedly so. JJ was a far better then I, he would have forgiven you, and made dua for you. . Reflect on this next time you feel the urge to disrespect the dead.

      • Avatar

        Waz

        December 18, 2016 at 3:01 AM

        Aggressive fools like you are all over the place in Pakistan – ready to lash out and attack people for having a different viewpoint and deciding who is and isn’t muslim according to your own criteria. Just because i am not displaying my dua for JJ on here, does not mean you need to try and “refute” and “humiliate” me just because you don’t accept my reasons for being disappointed about some of his choices (while still being sad at his passing and praying for him).

        From your comments, you seem the type of medieval witch-hunter that is quick to yell “blasphemy” and burn someone at the stake for not agreeing with you. But really your comments make no difference, only Allah is my judge and He knows all of what’s in my mind, not just the little bit on this webpage.

      • Avatar

        Beats

        December 18, 2016 at 10:12 PM

        @ Waz

        Childish name calling again? The irony of your hypocrisy is a delight to behold. You’re a broken record, like the typical Pakistani liberal munafiq. Your relentless misrepresentations indicate something very unhealthy about your mental life. Intellectually bankrupt buffoons like you are a dime-a-dozen in “upscale” coffee shops or defense colony parties in Pakistan. I know the stench of your type well, the product of the worst aspects of western culture internalized by wannabe brown sahibs aka sharabi/kebabi/harami types. A generation or so ago you extremists played Communists and Marxists, today you label yourself liberals and secularists. But it’s all for naught, you were failures then, you are failures now. I know the charade all too well, I went to western madrassas with losers like you and saw your inferiority complex and brainwashing up close and personal. Alhamdulilah that I made it out with my Islam intact and uncompromised. Understand this well, Waz, I have no interest in you, you’re less then nothing to me. I wouldn’t waste spit on you, let along “burn you at the stake.” I was compelled to respond to your filthy trolling on this site. That’s it. I sure as hell will take you to the cleaners based on your hateful words against my brother Junaid Jamshed, so playing victim won’t do you any good. Don’t think that I won’t respond and put you in your place. What’s even more laughable is your pathetic “Only Allah can judge me” defense when you yourself passed judgement against JJ. Since when did a rank hypocrite like you who disrespects the dead by calling them “ten-a-penny Mullahs” start believing in Allah(swt) or His judgement?

      • Avatar

        Beats

        December 19, 2016 at 10:43 PM

        Dear Moderator,

        Please publish my response to “Waz.” Jazakallah Khair.

      • Aly Balagamwala

        Aly Balagamwala

        December 21, 2016 at 10:41 AM

        Dear Waz and Beats

        A moderator can’t take a few days off without someone going off the handle….. both you guys need to watch your comments please. Both are now on moderation on this site and frankly I would jut love to remove this whole thread gone wild but I feel it should stay up as an example of what you are not supposed to do…. both sides of the mindset divide so to say.

        Please apologize to each other and forgive each other. Junaid was a great singer and some of his friends and fans couldn’t understand his move to Islam or his new views on matters. And those on the other side couldn’t understand what irked that first lot about him. Frankly, it is not very easy to understand the other viewpoint and comments sections are definitely not a great place to build that up. So both of you as Muslims pray to Allah to help you understand His Deen and to help the other understand it too.

        Waz you started it by your comments and Beats took it a whole new level. Chill out dudes. At the end of the day, Junaid has to answer for his actions and both of y’all gotta answer to yours. So get some accountability for yourselves.

        Your Brother in Islam
        Aly

  4. Avatar

    James

    December 15, 2016 at 11:18 AM

    Women are selfish and only think about themselves. Women see men as wallets, ATMs, and bank accounts. A woman doesn’t feel any love or connection for you besides a fake bond her genetics create to keep her magnetized to the one providing for her. She’s just happy to be your “possession” and only “loves you” because you fulfill her criteria and nobody better has come along.

    If a better male comes along with more money and is famous etc she’ll ditch you, and she won’t feel bad about it WHATSOEVER. A woman’s level of care and consideration towards you exists on a “what have you done for me lately?” level rather than any true affection built up between two people from spending time together.

    A woman is your possession and a direct cause of the things you have. You have good looks, lots of money and fame? You will have a hot woman by your side as your possession. You are with her for 10 years, loving each other every day, then you lose EVERYTHING, your looks, your money, your fame? She’s gone, just like everything else you owned, just like your car. It’s only there as long as you have the resources to KEEP it there, because it’s just an object it feels no “bond” with you.

  5. Avatar

    James

    December 15, 2016 at 11:20 AM

    Women just want to copy men as much as they possibly can. #killallmen and the abortion of fetuses is what feminism stands for today. The concept of “ladies first”, women hitting men becoming a congratulatory source for women, false accusations of domestic abuse against men, women initiating the majority of divorces and walking out of marriages the moment they see a man with more money, women in the workforce with children left to grow in day care centres, women receiving legal and social privileges at the expense of men, more and more men trapped with women’s lies about rape – only foolish men spend time and money on women, or get in a relationship with them of any sort. Women are hypergamous. They want your money. Not you. Get that in your brain. Women know how to use men for their benefit. Instead of spending money on some women, spend it on your parents. Be grateful to them.

  6. Avatar

    James

    December 15, 2016 at 11:21 AM

    The fundamental fault in the character of women is that they have no “sense of justice.”

    This arises from their deficiency in the power of reasoning already referred to, and reflection, but is also partly due to the fact that God has not destined them, as the weaker sex, to be dependent on strength but on cunning; this is why they are instinctively crafty, and have an ineradicable tendency to lie.

    For as lions are furnished with claws and teeth, elephants with tusks, boars with fangs, bulls with horns, and the cuttlefish with its dark, inky fluid, so God has provided woman for her protection and defense with the faculty of dissimulation, and all the power which God has given to man in the form of bodily strength and reason has been conferred on woman in this form.

    Hence, dissimulation is innate in woman and almost as characteristic of the very stupid as of the clever. Accordingly, it is as natural for women to dissemble at every opportunity as it is for those animals to turn to their weapons when they are attacked; and they feel in doing so that in a certain measure they are only making use of their rights.

    Therefore a woman who is perfectly truthful and does not dissemble is perhaps an impossibility. This is why they see through dissimulation in others so easily; therefore it is not advisable to attempt it with them.

    From the fundamental defect that has been stated, and all that it involves, spring falseness, faithlessness, treachery, ungratefulness, and so on. In a court of justice women are more often found guilty of perjury than men. It is indeed to be generally questioned whether they should be allowed to take an oath at all.

  7. Avatar

    faheem nusrat

    December 16, 2016 at 9:29 PM

    JJ legacy is Tolerance,kind mannerism , dedication to Islam and being nonjudgmental.He disliked back biting and was against judging even prostitutes.He was very brave man who had the courage to face criticism.
    He was best human being I have ever known in my lifetime-off course he was not perfect.
    He was WALI of our time.
    We will miss u until we meet again inshAllah
    Dr Faheem

  8. Avatar

    Umm Noor

    December 19, 2016 at 12:44 AM

    Inna lillahi wa inna ilayhi rajioon

  9. Avatar

    Waz

    December 21, 2016 at 12:32 PM

    Dear Aly

    You are right, i got carried away and I apologise to all that i may have offended. My feelings about JJ are complex but not hateful; the fact i admired him so made it hard to understand some of the positions he took.

    Reading my earlier posts again with a cool head i do think that i could have chosen my words better, they were needlessly bitter. I didn’t mean for things to get out of hand like this and i apologise to beats as he clearly cares a lot as well. I forgive his harsh words and pray that he can forgive my harsh words as well. End of the day i guess we need to try and understand each other’s views better, i will reflect on this. Sorry you had to come back to this after your holiday.

    May Allah guide us all and forgive us.

    • Aly Balagamwala

      Aly Balagamwala

      December 27, 2016 at 2:49 AM

      Dear Brother.

      JazakAllahu Khairin for your words. Almost six years since I took over the moderation of this website and I have seen the ugly side of Muslims, non-Muslims, trolls, aliens, etc. And it has helped me become more tolerant of not only my fellow Muslims but also my fellow humans.

      May Allah allow us to learn tolerance, to discuss rather than debate, and to understand that sometimes our viewpoint may not be acceptable to others as much as theirs is not acceptable to us.

      WasSalamuAlaikum
      Aly

      • Avatar

        alex

        December 31, 2016 at 12:57 AM

        My muslim brothers,
        I have never followed this website before. I just happened to visit this page since I was trying to read about our brother JJ. When I read Waz’s first comment, my blood started boiling too. Then I read Beats comments and I felt a bit better even though I agree that the response could have been more gentle. But brother Aly, the first comment by Waz was extremely inflammatory especially at a time when our hearts have not even partially healed from the loss we are facing. JJ’s death is no ordinary death. It’s shahadat. And I have come across a few muslim brothers who are absolutely disrespectful just like Waz was in his comments. I agree that the argument should not go on like it was between Waz and Beats but the inflammatory remarks and calling JJ names needed to be stopped right away. May be if the moderator had stepped in sooner, it would have been nipped in the bud. But I can completely relate to Beats feelings (even if I don’t agree to the choice of his words). All of us should remain respectful to each other but as Muslims, we need to teach each other how not to be disrespectful of the ones who have already passed away. JJ himself would not have liked this debate and I agree with Beats that he would have forgiven Waz (not easy for us ordinary human beings but our dear brother JJ forgave many who tried to harm him). But I just wish that Waz had not started this debate with the inflammatory remarks against JJ. His death alone has given guidance to so many of us. It’s like he didn’t just spread the love of Islam in his life, his death is a turning point for many. May Allah give us hidayat and show us the right path. May Allah clear the confusion faced by some regarding the two phases of JJ’s life. I grew up listening to JJ’s songs and was a die hard fan but truly loved and respected him when he left everything and turned towards Islam. What he gave up was not very easy. Personally have tried to change my life many times and failed repeatedly. There shouldn’t be any debate regarding which phase of his life was better. If we claim to be Muslims then we have to do “Samaina wa ataana”. What JJ did with his life was not something any ordinary man could do. Even though I failed personally, I salute JJ for changing not just his own life but helping others realize what life is actually all about. May Allah SWT give us strength to follow in his footsteps. Ameen.

  10. Avatar

    Sidheek CS

    December 30, 2016 at 1:22 AM

    السلام عليكم و رحمة الله و بركاته

    i have read the article and have went through the comments. My mother tongue is Malayalam, not Urdu. I had read about Brother Junaid Jamshed years ago. I was proud of him. We shouldn’t fight over his death. Tongue cuts deeper than sword. Let’s try to become better human beings. Of course Muslims are best human beings, if they follow Islam perfectly. May Allah Bless ! Aameen.
    Sidheek CS
    Kerala
    India

  11. Avatar

    escaper/seeker of death?!

    December 31, 2016 at 10:33 AM

    O merciful have mercy on br. Junaid and those who tragedly lost their lives also….may their final vital signs been on kalimat haqq of la ilah ila Allah and br. Junaid be rewarded for all his efforts of the deen and may his and their families be comforted and looked after and may the departed be raised high into al firdaws al alaa. Allahom aameen.

    …since the Malaysian flights or just before, there has been unexpectedly falling planes…may Allah protect and safe guard all our flights in the future. ameen. and may He have mercy on all the departed and those of us who remain and especially on the day of reckoning and judgement. ameen

    [To the righteous it will be said], “O reassured soul,
    Return to your Lord, well-pleased and pleasing [to Him],
    And enter among My [righteous] servants
    And enter My Paradise.”

  12. Avatar

    mursi kembang

    January 4, 2017 at 4:16 PM

    Thank you very much for the information…

  13. Avatar

    03AJY2

    February 12, 2017 at 9:39 AM

    927574 789Woh I like your posts , saved to fav! . 152762

  14. Avatar

    M Haris

    October 4, 2017 at 12:39 PM

    This article glosses over and romanticizes Junaid Jamshed. I also grew up listening to his music and really did love him and his songs. I still sing them, on occasion. But that does not mean that we ignore who he became as a person and the things he said. Junaid Jamshed, was for many a great man, but his “preaching” in later years was highly problematic for many ways. You completely ignored the fact that he was a misogynist who -on more than one occasion- stated that women’s rights should be limited.

    When I heard he passed, I was sad but part of me was not sad. As terrible as that is to say. But I realized why part of me did not mourn his loss. It was because he had begun to embody the types of figures who are actually detrimental to progress in a society like Pakistan. His causes were focused on trivial things such as if women’s hair was covered. And in a religious sense, I suppose some people care about that. But what he was doing was harming Pakistani society and the economy. He was making it harder for women to accomplish things, to hold jobs, and to have a voice in society because he so thoroughly dismissed them.

    I can understand that you looked up to him as a musician and as a religious speaker. But I don’t understand how you can completely wipe away the bad things he said.

    I am not one for speaking ill of the dead. But I do not think that in mourning him we should ignore the darker side of him that were harmful. We should pray that god forgives his sins, but we can’t brush the bad things he did under the rug. We need to be better than that. He was not infallible, he was a very flawed person. In mourning him we should also remember that we should learn from his mistakes. \

    I am deeply disappointed by this article because it was in no way a nuanced look at his life.

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#Culture

No, My Son | A Short Story

It was pure happenstance that Payedar Olan was sitting near the entrance of the masjid on the day the gunman entered and shot him. He had forgotten that here in America they changed the time twice a year…

San Francisco Islamic Society Mosque

It was pure happenstance that Payedar Olan was sitting near the entrance of the masjid on the day the gunman entered and shot him. He had forgotten that in America they changed the time twice a year, so he was an hour early for Friday congregational prayer. The little masjid at the top of a hill was almost empty, with only a few brothers praying, and one washing up in the ablutions room. So he sat with his back against the wall to relax and wait.

Such a strange thing, this time changing. The sun rose and set. How could men change it? But in America they believed they had power over all things.

Life here was bewildering. People zipped around on electric scooters, in Uber cars and in trains that rumbled beneath the ground. Skyscrapers blocked the sun. People wore strange costumes, and one could often not tell a woman from a man. The markets contained more food than anyone could need, much of it artificial, tasting too salty or too sweet. People smiled for no reason, while crazy people wandered the streets, shouting at nothing.

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This city and country had taken him in and given him shelter when his own homeland was being devoured by evil men; so he was grateful. Still, it was perplexing, and so far removed from his experience that sometimes he felt he was on a different planet.

The Kurdish Heart

A Kurdish village

Kurdish village

Payedar had been born in 1953 in Iraqi Kurdistan, in a mountain village called Gur-e-Sofia, reachable by traveling first on the Ruwandiz road from Erbil, then by a three hour climb up a mule track. His bav was a duck hunter, and his dê a midwife.

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In his village, whitewashed homes were built into steep hillsides in tiers, facing the sun. The mud of the roofs had to be rolled anew every September, before the winter rains, because in summer it would crack. Sheep and goats dotted the slopes. Most people grew barley or bearded wheat, and tobacco in summer, using oxen to plow the fields. Every family knew precisely how much water they could take for irrigation, and no one took more than their share, for fairness was ingrained in the Kurdish heart.

Walnut trees grew everywhere, and Payedar would shake them to bring the walnuts down, then crack them between two stones. Because of this he was never hungry, alhamdulillah.

He remembered his bav, his father, sitting at the village coffee shop, smoking rich Kurdish tobacco from a hookah pipe, and shouting exultantly as he won a round of backgammon. At home his dê cooked spiced kofta meatballs, bulgur pilaf and flatbread, with figs and sweetened black tea for dessert. Payedar, his parents and six siblings ate on the floor, sitting around a clean cloth. At night Bev led them in prayer, reciting the Quran in his powerful voice.

It was life, and he was happy, until he was eight years old and the Kurdish-Iraqi war began. His three older brothers and one sister went to fight and never returned. The village was bombed. Many were killed and many homes were destroyed. Even the small masjid was reduced to rubble. His bav fell into despondency, and one day went out to hunt ducks and blew his own head off.

Payedar, the eldest remaining child, became the breadwinner. Twice a month he loaded up a mule with white grapes, tobacco and walnuts and traveled over the mountain to Erbil, the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan, where he sold them at a good profit. It was hazardous work. More than once he was injured. Three times he was robbed.

These dangers were balanced by getting to see Erbil, a city of a million people. A million! Where ancient Assyrian and Roman monuments and citadels mixed with four-story buildings and a modern soccer stadium. Women went out with their forearms uncovered, people wore Western jeans and shirts, and music played from boomboxes sold in shops filled with electronic goods. At the same time, Erbil was a frequent target of Iraqi bombs, and it was not unusual to see bodies in the streets.

The Dying and the Dead

The war ended when he was seventeen, and began again when he was twenty one. This time he joined the Kurdish peshmerga and fought the Iraqi invaders, sending his salary home to his mother.

Female peshmerga fighters

Female peshmerga fighters

It was in the war that he met his wife, Letya. Her name, which meant tiny and womanly, matched her stature, if not her personality, for she too was a member of the peshmerga, and the first time he saw her she was in a soldier’s uniform with a Soviet rifle in her hands, her fierce black eyes promising death to the enemies of the Kurds, and her long black hair streaming in the hot southern wind.

He killed many men, and saw many die. Back home in Sofia-e-Gul one of his two younger sisters got married and moved away, while the other, out one day foraging for food, was kidnapped by Iraqi soldiers, raped and killed. Shortly afterward his mother died of loneliness and heartbreak. He returned home to bury her, his tears falling into the rich mountain soil atop her grave. Sofia-e-Gul was now populated only by old people waiting to die, and by the dead in the cemetery. The fields lay untended, many homes half-destroyed, the animals lost. He prayed, begging Allah’s forgiveness for leaving his mother alone. He did not ask for Allah’s mercy on his mother, for it was unnecessary. She was a saint, and if anyone in the world deserved Paradise it was her.

He left Sofia-e-Gul and never returned.

Payedar and Letya were married as the war raged, and when the Kurdish militias lost and the Kurdish region was overrun by Iraqi troops, they fled to the Kurdish border region in Iran. There Payedar worked as an assistant to a stone mason. He and Letya raised two boys and a girl.

San Francisco Islamic Society Mosque

These were the things Payedar was thinking about as he sat with his back against the wall in the little masjid. Lately it seemed his mind dwelled more in the past than the present. Sometimes he found himself standing on a street corner in this American city, thinking about the feel of his father’s bristly mustache when he kissed Payedar goodnight, or the smell of his wife’s hair, redolent with the day’s cooking – or, if she had bathed, with the scent of fermented rice-water shampoo. Then someone would interrupt his reverie, some Spanish girl with green hair, or a goateed man with earrings and a baby in a belly sling, and ask if he was alright. And he would smile and thank them.

He had no complaints about the way his life had turned out. He’d lost so much, yes. But he’d been a fighter all his life, and what more could any man do? Everything was in Allah’s hands. Whatever had happened was always going to happen, and whatever had passed him by was always going to pass him by. There was nothing he could say in the end but alhamdulillah. And if he was fortunate, he would meet his lost ones in Jannah, and all would be well.

Boots On

The gunman entered with his boots on. That was the first thing Payedar noticed, glancing to his left and seeing the military boots on the plush carpet of the prayer room. His eyes shot up to take the man in: tall, white, with a powerful frame. Green eyes and a scattering of freckles across his cheeks. Brown hair in a buzz cut. Dressed in green army fatigues, and carrying a semi-automatic rifle. The gun was pointed toward the mehrab as the man’s head swiveled, taking in the interior of the masjid.

The man seemed confused. Maybe he too had been fooled by the time change, and was expecting to find a full congregation. Maybe his eyes were adjusting to the gloom, for the interior lights had not yet been turned on, and the masjid was all cool shadows and lazily spinning ceiling fans.

The gunman’s hesitation gave Payedar the time he needed. He leaped up and embraced the man tightly, throwing his arms over the man’s arms, pinning them to his sides so that the rifle pointed at the ground. “No, my son,” Payedar said intensely, whispering in the man’s ear as if telling secrets to a confidante. “No.”

“Get off me you goddamn terrorist!” the man bellowed. He struggled, nearly falling. He was strong, but Payedar also was strong, for though he was sixty seven years old he had been a stone mason for decades, and the work had given him a broad back and muscular arms.

“No, my son,” he said again, his voice rising. “I will not allow it. I cannot, I cannot.” He heard other men shouting in panic and confusion, but he did not turn to look.

“I’ll kill you!” the man drove forward, but Payedar held on. The gun went off. The sound ricocheted off the walls like the roar of a cannon. Someone screamed. Payedar’s foot exploded with pain. Starbursts appeared before his eyes. Yet he kept his arms clasped. “No, my son,” he said again, desperately. ‘No, my son.” He was pleading, but not for his life. He and death were old friends or old enemies – he could not tell anymore. Sometimes you hated a man but admired him. So it was with Payedar and death. No, he was pleading for this man to understand, to stop before it was too late.

“GET OFF ME YOU CRAZY OLD MAN!”

Again the gun fired, and this time it was as if a sword had been driven into Payedar’s thigh. He closed his eyes and groaned in agony, but held on. Again he pleaded, his voice filled with something that might have been anger but might also have been love, and this time it was a shout, driven by pain and desperation. “No my son!”

The gunman stopped struggling. Payedar felt the man’s body go limp within the circle of his embrace. He opened his eyes to meet a gaze filled with hatred and rage, but also confusion and shame. Now that the man had stopped struggling, Payedar seemed to have lost his own ability to fight, as if he had drawn his energy from the other’s seething will. His arms grew slack and the world turned monochrome, as if he were seeing everything on the old television he and Letya had purchased when the children were still small and still alive. Pain filled his mind, and he could not stand.

Arms seized Payedar and the gunman. Both fell. Men were atop them, shouting in Arabic and English. Payedar’s mouth fell open as his eyelids came down like steel doors.

His Young Prince

Hospital IV bag

Two surgeries and a week in the hospital, and he was on his way to recovery. People said he was a hero. Visitors from the masjid were allowed in two at a time, but Payedar found their visits tiring. Reporters wanted to see him, but his son Ekrem shielded him. Payedar had no desire for fame. Police came as well. He told the story in halting English, and picked the gunman out of a selection of photos on a card.

Sometimes he did not know where he was. A hospital, but he had been in many clinics and field hospitals. He had been shot twice before, bombed, struck with grenade shrapnel, and tortured in an Iranian jail, where he was accused of being a Kurdish separatist.

When he became confused he remained silent and waited stiffly. Eventually Ekrem would appear, sometimes with his beautiful wife Amirah, and Payedar would relax, for even if he did not know where he was he knew that Ekrem was his young prince, his joy and legacy, and that if Ekrem was there then everything was fine.

Later, he awoke on the sofa in Ekrem’s living room. Usually he slept in a tiny upstairs room, but he had a titanium rod in his thigh and a cast from knee to toe. He let out a groan. His leg and foot ached as if a lion were gnawing on the bones. He’d experienced worse pain in life. But he was old now.

Amirah stood over him, speaking. “Apê. Tu dixwazî hin çay bi şekirê dixwazî? Dem dema dermanê we ye.” Uncle, would you like tea with sugar? It’s time for your medication.

Payedar smiled at this princess, this beautiful African-American Muslim woman who had given him two grandsons and had even learned Kurdish!

Trying not to show how much his leg hurt, he rubbed his eyes and yawned. “How about some mast-aw?” he replied in Kurdish. It was an old joke. Mast-aw was a Kurdish favorite: heated goat’s milk mixed with sour goat’s milk to curdle it, then with cold water. Of course it could not be found in America.

“Honey,” Amirah called in English. “He wants mast-aw.”

“Coming up.” Ekrem emerged from the kitchen carrying a tray with a single glass of milk perched in the center, and four pills beside it. The boys trooped at his heels, grinning. Payedar looked at his son, with his curly hair and long, proud nose. He was sturdy, for he too was a stonemason, having learned at Payedar’s side.

Payedar smiled at this prank. The pasteurized, homogenized milk sold in America was a far cry from mast-aw. But he took the glass without complaint, and downed a few pills. His eyes widened. The drink was thick and tangy, rich with the flavors of his homeland. It was mast-aw! He had not tasted it in many years, and for a moment the flavor took him back, so that he was a child, sitting on the floor with his parents and siblings after a long day of trooping over the mountains with his bav. The children enjoyed mast-aw and boiled wheat with sugar, and when his older brother tried to talk about the war Bav shushed him. His sister told a joke about a cat that tried to ride a bicycle, and Payedar laughed.

Remembering this, he laughed again, and witnessing this, Ekrem and his family laughed as well, and Payedar returned to the present. “This is miracle,” Payedar said in English, and his family grinned and told him how they had sourced all the ingredients.

Moments like this were a barakah, and Payedar was filled with gratitude to Allah. If only… he faltered, his hand shaking, nearly dropping the glass, so that Amirah took it quickly. A tear ran down his cheek. Ekrem was beside him, touching his shoulder. “What is it, Bav? Is something wrong?”

Payedar shook his head. “You are the spirit of my heart, Ekrem. All of you.” He reached a hand to his grandsons and they piled onto the sofa. “I wish…” He could not continue. He wished Letya, his wife, could have lived long enough to see this new land. And Sara, his daughter, gassed by Saddam Hussein along with her husband and children. And Baz, his firstborn, a lifelong soldier.

Ekrem rubbed his shoulder. “I know, Bav.”

“Can I try the mast-aw?” This was Ibrahim, his youngest grandson, a wide-faced boy with curly black hair and dark eyes, only four years old. His mother gave him the glass and he took a sip, then coughed and grimaced. “Eww!”

Payedar chuckled. “You are American boy. You better stick to apple juice.”

* * *

An assistant district attorney came to see him. A rail-thin blonde woman with spectacles like tea glasses. The gunman, whose name was Amundsen, had so far refused to speak to the police. He said he would only speak to, “the old man.”

“Meaning you, Mr. Olan,” the ADA said. “You’d be doing us a favor.”

Good Crazy or Bad Crazy

They met in a room in the county jail building. It was painted steel gray, with a thick window beyond which a tall black guard watched. There were no cameras or listening devices, as far as Payedar could tell.

The gunman, Amundsen, sat across from Payedar at a metal table that was bolted to the ground. The man wore orange jail coveralls with “JAIL INMATE” printed on the chest and back. He was handcuffed, his ankles shackled, another chain connecting hands and feet to a belly chain, and the whole mess chained to a steel eye loop welded to the table. The man was unmarked. No bruises or burns. Back home he would have been tortured until he confessed. Here they had to appeal to him, negotiate, reason. America was crazy. But good crazy or bad crazy? Both, Payedar supposed.

Payedar wore the traditional clothing of his homeland: a dark vest over a white robe, a black turban, and boots. He did not always dress thus. Sometimes he wore typical Western clothing. He was not sure why he had chosen to dress this way today.

The gunman eyed him. There was some hostility in that look, but not as much as Payedar had expected. The man seemed almost curious. “You speak English?”

“Yes. I learn.”

The chains rattled as Amundsen gestured to Payedar’s leg. “You gonna be alright?”

Payedar nodded.

“You really messed me up.”

“You mess up yourself.”

“Yeah.”

Neither of them said anything for a while. Payedar studied the gunman. The man’s eyes were intelligent, his jaw set tightly. A forearm tattoo peeked out beneath the sleeve of his coverall. His torso was as wide as a barrel. Payedar was amazed he’d been able to hold the man. In fact, he could not see how it was possible.

“Why did you say that?” the gunman wanted to know.

“Say what?” Though he knew.

“You know. You called me your son. You kept saying that. Even when I shot you. What the hell, man? I’m not your son.”

Payedar flushed with embarrassment. But he had agreed to talk to the man, so he answered. “Sometimes I get confused. At that time I thought you was my son, Baz.”

Amundsen stared, then shook his head and laughed. “Unbelievable. I got stopped by a senile old kook. Do I look like your son?”

“Little bit. Big and strong. He was soldier, fighting the Iraqis. Seven years ago, when ISIS start to invade our land, Baz come to me, say he going to fight them. I did not want. I lose so many people already. So I hug him, I tell him, no, my son. Do not go.”

Amundsen frowned. “Your son was going to fight against ISIS? I thought you Muslims supported ISIS.”

“You are fool!” Payedar snapped. “Never say this. Do you understand what ISIS did to my people? They attack the Yazidi villages because the Yazidis are Christian, not Muslim. So ISIS kill the men, take the women and rape them. My son cannot accept this, so he go to fight, to protect them.”

“So…” Amundsen’s mouth hung open as he took in what Payedar was telling him. “Your son fought to protect Christians?”

“Muslim, Christians, one people. They are Kurds.”

“What happened to him?”

“What you think?” Not wanting to speak it out loud.

The room fell silent. Payedar looked around absently, taking in the clean floor and walls, the even light from the fluorescents embedded in the ceiling. He looked at the jail guard on the other side of the window, who stood calmly, watching them both. Payedar’s mind wandered, traveling through time, crossing borders and eras in an instant, feeling the touch of his wife’s lips on his cheek, whispering her love. She had loved him like a fighter, fiercely, unreservedly. Then his mind swept forward like a flash flood in a mountain ravine, and he was once again in the present, in this tiny room in a foreign city far from home. His gaze returned to Amundsen, who in turn studied him silently. No one spoke.

The end

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories on this website.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels, Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters, and Zaid Karim Private Investigator, are available on Amazon.com.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

Continue Reading

#Culture

Launch of Zaid Karim Private Investigator!

Where did the idea for Zaid Karim come from, how much is based on real events, and what is next for Zaid?

Zaid Karim, Private Investigator

I’m so excited to share the release of Zaid Karim Private Investigator.

This novel has been three years in the making: from when I first began serializing it on MuslimMatters.org in early 2017, to its completion on MM nine months later, to the first wave of revisions based on comments by my editor Amy Estrada and the MM readers, to the final revision after further input from another editor, Rafael Lopez.

If you’ve already read it online, I encourage you to buy the new ebook or paperback. There’s nothing like holding a physical copy in your hands. And there have been some changes.

Support MuslimMatters for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

One thing I’ve consistently noticed in the input I’ve received from MM readers is that a lot of you are doctors! My characters always seem to get injured, and apparently I often make mistakes when describing their treatment or symptoms. And the MM readers call me on it. I’m grateful for that, and I have always made changes to the story in response.

The final version is, in my opinion, tight as a drum. I added a few minor transitional scenes, and eliminated a lot of irrelevant musings by Zaid that tended to take the reader away from the action. Zaid has an irreverent and odd sense of humor, and that flavors the book, but Rafael Lopez pointed out that the inclusion of this humor during climactic moments sabotages the tension of the story, and he was right. So I ended up deleting some of those.

A key change from the MM version occurs during the climactic battle on Ouagadiri Island. I don’t want to give it away, but I’ll say that it was an important change, and had to do with how I see Zaid, and how he sees himself. Let me know if you read the book and catch the change, and what you think.

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Here are some answers to questions I often receive about Zaid Karim Private Investigator, and about my writing process in general:

Q: How much of this book is fact and how much is fiction?

A: Telling the true story of my life would be problematic. So I fictionalize. Every novel I’ve written has some autobiographical elements, with fictional events and invented characters mixed it. Lately, in my short stories, I’ve been trying to branch out more and create characters that are wholly fictional. Well, let me amend that. I create characters whose lives are based on real-world social dynamics and believable situations. I want emotional honesty above all. The particular circumstances of their lives, however, are invented.

Q: How did you get the idea for this book?

East Los Angeles

East Los Angeles

A: When I was twenty one years old I helped a friend track down and find his young missing daughter. But it was quite different from the narrative in Zaid Karim. For example, we started our search in East Los Angeles, first talking to people, then breaking down doors. Along the way we crashed our car in Mazatlan, had a nearly disastrous run-in with the Mexican police in Guadalajara, got in an argument with South African Tablighi Jamaat members at the Egyptian Club in Mexico City, were invited to a bizarre meeting of wealthy Mexican sufis, and ended up in the mountains of southern Mexico. That incident was the seed for Zaid Karim.

As for the setting in the latter half of the book, I lived in Panama for four years, and in fact I lived in El Valle de Anton, the idyllic little town where Yusuf Cruz lives. Though my house was not a mansion!

Q: Zaid’s kind of violent, isn’t he?

A: Yes, at times. He is young, and he’s been through a lot. He wants to change, but doesn’t know how. He needs some catalyst to transform his thinking. I suspect that novel that Alejandra gave him, On My Way to Paradise, will play a role. As he continues to grow, I believe we’ll see him evolve.

Q: So you plan to write more Zaid Karim mysteries?

A: Depends on how well this one sells. If you want to see more, buy ten copies: one for you, and nine for your friends, ha ha.

Q: What about a crossover between Zaid Karim and Hassan Amir?

A: It could happen. Zaid is Jamilah’s cousin, after all, and their stories happen around the same time.

Q: Who would win in a fight between Zaid and Hassan?

A: Lol, why would they be fighting? But here you go:

  • Gunfight: Hassan.
  • Sticks: Zaid.
  • Knives: Even match.
  • Empty hands: Hassan, by a mile.

Q: What’s next for Zaid Karim?

A: His body will need healing time and therapy, but knowing Zaid he will probably plow right ahead. He needs to investigate this so-called convert who is trying to radicalize the youth. We will learn more about the event that enabled him to be pardoned and released from prison early. We just might learn more about the strange comment made by Farah Anwar regarding Zaid’s mother, that she should have “aborted you and kept the lame one.” Zaid will almost certainly return to Panama, to find Angie and try to help her, especially now that he is a foster father to he daughter. Lastly, an important figure from Zaid’s past, a person of power and influence, might call upon him to investigate a crime he is uniquely qualified to handle. Stay tuned.

See the Story Index for Wael Abdelgawad’s other stories on this website.

Wael Abdelgawad’s novels, Pieces of a Dream, The Repeaters, and Zaid Karim Private Investigator, are available on Amazon.com.

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#Culture

Muslim Literature: The Pros, The Progress, And The Pitfalls

The burgeoning field of Muslim literature, and Muslim fiction, in particular, is an exciting development for the English-speaking Muslim community. However, it is necessary for Muslim writers to seriously consider the quality of their work.

Once upon a time, it was extremely difficult for English-speaking Muslims to find good books – fiction and non-fiction alike – that was catered to their demographic. Fiction, in particular, was scarce, for both young children as well as teens. Much of it was poorly written, filled with atrocious spelling and grammar, and stilted from beginning to end.

It was not an enjoyable reading experience.

Alhamdulillah, the Muslim literary scene has evolved significantly since the early 90s. Today, we have award-winning Muslim authors such as Na’ima B. Robert, whose excellent YA novels have been published through mainstream publishers and numerous emerging writers whose debut novels are wonderful contributions to the existing body of modern Muslim literature.

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Muslim publishers such as Kube Publishing, Daybreak Press, and Ruqaya’s Bookshelf are taking the lead in producing and distributing stories by and for Muslims. In addition, the publishing company Simon and Schuster launched an entire division dedicated to books by Muslim writers. Hena Khan, S. K. Ali, Karuna Riazi, and Mark Gonzales are just some of the authors whose Muslim-centered stories have been published through Salaam Reads and made accessible to schools, libraries, and the general public. The We Need Diverse Books movement has also played a significant role in promoting multicultural and marginalized voices within mainstream publishing, and the results are wonderful. 

Elevating Standards in Muslim Literature

Within the Muslim community, however, work still needs to be done. Unfortunately, as ever, the tendency to fall short of professional continues to make itself clear, in both self-published works as well as work that is published through Muslim publishers. It is common to find children’s stories that are riddled with typos, run-on sentences, poor plot structure, and nonexistent character development. In the pursuit of promoting Islamic values, too many fall into being overtly preachy and moralizing, with no regard for the fine art of storytelling.

The result is that time, effort, and money are wasted; having a plethora of “Islamic books” does us very little good when the final product is of little benefit and serves to turn children and young adults away from Muslim-focused stories. Parents and educators also find themselves frustrated with these poorly developed books, especially when they are seeking stories more representative of religiously observant Muslims rather than those who take Islam as a cultural identity marker. 

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While it is certainly encouraging to see more Muslims actively contributing to the field of Muslim literature, we must recognize the difference between quality and quantity – and the importance of the former over the latter. It is true that traditional publishing is a difficult niche to get into, especially for those with no previous experience with writing or the publishing industry. This is often a motivating factor for many Muslim writers to either go with a Muslim publisher or turn to self-publishing as a means of making their work available.

However, the push to keep costs low comes at a price of its own. The vast majority of the time, it is clear that a qualified, professional editor was not hired to look over the manuscript. While some people may think that it is not a serious issue, especially for children’s books, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.

Children’s books actually require extra attention; one must be clear on the targeted demographic and tailor the story and language appropriately, and the illustrations and the words alike need to be engaging and lively, regardless of the intended age group. In particular, when the subject matter is religion-focused, it is important that the approach taken is not dry, academic, or presented in a way that young readers cannot connect with personally.

The quality of a book should never be sacrificed in order to keep costs low; as Muslims, we should be even more particular about producing high-quality work that will be a valuable resource to be used both within our own communities as well as to the non-Muslim public. 

Self Publishing Woes

Self-publishing is particularly dangerous when the aspiring author has done little to no research on writing and publishing and has even less experience with writing well. Unfortunately, too many Muslim writers over-estimate their own abilities and rush headlong into self-publishing… with painful, often cringe-inducing results. It is particularly distressing when certain over-confident and under-qualified Muslim writers then exult over unearned praise from readers who, unfortunately, are not always as discerning as they should be – leading said writers to feel secure in their writing abilities and going on to produce even more subpar work.

The importance of having a strong editor cannot be overstated; having a “friend of a friend” with no qualifications to review and ‘edit’ the story simply does not cut it. Choosing the professional way to write and publish will inevitably take more time and effort – and yes, financial cost – to produce a final result, but that investment of energy will be much, much more worth it in the long run (and will also spare readers the agony of seeing “there,” “their,” and “they’re” constantly used the wrong way).

Having higher standards and holding Muslim writers (and publishers) accountable for their work is not meant to be discouraging. Rather, our intention is to encourage their success – in a way that is meaningful, not blindly supportive. We all wish to see our brothers and sisters in Islam succeed and to continue to contribute to an extremely important field. Addressing these weaknesses from the very beginning will ultimately result in long-term success and benefit the writers and the readers alike. 

The burgeoning field of Muslim literature, and Muslim fiction in particular, is an exciting development for the English-speaking Muslim community. However, it is necessary for Muslim writers to seriously consider the quality of their work, and to seek professional and qualified editors and publishers with whom to work and produce their books. The current substandard quality of many Muslim-produced books is counter-productive to the intended goal of providing beneficial resources for Muslim and non-Muslim audiences. It makes parents and educators reluctant to use and share those works with their children and students.

Investing time and energy into improving the quality of our literature will only result in success, for the writers and their readership alike – so let us truly take our work seriously, and be committed to undertaking our efforts with Ihsaan.

Credit to MuslimKidsBookNook for her valuable contributions.

Support Our Dawah for Just $2 a Month

MuslimMatters has been a free service to the community since 2007. All it takes is a small gift from a reader like you to keep us going, for just $2 / month.

The Prophet (SAW) has taught us the best of deeds are those that done consistently, even if they are small. Click here to support MuslimMatters with a monthly donation of $2 per month. Set it and collect blessings from Allah (swt) for the khayr you're supporting without thinking about it.

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