By Imran Khan
My Generation grew up at a time when colonial hang up was at its peak.
Our older generation had been slaves and had a huge inferiority complex of the
British. The school I went to was a similar to all elite schools in Pakistan,
despite becoming independent, they were, and still are, producing replicas of
public school boys rather than Pakistanis. I read Shakespeare which was fine,
but no Alama Iqbal. The
Islamic class was not considered to be serious, and when I left the school I
was considered amongst the elite of the country because I could speak English
and wore western clothes. Despite periodically shouting Pakistan Zindabad at school functions, I considered my own culture
backward and Islam an outdated religion. Amongst our group if any one talked
about religion, prayed or kept a beard he was immediately branded a Mullah.
Because of the power of the
However, the biggest factor that drove people like me away from religion was the selective Islam practiced by most of its preachers. In other words, there was a huge difference between what they practiced and what they preached. Also, rather than explaining the philosophy behind the religion, there was an over emphasis on rituals. I feel that humans are different; to animals whereas the latter can be drilled, humans need to be intellectually convinced. That is why the Quran constantly appeals to reason. The worst of course, was the exploitation of Islam for political gains by various individuals or groups.
Hence, it was a miracle I did not become an atheist. The only reason why I did not was the powerful religious influence wielded by my mother on me since my childhood. It was not so much out of conviction but love for her that I stayed a Muslim. However, my Islam was selective, i.e. I accepted only parts of the religion that suited me. Prayers were restricted to Eid days and occasionally on Fridays, when my father insisted on taking me with him. If there was a God I was not sure about it and certainly felt that he did not interfere with my life. All in all I was smoothly moving to becoming a Pukka Brown Sahib. After all I had the right credentials in terms of the right school, university and above all, acceptability in the English aristocracy, something that our brown sahibs would give their lives for. So what led me to do a lota on the Brown Sahib culture and instead become a desi? Well it did not just happen overnight.
Firstly, the inferiority complex that my
generation had inherited, gradually went as I developed
into a world class athlete. Secondly, I had the unique position of living between two cultures.
I began to see the advantages and the disadvantages of both the societies.
In western societies, institutions were strong while they were collapsing in
our country. However, there was an area where we were and still are superior,
and that is our family life. I used to notice the loneliness of the old-age
pensioners at Hove Cricket ground (during my
Since all morality has it roots in religion,
once religion was removed, immorality has progressively escalated since the
70's. The direct impact of it is on the family life. In
There was a sequence of events in the 80's that moved me towards God as the Quran says: "There are signs for people of understanding." One of them was cricket. As I was a student of the game, the more I understood the game, the more I began to realize that what I considered to be chance was, in fact, the will of Allah, the pattern which became clearer with time. But it was not until Salman Rushdie's Satanic Verses that my understanding of Islam began to develop.
People like me who were living in the western world bore the brunt of anti-Islam prejudice that followed the Muslim reaction to the book. We were left with two choices: fight or flight. Since I felt strongly that the attacks on Islam were unfair, I decided to fight. It was then I realized that I was not equipped to do so as my knowledge of Islam was inadequate. Hence I started my research and for me a period of my greatest enlightenment. I read scholars like Ali Shariati, Mohammad Asad, Iqbal, Gai Eaton, plus of course, a study of the Holy Quran.
I will try to explain as concisely as is possible, what "discovering the truth" meant for me. When the believers are addressed in the Quran, it always says, "Those who believe and do good deeds." In other words, a Muslim has dual function, one towards God and the other towards fellow human beings.
The greatest impact of believing in God for me, meant that I lost all fear of human beings. The Quran liberates man from man when it says that life and death and respect and humiliation are God's jurisdiction, so we do not have to bow before other human beings. As Iqbal puts it, Wo aik Sajda jisay tu giran samajhta hai, hazaar sajdon say deta hai sadmi ko nijaat.
Moreover, since this is a transitory world where we prepare for the eternal one, I broke out of the self-imposed prisons, such as growing old (such a curse in the western world, as a result of which, plastic surgeons are having a field day), materialism, ego, what people say and so on. It is important to note that one does not eliminate the earthly desires, simply that instead of being controlled by them, one controls them.
By following the second part of believing in Islam, I have become a better human being. Rather than being self-centered and living for the self, I feel that because the Almighty gave so much to me, in turn I must use that blessing to help the less privileged. By following the fundamentals of Islam rather than becoming a Kalashnikov-wielding fanatic. I have become a tolerant and a giving human being who feels compassion the under privileged. Instead of attributing success to myself, I know it is because of God's will, hence humility instead of arrogance. Also, instead of the snobbish Brown Sahib attitude towards our masses, I believe in egalitarianism and strongly feel against the injustice done to the weak in our society according to the Quran, "Oppression is worse than killing." In fact only now do I understand the true meaning of Islam, if you submit to the will of Allah, you have inner peace.
my faith, I have discovered strength within me that I never knew existed and
that has released my potential in life. My education programme that
I intend to announce in March is far more ambitious than the cancer hospital
project. I feel that in
One of the problems facing
What needs to be done is to somehow start a dialogue between the two extreme. In order for this to happen, the group on whom the greatest proportion of our educational resources are spent in this country must study Islam properly. Whether they become practicing Muslims or believe in God is entirely a ;personal choice; as the Quran tells us that there is "no compulsion in religion." However, they must arm themselves with knowledge as a weapon to fight extremism. By turning up their noses at extremism is not going to solve the problem. The Quran calls Muslims "the middle nation", i.e. not of extremes. The Holy Prophet (PBUH) was told to simply give the message and not worry whether people converted or not, therefore, there is no question in Islam of forcing your opinions on any one else.
Moreover, we are told to respect other
religions, their places of worship and their prophets. It should be noted that
no Muslim missionaries or armies never went to
If our westernized class started to study Islam, not only will it be able to help our society fight sectarianism and extremism, but it will also make them realise what a progressive religion Islam is. They will also be able to help the western world by articulating Islamic concepts. Last year, Prince Charles accepted that the western world can learn from Islam during his speech at the Oxford Union. But how can this happen if the group that is in to best position to project Islam gets its attitudes from the west and considers Islam backward? Islam is a universal religion and that is why our Prophet (PBUH) was called a mercy for all mankind.
The Death of Lady Diana was very touching and was felt by all races and religions. As far I would like to comment on the subject goes that she had a great interest and admiration for the religion of Islam. She would always be inquisitive about it. After my marriage to Jemima she saw the wonders of Islam and how it had reformed Haiqa. As I hope, it has made the world realize that marriage to Dodi was not to be by the Grace of Allah. Maybe it would have been a great threat to the West of Lady Diana reverting to Islam, or even carrying an Islamic name, as she would have still been a mother of a future King. Only Allah knows the Truth, but all I can say is that she like Prince Charles had a great Interest in the religion. And the probability of Lady Diana reverting were excellent.
Salaam Brothers and Sisters
I have been told I sometimes sound like I am
Imran Khan is younger than me, yet he has done much. And now from his position of retired sports celebrity he is inviting to the way of Allah with wisdom and beautiful preaching.
Since Imran retired in 1992, his
study of the Quran has supplanted his assimilation of
cricket. He prays everyday and punctuates his conversation with quotations from
the Quran, which he feels, encompasses the wisdom of
the Bible and Torah and is a practical guide to life. His belief in fate that
his life was being shaped for him strengthened his faith, which had wavered
after his mother's death. He had long believed in adhering to the guidelines of
the Quran as he was best able to do. It was not
practical for him to attempt to pray five times a day when he was playing
cricket but he would say prayers every morning on a mat facing
May you all have a wonderful weekend.
Peace G. Waleed Kavalec
Abbasi, M. Ashraf: President
Pakistani American Congress-PAC (Washington, DC.) is a nation wide
umbrella representative entity of Pakistani Americans & Pakistani