Word For Peace
Dr. Javed Akhatar
Let me introduce myself first. My name is Javed Akhatar, I was born and brought up in Kanpur. I completed my bachelors’ degree in Science from Kanpur University, and earned my Masters in Arts from Jamia Millia Islamia, New Delhi. After qualifying UGC/Net exam in December 2010, I enrolled myself in the department of Islamic Studies at Jamia Millia Islamia for PhD.
I come from a middle-class Muslim family. I have two elder brothers. My father worked in a small factory, and is retired now. My mother is a home maker. I receive a lot of inspiration from my parents who taught me to be honest and respectful towards all. I am very especially grateful to my mother for her guidance in religious matters. She is a good Muslimah and always faithful to her prayers. She is also very passionate towards our education.
I did have difficult times after my undergraduate studies in Kanpur. My family’s financial situation did not allow me to study. At that time of my life, I felt, I was like a rudderless boat, drifting, and living aimlessly. My faith was at its low ebb. I neither prayed nor kept fast during the holy month of Ramadan. I would even say, that it was a sort of dark moment of my life. It certainly brought pain to my parents particularly to my mother. As I could not continue my education, I decided to work and earn in order to continue my studies. I appeared for an interview and got a job in a multinational company. Hence in February 2007 I moved to Delhi.
I extremely believe that due to the prayers of my mother another spring began in my life. As I began to work, I also wanted to make efforts to live faithfully according to the teachings of the Qur’an and the teachings of Hadith. I am aware, that many of my listeners know that the holy Qur’an is the sacred scripture of Muslims. Hadith, most probably many of you would not aware about. A Hadith is a saying, an act or a tacit approval or disapproval ascribed to the prophet Muhammad(pbuh). Hadiths are regarded by traditional Islamic schools of jurisprudence as the 2nd important tool after Qur’an for understanding the religious affairs and in matters of jurisprudence.
Now to return to the narrative, at this time I came into contact with an Ima’am of Qaadri Mosque, Maulana Ashfaaq Sahab at Shastri Park where I lived. He guided me and also taught me the teachings of the Qur’an. Thus, I could say him as my spiritual mentor. I began to offer Salah. Namaz is a Persian word and Salah is the Arabic word for prayer. Now, I pray five times daily prayer. You may ask me, why do I pray? Am I afraid of the punishment of God? I would say, rather I find joy in turning my heart, mind, and whole being towards Allah five times a day. I also experience a sense of satisfaction and energy flows from prayer that keeps me sane in negative and difficult moments of my life. I also started keeping fast in the month of Ramadan. To keep fast from dawn to dusk is pretty difficult, but I find meaning in doing so. In keeping fast, I try to surrender my will, to the will of God.
I hardly skipped any Salah even in my office, my boss was a Hindu and he never denied me offering my Salah. I found in him a perfect gentleman, very respectful towards my religious sentiments. I worked hard, and earned a good name and position in my office. I really felt prayer impacts one’s life positively.
I have got many friends from different religious traditions, both in my office earlier and now in the university. We used to have dinner together from the same tiffin. I started to feel the value of relations no matter which community of religion he belongs to. I believe that Human person should be respected and valued. His or her religious conviction should be respected. I may not agree but I learn to appreciate and respect. Because, God is one and he wants all to live in peace. Indeed, all we have is Allah’s gift such as water, oxygen, and the beautiful environment on the earth for one another. If Allah does not discriminate one against another then who we are to discriminate? Allah is the creator and judge of all, and he provides guidance for all.
I wanted to know more deeply about Islam and its history. With my earning I began to explore the possibilities. Meanwhile a friend of mine Mirajul Haque told me that there is a two year course of Islamic Studies in Jamia, and in order to get admission I had to sit for an entrance exam. The Ima’am helped me to prepare for the examination. By the grace of Allah I successfully cleared the entrance exam, and I took admission in the department of Islamic studies. I was a science student so it was very difficult for me to come up with the art subject. However, I worked hard and became topper in both the years. And when I was in MA final I gave the exam of UGC-Net and I qualified that too, and on the basis of that I got admission in Ph. D. and this is my 2nd year going on into the research.
Because of Allah’s hidayat and guidance not only my entire life got changed, but my entire thinking took new shape. I set my priorities in life. I started understanding the value of good relations. In fact, it was a new birth of mine. I must say education and good guidance by parents, teachers, friends and the Imam taught me to respect all other religions, and cultures. Now I strive to be honest with God, with the country, with environment, and most importantly with myself. I also consider that with prayers and correct guidance the destiny can be changed through right action. I always say now, success depends on four things.
- A clear aim in life 2. Good education 3. Hard work and 4. Perseverance.
Today, the world is living in hate and enmity. People and nations are hostile with one another on the ground of cast, creed, language, religion, and politics. I call it “the world of opposition and conflict”. In a consequence, good relations are dying. Being a student of Islamic studies, and comparative religion I know the life of the prophet Muhammad(pbuh) and the lives of his companions are full of great examples that promote good relationships with the people of other faiths. Peace, tolerance, compassion, and good relationships are the normal and original state between Muslims and other faiths. Prophet Muhammad (pbuh) did not prevent Muslims from establishing good relationships with Non-Muslims. He clearly says that our relationships with them should be based on best morals and justice. There are many things that I do to establish tolerance, compassion, and justice in order to maintain a healthy relationship with other faiths. Some of these I try to practice to create harmony wherever I am. Such as:
- Greeting, handshaking, and exchanging visits with my friends, who belong to different religious traditions in their homes and places of worship. I also welcome them in my home, accepting their invitations and sharing meals with them.
- I often offer my congratulations on happy occasions like weddings, having a newborn, etc. I also pay my condolences and sympathy when they are struck by any disaster, or tragedy. Visiting their sick people, and asking Allah for their recovery and guidance.
I deeply believe that Islam is a religion of peace, and promotes loving relationships. It is a religion of mercy, tolerance and moderation. It teaches its followers to be moderate in all fields and walks of life, in aspects of worship, and in interaction with members of other faiths. Being extreme in one way or another would entail going against the pristine teachings of Allah and His beloved Messenger (Allah bless him & give him peace).
Now let me share my two objectives of life:
- I am not supposed to be called educated, unless and until my education will work for poor. Therefore, I want to teach who don’t have money for good education.
- I also want to spread awareness and wish to eradicate the concept of old age home Al-Qur’an Al-Isra Ch. 17 V. 23 & 24 says: Your Lord has commanded that you should worship none but Him, and show kindness to your parents. If either or both of them attain old age, say no word of contempt to them and do not rebuke them, but always speak gently to them and treat them with humility and tenderness and say, ‘My Lord, be merciful to them, as they cherished me in child.’ So I’d like to conclude my speech saying “There should be no place for old age home in our society.”