Team Hidayah Interviews Ustaazah Dr. Farhat Hashmi Part 2
LIFE LESSONS, CHALLENGES, AND VISION (PART II)
Sister Khudaija: To be a known personality for the Muslim nation is not an easy feat, especially in today’s world. A possible reason for that is social media. You must have also faced countless challenges in your life. What is the biggest challenge or obstacle that you faced in your life and how did you tackle it?
Dr. Farhat: I don’t consider anything an obstacle. When I was a child, I read a book which said that when running water faces a rock in its path, the water creates two passages. Whenever you face one obstacle in your life, you also have two other passages that open up for you. Based on this principal, whenever I face a closed door somewhere, I actively start looking for other opportunities or open doors elsewhere.
Sister Khudaija: What about your biggest success?
Dr. Farhat: The biggest success is all related to the Aakhirah. As long as Allah blesses me with it, that is what would be considered a true success. Otherwise, whatever is done in this world, any achievements or acknowledgments that you receive in this world, they pertain to Dunya only – it is Allah’s acknowledgment that matters.
Sister Khudaija: In your opinion, what should the Canadian mosques aim to do in order to not only attract and relate to Muslims of all age groups but also all ethnic and cultural backgrounds?
Dr. Farhat: Canadian mosques should aim to make the mosques not just mere prayer halls. Back in the days of the Prophet (SAW), mosques would play a much bigger role, like a centre of other activity, besides just prayers. The mosques in Canada should aim to be more in line with that and provide services like educational courses/classes and community outreach programs, and many mosques are doing this today. However, they still need to open and expand further in order to understand the Muslim community and its needs and try to relate to the surrounding Muslim community rather than following the mosques own agenda. Additionally, these mosques should also open its doors for non-Muslims as well through different programs.
Sister Khudaija: Can you share with us the most memorable journey of your life, if there are any prominent ones that stand out?
Dr. Farhat: In 2001, I went to Australia, on the other side of the world. I was constantly getting invitations from Canada as well, but I kept putting it off because Canada was on the other side of the world compared to Australia – and I only had 15 or so days off from Al Huda in Karachi where I was teaching at the time, so I couldn’t cover so much distance in such a short time. Sister Mubeen persistently insisted that I visit, however, I had committed to the Australian party so I went there. It was a long journey to Australia and as soon as I landed I was informed that the mosque in Canada had been booked out and invitations printed and sent out in anticipation of my arrival – therefore I must now visit Canada as well.
Shortly after my arrival in Australia, I headed back out to the U.S. where I had my visa, and then crossed the border into Canada after getting the Canadian visa right at the border. I remember following the busy schedule in Canada of two lectures a day once I got here. That trip of travelling from one corner of the world to the other in such a short time is a very memorable one for me. That was also how I was introduced to Canada.
Sister Khudaija: If you get a chance to travel to any place in the world, which one would it be and why?
Dr. Farhat: Japan. I’ve heard so much about the people of Japan, and I received an invite from over there 2 years ago, but I was not able to go due to other commitments. I’m fascinated by their success, hard work, and humility; even their children, school system, railway system. I really want to go and observe those people to see what qualities make them so successful and disciplined with their time and resources, even though geographically their location isn’t the most favourable in the world as the country is targeted with earthquakes and tsunamis.
Sister Khudaija: Masha’Allah you have travelled all around the world and met people of a diverse range of backgrounds. Based on your experiences, what kind of Muslims should Canadian Muslims aim to be in order to be a better Muslim?
Dr. Farhat: They should aim to fulfill their responsibilities not only as Muslims, but also as residents of their country. That is part of being a good Muslim. If they have made this place their home, then they need to treat it like their home – taking care of it and fulfilling their responsibilities as its citizens.
Sister Khudaija: Al Huda was founded in Islamabad in Pakistan originally, and now Alhamdullilah we are sitting in the Mississauga location of the institute. What are your thoughts and reflections on that?
Dr. Farhat: I thank Allah for everything, but then I see that there’s still so much work left to be done.
Sister Khudaija: How is Al Huda different from other Islamic institutions and what does Al Huda expect of its students and graduates?
Dr. Farhat: Al Huda is a centre for Islamic education, however, there are many functions that it plays that include social outreach and welfare programs. Our goal is that from an educational standpoint we cater to all types of students and audiences. Since it’s very female-centric, we make sure that we cater to women of all ages and backgrounds.
We have a variety of English courses that cater to people of different cultural and ethnic backgrounds. There are also home teaching programs as well. We have made it very flexible and easy for everyone to learn and get educated, at their convenience – since that is our ultimate goal.
What we expect of our graduates is that the same way that they have received khair (beneficial knowledge) from the institution, they should pay it forward and teach others. They should not only focus on themselves, but also spend time serving their families and communities, and helping others in any way, shape or form, with the aim of pleasing Allah.
Sister Khudaija: In any field, people have to face a lot of criticism. How do you handle that when not only people criticize you externally, but even those from your own country or community make you a target of their criticism?
Dr. Farhat: Whenever I receive any criticism on myself or my work, whether it’s from close circle or outsiders, I analyse it to see how much of that criticism is actually true, since it’s beneficial for everyone to accept the truth about themselves. If there is actual truth in the criticism then I try to learn and improve from it. If someone criticizes my work or the institution then I still take it positively and try to analyze if there’s any truth to it.
Sometimes however, the claim is false. In the false cases, I forgive the ones that are criticizing by giving them the benefit of the doubt that they are not aware of the facts or have a misunderstanding. Whenever I go for Hajj or Umrah in my prayers I always declare to Allah that I have forgiven everyone that has ever done anything wrong to me, and ask Allah to forgive me as well – as I myself have made many mistakes in my life.
That’s the reason I never take any criticism to heart nor hold any grudges about anyone. Just forgive, forget, and move on.
Sister Khudaija: How do you face the praises that you get from people, and how do handle this attention in making sure that Shaitaan doesn’t divert you from your goal and purpose?
Dr. Farhat: I feel very uneasy when someone praises me. I start to read Istaghfar in my heart and make dua to Allah to forgive me in that I didn’t ask these people to praise me. It’s a heavy burden.
If you support Allah, He will support you (Qur’an, Surah Muhammad, Verse 7)
Sister Khudaija: What advice can you give to current students of Qur’an so that they get the most out of it?
Dr. Farhat: Stay connected with the Qur’an. There are several ways, which include joining different regular Qur’an courses and classes, but if due to time constraint they can’t join a regular/full-time course they can take online classes. If they are not able to do classes, then they can get one-on-one classes/coaching with any of our graduating students – in English, Urdu, German, local Pakistani languages like Pushto, Brohi, etc. If there are people that have special needs, we also accommodate them. Right before this interview, for example, I met a lady who was blind. She asked me what she should do in order to learn the Qur’an, and I suggested that she should learn it on a one-on-one basis with a guide that can teach her at her own pace. There is a way to learning for everyone.
Sister Khudaija: Do you have any concluding messages for our readers, even those that are not currently students of Deen?
Dr. Farhat: I just want to tell them to be positive. Always remain positive. Always see the bright side of things. Even in difficulty, there are a lot of opportunities for ease. Adopt this behaviour and your life will become easier.
Secondly, continue to take your learning of the Qur’an to the next level and study deeper. If you haven’t studied it yet, then you must begin to do so. People commit their lives to worldly accomplishments, but forget about the Hereafter – in the Akhirah how will they face Allah if they haven’t read the one Book that He gave us? So make it a part of your life to continue to better your understanding of your religion.