Chase Your Dream – Poem by Mirza Yawar Baig

Beautiful road

My Thoughts

My deepest fear is that I will simply die one day
Crying for what might have been
The earth will be free of carrying my burden
And there will be no trace of my passing

What use such a life?
That one lives and one dies
Yet there is nothing to show that either happened!

Nothing was changed
No oppression relieved
No ideas ignited
No lives touched

Just that I had lived
And now I am dead

Chase your dream and know
Dreams want to be caught
To live, the dream must come true
Until then it is only a dream

I walked alone through the desert
I walked alone by the ocean
I walked alone through the forest
I walked alone on the mountain

For I was born to die
But I was not born to die without meaning
I was given the chance to make what meaning I desired
For that is what would define me when I was gone

I ask myself, ‘What did I do?’
What more could I have done?
For in the end it was not about others
It was about me.

By Mirza Yawar Baig  of

You Matter

Man surrounded by sun rays

You matter, as much as the sun and the sea. I know that may seem hard to believe sometimes. It may feel like you are walking through this world without leaving a mark; like no one sees who you truly are; like your existence has no greater significance, no purpose except survival, work, and getting by.

That’s not the case. The truth is that you are important and special, even if it’s not apparent to you. I remember one time years ago when I was in the San Francisco Bay Area and attended the mosque in Santa Clara for Jum’ah. After salat, a man approached me. He was a handsome young Indian or Pakistani man in his twenties, professional looking, perhaps a software engineer or doctor. He asked if my name was Wael, and I said yes. He told me that I had been his counselor at the Muslim Youth Camp almost twenty years before, when he was a kid and I was a teenager. He said that I had changed his life, and that he still remembered the things I had taught him. All the years since then – when I sometimes felt sorry for myself and wondered if I had accomplished anything in life – I had no idea that I had changed the life of one young man. I wonder, if I had that effect on him, did I affect others as well?

Is it possible that you and I are living our lives, doing the things we do, and not realizing what wide ripples we are sending out into the world?

In September 2012 I attended a martial arts seminar in Newport Beach, California. During the first day of training I injured my shoulder. I went to an empty room next door and lay on the floor, in terrible pain. A woman who was attending the seminar saw me. She brought me an ice pack, then checked on me repeatedly over the course of the day. I did not even know her name. But when I think of that seminar, what I remember is that woman’s kindness. Her compassion – which was perhaps a small thing to her – made my injury bearable.

I have no doubt that you too have changed someone’s life, or helped someone through a time of pain. I know that there is someone out there who looks up to you. Someone you have inspired. Someone who needs your friendship. Someone you have saved without realizing it. And someone you will save in the future, Insha’Allah.

You Matter to Allah

You are important to Allah Ta’aala (God). Consider that:

  1. Allah created you to be His khalifa (representative) on the earth.
  2. Allah created you with the best of forms.
  3. Allah created an ideal environment for you to grow. The earth is just the right distance from the sun. It has an ideal mixture of oxygen and nitrogen in the air. It is beautifully laid out with forests, oceans full of fish, mountains, grass and sky.
  4. Allah provides your daily needs. Every bite of food you put in your mouth, and every breath you take, comes from Him.
  5. Allah sent you Prophets and a Book so you would not be spiritually lost.
  6. Allah is closer to you than your jugular vein. That is not a warning from Allah, it is an expression of love and care. Who do you want to be close to? You want to be close to those you love.
  7. We might think that we are far down the list on those of whom Allah loves. But Allah is all-powerful, and needs nothing from human beings. He doesn’t need the favor of the mighty, or the wealth of the rich. He only desires our gratitude and ‘ibadah. The kings of the world, and the young, strong, famous, and educated – they have no advantage over you when it comes to Allah’s favor. To Allah, you are as important as any other person.

Would Allah have done all of this if you were not important to Him? If you did not matter?

Your journey in this life lies before you like a path through a beautiful valley. You have places to go, and things to do. Allah caused you to be born at this moment in the history of the world, as the person you are, for a reason. Your purpose is unfolding before you day by day. Your life has important meaning. Your victories, your injuries and illnesses, the losses and heartbreaks you suffer, have meaning.

Have faith in Allah’s plan for you. If you’re going through something difficult, then know that Allah will not abandon you. Things will get better, Insha’Allah. You will not be stuck in this moment forever. Take a breath, say a dua’, and be peaceful within yourself.

Have Faith

I know you have talents and gifts Alhamdulillah. Don’t compare yourself to anyone else, because everyone is unique. Use your own special talents in Allah’s cause, to make a better life for yourself and your family, and to make the world a better place.

Let go of self-recrimination. The past is not a curse, it’s a gift. It teaches you and makes you wise. If you’ve been through hardship and survived, that’s a blessing! It means you are strong and capable, and Allah is preparing you for something important.

Have faith in your own heart. Believe in Allah, in our noble Messenger Muhammad (sws), in the Ummah, and in the future. Whatever pain we suffer in this life is not in vain. We may cry and groan, but Allah sees our suffering and will compensate us more than we can imagine, as long as we are patient and keep faith. Allah the Most High has a plan for us, and He is the best of planners.

Survive, Strive and Thrive

Reaching for the light


By Wael Abdelgawad |

Survival is important. But when our basic needs are met – food, water, clothing, shelter, safety – then it’s time to look further and ask what Allah intends for us. What is our mission in life? What is our dream? What is our talent, our gift, our destiny? What does it mean to be truly alive?

Sometimes surviving is difficult enough, but as Muslims we’re asked to go beyond that minimum level of existence. We are asked to strive for excellence, to perform acts and create institutions that perpetuate goodness even when we’re gone, and to live lives of courage.

1. Survive

Survival alone can be a tremendous challenge. Some non-Muslims love to criticize Muslims as backward or violent, but they do not often speak of the suffering of the Muslims, and our struggle to simply survive. They don’t speak of Muslim suffering in East Turkestan, Palestine, Chechnya, Bosnia, Mindanao and so many other places.

And yet, with all our occupied nations, repressive governments, poverty and struggle, ours are not the nations with the highest suicide rates. That tragic honor belongs to Eastern European nations like Belarus and Lithuania, and East Asian countries like Korea and Japan.

We Muslims do not cut our wrists or overdose on sleeping pills. We survive. When things get tough, our religion teaches us to struggle and overcome. Islam teaches us to work, provide for our families as best we can, pursue education in order to improve our situations, emigrate, stay patient, and trust in Allah. Survive.

When the entire world cuts Palestine off and tries to starve them in their camps, the Palestinians build miles-long tunnels under the border and smuggle in everything from live goats to cooking oil, to entire cars, piece by piece. They don’t lay down and die. They struggle. They survive because they know where to turn for strength.

Who you are, and where you turn

My struggle is nothing beside that of the suffering people of Gaza, and I imagine yours is not either. Yet we all have our own personal pains and tragedies. The most painful moments of our lives prove who we are. Where do we turn in those moments?

Bilal Mustafa, an acquaintance of mine and founder of the forum says, “Asking the question “Why?” is life changing only if you turn to God for the answer. An answer from anywhere else is catastrophic…”

People of corruption turn to physical pleasure. People of addiction turn to drink and drugs. People of despair turn to suicide. People of hopelessness take no action but simply wait and suffer, doing nothing to bring about change because they have given up on the possibility of something better.

The believers turn to Allah. In those moments of confusion and pain, Allah is our refuge. In Allah there is comfort and strength.

It’s been said that man can live about forty days without food, three days without water, eight minutes without air, but only for one second without hope. I would add that without Allah we would not survive for a millionth of a second. “Say, ‘Have you considered: if your water was to become sunken [into the earth], then who could bring you flowing water?'” – Quran, Al-Mulk, 67:30

2. Strive

Striving is a step up from survival, and is defined as reaching for something beyond the basic necessities. As we reach for more, let’s remember why we are here. There’s a song by a famous rapper that says, “Get rich or die tryin’. ” That’s not our philosophy. We are supposed to know better.

And I have not created the jinn and the men except that they should serve Me.
I do not desire from them any sustenance and I do not desire that they should feed Me.
Surely Allah is the Bestower of sustenance, the Lord of Power, the Strong.
– (Quran 51:56-58)

We’re here to worship Allah in every aspect of our lives. That includes treating our families with compassion – and notice I didn’t say love, because we all love our families but we’re not always compassionate toward them – being honest in trade, speaking the truth, and standing up for justice.

I do not diminish the significance of survival for those who have been through trauma. When, like the twenty to fifty thousand Bosnian Muslim women who were systematically raped by Serb soldiers during the Bosnian war, you can say, “I survived this. I was raped, my men were killed, my village demolished and burned, but I am still here, I survived, and I still believe in Allah…” – when you can say such a thing, then the power of survival becomes manifest. When you can say, like the Palestinians, “Our masjids and homes have been demolished, our leaders assassinated, our culture brutalized, our people killed and tortured, but we are still here, we survived, and we have not surrendered our freedom or our dignity…” When you can say that, then survival becomes a tremendous victory.

But you know what? Even in those places, people don’t “merely” survive. They rebuild, marry, have children, and sometimes they come out of it stronger in faith than before, with their history burning in their hearts and their faith rekindled like torches. We see that in Bosnia today.

If they can do that, then what should we expect of ourselves? Should we be satisfied with, commuting, paying the bills, watching the idiot box and raising children who care more about the latest video games than about Allah, the Messenger, the Quran, the Sahabah, striving to excel in life, creating something meaningful, and changing the world?

3. Thrive

Allah says in a Hadith Qudsi: “He who is hostile to a friend of Mine I declare war against. My servant approaches Me with nothing more beloved to Me than what I have made obligatory upon him, and My servant keeps drawing nearer to Me with voluntary works until I love him. And when I love him, I am his hearing with which he hears, his sight with which he sees, his hand with which he seizes, and his foot with which he walks. If he asks me, I will surely give to him, and if he seeks refuge in Me, I will surely protect him. I do not hesitate to do anything that I am going to do more than My hesitation at taking the soul of a believer who does not want to die, for I dislike displeasing him.” (Bukhari, 8.131: 6502. S).

That’s what it is to thrive. You become so close to Allah that you are filled with love, awe and fear of Him, and you glorify Him with everything you do. You’re no longer attached to your whims and desires, but to Allah. You eat to live, you treat your body like a temple, you pursue your dreams like a soaring hawk, you laugh and relax with friends, you are a walking daa’iy, you embody the principle of jihad as spiritual and social struggle.

I am nowhere near that state of existence, but that’s what I dream of for myself, my daughter, and my future family. I want to grow joyously and ferociously, to constantly challenge myself, and overcome new obstacles. I don’t want to waste a single day. I want to think of Allah first every morning.

If you want this as well, then it’s a choice that we must make. It doesn’t happen naturally. Chaos and problems happen naturally, wind and sun happen naturally, but to thrive as a human being is a mindset. It’s a choice worth making, because it feels good and right.

Agents of Hope, Agents of Despair

Rainbow over a road

By Wael Abdelgawad for

“Allah is the light of the heavens and the earth!” – Quran 24:35

The Quran is a guidance, and the Sunnah (way) of the Messenger of Allah (pbuh) is a shining beacon. They are both agents of hope in the hearts of humanity. We too must be agents of hope in the lives of those around us.

We must never be agents of despair. Shaytan (Satan) is the ultimate agent of despair. That is his specialty. He strives to destroy our faith in Allah, our faith in ourselves, our faith in others.

Terrorists are agents of despair. They seek not to build, but to destroy by inducing fear, suffering and chaos.

We too can sometimes unwittingly become agents of despair.

If you ever find yourself telling someone that their dreams of achieving something great are unrealistic; if you find yourself cutting someone down verbally, pointing out their faults ruthlessly, mocking their failures, or teasing them in a hurtful way, stop! You are functioning as an agent of despair in that person’s life.

If you find yourself demeaning yourself in this way, focusing on your own failings, stop! You are acting as an agent of despair in your own soul.

When you make a mistake (and don’t we all make mistakes every day?), ask Allah for forgiveness, recover, and stand up straight. Resolve to do better next time. Never hate yourself, or if you do then don’t do it for more than a few seconds before you shake it off. Never wallow in self-pity or self-recrimination. The past is gone and you can never go back and change it, but you can learn from it, and become a stronger and wiser person.

Life is difficult. Life is painful at times. That is part of its nature. But it is also beautiful, profound and full of meaning. You too are beautiful and profound. Allah did not create humanity in vain, and that includes you. Your life has meaning and purpose. Seek that purpose. Hold on to your connection with Allah and strengthen it, follow it. Be an agent of hope in your own heart, and change your life for the better. Then act as an agent of hope to those around you, and you will affect their lives in positive and profound ways, even when you are not aware of it.

If you must criticize, do it with kindness. If you disagree, do it with sincerity. If you see good in someone, tell them. If you love someone in the cause of Allah, tell them. If you see pain, strive to be a balm, to provide relief. If you see someone hurting emotionally, give a kind word. Be a living example of truth. Be a walking agent of da’wah, showing the beauty of Islam through your actions. Stand up for what’s right.

Be an agent of hope in this world, and you will follow in the footsteps of the Prophets.

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Pieces of a Dream