In Loving Memory Of Junaid Jamshed — His Life Story

In Loving Memory Of Junaid Jamshed — His Life Story

A beloved family man, a successful entrepreneur, an influential Muslim philanthropist and forever an uplifting singer, rising to the heavens above...
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On December 7, en route to Islamabad, Pakistan, highly influential and beloved nasheed singer Junaid Jamshed and his wife Nahya died in a fiery, horrific plane crash. His body was identified through facial x-rays, and his funeral was held the following week. Despite having never met him, I (like most desi Muslims) was terribly saddened to hear news of his death, because he was and still is an inspirational pillar of strength for every generation of Muslims around the world. Junaid Jamshed showed us that anyone can turn their whole life around.


The Beginning

Jamshed's metamorphic journey began in 1987 when he was recruited as a singer into the rock band Vital Signs, signing his first record deal at the ripe age of 23. With his heartthrob looks and husky vocals, it was no wonder the lead singer and his band quickly spiraled into fame. Vital Signs's breakthrough shot through the world's musical glass ceiling with their release of the catchy patriotic pop song, "Dil Dil Pakistan," which became the unofficial anthem of the nation — catching the attention of other nations who then acknowledged Pakistan as a culturally rich developing country.

When Vital Signs disbanded in 1995, Jamshed successfully launched his solo career and then experienced his first significant moment of truth in October 1997.

Jamshed had a reunion with one of his friends who had become religious, sporting a full-length beard and wearing loose, white shalwar khameez — standing in stark contrast to Jamshed's clean shaven face and western clothes. Curious about the change in his friend, the singer warily agreed to go on three days jamaat (religious retreat) out of concern for his friend. There he felt a deep spiritual tug in his heart, and the emptiness and discontent that was gnawing his mind those years were soothed by the good company, religious practices and self-reflection of what the purpose of his life was.


The Struggle

The simple lifestyle Junaid Jamshed experienced in jamaat inspired him to rekindle his faith. He began to regularly pray the five prayers at his local mosque and avoid media attention, which caused his newest album to flop due to lack of publicity. Jamshed's friends oversaw his struggle to maintain a lifestyle caught between both worlds, but it was becoming increasingly impossible to sustain his faith without acknowledging the elephant in the room: that music is haram (impermissible) in Islam.

Eventually, he would have to choose what to prioritize as the purpose of his life: religion or music?

At jamaat, Jamshed's friend told him:

"Junaid... [we] don't ask why you don't [pray], we only encourage you and after that we [can] only pray that Allah (SWT) give you understanding."

Jamshed remained torn between his two opposing lifestyles. His pop singer life had a tough setback after 9/11 when his American tour flopped due to heightened tension in the West. Many attempted to guide him back to reign as king in the Pakistani music industry. Even Prime Minister Nawaz Sharif himself requested Jamshed to return to music, personally calling him to sing the national hit "Dil Dil Pakistan" at a train launch in Pindhi. At first, Jamshed refused but then relented, saying he would regard it as his final performance.

Then, between 2003 and 2004, Jamshed officially and publicly gave up music once and for all. Around that time, he also opened a fashion design company which has since become a full-fledged business. He faced heavy backlash from his friends and the media but bore it all with grace. Jamshed did not regret his decision, and his business flourished, his first wife (who married him in 1990) supported and participated in his lifestyle change and he gained new popularity from advocating a religious, Islamic lifestyle as something accessible and desirable.

For the youth, it was incredibly intriguing that a famous, rich pop star would ditch his industry to dedicate his life to religion, and the understanding of Jamshed's experience encouraged others to strengthen their faith as well.

For the music industry, Jamshed was a trail blazer when it came to nasheeds —producing many Islamic songs sans music, which helped to spread deen. The nasheeds included singles like "Mera Dil Badal Dai," a singing-only remake of "Dil Dil Pakistan" and the "Muhammad (SAW) Ka Roza" album.


The End

Junaid Jamshed held steadfast to his faith and prospered when others thought he'd fail. Since then and still today, he is recognized as one of the "World's Most Influential Muslims" by The Muslim 500 magazine. His clothing business has also blossomed successfully. However, the rest of the western world has little to no idea who Jamshed is — to the point where publications like The Express Tribune mistakenly identified him as a "televangelist" despite the fact Jamshed never preached for funds on TV nor did he ever dupe his audience for money. He supported himself and his family through his clothing business and did not attempt to make a profit off of any of his religious pursuits, including his wildly popular nasheeds.

Junaid Jamshed has left behind a legacy of setting the stage for halal (permissible) nasheeds as a religiously acceptable alternative to music. This stable foundation has prompted other nasheed singers like Zain Bhika to continue this legacy.

When mourning for Junaid Jamshed, let us honor him for what he truly was: a beloved family man, a successful entrepreneur, an influential Muslim philanthropist and forever an uplifting singer, rising to the heavens above.

May he rest in peace.

Cover Image Credit: BlogSpot

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Islam Is Not A Religion Of Peace, But Neither Is Christianity

Let's have in honest converation about the relgious doctrine of Islam

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Islam is not a religion of peace.

Christianity is also not a religion of peace.

But, most people in both religions are generally peaceful.

More specifically, bringing up the doctrine of Christianity is a terrible rebuttal to justify the doctrine of Islam.

That is like saying, "Fascism is not a good political ideology. Well, Communism isn't any good either. So, Fascism is not that bad after all."

One evil does not justify another evil. Christianity's sins do not justify Islam's.

The reason why this article is focused on Islam and not Christianity is the modern prevalence of religious violence in the Islamic world. Christianity is not without its evil but there is far less international terrorist attacks and mass killing perpetrated by Christians today than by those of Islam.

First, let's define "religious killings," which is much more specific than a practicer of a religion committing a murder.

A religious killings are directly correlated with the doctrines of the faith. That is different a human acting on some type of natural impulse killing someone.

For example, an Islamic father honor killing his daughter who was raped is a religious killing. But an Islamic man who catches his wife cheating and kills her on the spot is a murder, not a religious killing. The second man may be Islamic but the doctrine of Islam cannot be rationally held at fault for that killing. Many men with many different religions or experience would make the same heinous mistake of taking a life.

Second, criticizing a doctrine or a religion is not a criticism of everyone that practices the religion.

It is not even a criticism of everyone who make mistake while inspired by the religions. Human are willing to do heinous things when governed by a bad cause. Not every World War 2 Nazis was a homicidal maniac but human nature tells them to act this way in order to survive in their environment. It is hard to fault a person from traits that comes from evolutionary biology and natural selection.

However, commenting on a philosophy, ideology or a religion is not off limits. Every doctrine that inspires human action should be open for review. The religion may be part of a person's identity and it holds a special place in its heart but that does not mean it should be immune to criticism.

Finally, before going into a deconstruction of the myth that Islam is a religion of peace, there needs to be a note about the silencing of talking about Islam.

There is a notion in Western Society that if a person criticizes Islam, then that person hates all Muslims and the person suffers from Islamophobia. That is not the case, a person to criticize religion without becoming Donald Trump. In Western Society criticizing fundamental Christians is never seen as an attack on all Christians because there is a lot of bad ideas in the Bible that Christians act on. Therefore, criticizing Islam should have the same benefit of the doubt because the Quran has many bad ideas in it.

The Quran advocates for war on unbelievers a multitude of times. No these verses are not a misreading or bad interpretation the text. Here are two explicit verses from the Quran that directly tell Followers to engage in violence:

Quran 2: 191-193:

"And kill them wherever you find them, and turn them out from where they have turned you out. And Al-Fitnah (disbelief or unrest) is worse than killing... but if they desist, then lo! Allah is forgiving and merciful. And fight them until there is no more Fitnah (disbelief and worshipping of others along with Allah) and worship is for Allah alone. But if they cease, let there be no transgression except against Az-Zalimun (the polytheists and wrong-doers)"

Quran 2: 216:

"Fighting is prescribed for you, and ye dislike it. But it is possible that ye dislike a thing which is good for you, and that ye love a thing which is bad for you. But Allah knoweth, and ye know not."

There is no rational way to interrupt these passages in a peaceful way. The whole premise of both passages is to inspire followers that war against the unbeliever is justified.

The first verse advocates for genocide against non-believers for the mere transgression that a society worships a different god or worships another god along with Allah.

The second passage is arguable more dangerous because the first passage just advocate that fighting may be a necessity, while the second passage encourages it. The second passage claims that war on the unbeliever is a good thing under the eyes of Allah.

The reason why these passages are dangerous is because they directly incite religious violence. For most followers of Allah, these passages are ignored or they convince themselves the passages means something they do not. However, for a large numbers of followers that view the text of the Quran as the unedited words of Allah, these texts become extremely dangerous. These passages become all the rational they need to wage war on non-believers.

This is dangerous because there are millions of followers of Islam worldwide that believe every statement in the Quran is true.

Therefore, the Quran becomes a direct motivation and cause for its followers to attack non-followers. Rationally one can understand where the Islam follower comes from, if a person truly believes that Allah or God himself wrote these words then why would you not comply.

Especially when there is verses in the Quran that says the Follower who does not fight the infidel is not as worthy of a Follower that does wage war against the non-believer (Quran 4:95). Finally, when male Followers are told that their martyrdom fighting for the faith will be rewarded with an eternity in paradise with 72 virgins for personal pleasure. If a Follower truly believes all of this is the spoken word of Allah then there is more rational why a person would commit these atrocities then why they would not.

Men and women are radicalized by these passages on a daily basis.

No, it is not just the poor kid in Iraq that lost his family to an American bombing run that indiscriminately kills civilians but also the middle classed Saudi Arabian child or some Western white kid that finds the Quran appealing. If radicalization were just poor people, then society would not have much to be worried about. However, Heads of States, college educated people and wealthy Islamic Followers are all being radicalized and the common dominator is the doctrine of Islam.

Osama Bin Laden, one of the most infamous terrorist in history, was not a poor lad that was screwed by the United States military industrial complex. Bin Laden was the son of a billionaire, that received an education through college from great schools. There is no other just cause for Bin Laden to orchestrate such grievous attacks on humanity besides religious inspirations. A person can rationally tie Islam Followers gravitation towards terrorism to a specific verse. Quran 3: 51 tells readers,

"Soon shall we cast terror into the hearts of the Unbelievers."

Any rational person can tie Islamic passages like this directly to terrorism. It is not a complicated correlation to like Nazism and Jewish persecution to Christianity. The Holy Book of Islam directly encourages the Followers of Islam to inflict terrorism unto the non-believer.

So why do some many people deny these obvious truths about Islam and violence?

Political Correctness and the want to not be viewed as a bigot. The correlations here are as direct as the terrors of the Spanish Inquisitions and Catholicism and no one is afraid to retrospect and say, "Yes Christianity caused the direct murder of thousands of people". A person would not even be controversial if one stated that both World Wars has significant religious undertones. However if anyone states that terrorism and violence has a direct link with Islam then there is an outcry.

Even President Obama refused to use the terms Islam and Muslim when publicly talking about the War on Terrorism. I am a hypocrite also because I used the term Islamic Follower instead of Muslim in an attempt to sound more political correct.

That is a problem when society refuse to use terms that are correct in an attempt to not offend anyone. Imagine if scientist could not report their findings because the underlying politics. Society needs to be able to have open dialogue about this problem or else it will never heal. Society needs to throw away the worrisome about being politically correct and focus on identifying the problems and solving them.

The world of Islam needs to open themselves up to this criticism.

There can no longer be a closing of dialogue where the West cannot speak on the doctrines of Islam because they are not partakers (That applies to all organized religion too, especially the Catholic Church). People who draw Muhammed must no longer be threatened with attacks on their life.

When Islamic women and men speak up about the sins of Islam, they must stop being silenced. If humanity is going to take steps into the future with better technology and more dangerous weaponry, then we need to solve this problem with Islam and gradually to organized religion at all.

If not it will doom us way before we get there…

Thank you for reading and if you enjoyed this article follow my podcast on Twitter @MccrayMassMedia for more likewise discussions.

Cover Image Credit:

https://unsplash.com/photos/JFirQekVo3U

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Reflect On What Memorial Day Means to You, Even After The Day Has Passed

Memorial Day is a day about honoring, remembering, and mourning the lives of loved ones.

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As our nation is slowly dividing, I find it hard to understand the lack of respect some Americans have for the men and women that have sacrificed their lives for our freedom. Patriotism has a price and that cost is in the form of lives – not flags, songs, or words in Tweet. As a widow of a veteran, I walk with protesters and demonstrate my patriotic right to voice my opinion when my civil rights or the rights of others are abused.

I am disappointed with our government turning a blind eye to the rights of every citizen and calling it patriotism. These elected officials spend most of their time finding fault in the actions of protestors for political gain. It frightens me to read bigoted comments on social media criticizing protestors and applauding the abusive measures our government is taking to control the civil rights of many. Patriotism is not only the love of our country, but also the love of our citizens, no matter their gender, race, or religious beliefs. The rights to life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness are for all Americans.

On this Memorial Day, my wish is that we as patriotic Americans take time and reflect on how many lives were lost in battles to protect our freedom. We should also remember and thank the many men and women on foreign soil today that are willing to give their lives as well.

This holiday came to be after the bloodiest war on American soil and it is known as "Decoration Day." In 1865, approximately 620,000 soldiers perished during the Civil War. On May 30, 1865, flowers were scattered on graves to honor all the soldiers that lost their lives in the war. Over the years the date of the holiday and definition has changed. The last Monday in May became the government holiday that all Americans observe. Although, May 30th is the official day of remembrance.

In the past, Memorial Day was more about the lost lives and less about the back-yard barbeque. After World War II, the nation was overwhelmed with patriotic pride, and flags were flown high and proud of all Americans that fought for our freedom. Memorial Day was a day to pay respect to the military and their families for their sacrifice. After September 11, 2001, the nation saw patriotism begin to grow in a different way, the nation included men and women of our police and fire departments and their families in this day of mourning.

Memorial Day is a day of honoring, remembering, and mourning the lives of loved ones. The lost men and women that made the ultimate sacrifice for our freedom and protection. However, these days, most consider this an opportunity to celebrate the beginning of the summer season. Many will have cook-outs and only a few will go to the cemetery and leave flowers or flags on gravesites.

If someone wishes you a "Happy Memorial Day," please remind them it is not a day of joyful celebration but a day of mourning. And to all the veterans, thank you for your service.

Cover Image Credit:

Barbara Myers

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