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...

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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A Letter to the Girl I Was 3 Years Ago

"Strength grows in the moments when you think you can't go on but you keep going anyway."

  To the old me, 

The girl who worried too much about what other people thought of her, the girl who didn’t know what she was worth, the girl who was scared to be alone. 

I know it’s hard, you’re just starting out high school and what people think of you is SO important. You want to be accepted, you want to be liked. You alter the person you actually are, because you want to be the person everyone loves. Stop. It’s not worth it. In a couple years it won’t matter what everyone thought of you, because majority of those people wont stick around after you walk across that stage at graduation. They don’t care about you that much. Be yourself, because that is the best version you can be. You are beautiful just the way you are, you are special just the way you are. Be confident in who you are. Once you stop caring what others think, you will feel a weight lifted off of your shoulders and you will never want to go back.

And YOU, you are worth SO much, and that will be your biggest weapon one day knowing that and being confident in that. Stop letting people walk all over you and define who you are, and stop settling for less than you deserve. LOVE yourself first, CHOOSE yourself first, and everything else will fall into place. The most important relationship you can have is the one with yourself, and the one with the big Man upstairs. The mistakes you have made, and will continue to make, will never define your value as a person.  Once you discover your self value, you will know what you deserve and what you don’t deserve.

“For you created my inmost being; you knit me together in my mother’s womb. I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful. I know that full well.” –Psalm 139:13-14

I cant stress this enough: it is OK to be independent, it is OK to be alone. Honestly, you wont figure this one out for a while. You will go through relationship after relationship depending on guys for your happiness and that will be your source of self-validation, and that will get your heart broken at times. It happens, and its OK to learn from it. It is so important that you grow out of that, though. Work on yourself while you have the time, make yourself a better you for the right person that does come along, but most importantly, make yourself a better you for YOU. Be dependent on yourself and your faith for the happiness that you crave out of other people. Stop putting yourself through the heartbreaks, and just settling because you are afraid of being alone. Embrace it, and take advantage of it. 

To the girl that is the girl I used to be-

It’s never too late to realize things need to change. It’s never too late to rid yourself of the negativity, and all of the things holding you back. You got this, I believe in you. Take it from the one girl who never thought she had it in her to become stronger. 

To the old me-

I wish that I could go back and hug you and let you know that you are so loved. You are so worth it. You are so special. You CAN do this. Everything you are going through and will go through will be so worth it, and to never EVER give up no matter how much you want to at times. I wish that I could’ve told you in a few years, you will be mentally and emotionally stronger than you have ever been, and everything that you are going through is just a phase.                                                                                  Life isn't always perfect. Life isn't always easy. Life doesn't always make sense, but thats the beauty of it.


Me, today. 


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Walking Through Campus In The Dark Made Me Realize Girls Should Be Helping Other Girls Feel Safer

I'm forever grateful for the girls who helped me feel safe.

If you're a girl, chances are doing certain things, like walking alone in the dark, can be kind of scary.

I needed to walk from the dorms to the Greyhound station downtown to catch a 7 a.m. bus, and if you've ever lived in the Pacific Northwest in the fall, you know some mornings it isn't light until almost 8 a.m. or later. I am not a morning person and neither were any of my friends, so I knew I would probably be going alone.

There aren't a lot of people out and about that early in the morning and, being a girl in today's world, walking alone in the dark makes me nervous.

I planned on calling a cab, but when it didn't show after 20 minutes, I knew I was going to have to walk. As I started walking, I thought about all the horror stories I've heard on the news, all the times I've been harassed and followed by strangers on the street, all the places I was walking that weren't well light or were in commercial areas with businesses that weren't open. I didn't have pepper spray, I don't know a lot of self-defense, and I felt like all I could really do was keep my head down, walk fast, and hope nothing bad happened.

I was more worried than I care to admit but I didn't really have any other options.

I was walking past Gamma Phi Beta's house, with my phone flashlight on and silently counting the blocks until reached the bus station, and at about the same time, two girls were leaving the house in workout gear, like they were headed out for a run. What caught me off guard was when they asked if I was okay and why I was walking by myself. I explained that I was headed to the Greyhound station and no one else was awake, so I was on my own.

Without any hesitation, they offered to walk with me, so I wouldn't be alone.

I can't even put into words how relieved and grateful I was. If they asked if I wanted them to walk with me, I probably would have said no because I wouldn't want to mess up their plans or be a burden, but they offered.

When we were walking, it felt like walking with friends, not like two friends begrudgingly walking a stranger as a favor. We talked about majors, binge-worthy Netflix shows, classes, and when we reached the bus station downtown, we went our separate ways.

I don't remember their names and I don't know if they'll ever know how much that meant to me, but I still think about it, over a year later, and it reminds me how important it is to look out for and support other girls.

Since I feel like I never got to thank them properly, I do it the best way I know how: by paying it forward. When I have the opportunity to do something to make another girl feel safer, whether that's walking with her, checking in with her at a party, or otherwise, I think it's important to do it.

No one understands the struggles girls face just by existing in our f*cked up world quite like other girls. It is so important for all of us to do our part to support and protect our community.

If you have the opportunity to help out someone else in an uncomfortable or unsafe situation, do it. You have no idea the impact it will have.

Cover Image Credit: Unsplash

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