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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Will Enough Ever Be Enough?

Yet another school shooting in America, still nothing done. We are dying.

Tuesday, March 20th, 2018: We are all heartbroken to hear about another school shooting.

At Great Mills High School in Maryland, a 17-year-old male is pronounced dead at the scene after shooting two other students and a school resource officer. Just before their first period started, at 7:55 am, Austin Rollins shot one male and one female student with a handgun before being shot by the school's resource officer. While the 16-year-old female is in critical condition, the 14-year-old male is currently stable. This is the 17th school shooting in 2018. That's 17 days out of the past 80 that parents have gone to bed with their children in body bags as a result of gun violence.

I don't care what political party you associate with, gun violence is completely out of control. I am a registered Republican and completely agree with stricter gun laws. Learn the difference between a gun ban and sales control. Concerned citizens are not trying to take away your guns, but are trying to take away the rights from those that are risks.

Could you imagine legally having to send your child to school but never coming back? You've packed their lunch, maybe with a special note, and gave them a kiss before they left for school, not knowing that it was their last. No matter where we go, we are not safe. We can't go to malls, movie theaters, schools, or even churches without having to worry if it will be our last trip. Our homes, our places of worship, and our schools are supposed to be the places where we feel safest and, instead, our children are filled with fear. Instead of focusing on the political views that divide these groups, why don't we focus on what unites us? Why don't we focus on protecting our kin?

Everyone has had an opinion on the walkouts that have been happening around the country. Everyone has had an opinion on the 17 minutes of silence for the 17 children lost in the Florida shooting. I've seen people disgusted that Nickelodeon had 17 minutes of broadcast cut because it "interrupted the only program [I] let [my] children watch".

If your child was shot at school, you wouldn't have to worry about what programs they watch, but rather where to bury them and how to afford their memorial.

I've seen people saying that it's no wonder that Millenials are dumb. They "find any excuse to cut class". Have you thought about the fact that they are genuinely worried about going to school?

Personally, I've experienced both a shooting scare at my high school and a bomb threat at my college. I shouldn't have to worry about my life ending. I'm legally forced to go to high school and get an education or I'm putting myself into a lifetime of debt to get a degree.

We are all too young to stress about gun violence. Our school years are supposed to be the times our of lives, but they're being wasted on worrying about dying every day.

Rest in peace to all of those who have lost their lives in shootings, not only this year, but always. Hopes, thoughts, and prayers go out to their loved ones. One day, we will unite and find a solution.

We need to work together and forget the labels of parties and cliques in school and look out for one another instead. There is no kind but mankind.

Cover Image Credit: Boston Herald

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The Republican Versus Democrat Stigma Needs To Slow Down

We Need To Be Individual Again

We as a society have developed an unnecessary need to place people in a specific party based on what could be a single value out of many. This is a letter for those who do not define themselves as one or the other; for those whose values range between conservative and liberal, for those who feel the unfortunate pressure of society to choose one even though your values do not fit just one.

The political parties at one point generally just meant “these are my basic beliefs, so this is the candidate I will vote for because they most closely represent them.” Party affiliation was harmless. Republicans and Democrats could get along fine, differing opinions not getting in the way of relationships and alignment. More importantly, you did not have to be part of a specific political party to be an active member of society. Your opinions and principles were yours.

Over the years following the last two election races, political parties gained a much more significant and defining meaning in our lives as individuals and as members of society. There is a newly developed stigma behind political opinions. You are almost pressured to feel one way or another about every single topic. If a majority of your values are of the conservative agenda, you must be a heart-and-all Republican. In contrast, if you are more liberal-leaning you are docked as a set Democrat. We as citizens are being labeled according to what may be a few hard-values. And dishearteningly enough, can be ridiculed for what we value. Even if you might not value everything the same as your determined party.

There exists those of us that hold values from both parties. It is possible to value women’s rights and also value a traditional marriage. It is possible to be a gun owner and also active in keeping children safe in school. You do not have to just submit to every belief of one party. You can value aspects of different parties and still be a functioning member of the American society. Do not let the looming obligation to declare yourself as strictly one or the other. You do not have to pretend you agree with everything Democratic or everything Republican; you can have your own values. And you should. Our society is messed up in the way that values are pushed on citizens. We are meant to be free individuals with our private values.

It is not fair to those of us who value different things. Not every American is a to-the-bone Democrat or Republican. It is possible to hold liberal beliefs as a conservative person. And Vice-Versa. We need to stop labeling one another as one or the other, conservative or liberal. We need to stop silencing each other because we have differing views. We need to accept not everyone is perfectly one party, and diversity exists. Open mindedness exists in Americans, despite the seemingly growing generalizations. We need to be able to agree to disagree on certain topics.
Cover Image Credit: LexiHanna

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