The tsunami of 2004 changed my life forever and I believe it was my destiny that Allah swt has written for me. He designed my life for a better purpose and the path I had chosen turned from running global brands to running global homes for orphans.
Who are you?
Give us your favorite quote and tell us why it means so much to you:
What Ayah of the Quran do you hold close to your heart? Why?
This is a difficult one because there are so many I truly love and live by all of them.
But if I have to choose one it would be ” Hal Jaza Ul Ihsanu illal Ihsan?” Is the reward of excellence other than excellence ?
In this Ayat Allah swt poses a question and a challenge to human being ; if you strive with your very best and do things with excellence, why would I not reward you with excellence ?
Throughout my life, I’ve seen this Ayat manifested. My parents , especially my father, instilled in me the desire to strive for excellence in eduction ever since I was in first grade. I carried that through college and later in my professional work. He raised the standard so high that what he sees as a failure is actually a success for others.
Because of that upbringing, I am not happy with “good” when I know I can achieve excellence. With this frame of mind, I built Givelight. He the most merciful, the source of “Ihsan” blesses me by surrounding me with people who share my dreams of changing the world, and are willing to do so with the highest degree of commitment.
What Hadith do you wish more non-Muslims knew about? Why?
“Paradise lies under the feet of a mother”
Through this Hadith alone, we can see that Islam places such a high status for women that they can enter paradise just from the role of being a mother. That God, the most gracious, rewards you for loving your own children. This shows His mercy, His ultimate wisdom and how elevated the status of women is in Islam. If more non Muslims knew just this Hadith they will begin to understand that the stereotype of Muslim women being oppressed is a complete fallacy.
1. What is your favorite book?
My favorite book. This is not a fair question for a book lover. Can not choose one but if I have to it would be the Seerah of Prophet SAW. Whether written by Adil Salahi, Karen Armstrong, Tariq Ramadan or Martin Ling they all convey the same basic premise; that he is the most Nobel and Exalted of God’s creation.
His whole life is the Quran itself and if we use his example as our inner compass, surely we will have a blessed life doing and striving for His sake and Insha Allah meet Allah swt with nadhirah (bright face).
2. Who inspires/inspired you?
My great grandfather Noordeen who embodied righteousness inherent in Islam
3. What is the best lesson your mother/mother figure taught you?
How to make every thing beautiful and do things with love.
4. What advice would you give your 13 year old self?
To not be self critical and learn to enjoy accomplishments vs always wanting to do more/better.
5. What are your hopes for your sons?
For my sons to become who God meant them to be and to live life to the fullest possibilities.
6. What is the biggest trial you went through in your life and how has that changed you?
The personal loss during the tsunami. Through it I found the purpose of my life.
7. Any regrets? What’s something that you wish you’d thought about more before you did it?
To follow Quran and sunnah more fully earlier in life.
8. How do you stay grounded in your work and/or spiritually grounded?
By committing to studying Quran and doing more voluntary worship.
9. How do you bring about real change?
Start with one self. Always examine where you are and where you could be. Always asking if what you are doing brings you closer to the Creator.
10. What do you hope to be remembered for?
For striving hard in Allah’s way.
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Message from Dian:
My dear sisters in Islam
At some point in our lives we all ask the most fundamental question: what is the purpose of my life?
Why did Allah swt create me? What was I meant to do with my time on earth?
If we pose those questions over and over again, that is a good sign. That is the sign that Allah swt is talking to us and working to awaken that inherent fitrah and goodness in all of us.
Many times we ignore these questions and we go on with our lives despite feeling unhappy and unfulfilled. We look to people and things to fill the void. It won’t satisfy us and the more we chase things and people, the thirstier we become. Like a Bedouin in the dessert looking for water and seeing the mirage, we will keep chasing the mirage until the Angel of Death comes to take us back. In many ways, I was chasing that mirage in Corporate world. Yes, the designer bags, shoes, world travels and corporate jets made me feel important and successful. But that is not the definition of success in the sight of Allah. How did He define success? In surat Mukminun, Allah swt stated:
Qad aflahal mukminun?
Successful indeed are the believers (1) Those who offer their prayers with all solemnity and full submissiveness. (2) And those who turn away from dirty, false, evil vain talk, falsehood, and that Allâh has forbidden. (3) And those who pay the Zakât. (4) And those who guard their chastity.
The definition is as clear as the bright day light. It is up to us to follow or not.
Don’t get me wrong I still love the finer things in life. But it’s no longer my highest priority. Instead of dreaming of the next designer bag, my mind is now occupied with larger and greater things ; how many more lives I can save and transform? All this I’m able to experience, through His mercy and guidance after the pain of personal loss during the tsunami.
I want to close by sharing one of the most profound verses in the Quran
“If you save a life it is as if you have saved humanity and if you take one life it is as if you have taken the entire humanity”
Think about this and ask your self ” what stands in the way of saving just ONE life? ”
And remember, no matter how much you choose to give, in the end you are saving the most important life of all: your own.
May He guide us all to strive hard for His cause until we reach Jannah.
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