All of us go through times when we feel we are stuck in an ‘impossible’ situation. It feels like a dead-end in life. You need someone to talk to. Someone, who is not judgmental. Who will listen to you with empathy, and offer the best solution.
With time, I’ve gathered mentors in every field of my interest.
All my mentors are there for me with their timely advice and input; they have made me who I am today.
Abbas Husain – educationist and spiritual guide:
In 2005 I went to Karachi for a one month intensive course for teachers and administrators called the Master Teacher’s Course (MTC,) at Teacher’s Development Center. It takes place around this time of the year in Karachi, at his Teacher’s Development Center (TDC) on Tariq Road. Here, I’d spend each and every spare minute hovering around my teacher’s office or his well-equipped library, to gain as much information and knowledge as possible. You will know more about him here in a blog post I wrote on his birthday.
Once, I was an administrator at a well-known institution, and had a very difficult boss. I was so upset at her behavior towards me, she wouldn’t miss out a single opportunity to put me down. I rang up Abbas Husain, in answer to my question, ‘what should I do?’ he narrated this incident of Christ: ‘once Christ was standing with his disciples, and a group of men passed by, they were using abusive language at Christ. In answer he replied, ‘May God bless you!’ The disciples were shocked. They asked him why he didn’t say something equal to what they had hurled at him, or simply ask God to punish them. Christ answered, ‘they gave me what was in their pockets, and I gave back what was in my pocket!’ Meaning that one should continue doing whatever good that one does, even if others do horrid things to you. So, one shouldn’t change one’s own better acts by getting influenced by the bad acts of others.
Yes, that helped!
When I’ve been busy working on my first publication of Tulip of Sinai, I shared its’ manuscript with him. Being the highly knowledgeable person that he is, he pointed out some big points that I had overlooked while working on the book. His timely advice and deeper insight into Iqbals’ concepts, saved me a lot of trouble, and gave me a deeper perspective.
It is always a pleasure speaking to him, as he is in constant touch with the latest thinkers and books. His knowledge is all inclusive containing the Eastern as well as the Western writers of our present and previous times.
Naturally, I have great regard for him.
Dr. Feroza Ahmad, educationist:
There was a course being conducted at Preston University about Personal Enrichment and Professional Development, in 2003. I attended that two-week course which was being conducted by Dr. Feroza Ahmed. I became extremely attached to her, and stayed in touch ever since. In fact, whenever, such courses took place after that, she would invite me as a guest speaker for their final ceremony. She is one of those persons, whom I can never refuse, because I hold her in great regard. She helped me in many ways:
- Suggested I do EMBA in evening classes, which I did in 2006 – 2007.
- Then in 2011 she asked me rejoin the university to covert my EMBA degree to an MBA She told me that I could do it, by forwarding my previous credit hours to the next one.
- I started my first semester of MBA, in October Next month, my husband fell ill. So, I asked her to let me leave my studies. But she advised me to ‘Take care of your husband, but do not leave your studies.’ She helped convert my evening classes to distant learning, so I could study at my own pace, and go for the exams, while taking care of my hospitalized husband.
- She gave me constant attention and monitored my progress. Later on she told me, that she read my papers, to check how I had performed in my exams. She knew the stress I was going through. Happily, she was very pleased with my output.
- She has constantly been praying for me, and sending love to my parents and specially my mother.
Mahjabeen, spiritual guide:
My friend Seema recommended Mahjabeen, when I needed to talk to someone who was the wisest in this region. I met her in her home in Rawalpindi. Within minutes I could see she had a grip over my situation. She responded with solutions which were very basic and easy to understand. After that, we regularly spoke on the phone. No matter how distressed, she would have me laughing in minutes. She is amazing. Here are some pearls of wisdom I’ve gathered from her:
- The master jeweler (jauhari) knows where a precious stone will look the best. He knows best where it should be set. You are where you are in life, because the Master Jeweler has placed you there!
- Which type of questions do you give to your favorite students? – The most challenging ones of course – knowing your student will be able to attempt it well. That’s how Allah is taking you, He obviously thinks you are a bright student, if He has given you the toughest question paper!
- The world is an examination hall where each person has a different question paper.
- No matter what happens in your life, do not stop doing those kind deeds that you have taken upon yourself.
- When a loved one leaves this world, take a very small act which would please Allah, and do it for him on a daily basis for the rest of your life. Ask Allah to give its reward to your loved one. (When it is something big, it can’t be done daily, so it is best to choose something small and doable.) Of course, go ahead and do the big deeds too, once in a while.
- Do not stress about anything; ‘if it is written, it is bound to happen, so why worry now? If it isn’t written, it won’t happen, so why worry now?’
Abida Peer, spiritual guide:
She was in Islamabad, the wife of a senior diplomat from South Africa. I don’t know who recommended her to me, but I got an appointment and went to meet her. She taught me things which have helped me in my life onwards. These were easy ways of meditation.
- Meditation of the word ‘Allah’, repeat this for five to twenty minutes. One can easily do it before sleeping, or while driving, or after prayers. You just have to focus and repeat the word slowly, preferably with eyes closed. (Of course, don’t close eyes, while driving!) Slowly, you feel every muscle in your body relaxing, and your mind becoming at peace.
- Read La haula wala quwwata….. (there is no strength but the strength of Allah), hasbiAllah ho wa neimal waqeel…. (Allah is sufficient….), for ten to twenty minutes after at least one prayer per day. (If you can do it about fifty times, it is very strengthening.)
Seema Iftekhar – friend, Urdu literature and spiritual guide:
We became friends in 1992 as our houses were near to each other, living in PAF, Badaber, Peshawar. We just clicked. When I found out she is an expert in Urdu language and specially on Iqbal, I would go and learn his poetry’s meanings from her on an almost daily basis. Waliya was just a few months old, and Seema loved her. So our friendship grew, her children and my elder two girls also became great friends. She used to write for Urdu dailies then, and did a clothes business too. Later, she became a scholar in Islamic studies, so if I needed advice, I would often go to her. As a regular writer for Dawn’s Tuesday review, I’d often ask for her input on anything to do with Urdu literature or Iqbaliyat.
So, with her vision and input, I’ve felt great support from her.
Farida Shahid – friend, spiritual and business management guide:
She has been my friend since we did masters in Related Arts, from College of Home Economics. We are a part of the same group of friends. We have stood by each other through the thick and thin parts of our lives. Specially, when I’ve ever had any problem, they all get together to help me. Each one of them Riffat, Ayesha, Fitrat, all give their inputs whenever needed. However, since Farida went on to study the Al-Huda course in Lahore at Abida Gurmani’s house, she has become more learned. Every Ramzan, her Daura-e-Quran, has gathered a special importance in Lahore. She also conducts lectures and classes in Al-Huda. I’ve learnt a lot from her in my personal life as well as in making financial and asset management decisions. Having a back ground a very strong business background, she has the expert mindset of a manager:
- For heart –related diseases to read the 57 Ayat of 10th
- Relationships: Read 7th ayat of Surah Mumtahena.
- Renting out property is very good decision, of course, one faces problems but these are manageable.
- When your child has proposals, try not to make an issue of minor things like dates etc.
- However, when you have to refuse a proposal, then do it in morning hours, after saying two naffals for them and your family.
- In the case of Haq Meher, it should be reasonable yet sizable support for your daughter.
Hajra Mansoor and Mansoor Rahi – my art mentors:
Since childhood, I’ve wanted to be an artist. But when the time came for me to go to National College of Arts, Lahore, I wasn’t permitted to go, by my parents. That was a big setback in my life. Going to Home Economics College and then studying Related Arts in my masters, was only the next best thing to do. So, much later in life, when I got to know Hajra Mansoor and Mansoor Rahi – the two living legends in Pakistani art – it was a God-send for me. Their constant feedback and mentoring in my art work is like a balm for that deficiency that I’ve felt due to not going to NCA. My weekly classes with them to date, are a tonic for me.
Tips for having and keeping mentors:
- Do meet them whenever possible, while respecting their time.
- Express your admiration for them, and take appropriate gifts for them.
- Pray for them, as having mentors in our lives is essential for our survival.
- Do give them a call now and then, to let them know you are thinking of them. (Yes, Eid in round the corner, an excellent opportunity to call your mentors and wish them.)
- Definitely, call them if you need their advice; ask for an appointment. Make notes if needed, as you don’t want to forget important information from their goldmine of experience. In cases when you can’t meet them, ask to call at an appropriate time, you can even make a Skype or phone call.
Have you got mentors? Do you stay in touch? Do share what you learnt from them, with me.
I’m sure you too must be blessed. 🙂
Note: Most of my mentors do not believe in being photographed. So, I’ve respected their wish, hence the flowers! (But they are like flowers in my life, and their fragrance keeps me as I am So, it isn’t far from the truth.) Pictures of Hajra Mansoor and Mansoor Rahi are taken by myself. Abbas Husain’s photograph is taken from internet.