Mr. Adil Abbasi is a member of ICMA Pakistan and serves as the Principal of TVET Institute of PVTC, Government of Punjab. He is a professional blogger and writes about business, finance, and skills development.
Ashfaq Ahmed was a renowned writer who made significant contributions to Urdu literature. His work garnered widespread acclaim, and he was recognized with prestigious awards for his meritorious services in the fields of literature and broadcasting.
Ashfaq Ahmed was known for his appearances on the PTV programs Baittakh (The Guest Room) and Zaviya (The Dimension). During these programs, he interacted with his fans, especially the youth audience, and provided them with swift yet satisfying responses to their questions. His programs were filled with wisdom and selfless life lessons that were intended to help viewers navigate life’s challenges.
To fully understand the depth of his teachings, it is recommended to watch the recorded versions of his program or read the books compiled from his talks. While in this review, I’m attempting to summarize some of the lessons I learned from Zaviya (Part 1), it is important to note that these are my own interpretations and do not fully represent the breadth and depth of Ashfaq Ahmed’s wisdom.
While I may not have completely grasped the profound wisdom conveyed in his simple yet meaningful words, I am endeavoring to share some life lessons that I consider crucial for anyone aspiring to lead a fulfilling life. Although I have made an effort to infer the true meanings of his message, I recognize that my interpretation may be flawed. Therefore, I encourage readers to explore Ashfaq Ahmed’s works for themselves and draw their own conclusions.
For parents, it is a great idea to introduce their young children to Zaviya as it can help them understand different perspectives and make better decisions in life. His teachings are a valuable resource for anyone seeking to live a life filled with purpose and fulfillment. To access the Urdu version of these profound lessons, simply click here.
Dealing with Life’s Problems and Disappointments
Ashfaq Ahmed highlights the need to put life’s problems into perspective. He argues that our difficulties are just a part of our existence, but we tend to give them more weight than they deserve. Instead of addressing each issue individually, we often allow them to affect all aspects of our lives, leading to a state of chaos.
He also suggests that our desires can be a source of disappointment. As humans, our wants are insatiable, and we keep adding to our list of desires, which can never be fully satisfied. Instead, he advises us to focus on our necessary wishes, which are few and manageable, to avoid feelings of discontentment and frustration.
By adopting this perspective, we can manage our lives better and find contentment in the simple things. Rather than letting problems overwhelm us, we can address them one by one and focus on our essential needs, leading to a more fulfilling life.
Call to Action for Helping Others
Ashfaq Ahmed inspires us to take practical steps towards making life easier for those around us. He points out that we often prioritize words over actions when it comes to helping others. Instead of providing practical assistance and resources, we tend to rely on advice and rhetoric, which is not always an effective approach.
He reinforces his message by offering several examples from everyday life. For instance, he suggests offering water to someone in the heat, providing blankets in the cold, teaching without compensation, and refraining from objecting to office matters. These simple acts can make a significant difference in someone’s life and can show our compassion and concern for others.
His message is clear: it’s not enough to talk about helping others; we must take action. By doing so, we can create a more compassionate and empathetic world where everyone feels supported and cared for.
The Importance of Respecting Teachers
Ashfaq Ahmed shares a personal experience that occurred while he was teaching in Italy. He was fined for a traffic violation, and when he shared the news with his acquaintances, they were not pleased. Unable to pay the fine, he was compelled to appear in court. However, when he mentioned that he was a teacher, the court treated him with immense respect. The judge even stood up to honor him, despite the obligation to impose fines according to the law.
He reflects on this incident to underscore the significance of respecting teachers in society. He highlights that teachers play a vital role in shaping future generations and must be valued and appreciated accordingly. The incident he narrated demonstrates how a teacher’s profession can garner immense respect and admiration, even in a legal setting.
His message is clear: teachers are not just educators but also role models, influencers, and pillars of society. Therefore, they deserve to be held in high regard and given the respect they deserve. By doing so, we can create a culture that values education, inspires teachers to do their best, and ultimately benefits society as a whole.
Perspective on Giving and Criticism
Ashfaq Ahmed highlights two important aspects of human behavior: giving and criticism. He believes that what we give to others is not from our own resources but from what Allah, the Ultimate Giver, has bestowed upon us. Therefore, when someone asks for help, we should see ourselves as giving what we have received. His message is one of gratitude and empathy, emphasizing that giving is not just a moral obligation but also an act of acknowledging and appreciating the blessings we have received in life.
Moreover, Ahmed points out that criticism often reflects our own unfulfilled desires to be like the person we are criticizing. It can be a manifestation of our envy of what others have achieved, but we have not. By criticizing others, we may be projecting our own insecurities and shortcomings onto them.
To cultivate a spirit of giving, we must recognize and be grateful for the blessings we have received. To curb our tendency to criticize, we must focus on our own growth and development, rather than comparing ourselves to others. By doing so, we can foster a more positive and empathetic outlook towards others and ourselves.
Knowledge: Literacy vs Skills
In Zaviya, Ashfaq Ahmed challenges the traditional notion that only literacy equals knowledge. He argues that those who possess skills are just as knowledgeable as those who can read and write. However, our society often overlooks the knowledge of skilled individuals and instead privileges those with reading and writing skills. He emphasizes that skilled people who build and create things should be respected equally as they are the practical people who take action and shape the world.
In a society that values talk over action, he stresses the importance of recognizing the value of practical skills and the need for action. His message is clear: our lives should be full of action, not just information. We should acknowledge and respect those who possess practical skills and take actions that bring about positive change. By doing so, we can create a society that values action and practicality, not just theoretical knowledge.
Expressing Gratitude and Praise
Ashfaq Ahmed emphasizes the significance of showing gratitude to others, praising them for their good work, and offering encouragement. He notes that although we may be good people, we often struggle to express appreciation and give praise to those around us. Ashfaq Ahmed stresses that expressing thanks and praise is crucial in demonstrating support for others and can help motivate them to continue their good work.
Unfortunately, he observes that we often only offer recognition and praise to individuals after they have passed away, rather than supporting and encouraging them while they are still alive. He argues that this is not an effective approach and that we should make a conscious effort to appreciate and encourage those around us while they are still with us.
Purifying the Inner Self for True Change
Ashfaq Ahmed stresses the importance of purifying the inner self, which is the key to true change in one’s life. He points out that people often blame external conditions for their problems and hope that changing their environment will lead to a change in themselves. However, he argues that this approach is misguided.
Just like changing the color of an old car will not improve its performance, changing external conditions will not bring about real change within us. Instead, Ashfaq Ahmed believes that the focus should be on purifying the inner self, which involves examining one’s thoughts, beliefs, and actions. Only by doing so can we address the root causes of our problems and bring about lasting change in our lives.
Showing Respect to Officials to Combat Bribery
Through Zaviya, Ashfaq Ahmed highlights the issue of bribery and corruption in society, emphasizing that it often stems from a lack of connection and recognition between individuals and those in positions of power. He argues that on happy occasions we tend to interact only with those we know, such as family and friends, while ignoring those we don’t know, including officials who are on duty.
He suggests that individuals should show respect, love, and honor to officials without considering their position or financial status. This can decrease the likelihood of bribery and increase officials’ consciousness to not engage in wrongdoing, as it can threaten their reputation and honor. By valuing and acknowledging their contributions, individuals can create a culture of respect and appreciation for those in positions of power.
Ashfaq Ahmed emphasizes the importance of building connections and recognizing the contributions of those around us, regardless of their position or status. This can lead to a more harmonious and just society, free from the negative effects of corruption and bribery.
God’s System and Gratitude
Ashfaq Ahmed delves into the complex topic of God’s system, which may appear unjust on the surface. He notes that some people are wealthy while others are poor, and some are healthy while others are sick. However, he argues that this is not necessarily the case. According to him, God has provided the basics of life for free, but when it comes to wealth, what He gives us is not solely ours. It includes portions for others which we often neglect.
He says that the unjust system we see is created by us and that we are the ones causing injustice to our fellow human beings. He posits that this injustice leads us to dwell on the past and fear the future and suggests that people who truly live in the present and enjoy life are those who are thankful and do not live in the past or fear the future.
Seeking Help and Avoiding Arrogance
Ashfaq Ahmed highlights the importance of seeking help when facing complex issues, even for those who are educated and well-off. He argues that overestimating one’s own abilities can lead to costly mistakes and ultimately hinder progress. Instead, seeking assistance from others can provide a fresh perspective and bridge the gap to finding solutions.
However, he also warns against the arrogance that sometimes accompanies education and knowledge. Educated individuals may try to influence others through their knowledge, leading to disrespect and even hatred towards the educated. This can ultimately push others away from knowledge and hinder progress in society. Thus, Ashfaq Ahmed emphasizes the importance of humility and respect towards others, regardless of their level of education or status in society.
The Power of Clear Resolve and Dedication in Achieving Goals
In a powerful story in Zaviya narrated by Ashfaq Ahmed, we learn about an uneducated village girl from Pakistan who defied the odds and became a top businesswoman in Europe. This inspiring tale serves as a reminder of the power of clear resolve and dedication in achieving our goals, no matter how daunting they may seem.
He emphasizes that the key to success lies in focusing our energies on the areas where we want to grow, whether it be spiritual or material. This story serves as a powerful reminder that anything is possible when we set our minds to it. By cultivating a clear resolve within ourselves and dedicating ourselves fully to our goals, we can achieve success in any area of our lives.
Whether we are seeking to improve our spiritual lives, build successful businesses, or pursue any other endeavor, the power of clear resolve and dedication cannot be underestimated.
Understanding Allah’s Will and His Commands
Ashfaq Ahmed believes that as humans, our curiosity can often become our interference with God’s will, leading to an imbalance in our lives. We may question why bad people seem to enjoy life while good people struggle, but before raising such questions, we must first fully follow Allah’s commands.
According to Ashfaq Ahmed, in order to understand the will of Allah, we must first fully enter into the divine commandments without exception. He further emphasizes that our focus should be on fully dedicating ourselves to the pursuit of our goals, whether they be spiritual or material. By doing so, we can achieve success in our endeavors.
His message is that we must trust in the wisdom of Allah’s will and follow His commandments without hesitation, while also dedicating ourselves to the pursuit of our goals. Through this approach, we can find balance in our lives and achieve success in all aspects of life.
The Importance of Sharing Beyond Material Possessions
While giving is undoubtedly a noble act, Ashfaq Ahmed argues that sharing our presence, thoughts, feelings, and listening skills are equally crucial. He believes that humans tend to overlook the value of sharing, and instead try to control and conquer. However, he suggests that God has provided us with everything we need based on the principle of sharing, not only with our fellow humans but also with animals. By recognizing this principle, we can learn to coexist in harmony and share our blessings with others.
Ashfaq Ahmed’s emphasis on sharing is rooted in the belief that material possessions alone cannot provide true happiness and contentment. Instead, he asserts that genuine connection and empathy towards others are essential components of a fulfilling life. Sharing our time and attention with those in need can have a powerful impact, allowing individuals to feel heard, understood, and appreciated.
Moreover, when we open ourselves up to sharing, we create space for reciprocity, where others can share their own experiences, perspectives, and insights with us. This exchange can lead to mutual growth and a deeper sense of community. Ultimately, sharing can be a powerful force for positive change, allowing us to transcend materialism and connect with others on a deeper level.
Don’t Embarrass Others
Ashfaq Ahmed brings attention to a prevalent issue among the educated and accomplished community. They tend to attribute a lack of progress solely to illiteracy and ignorance, which can be insulting to those who face challenges in accessing education and achieving success.
Such behavior is especially prevalent when people boast about their own success stories, suggesting that their achievements are solely the result of their hard work and determination. This can leave others feeling embarrassed and disheartened, especially those who may have struggled even more but were unable to attain similar levels of success. It is essential to be conscious of the impact of our words and avoid arguments that may cause others to feel defeated or discouraged.
Taking More without Giving
Ashfaq Ahmed reflects on how our country was founded on the principles of selflessness and sacrifice, with individuals willing to give their all for their nation. However, over time, this mindset of giving before taking has eroded and transformed into a mentality of taking without giving.
He cites the example of a man who, despite having his legs amputated while operating a machine in Pakistan Steel Mill, still implored his colleagues not to turn off the machine as it would cost the country a million rupees. He highlights that it is people like this man who are the real heroes of our nation, those who give without expecting anything in return, even in their small capacities. Sadly, our society is currently dominated by those who give less and take more.
Finding Pious People
Ashfaq Ahmed sheds light on how the ego gets in the way of us finding and following pious people. He explains that our ego tends to seek out pious individuals among those who are of higher social status, which prevents us from recognizing the good qualities of those who are lower in status than us. This tendency results in us missing out on good people in our everyday lives, including colleagues and subordinates.
He further emphasizes that the sign of a pious person is not based on their social status, but rather their contentment with their current situation, their lack of complaints, and their strong belief in their faith. Therefore, it is important to look beyond one’s social status and recognize the qualities of pious individuals around us. By doing so, we can learn from them, follow their lead, and strive to become better versions of ourselves.
Ashfaq Ahmed urges us to pay attention to the most common attitude of complaint: that no one understands us. We may feel that we have a lot to teach the world but often feel unheard and misunderstood. This problem is especially common in domestic issues, with many women feeling that their voices are not heard.
In Zaviya, Ashfaq Ahmed advises us to get to know ourselves as much as is necessary, and beyond that, it is better for us that people don’t know too much about us, as our imperfections become more evident the more we reveal. Therefore, we should avoid the tendency to talk, tell, and lecture too much, as this can lead to discontentment and disappointment.
The Importance of Patience
The true essence of patience is that we never allow ourselves to become frustrated by difficulties. Even if we find ourselves stuck in a traffic jam, we should not resort to honking our horns or pounding our fists on the steering wheel. Instead, we should have faith in God, who is always with us. He knows when we are in distress and, with a genuine display of patience, He will help us out of our troubles. This same patience should be applied to the pursuit of knowledge, as all knowledge is with God and He will provide it to us when the time is right.
Live in the Present
Ashfaq Ahmed imparts an inspiring story of a laborer in Zaviya to remind us to live in the present, rather than regretting the past or worrying about the future. The laborer chose to forgo a day’s wages in order to savor the beauty of a flower blooming in his home and to see his child taking the first step. He wanted to be present to witness and appreciate these moments. Ashfaq Ahmed cautions us against squandering our present moments, lamenting the fruits we have missed, and dreaming of the abundance of fruits we may one day enjoy.
Pray with Humility
Ashfaq Ahmed delves into the intricacies of dua, or prayer. He emphasizes that we often make mistakes when it comes to prayer, such as asking for something small when God already has a bounty for us. When we pray too much without humility and don’t see fulfillment, we start to doubt and become impatient, wondering why only us. To counter this, he suggests that we should pray as if we are crying, coming out of our ego shells.
He even suggests asking Allah in writing, just as we would write requests for tasks in the world and then pursue them. In this way, we can approach Allah with the same humility and helplessness as a child, free from the constraints of our own abilities, wisdom, education, and skills.
How to Achieve Unity
Ashfaq Ahmed draws our attention to a disheartening reality: the lack of unity among people. Despite countless people writing, lecturing, and discussing the importance of unity, and even parties and associations regularly publishing literature on the subject, unity remains elusive.
According to Ashfaq Ahmad, this is due to a lack of action. We talk a lot about helping others, especially the educated, but rarely do we actually take steps to do so. Unless we start taking practical steps to assist one another, there can be no genuine connection between people that will keep them united.
The Damaging Effects of Competition
According to Ashfaq Ahmed, the idea of competition that we are taught is flawed. He believes that competition is only beneficial when it’s about piety. Any other form of competition can be damaging to our self-respect and that of others. This message is important in a society where we are often pitted against each other in various aspects of our lives, including education, careers, and even personal relationships. It’s a reminder to focus on improving ourselves and being kind to others, rather than striving to outdo or surpass them.
Overcoming Obstacles to Fulfilling Our Desires
According to Ashfaq Ahmed, we often sabotage our own desires by obstructing the path to their realization. Our impatience and the desire for immediate gratification can impede the fulfillment of our goals. However, if we genuinely desire something and are willing to put in the effort, the universe will conspire to make it happen. Nevertheless, achieving our aspirations requires a process that demands perseverance, resilience, and patience.
Unfortunately, we tend to interrupt this process repeatedly, which can prevent us from achieving our desired outcomes. Thus, we must learn to trust the process, remain patient, and persistently work towards our goals to achieve our dreams.
How God Speaks to Us
Ashfaq Ahmed teaches us that God communicates with us in ways that are not always obvious or easily recognizable. He believed that God’s message was often conveyed through the actions and words of other people, and that it is our responsibility to listen carefully and respond appropriately. However, he also acknowledged that we are often too distracted or preoccupied with our own lives to recognize these messages. We may make excuses or rationalize our inaction, even when we feel a sense of obligation or duty to help others.
In order to respond to God’s call, we must also overcome our own selfish desires and ego-driven concerns. This requires a willingness to put the needs of others before our own, and to act with compassion and kindness even when it may be difficult or inconvenient.
The Importance of Practicing What We Teach
Ashfaq Ahmed emphasizes the importance of practicing what we teach and leading by example. Often, we talk about things from the past and give examples from renowned personalities, but we don’t act upon them when it comes to us. For instance, we teach forgiveness is good, but we find it challenging to forgive when it comes to us.
Ashfaq Ahmed’s message reminds us that it’s not enough to give advice and preach about the virtues of certain qualities; we must also incorporate them into our daily lives. By doing so, we not only become better individuals but also inspire those around us to follow suit because people mostly follow our actions instead of advice.
Breaking Free from Material Possessions
Ashfaq Ahmed’s idea of over-association with material things in our lives highlights an important aspect of modern-day living, where we often equate our self-worth with the possessions we own. In this context, our possessions become more than mere objects, and we become emotionally attached to them, making them a part of our identity.
However, Ashfaq Ahmed reminds us that everything in life, including material possessions, has a finite existence, and it is essential to realize that our worth is not defined by what we own. Instead, our worth comes from our relationships with other humans and our ability to make a positive impact on the world around us. By reducing our attachment to material possessions, we can focus on cultivating deeper connections with other people and living a more meaningful life.
The Power of Small Acts of Kindness
Ashfaq Ahmed suggests that instead of overwhelming ourselves with the desire to do grandiose things to help others, we should focus on small acts of kindness. Many times, we may want to do something significant like building a hospital for the poor or opening a school for orphans, but we may lose motivation due to the enormity of the task. Instead, he advises that we take the first step and start with small acts of kindness.
By starting with small steps, like helping just one person or engaging in a meaningful conversation, we can gain motivation and inspiration to take further steps towards achieving bigger goals. These small acts of kindness can create a ripple effect and inspire others to do the same, creating a positive change in the world.
Ashfaq Ahmed’s Zaviya is a masterpiece that has the potential to impact our lives positively. Through his deep insights and thought-provoking narratives, Ashfaq Ahmed has shown us that life is not just about materialistic success but also about spiritual growth and self-discovery. It is essential to understand the purpose of our existence, to be content with what we have, and to focus on improving ourselves.
If you haven’t read Zaviya yet, I encourage you to explore it yourself and discover the profound messages that it contains. Let us strive to apply the book’s lessons in our daily lives and become better versions of ourselves.
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