Empower ourselves: Zafar Mahmood

New Delhi: The president of Zakat Foundation of India, Zafar Mahmood, in a webinar held on 14 June 2020 gave a PowerPoint presentation for young boys and girls on the topic ‘Empower Ourselves.’

In his presentation he tried to motivate the young generation and to create awareness for regarding their duties and responsibilities for the nation and for the whole humanity in the light of Qur’an and Indian constitution.  

Mr. Mahmood started his talk by reciting the first few verses from the first chapter of the Holy Qur’an. Then he quoted a Persian couplet of Allama Iqbal, whose translations in English goes like this:

O noble soul, do you know what it is to live
It is to take your share of the duty of God
He said, the webinar is to prepare the young generation that how could they shape the world in a gentle way.

He insisted the youth to learn the script [Arabic] of the Holy Qur’an and understand God’s message. He then gave the example of the two names of Allah from the first chapter of the Qur’an:  Rahman and Raheem. He said, we read the Qur’an but we do not understand its meaning. God has used these names for Himself, both the names mean kindness. But we fail to find the subtle difference between them.  

He says, we can only understand the message of God if we read the commentary (tafseer of the Qur’an). It is obligatory to understand the meaning of the Qur’an
and the message that God wants to convey to us.  Mr. Mahmood quoted a verse from the Qur’an, where God reveals the purpose of the creation of humanity:
“To test as to who amongst you is more righteous.” [Surah Hud:7]. All the commentators and transcribers have interpreted this verse as a person’s willingness to come forward to help another person, to make the other person’s life more easy for him. So, that is the purpose of creation of humanity.

Many of us know about kun fa yakun (be, and it is). When God decides that something should happen, he says ‘Kun faya Kun’. This indicates the power of the Creator. God says that each human being is supposed to take in some of the divine qualities so they should also have the power and absorb themselves in the power of creation.
He quoted another couplet of Allama Iqbal:
apni duniya aap paida kar agar Zindon mein hai
Sirr e Adam hai, Zameer e Kun fa yakoon hai zindangi

If you consider yourself to be a really living person, create a world by yourself. Such proactivity is the essence of human life, which must manifest Godly quality of creation. Mr. Mahmood said that this is the message of the programme.

When prophet Moses (Musa alaih Salam) invoked Allah to create water for his thirsty tribes, Allah could have created water immediately. Instead, he asked Moses to hit his staff on the rock; 12 streams of water gushed out.  So, God wanted to convey the message that He wants human beings to utilize whatever physical capacity they have, and pray to Allah, only then, He would be pleased to accept the prayers.

Mr. Mahmood quoted Allama Iqbal’s couplet which he wrote in the light of the above incident of Moosa.

Hazaar chashme tere sang-e-rah se phootay
Khudi mein doob kar zarb-e-kaleem paida kar.

Create yourself in such a manifestation with determination
That the divine from the God’s side and grace start coming to you continuously

Mr. Mahmood asked the boys and girls to download the constitution application from play store and refer to it and other articles frequently, as we all love India and its constitution.

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Speaking about the post corona situation, he says there is a lot of change in the world. The previous businesses have gone down and new businesses are taking place. Therefore, the generation has to update their skills and has to learn the trades that would be in demand. He advised the new generation that they should first get rid of self-pride. Secondly, they should not waste precious time and the last the advice he gave is that every individual has to re-orient himself or herself.

He advises them to ponder over the post corona changes and make the required adjustments. Everybody has to use their resources and should do their own job themselves. He gave the example of migrant workers who went back to their places without food and other resources. He said, corona has taught us a lesson of using our resources to help others. This is where the Qur’anic verse applies here:
“To test as to who amongst you is more righteous.” [11:7]

Post corona downturn

Mr. Mahmood gave an example of the business fields that have been badly impacted by the spread of corona. Businesses like; building construction, travel & conveyance, site seeing & hotels, just to name a few.


The businesses that will improve or would be in demand in post corona period would be environmental cleanliness, substitute energy, self-employment (learning trades through which you can learn to earn), software development, online tuition and training and many more.

Mr. Mahmood brainstormed the watchers by displaying a few slides of beautiful landscapes and asked the attendees to name what they had seen. He himself gave a name, “beautiful world”. He then showed another set of photographs where children were enjoying life. He asked them to give these photographs also a name and he himself named it “enjoyment of life”. He told that the children who took part in the webinar are the blessed one as they are enjoying the webinar and learning something from the comfort of their home. Then, he showed another picture of a downtrodden minor banjara girl who was breaking stones for her livelihood. He posed a question “but what about this girl?” he displayed some more pictures of disabled boys, an old farmer in his dried-up field and asked the girls and boys to think about them too. He said the message is “You can change your world and their world”. He said this is the scheme of God and he has selected you to change your world and also their world. He informed the youth that there is a bad news; that time is running fast but the good news is that they are the pilot.

He quoted Surah Al-Asr from the Qur’an where God swears in the name of fast turning time, saying every human being is in a loss except those who have faith in God and who do good deeds. So that is the importance of good deeds in the human life.

Mr. Mahmood then referred to the article 16 (1) of India which says that there shall be equality of opportunity for all citizens in matters relating to employment or appointment to any office under the State.

He further added that there are two types of thoughts. One is, “I am insignificant; I can’t do much”. But, there is another thought that “the entire world is hidden in my eyes and I can put the entire world behind myself and win the world”. He gave those two options to the boys and girls to choose from. He was sure that they would definitely chose the second one. He said, the excuse of Destiny is for the losers, it is just a stupid defense to wait for things to happen instead of making them happen. He asserted fate can be changed, it just needs perseverance.

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He further added, nuclear family is very important for us but it is not our achievement, it is just the first orbit. There are many other orbits like extended family, neighbourhood, society, region, province, nation, faith, community and the world. So, every one of us has a vision that how we want to see the world in future by doing something or not by doing something.

He said to the boys and girls that they are the future of India. He quoted a very beautiful verse from the Qur’an:

‘Indeed, Allah will not change the condition of a people until they change what is in themselves [13:11].

According to Mr. Mahmood, due to our very low presence in governance of our nation, we are lagging behind in the social, economic and educational areas.

He explained the terminology of hierarchy and bureaucracy with the help of slides and said a nation is not ruled by a president or prime minister or governor. But 90% of policy formulation, legislation, decision making, administration is done by the bureaucracy or civil service.

He then quoted one more verse from the Qur’an:
‘so when I have proportioned him and breathed into him [human being] of My soul…’ [38:72].

Therefore, Allah expects that each one of us should take in some of his qualities including the quality of creation.

He said Sir Syed Ahmed Khan established Mohammedan Civil Services Fund Association which later became Aligarh Muslim University. He also established Mohammedan Civil Services Fund Association and there were 500 members. Each member used to give two rupees and Sir Syed used that money for sending 15 boys for writing the Indian Civil Services examination. Therefore, the target is the body of the government which conducts the competitive examination for entry into government services and also at the international level, mentioned in the constitution is the Union Public Service Commission (UPSC).  That is how Syed Akbaruddin became a permanent representative in the United Nations. That is how Aussaf Sayeed became India’s ambassador to many countries that is how so many boys and girls every year are received by the president, vice president and prime minister. So, that is the reason why Zakat Foundation of India established in 2008 as Sir Syed’s coaching and guidance centre for civil services. About 123 boys and girls so far in the last decade, have joined various services in the IAS, IFS, IPS and many other services. One such person is Mohammed Shahid Aslam of Jharkand who has just finished his tenure as Deputy Counsel General of India in Saudi Arabia and returned to join External Affairs Ministry.

Mr. Mahmood encouraged the boys and girls by showing the slide of ‘Satyamev jayete’ and said that seal belonged to them and wherever they sign, this seal should be inscribed. That is why they have to prepared ourselves for that.
He gave an example of Zainab Sayeed of West Bengal, who in spite of being in hijab has obtained highest marks in UPSC; 220 out of 275 (80%). By saying this, he tried to prove that there is no discrimination.

At the end, he questioned the boys and girls “if they can do; why not you?”

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