You probably used to get so many daily self development messages from me that you thought that there was a serious problem with me. Well, guess what? You were right!
Now, I am well and recovering from a lifetime of trauma. I am grateful that Allah brought me to this stage to finally realize what was actually wrong with me and to treat myself properly.
My parents migrated from India to Pakistan in the early 50s. As migrants, there were many deprivations and the focus was on being able to survive economically in the new land.
After graduation, my father moved to the Trucial States (Dubai) – now the United Arab Emirates and our family lived there till the mid-2010s when we all migrated to North America, mostly Alberta, Canada. The main phobia that my parents developed while growing up was the fear of poverty. This paranoia consumes them and many of their extended family members as well as many of the people who migrated from India to Pakistan upon its creation.
Naturally, my father became a workaholic, leaving early and coming home late every weekday. Even on weekends, he loved to work. He helped construct many of Abu Dhabi, early landmarks including the Hilton Hotel (now Radisson - located near ADNOC HQ), and Corniche Hospital.
Although he mentored countless professionals to develop their full potential, unfortunately, at some point he lost the holistic meaning, developing a hardcore materialistic mindset that most UAE expatriates develop. While my mother was isolated from the real practical world.
In general, I would say that my family was “cultural and modern” Pakistanis reflecting the prototype of the “educated” Pakistani family of Pakistan’s Ayub Khan era. Unfortunately, they did not practice nor understand Islam, except for taking it as an inherited culture as well as a nationalistic Pakistani ideology like Zionism is for the Israelis. Initially, their social circle was the families of Engineering graduates who has settled in the UAE, many from my father’s own university, the majority of whom had “secular” tendencies like them. By the 80s, they started socializing with other Pakistani professionals in UAE – doctors, government employees, businessmen, UAE armed servicemen, etc.
As my father lost his steam due to the unnatural lifestyle which started affecting his health, and the influence of some members of the new social circle, they became more practicing. In 1984, we performed a lesser pilgrimage after which my parents did not miss their 5 daily prayers. Nevertheless, my parents became more and more dependent on people rather than developing themselves to be able to deal with the challenges of life. They were heavily dependent on their social circle in UAE, their relatives in Pakistan, and the service providers, assuming that their wealth could make anyone inclined to them.
By the 70s, the oil wealth started to reach the people of Abu Dhabi. There was trust, peace, security, well-being, social harmony, hope, and a general feeling of happiness among its population. With neither a religious perspective nor a nationalistic ideology (we being expatriates), we were brought up on a hollow ancestral lore. My father instilled in me the need to excel in studies, in career, and earn a lot just like he had. For that mission, I went to one of the best private schools in Abu Dhabi in the 80s where the elite Arab families sent their children. The mission was very simple. Just study well and get a good job in UAE to live the pleasant life we had experienced in the 70s and 80s. I was an introvert and used to lock myself in my room during high school and just study.
Nevertheless, I was friendly with almost everyone, participating in sports and other activities. The school had Lebanese Maronite roots and did not teach religion because of the religion-based civil war they fought in the 70s. At home, we had a very scant religious education. The UAE Friday sermons at that time were only in Arabic then and were incomprehensible. After graduate school, when I confronted my school director, he indicated that my parents, especially my mother did not do their job right.
In a way it was not entirely their fault. My parents were stuck in UAE for a long time, where they were not citizens nor did they understand the social context in Pakistan anymore where they had lived a very short period after migrating from India. They were already driven by economic survival after the migration and over time they became paranoid about their economic survival as they completely “lost it” and became dependent on their wealth and other people.
Unfortunately, as people who suffered from the migration and the fact wealth tends to retard learning, they were not fully able to provide the right upbringing. For the most part, our upbringing was based on the family cultural lore, and the influence of others. It is difficult today to admit that in their paranoia rather than trying to give us the tools to fully succeed in life as strong, independent, and complete personalities, they were eager to use us as incomplete human resources to try to address their own paranoia.
This year, when I visited my parents when my father was suffering from deep bouts of dementia, he called me and apologized to me, and I noticed a reaction of disgust on my mother’s face when he did so. I accepted his apology, Since I completed graduate school, I have been struggling with my parents on ideological issues. It was very easy for me to leave them in 1995 when this rift began, but I did not want to do it. Nevertheless, after 20 years of parental control, when I was completely overcome by my condition and could not earn anymore, my extended family collaborated to expel me from my own house. Despite this, I still supplicate to Allah to forgive them and have mercy on them like they had mercy on me when I was young. Now I live by myself as I focus on higher goals. As I narrate this I have no bad feelings in my heart for my parents or my family.
Since 1995, whenever I have sincerely tried to put Allah first in my life my parents have prevented it. In 2002, when I initially returned to Abu Dhabi to ADCO to work, my mother was already on depression pills, so rather than addressing the differences we had developed my dad took me to the same psychiatrist and put me on psychotropic medicine which weakened me physically, spiritually, emotionally, and mentally.
I am now starting a new life, alhamdulillah.
I knew what the truth was (Islam) even though I was not able to practice it right. So I kept learning Arabic and practicing Islam as best as I could while being dependent on medicines. And in a sense my behaviour was hypocritical because I was not fully dependent on Allah.
I invite people of all walks of life -- from all beliefs, nationalities, professions, etc. to participate in learning the natural development of humans. Although, these teachings are purely from the Islamic scriptures, the essential wisdom in them is universal. It is sad that although the universal brotherhood of man has benefited from wisdom from other sources, eg Mormon wisdom in Stephan Covey's great works, nothing comparable exits in English that the global masses can easily relate to from Islamic wisdom. As a social enterprise, we are obsessed with self improvement.
We essentially use our unique ability to understand complex ideas comprehensively in order to explain them in a manner that can be understood by different audiences intuitively.
لا الله الا انت سبحانك اني كنت من الظالمين