Three short lessons from the life and death of Junaid Jamshed

babarBabar Ahmad was a former political prisoner. You can read his blog here.


Babar Ahmad draws lessons from the life and death of Junaid Jamshed, who died in a plane crash in Pakistan last week.

Whenever a righteous person dies, a light is extinguished in the world. Those who remain wander in the darkness for a while until they find their way again.

Yet some lights continue to shine and provide warmth to the world long after they have gone. Through the legacy that they leave behind.

Junaid Jamshed, the Pakistani pop icon turned Islamic propagator, died in a plane crash this week. Today I will reflect on three simple life lessons that we can learn from his life and death.

1.Your past does not define your future

In the former half of his life Junaid Jamshed was a pop icon. His lifestyle was the complete opposite to one might identify as an Islamic lifestyle. Yet even while he was a pop singer, he possessed some hidden qualities that had not yet come to the surface.

The Prophet (pbuh) once said:

“People are like metals. The best of them in jahiliyyah [period before Islam] are the best of them in Islam, if they understand.” [Al-Bukhari, Muslim]

In other words, the worst of people frequently turn into the best of people.

Once I was sitting watching a programme on Islam Channel with a few other people. It was a documentary about poverty that had been filmed by a young Muslim woman.

One of the men present passed a comment mocking the appearance of the young woman. “What right does she have to talk about Islam?! She is not even wearing a  hijab!”

Junaid Jamshed
Junaid Jamshed

He felt able to judge this woman because her appearance was not as devout as that of his own wife.

In this man’s case, I knew that he only began to practise Islam a few years ago. I asked him, “Have you forgotten where you and your wife were only a few years ago? How would you feel if someone saw you before you became a devout Muslim and judged you solely based on your outward appearance?”

He fell silent because he knew exactly what I was implying.

The lesson to learn is that if we see someone today who we feel is not as devout as us, we should be grateful to Allah for guiding us and we should ask Allah to guide that person.

We should never feel arrogant towards and consider ourselves better than another person based on their outward appearance alone, lest Allah snatch His guidance away from us and give it to the person we were mocking.

In the history of Islam, both past and recent, there are many Muslims who led completely different lives before and after accepting Islam.

Umar bin Al-Khattab (ra) had set out to kill the Prophet Muhammad (pbuh). He ended up accepting Islam and becoming the second greatest man, who was not a prophet, to ever walk this earth.

2. There is nothing wrong with being rich and famous, it is what you do with it that matters

Rich and famous people are the subject of some very unfair criticism. Most of this criticism is based on envy and jealousy because it comes from people who do not even know this person.

Some people think that it is a sin to be rich. It is as if having wealth makes you a bad person. But is having wealth or fame the problem, or what you do with that wealth or fame?

I have met several billionaires in my life, two of whom I socialised with and got to know as friends. They are some of the best people I have ever met in my life. I only found out later from other people what they were worth, because I never got that impression from their humility and generosity.

Junaid Jamshed was rich and famous. Yet this same man used his wealth and fame to bring people to befriend Allah. And his wealth and fame seemed only to increase him in his humility.

“He used to cry a lot. One day I saw him sit in the mosque from morning till night, crying and crying and crying while praying to God,” said the former Pakistani cricketer Shoaib Akhtar about Junaid Jamshed.

3. When Allah loves someone, He makes the entire world love him too

Have you ever found yourself intensely loving a person even though you have never met him? In other words, you don’t even know why have such positive feelings towards this person?

And have you ever found yourself detesting a person from your heart even though you have never met him? You don’t even know why you hate this person?

Over the last few days I have heard many people express profound grief over the death of Junaid Jamshed, despite not knowing him at all. They are as upset as if they had lost a near and dear family member.

This is an expression of love. And this love cannot be purchased with all the wealth in the world. Because it comes from Allah, from above the seven heavens and earth.

In one of the most beautiful hadiths [Prophetic sayings] that I have ever heard, the Prophet (pbuh) said:

juniad-2“When Allah loves a slave, He calls Jibril (Gabriel) and says: ‘I love so-and-so; so love him.’ And then Jibril loves him.

“Then he (Jibril) announces in the heavens saying: Allah loves so-and-so; so love him; then the inhabitants of the heavens (the angels) also love him; and then people on earth love him.

“And when Allah hates a slave, Allah calls Jibril and says: ‘I hate so-and-so, so hate him.’ Then Jibril also hates him.

“He (Jibril) then announces amongst the inhabitants of heavens: ‘Verily, Allah hates so-and-so, so you also hate him.’ Thus they also start to hate him. Then he becomes the object of hatred on the earth also.” [Al-Bukhari and Muslim]

I never understood the true meaning of this hadith until once when I was visiting a city in the Arabian Gulf. A famous scholar of that land had died earlier that day and his funeral prayer was to take place eight hours later.

Together with my host, a Muslim scholar himself, I went to this funeral. There were so many people that we had to park on the highway several streets away. Ten thousand people had come to pray the funeral prayer of a man at only a few hours’ notice.

On the way back from the funeral, my host related the above hadith to me, about what happens when Allah loves someone and about Jibril’s announcement.

“The announcement is made not to the ears, but to the hearts,” he said. “So people find themselves loving this person but they do not even know why.”

Read Babar’s story and why he blogs here.

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