Channel: Bilal Philips
© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.
in Ocala demon asheboro King
today we have a very special guest, a very good friend of mine shake up to be laughing It's
a pleasure to see you sit with you hungover. Nice to see you again.
My pleasure. So should have been doing the podcast now for a few months, just interviewing different Islamic personalities, you know more on their journey, what they've been doing what what, how they came to Islam, and also what they how they've been actually benefited the Muslim community. So inshallah today I wanted to speak to you about your, your journey, because you've not always been a Muslim. True. You know, a lot of people I know, you've been a Muslim for quite a while.
Paulo, many people think maybe, you know, you were born into Islam, because you've done so much under law, a lot of work for Islam. Although the name Phillips usually gives it away, you know? Because they'll ask, maybe they might assume that okay, he is Muslim, but then why is he got this name Philips? You know, where does that name come from? Or why even if you became a Muslim? Why do you keep the name? Or why don't you change that name?
But then I have to enlighten them that, you know, from an Islamic perspective, it's not permissible for one to remove one's family name. No, this is actually a requirement. Do everybody's familiar with Yusuf Islam? You know, and you know, other personalities who have just wiped out their names, right. So but
ultimately, it's your choice have something in common with use of Islam? Do you know both singers? Yeah. musician, musicians. Yes. Yes. Yes.
That was also just me before. Haha.
Lesson. Yeah. So chef, when did you accept Islam? I accepted Islam in 1972 1972. I was 25 at the time.
hamdulillah that was
after traveling through communism. Because I'd left Christianity I got involved in
university politics I was studying in University at the time. And
communism in Canada was sort of spreading amongst students, university students, etc. So I got caught up in that and in the student movement. So I saw in communism an answer for the world's problems, you know, after studying some history, you know, when you grew up in Canada, you're not aware of what's happening in the rest of the world and know the oppression which existed in the past, you know, the in America, there's more exposure to civil rights movements and these kinds of things, so you can understand so
I grew up in Canada without being really aware of that. When I went to university then I start to became become exposed to that. movements and things that took place and in justices reading the histories of the North American Indians, you know, the oppression that they went through the slaughter stealing of their lands and all this, you know, you know, becomes like, wow, it's a big eye opener, you know, I remember the classical book I read in that time called bury my heart at Wounded Knee by D Brown.
I think it's deep brown here who wrote it, but this book, you know, lists what happened to the Indians the the treaties that they made with the European colonizers and how these treaties were broken how they were cheated the land alternative history so what you've been taught
what is relative an alternative is just the I guess it's alternative because you know, it's the other side didn't hear from the other side. And I was always the settlers coming with their you know, their wagons and they would make a circle and the Indians would be coming in off the mountains you know, with their spears and arrows and, you know, these poor settlers were just trying to live a life.
reality was a whole nother story altogether. face like what's your word of mouth?
Relax puddle. You know, the I had a similar experience, you know, you know, I think, you know, already I, when I traveled to Sierra Leone, I was doing business. But at this point, you know, I was, like, from England, you know, the Great British Empire, you know, the great things we do for the world, until you land in Africa realize the reality of the whole thing. And you start to research and, and to study, you know, this whole truth. Like you said, the, the truth of the civil rights in America and all this opens your mind. Yeah. So this is what, you know, because communism, then offered an alternative saying, well, no people are equal, they should be, you know, equal
everywhere in all facets of life. And, you know, so to find that utopian society where people would work according to their ability and only take according to their need. This is the the agenda of the communists, right? He works on paper. Yeah, it sounds nice. It sounds beautiful, you know, wonderful, but it just doesn't happen. Actually, that's generally.
after traveling that route, you know, being engaged at certain points with elements of the the civil rights movement, Black Power movement in the US are not, you know, and coming to the conclusion after a journey there. That Yeah, communism really wasn't the answer. Because it really didn't change what it was supposed to change. You know, Russia didn't become an egalitarian society with all this equality. In fact, Stalin massacred millions, you know, and then then the most modern, I, you know, extension from, that was China. And, and China, you know, multitone, and his red book, this was like the classic, you know, but then you come to find out that in the Cultural Revolution,
millions were killed, again, in the name of protecting the revolution, you know, so she was she, was you only a political communists? Or did you actually lose your atheist as well? No, I become atheists.
So what was that, like?
something you'd researched? Or you just kind of?
Was you more atheist against religion? Or did you not believe in a creator? At that point? You know?
Well, you know, I was a nominal Christian. And I went to church because my parents family went to church, we went to church, but to say that I accepted Jesus Christ as my personal Savior. No, I did not. But it was something that was said, You heard it, and maybe repeated it a few times. But it was just not something that went into your brain and you became, you know, transformed, you know, the Holy Spirit that, you know, change your whole life outlook. No, no, I did. It was just like school, you know, is to go to Bible class and these kind of things. But you know, that was, you went there to, to check out the chicks, you know,
plan for the weekend parties.
Things wasn't really religious.
You had a hardcore,
like, under 16 my church? Really? No, no, no. I mean, of course, he went to church a long time after me. And I was going to church, you know, in the 16th. What type of church was just material? This was okay. I mean, I was Church of England. Yeah. So it's a bit more closer to the Catholic area. More, whereas, you know, Presbyterian already, although they're an element from the Anglican, you know, they, they do retain something, but, you know, it's Protestants in general, or just wide open. It's just just a belief, you know, you you say I believe Jesus Christ as your Savior. And then after that, everything is life.
And so, no risk, no restrictions, requirements, and it's wide open. So that's why so church, you know, became just a meeting place. You know, people would go, you know, with their fineries on Sunday, you know, show off their latest dresses and the guys wear their suits.
Whatever, you know, it was, was just a show. He was not. And then of course, in America, it turned into something else. There's, you know, became old, you know, rock, you know, occasion It was just an event, you know, everybody's up there with the guitars and you know the saying in and
Canada, they are not at that stage of the black churches in America and whites that also take that same route, you know that that's a whole different thing. So for me, you know,
I was not,
you know, really a practicing Christian and nominal Christian, you know, my father didn't used to go to church, my mother did. So, but my father didn't. He later on told me
after accepted Islam,
that the reason why he never used to go, but he would send us go the mother. But why he never went was because of the fact that when he was about 12, back in Jamaica,
or 12, or 13, he studied logic, because there is to teach that in a British system of education Mark has no back in the 30s 30s.
He studied logic. And after studying logic, he said, Jesus could not have been God, no way. It's illogical, completely illogical. So, from that point, the age around 13, he rejected the idea of Jesus's divinity.
And he only prayed to God,
it become a more head mission, you know, and that was it. For his brothers and sisters. They used to call him the atheist. Because for them, if you didn't believe that Jesus was God, you didn't believe in God. So the fact that you're worshiping God is nullified, it has no value. Because that God that your worship is not Jesus symbol, you're not worshiping God, you're like an idol worship or anybody else. This believer, they call him the atheist, you know, but his father was one of the leading theologians of the Presbyterians in Jamaica.
Well known, you know, Pastor, Phillips, well known, you know, so they grew up in the church, so he added the Full Exposure, and I died age rather. So
Christianity was just from my mother's side, she was still believing that system of belief, and we wish to go to church with her, you took some money to put it in the plate, and you were like, should I just get in my other pocket?
Whether we can slide it across
your hand makes the movement whatever.
So you know, cuz we, I know, we were always resentful of that, you know, we had to go put our pennies or whatever and, and the plates and why.
But you did it because that was the tradition.
So so when you go to university, you started looking at learning about different the world, the for the first time, now the whole world is opened up to you, you know, your, your thinking, exposure to people, professors with many different ideas and that, you know, and
then you became aware of student movement, I initially went into it,
you know, just to be in with everybody else, you know, but eventually the idea started to rub off on you and you know,
and he became, yeah, communists.
I was almost I was, you know, one semester away from graduation, you know, and then, then I went to the states got caught up in that movement, shut down the university. This was Simon Fraser University in West Coast, Canada, shut down the university. The students shut it down. He went down to the US to San Francisco, you know, California.
linking up with the
communist, you know,
what they had to call the solid
Dad Defense Committee, I joined up with them. And
yeah, I was studying, I was studying and I studied and studied, you know, the books, you know,
and caught up in that movement itself, but at the same time observing, you know, what was happening around myself and I, I could see a lot of ill discipline, you know, in the members, you know, the movement to that, which disappointed me and
people have not changed, you know, I was thinking that this would have caused people to be more honest, more, just more fair, more, whatever. But people were just the same people. You know, they just talked a different talk. But, you know,
life wise, they were living the same lives, they just found another
channel by which to promote themselves or whatever, you know, so this use also, this time use also musician, use guitarist, yeah, singing, singing and guitar. Yeah, I mean, actually, that was more in Malaysia.
In Malaysia, with my family moved to Malaysia, before I came back to go to university and in Canada, when I first came back, I was still in university, while in university, I was playing nightclubs and things like this, you know, but once I got into the communist thing, I basically had no time for that anymore. So I had sort of left it hanging, I went, I went back up to Canada from the States.
I joined another sort of
movement, youth movement there in Toronto. And I started playing with a band again, they're playing in nightclubs, and I, but mainly using the music as a means to bring people to rallies and to gatherings and stuff like that, because they will, they would use some of that, you know, as a as a means of drawing people who would come for the music, and then you give them the talk afterwards kind of thing. Right. So she received people trying to do this.
Yeah, so so Pamela, so the age 25, you accepted Islam? How did this come about?
Well, you know, there were some brothers from the States who had come up. They were draft Dodgers, mainly because this was the Vietnam war time. And that's what a lot of the universities, you know,
demonstrations and shutting down in the Canada was about because Canada was making the bombs which the Americans were dropping on the Vietnamese. So you know, students say what is going on here? What is kind of got to do with this and you know, so
at that time, in Toronto,
there are many Americans come up from the US, they were in the university in, in West Coast, Canada, Simon Fraser University. Also, in Toronto, there were many that came
avoiding the draft, so they wouldn't be sent over to Vietnam, because the borders were open for Americans to come up to Canada. So they came up on stage. So some of them that came up were Muslims, they converted to Islam in the States. So they gravitated towards because they were into sort of a political Islam, but it was the political dour, their movement at the time. So they would come to the rallies and they would try to promote their dour here and there where they could. I mean, I wasn't really open to to the Dow, we already clear that, you know, religion was the opium of the masses. So there was not really any thought along those lines, but one of them managed to affect or
they would say, in fact, you know, one of the, the, the, the women that were part of our,
our central committee, she accepted Islam. And that shocked me, because she was a hardcore communist. She was a Maoist right. In the heart. She had memorized multi multi tongues read book and oh,
yeah, no, no, no.
That would have been something else.
But she, you know, she had memorizes so she was really hardcore, Maoist. So how in the world could she
Islam religion, you know, so this is what I asked her. So what's going on? You know?
So she said,
she said that, you know, actually Islam is not like the other religions, you know that Yeah, it's true. They know what we would learn about religion and show us to, to placate the masses, so that they would not desire, you know, the things of this world, they wouldn't challenge the upper class that is running the society, because they will all be told it's Paradise is coming after this world. So you you'd be happy with what you have here now, you know, so it was understood. But she said, she said that, you know, Islam is not like that. It's a whole different thing. Actually, Islam is very revolutionary, you know, and then they watch movies like, they call it the Battle of Algiers, you
know, where the Algerians were the first country in Africa, that liberated itself, not what given their and their independence, but liberated itself through battle, fought their way until France had to let go, right? So this was like, you know, this is the this is the revolution, successful revolution, but the battle cry was Allahu Akbar,
Allahu Akbar, God is great. What, ha, how, what's the connection, you know, and so that, seeing those
issues, and then I started to read Islamic books, in particular, the
book by Muhammad Coto called Islam, the misunderstood religion. This was the book that really did it for me. You know, it's only like the second book I read on Islam. And that was it. That book covered everything, because it's a political communism, he looks at the everything, he's looking at communism, capitalism, socialism, you know, Christianity, everything, which was that people followed, to show basically, what he did summary of what he showed there was that all the good that was found in all of these religions and systems and political, all of that good is there in Islam. And each one of these had negative aspects to them. And all of that negativity is not found in
Islam. So what are the conclusion that you can come to that, hey, Islam has got it all, you know, so I was clear, just clear, all the good points were there. So I said, Well, okay, I this is something I could accept. And I because I was having, as I told you, I was having my doubts. At the time, it was that same period, I was also reading more about the history and, and seeing the impact of communism on this country is China and Russia and related countries, and, you know, how much injustice that ended up developing there, under the name of communism, and and how these countries couldn't, couldn't compete with the capitalist countries. If communism was so great, it should have
shot ahead and been the the economic power of the world. But instead, the people, the people were still down, they couldn't compete with the with America and Europe, and
they tried to use this argument against Islam. Islam is so good, as you say, how Muslims are in the situation that they are today. But he's because they're not following Islam, the way you should be? Yeah, or you can just simply say that
this is a period in history, go back to the period, when they were the top of the world, they technology, everything was them, people came to them to learn. So it's shown that Islam can take people to the top of the world, you know, so it's there. So the fact that it's down right now, you know, they were overcome and whatever. So it's down, it doesn't mean that it can't be there, you know, so So, which is different communism never had a period when they
only now with China, Russia to a smaller degree, but only now is China, China has now come up to become world power, but it didn't become that under communism. That's the whole point. That what they had to modify that communism till it became capitalism with the name garment is about the outside, you know, they became capitalists. They accepted that capitalism, you know, had value and it would move the society forward, and we keep the theory of communism and
But what is working and moving? You know, the engine of the societies is capitalism. It's not communism, not communist economics, it's capitalist economics. So, you know, so they, they, they don't have any proof from that perspective.
So, at this point you you accepted Islam. And then you you went to study Medina. Yeah. Within a year after accepted Islam, yeah, within a year, but you know, in that one year,
I joined Gemma to tablet.
I went to the UK, they had the first edge, Dima in the West, there in Dewsbury right. And
I had spent my four months there in the UK, I completed my formance there in the masjids of the UK, because I had gone there seeking knowledge. This was the idea in Canada accepted Islam, the few books I had limited, tried to get other books, very few books available in okay sit study under people, you know, foreigners who are there in the masjid from different countries, Egyptians, Moroccans, you know, and trying to get knowledge with the realizing that it's very limited. These guys are just, you know, cultural Muslims. So they were they gave us their piece of their culture. And so here was the real Islam and all of this, you know, so then when they said, Okay, yeah, you
want to study, we've got scholars. In England, we have over 50 mosques in Canada, in Toronto, at the time, there are only two mosques, the whole of Toronto, all of Toronto.
So at that time, so 50 mosques, and in every mosque is a Maulana, who's studied, that's like, you know, ah, you know, the students dream. So I went there, and I sat, I had my notebooks with me, I would sit, ask the questions, and the malanez would tell me and I'd make the note of all the answers of, you know, I,
good four months of study, came back to Toronto, and,
you know, told my wife, we are having fees? No, because, you know, you have to follow one of the former gods, according to what everybody was saying. And, of course, most Muslims are hafeez, Abu hanifa was the first of the mountains.
Yeah, go with the majority,
you know, became out of me, told my wife to learn in, in,
in the UK, I had to learn the female prayer for HANA fees, because it's so different from the male. It's not something you can even explain it in writing. It has to be demonstrated, you know, so I learned that female prayer from the malanez. And I came back taught my wife, you know, how to pray, according to the Hanafi way. And then I moved next door. I recommend a good book for this. Evolution.
Yeah, it gives the whole history.
Yeah, yeah. But that's a book, evolution fit. Kind of explaining and bringing these people through the history of the how it was developed, to understand them as hubs because the mud hub is a mystery. in the minds of the majority of Muslims. They know it, they heard the name mazhab. You know, my dad, reproductive different with Maslak, they have different names. Yeah. You know, but the madhhab reality of the madhhab the vast majority of Muslims have no idea.
You know, are they different religions, some even call them different sects. You know, we have the Hanafi sect. We have the Shah for a sec.
Something No, don't call it sect. It's not really sect. It's madhhab. So where's the mother?
Just follow on.
You know, this is they're all correct.
So this was the point.
We were told that they're all correct.
If anyone you follow, it's okay. You know, though hanafy is the best one to follow since the majority people following it, but any of the others you follow? It's okay. If you don't follow on, then your mom is shaytaan Whoa, yes. Yeah, even though you had books coming from Turkey, this Hussein Ishak here.
Some books. And in these books, one of these books is what the mother says.
One of the questions you will be asked in the grave is what is your mother? Yeah, they went to that point. So me really serious about this mother thing. So I remember when I saw I moved next to the mosque, Masjid, in Mama, the masjid was a Shafi Imam from Egypt. And I started studying with him, because so now, you know, I would the evidences and that I start to see the contradictions. You know, and I saw that ultimate contradiction, where the shaft a say, if you accidentally touch a woman, your widow is not broken, your boot is broken. And but if hanafy said, If you touch a woman, you would have not broken. So, you know, that is the Iraq iraq irreconcilable difference. You know,
no way that accepted, one has to be correct, one has to be incorrect. So this is what set me made me ready for Medina. And when I reached that point of understanding, and the person who gave me Shahada, just as a point of information was Dr. Abdullah Hakim quick, he was one of the Americans who had come up was he is the one who converted that sister.
Yeah. And he's also conference with some Yeah, you can read it in the US.
So when did he When did he convert? Was it around the same time? Well, I mean, maybe it was a year or two before me something like this. But
yeah, but he went to Medina, we went together to Medina, we went together to Medina. So to the point, though, is that
when I reached that point where I could see contradictions, which could not be reconciled? You can't say both are correct. I realized that I needed to go to the sources, to get Islam from the sources to understand it, because I felt something was obviously wrong here. You know, it's not something you could talk about.
out loud, you know, we would convert Muslims that were there and Jordan
would grumble about these differences about ourselves. Would you don't say this to a to a born Muslim because ha, Allah.
So we are in the background, we would grab a look
shavonne has got you man, it's in your head to shape on, you know, so humbled. Ah, so when you enter Medina, then the Enlightenment came, we came to understand the origins of my jobs and these kind of things, and
hamdulillah they don't never look like people, they don't know how blessed they are. To, especially in the English world, we have so much literature, you know, from different people, such as yourself and other people in English, by this time, nothing. The only books we had were the comedy books, because they
made the translation on the ground that result is available, you know, we then then use of alleys showed up.
But difficult to get a hold of a copy.
Very difficult. Yeah, yeah. So you kind of just figure it out for yourself. But he didn't put you off? No, no.
I mean, a lot. Presented away. What was the first kind of person who came into contact with you?
was like, you know, not, you know, on the
way, someone who was kind of looking at Islam
it's really when I came to Medina. Yeah. It's in Medina, you know, then this discussion was there amongst students. They didn't insist on anyone madhhab even though they use the in the, in the high school junior high they use books from the
humbly madhhab. But in the college university, that we studied from books, which were non madhhab specific books.
So we looked at the classics, the classic works,
studies with attend many classes, scholars eyes to sit in
circles of shipments are denoted by ni and chefman buys
Chef ibaka does Irie
check all my data and all the well known scholars who are teaching in Medina know the chef I looked him in his was in Riyadh side, we had
a scene where he was his basis and other side so when I came out to Riyadh, you know, then
I was studying mostly in the circles have
been bad because he had big class going on there. So attend to his as well as
meeting these big scores.
The people were very humble, you know, very, you know, simple, you know, there was not
wasn't really there. So, it's, it's very,
very like Medina, you know, we mean, we had access to scholars, big scholars who came from Egypt, you know, who were teaching there were, you know, known as giants of, you know, scholarship in Egypt. But, you know, they're regular people,
they would sit and talk with students and you know, it's, it was it wasn't the, you know, superstar
relationship, you know.
So how would you?
Well, I did, basically five years or five and a half years, you know, four years of the college, you know, and a year year and a half of the language school
and then I went on to Riyadh do my Masters I started teaching them
did my masters at the same time. Yeah, got in. They have a strong it's not make, you know, not Arabic background, because my teacher when I was studying in Medina, was informal teacher was gotten in, which I study under him. He preparation for his name is Mohammed Harada is in the States during the states and stuff. But he and Abdullah Hakim, other Hakeem myself, and a couple others we used to study with him, he taught in English and He will teach us Arabic in our building a preparing us for the university.
An old ship in Ghana, who knows you the very, very old ship, one of the first batches of the Medina students. His name I forgot his name.
There's a bunch of them though. Yeah. There's a bunch of them in Ghana, because I went to the other school is about four of them. Were mice. Some of them I used to teach karate in Medina. Yeah. You know, they were my students, right? This was our means of earning some little extra money, you know, to survive. I teach karate and kung fu and, you know, study stone. Yeah.
Yeah, so there was a set of students that is maybe what 40 or 50 students, you know, from different parts of the world, they would
like to train them. You know, my wife used to saw the geese that they would wear as she would sew it up. She had a machine and this was our means of generating just survival money man, surviving in Medina, in those days back in the, you know, the early 90s. It's not sorry, it's early. I suppose it was 1970s 1974 74. You can't imagine what it was like.
married students, you're on your own. On your own the same money they gave to the single students the same money to give to you. And you had to say you couldn't be on campus because they were getting that money, but they were living on campus. It would send that money home, build a palace when they graduate and go back, you know, and live in it, you know,
they'll fail, they'll pass one year fail a year plus a year for so then the whole four year degree becomes an eight year degree you're earning all of the salaries in the eight years. You know, you come back man you are laid out. You are the shape.
So all that was going on. So as you know they're struggling. Survival
survival mode, man. I remember not eating you know eating meat like once a week.
Sheila says Good evening. Yeah, they don't know they may complaining I'm sorry.
I was the last week I met when she said I've been here 15 years.
Yeah, cuz he started from family right and started from junior high school from grade eight. That's what they do it. No, he's, he's been doing what missing skip now. But he can only do so many times because they put in the thing that if you do it twice, they'll fail. They kick you out. They started to put that in. I don't know how I'm saying those people here. That's kind of numbers. They've been there. They came there from the from the grade eight to two. So they do great eight 910 1112. Right. Seven, actually, seven is the beginning of finally. So so they got a month or was it? Sorry, was it so they got a good six years, those six years they turn into 12 years? Because you said you're only
allowed to fail once? Right? So they will pass they'll fail, then they pass? They fail, then they pass then if it was twice
I twice in a row? Because before that they would do that. You know, before those days we were doing failing twice, three times. And you know, they're just there. This is for life. We're not going anywhere.
I'm gonna be buried in there, you know, this is it
used to be us getting involved in Saudi as well. Yeah.
In in when I was studying in Medina, those six years in Medina, five, six years.
The Dow would be during holidays, when I went back to Canada, US and the West Indies. So I would go back into those communities and focus mainly on the Convert Muslims were increasing their numbers were increasing, reaching out to them holding circles for them guiding them. You know,
us, as I said, West Indies asked to go down regularly to Trinidad. Barbados,
Bahamas, Jamaica. So you born in Jamaica, what age did you move to Canada? About nine something like this connection with
Roma family was down there and everything else. So the Tao Of course, that's what that's the first place I went actually, when I accepted Islam in Toronto. First thing I did was I flew down to Jamaica, you know, to, to give the dollar to my family, my cousins and uncles and aunts and, you know, to reach out to them. First and foremost, I was the duty I recognize that. So after giving down to my own parents in Canada, before going down, then
I remember when I went down to Jamaica, and I was with one of my cousin's close cousins. And he told me Oh, there's a there's a mosque in downtown Kingston.
Please take me so they took me down, you know, yeah, we came up with this nice Masjid, you know, we came up
No, no, it wasn't terribly big and I came up looking and sees actually something strange about this place. So then when I got closer and I went up to the front door, I thought
the buys, you know, so because they are a breakaway sect from Islam from Shiite Islam and, and they
they retained the eastern style of
place of worship. So it looked like a mosque. But it wasn't. So there I hunted in Jamaica for Muslims. I finally came across one Muslim in Montego Bay. You know, an old Indian man who was dying of cancer at the time. He had built a Little Mosque on his land. A couple of workers who work for him they converted to Islam, they used to pray. There, he used to give the Juma but
then eventually the word reached a couple of sisters who
All these sisters who had accepted Islam in New York, they came back down to Jamaica to live out their lives there. So they came to the mosque. And so I met a little handful that was about it. That was it of Islam in Jamaica, now, you know, Jamaica, they have over 35 mosques, you know, many 1000s of Muslims,
that those days,
Islam was just non existent. Imagine the world
kind of being raised in a world where Islam is everywhere, in
every country, go to every city
find them in the jungles,
Those were the days
during your after your studies, during your studies you use also writing?
the writing began in Riyadh,
I was asked to join a school in Islamic school
to design the curriculum
grade one to 12.
at that time, as like 1979 1980, there were no books on Islam,
available for children, for young people to study
in English, so I had to create something.
So at that time, that's what forced me to write, I was not a writer,
you know, particular,
my father was, of course, Masters in English, teaching English as a foreign language and all that my mother was also a teacher, you know, mathematics.
And they helped me to, to put things together to write the, the reviewed my materials and helped me to, to get it in the best format. You know, I was a writer from the perspective that I started from my communist days to keep notes.
recorder, you could say more than writer, I recorded and then every book that I read of Islam, I took out the most key ideas, and I put them in books. So if I want to review that idea, get back to it, I could just flip, I didn't have to go back to the book again. So, so I had that practice of writing, but it wasn't really creation, it wasn't authorship, it was just basically recording material.
I had to take the ideas now, which I had studied in Medina, over the four years, etc. and bring them down to the level which was appropriate for grade 12 1110. Nine.
So this was a challenge said with the help of my parents, I've prepared materials. I'd like notes which we printed out and stuff like this, circulated amongst students, and
developed teaching skills, which helped also for our purposes, to give lectures, etc. Because I would travel regularly, as I said, to the west,
although in Riyadh
there was there were foreign communities there. Mostly Filipinos, who
didn't know Islam, and they were starting to come into Islam. There were a few brothers who were engaged in dour they're on brother.
What's his name now? Dr.
Dr. Gillian gelila. Did
Dr. gelila Dean he was a professor of English at imamoglu solid you University
and he with the English was giving Dawa, to Filipinos
On rooftop apartment buildings, you know, he would invite them on the weekend, one day, they're off Friday, whatever, invite them up there, and then he was giving them you know, the deedat style dialog.
So I attended, you know, few sessions and got got engaged in explaining as one word converted from Christianity, you know, explaining the the lack of logic in the Christian belief system.
So, this was more my focus, I never really went into, you know, the verses and
tried to argue from there versus this brother, Jelena Dean, he had read quite extensively and from my dad's works, and he was giving that side I was giving more from the logic and having been a Christian myself, you know, and so the dour started from the rooftops
rooftops. And then, in Bogota, we eventually got a center set up there. You know, that's the first of what they call the mechanical jolly Act, or the fine communities. offices, they spread all over
Saudi Arabia, later, every city, every part of the city, they set them up, you know, who consulted your kid to do something, and, but they obviously, their English usually is so weak, they couldn't make the dollar themselves. So they tried to, you know, get somebody who had already converted or whatever, you know, me, I was the one who was being carried around to many of the companies and that this was, this was the method that they would use to
take time off to workers, shifts, car companies, farms, etc, gather them, and just give, you know, a one hour presentation to them, you know, about Islam, really focusing on explaining to them what Islam is, you know, and
that picked up, you know, as time went by more and more till we started, I started the first translation of the football, you know, a, not, they wouldn't do what by an English, they never really reached that point. They're quiet it was was the hotbar was translated, either simultaneously, they would bring the non Muslims to the back of the masjid and somebody would translate simultaneously. And or the other way was not to be taken by the person who's going to do that I did is to prepare a note from the hookah. And then afterwards, I'd explained to them what was the football about, so that it had value for them, you know, so started that practice that started
in the, in the living room of one of the moms, I was asked to come and translate for these converts after the thing. And from that it spread to we have to hold it in the master. Now, this section of the master, you know, became a standard practice across Saudi Arabia afterwards.
So hamdulillah so after dealing travel to the UK,
no, no, no, I was in Riyadh, that might when I did my PhD in the UK. It was done. I only had to go to Lampeter. I went there.
In Wales, I went there, maybe about three times.
So it was because it was by research. So I didn't have to take any classes. It was just research for the PhD. I went there defended it, you know, such as my professors and so on. So who my advisors supervisors. So going to the UK was, was going manly in the 90s. I was going there for our purposes, because I used to stop off in the UK on the way the flight from Saudi Arabia, back to Canada, which always go through the UK there were no direct flights at that time. So it stopped off in the UK. So I stop off there for a week. spend the time to
Coming around the UK given our teaching in some of the different masters holding classes,
Shere Khan, just just to mention some of the books that you've authored have been
how many books would you say? offer? Do you know how many
published books? It's it's over 50
over 50 individual
topics, Islamic topics, right weathers masuleh tafsir, Sunil Heidi, you know, in all the various areas, the only area I think I haven't written on is Sierra.
So I've done tough series of, you know, published
books, in fact, and
not only Rasulullah Hadith, but actually compilation of Hadith called the best in Islam
clash of civilizations. And total, as I said, about 50 books. In as individual topics. I did a series, which I edited, prepared, etc, and published a series for children learning English,
called the man reading series that has 56 books, by itself, you know, then that was for teaching Islamic English, English presented in an Islamic package, which is being used in schools around the world. Till today, that was back in the 90s.
So when did the idea come around for Islamic online university?
Well, you know, it was a gradual stage, high school teacher, doing my master's finishing a Master's, finishing PhD, while doing that work, but still teaching from the PhD. And, you know, I became a lecturer, a teacher in university. Right, I was teaching University for
10 years in UAE, the American University and the way I thought their Islamic Studies and that I was department. And
this is where the need to set up an Islamic department came. I set one up in a German University in advance department of Islamic Studies, their English medium, and then from their
Islamic Studies Department, the next step is University. So I then I set up a university in Chennai, you know, after
you know, after setting up a university, set up that university in India, it was the first
that is government accredited Islamic University in India.
I know people think that there should have been, there are universities there Aligarh and Senato. Islamic universities are not Islamic, the most in Aligarh, which is the most famous one.
The the strongest student body, you know, they have student groups
is the communist.
Would you call it the communist student group? That's the strongest one in universities that tells it all right there. If they're the strongest with the strongest following and all this kind of thing that's telling you islamically it's out to lunch, you know, osmania University in Hyderabad.
I went there. I went to their library and everything. The head of the university is a Hindu.
You know, it's Carlos monnier University, but nothing Islamic about it. So that so your IOU was the first Islamic University registered? Yeah, it wasn't called IOU It was called. This call is still scholars functioning in Chennai. It's called Preston International College. Right, but it is registered as a university. It is connected with Madras University.
It was the first in in India.
hamdulillah you know, I was prepared to live there and brought my families over and everything but the government had other plans. They didn't renew my visa, once they saw where it was going, because what I was trying to do develop there was an International Islamic University because there's none for India. There is in Islamabad there is in Dhaka and Bangladesh there is in KL and, and there is in Uganda there, Kampala International University. So these exist, but not in India, you know, with 200 million Muslims. So this was my intention. But from the very beginning, they sabotage those intentions.
I tried to get teachers from all over from Egypt from Kenya, they wouldn't give them visas. I had to get my teachers from India.
So I went, try to go get other professors will be teaching with me from India. Then we wanted, I wanted a varied student body.
we invited students from all over the world,
no visas, or they would go to the to the embassy, the embassy, there is no such University.
Even though we were registered everything, they found any excuse to just stop the people. So virtually nobody could come in from the outside. So it was indeed
This was 2009 2009
Yeah. So, what I did was I decided that at least because it was in Chennai, you know, South India, Tamil Nadu, at least, the student body should not just be all from Tamil Nadu. So it's just a Tamil Nadu University, like each university, you know, generally, it's the people of that state to go there. So, I did a tour of all the major cities, New Delhi, you know,
mom Bay, Mangalore, Bangalore, you know, I went to all the major cities and invited students to come to study in Chennai.
So, at least hamdulillah the student body was from all over India, which is very important for an Islamic University.
That it, it has the Hajj spirit, you know, people getting to know each other Muslim from different lines.
But as I said, when the time came to renew my visa after one year, no renewed visa, so I had to go back to Qatar.
At that point, I decided, Okay, it's time to go online. I was already preparing. From 2007. I started a bachelor's program
connected to undermined Islamic University in Khartoum and Omdurman in
Sudan. They already approved the syllabus, I was using their syllabus translated into English as well.
So the preparations for going online was already there in place.
So the plan was I should start in 2011.
seven 2007 2011, four years, I would have finished the curriculum, ready to go online. Or when I was blocked, and forced to go back to Qatar. Then I decided at that point after 2009 going into 2010, to start in 2010. So I launched University, online in 2000. Because to the online, nobody could stop me. I could hire anybody I wanted to hire from anywhere else. Whatever. Country. Yeah, students from everywhere were coming. They were, as soon as I started, the numbers just quadrupled every semester, four times the amount that we're you know, spread very rough students you have no which is what registered who have registered, it's over half a million. Over 500,000 students have registered, you
know, but that doesn't give you the finger
Those who are currently active, because students come and go, come and go, they stop for one semester, or they stop for two semesters, whatever, it's up to them because they're free to move.
So, you know, Hamdulillah,
one of the big challenges that we're faced with, as all universities are faced with are dropouts.
In most universities,
it doesn't matter.
As long as people are coming in, your numbers are coming in, you're making the money, no problem, you want to drop out after that you paid no problem. But because our goal is changing the nation through education, this is a calamity for us, you know, which we have to deal with, because we can only change the nation, if they finish their studies, you know, which prepares them to go back out into society and affect the society and change it, you know. So we're, you know, devising different ways and means, you know, to reach out to these students to try to bring them back on board, you know, find out why they dropped out. And, you know, so we've expended a lot of energy over the last
two years now, and especially this last year, we've been, you know, trying to focus more and more, you know, I'm arranging for it, no, this, actually, big universities already have this in place. But the way we're taking it on is, is on another level, you know, because it's a real care real
important principle that we have to reduce our numbers of dropouts beyond what the conventional universities have, you know, this is a big challenge. And this is customer care in the other business, they ignore the customer care, take care of the customer. So they'll come back again, they're becoming regular customers. So I mean, from our perspective, in fact, I think most universities, the biggest amount of money is spent in advertisement, as most Business Standard, but in our case, we have to make that in student retention, we need to devise ways and means get the latest, you know, data and information, you know, which is being it's being used by different
universities to help retain the students, we need to take that whole thing to another level, because of the importance that that holds with regards to fulfilling the mission of the university.
So, you know, this is a huge challenge, along with the accreditation issues that, you know, a lot of countries don't want to deal with online universities, they think they're fake, and,
you know, degree Mills, they call them all kinds of names. I mean, ours is very real. And the students that have gone to, you know, big universities, like the Malaysian universities, taken courses there and taken with us and said, what you're doing there is? No, it's much more difficult from what's going on there somewhere. Enough, you know, I've visited many of your students around the world, you know, my travels, Africa, Asia, you know, and doing very well, you know, you got sensors throughout different countries. And it's stronger, stronger syllabus network, and the network that is students are working with, and yeah, students in general, in virtually in all the
fields, either ours is completely unique, like our psychology, teaching, you know, bachelors in Islamic psychology, what are the university in the world is teaching that? You know, so we where we've broken ground, you know, in areas that other universities have not even began to think about. So this is open, you know, if people want to study the IOU, they can go to the website, you can sign up simple, and we're trying to make it as simple as possible, you know, simpler and simpler, so that the registration process doesn't become a knockout point, you know, because it's if it's not user friendly, you know, then people start
to have trouble.
You know, but
we have, you know, the courses of course, we're known as the Islamic online university. So people tend to think, Oh, it's just Islamic subjects. You know, we have the Sharia. We have a master's in Sharia, which is recognized by the government of Indonesia. So you can do PhDs in Indonesia, with our masters etc.
And we have bachelor's in Arabic. Again, this is to be active.
This is Islamic University. But the majority of our courses are not, quote unquote, Islamic. You know, it's education, Islamic banking and finance, Islamic psychology or psychology, Business Administration and information technology. And we are also launching in the coming semester, we're launching also Agricultural Economics, we're choosing subjects, which are vital subjects to the, to the growing Muslim community. And we're not focusing on robotics, because who's using robotics in, in the third world, this is first world stuff, that's just training people to be a part of the brain drain, you know, because they'll Yeah, they'll swoop you up right away to US, UK, Germany, you know,
but then what the Muslims benefit from it.
So we focus on those critical areas, we want to also include Mass Communications, journalism, as well as studies in public health, you know, these areas, which are the critical areas of the Third World. Third, we need people properly trained, and then with an Islamic
understanding, because that's what's unique about us, because otherwise, you can go and study these other subjects anywhere in any other university, but they're not teaching it from an Islamic perspective. That's the missing link, you know, and this is what we are doing, and what all of the Muslim universities need to do.
You know, but we are so we are pioneers in this, you know, to, to say that we offer everything, including Business Administration, including it people, are it Islamic it? Is there such a thing? Yes, there is, you know, it's it taught from an Islamic perspective. And no, no matter how people may think that this is just this is just, you know, technology, and you know, but technology has to exist, in a society that technology is learned and applied in a society, it's not in outer space, you know, it's functioning. So you can say, okay, you don't need anything Islamic about that it's floating around the world. No,
it is applied in human society. And as long as you're dealing with human beings, you know, Islam has guidelines, to protect those human beings in all the different ways and to make that
a benefit to the society and minimize the potential harm which comes from it. Now, Islam is going to identify areas that the, the non Islamic instructors would not bother to get into consensus technology, you know, you learn it, it's
so there's no place for Islam here, this is, you know, it was reality is that it has
maybe less than then the humanities,
you know, because humanities are more dealing with human societal relations, teaching education, these areas. But, you know, technology tends to be sort of a little bit more distant, but still, you have to apply it to this is, is really important, and just just the,
you know, the atmosphere of the studying in the, in an Islamic environment as well, you know, most of the Muslims who have issues with their faith, it's because of the secular education. You know, growing up if you'd be growing up in a secular society, secular education, you know, running through school for the next 15 years of secular education is going to have an effect. Sure, you know, because every subject is taught, as if our love doesn't exist, Islam is false. You know, so no matter what you study, and it's so important to have that Islamic ethos
as justification, it's a pleasure. I really enjoyed meeting you speaking with you again, under Larry, for quite a few years now. We've seen each of the different parts of the world. And I shall that's good to see. So I will continue to do so. And I know you have told you this before, but for those who are listening,
is actually your video that helps me come to a stop.
I told you before.
I was through my experiences in Africa.
With the world that agenda if you like and that type of thing.
I was explaining this to my friend in my Libyan friend in the UK. And he showed me one of your videos explaining how the Jin's you know, get their information and how the how it actually works, basically. And this, this was the key video that switched me on.
Wow, a lot
of pleasure, appreciate in add you to my scale of good deeds.
And yeah, how do I, you know,
you know, benefited a lot from your work, especially your books. In English, I'm just clarifying and cleared off a lot of the doubts that many new Muslims have.
And, you know, we use these books is still being used and promoted, when we're teaching the devil. And, you know, we use these as, as reading material, you know, for the, for the new and upcoming, often coming days.
And just before we finish, do you have any last words or any advice that you can give the Muslims or even the new Muslims on how they should go forward in life?
Well, you know, as a teacher, you know, the, the general advice that we will naturally give is that
one has to be in that learning process, you know, we should never feel I know, enough, have enough knowledge.
The privatized Salaam had already informed us that whoever seeks knowledge,
he or she has entered a path, which is leading ultimately, to paradise.
So this issue of
you know, we should look at it the way we look at a binder
that we know, if the worship is not done properly, you don't have to do or you broke your will do as you're praying, or you know what to do, you know, you can't just do anything, there are clear guidelines. So similarly, when we are in that learning mode, and it should be a part of our lives to relive this world, we should consider all of the factors that will make sure that the knowledge you are getting is correct.
The understanding of it is correct. And the application of it is correct. You know, because otherwise
shaytaan new, Allah
knows who allies, you know. So it's not just the knowledge by itself. So you see, I can get it through a book. You know, I can watch the video here, and, you know, YouTube, and I can get it from there.
Learning in that way, where you're just taking from whatever is available, you know, is the cocktail. It's mixed up.
And if you don't have proper teachers, proper sources of knowledge, content with access content, then
that knowledge will not benefit you.
It may benefit you from a material perspective, because you got a degree and now you're making money or in this position, etc. But it won't benefit you.
Ultimately, in this life and the next. So, we need to
that the problems are seldom put on us. When he told us ballet one he will convey whatever you've learned from me, even though it is only a single verse
to convey, he told us to convey but he also told us to seek knowledge. Allah will tell me for his Allah, Allah Muslim seeking knowledge is compulsory for every Muslim. So he gave us two instructions, one, that it is obligatory for us to get that knowledge
because why because it will put us on a path to paradise. And also it is obligatory for us to convey whatever of the knowledge we have gained, we've benefited from with it.
Understood, etc, you know, so it's to both aspects, being a student and being a teacher,
you know, and anyone who is a student can be a teacher, he may not be able to be
University teacher, lecture professor, but there is all there are always people around him who he can teach, he can pass that knowledge on to. So, that is the responsibility that every Muslim
has, and has to fulfill, which allow will ask us about on the Day of Judgment. So that would be my general advice that we need to look at this process as a bad it's a blessed process.
Being a teacher and a student, student first teacher, after
simultaneously, this is a process that each Muslim should be conscious of ask ourselves, what am I learned today?
Who am I thought
if we're not learning anything, we're not teaching anything,
then we're like the last set of
home, health and bathroom.
They the disbelievers who don't
have any consciousness of God.
They are like animals.
Or, in fact, they are more defeated
because the animal is just doing what he's created for.
We're human beings living like an animal.
You can't get worse than that.
When that's not what you were created, yes, there's an animal aspect to your life. But that's not what you created.
So, this would be my
advice to those who are watching this
And Sharma I pray that Allah gives all of you the insight
this Islamic understanding of life
that ally accepts us on that path to paradise.
Gives us paradise.