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Young People with Vision – Ustad Nouman Ali Khan Advice to Young Muslim in ICNA 2015


The Quran does not explicitly talk about the pursuit of happiness.
It is interesting that highest it is talk about is contentment, just being at peace, that's the ultimate goal, and not happiness, which is two different things.
Being at peace and being happy are two different thing

Now, I want to talk a little bit to you about some study in psychology that really interesting and really shades light how we to understand the statement in the Quran, what the entire statement is talk about.
The statement comes from surah An-Najm (53:39)

Human being will have nothing for his own benefit, except whatever effort he made

Now, I want to you stay with me as the best as you can

The first and the lowest pursuit any of you will have, and I am particularly picking the young people in the audience.
I know there are young at heart, too but it is young in physically.
I need you understand the lowest of all pursuit in your life going to be happiness.
Let me demonstrate you what that is:
You feel like not doing your homework on Saturday morning, so you sleep until 12, and you are what? Happy.
It does not take much to be happy.
So you play the video the entire night, you have huge migraine but since he beats the game, somehow he's happy.
Somebody got call from work “This is snow day, you don’t have to come.”
Guess what? They are happy.
In other words, happiness is easy. In small thing, happiness is easy.
In relationship, making your parent happy to be with you is very hard, making your wife happy, astagfirullah.

But for yourself, attaining happiness is easy, like watching movie, you felt happy, meet friend and you felt happy.
It does not take much.
But what happens to it? It goes, you frustrated and you want to be happy again, so you keep after this drug of happiness which keeps leaving you.
It never stays with you.
It is the lowest of all pursuit.
So people said “I just want to be happy”
I don’t understand what it means because nobody always happy.
Allah gave us huge store of emotion to experience in life and all part of healthy life.
Happy is one of them. If you just pursued happiness, let me tell you, you involved in disappointment.
It is never going to happen.
You will never be life in constant happiness. That is not going to works.
Life is about struggle too.
When you are studying for your final, you are not happy.
When you are in the middle three hours final, you are not happy.
When you are working out, sweating and dying, you are not happy.
When you see the result, you are happy.

Anyway, let’s go a step further, the second pursuit, which means requiring more effort.
Every time I take a step, you have to go through more pain to get it, okay?
So the next step is the pursuit of cool.
Cool just means nobody going to pick on me; I am going to blend in with everybody else.
Nobody is going to point on me and said “Why you dress like that?  Why do you talk like that? Why do you look like that? Why do you walking like that? Why do you hanging with those people? Why do you driving that? Why do you shop that?”
People will point and criticize you and you don't want those to happen.
you don't want to be the object of criticism.
You need to cool like everybody else and it takes work, for example you in high school or happen before that in middle school.
How you dress to school is really big deal and before you pick a cloth out of closet, before you pick a shoe, the thought that ran through your mind “What will people think of me if I wear this?”
This is pursuit of cool and it takes work to blend in.
It is easy to be weird and everybody else finds strange, but it takes work to be everybody else.
A lot of young people unfortunately have to give themselves up.
They have to pretend they are someone they not just to fit in.
I met kids one time, maybe 14/15 years old, he had baseball hat that used to be a thing, and he came to me and he started to cry, he started to talk “You know? I hate dress like this. But if I don’t, people make fun of me and I can’t stand to get beat up. I don't like cursing but I do a lot when I go to school because I had to fit in.”

The lowest pursuit is happiness, and above is what? Cool.
And there is pursuit above that: the pursuit of popularity.
I don’t want to blend in. I want to be the coolest person there is.
I want to be the ones everybody else to be friend with.
I want to be the loudest one in lunch table.
Before anybody makes fun on me, I want to makes fun of everybody else.
And there are lot time the popular kids in school; they become popular because they make fun of other kids.
So everybody got scared they become the next target, so they come under their wing, so they are not be the next target.

This happens with adult.
The pursuit of popularity means I want to be the center of attention, so I am going to post a picture, tweet something, make video or  whatever I am going to do so people will talk about me.
Every time the commentary going down, I am going to do something new so the conversation starts new again.
Pursuit of popularity is strange thing because it made people humiliated themselves.
Like for example in the music industry, the entertainment industry, when artist, their album platinum or something and their song no longer popular, they need to humiliated themselves: disgusting video or involved in controversy, so there will tabloid about them.
They could not sell the next music or whatever
Popular takes work, you going to spend money, spend time and it is important to you, you need to maintain your image, status among people.

Above that, there is another pursuit, for college student this is more important than elementary student: it is big deal, it is prestige.

At the bottom: happiness, cool, then popularity, then prestige.
Prestige means you want to be able to associate yourself with something that is very valuable.
You want to able to tell people “You know, I went to Harvard”
You don’t tell them that you went therefor weekend to pick up your friend, but you like to use your name in the same sentence as Harvard.
Even when you fresh minute Harvard, what do you accomplish?
What you do to the world?
But you want your name associated with prestigious institution/brand.
If the brand not visible to see, you want have conversation for people ask you where do you get that?
Well, it's harmony or something.
Because you want yourself associated your name with something .
What kind of car are you driving? What kind of cloth are you wearing?
You don’t want to take a selfie with someone because you won’t remember them. You want to take selfie that make other people feel you are more important cause you stand next to this person.
It became matter of prestige.
It more about become letting other people know how awesome you are by association, not by accomplishment.
Btw, in the religious community, sometimes parent want to make their kids hafidz or doctor, but they love telling people “You know, my son is hafidz” and they turned them into trophy. Unfortunately, that is not the reason why you memorized Quran, but it happens.

Now we are at level what? Prestige,
It is going to be a big deal.
You got a job at big company. You got a job at Google.
You don’t forget your badge; you wear your badge to the masjid.
“Is there Google special badge?” “No, no, I got a job there”
You want poeple know what you accomplished. Desire to others what prestige you have.

At bottom again, what the first thing? Happiness.
Good! Then?
Cool, Popularity, Prestige.
Above that, there is the pursuit of money.
There are some people they don’t care about happiness, they don’t care about cool, they don’t care about popularity, they don’t care about prestige.
All they care about is what? Money!
They know how to make a lot of money.
This people wear dirty T shirt, ripped jeans, and driving 80 miles per hour and they don’t care because they make million dollars a month.
They making 10 million dollar a month. I am not this people. I met these people made hundred million a year and you will not know those humble make that kind money cause his hair all over the place.
He's doing a thing or not doing a thing because he doesn't care.
He is amazing at business and that's all he ever thinks about.
All he ever thinks about: How I am going to increase sale? How I am going to expand? How I am going to open up warehouse?
I am going to do this, I am going to do that.

It takes works to be happy, and it takes a lot more work to be cool, to be popular and makes money.
It increasing incredible amount of work ethic.
This people don’t take a break.

Then there is above that: Even higher level.
Btw, every time I tell you effort, I need you to understand something: every time you go to higher level, you need to go through more pain to get there.
You have to tolerate pain in order to be there, great pain.
And above money, there is somebody who needs to be number one. They want to have excellence.
I don’t want to programmer in my company; I want to be top programmer in my company.
I don’t want to be student in class; I want to be the top student in class.
I don’t want to have high score in SAT; I want to have perfect score in SAT.
I just don’t want to be NBA player; I want to be the MVP.
They are never happy with themselves and they keep pushing themselves harder, harder.
They never satisfied.
They are people who pursue excellence in whatever they do, whether in study, exercise, athletic, work field, research, whatever they get.
They need to be on top, they need to be number one.

Do you know who they are comparing to? This is important.
Themselves from yesterday.
They don’t care about anybody else.
They don’t look anybody else.
They know they could done better.
They never satisfied. They never sit back.
They said “Man, I need do more, I could done better.” and everybody else said “Wow! You are amazing”
and they said “Who cares? I knew I could do better.”
So, they don’t care about the praise and acknowledge from people, who think they did amazing work but they just keep pushing themselves harder and harder.
This example for you guys like Michael, he beat the records but after the praise, he did not sit. He is not after praise, he is after excellence.
He like machine, keep going forward and forward, accelerating them more.
They are very few people in the world.
Most of you guys here, once you get passing grade, you are “Now it is time for pursuit of happiness and hold on the play station”
They are guys who got 99 and he beat himself up “How did I make that one mistake?” and it is usually not a guy but usually a girl.

At part of my career, I teach men and women in intensive Arabic program takes 6 months
The half of classes are girls and the half of classes are guys: 30 girls and 30 guys.
The sisters for 5 years have been beaten up the guys in exam score, completely, but the guys consistently have been happier.
The girls are always upset “Ustad, I knew I get 100, but I am not sure I understand fully”
And this guy got 25 and he acts “I got it! I got it”
I am dealing with 2 different species inside the classroom, completely different mindset.
So I have to tell this guys: “Wake up! Stupid! You don’t understand! Do some works!”
and I have to tell the ladies: “Calm down! You get it! Take it easy on yourself”
I never tell the guys to take it easy on themselves cause they could not possibly taking any easier.
They could not possibly happen.

So, we are up to what now?
Help me out. Let's start at bottom again!
Happiness, Cool, Popularity, Prestige, Money, Excellence
What could be above excellence?
That is impact!
I don’t care I make more money than anybody else, I don’t care what I get.
I want to do something for others, I want to leave legacy.
I knew I had limited time on this planet.
When I go, I want to leave my mark on this earth.
I want to able to say I have done something to make the world better place for other people.
I want to be people of impact.

We are talking about the non Muslim right now.
I have not talked about the believer, yet.
They are people who got MBA top school, they could make 6 figures salary right after school and they dropping those salaries and they are going to company that do social responsibility work.
They take major pain cut.
Instead believing in money, they believe far more in impact.
So they rather work for organization that helping reform education system.
So somebody be doctor and could make huge amount money, instead he spent 3 years for doctor without borders.
Have you ever heard?
You don’t make money when you go to doctor without borders.
You risk your life.
Because instead worry about what car I am going to get when the money start rolling in, he/she worried about the impact, they want to do something good.
That kind of selflessness is very very few people.
The higher level you go, the fewer people you find.
And those people are incredible human being.
They have made changes on planet.
Think people like Nelson Mandela.
They sacrifice themselves for greater good.
They don’t think about themselves, they are servant of the cause.
The people of impact are far way above the people of excellence.
Btw, excellence is automatic for these people.
Because if you want to have those kind impact, you going to push harder and harder.

You might think the highest somebody's goal is impact.
But no, there is something higher.
There is the ultimate truth.
Somebody pursue justice, somebody pursue truth.
They believe in justice and justice is something you can never fully see in the world.
Can you?
But they don't care, they going to work toward it anyway.
When you work toward something you cannot  even see, it is the hardest thing to do in the world.
If you are working toward impact, even if you see a little bit of impact, you got encourage and it is pushing you further.
When you work toward idea, the cause of justice, you may not see justice ever, ever.
How these people able to push themselves when they work toward something they never even see?
These are the most incredible resilience kind of people.
When they believe in idea, everybody think they are crazy, they don’t care, they keep going.

I want to tell you that the legacy of all prophets was actually the pursuit of truth.
They care about sharing the truth to people.
Actually we learn from Rasulullah, a lot of times on the judgment day, there are people shown up before Allah, the messengers with no follower behind them.
No follower. Not one, not two, Zero.
What did they pursuit? The truth.
How much impact did they have? Zero.
But they are still absolutely successful in the side of Allah.
Yes or no?
So we need to understand something.

Let's go back from start but focus on the last four, maybe even the last five.
When you pursue excellence, you never satisfied with who? Yourself.
The question is why you never satisfied with yourself?
Just because you want to be better? No.
If you understand Islam point of view, you never satisfied because every single point of you people is supposed to be person of impact.
You supposed to be thinking of others than yourself, that is why you never satisfied.
Allah put more responsibility on you more than you realize.

I want you to think about this, too
This also most powerful statement in QUran because it is not clearly translated. This creates a lot of problem.
La yukallifullahu nafsan lla wussaha (Al Baqarah: 286)
Allah never put burdens any individual, except …
Here the weak translation: except to their capacity.
Allah never put burden on you that you cannot bear.
Have you ever heard this before?
The Arabic would have been La yufkalifullahu nafsan illa bi wussiha, but actually illa wussaha
The meaning is completely different now.
But the true meaning is Allah has not ever put burden you with anything except your own potential.
Allah has not ever put burden you with anything except your own potential.

Think what I am saying.
Do you have potential to be better? Yes!
Could you have done more? Yes!
Could you be better? Yes!
And Allah would hold you accountable for what could have done, not the bear minimum but the maximum.
Allah wants to push yourself, push yourself, push yourself and show you what you made of.
That is the idea of pursuit here.

We are not interesting of pursuit of happiness, that is Allah gave us as side benefit.
We are not interesting in pursuit of cool because cool is lame. Everybody else is loser and you want to be loser like them.
We are not interest in pursuit of popular, because anybody who have not idea of purpose in their life, if you popular in their eyes, you are just dumb as them.
We are not interest in pursuit of prestige because prestige comes from Allah.
Prophet were made homeless, they have prestige.
These messenger were spit on and they have prestige.
We got wrong definition of prestige for so long

Now, for the pursuit of excellence, you are Muslim can not be satisfied with mediocrity.
We can not afford it.
You as believer, as Muslim, have to push yourself to better.
Whatever you’re doing.
If you are memorizing, you could be memorizing better.
If you are studying, you could be studying better.
If you are working, you could be working better.
If you are volunteering, you could be volunteering better.
Push yourself to better.

Push yourself especially when you are young, right now you have time, you don’t have much responsibility.
“But I have homework.”
Yes, that is not too much responsibility.
Responsibility will come when you get married, when you have children.

Right now, you are free.
Right now, you have freedom that will never ever happen in your life.
This is the time to push yourself.
Don’t sit back and play video game.
This is not the time to sit and watch movie, after movie.
This is not the time to be excited about the new avenger, not for you.
You have much bigger things to do.
The entire world is waiting for impact that you will have.
You can’t sit around. Everybody else can and that’s fine.
They don’t have higher pursuit.

You have to be the person of excellence because you are from now thinking about impact.
Every single young men and women should be thinking 
“What did Allah give me? What talent He did give me? What impact will I have in this planet because of it? What I am going to do with it?”
Then as you thinking about that impact and you realize what you really working toward.
You are working toward contentment, meaning with Allah.
There is ultimate truth.
You want to be able to show Allah that you did everything in your potential.
That is you want to be able to do.

You guys should have the best sleeping habits, you should have the best dietary habit, you guys should   have the best exercise schedule, you guys should be the best on your prayer, you guys should be the best on your study.
You should pushing yourself in excellence in every thing you do in life.
Every thing you do in life should be on the top.
You should not be eating junk food.
You should not be laying around, wasting tim.
Yes, you should have good time but when you play, play hard.
People see you, other kids see you, other people in college see you: “I want to be like him. Everything he does is awesome. Everything he does is the best.”
That is what ummah need: people of excellence and these people are going to have impact.

And do you know what? Our parent unfortunately never talk this latter, their highest level was prestige, maybe above prestige, money. That is where ended.
So, the only concern they have for you is prestige and money.
"Get a job so we have prestige! so we can say “Our son has a job. He is a doctor, he is this, he is this”.
And hopefully we will have a lot money so we can show it off.
That is it. That where ended for them.
And that is they talk to you all the time: “Where you going to work? How do you make money? When we buy a house?”
Is not it? Everything is prestige and money. But there are so much more in life. 
What’s above money? Excellence.
Who is going to push you to excellence?
Who’s going to think about impact?
If you all only think about money and prestige, and they died there.

How many Muslim, young men and women have gone and become doctor in Muslim community?
I love picking on doctor because they are so depressed in Muslim community and they become doctor because their daddy and momma told them.
I will not go to you if I have a problem.
I will not, I will rather go to someone who becomes physician because they love helping humanity.
They care. They do not love the next payment that come from insurance company.
You know? People of impact.

Allah said:

Human being will have nothing except the effort he made/the pursuit they had.

The pursuit of happiness.
The pursuit of cool.
The pursuit of popularity
The pursuit of prestige
The pursuit of money
The pursuit of excellence.
The pursuit of impact
The pursuit of truth.
You know the most valuable thing to Allah?
The most valuable thing to Allah of all this is pursuit, not money, not impact, not excellence.
All of those things will come, what Allah want to see from you is what?

I told you there are prophet that shown in front of Allah on judgment day with how many followers?
So they had zero impact but Allah still gave them the highest rank of Jannah. Why?
Because Allah respect their pursuit, their effort.
They are great, they are tough and they went through it.
If you have progress report for Nuh AS every year.
Let’s see growth chart on how many people become Muslim.
Nuh AS’s annual review.
How many people become Muslim every year? 950 years and like blub, the chart is not going like this (up), it is flat, maybe even goes down, people coming close and ran away.
There is no impact.
But you know what will be respected from Nuh AS?
It is his constant, constant, constant pursuit.
We have to internalize this. You guys should be people of pursuit.
We will have nothing in front of Allah if not our pursuit.

Young people listen to me, please think carefully, please think about this: what is your life going to mean?
If your life will be one video game to the next,
If your life will be next episode from the next episode, what are you pursuing?
Who cares if you got trophy on that video game or your 900% on Assassins Creed, who cares? Who cares?
What it is change for the world?
Who cares how many push up that you can do?
You have to think more than that. You have to think higher than that.
And while you were doing that, I will tell you something Allah will give you.
Allah will give you happiness.
When you really have pursuit, then your life mean something, and when your life means something it makes you happy.
When you dont have pursuit, you will not have meaning in your life, and that is why you never happy.
Doesn’t matter how much music you listen to, or how much hanging out you do or how much party you do, you just never happy, you never satisfied.
You always bored, you know not happy with yourself, etc.
This pursuit that you have to internalize.
You young people have to be people of incredible incredible pursuit.
Allah said:

I love this ayah
“That effort soon be seen” (An-Najm:40)

Let me tell you something, when you show your resume.
Somebody graduated from this school, I work here, here, I did this, this and this project.
What you put on your resume?
The result or the pursuit?
You don’t put the pursuit, you put the result.
You put that you graduated, you did not put I really work hard on final semester and I was dying to do this exam.
You don’t put that on resume, you just put I graduated.
Yes or no?
I did this project, this project and this project.
You did not put on your resume how much effort that you make to finish that project, is not it?
And sometimes you put a lot of effort and you don’t pass.
You put incredible amount of effort and it fails or you don’t get degree that you deserve or wanted.
We just see the result.

Human being, we judge each other based on what? Result!
I did not care how much effort you made, you did not get the result! You are fired!
I do not care how much effort you made, you did not pass the test, you are not graduated!
You understand?
But Allah on judgment day is not looking our report card based on result.
Allah is looking at report card based on what? Effort!
Allah said that “his effort/his pursuit that will be shown!"
It will be seen! That is remarkable! Because no other human being in this face of the earth can see my effort.
I can’t see your effort and you can’t see mine.
Only Allah see efforts.
All we see is impact.
All we see are result. We are people of result.
Subhanallah. What incredible master.

Nobody will appreciate your effort except Allah, so never underestimate your effort because other people underestimate them.
People did not appreciate the kind of work that you put in and you figure “Well, I guess it is not worth it.”
It was to Allah. It was to Allah. It was worth it to Allah.

And that part of my talk specifically to the sister because they do a lot of effort and they feel it is not going anywhere, not the guy because the guy don’t do any effort and they feel “I do a lot and I try so hard”.
You guys have to stop lying to yourself, you guys should stop telling yourself you are doing enough.
You have to stop being lazy. Shaitan is destroying you guys. You are so lazy. Stop being lazy.
Stop rationalizing to yourself. Get up and do work! Do more!
If you can’t find a job. Keep going. Keep applying! Keep applying!
Keep talking! Keep networking! Don’t stop and telling “I’ve tried everything and  it did not happen.” No, you did not try everything.
Keep pushing!
This is what you need learn to do!
Learn from your sister, man!
Hold on, I am coming to you!
You are not going to be happy after a while.
You know? Your problem...
Forget the pursuit of happiness, your problem is that you always uncertain about yourself.
You are always thinking I am not good enough.
You have to take it easy on yourself.
Not talking to you (to the guys), you are taking easy to yourself already. Masya Allah.
You (to the girls) on the other hand need to chill out.
You need to calm down.

I meet sister who is studying Islam, Quran “but I don’t have a lot of vocabulary, yet”
Yes, relax! You don’t have a lot of vocabulary. It is not the end of the world. Allah is not interesting in your result. He is interesting in what? Your effort! Your effort! Your effort! 
Stop worrying about your result! You worry too much about your result. You worry too much about what you don’t already know, not what you’ve already accomplished. Stop thinking about accomplishment and start thinking about your sincere, genuine, best possible effort and then let me tell you the result from Allah will come, will come puring but on his schedule, not yours.

Two people will make same kind amount of effort and somebody will get the fruit of their labor right away and somebody else will wait for years to see anything. It is in the hands of Allah.
“He gets so many results and I did not get any. We made same amount of effort. This is not fair.”
This is fair because the calendar belongs to Allah and all Allah want to see from you is your effort.

There are two kind of people take same exact test, this happened in my class.
One guy works extra hard, this guys study all night and all day.
He was my friend before he came to the program.
We were friends together and now I am his teacher and I’m telling him “Hey man, let’s go hang out”
“No, I’ve got to study”
“I am your teacher!”
“No, I’ve got to study. There is an exam.”
“I’ve got easy on you. I gave you extra credit. Let’s go play man”
“No, man. I’ve got to study”
This guys study day and night, day and night.
I know the effort he made, people don’t know.
But do you know what? He’s so smart in career, he’s so smart in business, he’s so smart professionally but Allah did not made this guy great in learning Arabic or something.
No matter how much he learn, he could not get high score. He could not barely pass, barely pass every time.
And the kid next to him, super genius, lazy as bum I’ve ever met. This kid is sleeping in the class all day and he gets 99 every time or 100.
It used to make me so mad.
I want to see that kid get zero. I do. I want to see that kid get zero.
The guy who studies until killing himself is failing the test.
I am as the teacher frustrated, imagine the student. I am as the teacher frustrated, how come this kid put no effort and get 100 and this guy put every possible effort and get 0 result.
It seems unfair, but do you know what? 
When both of this people come in front of Allah, and both say “I was learning Arabic for Allah. I was learning Arabic to please You, ya Rabb.”
Allah will said “Okay, let’s see what you did”
The other show 99 and other one show 20.
What most valuable to Allah that day? Oh, that 20 are priceless because Allah is not scoring by number of the page. 
What is He scoring? The effort.
That 99 maybe worth very very little because he did not make much effort to get it. He did not make much effort.

This is how Allah will judge. It is always by quality, not quantity.
People can only judge on quantity.
Allah will judge quality.
Think about quality of work you are doing, the quality of life you are living, the quality of the day you had.
What time did you wake up for fajr this morning?
What kind of breakfast did you eat??
Who did you talk to?
How you did spend your time?
What did you do?
What is quality of your day?

Fix that and insya Allah this ummah has bright future.
Because once you start thinking about the ultimate truth, and you start thinking about the impact, there are going to be ideas that comes out this room, there are going to be creativity that comes out this room, there are going to be project come out this room that are going to changes the world over.
There will be impact the world that like never been impacted before.
That is what the Muslim youth capable of. That is the young believer capable of.
May we have the right pursuit.
May Allah makes these young people the heroes of the ummah, the people of pursuit, and the next generation come back and say “Man, we want to beat them, they are gold standard.”
2 komentar on "Young People with Vision – Ustad Nouman Ali Khan Advice to Young Muslim in ICNA 2015"
  1. Good effort to write back the video.. tq

    1. Alhamdulillah :D Your welcome :D Thank you for the praise :D Hope you find it useful :)


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