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58th Annual ISNA Convention - Questions & Answers Session with Javed Ahmed Ghamidi

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    [Hassan Ilyas] In the Name of Allah, the
    Most Merciful, the Most Compassionate.
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    Assalamu alaikum I am Mohammad
    Hassan Ilyas and right now
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    we are in Dallas at the Ghamdi Centre of
    Islamic Learning.
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    ISNA which is the oldest organization
    of Muslims in America.
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    ISNA is having its annual convocation but
    physical participation
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    was hampered due to Covid-19.
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    The organizers requested that we should
    record
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    some conversations with Ghamidi Sahab.
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    for the participants of this convocation
    and
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    that these conversations are related
    to the socio-religious challenges
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    facing Muslims within the United States.
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    Today we are here for this purpose,
    and we are having with us
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    Mr. Javed Ahmad Ghamdi Sahab
    Asalamu alaikum.
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    [Javed Ahmad Ghamidi]
    Walikum Asalam
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    [Ilyas] Ghamidi Sahab, thank you
    very much for your time.
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    At this time you are being heard by people
    associated with ISNA all over the world
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    and especially the Muslim community in
    America.
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    I would like to ask you first,
    that 57 years ago today,
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    the foundation of this organization was
    laid
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    as "The Islamic Society of North America”,
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    which is a group of Muslims who settled
    in Western countries
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    and then became part of the community
    and through the systematic efforts
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    of their organization, they tried to
    advance their mission and vision
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    by way of helping the people to develop
    social capital and education.
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    How do you see this whole idea and
    please help us with
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    your personal opinion about ISNA?
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    [Ghamidi] This is an extraordinary
    achievement, and
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    it should be greatly appreciated.
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    Wherever we go, the needs of human society
    come to the fore.
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    When we move to a foreign place or a
    foreign society
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    or a place where our culture, tradition,
    civilization is not being followed,
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    we will face difficulties there.
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    These problems can be social, cultural
    and sometimes psychological.
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    The best way out of all these problems
    for a Muslim or any other nation,
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    is to organize its own community.
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    People who are associated with it, who
    belong to the same tradition,
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    who come from the same background, not
    only do they understand their issues,
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    but also have a special background which
    aids them in resolving them.
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    With all these things in mind, creating
    such organizations and
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    creating a bond between them, even if it
    is more than one, it does not matter.
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    However, the ideal situation is that
    wherever Muslims go,
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    only one organization should come into
    existence because such organizations
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    have no ideological aspect.
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    The reason for establishing these
    organizations is to check,
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    if Muslims have any specific needs
    as a community.
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    Such organizations are formed keeping in
    view the aforementioned objectives.
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    So in my opinion it is difficult to create
    unity in the organizations that are
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    formed on the basis of ideology or in
    which there are ideological discussions
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    and perhaps there is no need for it
    as well.
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    [Ilyas] okay
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    [Ghamidi] Their goal is that they address
    your mind and in this respect,
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    for example, there are different
    groups, sects among Muslims,
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    there is a difference in thinking, which
    leads to formation of an organisation,
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    as well as institutions.
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    but as a community, Muslim too face
    some challenges.
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    For instance to help Muslims in managing
    their mosques, guiding them in matters
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    of fasting and prayers, and meeting their
    needs in regard to Hajj and ‘Umrah,
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    or in the case of funeral arrangements,
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    if all these needs are put in front of
    them and their general education
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    is made the goal, that is, something on
    which there is no disagreement.
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    As we usually say, elementary education is
    broad-based.
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    If an organization is formed, I think it
    is of paramount importance.
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    You may be aware, we in India
    once had reputed scholars
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    who put forward the view that now that
    Muslims' political system has collapsed
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    so, there should be a collective system
    for Muslims of the subcontinent.
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    This dream could not be
    achieved,
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    but when the Muslims have come out of
    one place and they have started residing
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    in different countries, I think that
    such organizations
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    must exist and in my opinion they
    should try to transcend themselves
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    from differences of opinion as regards
    ideologies,
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    whether there are intellectual
    differences, juristic differences or
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    differences of any kind.
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    The topics that should be discussed here
    are those that the whole community needs,
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    what the Muslim society as a whole
    needs.
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    What their cultural traditions need, what
    they need regarding agreed-upon festivals.
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    Keeping all these things in view that
    are agreed upon,
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    establishing such a system is a necessity
    to me as air and water are needed.
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    [Ilyas] So we will continue this topic.
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    I will state that most of your listeners
    are Muslims
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    in the United States at this time.
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    I will also ask you a few questions
    which we have received from them
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    so that you can put forward your point of
    view about those who immigrated
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    to the United States in large
    number during 1960 -1970’s.
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    They brought their religious and cultural
    tradition here, but for the new generation
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    we see that their is a crisis about
    religious tendencies, cultural aspects,
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    social backgrounds, clothing,
    everything.
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    Please, tell me that how parents should
    persuade their children in these issues,
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    so that they should stick to the
    same ideas and principles.
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    I'll offer an example: we know in western
    countries the dress code is different
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    and our Muslim cultural backgrounds have
    different dress codes.
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    So how will the Muslim parents who
    have settled here, convince their children
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    wear simple and decent clothes as
    was the traditions back home?
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    [Ghamidi] The first thing is that wherever
    the parents come from,
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    they have brought their tradition
    with them, their way of life,
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    their way of conversing and
    how they live.
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    The child observes this same
    manner.
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    In the first stage, I always say that how
    the parents want their children to become
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    they should become an example of the same
    in their home and their society,
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    because children will see their parents
    and when they will see them,
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    after that the first thing they do when
    they see them,
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    and what they may not feel the need
    to do in their home countries,
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    is to create awareness of their own
    cultural traditions.
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    One thing is for sure, whether you
    were born in Morocco, or
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    in the subcontinent or somewhere in
    the Arab world, and
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    you have lived in the traditions that
    were there and we automatically tend
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    to adopt these traditions and there is
    not much hesitation about accepting
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    the things that are going on
    in a society or its surrounding.
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    But every time you go to another
    society,
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    whatever you choose or insist on, requires
    a reasoning and an argument behind it,
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    so everyone should know when he is
    going to another country,
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    that if he has a religious tradition,
    what is the reason behind it?
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    If he’s following certain cultural mores,
    what is the history behind it?
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    The way one dresses, engages with people,
    and interacts with others it should be
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    known as to what are the
    foundations of that?
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    The first thing is that the parents
    themselves should create
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    awareness about it.
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    In other words, they should educate
    themselves.
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    They should arrange for their education
    in these matters.
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    In our case, I have submitted to you that
    these things are usually adopted
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    by observing the society, hearing from the
    parents, which is not
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    a conscious decision, so it should
    be turned into a conscious activity.
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    Once upon a time, some of our scholars
    used the term that a Muslim needs to be
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    not just Muslim but a conscious Muslim,
    that is, if he renews his faith,
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    then the renewal of faith has not been
    said here in
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    any jurisprudential sense.
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    Rather, it is being said in the sense
    that you have to know yourself,
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    you have to develop self-knowledge
    and self-identity.
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    If you are a Muslim,
    why you are a Muslim?
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    If you have a cultural background, then
    what is the state of it?
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    What arguments do you have for accepting
    those cultural conditions?
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    You should have knowledge
    pertaining to these things.
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    Obviously, not all people have the same
    aptitude for knowledge,
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    so they should try to understand as
    much as they can.
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    They should try to educate their children
    about the same and
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    they should rationally present these
    things to their children.
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    To suggest that they'll convince them
    through force, won't be possible today
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    Perhaps those times have passed.
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    These things are no longer possible
    in our own countries or even globally.
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    We have entered a world in which each
    and every culture
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    is becoming part of a global civilization
    in spite of their differing identities.
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    And when such a
    situation arises, then you have to explain
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    why you have adopted all those
    things that you have.
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    In this scenario, you can no longer
    rely on parental authority.
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    Then you should try to find out what
    background you are from.
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    You may be from a Persian background
    or you may be from an Arab background,
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    you may be from the subcontinent.
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    Wherever you are from, your Islamic
    language, you might wonder how a language
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    can be divided into Islamic and
    non-Islamic?
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    Of course it is...
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    How is it so?
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    Just as we urge people in our own
    countries to learn the English language.
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    What is the reason behind that?
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    The reason is that it has become the
    language of modern sciences.
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    There are other languages of modern
    knowledge too but we are referring
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    to that language through which many new
    sciences are now reaching us
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    and if we want access those sciences,
    then we too must master that language.
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    In the same way, our religion
    came to Arabia, that is,
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    I mean the form of Islam that we
    have received through
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    Muhammad, the Messenger of God (pbuh)
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    It is the religion of all the Prophets,
    and it has always been Islam.
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    But when it was renewed by the
    Prophet (pbuh) and then it was
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    given to the world and the Quran
    was revealed in Arabic,
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    the Prophet (pbuh) himself addressed us
    in this language.
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    Hence, all our sciences began in this
    language. Then came the second period
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    of Persian language and then after that
    Urdu language got this status.
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    It is also a case with some other
    languages that they have their
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    own religious background but if you
    look carefully whatever knowledge
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    has come about with respect to religion
    those great people have
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    written in these languages only and it has
    come into existence through them.
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    So, at least, one of these languages must
    necessarily be taught to children.
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    It is also important because you want to
    explain your religion, because
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    you also want to transmit your culture,
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    and you want to keep them connected to
    your traditions.
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    It is also important because a person’s
    memory is shaped by his past
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    and you don’t want to see them alienated
    from the past.
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    These things have their respective
    background and
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    they embody themselves in
    the fabric of language.
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    In other words, language is not just
    a means of communication.
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    It is a big mistake of people to think
    that there are such-and-such facts
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    and If you translate them into such-and
    such language, the issue will be resolved
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    It doesn't end there. It means that when
    an advanced level of knowledge is created,
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    it is expressed via the pens and mouths of
    highly intellectual people.
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    And unless and until people are in
    a position to benefit from them directly,
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    after reaching a certain level of
    knowledge,
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    an individual is not influenced by their
    thought.
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    Parents will play a role in teaching their
    children,
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    will learn from their surroundings.
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    People will learn from their teachers.
    Then once those big questions arise,
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    then it is important that they are aware
    of the intellectual heritage of Muslims.
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    and get to know its great people so that
    they can benefit from the intelligentsia.
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    It is the intelligentsia that keeps you
    connected to its culture,
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    religious traditions and to its
    ideology, if it has one.
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    I always give my
    own example that when
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    I was trained by my parents, I understood
    some things and observed other things.
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    Right from the beginning I got acquainted
    with Abul Kalam Azad,
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    Iqbal, Syed Abul A’al Sahab Maududi and
    Shibli Nomani.
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    These were the elders with
    whom I got acquainted,
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    whose writings came to light and
    I had access to their writings.
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    As a result, there was no need for me
    to fall back on may parents for my doubts.
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    We must also realize this need and
    provide educational opportunities
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    to our children accordingly.
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    [Ilyas] Totally, I would like to conclude
    with last two questions.
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    The children nowadays studying in
    High schools, Universities and Colleges;
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    they have a common question to which
    parents have no answer which
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    is that if they are choosing a partner
    for marriage,
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    they argue that there are non-Muslims
    just as there are Muslims,
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    in that they have good morals, they are
    also doing good deeds,
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    they are also doing charity work, so what
    is the reason that a Muslim boy
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    or girl at the time of getting married,
    should choose a muslim partner
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    as religion has made it obligatory for
    them to choose only from the Muslims.
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    Is their any rational explanation to it
    which the parents can present?
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    [Ghamidi] You said that they have
    good morals and good education.
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    Why do they need these things?
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    Because these are some values on
    which you are not ready to compromise.
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    Which means that a functional home would
    be possible only with good values.
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    It means that morality is an issue
    for you.
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    You value it. You want to look for it.
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    You call it a necessity of life.
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    Same is the case with religion.
    If religion is your concern,
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    if you think that the decision is to be
    based on religion and this decision
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    is to be made on the Day of Judgment and
    my children have to adhere
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    to a religion and my society has to
    be molded by a religion
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    then that means that religion is
    an issue for you.
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    If religion matters to you, then it
    should matter to you
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    in marriage as well.
    It is a very simple rational point.
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    And should be looked at like that.
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    There are those things that I consider
    important,
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    those that I consider to be a cause for
    concern,
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    are the sort of things that I analyse.
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    I will analyse the values of the other
    person whom I have to marry
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    I have to marry.
    I want to build a home.
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    It’s a lifelong decision.
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    I will have children.
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    They have to learn.
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    So the real issue is that religion is no
    longer relevant for children.
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    Religion is no longer a part of
    their intellect,
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    their thoughts and their life.
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    They see that the parents want to force
    them to adhere to their religion
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    and this again raises the question in
    front of them as to why religion
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    should become an obstacle in the way
    of what they like and who they love.
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    This question will continue to come up
    until we present religion to our children
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    in such a way that it does becomes
    constitutive in a moral way
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    of their intellectual and cultural being.
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    When that happens, they will stop
    posing such questions.
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    [Hassan] Please will you also shed light
    on whether Muslims
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    should be involved in the local or
    national politics of the United States,
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    It is often suggested that there are a few
    major parties that have their own
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    manifestos and there are things in those
    manifestos that are also against Islam,
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    so if a person becomes a part of these
    parties and
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    becomes active in local politics,
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    then is that an issue from a
    religious point of view?
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    [Ghamidi] Of course, that should be the
    case.
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    I ask you to consider the countries you
    come to as your own once
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    you have acquired their citizenship.
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    You should feel a sense of belonging
    and loyalty to that land.
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    You should think about the development
    of that country and
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    when you have all these things in mind,
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    then if you have a political acumen in
    you, then you will definitely
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    participate in politics. In our culture,
    most people are still associated
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    with the politics of their former
    countries and mentally
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    they are still living in the countries
    of their birth.
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    They should be fully integrated to the
    land they have chosen for themselves.
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    They must understand the politics and
    conditions of the land they belong to and
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    should participate in political parties.
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    In democratic countries, it is accepted
    that you can live with different opinions.
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    Explain your differences of opinion and
    if you are huge in number,
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    then you will start affecting those
    manifestos as well.
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    It will also affect its cultural outcome.
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    If you will remain unrelated, then you
    will only suffer the consequences.
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    You will have no share in it.
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    That’s why in my opinion if people are
    having a political acumen,
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    they must participate.
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    [Hassan] Alright. Finally, I would like
    a message from you
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    and we will end with the same
    message.
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    We are well aware that our religion
    has covered everything
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    related to a human being and his or
    her ethical life.
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    Do you think that Muslims should learn
    something from
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    the western culture and society after
    they have become a part of it
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    and if that is the case, then what are
    those things that they should learn?
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    [Ghamidi] They have come because there
    is some attraction for them here,
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    that is, how these societies have
    made their journey,
  • 17:30 - 17:34
    how they have gone through different
    stages, how they have moved on from
  • 17:34 - 17:35
    their past errors.
  • 17:35 - 17:39
    What happened to them
    when the Renaissance took place
  • 17:39 - 17:44
    and what consequences did they face
    when there was revival of the sciences?
  • 17:44 - 17:51
    What affects has modern science, its
    inventions and
  • 17:51 - 17:54
    discoveries had on their minds?
  • 17:55 - 17:59
    We should study the consequences those
    discoveries have had on our societies.
  • 17:59 - 18:00
    There is a lot to learn.
  • 18:01 - 18:04
    The fact is that it’s not just about the
    inventions.
  • 18:04 - 18:10
    It is not only airplane, the Internet,
    radio and television that
  • 18:10 - 18:12
    have had serious consequences.
  • 18:12 - 18:17
    Extraordinary work has been carried out
    in the social sciences or sociology.
  • 18:17 - 18:20
    Similarly, how should the organization of
    the society be?
  • 18:20 - 18:24
    How should the political system be
    established from the bottom to the top?
  • 18:24 - 18:28
    The institutes that are constituted for
    running a political system like
  • 18:28 - 18:32
    legislature, executive and judiciary and
    what will be their mutual roles.
  • 18:32 - 18:35
    There is a lot to learn from these things.
  • 18:35 - 18:37
    A believer should always be
    willing to learn.
  • 18:37 - 18:41
    Knowledge cannot be divided into
    West or East.
  • 18:41 - 18:45
    The correct rule is that the Al hikmatu
    zaalatul moomin.
  • 18:46 - 18:51
    The job of a believer is to understand
    everything in the light of his religion,
  • 18:51 - 18:55
    to understand it in terms of his cultural
    values,
  • 18:55 - 19:00
    and take whatever is right in it as his
    own inheritance.
  • 19:00 - 19:06
    And if there is something wrong, be
    it even in our own culture or society,
  • 19:06 - 19:09
    it is our moral duty
    to point out those shortcomings.
  • 19:09 - 19:12
    Same should be the case here
    in these societies,
  • 19:12 - 19:15
    We will be of service here in a similar
    manner.
  • 19:15 - 19:18
    It can be the case that those things that
    are wrong according to us,
  • 19:18 - 19:25
    even if we understand the right and stand
    with it and explain the mistake,
  • 19:25 - 19:29
    then this society and its future
    generations will also be grateful to us.
  • 19:29 - 19:31
    [Hassan] We are out of time, Ghamidi
    sb.
  • 19:31 - 19:34
    We included Ghamidi sahab
    remotely in the annual convocation
  • 19:34 - 19:37
    of Islamic Society of North America ISNA,
  • 19:37 - 19:40
    and his thoughts reached
    all the participants.
  • 19:40 - 19:44
    We are thankful on behalf of the
    organization as well
  • 19:44 - 19:46
    for allowing us to express our
    views.
  • 19:46 - 19:48
    Insha’Allah, if we ever get a
    chance,
  • 19:48 - 19:50
    we will listen directly to
    Ghamidi Saab in this convocation.
  • 19:50 - 19:52
    Thank you very much
    for your time.
  • 19:52 - 19:53
    [Ghamidi] Thank you very much.
Title:
58th Annual ISNA Convention - Questions & Answers Session with Javed Ahmed Ghamidi
Description:

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Video Language:
Urdu
Duration:
20:03

English subtitles

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