Saturday, August 31, 2013

O’ Allah, grant me victory.

I am at the verge of defeat. I don’t see the spirit of warrior anymore in me. May be, it’s just about to end. It’s like the last breath. The dreams… how can one give up on dreams while being alive?

I am 27 years old now. It’s been 9 years, since I first attempted at unifying quantum mechanics with relativity. It’s been 9 years! And how soon these 9 years have gone by. I feel aged and lost.

I haven’t published a research paper in a while. The ideas have evaporated. All that is left is dead brain cells that are only good enough to lead an ordinary life. How did it happen? How did I lose so much of time without doing anything?

Today… what am I? What happened to all those dreams? Every moment, Allah was kind. I had everything. The hope, the intelligence and the angel. All that was needed was one step ahead. And I failed.

I wish.

I wish I can explain my humiliation. I wish I could scream to describe this suffocation. I stand alone. No one around me even understands my state. This feeling of losing everything. This feeling of being lost in the waves of time. This feeling of being overwhelmed by ignorance.

But it isn’t over. I can’t die in this pain. Death is inevitable. I don’t want to die as a loser, even if I die losing. Whether I succeed or not, whether I stand alone or not… I will fight against ignorance. I will fight for that identity.

Allah has not given up on me. How can I give up?

O’ Allah… I ask for a chance. I ask for help. I ask for direction. I ask for right path. I ask for forgiveness. I ask for victory. I am just Your slave and You are my master. O’ Allah Grant me the knowledge.

Friday, May 17, 2013

Visit to Madrasa-e-Faisul Quran, Kishtapur– Awakening moment

Last Sunday, I visited Madrasa-e-Faisul Quran located at Kishtapur, Pargi about 100 km away from Hyderabad. The story of Madrasa-e-Faisul Quran is amazing and heart touching. Several years ago, a liquor merchant named “Lakshmaiah” was a dominating figure in the lands of Kishtapur and surrounding villages. He had everything except the light of Imaan. He tried to fulfil the spiritual vacuum by consulting various scholars. Soon he came across Maulana Muhammed Hameed Aqil Hussami, who helped him understand the message of Islam. Allah poured imaan into the heart of Lakhmaiah. He took Shahada and took the name “Muhammed Omar Hussami”. After converting to Islam, Omar Hussami faced several challenges. But the imaan in him was so strong, that he overcame every problem with Allah’s help. He made sure all his children receive not only the basic Islamic education but also become Hafiz and Aalim. Meanwhile, Omar Hussami was confronted with the challenge of disappearance of Islam from the small villages due to lack of Masjids and Imams. He realized that, not many Imams were willing to work at small villages around Kishtapur and Pargi. Moreover, the locals of the villages were not in a position to pay salaries to Imams. One solution to this problem was, guiding the local kids to become Hafiz-e-quran.

In 1987, with a conviction that Allah’s help would arrive, Omar Hussami started a Madrasa called “Madrasa-e-Faisul Quran”. In order to start the Madrasa, Omar Hussami gave up all his wealth. In 2013, Omar Hussami passed away. May Allah grant him paradise. Today, his sons and grandsons, who have become Muftis are running the Madrasa. In last twenty six years of service, 175 Huffaz and Ulama have graduated from the Madrasa. By the grace of Allah, today the Madrasa has separate quarters to accommodate more than 200 girls and 300 boys.

To be at this place was one of the most humbling experience of my life. I stood there, looking at the institution created by a great man and the revolution he went through in his life. I felt small and guilty. As I write this, I have tears in my eyes. There is no money… there are no resources… surroundings are hostile… yet, they are able to pull off this monumental feat. 180 Kg of rice is cooked every day to feed the students. They grow onions, brinjals and tamarind in the backyard of Madrasa. Occasionally, they get some funding, with which they purchase rice. What is making these people stand tall against all the hostilities? The answer is simple. Their imaan is much higher than I can imagine. They believe in Allah. They believe that this life is temporary and preparing for afterlife is more important than worrying about the needs of this world. Subhan’Allah.

And here I am, sitting in a chilled room, writing this … and I ask myself… what am I doing with this life? What answer do I have, when I return to Allah? All my life, I have competed with others. During school, I was the school topper. During college, I topped the class and published research papers. When I started working, I was rated highly over others. Neighbours and relatives give my example to their kids. And what a fake world I was living in. Before Allah, I am among those bottom 5% category. Those people, who follow Islam but are of no good. How selfish and short sighted I have been all these years. What is my investment for afterlife? A polytheist, who sold liquor, was able to get such guidance from the book of Allah and Sunnah of Prophet … that he rose to the heights of creating an institution that would produce hundreds of Huffaz and Ulama. His progenies and their progenies become Muftis. What a blessed life he lived! I envy him. I wish I can pull off something similar.

I heard the Prophet saying, "There is no envy except in two: a person whom Allah has given wealth and he spends it in the right way, and a person whom Allah has given wisdom (i.e. religious knowledge) and he gives his decisions accordingly and teaches it to the others."

Narrated by Ibn Masud, Sahih Bukhari Volume 2, Book 24, Number 490

I feel like woken up from a bad dream. It feels like, investing all the wealth in a scam. The true investment is the investment for the afterlife. And I have got nothing allocated to that afterlife fund. I don’t know, how much more life, I have been granted. But I want to make the most of it. I want to grab every opportunity that is out there. I am thankful to the capabilities that Allah has given me and I would deeply regret if I don’t make the best use of it. There is so much to do. There are millions suffering of hunger and poverty. There are millions who are unemployed and exploited. There are millions who are misguided and fooled. There is certainly so much to do. I want to impress Allah. And this life is worth living for impressing Allah. And to start with, let me supplicate Allah through the awesome prayer of Prophet Mohammed (ﷺ)…

The Prophet () used to supplicate Allah: "My Lord, help me and do not give help against me; grant me victory, and do not grant victory over me; plan on my behalf and do not plan against me; guide me, and make my right guidance easy for me; grant me victory over those who act wrongfully towards me; O Allah, make me grateful to Thee, mindful of Thee, full of fear towards Thee, devoted to Thy obedience, humble before Thee, or penitent. My Lord, accept my repentance, wash away my sin, answer my supplication, clearly establish my evidence, guide my heart, make true my tongue and draw out malice in my breast."

Narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas, Abu Dawud Book 8, Number 1505.

Friday, May 3, 2013

A True Wake Up Call

At around 4:00 PM today, I was driving to Microsoft office, on an empty road between In-Orbit Mall and Gachibowli and I don’t know, what happened, suddenly my bike went out of control. I was driving around 80kms per hour speed and the road was completely empty. I realized that, I am over-speeding as there is a turn is ahead. As I hit the brakes, the back tyre started shaking, throwing me out of balance and the bike started skidding. 15 meters before was a large pit with lots of large stones and around the corner of the pit was a sand dune and some grass. It’s just the matter of milliseconds that I am about to fall in a pit with large granite stones. The heart-beat is stopped and I am putting as much pressure as possible using my right leg on the breaks. The bike doesn’t stop. The bike is skidding and I don’t have any control. There is no feeling about, what going to happen. Typically, in movies, during these moments, you see the face of a beautiful girl fading away… or something like that. But all I could see was those merciless sharp granite stones, that I am about to hit. And few milliseconds later…

Boom. I have hit the sand dune. My one leg was under the bike. I was wearing helmet, so I knew my head was safe. And for few seconds, I went completely blank. I don’t know, what’s just happened. The blazing sun, the weight of the bike on my leg and the shock. I slightly lifted the vehicle to pull-out my leg and lied on back there for few seconds. The front tyre of the bike was hanging in the air and somehow the bike has stopped just before falling into the pit. A car stopped and a person came over to help me. I was gave him a sign that I am alright. He pulled the vehicle aside. As I stood up, there was a strange shiver throughout my body. I could have hit those sharp granites and had the bones of my body broken. I could have bruised by whole body while skidding. And how merciful Allah has been to save me from the danger. All I found was few bruises to my right leg. There is a little swelling now but overall, I guess, I am alright.

Three hours have passed by since the incident and it having a psychological effect on me. If not death, I would have been badly injured. As dramatic has last three days have been, this is the real wake-up call. It’s like, I have been told, “Do what you have promised or make an exit from this world”. Or maybe, Allah wanted to give me a warning that, time is running out, realize the value of the time that I have in hand and make amendments to life. A realization that, “how insignificant I am, when the things go out of control” is slowing sinking in. May be, this is what people refer to ‘near death experience’. In just the matter of few milliseconds, my life would have changed dramatically. But Allah saved me.

Generally, whenever such an incident happens, people speak about, how they have realized, how valuable the people around me are, how they have ignored the relationships and how they would get back to people. Well, I have a complete opposite feeling. I don’t want to describe now, why I have such feeling. I would let some actions speaks on my behalf.

Tonight I would have been in pain at a hospital surrounded by family and relatives, but here I am, all hail and healthy. This is a gift of Allah. I must do everything to make best use of this opportunity that Allah has given me.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

My Lord, Increase me in knowledge

Tonight, I am supposed to be partying and hanging out with friends, yet here I am, all alone, thinking about the time that has gone by. The more I look at the past, the more hurt I am, at the way I have spent all these years. In Holy Quran, Allah says

By the time, surely man is in loss, except those who believe and do good, and exhort one another to Truth, and exhort one another to patience”.

And I look at the time I have spent, I am certainly at loss. So much at loss that, I feel ashamed at myself. Every minute and every day that I have wasted, today appears as the mountains of gold that I failed to make my own. And with time, I am becoming more and more ineffective. The confidence to produce big ideas is diminishing. The ability to self-assure on the possibility of big break-through has drastically decreased. I don’t know, how far I can push myself. Mediocrity has been creeping into my actions and words.

Surely, I have had lot of opportunities in life that I have failed to convert into big. Laziness, distractions, lack of persistence and so on, have all contributed to my failures.

I have categorized the issues that are impacting me and have formulated a plan to overcome them. The most damaging issue has been laziness. Life is too short to be lazy. Following is my plan to combat laziness and distractions:

  • · Perform Salah five times a day, on time. Among the thousands of advantages of Salah, one of them is ‘discipline’. Excess the progress after every Salah. I am accountable to every minute I spent.
  • · Supplicate Allah to increase knowledge. Prophet Mohammed (ﷺ) used to supplicate Allah by repeatedly saying “Rabbi Zidni Ilma” (My Lord, improve me in knowledge”)
  • · Supplicate Allah to make me part of His plan. Found this beautiful prayer of Prophet Mohammed (ﷺ) in Abu Dawud Book 8, Number 1505, narrated Abdullah ibn Abbas:

The Prophet (ﷺ) used to supplicate Allah: "My Lord, help me and do not give help against me; grant me victory, and do not grant victory over me; plan on my behalf and do not plan against me; guide me, and make my right guidance easy for me; grant me victory over those who act wrongfully towards me; O Allah, make me grateful to Thee, mindful of Thee, full of fear towards Thee, devoted to Thy obedience, humble before Thee, or penitent. My Lord, accept my repentance, wash away my sin, answer my supplication, clearly establish my evidence, guide my heart, make true my tongue and draw out malice in my breast."

I pray to Allah that, to accept my prayers and make me a better person.

O’ Allah, the King of the universe, the Master of the universe and the God of all mankind, I am your humble slave. I am nothing but Your creation. To You I worship and to You I ask for help. Make my stay on the earth meaningful. Grant me knowledge to overcome ignorance. Make me powerful to help the weak. I have done things that are unworthy and deeply shameful, O’ Allah, kindly forgive me. You are repeatedly forgiving. You are the best forgiver of Allah. O’ Allah, you have said that, your kindness precedes anger. Don’t make me part of your anger. Forgive my sins and lead me to the right path. Direct me when I am lost and energize me when I am on the right path. Push me away from the distractions. Give me refugee from the evil whisperings of Satan. You are the best planner of all and Your plan never fails. Make me victorious as part of Your plan. I want to make discoveries and inventions. I want to lead this civilization towards knowledge. My Lord, improve my knowledge. Make me the most knowledgeable among the men that are alive.

Friday, February 1, 2013

Chief Technology Officer– High Level Career Development Plan

From last few days, I was working on my career development plan at Microsoft. Career planning is an iterative process and it keeps updating with time. Here’s the high level plan I have come up with so far. I will be blogging more details about each aspect of this plan soon.

Long term goals (10 years): By 2023, I would like to be the CTO of a large scale organization.

Short term goal (5 years): By 2018, I would like to be an Enterprise Software Architect.

Career development plan:

Personal Traits

  1. Be recognized as trustworthy and truthful person. Untrustworthy and fake people never succeed in long term.
  2. Be available to team members. Work selflessly. Nobody wants to work with people who always ask for credit.
  3. Be helpful to others in the best capacity. There is always a return for being helpful.
  4. Undergo voice modulation training. (Learn how to modulate Pitch, Pace and Power based on situation).
  5. Work on Ego-management. Be driving but not aggressive.
  6. Take responsibility during failures and share credit with others during wins.
  7. Avoid short cuts.

Community & Networking:

  1. Participate in the discussions in the technical communities and establish a reputation for being the 'go-to' person (SME) in at least 3 technologies.
  2. Build a network and stay connected with various SMEs on various forums.
  3. Participate in Business and Technical Conferences
  4. Identify a group of trusted individuals who can advise/suggest/mentor on technical/professional issues.
  5. Mentor people.

Technical Expertize:

  1. Invest in being technical SME in at least 3 major technologies.
  2. Be an enterprise architect.
  3. Keep up to date with the latest technologies, tools and techniques (at least Level 100)
  4. Become hands-on with programming.
  5. Learn to strike balance for 'time, scope, cost and quality' for projects.

Business Acumen:

  1. Invest in Financial & Business Education (CTO is a bridge between technology and business)
  2. Keep up to date with the trends of Industry and market. Read Gartner reports regularly.
  3. Interact with various CTOs inside and outside of Microsoft.
  4. Participate in business and political discussions related to IT industry.

Big Picture:

  1. Understand the 360 degree view of the organization.
  2. Develop a 'Trust but verify' approach with people.
  3. Understand business problems and identify technical solutions. Be the bridge.
  4. Raise above the organisational politics.
  5. Be a strategist and articulate the vision.

Sunday, January 20, 2013

I am no hero, I am no warrior

“I am no hero, I am no warrior,

I just have the patience to burn”

I am losing. Losing a portion of my dream every day. I don’t know, how much of it is left. Ideas have become scarce, confidence is extremely low, courage to push myself has drastically decreased… I don’t know, if this is the time to call ‘quits’. Deep inside, every day, I keep frowning at the way I am living life. Every hour that gets wasted pierces through my soul. But what should I do?

I am unable to write research papers. I am unable to produce new ideas. I have lost the love of my life. I don’t know where she is and I don’t even have courage to talk to her. I have failed to keep all the promises that I have made to people around me. Probably, they have forgotten but I haven’t. I was never meant to be ordinary. And for making this life ‘ordinary’, I have myself to blame.

Long ago, when I was a little kid, I read a story of an old man, who is alone on a rainy night, on the verge of death… and he cries in pain about all the time he has lost. He remembers his youth, his courage, his confidence and he wonders why he failed to achieve anything. He looks outside, at the sky, through a tiny window. Within the clouds, through the brightness of a lightening, there appears an angels. The angel resembles the love of his life. He recollects the moments he had spent with her. And then tears flow from his eyes. He remembers the moments, when she was snatched away from him. And how much he wished to be with her. He remembers his attempts at succeed in life and regain her. He sheds more tears. But else can be do? He has lost away all his life and now, he has no one but himself to blame. He repeatedly asks himself, why he ended up living an ordinary life. He has no answers. It’s too late to do anything. He waits for death. But the death doesn’t come easily. And he keep recounting every bit of life that he has wasted away. I remember translating this story of the old man from Urdu to English. I am increasingly getting a feeling that, my life would turn into that.

Last five years have been extremely tragic. During this time, I have lived two lives. One life within my heart and other life outside. Both the lives have no connect with each other. Sometimes, I try to figure out, how one life can exist with other and it all falls apart. The problem is that, just like that old man, I am failing to give shape to the life in the heart. I am failing to convert my dreams into reality. I am failing. And in the process I am losing myself.

At the same time, I am living a life outside. A lot of people have been associated with me in this life. I don’t know, if I ever will be able to explain them about my other life that exists in my heart. I don’t know, if they ever will be able to understand my frustration and humiliation. But then, I don’t want my depression to have any impact on anyone who is associated with me in this outer life.

I know, I am sounding all confused and out of mind. But, I don’t want to sit at my death bed and recollect this life as a waste of time. I don’t want ordinariness to creep into my life. If sacrifices are to be made, this is the time.

A man needs isolation to connect with himself. I don’t know, how long this isolation lasts.