My name is Duriya Shk Aziz Shakir and I live in Singapore. I am Senior Vice President and Publisher, International Education in a company that is the world’s largest publisher and distributor of children’s books and media. In terms of education, I have a BA (English Language and Literature), MA (Education Planning and Policy), MBA and PhD (Applied Linguistics, Education Policy). However, what is more significant is that all of the above has been achieved with and due to the explicit raza mubarak and dua mubarak of Aqa Sydena Mohammed Burhanuddin Saheb RA and in later days, Aqa Maula Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin Saheb TUS. The barakat of this raza mubarak and dua mubarak has ensured that my education and professional career have been driven by a singular motivation – the desire to do khidmat and devote my all to Aqa Mohammed Burhanuddin RA and now, Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS. All the achievements have but been by-products and consequences of dua mubarak of both Maula. I never set out to be the great career woman – I have always been happiest at home, but I believe that both Maula have guided me in my education and career so that I may achieve my aim of khidmat and devotion to Maula and my family. I did not start out with lofty aims – I just wanted to do literature – but Maulas’ dua and raza mubarak have lifted the mundane and elevated it with divine noor and nazar.
At age 18, with raza and dua mubarak of Aqa Mohammed Burhanuddin RA (the heart still baulks and is unaccepting of writing RA after Maula’s name), I got married and moved to Singapore. An all rounder and academic high performer thus far, I became a ‘drop out’ in my FYBA at St Xavier’s College, Mumbai. People – outsiders and well wishers – were shocked that my parents had made this decision for me, many advised them to reconsider – to not ‘destroy my future’.
Then my two beloved sons happened. I was totally immersed in my family life. Totally happy being devoted wife, mother, daughter, daughter-in-law. Found plenty of things to do for intellectual satisfaction. Ten years after marriage, and two children later, I went back to school – with the raza mubarak of Aqa Burhanuddin RA.
In my first year – it was the year 1415 – we lost our beloved Ummul Mumineen, Amatullah Aisaheba QR – and Maula Burhanuddin RA after this unbearable loss travelled to Karbala for Milaad e Maimoon. I was blessed to be able to join the safar mubarak. But it was one month before the first year exams. Leaving Karbala, I did araz to Maula RA for dua mubarak and He blessed me with a smile. Back in Singapore, tired from the journey via Amman, I fell very ill. Unable to study, I lost confidence in my ability to give the exam. My husband reassured me telling me that the worst that could happen would be that I would fail and even then, he would still love me so what did I have to lose! A few days before the exam, I was really panicked. I took vasila of Aqa Burhanuddin RA, did vuzu and went to bed. I awoke in the middle of the night – it was as if someone woke me up. I found questions formed in my mind. I wrote them down and then wrote out answers to those questions. It is nearly 20 years since, but I still remember vividly my shock as I picked up the exam paper – the very questions that had ‘appeared’ to me that night were on the paper. And I could exactly visualize the ‘model’ answers that I had written. Thanks to Maula RA, for that paper, I scored full marks – unprecedented in the history of the university – but I know I had a guardian angel looking out for me.
In my final year at university, I was offered a job as an Assistant Editor at Longman. I did araz for raza mubarak. Maula (RA) graciously granted raza with the caveat, “ Lihaz aney haya nu kheyaal rahey”. I graduated from university that year, summa cum laude and gold medalist – all because of the raza mubarak and dua of Aqa Maula RA. During the final year too, in 1997, Singapore was blessed with Maula’s RA safar to Singapore. During Maula’s RA visit to our home, I did araz to Maula RA asking whether I should do a fourth year Honours or finish the course in 3 years and go on to do a Masters. Maula RA said, “Bhai Qusai si rai keri ne pachi puch maney.” Shezada Qusai Bhaisaheb DM listened to what I had to say and his advice was to pursue a Masters. In Singapore itself, Maula RA gave raza mubarak for Masters.
As Maula RA left Singapore, He left behind manifold barakat. One of which was the offer of a new, better paid job. Went to Nairobi for Ashara Mubaraka and there received raza mubarak, again with the same caveat. Was fortunate by then to have been granted sharaf of adna khidmat of Al Jamea tus Saifiyah by Omora al Jamea – and thus started my real education. As I was doing my Masters – my specialization was in Literature – I became increasingly uncomfortable – advanced literary studies requires you to look at every text as a human construct and asks you to deconstruct each text for ideology and motivations. Where does this end, I asked myself? How can every text be considered a human construct? What about kalemaat nooraniyah? I was disturbed to the point that I could not attend lectures any longer. Shazada Qusai Bhaisaheb advised me to change my specialization. So I did araz that I could do Materials Development in Language Teaching as a specialization. Maula RA granted raza mubarak and this led to success professionally as this soon became a qualification that was highly sought after.
Within two and a half years, I went from Editor to Managing Editor – promoted four times in that period – I believe it was due to the barakat of Maula’s dua mubarak in both my studies and career. With a change in management at my workplace then, came a change in values and vision. I felt compelled to leave my job. Finding another job was not easy. But, the day after Ashura in the year 2001, Ashara Mubaraka was in Houston that year – I got a call from my former supervisor, offering me a job. Again, Maula’s raza mubarak was sought and granted, with the same caveat. The company sponsored my MBA, Maula RA granted raza mubarak.
Meanwhile, I had the opportunity to write a couple of textbooks. I did araz for raza mubarak with details of the royalty that was being offered. Maula RA said, “Itna thora kem aape che. Barabar apwa joiye.” Maula’s RA kelaam gave me the courage to go back and renegotiate with the publishers and I was given more royalty percentage.
Maula RA did Aid ul Adha in Dubai and my son Huzaifa was there. He did qadambosi of Shazada Qusai Bhaisaheb DM who asked him – Ammi PhD kivarey karey che? I was tired having come thus far. Did not want to study any more. However, my husband persisted – insisted that I should do it because he believed I had the capability to do it. So once again, Maula RA graciously granted raza mubarak. It gave me the greatest pleasure to complete my doctoral research and dedicate it to Maula RA as my personal celebration of Milaad e Meavi.
As I took raza for my viva, Ameer al Jamea, Shazada Qasimbhaisaheb Hakimuddin DM said to me, “Take Maula’s RA photo with you and take barakat of his chehra Mubarak before answering each question.” And so I put the photo on the cover of my dissertation. At the station, awaiting the train to Leeds for my viva later in the morning, I was faced with the grim reality that the train was cancelled due to ‘inclement weather’. I was advised to jump into another train and change trains mid way. Seated in the train, super panicked, not knowing if I would make it to my viva on time, I glanced at Maula’s photo and beseeched him for help. The gentleman seated across from me asked me what the matter was. I explained. He smiled and said he was the governor of the university. He called and informed staff that I might be delayed and organized for me to be picked up at the station and be brought to the university. Glancing at Maula’s RA photo as I gave each answer, I felt a sense of peace and calm, as I remembered obscure details of my research – which surprised even me.
And then, Ashara Mubaraka in the year of Milaad e Meavi – I was approached by my current company. As always, made araz in Hazrat Imamiyah for guidance. Maula RA gave raza mubarak with two caveats: You will not uproot yourself and your family. You will continue to do khidmat. The company, which is headquartered in New York, decided to set up a centre of excellence in research and development in education in Singapore.
But the pinnacle of all this, what has made the journey and the travails worthwhile is, that not soon after, I received the azeem and extraordinary sharaf of doing ziafat of Maula Mohammed Burhanuddin RA in my own personal capacity as muminaah, using my own savings. The feeling is incredible. There can be no greater happiness, no greater wish that can be fulfilled. I thought to myself then, as I do now, that there is nothing greater that I could ever ask of Allah t’ala.
And as was Maula Mohammed RA, so is Maula Mufaddal TUS. All through these years, Maula Mufaddal TUS has blessed me with his nazar, recognizing me always and calling me by name. What greater acknowledgement can there be? What greater privilege?
I don’t often share the story of my life for fear that people may think I am bragging. However, I have done so now, in shukur of the nemats both Maulas have showered on me and my family. One can recall one’s life in different ways – I recall mine through the Asharas I have attended and the blessings that Maula Mohammed RA and Maula Mufaddal TUS shower upon us.
When I was a very young child, I thought you could grow up to become any animal you wanted to be. I thought I would grow up to be a duck, and I spent many hours practicing my quack and my waddle. I realize only now, how Maula Mohammed RA has looked after the ‘daana paani’ of this betakh and I know that Maula Mufaddal TUS will continue to do so. May Allah t’ala grant our beloved Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin Saheb TUS long life ta rozay qiyamat. Ameen.
Amate Syedna Mufaddal Saifuddin TUS
Duriya Shk Aziz