Just as the acorn gives birth to the oak tree, the place we come from holds the code for what we are to become. (Jones, 2014)
Thus, it holds true for me, born in Lahore, Pakistan, raised in Riyadh, Saudi Arabia and now settled in London, UK, my soul has taken many journeys yet has always longed to be home, home being the soil I was borne out of.
Living in Saudi Arabia, for the most part of my childhood- adolescent years, my Faith and religious rituals came naturally to me. Never had I thought my ‘Muslim’ identity would one day be challenged in a way that it would make me question and probe my own Faith deeper and in a more practical way. Living in London for the past 17 years now, it would then be more appropriate and rightful to say, that I found ‘God’ in a non-Muslim country or I became closer to Him / Her in a place where I didn’t hear prayer calling from a loudspeaker five times a day to remind me to bow down to my Creator. My spiritual quest started from here, in London. It was here where my identity was challenged, yet it was here, in a supposedly ‘Godless’ surrounding, where I set on my spiritual journey to find God in a more meaningful way.
As the events around the world unfolded with Muslims being labeled fundamentalists and terrorists in the world, I realised that being a Muslim in Britain is a serious business and that too, being a Muslim woman of Pakistani background, for Pakistan has, of late, being in the news for all the wrong reasons. The lack of awareness and knowledge gap between the diaspora communities and Pakistan and the disintegration between the two communities instigated me to set up my own consultancy to show another perspective of Pakistan which is more upcoming and struggling to compete with global challenges.
My organization, the Loop Global Management, works with diaspora-led communities to initiate dialogue by organising seminars and conferences.
As I became more engaged and started working closer with some Charities / Muslim Organisations and their higher management, I used to feel at loss, noticing this total bankruptcy of purpose and intention. The more I got involved the more dismayed I was at the sheer waste of resources, empathy and a total spiritual disconnect which reaffirms my belief that peace-building starts with making peace with the SELF. For me, societal transformation is a consequence of SELF realisation.
I was introduced to Prof Ronnie Lessem and Alexander Schieffer’s ‘Integral Worlds’ and to TRANS4M’s work whilst acting as the research Facilitator for one of their PhD students.
Their holistic fourfold approach, especially the framework they’ve developed for ‘Care 4 Society’ and ‘releasing of GENE-ius’ resonated very well with the work I am involved in, which revolves around community cohesion and social integration.
In the interim and through TRANS4M’s research group I was invited into a Cooperative Inquiry Circle probing into ‘Spiritual Bases of Economic Cultures’.
My call was to explore a sustainable model infused with spirituality in my Islamic circles as our CI Circle believed this is what is missing in Islamic Societies. There is this total lack of new innovative enterprise models emerging from within Islamic countries or Muslim communities’ in the UK or globally, providing localized solution to their local socio-economic problems. Or, if there are any such models, the Western world doesn’t know about them.
It was on this quest of looking for those integrative, successful and innovative models in Islamic societies which took me back to my homeland, Pakistan, where I came across an unconventional (Islamic) spiritual-financial model: the Akhuwat Foundation. After having a few meetings with its Founder and CEO, Dr Amjad Saqib, I identified that the model he has created is not only steeped in spirituality but also is, quite unique in itself. My own Integral Innovation, that I seek to contribute, is focussing on Akhuwat.
Although the So(u)lidarity march has just started but it seems to me as if my quest is coming full circle i.e. bringing me back to my origin and roots.