When Hamza Ali Abbasi posted his latest video with Dr. Yasir Qadhi on YouTube, I couldn’t help but note that had it been Humayun Saeed on MPTH, it would have got more hits. This is not to take away from Hamza, (whose video is doing quite well btw), but rather, to throw light on the frivolous nature of our audiences.
Click-bait titles, sensational headlines and the promise of suggestive content lures us into clicking on certain videos, and not on others. That says a lot about us as viewers, but also, it tells us how hard the struggle is, for those who want to march on, continually striving to be heard above the noise – Drama Alif managed to do it finally, and I’m sure Hamza will do it too.
I had written about Hamza’s debut Vlog earlier where he renounced acting in the path of Islam, and I, for one, lauded the effort. Why? Because he will busy himself behind the lens with producing engaging content for our youth – content that enlightens, that is more spiritual than corporal, and that provokes us to THINK – yes, something we’re not really used to doing as a nation!
Oh well, back to Hamza’s latest video. Hamza connected with Dr. Yasir Qadhi to discuss agnosticism, science and religion, feelings of doubt in the belief in a greater power and the core reason why faith in our country evades tolerance.
I loved what I heard. Not because it was coming from a learned Islamic scholar, but a layman, who has laid his soul bare, and attempted to step into the very intimidating and learned world of Islamic scholars with eyes wide open.
I connected with Hamza, as my mind went back to countless discussions with my teenagers – discussions on religion that sometimes went the wrong way!
Hamza answered questions on how he resolved his own doubts about Allah.
What made him question our basic foundations, and the preset notions of our society where the youth is not allowed to question their faith? It was Hamza’s own experience as a young teenager that led him onto the path of questioning his religion. What instantly connected with me was, the thought of thousands of other young people in Pakistan who might be listening to him, nodding their heads in agreement – yeah! I’ve felt like that, have you?
The second reason that Hamza’s recent religious discussion stood out was, because, he was sitting alongside a learned scholar.
Dr. Yasir Qadhi is an authority on the finer points of religion and to see a renowned scholar lauding Hamza for taking on this role deepened my belief that – Hamza is on to something good. He needs to carry on, and I’ll be watching for sure.
Thirdly, Hamza threw light on religious intolerance between the Islamic clerics and scholars in Pakistan
as opposed to the air of liberal disagreement amongst scholars abroad – specifically in the US! The attitude to agree to disagree, respect our differences, and move on in the greater spirit of universal brother and (sister)hood was so heartening that I actually felt – wow – I wish I could be there to embark on this journey with him. I have long wanted to pursue an Islamic degree, but always felt one school of thought will never suffice the size of my overly-large expansive ideas that take heart from the explanations of one scholar in Egypt, another in the US, and one maybe in Pakistan! But here I was, listening to someone who was sitting in the company of an Islamic scholar, saying, I agree with some of your teachings, but not all – and they were both okay with that!
Our religion has lost the freedom to engage in healthy discussions and allow our youth to question. We have become so arrogant in our belief of being the chosen ones, that we do not feel the need to let our youth arrive at Faith with a questioning, open mind.
Hamza is opening this door for our youth – to tell them that it is okay to question – I did too, and look where I am today. Because Islam is a journey – Your faith is a journey, and you must all arrive on it in your own individual way. Till then, it is okay to say: I have doubts, it is okay to say science seems more logical than religion, it is okay to question.
Hamza also drew parallels to other belief systems and the belief in some higher power in most, if not all religions.
Hamza hinted at producing a series or documentaries to throw light on Islamic issues. The audience of course (our Ertugrul crazy fans) can’t wait for another Alif from him. He might not be playing the lead, but he will be channeling the effort – in a big way! And that effort, one day, might lead to more clicks on his video than MPTH – Darth Vader needs competition, after all;)
Why I think the youth should and must connect with his YouTube channel?
Because they are embarking on a journey with him. Hamza comes to them as a connection between the scholars and the youth. He is an influencer, a youth icon, and now, slowly taking shape as a role model.
If you haven’t listened in, please do. Here’s the link, because, I want each and every young person in Pakistan to listen in to what this young man has to say! And this, coming from a Pakistani mom of 2 teenage boys should have some credibility!