In The Name of Allah, the Most Gracious, the Most Merciful
I am Omar, of Middle Eastern descend, 29 years old, and have lived all my life in Chicago. From an early age I wanted to be successful and different.
I started working when I was 15 years old. Before starting my own business in 2011, I have worked in various industries from oil & gas to financial institutions to chain of supermarkets. My first job title was “window cleaner” and last job title was “stock broker” before launching my own business in 2011.
Alhamdulillah that I was born a Muslim. A great gift to any human being is to be born into Islam. As long as I remember I was always attracted to Islam. I always felt peace, safe and happy doing something around Islam such as reading/learning Quran, Hadith, listening to lectures, and so forth. As a matter of fact in my early age, before my teen years, I used say that I will build my dream house where rivers will flow underneath my house and I will able to see river flow through my glass floor. After a decade later, I realised when I read the meaning of Quran that in Jannah there will be river flowing underneath.
After a while, I lost touch with Islam, between the age of 13 to 20. I became busy in life, work, study, worldly affairs where we value worldly education and work more than we value Islam. Due to environment and influence from home, I became more focused on studies, degree then knowledge of Islam and true value of life. There are 2 things that I never quit even when I went out of track. First, I never let go of Ramadan without fasting and enjoyed it very much. I always fasted steadfastly during Ramadan. I loved it. Second, I always talked to Allah and prayed to Him in my heart. I always remember Him every single day and talk to Him every single day. Thanks to Allah and I am in great debt to Him Alone.
My guidance day? It was 31 October 2003. You guess it – it was Ramadan. My guidance came to me from Allah on that blessed Friday. I was at Jum’ah and it was the first Jum’ah in Ramadan. During the Kutbah, the Imam “For eleven months we spend our lives however want to spend. Why not do something for Allah and give Him just 1 month.” This statement just hit me deep in my heart and Allah opened my chest for His deen. The very same day I clung to all my prayers, started analyzing myself for Islamic and un-Islamic actions and habits, I reflected on the 9/11 terrorist attacks and the ensuing image of Muslims, and so on so forth. The questions were raised in my mind and I searched for answer and Allah guided me. I have to say that there is huge pressure in the dunya if you try to pray, follow Islam, Quran and Sunnah. Its amazing the pressure is within your family and relatives.
I understand and totally agree it is hard to be on the way of deen and the world at the same time. There was pressure from outside and inside. Outside such as family, relatives, friends and inside such as shaytan and nafs. I totally agree that biggest threat to human beings is no other than their own nafs. The environment plays a role too but you have to literally fight yourself, your inner self. But as Prophet (pbuh) said, do your best and Allah knows our intention. Never give up or give in. This is life and this is our major test. We cannot ever fail or allow Allah’s deen fail. We just have to try best and have tawakul. There is so much peace in Islam and I hope that non-Muslims can see experience real Islam for the peaceful religion that it is.
I always wanted to work for myself. I don’t believe in working for someone else. As I was working as a broker, I really enjoyed it. It was quick money. Trading was fun and had I passion for it due to my degree in finance as well. But thanks to Allah, I realized that it is mere electronic money. There is nothing solid in it that I can feel or touch. So starting 2009 I looked around for a business to set up for myself. I began to take an interest in owning a gas/petrol station or a convenience store. I had worked many years so I knew the ins and out of business. There were 2 issues that were bothering me. First, I would have to sell alcohol and lottery tickets in order to bring more traffic to the store. Secondly, it would involve millions of dollars of investment so I would need a bank loan. I spoke with people and they said I would just need to take and sell lottery tickets and that’s how life and the whole system is. Go with the world or just sit home and do nothing. In other words, take it or leave it.
I was very close to getting a loan and starting my first business in life. In order to get a loan, I requested to borrow the downpayment from my father. To my great surprise, he had some unreasonable demands which made me rethink and compelled me to change my mind. I let it go and moved on from the business idea. It was hard to let it pass because I knew at that time it will be last chance I will ever have to start my own business but I did let it go. In hindsight, Allah guided me and protected me from problems and saved me from doing anything haram such as sale of alcohol and lottery tickets. My father was surprised that I let it go and backed away. Allah had some other plans for me and indeed He is the best of planners.
In my mid-20s, I started becoming upset and worried about the direction of my life because I wanted to do something in life and for Islam as well. I prayed to Allah to guide me and Allah does the best. I never lost hope. 2011, after more than one year of doing nothing and feeling lost, in Ramadan again, Allah re-introduced to me an idea that I had liked 5-6 years ago. The idea was to focus on the young generation between age of 15-35 years and to guide them in finances and teach them not to overspend but to save. I remember it was last 10 days of Ramadan when I saw that opportunity and without even a $1 in my pocket I got into it and jumped into the business. Again money was a concern but I took personal loan from my father, uncle, friend and credit cards instead of bank loan. The only outstanding loan left is due to my father but he passed away before I was able to return his money of $110,000. So now I will give back in Allah’s way for the sake of my father. It was his loan to me and I owe him. No compromises on that. My path was pure and I was surprised how my father loaned me the money this time without any demands or forceful commitment. But again, I was put down by family and relatives who tried to discourage me and said that I wouldn’t able to succeed, that I would fail badly, labeling me a loser.
The Lesson learned? Always believe in Allah and no one can make you successful or a failure except Allah. If Allah wants me to fail, I will fail. If Allah wants me to succeed, I will succeed. Even in other aspects of business such as competition, I always believe in Allah that He will do what’s best for me and it is His choice to give me success or failure. I only submit to what Allah has chosen for me. Nothing else matters.
I just cannot believe how merciful Allah is and how much He does for us. I am not extremely qualified to be a successful businessman but Allah gave it to me and people around me are still amazed up to now as to how I achieved success on my own with Allah’s help. Mashallah. Thanks to Allah Alone.
My business has been running since September 2011. Alhamdulilah I have 3 retail stores in shopping malls without any bank loan, interest/riba dealing or any un-Islamic practices. Always depend on Allah no matter what the circumstances and do the right thing according to Islam and there will always a way. Wait patiently as I did for 1-2 years before Allah opened up the right opportunity for me.
I can say with a hundred percent conviction and faith that no one, no human being helped me, to guide or teach me, to help me find the right business. It is purely Allah alone. I am the witness over this. Allah guided me and indeed He made ways. I always advise others to put all faith in Allah, for He is alone is sufficient for us.
In the end, always seek help, guidance and speak directly to Allah. That’s my only secret to I am now at the age of 29. And whatever I am and have is from Allah and only belongs to Him. And before I leave from the World, I will give it all in His way and everything that I have is for Him Alone. My ultimate goal, destination and only thing that matters to me is that when it is my time to meet my Allah, He is happy to meet me, be proud of me as one of the His best slaves and enjoin me to the company of the Prophet (pbuh), Abu Bakr (ra), Umar (ra), Usman (ra) and Ali (ra) hereafter forever, Ameen ya Rab-bul-al’amin.