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.