Building Beautiful Minds


Swaibah Bilal

Dr. Nasir Aziz -a Yale graduate and Professor at LUMS- has been teaching and training at schools, colleges and universities and has delivered lectures in a multitude of educational institutes all across Pakistan. He was invited by NUST Character Building Society on 1st March, 2018 to deliver an enlightening session titled “Building Beautiful Minds.” The event commenced with recitation of the Holy Quran, followed by a brief introduction about the speaker. Mr. Nasir started off with quoting the following which laid out the crux of his talk:

 “The only sustainable difference for an organization and a country are its people- Not capital, not strategy, not policies, procedures or systems, not technology- but people. Invest in them, nurture them and train them- because intellectual capital is unique”

Mr. Nasir equated all the material in the world with hardware and intellectual capital with software. He explained how even the best hardware would be rendered useless without  software and extended the same example to humans to explain how our appearances and possessions serve only as hardware while the human mind serves as software through which other aspects of a person can be used constructively. He proceeded to compare Singapore and Pakistan in terms of population, land area, natural resources, and years since independence, all of which Pakistan had a clear advantage at. But then came the catch- the economy of Singapore is far more successful than that of Pakistan. The speaker attributed this phenomenon to the difference in prioritization of education in both countries. Singapore’s government invests approximately 30% in the educational sector, while Pakistan only spends approximately 0.2%. This explains a difference in priorities because money invested in education is not thought of as an expense in Singapore, but rather as an investment. Resultantly, they have a greater reserve of intellectual capital. The speaker stressed that the intellectual capital of an organization or country depends upon the quality of its minds and used Singapore’s example to drive home the message at an individual level- in order to be successful, people must invest at least 30% of their total income or pocket money into intellectual development.

The mind is the software of the brain. The development of the mind depends 10% upon genes and 90% upon the environment we live in. Some people build beautiful minds by design despite their genes and environment by making better choices. Resultantly the choices we make in life have the greatest role to play in intellectual development.

Mr. Nasir brought up a powerful concept of assets vs. liabilities.  The vast majority of Pakistan’s 200 million population wakes up every day with aspirations and goals focused around the sole question, “What can we gain today?” instead of, “What can we give back today?” Every individual who takes more than they give back to society is a liability, not an asset. Their role in society then, is that of a parasite or woodcutter, gradually driving society towards decline. An average Pakistani grows up with aspirations and goals, driven by a desire to claim their share of money and prestige in society. It is not a surprise then, that when an average Pakistani is asked why they opted for a certain field in education they are likely to reply they are in it for the “scope” it offers. Ask an average Pakistani medical student why they took up medicine and they are likely to say they took it up to serve humanity but ask them five years down the lane why they specialized in a certain field and they are practically bound to say they took it up because it is lucrative. Our educational systems are remarkable at converting assets into liabilities. Mr. Nasir propounded that building beautiful minds is the way to converting assets into liabilities. He speaker added that we are born in this world with nothing and that we leave this world with nothing. Everything that comes in between is a blessing and it belongs to Allah, so we must develop humility and accustom ourselves into being givers rather than takers.

The speaker proceeded to shed light on the importance of hikmah and added that it can convert soil into gold and an absence of hikmah can convert gold into mere soil.  Hikmah (denoting ‘wisdom’) is a positive term used repeatedly in the Quran as a characteristic of the righteous. However, he added that there is no substitute for the word hikmah in English, even though the word wisdom is linked to it most closely. He advised the audience to make duaa for hikmah. Allah says in the Quran:

“He gives wisdom to whom He wills, and whoever has been given wisdom has certainly been given much good…” (2:269)

Towards the end of the talk, Mr. Aziz urged the audience to develop a connection with Allah, because his rich experience in life taught him that it is the only way to success. He advised the audience to recite the following words of Prophet Musa Alayhisalam quoted in the Quran, when there seems to be no way out of a darkness, and Allah will guide them out of it In Sha Allah:

Building Beautiful Minds_1

He added that whenever he recited this ayah Allah guided him out of life’s darknesses when there seemed to be no way out.

The event ended with Mr. Nasir being presented with a souvenir by NUST Character Building Society.



The Traveler


Usman Shafi

Don’t listen to what they say. Go see.

– Chinese Proverb

This world is a busy world. It is constantly buzzing with so many events happening simultaneously. Billions of people getting up in the morning, going through their morning routines, gearing themselves up for a day that will hopefully be an improvement on the previous one. People of various professions: farmers, laborers, chefs, salesmen and doctors, all working tirelessly to make their mark. Those who work for others and those who work for themselves, all going through their forever routines, working for that one contribution that will live past their lifetimes.

In this labyrinth of people and events, we often find ourselves not getting the satisfaction we are working for. What we need to do is remind ourselves of the bigger picture. A view so far away that we can see the labyrinth, see ourselves in it, and hopefully judge where we are going and whether we should be going there. This change of perspective may come from few different means, but the most widely acclaimed method is travel.


For millennia, the act of traveling has remained the prescribed route to inspiration. Every inch of this land has been trodden countless times by ordinary people seeking extraordinary things, and these winds have carried many paradigms, ideas, and revolutions from shore to shore. Even though the means of travel have changed over the years, its place as a source of compassion and wisdom remains the same. Many notable historical figures – such as Christopher Columbus, James Cook, and Marco Polo – were travelers.

Travel introduces us to new regions, peoples, and cultures. It allows us to learn about the lives of our fellow human beings – not through the two-dimensionality of our television screens, nor the dullness of ink on paper, and certainly not the bias of government lent information – but through the blunt honesty of sharing physical space. It shreds vilifying pre-conceived notions and unveils the humanity of humans all around us.

For these reasons and many others, travel has a special place in Islam; so much so that the ability to travel has been described in the Holy Quran as a special honor endowed to mankind. Travel for various purposes – such as trade, exploration, and scientific discovery – has been encouraged. The Holy Quran says:

He it is who has made the Earth a cradle for you, and has traced out for you ways therein.

The Holy Quran (20:53)


Do they then not travel through the land so that their hearts (and mind) may thus learn wisdom and their ears may thus learn to hear? Truly it is not their eyes that are blind but their hearts which are in their breasts.

The Holy Quran (22:46)

Travel exposes external realities that may have remained hidden from us for most of our lives. It also tells us a lot about ourselves. One of the most striking realizations is that so many of our sweeping generalizations about other peoples are based on such limited information. The internet may have diminished the obstacle of distance, but it is no substitute for travel. The world is still pretty BIG! It is best to go out there and see for yourself.


Allah Yuhabbunaa


Muhammad Talha

Misled soul was wandering on misguided roads
He gave him wings, and let him fly
His wings are enough to carry all loads
So out of which of the favours of your Lord you’d deny?

The lost memories flashed upon him
Where he was flying high and high
His pride let him fall, but still he breathes
So out of which of the favours of your Lord you’d deny?

Poem_Muhammad Talha

He loves you more than seventy mothers
You can cry like a baby, no need to be shy
He keeps all secrets, doesn’t share with others
So out of which of the favours of your Lord you’d deny?

He catches you when you fall
Blesses you strength,to fly more high
Not only God, but a friend to all
So out of which of the favours of your Lord you’d deny?

O Dear! Do not be sad, it’s not too late
Turn to Allah, who has written your fate
Welcome your days,to sadness say a good bye
Out of which of the favours of your Lord you’d deny?


A New Horizon


Rama Ali


I remember the fear in your eyes,

You were scared you’d lose its sight-

Lose sight of home sweet home,

As you spread your wings in flight.


I still feel the wistful longing

Which kept you turning back,

The comforts of your home-

The protection of your pack.


But you didn’t stop brave soldier,

You pushed yourself after all.

Yes, you made that daring leap,

Knowing the chances of your fall.


You didn’t fall–see? its alright!

Alive as ever! And you’ve won the fight.

You know the truth, for all its worth-

Found bigger things on little Earth.


You sought a different world-

A world of stranger things.

And in those strangers you then found…

A home of sorts, and hearts of kings.


Just the courage to untie your wings,

And look beyond –see what you’ve found!

Found strife’s worth, the joy it brings.

Found a better life, did better things!


The Importance of Letting Go…


By Zahra Waheed

“Some people believe holding on and hanging in there are signs of great strength. However, there are times when it takes much more strength to know when to let go and then do it.”

―Ann Landers

Letting go could mean relieving a harmful attachment, be it to a grudge, an event, certain possessions, a friend or even just a memory. You might think that by holding a grudge you are teaching a lesson to someone who has wronged you, but in reality you are only stressing yourself. People make mistakes and they realize that and change. In fact, the very essence of change comes from mistakes; mistakes are what we need to let go. A great friend you might have had, the one who always shared your views but did you realize they also whispered in your ear about how you should be holding a grudge or wasting your time. You need to realize to let go of the evil consuming you from within; a memory of a blunder in a presentation, so you lost a couple marks, but the next time you would do better. Let go of that memory, for it taught you something and instead of taking heed and seeing it as an opportunity to learn, you choose to fret about it.

‘To ‘let go’ also means to give up resisting and struggling to hold on to meaningless issues in exchange for powerful and wholesome moments that come our way by allowing and accepting unchangeable realities that come by in our daily lives. Accept ‘what is’, and let go of what was!’


We go through life as a series of experiences. How is that a homeless person can one day become successful when they don’t even have the luxuries of education to teach them – or even a parental figure to lead them? All they have are mistakes and experiences to help move them forward. They accept their first flop and move on to the next, with far more hope and willpower. Life means making mistakes, gathering experiences and seeking success. In fact, the very purpose of education is to teach you to be vigilant, yet you continue to fall every time you make  a mistake; you think it’s over and that nothing more can be done. What we all fail to comprehend is that real strength lies not in our first attempt at something, but in getting up for round 2 even after we have failed the first time.. And guess what? Maybe even round three. In the end, this road to success is yours, and yours alone.

‘Humans are forever evolving and growing; life and its experiences don’t wait for us to come around to accept them, whether we are absent or present, life goes on with its rewarding moments for those who find the courage to let go of what they could not change or alter.’

You need to realize that you will affect your life by giving up or letting go. In the end it is your choices today that define what your life will be like ten years from now. You need to remember that you are not alone, that there are billions of people going through the same thing or even worse! You have family that care for you, and you have friends that support you. You have teachers, financial aid, even a home; all there waiting for your next move.  But realize that some people don’t. They do not have family, friends, or money. They have absolutely nothing, yet they still manage to get up after every blow that comes their way.

‘Simplify your lives, share your love, caring and compassion generously, communicate honestly and truthfully, stop focusing on how unlucky you are, and remind yourself about how blessed you are, there is always that one other person or many other people who have it so much worse.’

Make a goal. Have a vision. Dream the dream of success. Wake up to comply. Do the math. Give some finishing touches. Make sure you sign your name on it. Finally, show it to the world.

I end with these wise words of wisdom from the Sanskirt – “Yesterday is already a dream, and tomorrow is only a vision, but today, well-lived, makes every yesterday a dream of happiness, and every tomorrow a vision of hope.”


5 Ways Dua can Help in Character Building


Fahad bin Khalid

Dua, making prayer to God Almighty, is a common form of worship in almost every religion. In Islam, it is commended and encouraged to make dua as it establishes a special and direct relationship of a person with Allah SWT. We will discuss how making dua can help building a person’s character.

  1. Dua strengthens our relation with Allah SWT

When a person makes dua, he actually calls Allah for help. He acknowledges his weaknesses, which is the first step towards reform and asks special mercy and favor from Allah SWT to keep him away from everything that can count as bad character. Moreover, the person making duas very often has fear of God in mind all the time. This fear of God, taqwa, is the key factor in building a good character.

  1. Dua works as a reminder of good qualities to have

Many duas taught by the Prophet PBUH and Allah Himself in the Quran exclusively mention a list of qualities of good people. In this way, duas continuously remind and keep us conscious about our “to-do list”.

  1. When we want something, we do something to get it

Making duas indicates that we want something to happen and even simply reciting those words can lead us to a desire for the thing, which in this case, is a good character. Now, whenever we want to achieve or gain something, we strive for it, and most probably the results might be found positive.

  1. Reminds of the character of Rasulullah SAW and all good people

Masnoon duas, the ones made and taught by Rasulullah SAW, remind us of the model character of him and his companions along with the hardships faced and efforts made by them to achieve that high level. These beautiful words connect us with our great history and make us feel pride in our own ethical and moral values. They also make us realize that our goal is not an unachievable one. People have made it already and we can follow in their footsteps somehow by the will of Allah.

  1. Allah helps by answering our prayers

Most importantly, dua is not a one sided relationship. It is indeed answered by Allah SWT and He will surely grant his slaves a good character when they beg Him with sincerity and eeman.

Allah says about dua in the Quran:


Sahih International: And your Lord says, “Call upon Me; I will respond to you.” Indeed, those who disdain My worship will enter Hell [rendered] contemptible.

[Quran 40:60]

The Prophet (SAW) said:

“Allah is Most Generous, and He dislikes to turn away empty the hands of His slave when he raises them to Him.”

[Al-Tirmidhi, 3556; classed as Saheeh by Al-Albaani in Saheeh Al-Tirmidhi]

Finally, suggesting an amazing dua to memorize which is found in the books of Hadith. Dua is given in the following:


‘O Allah, purify my heart from hypocrisy, my actions from show, my tongue from lies and my eyes from deception. For surely You are fully aware of the deception of the eyes and all that the chests conceal.’

[Ad-Da’watul Kabir of Bayhaqi, Hadith: 227]

So, my dear friends, dua is a superb tool, so practical and experimented yet so easy to apply. One has to make a connection with Allah from the depth of one’s heart either by uttering those beautiful words taught by the Prophet PBUH or sometimes maybe by a deep silence of realization of one’s inability to express the situation of one’s heart in words. Rest of the matter goes in the hands of God Himself. May Allah guide us towards the right path and grant us the character just like what He wants.

Oh you who feels so tested…


Rama Ali

Oh you who feels so tested
Oh you who feels much tried
Who feels he gave his all
But as fate would have, you cried

To you who feels depressed
To you who would despair
Who many times would wonder
Why life is so unfair

Hear me out this once
You may think I do not know
The pains that did afflict you
Or the trials you undergo

Pray still listen, for maybe I
With my small imperfect hands
Could have some hope to offer
And make you feel I understand

You know this life of yours
As imperfect it may look
Was written by by The Best
God’s the writer of your book

So how could you despair
Or be forgetful of His love
He who loves you the most,
Watches over you from above

No one said it would be easy
Life is hard but not unfair
Trust His perfect plan
You’re under perfect care

Its an uphill ride, this life
Yes it’s hard, I know it is
But your pains are not exclusive
Some have it worse than this

God would never burden you
With more than you can bear
If you keep in mind His promise
Oh, how could you despair

For every loss you suffer
Every hardship that you face
He will give you something else
Even better in its place

So O you who wants this life
Who wants the spring in fall
Wait for the eternity
Where the best shall have it all.