Junaid Jamshed in Sacramento
By Ras H. Siddiqui

For many who hail from Pakistan, the name Junaid Jamshed is a very familiar one. The decades of the 1980’s and 1990’s are now embedded in our memory banks as the  entertainment world there was once ruled by legends we have lost, like the late Melody Queen Noor Jehan and Mohtarma Iqbal Bano plus Qawwali’s Nusrat Fateh Ali Khan and Ghazal King Mehdi Hassan. But for Pakistani youth some boy band names also became important at the time.

The first being the Vital Sign, and then Junoon. Both of these succeeded in expanding South Asia’s Pop and Rock music horizons with hits like “Dil Dil Pakistan” and “Jazba-e-Junoon” respectively. And when bands and their members become household names, it should come as no surprise that Junaid Jamshed, the voice behind “Dil Dil Pakistan”, “Goray Rang Ka Zamana” and “Sanwali Saloni” became not only a music celebrity but a national icon.

 Admittedly, many years have passed since Junaid sang with the Vital Signs and later as a solo pop artist. If memory serves this writer correctly, the last time (amongst many) that we saw this once cherubic young man casting a vocal spell on young ladies in the San Francisco Bay area was in the year 2000. And then he completely disappeared off our entertainment radars. News reports started surfacing that he had found God and given up music. The clothes in fashion boutiques bearing his name in Pakistan with his initial “J”  became his one legacy which still remained. But he was bound to make some kind of comeback, and as we witnessed in Sacramento, California for the first time, a very different Junaid has surfaced.

The event that he headlined in California’s capital city on June 5 th (a Tuesday night) at a local Hilton Hotel was billed as “An Evening of Inspiration: Words and Nasheeds by Junaid Jamshed”, was a fundraiser for a local Islamic school for children. Named Folsom Crescent School, it is located at 1143 Sibley Street, Folsom CA 95630 and can be reached by phone at 916-353-0531.

Folsom is famous for its dam and man-made lake (for fishing and boating), its prison and Intel Corporation which is the largest employer in this town. Many South Asian and Middle Eastern Muslim immigrants live here and work at Intel or in other parts of the Sacramento area, so an educational institution like the Folsom Crescent School had become necessary. The fact that they invited Junaid Jamshed certainly added to its attraction. Locals Zia Zafir, Imam Qasmi, and Imam El-Bakri (who conducted the fundraiser) and others all spoke about the need to impart education and religion to the next generation, but the main guest was a tad more impressive.

Junaid Jamshed always had an aura of confidence around him. And that has not changed as he walked up to the stage, sat down, and started talking. The sense of humor was still there but the content of his talk this time was completely different from the old days.  In Arabic, English and mostly Urdu he talked/sermonized, explained a little bit about his personal journey leading him to Allah (SWT) and much more. Few quotations will be used here because most of his talk is being translated, an effort which is never completely successful, especially when Urdu is being explained in the English language. But below  is an attempt:

Brothers and Sisters ASA, God has given us many talents and gifts. He is supreme, and doesn’t really need us. But we in turn are the ones that need him. If we all become disobedient we will only be fooling ourselves because we cannot diminish even an iota of his greatness. “We cannot lessen Allah’s respect and honor,” he said. But on the other hand, if we all become obedient to Allah and He accepts our good graces, that is His greatness.

There are two things that man often believes are his very own, his life and his material possessions. In life, man expects to be respected, loved and recognized which are in his nature. If someone calls us for something that we do not consider worthy, we make excuses like we don’t have the time. The same way we do not want to part with our money if we are asked to donate. We sometimes get maximum satisfaction when we spend that money on ourselves. I will buy myself a BMW (have we ever bought one for our neighbor?). Even with a family a parent is sometimes unwilling to give his child his own precious car to drive because it may get damaged in an accident. “Meri Jaaan aur Mera Maal” (My life and My property) takes priority. We need to ask Allah’s forgiveness for this hedonism!

Allah has said that We have made a special place after this life for those who are not guided by their egos during their lives and for those who do not cause ill to others. Those who criticize others continually and cause them pain will not be given any rewards in the afterlife. People who want to benefit only themselves and are selfish are the source of conflict in this world. And those always worried about elevating themselves at the expense of others will not be spared. Don’t be ignorant Jaaahils. Don’t cause pain to others by mouthing off whatever comes to your mind. Think about the feelings of others before you speak ill of them!

Time is a person’s most valuable asset. We are all here in this world for a finite period. How we spend that time here is what is more important. My purpose for being here tonight is that when all of us leave this event, our hearts should be filled with the love of Allah (SWT) and his Prophet (PBUH).

On his own journey to this path Junaid Jamshed elaborated on the fact that we enter the role of parenthood by becoming like our own parents. All the dreams of fame and fortune when achieved begin to have lesser importance than we had originally thought. He said that while he was thinking of seriously giving up his singing profession, someone from BBC called him to let him know that his song had been voted number three on a very important chart. He said that he began to think: So what! He said that he was grateful but when at one point in his life he had craved the fame of a certain Indian actor he discovered that becoming a better person was what he was really after (Although not mentioned by Junaid, the comparison with singer Cat Stevens who became Yusuf Islam is somewhat applicable here except that Stevens had to travel further and convert to Islam).      

One can include many more details in this article from what Junaid presented to the audience.  But space constraints apply, so just a brief mention here of just a few more items:  His profile of President Asif Zardari for instance or his high regard for the Memon community. Comments on marriage and the importance of the husband-wife relationship (which were warmly welcomed by the women in the audience) made him very popular here. If one were to describe Junaid Jamshed’s life, whether as a long haired Pop Star or now as a bearded Tableeqi of Islam one can only add that he has been  a success as both. His current audience is completely different from what it used to be, but he still says the right things and will have a longer career (Inshallah) in what he is doing today than he would have had in music.  His singing voice is still incredibly good and strong and does not need music. The Naat “Meetha Meetha, Piyara Piyara, Meray Muhammad Ka Naam” (Sweet is the name of My Prophet Muhammad (PBUH)) which he presented amongst a few others still resonates in this writer’s mind.

 The new Junaid Jamshed may look quite intimidating with his long black beard but he presents himself well and maintains a pleasant demeanor. These strong points will keep his popularity going in his most recent role in life even though some of us will continue to look back at his Vital Signs days as great memories.      

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