Stories

SPOKEN WORD OF SPIRITUALITY

Ali, 22, had prepared all his life to get a job, but when he wasn’t able to, he began spending his spare time learning Persian. Little did he know, he would end up finding something more important.

I graduated in May 2018. Ever since then, I’ve been trying to look for a job. It’s hard, but I can’t spend all my time looking for jobs — there’s only so much time I can dedicate to applying and meeting with people.

In the meantime, I’ve decided to make myself as productive as possible, so I decided to learn Persian. Yeah, I could have spent this time learning hard skills to become a better data scientist, but that didn’t interest me as much as learning Persian. I love it. Also, you never know how applicable learning a language can be in this political climate. I just never expected it to open up a window to my spirituality.

I took Persian for a year and a half in my undergrad, but I realized I wasn’t comfortable reading or speaking it. So, I spent time taking Persian lessons, learning vocabulary and trying to decipher BBC articles written in Persian. Actually, one of my biggest accomplishments was being able to read an article without using Google Translate.

I also started reading Urdu poetry and literature — I’ve been interested in studying it more in depth and learning Persian has given me that edge. Even though they’re two distinct languages, so many of the formal words both languages overlap since Persian was used in the Indian subcontinent hundreds of years ago. So, in a way, understanding Persian helped me learn the literature of my country, Pakistan.

Some of my favorite works are by Pakistani academic Allama Iqbal and Persian poet Saadi of Shiraz, but what stands out to me right now is Al-Ghazi (Abu al-Ghazi Bahadur, 1603-1663, a military ruler and scholar), who wrote in both Arabic and Persian. He wrote about attaining connection with the divine and how he was able to do it. It made me become more curious about the big questions in life, and led me to spending more time wondering how to use the wisdom he was passing down.

This was during a time in my life where I really didn’t have any level of spirituality, but when I began reading Al-Ghazi, I realized there were powers beyond me guiding my life, no matter how hard I’m trying. If my methods weren’t working that’s okay too. There’s a reason and I’ll be taken care of. It brought me peace, and I ended up being a lot less anxious about my job search.

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