Into the Spotlight - Journalism

Having resigned from the BBC in 2021 to do Waqf, journalist Atif Rashid is now serving in the central Press & Media Office and in MTA News. He is in charge of the social media channels of the Jama'at Press Office and makes TV reports and documentaries for MTA News, as well as training young Ahmadis to become journalists.

How did you know you wanted to dedicate your life to the service of your faith?

Being a Waqf-e-Nau and a son of a murrabi, it was always in my mind to one day serve the Jama'at. I always used to worry and pray about how I would be able to serve as I had little skills or knowledge in my younger days. But I had the passion and desire. I would read the books of the Promised Messiah(as) and this would only increase my desire to serve. Knowing that this is a special time in human history and how lucky I was to have been born into the community, I always reminded myself that I cannot let this opportunity pass me by. As Hazrat Khalifatul Masih IV (rh) said to Waqfeen-e-Nau: "You are born at a great time for a wonderful purpose." Hazrat Masih-e-Maud (as) wrote in a poem that: "This cool breeze now blows after a long time. God knows when such days and spring shall come again." Not just Muslims but people of all faiths have been waiting for this time. Many cry and pray for the Messiah to come and pledge that when he does they would serve and help his mission in every way. We, who know that this time has come, how can we then do anything else but to help this cause? The biggest regret would be not devoting yourself whilst knowing the significance of this era.

What were the events leading up to your Waqf being approved by Hadhrat Khalifat-ul- Masih V (aba)?

In 2015/16 I sought Hazoor's advice as I had not been able to make much progress in journalism -the field he had asked me to pursue. I asked if I should just start in Voice of Islam. Hazoor replied, no you should go and get experience in BBC/LBC. I replied that I had applied there but they didn't give me anything. Hazoor said: "Apply once more." That year I put slightly more effort into my application and by Allah's grace and Hazoor's prayers and attention, I was accepted onto a BBC apprenticeship scheme as one of 7 from 2500 applicants. Alhamdulillah. During this time I kept volunteering with the Markaz Press & Media Office especially at Jalsa and kept in touch with them. In 2019 the head of the department, Abid Khan sb contacted me and said he was looking to expand his team and whether I would be interested in joining. I replied, most certainly, as that was my ultimate goal and desire. I asked Hazoor in a mulaqat if I should do Waqf but Hazoor said you should stay in your current job. My contract was also ending in those months. But in that time I actually ended up getting a promotion and a new job and gained more experience. Then in 2021 I was approached again by Abid Khan sahib as Hazoor told him to seek Waqf-e-Nau journalists. I said I was ready as ever to come if called up, but was also happy to continue gaining more experience. Abid sb informed Hazoor who said I should write to him if I was happy to join. So I immediately wrote and it was accepted shortly afterwards.

Is there anyone who specifically inspired you?

The main and only inspiration really has been Hazoor-e-Aqdas whose love, encouragement, support and prayers have kept me going and motivated in all those years. His Waqf-e-Nau classes were the highlight of my childhood and there was no other way to repay his kindness and time he spent on us except to offer myself at his service when the time came. But apart from that there are many Waqfe Zindagi who have been serving the Jama'at without having gone to Jamia. As my father is a murrabi, I always thought that is the only and best way to serve, but I've realised that Jama'at needs all kinds of people from different fields. As long as the passion is there and the understanding and dedication of Waqf then anyone can serve. My father has also been an inspiration as I grew up seeing him work day in and day out for the Jama'at. He would take me with him to Jalsa's and Jama'at offices when I was a child so this was always ingrained into me. He would tell me stories of the prophets and encourage me to read. It would be remiss of me not to mention that I grew up in Islamabad surrounded by murrabis and Jama'at workers. They were also an inspiration for me and all had a hand in my tarbiyyat and all those who lived there. It is all these moments and people who have inspired me through the years.

What creates passion and motivation when you are carrying out your Waqf?

Waqf is not easy. It's a big change from ordinary working life. It's easy to get into the rut of a desk job and forget why you're there. The only way to keep motivated is to remember your purpose and the lofty goal of what you are contributing to and trying to achieve and in whose name you are working. And that you are directly working for Khalifatul Masih. Also for myself, I can never forget the many days, months and years I had no hope of making any progress in journalism and would wonder what would happen with my life. I would pray in those days that I may be able to serve one day like others are having the opportunity to. When I remind myself of where I was 10 years ago, and remember that you should "consider service of the faith as a blessing of God", as Hazrat Musleh Maudas said, then your passion and motivation remains just as strong as day one.

What advice would you give to someone who wants to dedicate their life but is unsure about this life changing decision?

would say make sure your intentions are pure and that you know why you want to dedicate your life and seek guidance from Hazoor and pray a lot. Ultimately only Allah can help you, as waqf life can get very difficult at times. So the main thing is to try to have as strong a relationship with Allah as possible - this is a constant work in progress. What also helps is to speak to people who have done it in the past, and spend time with them and find out everything about doing waqf. It is certainly life changing but extremely blessed if your heart is in the right place. Speak to as many people as possible, pray frequently, seek Huzoor's guidance and do not worry about the future leave that to Allah.

How important would you say are your earlier studies (Secondary School and University) in counting towards your ability to do Waqf?

Almost everything you learn comes in handy at some point in the future, I have learnt. Getting a good basic education is important as you need general knowledge to be able to be an effective Jama'at worker. You can not guide the world if you do not know how the world works. This is why Huzoor often tells people to get experience first. For me, it was working outside which completely changed my perspective and perception of journalism and current affairs - you see things differently and can understand why certain things are the way they are. It is so vital to get that exposure from outside otherwise it's easy to become narrow-focussed and rigid in your thinking. Waqf requires not just a good grounding in Jama'ati traditions and Islamic knowledge, but also a broad understanding of different aspects of the world. Having this is what can make your service to the Jama'at unique as you bring a fresh and different perspective to your work.

What are three things you love about your Waqf?

1. Being able to work for Huzoor and fulfil my life's purpose
2. Knowing that I'm working for a bigger objective & having no more anxiety about career/future prospects etc.
3. Banter with the lads! (Yes you can still have fun while doing waqf!)

How are you still keeping in touch with Hadhrat Khalifat-ul-Masih V with regards to your Waqf?

When I first did Waqf, I met Huzoor to personally thank him for graciously accepting it. Since then I have kept him up to date with my activities and progress. Sometimes through my supervisor, and at other times through my own letters. Huzur himself (keeps in touch) as sometimes we are sent instructions and advice, directly from Huzur, on what kind of things we should be doing. We also get feedback when we send a piece of work for Huzoor to see.

Describe your daily routine?

Around 10:00 AM I arrive at the office when I go through my messages, look at my to-do list, and try to do some reading before starting my work. Then I complete any urgent work or things left over from the previous day. I might post 2-3 things on social media in the morning and give advice and feedback to my teams. Then I'd plan future content and work on any outstanding video projects. I have a list of all my tasks and responsibilities on a whiteboard which I work on through the week. After Zuhr I go for lunch. When I return I continue my tasks, sometimes work comes in which I try to complete right away so I can continue longer term projects and also because often some things need to be posted immediately for social media. Then I might join some meetings towards the evening and edit some videos for MTA Round Up or plan a future report. I finish up any outstanding tasks and plan the next day before leaving the office around 7:00 PM.

Not everyone who is Waqfe-Zindagi will be posted near or around Khalifatul Masih or even in the same country. What advice do you have for such Waqfeen who will be posted far away from Markaz or their families?

Nearness to Khilafat does not necessarily mean physical nearness. Just as being close to God does not mean being physically near Him. For someone who has a true sense of loyalty, sense of duty, faithfulness and sincerity and love for Hazoor, he may be nearer to Hazoor than someone physically close but lacking those qualities. So it does not matter how close you are physically to Hazoor as long as you're spiritually close to him. If you remember you're doing it all for Allah's sake and not just to receive some praise or recognition from people then that's when you'll be close to both God and Khilafat. Sacrifices don't come without rewards and you have no idea where God can take you next. Hazoor was in Africa for many years before moving back to Rabwah. Then who could've imagined that one day he would be leading the Jama'at and delivering the message of the Promised Messiah at Capitol Hill? So if you silently and patiently do your job genuinely and sincerely then Allah takes care of everything else. There will always be opportunities and Allah is everywhere. And Hazoor can be reached through letters and other means. MTA is a huge blessing and This Week With Hazoor was like a lifeline for Ahmadis during Covid where even those in the UK could not see Hazoor for many months. So being humble, patient and resolute will help you wherever you're posted. As will prayers because if Allah is with you then it does not matter where in the world you are.

Please share a story or event you had with Hazrat Khalifat-ul-Masih V aba?

Apart from the things I've mentioned above, I've seen Hazoor take intricate care over his workers. Whether that's in matters of health, marriage or other personal issues. His concern and attention is astounding given his duties and schedule. He personally asked me about my dietary requirements due to allergies and also taught us prayers to recite for a trip abroad. Almost every time I've had a personal mulaqat with Hazoor I seem to get a boost in my life and make progress while before I may have been stagnant. Huzoor is also keen on us developing, learning and progressing despite us having completed our studies. His vision is broad and far reaching. I continue to realise his deep insight and wisdom the more I get to know how much Hazoor is involved in different projects happening around the Jama'at.