Baba Ali and Why He Chose Islam

Episode 3

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Hosted by
Maruf Yusupov

I help people discover their purpose in life and follow their passion to live in prosperity.

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Ali had everything: money, cars, girls, and anything he ever wanted. Yet he felt empty inside. Something was missing.

Today he is a serial entrepreneur and a Muslim comedian with a purpose. Let’s discover his transformation story from the man himself.

…if I miss Fajr and I overslept I realize something is weak within my iman…

–Baba Ali

Show Notes

Baba Ali’s Personal Website:

Muslim Matrimony Website

Interview transcript

Maruf: Assalamu alaykum, This is your host Maruf. Welcome to Muslims on fire.

Today, I have a good friend from LA (Los Angeles). Some of you might already know him. He’s a Muslim comedian. He’s a lot of things. I also see him as my big brother. Sometimes, I ask him questions. But today, we are going to ask him a couple of questions to get to know him, to walk in his shoes. And welcome to Baba Ali. 

Welcome, brother. How are you?

Ali: Assalamu alaykum, how are you doing?

Maruf: I am doing good bro. So, it’s been some time. 

Ali: I’m excited to be a part of the podcast . 

Maruf: Yeah. You know, it’s one of those things when you come, things light out, things become bit more funny, a lot less in that way. So, tell me what was your first exact words when I told you? You will be like teaser in that way.

Ali: Yeah. So funny. Maruf first told me about Hate, the podcast called Muslims on Fire. I thought, man, oh, all your critics are going to be telling you the reason why you guys are all in fires because this thing is haram. 

Maruf: No, no, but you have to do this in the haram police way so we are going to put this as the trailer for this episode, go ahead. (laughing)

Ali: It’s haram brother haram.

Yeah, the haram police would be all over you. And they will say, look, this is why this podcast is wrong, because, as you can tell it, everyone’s on fire. And the reason they’re all in fire is because they’re all in Jahannam. They find ways to twist things. And this is like you set yourself up. 

Maruf: That’s true. But something once you hear, you cannot forget it, right?

Ali: That’s the thing, it’s good. Things people misunderstand. They don’t understand what’s on fire means. It’s actually a term for young people which means really cool. If you said cool 20 years ago, they would think that something’s frozen.

Maruf: So just as for those who are listening. We are recording it, sometime in the 2019 where the word “on fire” still has some positive meaning. Let’s make sure of that.

Ali: Just like cool is 20 years ago, fire today is the same thing.

Maruf: On fire means something passionate about. So,Yeah. 

Ali: It may have to do with the climate change, maybe because the world is getting hotter.

Maruf: Exactly, exactly. Oh man, It’s been always nice talking to you.

So, Ali, what are we going to do today is, I guess, you know, we’re gonna decode Baba Ali a little bit. So, we are gonna go back to your childhood and middle ages. It may take some time, but we’re just gonna skip the boring parts and we’re just gonna go to the main parts.

So, why don’t you tell us? Just go back and take us to your childhood to tell us what are the things you remember.

What kind of family Baba Ali has brought up? Tell us more about it. Let’s get to know you. 

Ali: Yeah, my family, my parents came from Iran. We came to America on vacation. And when we came on vacation, the vacation became a nation because the revolution broke out. I end up staying here

And being here, since, I never been back to my home country. So, I grew up here and English was not my first language. I didn’t even start speaking till I was four years old. I remember seeing a school and then just being completely confused what was going on and once started talking, I didn’t stop talking, as you can tell, I think I just saved you all up. (Laughing)

Maruf: Ali, tell me this. How was your family?  you came to US at the age of four in family vacation without knowing it. I understand that. But I mean. So, as you know, How was school for you? How was school for you in the beginning? Like, I think what I’m trying to ask is that, was some kind of bullying involved that you were different from some other kids in the school?

Ali: No, I was always the kid that was the foreign kid. Basically, I went to a predominately more of a white area, a white American area. And so, they couldn’t pronounce my name even though my name was simple, with just two syllables. But they called me Alex, Al and some kids even called me oil. (Laughing)

This is like, all the different things I felt growing up. You just always feel like a different kid. My parents don’t look like the typical kids that kids see on television. So, it always felt different. And because of that, it was kind of challenging at times. But I grew up like a typical American. So, as you can tell from my voice, it doesn’t sound like Persian accent.

So, Yeah. But the challenge that I had was growing up is like because I was always like the outcast. I had to work hard to get to the point to make my parents proud. When I was like eight years old, my dad put me in his office and told me to start working. At eight years old. My salary is 50 cents a day. And I would work and I would learn customer service, I would learn business, I would learn all kinds of things an 8 years old doesn’t have no business learning. But that’s where I started from. By the time I was 10, 11 or 12 years old, I could do a lot of stuff at the store by myself. 

Maruf: Wow!

Ali: People used to walk up to me and laugh. Saying, hey, sir, how are you doing today? Hey sir, is there anything I can help you with?

Maruf: This is a little Ali. 

Ali: By the time I was 18, I had employees almost twice my age and I was running the whole thing.

Maruf: wow, wow! That’s interesting. I mean, so, you were kind of thrown into business world without being aware with 50 cents a day, isn’t it?

Ali: Yep. And then by the time I got to an age where I was watching television and other kids were getting allowances. So, I went one day to my dad to ask him for a weekly allowance. And my weekly allowance was $2. I looked at the $2 he put it in my hand and I was like, what am I supposed to do with it? I can’t buy anything with this.

He’s like, I don’t think so. I don’t think you can buy anything either. Make something out of it. Go make more money out of this $2. He pretty much put it in my brain, too. You have to work hard. You make a little bit money, then learn how to make more money out of that money. So, I took that two dollars. I went to buy some candy and sold candy in school. 

Maruf: What age were you?

Ali: I think, I was at the age of 10, the first grade or second grade I think.  I was doing the sales maybe about eight or nine years old, 10 years old. By the time, I reached the next level, when I got a little older. I was buying boxes of candy. 

Maruf: So, you were a candy man. Candy man.

Ali: They would give us lockers to put our books in between classes. I filled it up with candy and I was making more money during the day during school than kids would make it after school working for like fast food. I was running a business through school.

Maruf: That’s a lot of demand in school. A lot of demand. You were into the right in the middle of the market. 

Ali: Yea, I was the candy man.

Maruf: Yea, candy kid I guess.

Ali: Yea, candy kid. So, I learned from very young age the entrepreneurial stuff. By the time I was like 18, 19, I started thinking of my own businesses and different things. I basically looked at different businesses out there and see how I can improve them. So, my first business was a marketing business. 

Maruf: Interesting. 

Ali: That worked. Yeah, I took a concept of saying, hey, how do you do door to door delivery for marketing, for pamphlets, for flyers. I look at what the competition is doing and what I can do.

Maruf: Wait, wait. I lost you in my first business was marketing.

Ali: My first business was a company called Flyer’s for us. What I did is basically distribute advertisements door to door.

Maruf: OK, cool.

Ali: And what other companies were doing? They were doing it by mail. Oh, the problem is when you do by mail you’re buying these mailing lists and those mailing this will be out of date. So, about 30 percent of the mail that you’re sending, those wouldn’t get through. And then you have to buy envelopes to pay for stamps. You have to do all these costs, which came out about 40 cents or 45 cents per house that you advertise to. I was able to do for ten cents for house by doing it manually. And then, I would put a whole bunch of flyers together, stapled them. So for this one price of sending it to a thousand homes, I would bill to pay five customers or pay for it. And the profits just got out of control. And actually, I learned, I improved it actually. I had so much business that I couldn’t keep up with the math. I couldn’t get enough people to work for me, even though I paid them double of what the average.

Maruf: How could it be? So, you had some scale issues and you couldn’t scale it fast enough I guess, isn’t it?

Ali: I couldn’t. I had to. I was doing it all by myself because no one would take the money.

Maruf: Really?

Ali: Even the workers won’t take too much work. I didn’t know how to hire an employee team. I was 18, 19 years old. But every single failure was a success in a way because I learned constantly what not to do. Stuff you can’t learn in texts book.

Maruf: Either you win, either you learn. Right? So, you never fail. 

Ali: Exactly. Hundred percent. 

Maruf: Well, I mean, here’s the thing. That’s what entrepreneur’s life is. I just want to know, what was your failures in your childhood relationship towards the Islam? The reason I’m asking is that you do your comedy and you do a lot for Muslim audiences. Was it something from your childhood or it happened gradually? What happened there?

Ali: So, my parents didn’t practice same type of religion. They are extremely secular like most Iranians are. So, I actually learned about Islam on my own in my late teens. So, I actually came across this and when I learned about it, within 24 hours, I became Muslim. So, after I became Muslim my entrepreneur skills came with me. And I said, Okay, how I can use these skills to help improve many of the situations we have within our Muslim community.

Maruf: Wait, slow down. So I just don’t understand like why on earth in your late teens, right? Is it like 19 or what?

Ali: Yes. About 19 or 20 years old.

Maruf: Like, why on earth? Like 19, 20 years old. Person like you who has enough money would go and take their religion. Right. Why wouldn’t you enjoy your life? I don’t know. I mean, I’m just thinking it’s like playing the devil’s advocate in US. Like you have so many freedom. You know, you can do whatever you want. Why on earth go on and follow our religion especially if your parents didn’t do that?

Ali: Excellent question. So I had a beautiful girlfriend who happens to be a model.

I had a Mercedes Benz, I had a Rolex on my arm. I had all the Dunia in the world. I had so many friends but I felt alone. Because the one thing I didn’t have is peace in my heart. This is why you see so many celebrities and all these people doing drugs and all this crazy stuff. I never went down that path. But they have all this stuff that you make you think that this is happiness, but it doesn’t bring happiness. The only thing brings happiness is peace. If you have peace in your heart and everything else you have. It makes it sweet. If you don’t have peace in your heart, you have all the other stuff and it becomes completely pointless. And I see a lot of people who chase all the stuff in Dunia. And then once they have it and they get to their goal and all the dreams that they had, they get to it. And when they have it, they’re not happy. They’re not satisfied. And then they think, now what. I was in that situation where I had all those things and I wasn’t interested. I felt I needed to do something else.

Maruf: So, how do you find out? How did you discover Islam? Can you explain?

Ali: Yeah, I was I was looking for all the truth. I was looking for different things, different religions out there. Each time I came across an issue. I would go to the next one .And Islam was the last one left. So, when I learned about it, I saw something that a lot of people don’t see. It wasn’t like a pamphlet or the Quran like that. I was fortunate enough to be around people who actually practiced their deen. And they practice it correctly and their practicing of the correctly inspired me to learn more about people. And that’s why very quickly, I accepted Islam because I saw some things, you don’t normally see these people change to behave in such a way.

Maruf: I mean, it’s not about what you say theoretically but how you act, you know.

It makes you feel I guess. You’re so funny character. I want you to remember this as well. I remember like once you mentioned. I remember you said that you took one of your girlfriends to one of this dawat. Right?

Ali: Ok, so, I went there to learn about Islam. I took my girlfriend with me. My girlfriend forgot hijab and had purple hair. She had purple dyed hair. This is a long time ago. I didn’t know that girlfriend boyfriend were not allowed in Islam. I had my arms around her and the guy was giving lectures about deen. I remember an older sister with hijab walked to us and said that we could not sit together like that.

I said, don’t worry she is my girlfriend and she was looking at me like I was crazy. She was like who are these people? 

The next day I told my girlfriend that it’s over, the girl that I love. This is something sweeter than hers. The thing I’ve been looking for my whole life, you know, that’s one thing about this deen is like, you have to have sincerity. Sincerity as far as like if you’re ever given the truth, would you let go all the stuff, the tradition

One thing about this deal that we have to know remember is that once you find the truth is sincerity is what makes you decide to take on the truth or not. If you’re truly sincere and you’ve been doing something, for example, your whole life and then you realize that what you’ve been doing is Islamically wrong. If you’re sincere, you will give up the thing. you’ve been doing it Islamically wrong and do the things the right way. 

If you’re just following your tradition, you’re just doing it because your parents have done it and stuff like that. Then, we’re no different than the pre Arabs that we’re just worshipping idols and rocks because they just did it because their parents did it right. So, you have to be sincere to the truth.

So, when Allah (SWT) unveils the truth to you, you take it and that itself. It, by the way, is a huge test. I make it sound so easy but it’s not. We have this culture. We have all this thing that we’re used to doing this the way we’ve always done business. This is the way we’ve always done whatever it is. And now we have to not do it anymore. Well, we have to do it the right way. And that’s such a hard thing to do. But if you’re sincere, you’ll do it. And this is why you see stories like myself and my friend who became Muslim literally overnight. And then right there is like the first test is you have a girlfriend. You can’t have a girlfriend anymore. I mean, I had to have that conversation next morning with her.

You know, this is very difficult to do. It’s easier said. That’s easy to say. Okay, I’m Muslim now. But are you willing to give up your haram job that you work at the alcohol company which makes you a lot of money?

Maruf: That’s a hard test. 

Ali: That’s a hard test. But as soon as you become Muslim, the tests are immediately coming. 

Maruf: So, tell me tell me the one incident I remember, you also mentioned that you took up on the challenge on the Quran, didn’t you?

Ali: Yeah. You know, I did write a verse like it. Oh, yeah. So, I wrote two books of poetry. And I tried to write a verse like it. I couldn’t do it. I realized this is just normal book. You know, if you look at the book, there’s just so many levels of miracles. OK. There are the scientific miracles in the biology background, studying medicine to go become a doctor. So, there’s a scientific side of it. Just from a science perspective. 

So if I’m a scientist, I’m not looking at the science aspects of it. It is impossible to say there’s some guy in the desert or even if he was in a desert, how he can come up with all these things, that all became true? Okay. Just no. One, two, three. Coincidences. But there’s a certain level that can’t be coincidence anymore. All right. That’s that. That’s that.

Didn’t you have the linguistic side of things? Things that people can write books and books about the linguistic side of things. Then you have all the other miracles. That’s just there’s no other book like it. Which book in the world? Even the Quran has a memorized by a million people. Can the Bible be memorized? I don’t know anyone except from someone that has a photographic memory that memorized the Bible. I mean, these people memorize the Quran it’s not because they’re great memorizers. Kids eleven years old 10-year-old are not great memorizers. Are they memorizing all these other books? No, it’s only the Quran he memorizes.

So, there is something special about this book, not the fact that this person has a great memory. The fact that many of the people whose first language is not even Arabic. It’s like you and I memorizing Chinese word by word.  And the book is like a big book. I mean, that will see that, OK. That’s unusual. And what if I told you, like a million people memorize the book in Chinese and these people would only speak Chinese. It doesn’t make sense. So, say that’s just one. That’s just another layer of it.

Then you have the other side, the miracles. I mean, there’s so many different levels of it, it is impossible, impossible to be written by a human being. But it wasn’t that necessarily just that made me become Muslim. It was the actions of the people who followed this book to give me interest to see what this book is about. You know, I was trying intellectually to see this thing as book. But, you know, all that stuff is like Muslims. When we come to our gain, it’s easy to practice it when it comes to the masjid, when you’re praying, when you’re fasting. It’s not easy. You want to see how a Muslim really is? Go do the business and see if it suits you.

Maruf: I remember a hadith, this is exactly what tone of hadith say one, don’t look at them that in the Masjid, because of course, they are doing their best. Go and see them in their business.

Ali: Yep, go and see how he interacts with business. Is he low balling his employees? Did he pay them on time? Do they think this guy was a trustworthy person? He cheated. He never paid me. I mean, how many times have you heard this statement?  By the way, which is a shame to hear. But how many times have you heard this? I don’t do business with Muslims. I don’t want to do business with Muslims. How many times you’ve heard that? And you know who said this? Muslims. (Laughing)

Maruf: And you’re not the first person to exactly say the same today.

Ali: I know. But it’s a fact that, as you said, it’s not the first person. The number of people tells you that there’s something deficient in our deen, of the way we practice I mean. Not exactly like myself. But something deficient, like if I’m praying and pray five times a day and I do all this other stuff, but I’m doing all this other stuff in my business, that’s really bad, then something’s missing in my salah. It’s like I’m drinking this liquid, but I’m always thirsty. Was the liquid water? No, it’s soda. If you drink soda for breakfast, lunch and dinner, you don’t drink any water and your body is having some issues of malnutrition. That’s because your body needs something efficient like vitamins, minerals and needs. That’s not getting from soda and it needs the water. So, we doing this prayer or the fasting and we fast to all Ramadan, we stay up all night in tarabi and we do all the stuff and then our actions are exactly the same . Then that means something’s deficient in our Salah, in our Ibadat, in the way we practice our all the worshipping things that we do between us and Allah.

Maruf: I have the same question. Tell me this.

I agree with you. I agree that it’s true. So unfortunate that it happens. But what do you think that is? Why do you think it’s happening?

Ali: Because we learn about Islam the same way the Christians learn about and the Jewish people learn about their religion. We treat it like something completely secular. We treat like we’re in the Masjid, we’re going to accept being religious. But when it comes to day to day life, it just goes out the window, you know, and that’s the challenge. And for it I’m the last person to criticize Muslims because I myself have a thousand issues myself. But I need to improve everything, clean my business. I have to improve myself. But I’m just saying, like, I kind of I’m conscious of it. 

The problem that Muslims have the conscious of it. They just don’t look this way to say, hey, you know what? Maybe I should look on the business side of being Muslim too, you know, the same way I’m looking at is like making sure there’s no gaps between the person standing next to me. Gaps of Satanic etc. etc. Let me look at the way maybe I’m dealing with this guy. Maybe initiate that this is a price and maybe I’m doing this. Maybe you know what, I should contact them again and do the fair thing. Do the thing that I know is right.

Maruf: Absolutely. 

Ali: I mean, just do it right. Look, I don’t agree with what he did. He didn’t give enough. He promised something that he didn’t deliver. But I think I should pay him because my contract so that I have to pay him, blah, blah, whatever the situation is. For whatever reason, some goes out of the picture and it completely goes out the picture.

Maruf: That’s the reality. 

Look, I mean, I think one of the things you can get away with is the guys that you’re a comedian. Right? So that’s  the beauty. 

Ali: Yeah. Doesn’t sound like it though.

Maruf: Let me ask you about this. Like how on earth one day you are just a teenager, then you are engaged in Islam and another day you did issues. You know like the core issues which are real.

I mean, if you’re not making this up. It’s real in the society. And you’re taking those you are being on YouTube, one of the YouTube influencers. I mean, YouTube stars. What happened there?

Ali: What happened was, you know, when I was 20, I didn’t become a comedian on purpose. So, what happened was I actually am a one of those people that have stage fright, which means when I go on stage, I get too nervous to speak. I’m actually scared to speak in front of people. So, how did a person of stage fright become a comedian? Well, I asked me some YouTube videos that became popular. Those YouTube videos about is all the funny stuff about being Muslim in America.

For those who are interested, you can just type in the word Baba Ali on YouTube. You’ll see some children’s videos, but you’ll also see some videos about like me blogging about funny stuff, about being Muslim in America. So, when those videos became popular, I got invited to go speak somewhere. And I kept saying no to the person because I kept explaining like I have stage fright. I can’t do something in front of the people. Even my wife and kids, I wait for them to fall asleep before I do this. I don’t even do in front of them. But the lady said, please come. Please come. Finally, I said, yes. I went there. I was so nervous. My hand was shaking. And in all the notes I wrote and written on cards to read, my speech was just I couldn’t read it. I remember hand-shaking so much. I actually threw my cards and people saw me throw my cards out of frustration and they laughed and said what was going on. So, I kept talking. They kept laughing, I kept talking, they kept laughing. And no matter what I said, they kept laughing. And as soon as the whole thing was done, I thought it was a complete disaster. I walk off the stage and a brother walked up to me and says, Hey, Kid, same comedy skit at our event next week. That wasn’t comedy. They’re like, hey, you are still doing it? I’m like, what!

Maruf: I see. I see. 

Ali: So, since then, I’ve done nearly 400 shows around the world. I’ve been doing and I don’t have an agent and I’ve been performing left and right. Alhamdulillah, even this last part 2 days ago, I performed in in Florida. This is just funny experience.

Maruf: Are you uploading some of the videos on YouTube? Are you doing any new videos these days? What’s going on?

Ali: No. Now It’s just takes a lot of time because people invite me to go speak live events. It keeps me busy. But my topics have changed. So, what I mean is, sometimes I go to speak comedy. Sometimes, they ask me to give a speech. Sometimes, they ask me to give like a pre-marital course. Like you know, a lot of Muslims are getting divorced and we know you have this whole pre-marriage program. So, can you come to do something live for us to help us with the communities? Because young people are getting divorced and we don’t have a buzz about like premarital courses and we don’t have just topics about this and we need to try to battle this and just ignoring this will not making it go away. So, what if we get someone young and knows how to talk to young people and to talk about those issues that we don’t talk about within our community so we can help prevent a lot of these silly divorces that are occurring?

Maruf: I see, I see.

Ali: A lot more people are marrying people that have no business to be married to. They marry people that they are attracted to, but they can’t tolerate. So, the question someone says, how do I learn who I can tolerate, who I can’t tolerate? And those are the kind of things we discover.

Maruf: Yes. Speaking of marriage, you also have the Matrimonial website.

Ali: Half our deen.

Maruf: Exactly. Can you can you give us a brief a brief info what it is?

Ali: Yes, Half our deen is a matrimonial sites we started back in 2010. Alhamdulillah, over 2000 marriages, 2000 people have found other half from half our deen. Just in a nutshell, the ways are different than typical swiping apps. Typical swiping app is basically you’re picture your name and your age and it looks like something that guys will make, right, because this is what we care about your name, your age or your picture. Right? But most women need a deeper level of you before they actually say yes. And they did a recent study that 61.9%, which is basically 60% of men, will always swipe right. And for those who are not familiar and these apps, when you swipe right, that means, you’re interested in them. You swipe left, it means no. Only about 4 percent, which means 96% of sisters do not swipe right. 

Maruf: Yea.

Ali: Which tells us about sisters that not because the men are unattractive but it’s because they need more about a guy before they commit to and start talking to more about marriage. They need more than just a picture. So, what half our deen does is not only does it gives you the picture, information. It actually breaks down the personality, what you’re attracted to. What it can tolerate in a marriage.

We have some things that other people don’t have, including things we just recently added. For example every single person who joins half our deen, you have one free support. So someone, a human being will be assigned to you to be like your wingman, to be your coach and to help you throughout the whole process. It’s completely complementary. So, it’s and we don’t raise our price because of this. 

We just made it so we can make it little bit easier so we can help you find your other half. You’re not just magic joining a gym. OK. You’re joined the gym and they throw you into the gym and then you see all these machines. You know what to do. But imagine you in the same gym and you have to say this is your personal trainer. It is completely free. Every single day you come in, they will be here with you and are here to answer your questions, here to train you here, tell you what to do each day to help you get to the top to help you reach your goal and that’s what will happen, Insha’Allah. So, that’s one latest thing we’ve added.

Maruf: I mean, you’re also entrepreneur. You have this site. You also launch couple of board games, as I remember you are also a comedian. 

So walk me through this. What makes you go ahead and create and create and create new things? What is your secret behind? Why would you end up doing things?

Ali: First of all, success, all the success I have is because of Allah(SWT). I take no credit for that myself. Only thing I have been able to put it and it enabled me to put an effort. The second thing is one of the things I always keep is make duas to Allah to surround me around with the good people that will bring me success in this life in the hereafter, and take me away from people that are not good for me because I don’t know who’s good. Sometimes a person will be your best friend is a person who’s working in the background to hurt you.

So, I pray to Allah to take those people away. The people I don’t see that right under my nose. I don’t see to make them to make our relationship distant and distant until we barely talk to each other. So, with that said, I try to surround myself with good people. And with every project I do, I try to surround myself with different people and try to do those projects with those people. And when I see other people doing projects, I give them my advice without asking for anything in return with the hopes that I would help them become more successful and only Allah knows my intention. I’m trying to help people. Right? It’s surprising though, it’s one thing I don’t see this in our umma. I think everyone’s out there for themselves. They are trying to even step on each other just to move up. Not realizing, hey, we can work together and giving someone advice on their business doesn’t hurt you at all. But people are selfish in that aspect of it and they just are all keeping in themselves. 

And if everyone does this themselves, our committee doesn’t grow. Then this comes back to sincerity we were discussing earlier. If you really, really believe that success is from a Allah (SWT) and you’re helping someone for the sake of Allah, then don’t be surprised or suddenly your business becomes much more successful than it was today before and things come out of the blue that weren’t there before. But you really have to be sincere in that aspect. And I think it’s not a coincidence that so many of my businesses became successful. I think at the end Allah (SWT) knows my intention and knows what I tried to do for people. 

Maruf: Sure.

Ali: And if I don’t benefit from it, I still try to help people. You know, it is funny. I don’t benefit from what I understand. But in the long run, I do get benefit from it because Allah(SWT) either rewards me in this life or in the hereafter.

Maruf: Absolutely. I mean, here’s the thing. Let me ask you this. What does success means to you? What is success?

Ali: It is a very good question. You know, success for a lot of people. You know, we have to look at what Islam defines it. Many words were read just defined by Islam. Like to someone that was strong, for example, you know, as strong as something is physical strength. Our prophet said, two people that were wrestling is the stronger among you two is the person who could control his anger.

Maruf: Yes.

Ali: This is true, there is a hadith regarding that. So success, all these different things, Islam has defined it by saying that someone who is successful, you know, the real success is not in this Dunia. The real success is the person who is in the Jannah in hereafter. As far as this dunia, If I had to define my success in this dunia, I would try to say as someone that I have no conflict with people. I have enough that I don’t have to worry about how I may pay rent and how I may pay funds. And I also have the ability to help others as well.

Maruf: I see.

Ali: That’s success. If I have all the wealth, but I don’t have companions, I don’t have friends and all my friends are all suffering and they’re all miserable. How can I feel good at night if I watch all my brothers miserable and their businesses just failing? And I just have all this. What’s the point? You know, it’s like a person has all the money in the world and they don’t have anyone to share it with. That’s not happiness.

Maruf: That’s interesting. So you’re defining this including others as well in a way, isn’t it?

Ali: Think about it for all the listeners who are listening. Ask yourself the last time there was a gift exchange given, where did you feel better when you received the gift or when you gave it and you saw their happiness from it? So yeah, you get happy when you get certain things that you always want but when you see somebody else’s happiness with something they really want it’s ten times happier. 

Maruf: Absolutely. 

Ali: I think we forget about this. This is just a common human thing. It is not a Muslim or non-Muslim thing. It’s a common human thing. We Muslims are fortunate, but we have kind of been disconnected too. Now imagine on a business level you help someone and their business succeeds and become successful. It’s is a bigger gift for them because now you’re helping their lifestyle and they’re upgrading to whatever situation they’re from.

I think we forget about this. I mean, Allah (SWT) watches everything. So, don’t ever think that if you’re helping someone that will be go not noted. Everything is being written down and everything comes with a reward or with a punishment. 

Maruf: Exactly. I mean look you have launched couple of businesses, Alhamdulillah. Some of those are successful as well. And we have just discussed successes. Again, I just want to know you, as I said you’re one of those people very big. You’re mashallah, very positive. I want to understand the point. Is there a point that Baba Ali sits down and says What on earth is going? You know, something is not working out. I just want to understand, do you ever get frustrated in a way. If so, what happens? How do you get back from it? You know I’m trying to say?

Ali: Yeah, I think so. So I’ll tell you. Anytime I miss Fajr, I see a reflection upon myself as I am doing something wrong. I believe that if I miss Fajr and I overslept I realize something is weak within my iman that I’m missing. And honestly, Allah (SWT) as my witness, I keep doing this. Whenever this have happened the first thing that comes to my head, what did I mess up? What did I do yesterday or the day before or that I did without the right intention?

Where am I kind of like slipping on my Deen? Because if I am then I get too tired to wake up for Fazar. By the time doing fazar consistently, I’m reminded OK either you’re at least on the right track. Because if I slept very late and woke up 2 3 hours later and I’m still easy to wake up. There’s something’s going right. But if I’m missing fazar and I got well rested there’s something going wrong that I’m messing up.

So, when it comes to that’s on the deen side on the business side. If I find something that’s faulty I have to go and take a look and see what am I missing, what am I doing wrong. And sometimes bro, I look at it. Look, if Allah is testing me with something failing. I have to say Alhamdulillah. If he succeeds I say Alhamdulillah. Some things all you can do is put the effort and no matter how much you think this is good for and helping, you realize that at the very end the success of everything is in the hands of Allah (SWT). If certain things are becoming failures, maybe it’s not good for you. It goes back to the Dua saying a minute ago that you’re asking Allah to bring projects and people close to you that are good for you and take them away or something’s been taken away even though you love it. Maybe it’s because it’s good for you and you don’t realize it. 

It’s just kind of like when you’re looking to get married with somebody and it looks like the perfect person. And then, it doesn’t work out. You be like, oh! No, Allah doesn’t love me. No, you don’t understand, this person could give you misery in the future but you don’t know that. Only Allah knows your future.

What if the business that you are a part of, on the day judgment it comes back to haunt you. For whatever situation, may be because of bad customer service, things are completely out of your hands and those people all have debts with you.

So, this was a curse upon me not a benefit. I thought, I was helping the ummah but I was hurting the ummah. 

Maruf: I see. 

Ali: Allah took it away from you. You know you don’t see it. If you really put your trust on Allah, you say, ok if it’s good for me make it successful and if it is bad for me take it away.

Maruf: Yeah. 

Ali: And that’s with friends, that’s with business, that’s with friends and that’s with everything.

Maruf: Right. Sometimes relative.

Ali: Yea, sometimes relatives.

Maruf: Yea interesting. Especially relatives I guess. Yeah.

Like, all these business what you learn, things you did. I want to ask two more questions. One of them is like. Tell us some inside moments, you were doing things in a way that wasn’t working out and you kind of made it work. Well, that was something interesting I learned in the business. It could be in the business, it could be in life, it doesn’t really matter actually. Go ahead.

Ali: Yeah. So you’re interested in business or life? Which one do you wanna know? Deen or business?

Maruf: Deen, I want to know deen, go ahead.

Ali: Okay, So we’re going to deen aspect of it. Like, I may be doing actions and certain things for a long period of time and then I married my wife. I didn’t know a lot of things about my wife by the way. I didn’t know, not because I didn’t know her. I never asked her. You know, I didn’t know my wife was Hafiz of Quran. I just found it coincidence that every time we talked about certain things she had those ayats already memorized.

Why this so random that you have the specific ayats and Hadiths memorized that we were just discussing! How do you know we’re gonna discuss about this? And I didn’t know she was hafiz until one day my daughter tells me. So, this is like years have passed. My daughter comes back and said momma do your mama’s Hafiz? I said no. I asked her “are you hafiz?”. She said yes. I said, How come you never told me? She’s like you never asked.

So being around her, Subanallah, Hafiz is one thing but her character MashaAllah has really reflected upon me. You know a lot of the stuff, the aha moments of saying Allah SubhanAllah, wife or a companion in your life can change your behavior, can help you with your deen, bring you closer to your deen. And a bad companion or bad spouse or a bad friend can take you away from your deen as well. And the greatest gift after I got my religion, Allah showed me Islam and my wife.

You know she is my companion from day one. Everyone doesn’t realize it, even behind every successful man there is a woman that is his support system and without her he could never be who he is. I never talk about her but she’s one of the reasons why Baba Ali is Baba Ali. By the way, every project that I do, there’s always somebody there that doesn’t really have the limelight. You know, my partner from half our deen he just not really an extrovert that puts his name and faces everywhere but he’s just as much part of Half our deen than I am.

And just, every different people I work with. They are all part of it. But Baba Ali usually the person that has a spotlight on him, that could be good and bad. So, I get the criticism from the haram police and then the people who actually benefit from my stuff, they like it. I didn’t choose to be part of the limelight, it just happened. So, even my YouTube videos, my goal was to write the content and find someone to do and be in front the camera. It was never my intention to be in front of the camera. Everyone quit. I couldn’t work with anybody who’s like okay, fine I’ll just do it myself.

Maruf: OK. Sounds good. You think something I should have asked and I didn’t ask that do you think that could benefit our listeners or is there anything you can come on?

Ali: No, I think your questions are very good. Hopefully the people who are listening can benefit from what we just discussed. If I have to just mention one point one more time is that if anything we’ve discussed today I think the most important thing was the companions and your friends that you surround yourself with. If you really want to do with your deen or with your business or with your life the people you surround yourself with yourself are gonna make you or break you. I don’t care how strong your Deen is, I don’t care how smart your business sense is. If you surround yourself with bad people they will only pull you away and there is a Hadith from the Prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam talking about the perfume seller and the blacksmith and these are not talking about OK if you’re just religious you have knowledge. No, they are talking about anyone could be pulled the wrong way just having bad companions. And notice that Mussa, one of the things he asked Allah (SWT) to give him a companion to give him someone on his side. And the prophet sallallahu alaihi wasallam had the sahabas. Right? It’s the people who you surround yourself with.

You can’t just have knowledge and just be good yourself. You have to surround yourself with good people because we’re human beings and other human beings will have impact on us. So, no matter what you’re doing, business whatever you’re doing if it is deen business or life. Surround yourself with the right people and you’ll be surprised by how much they change your thinking and the way you behave and the way you act.

Maruf: So you’re saying is that if anything we should take out from suggestions that be mindful of your surroundings with whom you are, how you are spending your day. Amazing.

Ali: Exactly. Yes, they are reflection of you. 

Maruf: Amazing. Having said that thank you very much Ali. It’s always  pleasure and not only pleasure, a lot of fun to have this kind of talks with you. May Allah gives blessings to your projects and until next time hopefully we’ll invite you some time and again and we can discuss and get updates but until then, assalamu alaikum wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh.

Ali: walaikum assalam wa rahmatullahi wa barakatuh

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Episode 3