Yusuf Chowdhury on Sabr and Serendipity

Episode 16

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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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Yusuf is originally from Bangladesh but he lived most of his childhood in the blessed city of Mecca.

Life was good until one day his family got a notice that they have to leave the country. It changed everything. 

Listen to this story full of adventure how it is to start from scratch in a new country and eventually he made it to America where he helps other entrepreneurs with their websites and online presence. 

Show Notes



Interview transcript

Maruf: Hey, Assalamuwalaikum. This is your host, Maruf. Welcome to the show Muslims On Fire. I have, today, a brother. We have been doing this for a while, with a couple times. But finally it’s happening. And let me invite my friend, Yusuf Chowdhury. Salam, Yusuf. Welcome to the show, bro. 

Yusuf: Walaikumassalam. Thank you for having me. I’m so excited.

Maruf: It’s my pleasure. So we gotta use a podcast.

Yusuf: Oh, yeah, man, sure.

Maruf: Okay, bro. So, you know, we just try to get to know you better and some of the questions will be new for me as well. So I am so excited. So, tell us how it all started, you know about your childhood and what you remember and what you think that makes you who you are today from those memories, you know, go ahead. 

Yusuf: Okay. Wow. So, get ready everybody because it’s gonna be a very boring story. Okay, so about my childhood, I was originally from Bangladesh that I was born and raised in Mecca. 

Maruf: Wow, out of all places in Mecca. 

Yusuf: Yes. I went to Saudi school. So when people look at me, they can differentiate whether I was a Bengali or Saudi. Because dressed like them, smelt like them and talked like them too. So my dad instead of like how typically other folks from Bangladesh or from Pakistan also continent. 

They usually send their kids to their embassy and what not. But my dad never did that. He did so, since high school, so it’s a strange life because the first time when I went to the first grade, okay, I never knew how to of course speak the Arabic language. 

And I think I was six when I went elementary. Okay, so, you know one of the memories like, never gonna forget them. So one of the first memories in that school is that the teacher didn’t understand that I wasn’t understanding what he’s saying. 

Okay. So there was a lot of miscommunication to a point that one of his punishments was that he punished me by putting me in a room lock me in a room full of old, you know, like tables and you know shelves that all have broken, some of rats here and there. 

You locked me up in that room. Probably the whole day. And I could see me up because we should have an apartment. I can see that while my family’s apartment could be seen from the school. There’s a window, sounds like wow, it was so painful. I mean I’ve never in my life. I cried so much on the widest teaching doing this to me, right? 

So because of that I have to figure out how to speak and how to talk at all but not so that was my first experience and I never never liked the school from inside every time. Yeah, every time I go to school either cry or I run away from the school or something like that. 

Maruf: Not a good start. Okay. Your story is a little bit interesting. So before we talk about your childhood tell me something that your parents are from Bangladesh, right? And How did you guys go to Mecca? That’s an interesting point. 

Yusuf: Excellent question. Well, my dad actually lived in Saudia for more than probably 5 years. Okay. He was in Saudi a long time ago. He worked in a hospital. 

Maruf: Was he a Doctor? 

Yusuf: You see, this is the confusion. This is the use of my life because in the passport, well, it’s funny because my dad had the Pakistani passport for before the 1970s, you know that item 71, right? Before the split.

 Then you also have the Bangladeshi passport. So in the past what it says is a compound run. What does that mean? But what I remember, we have a compound stuff. What I remember from my dad visiting because I used to take us to the hospital at his work. 

When me and my younger brother. We are actually, in the family, eight brothers and one sister. Okay. So I’m number five. Yeah, I’m Number 5 and actually we became such a third brother also passed away later on and that’s gonna come in the story. 

But when he used to take us he had his own office, all right? Just a huge office has on desk with all these the tools of the you know, you know like, the surgery isn’t cutting heads and what not. 

And I used to see him that sometime again another memory. Our father came with a girl and the girl had her hand burnt or something like that, right? So what the father did for this girl is that he put toothpaste to cool the burning stuff.

And my dad just did it real quick. And use some sort of silver water and golden water. Looks like golden yellow water. Okay some sort of chemicals to clean it and wrap it up really fast and the word is on the street that everyone at the hospital not my dad. 

He was like an alpha badass if I can say that because he was like the Imam for them like he did the Salah but he was also like, you know, because you know a lot of you know, old school Saudis part, so you know, talk like a gangster, right? 

Okay, so he has so much respect but when it comes to patients, he was very kind with the patient like he has a skill. That the patient doesn’t feel the pain. 

Maruf: Wow! Like very soft or anyway.

Yusuf: Yeah, even though he’s not actually performing sort of like, a minor surgery on something like, you know cutting their part of the body and sewing and stuff like that. 

So this is what there is to do. So, I’m not sure if that’s considered a high type of nurse nowadays, but that was his job at the hospital so that’s what.

Maruf: Your father used to work inside of this. How did you end up in the Macca, especially? Well. I mean tell me this, you know as Muslims, I mean every Muslim we had of yearn to go to Hajj to Mecca.

And somehow I mean out of all places your childhood is spending Mecca some kind of blessing in a memory. Did you feel that? Did you feel that attachment or anything else or you were just a boy just growing up in a city. What was it? 

Yusuf: I’m glad you asked that question because it’s a mix because in one hand when you’re used to the heart of every day one incident that environment you become desensitized to it. 

You can just be normal. Okay, right? And I’m not gonna appreciate it from somebody from outside later on I understood the value something happened in 95, right? Because when I was born in a place called shop bacon, which is like right in front of that. In fact, do you remember the history where an incident happened in Saudia called Johemam.

Maruf: Yeah, I heard about it.

Yusuf: My brother and my dad were inside. 

Maruf: Oh, really? 

Yusuf: Yes. And told me stories like how to jump on the second floor and stuff like that. They went inside quite a story. But this is where all of us were born at that place. The letter on, my dad moved us to another fancy area in Mecca called Al-azizia. 

So this is like a nice area and I want elementary intermediate and high school in that area. 

Maruf: That’s how the story starts, interesting. So you end up like at home. I guess you guys speaking it’s called being Bengali. Is it correct? Or English?

Yusuf: Yeah, here’s a funny thing about our house because you know, my dad has two of his favorite shows wrestling and bollywood. So when it comes to wrestling Hulk Hogan, ultimate warrior, all these things. 

My dad is yelling and shouting at the screen and my eldest brother thinks that he’s yelling at him. And of course the bollywood. Somehow my dad spoke out of here, right? We spoke Arabic and Urdu. And my mom spoke Urdu and Bangla.

But Bangla, she spoke about the child ghanian dialysis. So sometimes she spoke to us Bangla and what is fun in Arabic? It’s weird. We were just speaking Arabic. That was a conversation. But my dad always looked like a Saudi. He just looked Saudi gangster. 

That was a dynamic at home, especially with when you have like to my eldest brother like brother Ali and Basheer. They got your own thing going on. Me and Smile are the troublemakers. I’m the black sheep in the family. I am the most trouble maker in the family.

Then my sister Asma, spoiled one here. We spoil her because she’s the only daughter. Then, my two younger brothers came into the scene. But I’m the one that causes a lot of havoc, the family in terms of like, you know, just a troublemaker inside the house and outside the house and our lifestyle was one of the beauty of Mecca is that the massages are everywhere, right? 

Every block is a must. So when we go to school we start at seven in the morning. We just walk, we never drop this will be actually wanted and the first school is right by our house is like less than thunder what the Intermediate School will take about 15 minutes at the high school 15 minutes one.

But we walk to the school who come home like by noon. This is when the school is done. And after that this is where the hot weather from 10 to 2 is very hot, after that asset outcomes in me and my brother, my friend will hang out at the Masjid and also can play soccer or we play all the long time.We come home like, maybe 10:00 at night. So that’s our daily activities. 

Maruf: Somehow you mentioned that your school wasn’t a good start. And how do you go down from there? Is it ever going to get better along the way or that wasn’t.

Yusuf: The way I’m doing, not really for the first six years in elementary school. Three years intermediate and three years high school. Things are okay, but in the elementary school and in the intermediate and high school. There were some amazing teachers that were visual of the very awesome. That’s what kept me going. 

Maruf: What was the subject, Tafseer? 

Yusuf: It was a Tafseer teacher and also fiqh.

Maruf: Let me ask you. So we are talking about your school. Was it a Islamic school or normal school?

Yusuf: Excellent question. Sadui has four kinds of school. Okay, the first one the government right which I went to. The second is government but it’s called a fill the Quran and that means is everything that the government curriculum plus emphasizing all the mobilization of the Quran. 

And the third one is still a government. But it’s called Medicine islamiyah, which is mainly Islamic, okay. If I study Hadith, I will probably learn 500 pages. For example, they’re more extended right then you have the private school. So that’s how it is set up.I went to Saudi government school.

Maruf: It was supposed to be the easiest one, but you guys were still learning to fear and circus, that’s amazing. 

Yusuf: Unfortunately, things are generating that now back in the day in the 80s back when we studied. You have no option to pick a subject. They will give you the subjects. So from the first grade to high school all the bridges text will never end. 

If we start class in elementary, we’re going to finish it in high school. So, it’s a continuous process, so every year you get two different greatness. There’s a continuation. Well, okay. I thank Allah for that so much because otherwise I wouldn’t know the Islamic States, the Arabic language and how to do my own research.

And learn it this year. I’m saying so when I’m still the whole curriculum, for example in religion. We have some five subjects, the Quran, the Hadith, Ferch the Tafseer and Tajwid.

We write and of course in science, you know biology, physics, you know, maths all the other stuff and of course in social science, you know libraries and sport and what not. So we were bombarded with so much stuff to learn, right? Not just that part, right? That’s why I do consider, back in there.

If you go back in the 80s and later before I mean, I think that Allah blessed my dad because he put us inside school because now we understand the Dean much better. It makes sense. I’m not saying that they are perfect. But at least I’m so, give it to Allah for that. 

But nowadays, when I went back this year. Look at some of the curriculum, Subhan Allah, they’ve changed. I mean the stuff that I was taught they don’t teach anymore, you know. 

Maruf: So it’s more like coming right now or.

Yusuf: In a way, they were removing some of the concert because in my days we used to like the teacher who is openly discussing things that are not going to discuss, about nowadays. For example, we were taught that in Islam is a system that the democracy and secularism and money and capitalism. 

These are all man-made and stuff like that. But nowadays, here we’re going to hear that, right? So these are some of the good experience at the bad experience in the school is that they were some teachers stuff. 

Even in the Dean and as soon as to question this to tell you don’t ask questions, like for example, the question they used to tell in the Arabic that means don’t ask question because the question can lead and that can lead to qufur as soon as I stopped to say that I got scared. 

Yeah, but I still have so many questions, right? I remember one day a teacher said that the music of Aramis pictures are I tell him but we have this Megastar store outside and this team perhaps, you know, pictures on the reality Islam in the face that because I mention to people.

You know, so those are the bad experiences that make sense to them. Yeah, but I got most of my knowledge from one again. Thanks a lot to Allah. My dad, he put us with The Quran to The Hermes Sharif. When we were young I went to Hermes Sharif and also I was learning The Quran for like two years. 

Maruf: Wait. You mean that the haram itself. 

Yusuf: Yeah, The Hermesh Sharif. 

Maruf: And did you study The Quran from someone? 

Yusuf: So there’s a lot of teachers. They teach The Quran and instead the Haram. In fact most learners have teachers to help you memorize the Quran and my right eye nowadays. I don’t know but my time, it was full of kids and stuff, right? 

So we used to go because my brothers went to the Harem and my third brother Allurehamo. He actually memorized the whole Quran. Okay, so my dad sent us, of course we were the trouble makers for two years and the beautiful thing at that time, on the first floor of the heart of a Hermesh Sharif.

There were so many scholars that used to sit and surrounded by students or common folk right? So you said and you asked questions in learning those who discovered that I love the respect. 

Because as a young kid, I mean I can ask anything and teach with kindness and then they actually make you ask, they encourage you and they also give you resources, right? So,actually, Alhamdulillah! About the dean from them as well and not just from school. 

Maruf: So School. This is the school that you gave the example. That’s much more like don’t ask questions. I’m telling you, the truth is accepted or not and compared to this and compared to the scholars. Let’s say hey, it’s okay and ask questions. And then let’s go ahead.

Yusuf: Correct. and just because in school not already got some changes much like our co-teacher was amazing, right? I did something with the person that the person was teaching or there were some teachers in the dean that were amazing a lot.

But I still remember this day because the way they teach each the way they make you feel important versus some that don’t and a reason I mention that horrible experience because that spear stuck with me.

I mean when somebody slap me in the face for what it’s doing because you asked I don’t even know if I got that I should move on but that’s think it’s stuck in my head but one that when I met an awesome teacher then of course that changed me, right? I don’t want to generalize everything.

Maruf: Sure. These types of things here come those either fear because these things you don’t know enough that they can respond to you and you know, it’s nothing to fear. I think it’s much more like knowledge I guess. 

Anyway, that’s interesting. So let’s imagine, so, you kind of end up with school. So did you end up studying at the college or university in Saudi as well?

Yusuf: Nope, what happened in 95 like that my dad had stroked. And that was a point in life that a lot of things changed. One of the things I didn’t mention is that from my childhood. Good, the discrimination and racism was like everywhere. 

If you are in Saudi there’s always gonna look down on you. Even going to school wasn’t easy because for my dad to make us enter the elementary or the intermediate or the high school. He knows his friends. We called him, stopped. 

So if you have a connection whether it’s somebody who was in the higher up or somebody rich, whatever that can, you know, put some more effort. And that’s how it was.

Because I saw that from my intermediate school and I think I still am. 

So, one of my awesome art teachers was very supportive of me. Like he used to tell me to go to these clubs and improve and what not. So, when the time came for people to win the award. 

So I think, I was selected the third or something like that from that particular school mother said he’ll have it. There was Thalha and he is sad because I can see him, that he’s also said that he called me during lunch. Hey, you know, you did great but unfortunately the past, the reward for somebody else. 

Because you’re on that side. And I thought that you know, what’s the point of me going to school when you’re not gonna give me the reward because I’m aginable and actually until this I remember that I was actually not what I did to my teacher was not cool. Because I was mad and I was so pissed that I had to throw the odd I told him to do this.

Maruf:  Whatever you tell, was the truth, right? 

Yusuf: Yeah, I just opened and he just couldn’t do anything. He was like, calm down. I don’t like it is not fair. Like we study hard most of the journey but you do very well. Okay, and this was just getting out of hand. 

In fact, most of my friends from the neighborhood from the School most of them were not so like you know Egyptian, Yamani, Sudanese, Palistanis.

Maruf: Yusuf, your story, just remind me that like prophet Sallallahu Alaihis Salam came to find racism right this time. Unfortunately, like I don’t want to generalize that. 

But they are not the first one that turned the story unfortunately that in Saudi in terms of helping that’s still the case somehow they look at people who are some kind of lower case. It’s not everybody but it’s enough to say that it is kind of practice. 

Unfortunately, like especially the nation that brought us the Prophet, right? So it seems like right you’re not getting the lesson. Unfortunately. It just makes me sad don’t you say so?

Yusuf: Yeah, but you see I’m a string of my experience because I don’t want to be very fair because they were amazing people from Saudi to of course, you know, for example, they are I mean, I mean, I’m not gonna lie – I mean, like I said, I’m very grateful to Allah that I was born there studying there. 

And I was surrounded by amazing teachers and amazing people. They are of course, but when the society even the people that are good people, right? They see it. They say it’s wrong but they can’t do anything about it. 

You know what I mean. What can they do, right? There’s some Alama spoke against that in fact the funny things that in the Saudi channel number one after before every Ajan they always have a Hadith or Ayat. That Chosen One the TV rising. 

And one of the most popular Hadith is great, right? This is not between none other than Arabic. So you do see it on the TV every day. So it is ironic, but I think sometimes there are some good Muslim in there.But I think the government system by nature is discriminatory.

Maruf: Well, that’s exactly what I was talking about the system. Not only usual people, there were also good people, right?

Yusuf: Of course, and I honestly think I know I’m gonna say a few things that might be controversial imagine so but I don’t care because if you don’t love the thing is I also think that like if I relate myself going away back in the 90s and 80s and backward I think people in Saudi. 

This is hard work and I think people saw you have more knowledge, but it comes to the Dean that other countries. I’m saying this because I met many Muslims from different parts of the world. And the basic of the Dean that they have no clue. 

Some like wow, I mean this is kind of interesting and ironic because on one hand you have this place that even the Saudi itself. I mean, I tell a lot of people that I’m Soudi. Because Saudi means the family felt so right.

And I have to admit because historically this country was established by the help of the British. It wasn’t done by Islamic incident. If the foundation is not Islamic everything else is going to fall, you know, I mean. 

And I see this and of course I want you to throw So that’s how you know. Now we have Allamah. May protect Allamah from him in jail. I called him Allamah supporting those who just you know work you know, for the things and what not. You know, what I mean. 

So when you go to places like Medina or even other Muslim countries because you know people don’t study the psycho speaker agreement if you study the psycho speaker agreement, you can see exactly how the homework divided and for reason, you know, by the Islam. But nobody is looking at the stuff. 

Maruf: What did you say?

Yusuf: So  you people can go and study the psychos speaker agreement. 

Maruf: Okay. Yes.

Yusuf: Yeah, you will find that the whole agenda is not to make the Muslim unite under one leadership, right? So that’s why we have all this, divided so-called countries when Mohammed Salla Salam said that you know, it’s worse in the stink. 

And now we have Muslim that are so supernatural when I supposed to be like that, right, but that is the mentality that one is politically that’s the main problem is someone the foundation is not based on the correct understanding everything else are going to go through all this part of the world.

And most of my suffering there’ll be no solution for them until that unite under the authority and that’s something clear from the front from the Hadith but again, sometimes it teach like a fairytale only teach you the Thoree the sudden the story of Prophet the Sahaba, they don’t teach you.

Nowadays, nobody teaches you from the practical point of view. We teach all it’s like a fairytale. Something in the past and you know, what I mean but the reasonable situation unfortunately even what I did when I went back after 20 years like this year.

 After all these years people are still stuck in the same ideas, right? It’s not easy for you to find a job because you’re acting like, do this because you are annabi. Then really.

Maruf: So that’s exactly, I mean, you said unfortunately, your father died. It means that you kind of moved away from Mecca to another place or.

Yusuf: I’m glad that you mentioned that question. When my dad got sick, he got a stroke in 95. He was half paralyzed. Okay. So, he couldn’t work anymore at the government hospital. So what we did, that we had to transfer the kafala because when you live in Saudi you have to have something called sponsorship, kafala, right? 

The Ministry of Health was my dad’s caffeine. So we have to transfer it to one of his best friends, Alarhamo. That is named one of my dad’s friends. So we transferred to him, so my dad can stay. He will take care of him. Alhamdulillah, We did it. 

But subhanallah at the end of 95 or close to 96 the immigration. I remember when I was young I was in college 17 or 18. When they immigration for some reason called my family my eldest brother, Obaidur kept some information and they asked for my dad to go to the immigration office. 

So in order to format that to work you have to grab him because he has a hard time to walk by himself. So my brother Obaidur and Bashir took them to the immigration. And this is another tragedy. Because now my eldest brother.

Maruf: Yusuf, wait. I think I got lost after you said you have to help him to walk. Can you repeat from there?

Yusuf: Sure. Because my dad is kind of half paralyzed from taking what little bit but you have to help him. My brothers, Obaidur and Bashir took my dad to the immigration and when Obaidur came home. And he was crying.

Then my mom asked what happened? He said that they locked him.

Maruf: What?

Yusuf: They locked him for the Hodges which is like a small jelly in the immigration. I’m like, my dad is sick, right? He needs the medication every, you know, five or four or five hours. So Bashir found a brother from Egypt and Pakistan inside the gel and solemn can you please give this to my daddy. He needs it for five hours. 

So we take him home and we’ll keep calling my dad’s friend to figure out what we need to do. And of course. But my dad’s friend went and talked to the director of immigration. And of course they let him go but they give us like I think a week to leave the country. Okay, and we have to pay our own money. 

So they give us a week. So my dad, my mom myself, my brother’s Smaele, my sister Asma and all of us had to be deported the other brothers. They had their own field, all the couple of their friends the Saudi friends, right? 

So that’s why they’re able to stay. But all of us have to go. And remind you, I never went to Bangladesh. Okay, so we’re like all crying. Oh no, and it’s funny because when you were growing up and when we see all those races in front of us. 

We say, ah, what’s gonna happen to us, you know, because we act like then we talk about them. They are not going to have it because no cop can stop us because we just like them they wouldn’t know, right, under the days. Now, it happened to us. So that was a wake-up call, right that was a wake-up call. So I was like, crying and sad or what not? 

So one of my cousins also lived in Soudi. Just like us born and raised. So my cousin he’s like a genius crazy guy. We call him, genius crazy guy. He told me one thing to see that this is what I’m sharing with you this the memories and never going to go away, right? 

So he told me one thing. You know, why are you whining and bickering, man? Didn’t you know that the Muslims and Bosnian we’re getting slaughtered. It was 95 or I don’t remember. They were getting raped and getting slaughtered.

That means, you have a roof in your head. I said, you know what you’re actually right. Why whining and crying for this, right?  At least I’m breathing. At least mom and dad here. So we were deported and.

Maruf: Just like that?

Yusuf: Yeah. Like that where we went. Yes, and we went to Dhaka for the first time and landing is another experience. We were a team we took up in Bengali Airlines. So, you know, we fly with the Bengalis and soon we land in Bangladesh, Dhaka this one guy acted like he cares he wants to help my dad.

So, he got what he called it, you know, the chair and what’s that? It turns out. He actually used my dad possibly, smuggling something that he was to put it on my dad’s lap and he did that once he got it he left my dad alone in the airport. 

I’m like what the heck? What kind of people are these? As soon as we’ve gone through the customer and then of immigration to go on the other side because we do not know how to speak Bengali and me and my brothers began to speak Arbi. 

They asked us to give him, like a rusheha bribe to let us out. Are they going to open all yeah, but what so my brother Smaele had a gift from his friend’s dad was like a hundred real have to give to the guy to let us out, right? 

And as soon as we go after the airport is so humid, so hot and never in my life seen so many people, right? I was like what the heck right and then, my mom’s side my uncle, we call him Khalu, right? 

Mashallah, he’s an amazing guy. Okay. Came with a small one of these lucky know how this Japanese at minivan small one right there. Okay, he put all our stuff. We went to this bus station that looks like a small room and we started from that bus station from 11 a.m. in the morning to six pm.

Maruf: Why is that waiting? 

Yusuf: Oh, just waiting for another bus to come in. Okay, it was why I’m going to experience like wow, this is cool, right? It’s not cool. The bus comes in and we go inside. Of course, the people were helping us, moving us toward the Chittagong Barnhart several hours. But I think it was 4 a.m. When we got there. 

It was a village. Everything was too hard. I can see this amazing, you know those insects with the lights. I don’t know that. Those insects are like, everywhere. And it’s a village and we go to see my mom’s mom, my grandma. I haven’t seen her in my whole entire life. 

Now, I see her, right? So there’s no electricity, right? So the house was made of mud and that’s it. So far in the morning we go and we’re tired. We just slept and I met three of my khalo also my aunt and yeah, that was a fun experience in Bangladesh. 

It’s really like back in the Stone Age, you know, and because we’re so spoiled my mom’s brother bought us like, basically ordered electricity to be added to the whole. 

Maruf: Otherwise you couldn’t survive, I guess. 

Yusuf: Yes, well Brad, right for sure then put the electricity and put a TV and we just stayed in the village for three months. And of course a lot of superstition there. They bring those weird people that claim all these persons. He is a Healer. 

He talks to the Jinn whatever he was doing, you know, the flaxseed oil he was using the black seed oil and just massages his hand. That’s it and saying some bunch of gibberish stuff, you know, I mean, so we have fun even with this. 

We actually try to have fun just to kind of deal with the situation. I mean, I love that nature. I loved the simple environment. There’s a lot of things like I said superstition and ignorance, you know, then after three months we went to Chittagong the city and we stayed there for six months.

And my dad’s health was really getting bad. We were at this apartment which is not even complete yet. This is not even finished. It was still inside the apartment. That’s how the things work in Bangladesh, right? So, it’s for six months and my mom somehow figured out how to take my dad back by applying for Umrah Visa.

Maruf: Oh, I see. 

Yusuf: Okay. That was all. Away at a time and I’m saying this right now but I’m saying like Allah help us anyway, but she took the Umrah visa with my dad because my dad’s house was getting bad. So take the Umrah Visa. 

Then my brothers will take it out how to take care of him whether to change the status of what not. The only problem is we didn’t have enough money. So I had to stay. Okay? Okay, I told my mom look, you guys just go.

 Maruf: Is it only you or your brother and sister?

Yusuf: My brothers and all of them like my brother’s, my sister. 

Maruf: Okay, only your father can go there or what? 

Yusuf: Oh, no, my father, my mom all of them can go accept me because I don’t get money in the financial situation. After then, something changed. Then I started to hate Saudi. With a passion, I told my brother and my sister that you know, what? Hey guys let’s stay here.

Do something here. My dad lived in Saudi for 50 years and they treated him like this. Yeah, a long time, but after this I’m like, what is the Kurama? What’s the Deen? Our dad is like dirt. I would never go back there. You know what I’m saying. 

My thing changed even though I lived there, right? But if they treat my dad like this, where would I go? I see if you live for a long time and we study we spin it every day. We keep saying it will never happen to us, but it happened to us, right? 

But didn’t listen. I’ll go back. I don’t care even if they make it work as a kinase which means like a street cleaner. I’ll still go. You guys go. I stayed there because of financial reasons. So everyone went back. And I moved to Dhaka where my dad’s friends lived there. Okay. 

Maruf: So, you are on your own.

Yusuf:  Yes on my own. Don’t know how to speak proper Bangla, right? I just made this decision.

Maruf: How old were you in that time? 

Yusuf: I believe I was in high school, like around 17 or 18 that age. Yes. Yeah, I stayed and after one week my mama sended me the money and I wanted to gl Saudi. I wanted to join my family. But there is a problem. 

The guy on the front counter was asking me. Are you going to Umrah? Who you are going with? Hmm? You cannot go by yourself? Oh shoot. I cannot say.

Maruf: Why can’t you go on your own? 

Yusuf: I don’t know what that thing was asking me, said I got to have somebody with me like another elder. Then he’s asking me even if you go by so what are you going to stay? 

So I was afraid to tell where I was going. I don’t want my family to get the footage. So, I told my mom that I’m sorry, mom can’t come over. 

Maruf: Sometimes you feel relief. You don’t wanna go back there. 

Yusuf: I don’t want to hit my dad and my mom. It’s this person that took care of us man. In fact when he was sick one day I was sitting where the living room is and he came in and slowly at 9:30 in the morning. 

And he just slowly goes down on the floor and lay down and looked at me for going from the side extending from the side. Like he’s taking a nap. He looks at me. Then he tells me to take him up. Well, when he said that I cried. 

Maruf: What does it mean? 

Yusuf: That you’re a good son? Yeah, so that’s why I’m from that day. You know what, I’m gonna do something better, you know. So he said that instead and he’s like when he’s sick something can understand him, but when he said that he touched my heart.

Because in Saudi, my dad was like an alpha guy. When he comes home everyone gets scared, right? One day, I was using a bus and one day he bought me a BMX because my brother had a bicycle from his cousin’s but I didn’t have one.

And I didn’t ask my dad, but he bought me this BMX. Of course my dad loved me but I think in that culture they don’t show it that much. You know what I mean.

Maruf: It’s like a lot of Mucho culture, isn’t it? 

Yusuf: Yeah. He was really a mucho guy even with others now – you know what, when he goes with his friends, you know, play cards and smoke Shisha and how he hits them, beats them and it was like a bus, right? But when he said that to me, it really touched my heart, like wow, you know, especially.

Maruf: After he gets sick. Were you in Bangladesh or in Saudi?

Yusuf: When they went back in 1996 then my dad passed away in 1998 and buried in Mecca. Before he passed away, he was calling my name and I couldn’t go see him because I was in Bangladesh. 

Maruf: Oh, I see.

Yusuf: You know, so that’s something my life changed because my dad made everything easy for us. Like we live comfortably, right? But now, I’m in Bangladesh, right, stuck in Bangladesh working at a fast food restaurant called Bell Purry. 

This is one of my dad’s best friend’s fast food shops that she opened. She said I need somebody that I trust. You are from Mecca, be the cashier. So okay. So I work 7 days straight. I didn’t take a single day off. 

Three years, seven days straight and three years working and for me to continue my education before my mom left. I don’t know how to speak Bengali. I don’t know how to write Bengali. I knew little bit of English. I learned English by myself. I taught myself. 

So initially I thought it was school, but it’s not as school english-medium later on. I found out you can actually go to any teachers house like tutoring, take the classes with them and take the exam but the British Council so all live on air live, right so I took Arbi, Physics, Math and Biology. 

Nothing but the English level is like me going to China and learning classical Chinese. Okay studying is like I was struggling so I was working full-time and studying. So my lifestyle was like this. So I woke up in the Fazar,  got ready to walk to my English teacher. 

I worked a while until my work didn’t stop at her place, was almost 9 o’clock and sitted with her for an hour and a half when I was done. I went to my chemistry teacher, Sadiq, sir. I went to his house, studied with him for like an hour or l half.

Then go back to build Puri, which was a fast food restaurant, like around 11:00, 11:30. stayed there for work there till six. Then go to my physics teacher. She was actually my relative. She taught me math and physics. I stayed there till 8:00. Then, went back to the shop and closed it by 12 and went back walking. 

Maruf: How long did it go on? Three years?

Yusuf: Three years. 

Maruf: Look three years every day you’re working. And why are you going to the teachers house to learn?

Yusuf: Well because teachers were cheaper than school. Because the school, there’s no point for the school. You don’t have to go to school, but I can just go to the teacher to learn everything and take short. Yes and take the exam. 

If I go to the school after that I put, two or three years, I don’t know and it’s much cheaper actually to pay the teacher and not pay the school. Everyone does the study at home. All right. So I took the exam which is British council. 

Maruf: You are doing all of these to pass the exam at British Council. 

Yusuf: Yeah, I forgot to tell you that I was staying in Bangladesh and my plan was to help my mom and dad. So again, my dad has a lot of amazing friends that used to come to our house and come over invisible like childhood friends, right? 

I considered them like my family, but then I thought of my family. I called up everything. So, one of my uncles passed away a couple years ago. He visited my place, man. You want to help your family, get to make a lot of money, get to go to Western countries. All right.

I didn’t have to influence him to go to you as a state or County will have no effect. Okay. So while studying I was also applying so I applied it, Canada and America more than like, probably a hundred applications, right?

Maruf: For a job or for University?

Yusuf: For university and I told them my story. I have my personal statement of what happened to me and why I want to go there to pursue education.

Maruf: And five hundred of them.

Yusuf: It was totally hundred, you know? Okay, good luck all together like in a 30 ot 40 here. And 30 there were like 10, I think 10 from Canada 5 from Australia and I think 20 from The US. That accepted, I’m gonna have to pick which one you want to go with, right?

So I picked one in Braska. I don’t know how it looks like. Once I got the F one the paper now, you have to go to the American Embassy. So with the American Embassy is another story after at the embassy for almost like four months or six months I go there every morning at 4 a.m. In the morning 3:00 to 4:00 in the morning I go there and I wait in line.

Yes, by nine o’clock the embassy opens, you get inside if you’re lucky they’re going to interview. So I did this for several months and it was very exhausting, man. 

Maruf: Why did you go there for four months only for one interview?

Yusuf: Yeah, because it’s a line if you don’t get that if you don’t get in you missed it.

Maruf: There is no number system.

Yusuf: No, when you go inside and then give a number, right? There’s a huge line.

Maruf: We have to tell this story of the four or five months going to the Embassy to get to one interview from 4 a.m. Three years you exactly had this tough time. And four to five months you go to council for one interview, 4 am in the morning . 

Yusuf: Yep. That’s the way I remember those days. I can recommend the rainy season, you know all this line, you know some child on the corner of the street. So good memories, but you have to struggle because I understand that by the grace of Allah you have to take action and do, just do it.

You know, don’t worry about anything else so that tough life topping out of things, you know, I mean, and I’m grateful to Allah for that. So Looks like, it’s funny because when I got to visit everything then I went back to Mecca for a few days, you know, just to visit my family didn’t head to us and my whole objective was what I’m going to The US. 

So that I can get a degree when I get that degree. I can support my family. That was the whole thing but the plan changes a lot of things as it is. That’s why I tell people like, something you make a plan but it wasn’t written for you. It’s not going to happen no matter what. 

Maruf: Sure.

Yusuf: So, to make it short, this is the struggle. By the grace of Allah when I was in Bangladesh it was not easy to live a comfortable lifestyle than go to a country. That is totally different.

Maruf: It wasn’t easy. 

Yusuf: Not used to. But that’s what I love to make this dua that means Allah blesses those who love you and those who you love, right? This is what I was going to describe that I built a friendship with these guys. I mean so we should hang out with them two times in a week, you know, I mean. 

So I still feel like I’m not totally alone. You know, I mean, we had a good time and when I left Bangladesh, I didn’t tell anybody that I was going to America. Except my friend that the day got left and they because people just don’t want the good for me and half of my family also like, poor and stuff like that. You know what I mean? 

So the day I left I said Salam, I’m out, but my friend’s knew, my dad’s friends because I have to work for it, you know.

Maruf: So, you end up in Nebraska then.

Yusuf: Blair, Nebraska. Yeah. It’s funny because I was in New York. I was like fresh off the boat, right don’t know what the heck is going on and I see this Egyptian brother like he’s for the secured all look you just hook the string to an right away and then go out then one of my dad’s friends son was in New York. 

He is supposed to come pick me up, but I guess he forgot I was tired. So I asked the security guy. How can I call these guys? But the security guard. Hey, can you give me like a quarter something? I want to come earlier to this point. 

The police gave me a quarter, the phone booth and called my relative. Alhamdullah, he picked it up quickly, he said I can’t come because I’m at work, you want to take a cab. Oh cool, I guess at the airport raise my hand. There’s a cab right, sitting inside the cabin, going straight for him and I sat for him.

And around four o’clock, he comes from his office and then he takes me to like Manhattan and the Bronx and softball. He also shows me all the Haram. I saw stuff like that, you know, Hostages in the corner and what not and a lot of other stuff that I have to mention.

Maruf: What’s going on? 

Yusuf:  He was taking me even to the bar. It was funny because when I was drinking, all his friends were laughing. He is from Mecca. Oh,okay. Even the bartender, in the house, gives me a sprite, something like that. Like wow. 

I’m getting spoiled, then I’m like why these guys are doing this to me. Anyway the next day absolutely, because my dad’s best friend my uncle died. I called my uncle, he was visiting his son. I stayed with him alone for one day then the third day I went to Nebraska.

Maruf: Are you studying in Nebraska?

Yusuf: I was the major in business, my business and modern computers. 

Maruf: Okay. Yeah, so that was another. Study very well. 

Yusuf: Life is full of blessings, man. Especially for the person who takes action. So when I went to the college the administration’s all of them were looking at me, like who are you? Well, I’m such and such I’m like, oh shoot. We are supposed to pick up from the airport. How did you come here? This is the first time in the history of Delta College. Somebody comes straight from the airport.

Maruf: From ankles network. 

Yusuf: Yeah. So I was in college. Of course. I was exposed to a lot of stuff, right? What I found out there was in college wasn’t really the thing for me when I used to ask a lot of students. Why are you here? Most of them don’t know why they are there.

But I did enjoy the time which I spent with teachers. Like I still go to their office, have a conversation about different things, religion, politics, life stuff like that, but good on our funders. But letter on I found no values in 2002 actually quit school and moved to San Antonio, Texas.

Maruf: San Antonio, Texas, right? So how on Earth where does it come from? Why not California? Why not? Why not San Francisco? 

Yusuf: Excellent question. I came here because I got married. I found an opportunity. I told my mom, mom, nobody new is in our family. My eldest brother’s like 50 or 51 and my youngest brother’s 30 and none of them are married.

Maruf: Until now?

Yusuf: Until now. Due to the Saudis situation, none of them are married. It’s crazy, right? So, in 2002 I moved. You know, parent blessings that weren’t there. 

Maruf: I have to ask for blessings.

Yusuf: Yeah, you know what you’ve done so many things in your life. You don’t need my permission. But if she’s a good sister, go ahead you got my blessing into a kind of Allah, you know, I said, okay, so I moved to San Antonio, you know, I got married ever since I’ve been living here since 2000 closes in 2002, but I got divorced in 2015. 

So that’s a sad story. I have my daughter. She’s 14 Amira and my son, he’s 12 so he’s a child. So yeah, so Like this one. I came to San Antonio. I decided to continue college maybe here but instead of that myself to work and support my new family. 

And at the same time I went to hang out with amazing friends, like Ali. When I was in college, and even when I was in college back. And when I used to do a lot of other projects, that’s how I met him in the US. 

Maruf: He was in Texas. 

Yusuf: No, he was in California, but I knew online so I knew about him back when I was in college. Let’s say I knew him about 2000. 

Maruf: So, it was Ali. 

Yusuf: He was at the valley then it was something else project, you know this sort of strap project all Islamic stuff of course. I got to know him and I started to help them to be like a supporter, right, then Subhanallah. It’s funny because I’ve known him since 2002, right? But the first time we met was in 2006.

We were like wow, it’s like we know each other. We will become the best friends. So, he taught me a lot of things like you know, business ideas and stuff like that. So then I started to hang out with business minded people. 

Well, I was doing the full-time job, but I was also doing something on the side in order to support the family. So he started doing one more film back in the day the Social Media stuff. I got into it and I’ve been into all the marketing. 

I fell in love with it and that’s how my own digital marketing business starts from there because that’s what was an inspiration, right? That was the inspiration. Letter on, his best friend, Mujahid favored. You don’t know Mujahid.

Maruf: Yeah. I think we also interviewed him. He’s going to share one of his stories. 

Yusuf: Yeah, it’s so he’s also one of my mentors. So, Ali was a dramatic guy. All right and that Mujahid was like I’m going to slap on your face and that’s how he was. Like he knew my weaknesses, he knew how to push me and knew how to, you know, push the button to me to get pissed off at the center. You’ll say no, you’re right. 

So both of them helped me in that sense and the rest. I just stop myself by making mistakes learning surrounding myself with the business minded people and what not. 

Maruf: So, tell me what you do, now. What are you up to these days? 

Yusuf: So right now I own a digital marketing company called online business owners dot-org. So I provide services in, you know, branding, building sites as your social media ads but I also train and coach and this is amazing because when I was young I wanted to be a teacher. 

This is like my dream come true and exactly according to the society standard, but now I teach in fact I even teach at universities. So teachers invite me to teach their students not officially, but I’m still teaching them right, entrepreneurship and digital marketing and what not. So that’s what I do as well. 

Maruf: I mean, that’s awesome. And something also we do as well. So here’s the thing. I mean, if you look back today you enjoy what you’re doing today, don’t you? 

Yusuf: You know, Subhan Allah is amazing. Okay life will hit you so many times to a point that you have to get the inspiration. And then I’m too many people like that. So it’s hard for me, even some time to explain to them. I can tell them this is how I am because this is what keeps me going on breathing. 

I’m happy to Allah more every small thing. Of course sometimes pain is something like not easy to bear right but eventually, you know Subhan Allah will make it better. Even if it doesn’t make it better. So what, this Dunya is temporary, you know. I always got a smile, man. You know, you always got a smile. 

Maruf: Absolutely, as I mean if you look back like today with your today, so like what’s you think that helped you like find you what you really care. What was the one common theme would you say that helped you find where you are today?

Yusuf: I will say by the grace of Allah and secondly because of my mom and dad. My mom was that person, the compassionate showed a lot of care and she passed away this year, you know, that’s why I have to go see her. 

The one good thing about that through my mom, my dad, my grandma, my brother. They are all buried in Mecca, so they’re lucky. And also my dad, I mean my dad even with his alphaness he did care of a lot of people used to send money back home is to care that was part of his character of all his friends to come to Mecca. 

He was just to invite them to come to our house whether it’s for Umrah or Hajj, so I saw that in my mom and dad, you know, I mean, so I do want to carry that because you know Sadkajjaria on the parents leave righteous son will pray for their parents or whatever my mom and dad, you know raised me on, I want that has another to be passed on them, makes sense.So that’s why he’s famous. He’s moving. That’s one of the reasons. 

Maruf: This is one of the questions we will ask and the end of the century. So here’s a question. So like how do you keep like, I don’t know you do this business. How do you keep the balance between the Dunea and Deen. 

Yusuf: How to keep the balance in Dunea and the business? Well.

Maruf: Dunea and the deen, I would say but yeah the business I look at the Dunya and the business as the same thing.

Yusuf: The business and the Dunya are part of the Deen. If you leave the dean everything is part of it. The way I think that everything in the zone. Secondary Life relationship business. Everything is secondary because the primary purpose in our life, you know, this. That’s our duty in this life to worship Allah, right. 

Also, to make sure that his law is implemented, right? That’s the primary thing. Everything else is just secondary and some time and again, I’m not a perfect human being, something we do struggle like when you like over the years, I would say a decade ago when I was doing good in the business. I was doing so good to a point that I actually want to say neglected. 

But I was reduced by some of the laws of what I mean by that is five times Salat. So the sooner, you know, I mean, I’m still making the main stuff but I’m not indulging and more like I used to and that kind of was a wake-up call to me. You don’t want Dunya to overtake you because it’s very easy. 

It’s very easy because nowadays I mean you get bombarded from stuff Dunya is being formed Muslim and non-muslim come from everywhere. So you have to constantly ask Allah to help you to give you the right path, it is very important. 

And I think that’s what I thank, Allah so much, man. I’m not saying that I’m better than anybody else, but I’m still thanking Allah for small things to come till I’m able to breathe. I’m gonna be able to make this a lot. I’m doing whatever I can in my best if I miss.

So that one day I get anxiety. As a role on what did I miss that today. Please, Allah help me out, you know with me not to lose it again. Forgive me, stuff like that, right? So it has to be part of you, man. I mean the way you are  that attitude must be carried everywhere whether it’s a business how we deal with others and of a kind of guide.

I’m very direct so sometimes I do piss off people but I don’t care, you know, it is what it is. You have to be like this, you know, constantly learn, constantly, read constantly again, with the good people but like the head that he talked about the blacksmith right that is so true and you hang out with righteous people. 

If you’re strong, you’re gonna rub off their good energy here with the bad people. If you are not strong you’re gonna get rid from them too, right? Something in business, something in life, right? If you want to be successful through the relationships angle they’ll say like somebody was successful. It’s true, man. 

Maruf: The fact that your environment does have a French defense environment. If you want to know that. 

Yusuf: Absolutely man. But that keeps me going again. I mean we breathe every second we have to thank Allah. I love so much even closer in some time. What happened to us. We want the Dunya so much like man, just be a minimalist. You know, what’s the point? What’s the point of having all these. And, of course you can enjoy it.

But try to have the balance. You know, it’s very important. It’s not easy. I’m not saying anybody can do it, but it’s something maybe your parents will pray for you or you have to just constantly remind yourself. 

Maruf: Thanks for sharing the story. I was calm. I need quite a few things. I don’t know the way I look at you. Like I said well, when like, waking up at 4:00 a.m to go to invest that your one meeting for three or four months, man, that’s resistance. 

Yusuf: You know what? I think it’s all about having that subbor. First of all understand that Allah is there for you and just understand that and he’s there for you. It might happen to you. But he’s there for you. That’s the clear thing to the whole universe.

What you have to be so grateful and happy though. I believe in Allah, right? I believe in the dean that is true, right, but what does it mean but I guess that’s it, you know, I mean, so believing that first and secondly have subbor and be consistent. 

Because some time just because you work hard does it mean you’re going to get and what I love this somebody else make Dua for them because the sent that the millisecond of jealousy is dangerous, you know, I mean because in my business is over satchel.

Sometimes, I look at all these other places like they do what I do. You know what Allah, I need to stop thinking about them just focus on myself because the risk comes from him and nobody else, you know, I mean, seriously, nobody. It doesn’t matter what excuse to throw at you, just focus on yourself. 

Do the best thing which you can in your field and generously blessings of Allah. This is something that I’m dealing with Muslim hopefully can understand but now in the non-muslim ask me. 

All right, I used a similar analogy and they do it right.And they are following and they did get again. Allah as he provides to anybody without their deeds, you know. 

Maruf: Absolutely, bro. Thank you very much for your time  for being here. As a note, like where would you like, you wanna hang out or contact you or reach out for advice, anything. 

Yusuf: You know, just kind of got me on Facebook looking for my name’s, not gonna miss it. You want to know about my company just check out all my business owners that org. I do daily Facebook live or answer questions and I just got here San Antonio. I started a meet-up called on the market group and had also managed WordPress group. 

So I actually do like 10 workshops and once someone up, to help the small business and smarter.

Maruf: That’s amazing. You know what I think you’re thinking is that you know, they will. I don’t make this podcast long but there are a lot of ideas quickly. Having said that we are gonna say Assalamu alaikum and hopefully we’ll see you on the next show.

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Episode 16