An interview with
Yafoor Attari, member of
Dawat-e-Islami’s executive committee (Rukn Shura)
In line with Dawat-e-Islami’s management strategy, Pakistan has been divided into six regions. One of these regions is Lahore. We are fortunate to conduct an interview with the head of this region, Haji Yafoor Raza Attari, who is a member of Dawat-e-Islami’s executive committee.
Mahroz Attari: Where and when were you born?
Haji Yafoor Attari: I was born on 25 December in Data Nagar, Lahore.
Mahroz Attari: Were your ancestors also from Lahore?
Haji Yafoor Attari: My father and grandfather were from Lahore. However, my great maternal grandmother migrated with her family to Pakistan.
Mahroz Attari: What was the environment like at home?
Haji Yafoor Attari: اَلْـحَمْـدُ لـِلّٰـه! Right from the beginning, I was in an environment where those around me held sound beliefs and were practising. My father would pray Salah in the masjid in congregation and recite Quran in the morning. We would commemorate the life of Sheikh Abd al-Qaadir Jilani رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْهevery month [in the form of Ghiyarveen].
Mahroz Attari: How did you spend your childhood?
Haji Yafoor Attari: I was naughty as a child, but I was always determined to become something. My father was a government officer, and he would take me with him to different places as part of my upbringing. I was probably in year 9 or studying Matric when my father took me to his office. Everybody there would greet me with respect and protocol. They would look at each other and say: ‘This is the son of so and so.’ After some time, my father asked me how I found the experience. I replied: ‘I did not like it. I do not want people saying that I am your son, rather I want people to say about you that this is the father of so and so.’ Meaning, I wanted to create a recognition for myself. My father became very happy and kissed my forehead.
Mahroz Attari: How much secular education did you acquire?
Haji Yafoor Attari: In 1985, I finished Matric. In 1987, I completed inter pass. After that, I graduated and entered the realm of work.
Mahroz Attari: Were you like every other child at school or were you popular?
Haji Yafoor Attari: I was the class proctor, meaning mentor, and I had a badge for it on my uniform. The staff at our school was limited, and so some children were given administrative responsibilities. From time to time, I was also assigned different duties.
Mahroz Attari: How many siblings to you have?
Haji Yafoor Attari: There are four of us in total. Our oldest brother is called Muhammad Madani Raza. After him is my sister. I am the third child, and the youngest was my late brother Sajjad Attari رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه.
Mahroz Attari: Who was your late brother, and how did he pass away? Please elaborate.
Haji Yafoor Attari: In 1995, as part of a 12-month Madani Qafilah, the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah travelled to some cities of Punjab. By the blessings of this, the works of Islam spread everywhere. For the first time that year, the annual Sunnah inspired gathering of Dawat-e-Islami took place in Multan. Prior to this, it took place in Karachi. By virtue of this gathering, Dawat-e-Islami gained great success. Seeing this angered the enemies of Islam. As a result, on 17 December 1995, they attempted to assassinate the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah, which led to Haji Uhud Raza Attari (a Dawat-e-Islami preacher) and my brother Sajjad Attari being martyred. During those days, videos and images of the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah were not widespread. It was at night when Haji Uhud Raza was driving the car and my brother was sat in the place of the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah. My brother Sajjad was over 6ft tall مَا شَـآءَ الـلّٰـهand was well built. The attackers mistakenly thought he was the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah and martyred him. When this happened, I was not too far away from the car.
Mahroz Attari: You mentioned that you commemorate the life of Shaykh Abd Al-Qaadir Jilani رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْهat home on a monthly basis. When did this begin?
Haji Yafoor Attari: May Allah Almighty protect my father. He is currently around 85 years old. Once, I asked him about how long we had been conducting this gathering in our home. He replied, ‘I cannot remember, ask your uncle.’ My late uncle was about six or seven years older than my father. I asked him, and he said he did not know but remembers this gathering taking place in the home since childhood. In other words, our family has been reaping the blessings of this gathering for over a century.
Mahroz Attari: What inspired you to attend the weekly Sunnah inspired gatherings?
Haji Yafoor Attari: In our Masjid, there was a man who was a firm Sunni Razavi. He also used to deliver speeches. He would talk about the miracles of the Prophet صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم and mention the life of Imam Ahmad Raza Khan رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه. Once, he asked a Muslim wearing a turban, who are you? The brother said: ‘I am affiliated with with Dawat-e-Islami’ and then told him about Dawat-e-Islami. When the man [from our masjid] discovered that Dawat-e-Islami is a movement of Ahl Al-Sunnah, he invited the brother to give speeches in the masjid. The brother left a copy of Faizan-e-Sunnat in the Masjid and used it to deliver a short talk. After a few days, the brother was unable to attend due to some reason. One day, the Imam told me that the brother does not come anymore to deliver short speeches. Out of enthusiasm, I started delivering the short talks. My affiliation with Dawat-e-Islami began in this way. When I came to learn of the weekly gatherings (ijtimah) that took place, I started to attend those too.
Mahroz Attari: What was the first responsibility you were given in Dawat-e-Islami?
Haji Yafoor Attari: I was made the head of Mazang area in Lahore. In 1990 or 1991, a Madrasa-tul-Madinah was made for male and female children. Upon the order of the late Sayyid Abd Al-Qaadir Shah رَحْمَةُ الـلّٰـهِ عَـلَيْه, I went to Karachi. There were maybe three Madrasa-tul-Madinahs in Karachi at the time. After seeing the setup there, we opened a Madrasa-tul-Madinah branch in Lahore. I was the first member of this department. By the grace of Allah, there are approximately 400 Madrasa-tul-Madinahs established in Lahore in which approximately 32,000 children study.
Mahroz Attari: When and how did you become a member of Dawat-e-Islami’s executive committee?
Haji Yafoor Attari: When the executive committee was first formed in 2000, the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْadded me to it.
Mahroz Attari: You overlook Lahore, KPK and other areas in your region. What do you say about this?
Haji Yafoor Attari: One of the main reasons the executive committee was formed was so that the structure and religious works of Dawat-e-Islami continue even after people pass away. In 2001, the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْwent to Peshawar for a Sunnah-inspired gathering. There, he created a consultation department (majlis mushaawarat) for the Sarhad province, for which I was appointed the head. I was carrying out the works of Dawat-e-Islami in Sarhad province prior to this. In 2006, I was travelling to Dera Ismail Khan for religious works when my car toppled over, causing a fracture in my spine. For this reason, I gave up the duty of being the head for the Sarhad consultation department. People thought that I would be bedridden for the rest of my life. I underwent major surgery, and by the grace of Allah, two months after the accident I returned to carry out religious works. Then, I was responsible for KPK, security matters, the outreach department, the department of lawyers and the department for businessmen.
Mahroz Attari: What should be kept in mind when giving somebody a responsibility in Dawat-e-Islami?
Haji Yafoor Attari: It is the command of Shari’ah to only give a responsibility to those who are fit for it. For this reason, someone’s ability is assessed first. The ground reality is that you may not find for every role the people who have the sought-after skills. In our area, there is no institute where people can be trained on inviting people towards good; there is no ‘تَخَصُّص فِی الدَّعْوَۃ.’ In Dawat-e-Islami, a brother will acquire training at zayli halqah level, then at halqah level, and then at an alaqah level. Like this, step by step, he will progress and become trained in conducting religious works. How practising someone is, having good manners, sharing the organisation’s ethos and being able to give time are the things considered when assigning duties in Dawate Islami.
Mahroz Attari: All of the members of the executive board, including you, possess the qualities of persevering and never giving up. How can one acquire this trait?
Haji Yafoor Attari: The Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ is a role model for us. He is ambitious. He never tires from doing religious work, nor does he give up. Also, he never shies away from a task. Forty years ago, he began the works of Dawat-e-Islami with grit and determination. Today, he is busy in works with even greater resolve. The word ‘despair’ is not in his dictionary. I advise the readers of the monthly Faizan-e-Madinah Magazine to read up on the life of the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah. اِنْ شَــآءَالـلّٰـه, the clouds of despondency will fade away and a new dawn of hope shall arise.
Mahroz Attari: Share with us an important part of the Ameer of Ahl Al-Sunnah’s character from which we can gain hope and encouragement.
Haji Yafoor Attari: I shall mention one thing about this great individual. Look at his childhood; he was from a poor family. His father was not some famous person and passed away when the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah was a child. As he grew older, his older brother passed away too. At moments like these, some people would fall into disarray, leading them to substance misuse and being in despair. Despite these difficult circumstances, the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah marched on, and his rank and status are before us today.
Mahroz Attari: How many children do you have?
Haji Yafoor Attari: I have two sons and two daughters. Both sons are named Muhammad, but they are called by the names Mansur Raza and Jilan Raza respectively.
Mahroz Attari: A couple of years ago, a video of your daughter became viral. Tell us about it.
Haji Yafoor Attari: When my daughter was approximately 41 hours old, an Islamic brother came to visit me at the hospital. He made a video of my daughter crying. Later, he showed me the video, and she was crying whilst saying ‘Allah Allah.’
Mahroz Attari: Two of your children have a special link with the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah. Tell us more about this.
Haji Yafoor Attari: My younger son, Jilaan Raza, and my daughter are the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah’s foster (ridaai) grandchildren and the foster children of his son.
Mahroz Attari: Where have you travelled outside of Pakistan?
Haji Yafoor Attari: I have had the honour of travelling to approximately 35 countries to carry out religious works. [Such as] the UAE, Sudan, Oman, England, Norway, Sweden, Denmark, Holland, Italy, Germany, France, Switzerland, Korea, Thailand, Cambodia, Malaysia and others.
Mahroz Attari: How did your name come to be Yafoor Raza?
Haji Yafoor Attari: My parents named me Fayaaz. In 1995, I travelled with the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ to Madinah. We left al-Masjid al-Nabawi and travelled to visit some famous landmarks. At the time, the Ameer Ahl Al-Sunnah دَامَـتْ بَـرَكَـاتُـهُـمُ الْـعَـالِـيَـهْ gave me a piece of paper, which said something to the effect of: ‘In Riyaad al-Jannah in al-Masjid al-Nabawi, I remembered the [Prophet’s صَلَّى الـلّٰـهُ عَلَيْهِ وَاٰلِهٖ وَسَلَّم ] fortunate donkey called Yafoor. I wished to call someone Yafoor Raza. From today onwards, I am naming Haji Fayaaz ‘Muhammad’ and will refer to him as Yafoor Raza.’ And so, my sheikh gave me this name, which is what I am known by today.
Mahroz Attari: What is your source of income?
Haji Yafoor Attari: Until after my graduation, there was no need [to work] as my father had a good post as a government employee. In 1996, my father retired. So, I said to my brother that even if we became government employees, we would never reach the heights that our father reached. Therefore, instead of being employees, we thought of starting a business. We initially started farming chickens, but it demanded a lot of time, which negatively impacted religious works. So, we closed the poultry farm and started to supply chickens.
Mahroz Attari: What message would you like to give to the readers of the Monthly Faizan-e-Madinah Magazine?
Haji Yafoor Attari: The very first obligation upon a Muslim is Salah; do not be negligent in this matter!
May Allah Almighty also give us the ability to do religious works like Haji Yafoor Attari.
اٰمِیْن بِجَاہِ النَّبِیِّ الْاَمِیْن صَلَّی اللہ تَعَالٰی عَلَیْہِ وَاٰلہٖ وَسَلَّم