Episode Synopsis:

Munem, who recently emigrated to the U.K. from LA, joins us for episode 247. He finds the community in London to be polar opposites to the community in LA. He feels the London community is much more tight knit and vast as well. Faisal states that despite being a Western world country, England is probably one of the easiest places to practice religion in some ways. Hijab and niqab are not banned, there are halal options easily available, and the Masaajid are easily accessible. Munem has been an East-ender for about a week now. And he feels it’s just like being in Bangladesh and has been very easy for him. Although, he went to Hastings the other day and didn’t have the best experience when trying to share da’wah with a non Muslim.

Faisal and Munem both believe it’s a very difficult task to give da’wah but we have to realise it was the mission given to our beloved Prophet (peace be upon him) and so, naturally, it would not be easy to do for everyone. And we have to be very careful with our approach not to be misleading with regards to the religion.

Munem is a cinematographer by trade. He began to take an interest in cameras since he was a child. Living in LA was the perfect environment for any careers involved in entertainment. As a teenager, he chose the route easiest for him to achieve popularity or “be cool”. He taught himself to progress his skills in cinematography from videos on YouTube. A test video that he made public, at the tender age of 16, got a lot of attention from the right people interested in his work. Being in LA, it comes as second nature to network within this field. Naturally, it got to a point where he had his own sets for his own videos and started successfully climbing the ladder. All the while, in the background, he’s working in the Masjid organisation and studying at university.

As he became stronger in his faith, he didn’t feel it was right to be at video shoots. The effect of prayer was slowly purifying his soul and taking him out of environments he didn’t want to be in. Prayer will remove immorality from you. As time went on, he took steps to further strengthen his faith. He cut out music and felt peace in his life that he’s never felt before. Munem also learnt that it was time to make changes to any sins he was committing not only privately, but publicly as well. So he stopped listening to music privately, but his work involved him having to edit videos involving music. This was the challenge. To put an end to years of hard work and growth. He felt he’d be weak if he gave it up. He reminded himself that when you’re about to do something incredible for Allah, shaytaan will stop you. But, SubhanAllah, he chose to clean up what he was doing. Limiting his involvement with music. And then he got to a point where he didn’t feel comfortable to be a part of videos that gained millions of views that went against his personal ethics. After getting in touch with someone who went through something similar, he got the push to let everything go, knowing Allah will replace for him what he lost with so much better. Now that he looks back, it was the greatest decision he made. Great things have happened for him since then. One of them he mentions being in London, live in studio for a Freshly Grounded episode. Formerly, he was used to simply listening to the podcast all the way across the globe in LA.

Faisal wanted to know if Munem experienced a rollercoaster of emotions during this spiritual journey. Munem agrees confidently. Being someone who opened the masjid doors for the community for Fajr, he felt uneasy. For a period of a couple of weeks, he felt something was off. He kept turning to saved reminders on his Instagram collection that gave him reassurance. Some of them specifically being posts from Spot Project. The videos of the children from Spot Project held the weightiest effect on him. Through these reflections he realised the right thing to do was leave all that was making him feel uneasy behind.

So what’s the plan for Munem from here? A fresh start in London means he’s going back to university. But his main focus for his life is to grow in his religion and worship Allah. The access to young ulamaa in London, according to him, is so vast compared to that in LA. He’s felt a real connection with the brotherhood in the U.K. Faisal is quick to remind him that, actually, a lot of credit goes to Munem himself. For reaching out to people and connecting with them for the greater good. And that’s probably why he’s experienced such a positive tribe around him.