How to fight with Coronavirus?
A DIALOGUE WITH MARHABA’S CEO – HAKEEM MUHAMMAD USMAN
His eyes were alert; no impressions of tiredness could be seen on his face. This man, who used to travel all over Punjab on a rundown motorcycle to market his medicine products, 45 years from now, is a surprisingly calm and grateful owner of a herbal medicine factory and is explaining the philosophy of life; he counts his success as being a divine favor of God and has no pride over his hard work. Perhaps he’s one of those people, about whom old sages have stated that those who put their trust in God and commit to hard work are the ones upon whose faces; God leaves a mark of glow and thankfulness.
Hakeem Muhammad Usman is the owner of one of Pakistan’s prominent herbs and food organizations “ Marhaba Laboratories Pvt Ltd”. His products are being exported all over the world. He believes in the use of natural products like herbs, seeds, and honey to cure and prevent ailments. To him, one can never contract an infection, let alone be overrun by one, if one maintains his ties with nature and natural products. The use of black cumin (kalonji) and honey to combat diseases is a practice with a well-found religious basis as the Holy Prophet of Islam - Muhammad (PBUH) advocated their use by stating that they could cure anything but death.
Hakeem Usman stated his personal experience in the matter: he said that owing to the use of such natural products, he has spent a healthy life and has no fear of infections that plague the world. To him, our immune system is the perfect defense mechanism when it comes to fighting pathogens. He believes that through maintaining an “immunity-boosting” diet with foods like kalonji, honey, almonds, citrus fruits, leafy vegetables, fermented foods and fruits, one can assure one’s fitness in case of a disease breakout.
In lieu of the recent SARS-CoV2 outbreak, this factor has become more relevant than ever before. This new coronavirus is plaguing the world because of our malpractices such as ignoring proper hygiene and because of our compromised immune systems. In such dire times, Hakeem Usman believes that people can strengthen their defenses against these viruses through the use of natural products and through acting along the path of the Sunnah (or the way) of our beloved Prophet (PBUH).
He believes that stimulating the body through early morning exercises, just as is stated in the way of our Prophet (PBUH), can also assure one’s wellbeing. He remains one of the few notable people who are advocating the use of natural products in an era consumed by synthetic chemical compounds - but in light of recent events where such chemicals have begun to fail us, one cannot help but wonder if his way is indeed the right way, after all for thousands of years, nature served humans pretty well in their lifestyles.
The way Hakeem Muhammad Usman started his business some forty years from now with only three hundred and fifty rupees is a fine example for people like us who spend their lives in constant ungratefulness and wanting for more. So let’s hear how he became so prominent and successful. He didn’t have anything. No strong family background, no links, no money and neither any support. So, how did he become the owner of such a big enterprise?
When one meets Hakeem Muhammad Usman, one’s mind is bombarded with a shower of questions, but they all have the same answer. “All of this has been given to me by God. God gave me prominence in this world in lieu of my mother’s prayers. I was nothing. What can be done with three hundred and fifty rupees? This sum is not even sufficient for one individual but God bestowed such favor in that money that today we are sustaining multiple other households in addition to ours as well.”
“Mr. Usman, everything strives hard. So why doesn’t everyone achieve their goal?” In response to this question, he replied: “God is all supreme and unaffected, He provides for people even if they don’t ask for it and sometimes He does not give what people ask of Him. Even if they cry out all of their tears. The poor laborer dies in poverty-stricken anonymity but he barely manages to make ends meet. This is the wisdom of the creator of the universe. He gives to whom He wants… How can I raise questions on his wisdom? But I can proclaim, based on my experience of visiting 35 countries and meeting multiple successful people there, listening to their life experiences, I can conclude that these sorts of people are completely aware of the full meaning of hard work. Hard work is not just a physical endeavor. As long as you withhold your mental potential, your hard work will not bear fruit. Persistence is an important tool, whoever possesses it, moves ahead. Other than this, one must ponder how to separate ‘wishes’ from ‘goals’. Our people blindly pursue their wishes but do not use their complete physical and mental potentials. Those people who wish to reach a certain goal have the ability to tackle all trials and ordeals that the path may throw at them. They sacrifice their wishes and continue to proceed towards success. I also buried my wishes.”
“You may think that a boy who studies in ninth grade, who is the eldest of his siblings. His father dies in an accident. Dropping his ambitions of becoming a doctor or engineer, the boy strives to make ends meet for his family, how can such a boy live in his dreamland? My father was an employee of the government and died in a traffic accident. Just a month prior to this accident, my father had got insurance of 25,000 rupees. Our father’s death left us all alone in this world but my mother is a great woman. She saved us from ruining our lives. She is a very patient and enduring mother. I had decided to drop out of school, but she said: ‘No! I am alive right now, you will study.’ My maternal uncle used to distribute medicines. At that point, he suggested my mother invest 50,000 rupees from the insurance money in business; in return, he promised to give a hundred rupees profit every month.”
“The 1971 war had commenced and our conditions were pretty bad. Our uncle had invested our money in business and continued to give us a monthly profit. Our uncle also used to package medicine. He used to put a heap of empty and dirty bottles in our house. My mother and siblings, once they were done with school, used to wash these bottles and pack medicines in them. This was an unrewarded endeavor. When I used to watch my siblings do this, I used to suffocate with anxiety. Just as I was done with my F.A. examinations, I told my mother: ‘Dear mother, I cannot tolerate the sight of my siblings working like this; I’ve decided that I will start working myself.’ After convincing mother, I started my five months tenure as a salesman at my uncle's shop. He also worked in the field of pharmacy. Uncle is a very caring and hardworking person. I learned a great deal about interpersonal skills working as a salesman and I also formed a lot of connections with different shop owners.”
“A business plan started stirring up in my mind. Hence I joined a pharmacy as a medical rep at 300 rupees per month stipend. The factory owner – Mian Nazeer’s brother Mian Munir is a politician. Mian Nazeer was not only a successful businessman but was also a generous person. I gained a lot of benefits from his generosity. With my first salary, I started a business experiment with glycerin. Mr. Nazeer gave me permission for it. I used to package the glycerin in Mr. Nazeer’s factory and even used his company’s name. This idea was very successful. Mian Nazeer encouraged me a great deal. As I think back if I hadn’t worked hard back then and if Mian Nazeer hadn’t supported me, I wouldn’t have received the reward for my endeavors. Creating opportunities and exploiting them is ingenious. But one thing that I must confess is that I am an introvert. Salesmen and medical reps have to talk a lot. I believe that God had given my work and products a tongue of their own. He gave me a special favor, I strove with honesty and with a pure heart, that’s why I have received so much appraise…”
Hakeem Muhammad Usman is an introvert but his mind was revolutionary and Islamic. Prayer and fasts, alongside other religious obligations, are his top priority. Hurting someone’s feelings or fighting is not in his nature. Despite the fact that the way that he chose involves haggling and deceiving people to make a profit. But he kept himself safe from all of this. This naturally led him from his small house in a second-rated area to a big house in the defense area.
He was saying: “My mother taught me self-respect. After my father’s death, his coworkers collected money to give us, but my mother refused to accept. She taught this very same concept to all of her children that one must only claim one’s rights as a reward for one’s hard work. Gain the support of others. But do not beg. Thanks to God. We never even loaned any sum from the bank. After glycerine, I started packaging almond extracts. It was completely original and natural. My siblings and I used to sit in one room in our house and used to crush almonds and extract its contents and then packaged them into chemical bottles. I had been inspired by Hakeem Saeed, he had laid the foundation of Hamdard with just twelve rupees. Her mother’s character is analogous to my mother’s character in both of our success stories. Hakeem Muhammad Saeed’s mother came to be known as ‘Madr e Hamdard’, while my mother came to be known as ‘Madr e Marhabba’. No other pharmaceutical company has this honor in its history.”
“I started my business of herbal medicine in a room in my house and in 1983, I shifted the business in a 14 marla house in Rehman pura. I had a labor force of my brothers who stood by me at all times. In 1986, I graduated with a degree in medicine but did not become a practitioner. In this time period, I used to travel by buses, wagons, and motorcycles for my business. I never felt even a shred of shame in doing even the most minor of all chores, even today, when I am the owner of a huge factory in Kot Lakpat, I still do all of my work myself. To achieve something, I studied the lives of high achieving people and I found out that these people, who achieved success by becoming self-made, were seen doing all sorts of work themselves in their lives. Hakeem Saeed’s recent history is evidence. He was very simple in his way of life and never nitpicked in work. If our youngsters create positive goals in their minds, then they shall become good and successful.”
Hakeem Muhammad Usman started his business with his first salary and upon the instructions of his mother, he gave his brothers partnership in the enterprise. He says: “My judge and my lawyer is my mother. When I sit around her feet, I feel like I am in paradise. Pray that she remains in my life forever. Even if I have clashed with my brothers and had a breaking out with them, I never object to them. Thanks to God that my brothers have a deep respect for me. I have never declined any request or favor that they asked of me. If anyone of them said that transfer that particular thing in my ownership, I did so. In return, God gave me a lot. I have always received the fruit of my intentions. I have made separate houses for all of my brothers in porch areas. All of their magnificent houses are of the same area coverage as mine. I learned to act moderately and accepted it. At this point, I want to say a bit about my wife, after my mother, she is the person who in all respects acted as the perfect life partner. She never hurt me and always supported me. Whether it is family issues or difficulties in business, she has stood by my side and supported me. A man can only become great if his wife also supports him.”
“Have you ever lost hope in life?” Pondering upon this question, Hakeem Muhammad Usman dived into his memory and surfaced with some incidents. He then started: “Sometimes I have encountered such times. But my mother never let me lose hope. It usually happens when you’ve started your hard work and are about to receive your reward. In such times, if some incident occurs or someone close does something that limits one’s chances of success, then one tends to despair. But if you are courageous enough, you can pass this ordeal as well. My uncle, who had invested our money in his business, often stopped me from doing my own business. He used to scare me about the high stakes, but I never feared. I used to offer Salat and then pray to God that He gives me strength. He gave it to me and I kept on walking. This uncle of ours started a separate packaging business. His experience and market exposure was more than mine. I lost hope then. Another uncle started this same business. It was hurtful. I told my mother and she told me that I will reap the rewards of my own hard work and skills. Whatever they are doing, let them do it. And it happened just as she said. Since I never deceived people and my products were completely natural, I was successful.”
The health of Hakeem Usman inspired envy and he works hard just as a young man. He organizes sessions of learning the Quran and other religious gatherings in his house and factory, which is a clear indication of his love for his religion. A person, who has traveled 35 countries and yet has never contracted any ill habit but rather works with a pure heart – what would you call such a person? We should exemplify such people who have a genuine love for their religion, who work with honesty and host no evil in their hearts. This is why it is said: ‘If one strives hard, one receives the help of God.’ Let’s move ahead. If you have a desire to achieve something then with faith in God, walk down the road of hard work and mental excellence. You too may ascend from to the stars, just like Hakeem Muhammad Usman.
Ahmad Younas is a freelance writer and can be reached via email at email@example.com
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