By Yoginder Sikand, New Age Islam
4 October 2015
I’ve just spent two beautiful days—at the “Discover Yourself” workshop conducted by Bangalore-based Sadathullah Khan.
From 2002 onwards, Sadath Sahib has been conducting his workshops across India and in more than a dozen countries abroad. Till date, he has done some 350 of them, and in this way touching the lives of several thousand people.
I’ve known Sadath Sahib for over 20 years—long before he started the “Discover Yourself” workshop. He is a man who is deeply inspired by a sense of mission. Having trained as an engineer, he worked as a businessman for a while, and then, in 1987, he set up the English monthly magazine “Islamic Voice”. At that time, it was one of the only Muslim-run periodicals in English in India. The magazine (which can be accessed online, on www.islamicvoice.com) is now in its 25th year!
I had heard about the ‘Discover Yourself’ workshop many years ago, and had come across regular reports and raving reviews about it in the pages of ‘Islamic Voice’. I had plenty of opportunities to attend the workshop all these years, being based, off and on, in Bangalore, where Sadath Sahib also lives. Yet, I never seriously considered doing so.
There were many reasons for this. For one thing, I didn’t think that I needed to do the workshop. I had read I can’t remember how many books about self-help and counselling, about psychology and the skills of managing one’s emotions, and so what new thing could I learn from a two- or three-day workshop? Surely, I thought, the many books I had read on the subject were quite sufficient for my purposes. They certainly contained more information than what one man could convey in a workshop over two or three days!
A second reason why I didn’t feel enthused about participating in the workshop was that I was sceptical of the claim, made by many workshop participants, that it could remarkably transform one’s life. How can you turn over an entirely new leaf in just two or three days, I wondered? It sounded just too good to be true! And so, I put it down as sheer exaggeration and presumed it was a publicity gimmick.
How quickly we come to conclusions based on our presumptions, even if we have absolutely no basis for them! How judgmental and self-righteous we often are!
A third excuse I made up in order not to attend the workshop was that I was just ‘too busy’ with ‘very important things’ to take the time off that the workshop demanded. It just wasn’t worth it, I told myself.
And so, for these and other reasons, each time the opportunity to participate in the workshop came my way, I turned it down.
But guess what?
Last week, I found listening with rapt attention to Sadath Sahib as he led a two-day workshop at Bangalore’s Al-Ameen College!
And guess what else?
It was one of the most beautiful and beneficial experiences I’ve ever been blessed with!
You really must believe me when I say this!
During the workshop, Sadath Sahib reminded us about many things we’ve already heard or read about but which we so easily choose to forget—about God, the Hereafter, and the purpose of our lives; about connecting with God and submitting to His will; about realizing or discovering ourselves; about how peace can be only be had by connecting with our Creator; about the need to introspect and to stop blaming others for our troubles; about accepting reality, rather than denying it; about being ourselves and accepting others just as they are, rather than judging and criticizing them; about the need to recognize that our views about things are often just opinions and that we should respect the right of others to view things differently from us; about the need to try to explore why people behave the way they do, instead of condemning them for it; about the need to move from egocentrism to genuine concern for others; about living life as God wants us to, and not as the ego urges us to; about love and compassion; about being happy and helping others be happy too; about the need to be aware, from moment to moment, of our thoughts and actions and the fact that we have a choice to respond positively, rather than react negatively, to challenging situations; about handling relationships in a harmonious way; about training oneself spiritually in such a way that we do not react to what others might do or say that might cause us to lose our peace; and about how it is oneself, not others, that must work on changing. And so on.
All this and more you might find in a whole range of books on self-help and spirituality, but based on my two days at the workshop, I can confidently say that it is an entirely different thing being in the company of a ‘coach’ (as Sadath Sahib described his role in the workshop) who has tried to put what he talks about into practice in his own life. Being in, and benefitting from, the presence of someone who seems a transformed person in many respects is a truly amazing experience. Sometimes, simply being with someone who exudes positivity and compassion can itself be a transformative experience without him or her having to utter even a single word. This importance of Suhbat or Sangat, spiritually-enriching company, is something that various spiritual traditions give great stress on. Spending those two days with Sadath Sahib were definitely inspiring.
Sadath Sahib’s dedication, drive, commitment, passion and energy, so evident throughout the workshop, were truly amazing! Even as we participants were comfortably ensconced in our chairs, he was up and on his toes and speaking almost continuously, sending out powerful, infectious positive energy, peppered with brilliant humour! It wasn’t a dry and drab affair at all. There was much laughing and joking! I never knew Sadath Sahib had such a wonderful, childlike sense of humour (How easily we judge people based on limited knowledge!).
It was clearly evident from all that Sadath Sahib said and the way he spoke that he was deeply concerned for our well-being and that he saw the workshops he has been conducting for so many years as a spiritual mission. Even at 65 years of age, he continues to travel, around India and abroad, seeking to bring people out their self-imposed misery and into God-consciousness, and helping them pick up the broken pieces of their lives, heal their emotional wounds and mend their sundered relationships. How many of us would have the drive and zeal to do this sort of thing, month after month, year after year? Even though I am almost 20 years younger than Sadath Sahib, I don’t think I have even a quarter of his enthusiasm and energy!
The ‘Discover Yourself’ workshop is based on an Islamic paradigm, and, typically, most workshop participants are Muslims. But in the workshop I attended, many of the participants were from other religious backgrounds. Even then, what Sadath Sahib spoke and the way he connected with us was such that it could readily appeal to people of other faiths too. He supplied the Sanskrit equivalent for certain Arabic terms, and his stress on the oneness of God and the way of life, of surrender to God’s will, that all the many messengers that God has sent to the world have taught, was something that people in the audience who were not Muslims might have easily appreciated and related to.
For me, the workshop was a great blessing. I thank God for this. Those were two truly beautiful days!
May God bless Sadath Sahib for his noble efforts and lead Him to be an instrument for guiding many more people in the future!