A Beautiful Journey: A Chat with Author, Ummara Yousaf

A Beautiful Journey: A Chat with Author, Ummara Yousaf

Daastan’s Emerging Author Ummara Yousaf

Ummara Yousaf is a 35-year old, mother of one, upcoming author, who recently penned down her first ever book “Journey to an Ultimate Legitimacy”. Our team of editors was highly impressed with how Ummara had given shape to some of the most beguiling questions humans have ever asked.

So, we decided to sit down with Ummara Yousaf and have a chat about how she came about writing this book. And what was her journey like. What followed was an engaging discussion. So let’s dive into the interview for a dose of spirituality, finding the inner self and questioning the world around us!

Why don’t you start with telling us a bit about yourself and your book?

U: Hello, I am Ummara Yousaf. I am 35 years old and have a daughter, Duaa. Before I got married, I had completed my MBA and was working as a banker. I used to seek a career in banking but after my daughter’s birth, my life goals and purpose changed, completely. Initially, I was unable to accept the change that the baby had brought in my life. The time I passed alone with my baby was like a quarantine of its own. But it helped me explore my inner self and the meaning of life. I studied various books and explored the realities around me, trying to understand how people perceive their own and others’ lives. Different people see life according to their personal experiences, perceptions and key events.

I had been career-oriented since my childhood and had always been inspired to learn new things in my life. I continued my studies and did M-phil and Masters Economics side by side, which I completed in 2013. Currently, I am pursuing a Doctorate degree.

Another turning point was when I started teaching. It gave me a fresh perspective on life; different from a banker’s. I started writing about the things I learned in the form of essays. The essays gradually took the form of a book, the final product of which was ‘Journey to an Ultimate legitimacy’.

This book is about exploring one’s inner self. In the book, I have portrayed life through the lens of a group of friends who pose questions about life, existence and the world, in front of a wise, old man, Baba Ji. I have tried to answer those questions according to my understanding. This book is my contribution to the next generation who find it difficult to differentiate between right and wrong. The book takes help from key events in Islamic history to support my main theses.

What were your motivations and reasons behind writing this book?

U: In life everyone plays a role. Your positive contribution to society can be a stepping stone for the people after you. Hence, whatever your capacity is, if you leave behind some positive things, your life purpose is served. A book is not meant for everybody to read and gain guidance from. But for some, a particular book can change a person’s life and create a better understanding of it. Sometimes we are alone, depressed and find no one to share with. In such times, a book can become a great companion. I believe my purpose was providing someone with a companion and guide.

Writing a book is an investment in generations. This book may be for just that one person whose life may change after reading this. They might start exploring other such books which would make them a productive member of society. It is possible that this may be after many years of my death or it may be soon; it depends. But even if one person is benefited in any way by this book, then my motivations behind writing it will be justified.

What kind of message do you want to convey to your readers through your content?

U: This book conveys a message to the readers that life and career are two different avenues. We struggle to build a career and put all our energies in getting a formal education to one day fit into a profession. This, however, is a materialistic desire. On the other hand, a spiritual path or a path of wisdom needs recognition of one’s self and a spiritual guide. A spiritual guide can be in the form of a true person having great knowledge and wisdom, as portrayed in the form of Baba Ji in the book or in the form of a true book. Seeking spirituality in oneself is in fact knowledge of the Creator. We can only recognize our Creator if we follow the path of spirituality. The basic purpose of human life is the recognition of one’s Creator and one can only estimate the Greatness of the Creator, if he follows the path of spirituality and struggles to find the real truth or legitimacy of life.

Did you experience any hurdles when you were looking for companies to publish your book? If so, what were they?

U: Yes, for one year I kept on searching and sending my manuscript to different publishing companies– international and national– but after my various efforts, I could not find a good deal. I used to think why someone will be interested in publishing my book when I have no recognition at all. Publishers only seemed to be interested in representing a book written by a leader or someone famous or exceptional.

Most publishers I contacted were involved in course books or English grammar books’ publications. One day I found Daastan publishers in Pakistan through a google search. The name was so appealing: Daastan. Over the website I came to know, that this publisher is promoting new and young authors. I uploaded my book over the website and to my surprise I got a reply. I called on the given number and Mr. Ommer responded. I was thinking it may be a cheat again as who can be so nice to publish my book. But soon, I was convinced over the explanation of how he planned publish my book and get it edited. So, I made a contract and found all my editing services online. I didn’t once step into their office and got each and every thing online. My experience with Daastan remained satisfactory as I think Daastan is one of the reliable publishers in Pakistan.

Tell us a bit about your journey with Daastan.

U: My journey with Daastan remained a memorable one. Initially, I was told the whole process will take only three or four months but the editing was delayed. My book was given to an editor first but after a delay I was told that they had left. Then Daastan’s team handed over my book to Miss Summaiya. Now, she is a great fellow. She took the book very seriously. She read, analyzed, made suggestions at each point and made many corrections. I learned a lot from her as well. Daastan is a very good platform for young authors as the services are reliable and good. Even though the work was delayed, I’m still happy that it has been completed. Further, I am happy my first book is going to be published through a renowned publisher.

What’s next?

U: Soon, Insha Allah, Journey to an Ultimate Legitimacy will be available in print. I am so happy. I hope it helps give a fresh perspective on life to its readers. For next year, I am busy in writing my thesis for my doctorate degree. Soon after, Insha Allah, I will be publishing my second book with Daastan, which I am also working on currently. The new book will be more philosophical and spiritual and will have much for my readers to ponder upon.

Journey to an Ultimate Legitimacy by Ummara yousaf will soon be in print. Keep yourself updated on Daastan’s Facebook page to order a copy! Join us today and be the voice of your dreams!

Daastan X Stories To Action Facebook Live Show

Daastan X Stories To Action Facebook Live Show

Daastan announced its thematic campaign on June 1st, 2020. Two days later, our Facebook was thrilled at the news of a Facebook Live in collaboration with the founders of Stories to Action. The show was hosted by our Cheif Editor Ms Summaiya Naveed and Content Manager Ms Samin Alam Qureshi. Our guests Ms Iris Pi and Ms Sanne thijssen joined and contributed to the talk on SRHR and #WeToo story writing competition.

Recap Of The Facebook Live

Based on the theme of our writing competition, the Facebook Live was aimed at educating our viewers on Sexual and Reproductive health and rights. (Read more about SRHR on our blog here) Our guests emphasized on the importance of vocalizing stories to spread awareness and tackle injustice from its roots. They also spoke about how a lot of people shy away from telling their personal stories. Our hosts suggested writers may use their pen names instead. The main idea is to bring forward these stories in order to engage in a useful and healthy conversation to overcome the issue.

Our Guests From Stories to Action

Ms Iris Pi is the Co-founder of Stories To Action. Being a global citizen, Iris has work, training and volunteer experience in the Philippines, Egypt, the United States of America, Thailand and Vietnam. Iris’ research and work focuses on the sexual and reproductive health and rights of women.

Facebook Live Guests Ms Iris Pi
Ms. Iris Pi

Ms Sanne Thijssen, Co-founder Stories to Action, is also the founder of Shake The Dust, an independent consultancy working on sexual and reproductive health and rights (SRHR), and meaningful youth participation. Sanne’s work within the field of SRHR has led to her nomination as a Women Deliver Young Leader (2018-2020 Class).

Sanne Thijssen guest-Facebook live
Ms. Sanne Thijssen

Have you submitted your story yet? Hurry up the last date to submit your story is 20th June, 2020. Sign Up with Daastan for more updates!

Daastan’s Struggle for Tolerance

Daastan’s Struggle for Tolerance

The Need for Tolerance

In our times, where tolerance and freedom of speech has become obsolete, a few hardworking individuals and organizations work hard to promote peace in society. Recently, a project titled Azm-e-Pakistan was taken up by an international company DAI. DAI (Development Alternatives Inc.) is working towards global economic and social prosperity.

About Azm-e-Pakistan

The project Azm-e-Pakistan aims to increase understanding and encourage co-existence between communities that follow different faiths. This peace-building project branches out to all niches in the pursuit of ideas that can be utilized to promote brotherhood. As a propagator of social change, DAI understands the need for action on an official level and has thus started this campaign to achieve inter and intra-faith harmony.

Daastan takes Part in a Consultative Meeting

As part of a consultative meeting, Daastan was invited to Lahore to participate in a debate where the biggest industrial thinkers of Pakistan had gathered to talk about peace building solutions. The main aim of the meeting was to utilize the social media space by connecting influencers and experts to resources. These resources would then be utilized to create programs that promoted peace and harmony on grass root level and build a strong society.

Cyber laws were also discussed and their implications for peace were pondered upon. All participants gave their valued opinions. Daastan’s CEO, Ommer Amer deemed the whole experience to be one full of learning. Experts shared their experiences and case studies centered around promotion of tolerance and acceptance in communities.

Want to help us change the world, one book at a time? Become part of the Daastan community through our Facebook page or visit our website to learn more.

Daastan Invited to Speak at A Youth Leadership Conference

Daastan Invited to Speak at A Youth Leadership Conference

The Importance of Leadership

The best way to equip ourselves for future endeavors is training our youth so that they understand the importance of innovation and leadership. Team Daastan has always believed that opportunities for growth and exposure bring out the best in people. And we love being able to put in our part in shaping the future.

When our youth has a firm knowledge of the needs of their people and are equipped with talent and skills, they can find workable solutions to social problems. By doing so, they bring about change and betterment in society. Fortunately, in the last few years we have witnessed an increase in opportunities for learning—taking the shape of competitions, conferences and workshops. These youth empowerment ventures are doing some great work and creating social entrepreneurs out of promising individuals.

Markhor—a Youth Leadership Conference

At the forefront of this youth empowerment movement are organizations like Markhor hosted by Youth Impact. They enable individuals to learn and grow by putting them in the middle of real-life situations. Markhor is Pakistan’s “premium wilderness-based youth leadership conference” which combines various learning experiences to offer a wholesome and holistic experience.

At the 5-day conference, you spend your days learning about social entrepreneurship and then applying those teachings to solve real-life problems. Right there, at the spot! What better way to learn then to put your learnings into practice and internalize the experience? The conference aims towards self-exploration, social activism, instilling the Markhor spirit, creating sustainable change through social entrepreneurship and encouraging creative thinking.

Daastan’s Role in Training the Youth

In an adventure-packed wilderness experience at the beautiful Makra Peak, Shogran, Markhor provides its participants with a board of keynote speakers, successful social entrepreneurs, international CEO’s and philanthropists. These professionals share their experiences, recount their hardships and impart snippets of useful knowledge that will help the leaders of tomorrow succeed in their future ventures.

Daastan’s CEO, Syed Ommer Amer was invited as one of the speakers of the panel to talk about story telling. We all have a story to tell but most of the time, we do not articulate it well-enough. The words that form so beautifully in our mind, come out incoherent when we’re speaking in front of large groups of people. Add to that the usual time limit that is imposed to speak and the pressure builds exponentially!

Syed Ommer Amer, who is an award-winning social entrepreneur and an excellent public speaker, told participants how to master the art of telling your story. He has spoken at various national and international public forums and is a staunch supporter of youth activism and empowerment. Through Daastan, he has been able to provide opportunities for more than 5000 writers. He has helped writers get their word across borders, monetize their work and create a fan base for their future works. 

For this event, Daastan collaborated with Youth Impact, which is a non-profit organization combining various forms of learning such as Outdoor Education and Society Programs to bring out the best in youngsters and shape them into purposeful leaders.

Want to know more about our adventures? Keep watching our Facebook space for updates on Markhor’s Youth Leadership Conference!

South Asian Award for Micro Fiction–Literati

South Asian Award for Micro Fiction–Literati

How Literati Took Birth

Daastan has organized some of Pakistan’s most exciting writing competitions, offering prizes and opportunities for growth to the winners. Our competitions have helped us gather an army of talented writers. We have also had the honor of publishing the best works, especially from the winning submissions of The Stories Untold.

One of our competitions that we organized in the summer of 2018 was in collaboration with White Falcon Publishing and Outcast Magazine. The competition was titled the ‘South Asian Award for Micro Fiction, Literati‘. The themes of this competition were ‘The Fifth Rivulet‘ and ‘Mosaiked Souls‘. After receiving hundreds of submissions the first time, we decided to hold another season of the same competition again!

Your Response

This time around, we received an even more overwhelming number of submissions from all over South Asia, on the themes of ‘Folklore Retold’ and ‘Apocalypse-The End of Humans’. The pool of South Asia’s most creative and daring writers came up with jaw-droppingly brilliant ideas that awed our judges. Daastan was happy to see submissions from some of its veteran writers and even more thrilled to spot new faces.

From over a hundred submissions, we chose our Top 20 finalists and set out to interview them! We wanted to know what the most innovative and imaginative minds in South Asia were like. The interviews included questions about their likes and dislikes, the hardships they had faced and their very first reads. We also took suggestions from them regarding opportunities for writers in South Asia. It was great getting to know our writers in person.

How Writing Competitions Help Writers Grow

One constant that we noticed in these interviews was that all of them had, at one point, suffered from the lack of opportunities in the writing industry. This ever-expanding void stunted their growth in the field of writings and became a big hindrance in their path to becoming professionals.

Team Daastan recognizes the need to help writers realize their dream and monetize their work. To convert a simple hobby into a way of earning and growing. We believe that earning recognition and appreciation for their works helps encourage writers to go forward and become strong-minded individuals who influence society positively through writing.

Want to get published by us? Upload your manuscript on Qissa! For more information, we are always ready to listen at merasawal@daastan.com