In 2013 a documentary series called ‘Educating Yorkshire’ aired on British TV. It followed the everyday lives of the staff and pupils of Thornhill Community Academy. One particularly memorable story from the show was that of Musharaf Asghar, a kind but shy pupil with an acute stammer, trying to a C in English at GCSE. The five minute clip below is one that has been shared countless times on social media and is both extremely inspiring and moving.
Click the image below to watch the video of him overcoming his stammer.
Below Musharaf shares his thoughts with us how overcoming his stammer changed his life…
First and foremost, I want to thank Allah (swt), who has given me the ability to inspire so many people around this world. May he Insha’Allah carry on blessing me with the ability to help and inspire many more and keep me steadfast on my deen.
Growing up with a stammer. Sounds tough, doesn’t it? It was. My entire life up until the moment I was on Educating Yorkshire was a rollercoaster. It had its up’s and downs but Alhamdulilah with the help and guidance from my Lord, I was able to really enjoy my childhood and I grew up with the most amazing family and friends. Despite my stammer, everyone was so caring and loving and it was amazing to see how much of an impact they had on my life and still do till this day.
There were stages in my life were I did suffer a lot from bullying. The thing is, you rarely used to hear about people who stammer and not many people knew what it really was. I remember going to speech therapy once and there were roughly about 5 of us with a stammer. I guess due to the lack of knowledge of what a stammer really is, people find it easier to mock you.
But being the sort of guy that I was, I never used to shy away from speaking. I used to just give it my all. Whenever there was a question whether it was at school or mosque, I would try and be the first one to speak up. A majority of the time, I would be wrong but I still wouldn’t give up! In order for us to achieve in life, I feel like we all need to face up to our flaws; accept them, and make them your strengths. That’s basically what I did. You have to be able to laugh at your imperfections. Don’t stress over them, laugh it off. Like my friends would say, “Mush, how are you going to say ‘I do’ on your wedding day?” I still don’t have that one planned out!
Building the confidence really came from going on Educating Yorkshire. I still remember the time they asked me to go on. At first, it sounded like a death wish, like asking me if I wanted to be mocked nationwide. So everyone told me to really think about it and to consider where it could really take me. But like Chris Eubank would say, “Only the one who risks it all is truly free.” So, I took the risk, and thank God, it really paid off! The amount of love and support I got from absolute strangers was amazing. Honestly, it was something I would never have imagined to be a possibility! From being a little boy who was constantly bullied for the stammer, to having such a following from the most amazing types of people, it was truly wondrous to me.
I believe what really was amazing about the show was it showed a normal Asian kid getting help from a white teacher. Nowadays, I feel like we’re too segregated and the divide is too big. Nobody really says hi to one and another and in the show, you saw more than just that. That’s why I feel it was such a success. I’ve met some of the most amazing types of people; those with and without stammers, people from all types of religions and races, and for that, I’m so grateful. I am grateful for people such as Mr Burton, Mr Steer, Mr Mitchel, Mrs Marsden, Mrs Crowther and one of my stammer buddies, Mueid Kaleem, who I met at a motivational gig at Manchester University.
Allah (swt) has tested me in so many ways and I can’t thank him enough for testing me the way He did. At times, I felt as though I was going to fail, but Alhamdulillah, I feel as thought I have passed.
All I ask for from those of you who spent time reading this, thank Allah (swt) for everything he has given you, including the trials and tribulations because believe me, it makes you stronger.
The advice I would give to not only the people reading this, but to everyone in general is to thank Allah, read your salaah. Try to spread love and laughter, accept everyone, and don’t mix with the wrong crowd. Above all, learn to respect your parents and guardians, because they are your backbone.
Finally, I just wanted to thank every single person out there who has supported me through everything. Jazakallah to The Muslim Vibe for giving me this opportunity to give you a small glimpse into my life.
by Musharaf Asghar