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Dawah in Desert Storm

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Bilal Philips

Channel: Bilal Philips

Episode Notes

Episode Transcript

© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.


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hamdulillah salat wa salam ala Rasulillah. All praise to do to Allah and realize Peace and blessings we on the last messenger of Allah.

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Desert Storm and Tao and Desert Storm addresses a historical incident, which took place back in 1991 19 years ago.

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So it's history,

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whatever represented

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was the positive side of a negative incident

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in the history of the Muslim world,

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in 1991, for those of you that are unaware,

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Saddam Hussein

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entered with his army, Kuwait, and was threatening to enter Saudi Arabia.

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Saudi Arabia

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sought help from the US. The US got together a coalition of Western forces

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and itself deposited half a million American soldiers in Saudi Arabia, mainly in the Eastern Province,

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Eastern Province, which borders

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Iraq, Jordan, Kuwait.

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And at that time,

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the troops while preparing for battle or war with Iraq,

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were looking for ways and means to keep themselves occupied because the nature of

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war from the American perspective, when it deposits, its troops into any land, then

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the troops

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take advantage of the poverty that is in those lands. And they turn segments of the population into

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dens of prostitution, entertainment, and they deposit before leaving a bunch of what they call war babies. You can go to places like Thailand, to Vietnam, to Philippines to Korea, and you will find

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1000s and 1000s of war babies and the descendants of war babies there. However, when they came to Saudi Arabia, because Saudi Arabia was not a society, which was for a could be exploited in that way, their women were not accessible. So they had to find other ways of keeping the troops occupied. So what that did, what happened from that is that they were open to

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talks, and lectures on Islam. The Americans made this

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possible, and an individual by the name of Ali Ushahidi, who was a sergeant in the Saudi military, he, though he had very little English, used to hang out with the American troops staying in their tents, you know, sleeping, along with them chatting hanging out. For himself, he was learning English, and at the same time trying to give some dour to these troops.

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He kept on at it.

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Sometimes he ran into problems with the Saudi authorities. In fact, they even threw him in jail at one point.

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Because, you know, they didn't really understand what he was doing. But some of the scholars came to his support and got him back out of jail.

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And when he got enough of a group together, that showed an interest in wanting to hear something about Islam, with the permission of the

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American administration, military administration,

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he came to see me in Riyadh, I was living in Riyadh at the time.

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And he invited me to come and give some talks. So I went down and began to give lectures and

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have open forums and discussions with the troops. Then the war broke out. So all of that was put on hold

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until after the war was over, and the war didn't last very long.

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The Americans then had to process all of these troops out of the country back to the states, or about to other bases in different parts of the world.

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So they chose an area to keep them called Khobar Towers. And these these towers represented a mini city, which was built on the outskirts of the town of Hobart.

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And you can find similar structures outside of Jeddah outside of Riyadh and some of the other big cities, which were apartment buildings, huge, tall, you know, 30 storey apartment buildings in a town fashion, large amounts, but they were empty. Till today, you can go and see them sitting there empty. They were originally built for the Bedouins to bring them into city life.

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However, the Bedouins didn't want to live in apartments, that's just not their style. So these buildings were built, it was offered to them free imagine, you know, three bedroom apartments, luxury apartments built, free, come and take it. People say no, we prefer to be on the desert, living in a tent.

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It might seem very strange to us. But this is for our people who that was their lifestyle. It was not true. They hadn't calculated that people weren't going to change their lifestyle like that, overnight. Anyway, the buildings were left empty until this point where they had to process the troops out. So they put up the troops there as they're being processed out. Now, as I said, That was big enough to hold half a million American troops. That's the city small city 500,000.

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Anyway, and this huge

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Township, you could call it in the center of it was an open square where business people set up tents, where they were selling

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T shirts, you know, people like to take souvenirs boxes, and selling T shirts, selling gold,

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and whatever other types of tokens and souvenirs that people like to collect. So

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we suggested

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myself and some of the other brothers interested in doing dollar there suggested that we set up a tent in the middle of all of that the large tent for our purposes, the American administration accepted it. And we set up this huge tent called and we put a big sign on it saying the Saudi Arabian cultural information dense

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cultural information tent.

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We didn't put on there Islam, because that might scare people. So this was like a cover, Saudi Arabian cultural information debt, large tech when you first come in, on the left hand side, we had a huge table with all kinds of books about Saudi Arabia, about the reptiles of Saudi Arabia, the desert, the history, technology Freitas, different bits of pieces of information very nice books glossy type.

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And in the midst of it all we also had little pamphlets and Islam. So if a person wanted to pick it up and look at it, they could it wasn't being put on people was just there if you'd like to look at it, you could. Then we had another table after that, where we had stocks of crimes, translation of the crime, and we were selling it

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some people objected. They say What are you selling these Cranston these people for? Because they're coming to buy it as a souvenir. You know, going back to America, when people ask them, Well, what did you bring back and say we brought

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back the holy book of the Muslims,

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called the Quran.

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So they say, Well, you know, these people just gonna take it and stick it in a shelf, we said no problem, because the Quran was not accessible. In America, it's very difficult to get ahold of copies of the glass. So this was a means of getting it into some of the mainstream homes. Even if that person didn't read the Quran himself, or herself. They put it in the shelf, maybe their children might be their family members, maybe a grandchild generations later might say, well, what is this book, Muslim Holy Book, let me have a look at it.

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That's good. making it available.

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So we distributed well over 20,000 copies of the Quran, were sold in that way. And we have further in the tent. After if we say the entrance was like this here, the large table second smaller table, then we have a Saudi madness, which is sort of like a carpet and cushions, which are in the bedroom and colors are sort of red and black and white. And I would sit there and they were like stance

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where the troops would come in and sit down

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as they would come in would take about 150 to 200 of them at a time they would come in, there was a brother by the name of Abdul Salam Ortez from New York City is to call himself the Latin from Manhattan. And he was former radio announcer. So what he would do is he would sort of warm up the crowd as they came, he would chat and joke with them and make them feel comfortable, right. And then when they're settled and comfortable, then I would give a 1520 minute presentation on Islam, just a general explanation of what Islam is.

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After that, we will then open up the floor to questions. And people were free to ask about anything they wanted to ask about.

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And we allow them been always without any kind of objections. We allowed them to ask personal questions, general questions, they were asking everything they were asking even why salad is always drove Nissan pickup trucks.

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They asked why, you know, they're wearing Gotra this scarf, why it was red and white. When they noticed in Iraq, there was black and white, they were asking for things.

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They asked asking about the a Paul, the black band which the Saudis wart to hold the scarf on their heads. And actually, when these questions came, some of them I had to go up and research because when they asked me the first time about their collars, and I have to go and find out that one. So I started asking people couldn't tell me the origin. Finally, I got somebody to tell me where it didn't come from, where did the call come from? And person explained to me older brother, he explained that this a call the double strap when you open it up, it's one single hoop, right? Made from camelhair. Anyway, what would happen is that when people were out on the desert, and you got

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off your camo to go and do anything,

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because there weren't trees to tie the camel, you know, like a horse, you can get your time up to the tree. So now you didn't have any place to tie the camel. And the nature of the camel is much different from the nature of the horse. The horse, if you are there at the birth of the horse and you raise that horse, that horse becomes likely family members attached to you. You know, there's a bond that develops between you and the horse. But the camel, it's not that way. If you raise that camel,

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like your own in the family,

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and you let him go.

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At any point he takes off like he never saw you before.

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That's the nature of the camera. It just gone. So you can imagine if you get out on the desert, and you didn't tie him up, you're in trouble. That's a life and death situation. So there has to be some means of stopping the camel from running away.

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way. So this is what they developed this who,

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right which was turned and made the call to hold this scarf on.

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They would bend the camel's knee backwards and then put it over his knee who

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so you might imagine well what should I do well for the camera that stops him

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he can't move. He can't run. I mean he can hop but he can't right so it's you can easily grab him right so that became the means this so they call it the hobbling cord. That's what it was called in English hobbling chord. And then of course once you get back on your camera Yes, you're right off riding off into the sunset the wind blowing to keep your call from blowing off your head Whoa, what a better place to put the Hublin cord than on your head to keep but the 17 over dead we see them wearing the same thing and they're driving Cadillacs and Mercedes Benz

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it's like the it's like the the cowboy boots and the Stenson cap that the the Texans wear right. Normally cowboy boots this is for riding horses and stuff but now they're sitting in big cars. What's the it's just culture now became cultural. That's why most Saudis when I first asked them, Where did this a call come from this

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I had to find somebody from the older generation to be able to give me the necessary explanation. Anyway, we try to answer all the questions. One of the some of the questions they used to ask about our what they call the BM O's.

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You might wonder what is the VMO? Well, in American

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parlance they say UFO, you heard about the UFO right? What is the UFO?

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Yes, unidentified flying objects meaning flying saucers, right, you know, spacemen

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you never heard of the Spaceman

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aliens. Okay, they call them U F O's these vehicles that they're supposed to travel in. So when they would see the Saudi women covered in black, completely couldn't see anything moving in the street, they call them be emos. What black moving objects.

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So they wanted to know about these VFO. So what we did was we took

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female soldiers and there were many of them. We took them into Saudi homes, homes of Saudis, who they studied in the west or whatever their wives could speak English, you know, they had some education, etc. And they would enlighten them as to life of a Muslim woman.

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So, with this discussion, we also had

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a special tent connected to our tent, a smaller tent, where we have another brother, Muhammad Sharif, who was originally from Sri Lanka, who sat on a chair and waited for people to come in and discuss with him. And who are those people? Those were the people who in the course of our general data, they started to ask questions about religion. Okay, general questions, I will just answer, but once they start to get into details and want to argue about Bible verses and this type of thing, they said listen, this is not a religious discussion. This is cultural, try to keep maintain the overall cultural impression. So if you want a detailed discussion, then you can go off into this

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other tent is a doorway, you can go into other tents. There's somebody waiting for you there. Now. Muhammad Sharif was a serial line Ken, who was training to be a missionary, right? In Sierra Lanka. He was training to be a missionary. And he was told that the most difficult people to convert are the Arabs.

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Most difficult, you can convert Indonesians,

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Africans, Arabs, difficult, virtually impossible. So he's a big

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brother.

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He felt that's where I want to go. I want to go and do my dad was there my missionary work there. So

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He got a job

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to Riyadh as an accountant, but that was just the cover. He was planning to go there and give dialogue or spread the message of Jesus Christ to the ignorant Arabs.

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So once he got there, he felt okay, this is gonna be my main job therefore best ideas, equipment as possible. So he bought a Quran. Now when he was training, he did read portions from the ground and gave them different bits and pieces of the Quran to show how distorted and misguided the Quran is. Because of course, they will take things out of context and they, you know, throw them juxtapose them different ways. So it's confusing, you can get the message. But you're convinced this is a book of misguidance. So he said, Okay, before doing beginning and serious work here, I need to study this book already.

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So he got himself

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started reading

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and reading

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and reading, and he kept reading to the completed the reading of the whole Quran. When he was finished reading the whole Quran, he went to the nearest dollar center, and said, I shall do

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the law.

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He was convinced after meeting that that was enough, this is the truth, because he had studied the Bible, studied entirely. So after reading the Quran, it was clear that this was in fact the truth. So then, he now became a powerful die for Islam. They took him up to

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a seam, gave him some basic training, and he became like a dynamo. You know, he was giving shahada, his daily fact he used to tell me he said, Listen, you know, if I, if I don't get my Shahada in a day, I'm feeling uncomfortable, you know, I go to sleep at night, I didn't get my Shahada. Something's wrong.

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He used to come to visit me in reality, fly into Riyadh airport, get a taxi drive to the house. And he would bring the taxi driver in along with him to take Shahada.

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This was Muhammad Sharif. So

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he did. After that he had done a course with Ahmed Dida, got all that information, etc. And you know, as somebody that likes to show you all the different Bibles, he went and bought all those different Bibles. So what he did in when he started the tent, they had a trunk or a big suitcase with him, filled with about 14 or 15 different Bibles. So when the people would come in and say you want to have this religious discussion, he would, he would say, well, Which Bible do you want to discuss from?

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Which Bible, there's only one Bible, they will flip up on the trunk and say, Well, I got 15 of them here. Right? Which one is that we just shot shotgun right?

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Many of them they would, you know, they would listen, either. They would take shahada and say, Oh, we have to go back to our chaplain and get his advice. They brought the chaplains in

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Alhamdulillah. In the course of our time, there, we have spent five and a half months there 11 chaplains accepted Islam, you know, Hamdulillah, from the brother, Muhammad Sharif. So the 10s, though it was originally called

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the Saudi Arabian cultural information tent.

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Soon, the amount of people who are converting to Islam averaged around 20 people a day.

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In the course of the five and a half months, we had over 3000 Americans, males and females accepting Islam. So the tent came to be known as the conversion tenant.

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That is the name that they called it commonly and many of the chaplains, they tried to shut it down. But the American administration felt if this was a means of keeping at least some of the troops occupied, and also they don't end up doing anything crazy, right, as they like to do, then they will better suffer the harm and the benefits were greater. So they kept it in order. So in the course of the dour,

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we would take groups of them to the mosque.

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We gave them a tour of the mosque, we take them into the mosque at first many of them were reluctant that they want to go because the administration told them that you shouldn't come within 14 meters of a mosque. If you're coming

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coming along and you find the mosque ahead, Gora.

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They didn't want any kind of incidents. So they were surprised we brought them in. Of course, there were some,

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some Saudis ignorant, we didn't know that non Muslims could enter a mosque. So we had to deal with some of that ignorance too. But we brought them inside, taking off the shoes, of course. And we gave them a tour of the mosque, outside of the prayer times explaining the different functions of the different parts of the mosque.

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And we had them sit at the back and watch Muslims pray

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for a number of them. That was enough to convince them that Islam was the truth.

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Many of them told me they said, you know, after I saw the Muslim prayer, experience it in the Master says, I knew this was prayer. What we were doing back home, in the church,

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church was had become discos, they had rock bands in there, right? The minister was the lead singer, he has his you know, singing group along behind them, they're beating the drums, and you know, people are jumping up and all this crazy.

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You know, and that is supposed to be worship.

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But a person with a heart will know this is not how you worship God. In a when you see the prayer, and you see the calmness, and the peace and tranquility that's there in the mosque. For a lot of people, that's enough to convince them that Islam is the truth.

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Some of them, we took groups of them to some of the executions, because from time to time, they were executions, some hands were cut off, some heads were cut off. And it was interesting, because of course, for many of them, they've never seen anybody actually be executed. So they, they weren't there. Of course, they bought popcorn, and they came to watch it if their head is chopped off, but at the same time, you know, they could see from that

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the impact in the society because we used to take them into the town to buy gold jewelry, downtown

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Hobart

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at midnight, because stores stayed open in those days, 24 hours, they're open all the stores, you know, Big Macs, and all the pizza places all this place are open shops were open, because the troops are coming in at different times. So they could feel walking in the town, the city at odd hours, very late hours at night, a sense of security, many of them said we could never

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feel anything like this back home.

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They were buying gold and wearing gold chains, rings and, you know, bracelets, all these kind of things that we could never do this back home in Chicago, New York, Washington. In LA, you wear this kind of stuff, you're handing the chalk off and they will take that stuff away from you. When you walk the streets at night Janeiro's looking back checking who's you know,

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so that people when they go into their homes, it's locked down, you know, you got all these alarms, you gotta lock it up and make sure everything is in place. If you leave your house, you forgot to lock down, you rush back, you know, so it was interesting for them to see people go into the people's houses leaving at different hours, they're not locking up, front doors were opening gates of houses were open. And this is the city of course, these things might happen in the country where people numbers of small people, not everybody, but in big cities to have that kind of experience was really, really unusual. So that had its own impact on many of them. Furthermore, some of them were

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really taken by the generosity that they found amongst Muslims, they will be out on maneuvers on the desert, you know, with all their gear on you know,

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and they will come across a Bedouin out there. He's got his tent, camo tied up some sheep, whatever, and he would see them and even call them over.

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Come over, when it what's going on here. You know, come over, sit down.

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Sit down, it's still all in their weapons. And he would make up some tea. Give them some tea, give them some,

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some

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tomato

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Some days. And, of course, he doesn't know any English. They don't know any Arabic. But the language of generosity was clear. Many of them told me that we've never experienced anything like this, going in the bid station here, they're everywhere, never experienced people so generous, so that in and of itself, again, had its own impact. And of course, when they questioned about it, we explained to them that this was from the teachings of Islam, because the Prophet may God's peace and blessing your Parliament said that you no one believes in Allah and the Last Day is generous to his guests. That is an absolute, it's a proof of faith. So these various

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practices had a direct impact on the the troops and as I said, over 3000 of them accepted Islam over that period of five and a half months. I mean, it was something for me, which I've never seen before in my life. I've seen people accept Islam in large numbers, but I've never seen anything of that nature. Alhamdulillah following that,

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I started to work with the Saudi Arabian Air Force headquarters, following up with those who had accepted Islam back in the States, I went back to the States, and we established a magazine for Muslim members of the American military, you know, and from that, they also requested chaplains, Muslim chaplains for the military. So out of all of that they designated Muslim chaplains for the military of the Air Force, etc. And from that, also, some of the troops who had come back to the US come out of the military, but to our specialist groups of them went to Bosnia, because by 1993, the Bosnian Muslims were being slaughtered by the Serbs. And they needed people with specialist skills

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to train them help them to in that fight. So Alhamdulillah, we had two eight teams from amongst those who accepted Islam went to Bosnia, and trained, the Bosnians fought alongside them, married Lawson's remained in Bosnia, and also people who had originally come to Arabia, with the intention of fighting Muslims in Iraq, ended up fighting on behalf of Muslims in Bosnia, and training and living their lives out as Muslims. So when I think back to Desert Storm, there are many, many lessons that remains to be learned, I hope in sha Allah, that you all would take some of the lessons from this experience, or utilize those lessons care and Norway, you have a responsibility to share

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this message with the people here. Most of them this should have carried the message to the people of this land,

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but they didn't. Islamic worlds divided, destroyed, colonized, Allah instead chose from the Muslim world, groups have you and brought you here, since the message was taken, then, Allah brought you here, to convey that message. So you should know that you have been chosen by Allah, Allah to be here in order to convey the message of Islam to the people of this land. This is what justifies your presence here. Otherwise,

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you must be aware because living in an amongst non believers where they and their culture influence and destroy Muslim families and their structures. This is an evil state cursed in the Quran. And Kirsten, the Sunnah. So I asked the Allah to

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make you all commits to your duty to carry the message of Islam to the people of Norway, as we did 19 years ago, in Arabia, to the American troops that came there. That was a circumstance which I'll put us in. We utilize that circumstance to convey the message. This is the circumstance which

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Allah's put you in now it is your turn your duty to carry the message to the people of this land Baraka logical Salam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato