First All-Female Team To Produce A Quran Translation Saheeh International

Haifaa Younis


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Bismillah you're loving man you're walking

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Sarah Marie commercial flower cantaloupes without the love. So that was salam ala Rasulillah. While he was such a busy woman who I love my job, I am now a fan of EMA and doTERRA. In the case of your own Juba, one was burning and severely troubling and Nakata. Tabo Rahim welcome again, it's all Tuesday night, seven o'clock Central, five o'clock in East in Pacific and eight o'clock.

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Eastern time. It gives me great pleasure without a lot of introduction to start right away. And we have a dear friend and

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someone who I have met very few times, but every time I meet, I learn a lot personally met her first time, I think 12 years when I first moved to Jeddah, and where she lived, I used to live and she used to have her bookstore, we'll come to talk about it later on. It was actually a function where there was a program for the new reports and converts who have the agenda. And I didn't know who she rather I just saw a huge book in English and I was really impressed. And that's how long after they use I was very busy studying in an ALA after many years me let's meet together this time in a bookstore. And I can't tell you how impressed I was then. So how long have we departed, I came back

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to the state of St. Louis she came back to the state to Annapolis and

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guess what I came to give a program in Minneapolis and ice sister our to La so how are they I'm very recently and may Allah forgive me, I came to know that she is the one who had the Allah used her to make Asahi International. And that's when I reached out and I was like, I would love to love we need to talk about this. So I'm at Allah, pleasure to have you. Welcome to our program. Accept from all of us. Okay, Neil Evans, welcome and tell me what you

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mean, just like a little hairs. Dr. Haifa is always a pleasure to see you. Uh Hamdulillah, salaam alaikum. Everyone.

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My story is really just one that you know, everything is is in Allah's hands. And he uses us the way he wants to use us because we're not scholars. We're not people who were doing doctorial thesis in Arabic. It was just all fate that led us into doing the work that we were doing. We never intended to do it. So Sandra next, International is actually myself, the founder, and actually two of my very close friends. One of them my teacher and an Islamic Institute in Jeddah. Mary Kennedy is an English major and I pulled her in, in 1989, there was a Canadian brother who passed away he was a scholar from Omokoroa university he had just graduated. And when he passed away, I was visiting with his

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wife. And before he died, he had made a contract with the owner, previous owner of dorable custom, his name was Salamanca. To print some of his books that he had done in English, they were like translations, mostly of Arabic works.

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And she said, You know, I have these manuscripts. And you got to remember at that time, women couldn't drive in Saudi Arabia. And she didn't really have a way to get there. So she said, Could you deliver these for me and I said, sugar, but even myself, I was having car issues at the time. And I said, it's gonna take me a couple days to arrange it. Do you mind if I read the text? And she's like, Oh, of course. Sure. Go ahead. Now, you have to remember, I was only Muslim about two years at this time. And this was the first book was on the soul, and what happens to it at death and in the Hereafter, the subject was absolutely fascinating to me. But with all due respect, the

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brother had been studying and speaking classical Arabic for so many years, that his English got a little bit flowery. Anybody who knows Arabic, and this is a huge problem for translators. So, um, you know, you have all these repetitions of phrases that can just make it sound so gorgeous and deep and Arabic. And when you try to translate that into English, it's like spoon feeding. It's like, Come on, let's get to the point. Right. So I approached his wife and I said, Listen, this book is amazing, but it really needs some doctoring. You know, we got to fix the English in it to do it justice. So she, I gave her some examples, and she agreed and the publisher gave us the Go ahead.

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But he thought we were just going to put a you know, a little change here, a little change there. We actually ended up kind of reorganizing the text and we you know, we

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Just we kind of tore it apart to be honest.

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What I hope for the better, right?

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So then when I took it to the publisher, I said, Oh, here you go, this is what we've done. And he said, Well, we we were not going to read, you know, typeset the whole thing and edit it out a day, you've got to make it press ready. And I opened my big mouth and I said, okay, because like, we've done all this work, but I had no idea how to do that, or what I was going to do. So

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I'm like, oh my god, I like done. So I was calling one of my friends Aisha, and I said, What am I gonna do? Bla bla bla bla bla, well, thank God, it opened my mouth that of course, this is Allah working his way. Yes. So she said, Oh, we have a friend who owns a computer store. And I'm sure he can, you know, get you some kind of program help you figure it all out, blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So she introduces me to this brother of their one of their mind for years took me under his wing, you know, in the beginning loaned me a computer loaned me a printer gave me a program that taught me how to typeset. And you know, so we did the first book, well, the publisher said, hey, you

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know, you guys can do pretty good on that. How would you like to do some other work? And so that's how we began. It's no, jump forward, maybe five years. By this time I've been studying

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of benign neglect to say, Oh, I neglected to say that, even though I knew the English needed fixing, I pulled in my friend Mary, because she's an English major. And I knew that, you know, she's a better writer than I am. So let's get her help. Right.

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And we had a little bit of trouble sometimes when we were trying to figure out especially Quranic verses that most stuff I had translated, we thought he might have meant something, but we did not want to make a mistake, right? So that's when I turned to Mohammed, Amina Asami. And I just want to correct that on some websites. They've mentioned her name as a cilmi there is or was a sister alaria, Hama, who passed away I'm gonna assume me. She was active in the Muslim community in the US, but they're both from California, they're probably very similar in age and so people get them have gotten them mixed up. So I did want to correct that. But we needed on Muhammad because we would be

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like is, you know, can you tell us exactly what that says in Arabic? You know, or can you help us with the meaning? So Muhammad was Arab, or Muhammad was American, or Muhammad, all three of us are American Conference, but she knows a little bit better than you guys. Oh, she's fluent in Arabic. Ah, okay. She had married, she was married to a Syrian and had moved to Syria where she took intensive Islamic Arabic courses. And it was actually her study in Arabic that led her to Islam. Oh, Subhan. Allah. Yeah. Okay. Um, but that's a whole nother story. But anyway, we needed her, you know, to check the Hadith to check the Arabic, the chronic versus whatever, make sure that we had the

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correct meaning. Okay, so she was kind of checking those things. And then she would give suggestions. And we just found that as a team, we worked really well together. So the publisher Souleymane, he would have people bring him manuscripts, and a lot of times those authors, they were all Islamic books in English. But sometimes those authors might not have been native speakers of English themselves. So they had good intentions, but the English was a little funny. And so that's, that's how we got going. We just started editing books. Well, on Muhammad also taught at the center where we were doing Quran, Hadith, you know, Sierra, all of these studies in English. And there was

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books that we felt, you know, we could be using in our classes, too. So she started actually compiling some books really intended originally for the center

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that we were at. And people loved her books, and people started buying her books. So this is five, five years into me being her student four years into us working as a team. And I told her, You know what, I have learned so much from you. I think you should do a Koran translation. And she's like, Absolutely not. She refused law. Because once you brought this idea in your mind, because she was our tafsir teacher, so she was translating everything from the Tafseer books in our complex is at the center. And I'll give you a prime example. I remember at that time, I was using use of Ali Translation. Okay. And I remember reading the I actually have it. I had given a talk, actually, just

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last weekend, and I mentioned this there, so let me get up.

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Oh, so there was a verse that he translated. Let not the believers take for friends or helpers, unbelievers that rather than believers, and I thought to myself, how can that be? Islam does not teach compulsion in religion. It acknowledges the People of the Book as being the nearest us. And I was always told there's no problem in having non Muslim friends.

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unless they tried to, like turn you away from the religion or something, so I'm going What is this verse? It doesn't make any sense of my wrong oh my god, what am I gonna, you know, it's a new most a newer Muslim. I was very confused by that verse. This one is another one. I mean, not at all. Yeah, yeah. Well, yeah, okay, yes the word got so she went on to explain that Ollie is not

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you know, it's it's an ally or protector so this verse is saying don't run to the or seek refuge with the people who may actually side with your oppressors in times of conflict. It has nothing to do with friendships and relationships. Right, right. Right. So it was like, Okay, I was having all of these aha moments, classes with her, because all these verses that never made sense to me, you know, she would she would explain it and I'd be like, Oh my god, okay, I get that, you know, blah, blah. Um, so that's why but you know, she just was like, yeah, what are you thinking? Girl? I'm like, I'm not gonna do that. I don't I don't have a I'm not a scholar. I don't have a degree people

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want to take it seriously. It's too big of responsibility, whatever, whatever. I guess I shouldn't put words in her mouth. But let's just say she was like, No way that's not gonna happen.

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Once you get it was that

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the this was

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it had to have probably been 91 or 92. Because it took it took us. So I went to the publisher that we were working with really mad and I said, come on. Now you got to help me put some pressure on.

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Oh, you know, this woman is incredible. And I know she has the ability, but she just she was she's refusing. And so he she for many years thought that this all came from him. She didn't know that I was the one

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but so anyway, you know, we really kind of harassed her. And we she finally got to the point where she said, Okay, let me praise the Oh, that's a good start.

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And for those of you who may not know is the Hara. This is when you a special prayer you make when you're trying to make a decision, and you're asking God to kind of give you the guidance in it right. Subhanallah just after Soon after, she prayed this to her. Of course, she already had tafsir books, but somebody gifted her a set of tafsir books that she didn't have, and I don't know which set it was, but anyway, another set and so she said, Well, you know, maybe maybe I should consider this maybe I'll think of it. So in 1993 or 1994 We began how it took us three solid years.

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So her part is the translator Okay, I am not fluent in Arabic. Um, you know, I do not have the ability to translate but mashallah to varkala. You know, Muhammad did. Okay. Um, yeah. So where is so your the three of you? What did each one did? I love this team work piece immediately. Yeah, this is a beautiful point for all everyone to learn from. It doesn't matter. I say this to myself. It doesn't matter who do it. As long as it's done at the end and the people benefit from well, I want to jump and just say one quick story. Yes, I have so many mashallah American friends that lived in Jeddah, so all three of us, that's where we were all living in the 1980s. All three of us lived in

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Jeddah, I relocated to this back to the states in 2017. After having lived there for 30 years, but many of my friends there were going to toughy the Quran school, they were memorizing Quran and I was always feeling like, you know, I'm not so great at memorization. I memorize some, but I couldn't go to these really intense classes. It's just not me. It's the way I learned. Let me go at my pace. Let me read don't force me to memorize as I read, I will learn okay, but so that doesn't

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work in the toughies Oh, Quran schools, you have to do your page a day or whatever, right? I'm like, you know, we all

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know, well, but the thing is, so I kept saying no, I can't do I can't do a bubble bubble, blah. And I was feeling kind of guilty that all my friends seem to be able to do it, but I couldn't do it. And I remember Subhan Allah the same, the widow of the brother who wrote these books, because she herself also studied Omokoroa very knowledgeable sister, mashallah debark law, and I was telling her about my, you know, feeling guilty about not memorizing Quran and data and she said, Allah gave you a gift of something different. And you don't even know what that will give to us. He led you into it. And you're still doing something for the community that's important and needed, you know, and

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After that time, it's almost like it made me commit more to wanting to produce the books that we produced and you know, hoping Inshallah, that there was benefit in it. Subhan Allah, Allah gave me the ability. I didn't even know I had it right. I mean, I fell into that work. So Panama, so yes, but it definitely was teamwork. So my thing was that I did all of the layout work, the editing the typesetting, I was also kind of insistent sometimes on footnotes, because even though all Muhammad, you know, was not a tafsir. But there are verses in the Quran that are not readily understood if you just translate them. Sure. And you really do need a little bit of explanation. So there's certain

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verses, especially ones that tend to be misunderstood and used by

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right there to try to make Islam look bad, you know, especially those that kind of kind of pushed on. And Mary's Of course, biggest contribution was the English language, you know, because

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literally, a comma in English can change the meaning of a sentence where it's placed. So let me let me think I'm trying to imagine the three of you sitting in the room. Okay, so there you have this page of the Quran, right? So Mohammed translated the words, this word mean, this, this would mean this is and then is that and then you come in and put the layout? And then Is that how it is? Well, okay, this is what happened. Okay. So

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initially, the Solomon suggested, Why don't we just try to fix the English and the halali, and country inflation because that had come after Yusuf Ali corrected many of the Akita errors that were not Yusuf Ali, but the English we had was a little bit lacking in some areas. Okay. So we thought about doing that. So I actually typed up most of halali and con translation.

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However, well, at least helped. Well, it doesn't matter however much I did, one on Muhammad found so, you know, like, I went on Wikipedia, and it said that that's what we did, we just added to their English, but honestly, once she tried doing that, she found it was more difficult than to just start from scratch. Okay, so initially, yes, we just tried editing. But she found that okay, you know, there's many verses that are repeated in the court. She began like with a list of those repeated verses, however, you have to understand that in context, the same phrase doesn't always mean the same thing either. So, here we go again, with you know, what some of the like the methodology, the

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compensations. So we try to be consistent where consistency worked. But, you know, the thing is, is this is the difficulty of translated, an Arab speaker will understand all the subtleties will understand the interconnections of, you know, the Bulava, all of that. And when you're going into a target language, there's no language as riches as Arabic. When I was in this meeting, the other night the guys from I believe Poland, were saying, you know, oh, our language is no nowhere near as rich as English. And I laughed, and I told them, and look at how much we struggled, you know, because you have all these different things to consider. Do you want to stay somewhat literal? Do

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you want to make it more just the general meanings? Do you want the English to kind of be flowery? Or do you want it to be?

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You know, it's like you have some people want to keep common Arabic phrases in transliteration like moto kin. Yeah, we we chose to use English wording as much as possible, right? Even if it was a Prophet's name or something like that. But there were just certain words that you couldn't really there's just nothing in English. So sometimes we would like the word Kersey. You it could be translated chair or footstool, but even that is like so we wanted to explain it more and so we kept that KU RSI. Okay, and then put a footnote. So every page she translated right, and then who review the English again?

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Well, Mary and I both did, okay, when uh, but um,

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when it came down to having to really implement grammar rules, that was really Mary's field, you know, she's got all them grammar rules, you know, coming up.

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Three years Subhan Allah tell me your feeling. When you finish the last one. Did you start from a corner? Yes, we started from the front and went to the back. So when you reach out to the happiness Yeah, Allah I will do with that moment. Well, so Well, it wasn't quite over then. Because at that time, not like you got to remember this

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was over 20 years ago, there were not all those desktop, Arabic chronic programs. We had to get someone in Mecca, I believe, to print. So it was side by side columns with the footnotes across the bottom, right? Uh huh. Someone had to print the size of the column, the whole Quran in Arabic. And then I had to cut and paste them literally every single idea to pattern a lot.

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Wow, what a blessing.

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No, no, my thought was because I would sit I had a light table. I literally was, you know, on the cheap, right, I had this glass table. And underneath, I put a light and I would and then I had graph paper. And I would paste each page on top of the graph paper so that I could get the lines perfectly lined up. And then I sat like on this little stool, and by the end of how long that took, like my toe started becoming numb. And you know what people say? Whatever they do is they think it's difficult look at this because I'm imagining nine in the 90s it's really a woman in Jeddah they don't speak Arabic, they're not native trying to do this. This is nobody knows unless you live

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there. And you know, letter no internet, let alone not now they

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run Subhan Allah, so telling me so you would put all this the Arabic then you put the English under, okay, so not so the English was all typeset the column English meaning and then all of the footnotes, and we also, we also worked on an index, so that you could look up subject matters. Okay, right. Um, so that that also took a lot of time. And then the final thing was pasting in print, you know, printing it all out. Plus, we had an Arab sister who, you know, literally went through and read all of the Arabic to make sure that when they printed it, there wasn't anything missing. You know, somebody could have made a made a mistake, or, you know, like black. So you typed it typed it,

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No, I didn't type the Arabic. I

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was typing on a typewriter. There was no, no, there was computers

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these big ones, right? Yes.

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Okay. monitor screen. So now you're done. You prayed, I'm sure you get to do at the end, and there wasn't a next then what happened next? Well, actually, so, you know, Suleyman had agreed to print it once we got it finished. So he printed it, it was very exciting getting those first hard covered copies, you know, it was just it was like, wow, um, but see, we put we really, really, Inshallah, or Neil was to do this project for Allah, you know, so we didn't want our names on it. Now. You're really my

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name's know what the thing is, is that that was our Nia. But see, people didn't under some people misunderstood it. And they thought, well, how come whoever did this isn't taking responsibility? What are their names? Blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So it wasn't until future editions that we agreed to have little blurbs about us put in the back. But the thing is, people still don't know you, you know, but so this is kind of

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excepting for Saturday, when I did an interview for a project in Germany. Um, we have it's been 20 years and we've never really spoken publicly about it. There's been a few written interviews, but nothing in depth. I told you, I didn't know till I came back.

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Well, I guess the only reason why I decided now to speak out a little bit is because first of all, I've seen things online. that haven't been true.

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Like the names being mixed up, there's some somebody wrote an article once and, you know, mixed up some information about Mary's family members, um,

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stuff like that. So I just, I guess I kind of felt like okay, it's okay to clear the record and, you know, hopefully after 20 years or near hasn't changed, you know what, you know, why?

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huffy Allah, this idea for a slightly softer term, Allah, Allah is that person. May Allah make us all like though crbn ATAPI of taco, I will not be pure and unhappy. The one does good deeds in secrecy, however, and if you read the commentary on this is one of the last panel what Allah wants you to be known. Nobody will, will can stop you. We didn't do it. You didn't put your name. It's like when you buy say International, to be honest with you. I didn't know it was you. But then I know after 20 years from a hikma you know, and I don't think your your media changed because your knee originally was is to make the non Arab

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Understand that well and easy, and I think we are by His grace, I think he did it is one of the easiest one to read and understand how long well I don't think that people will ever really be able to comprehend how much thought has to go in to picking word choices or, you know, like, Okay, we, we wanted it to be somewhat closer to the Arabic word possible, but then you don't want to break a bunch of English grammar rules either, right? Some people don't like it because we kind of sometimes with the adjective after, like they do an Arabic instead of before the noun or something like that. But for us, we were trying to bring the reader however possible, a little bit closer to the feel of

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the original Arabic, we also knew, especially because of the center where we studied where everyone was, you know, foreigners meaning non Arab speaking, that this would facilitate the students of Arabic the closer that we could keep it in the order, you know, that that would be a benefit. So there's so much to weigh, you know, but if you get too literal, then sometimes you lose meeting. And also the Quran in many instances uses like metaphors and metaphors often go according to culture. Right? So how do you interpret that? How do you translate that and I know that Muhammad said that, you know, having lived among Arabs for so many years and understanding, again, the subtleties of,

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you know, how they have expressions, that was an unforeseen benefit. So look how Allah sent her to Syria, she learned the Arabic Then she went to Saudi Arabia, you know, she was among Arabs of many, you know, different types of Arabs understanding the language like she's one of those people who could speak to you in let's say, Egyptian Arabic, or, you know, Saudi Arabic.

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Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So, you know, her exposure, you know, some How to Look how Allah worked, you know, and then from the local printer in Jeddah, how did it become? As No way? No.

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Um, well, actually, in the 1990s, I became a sole distributor for the bookstore in America, but it was only five years because I was living

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in Saudi and trying to run the business in America and, you know, had some great people working for me. But it was, it was very difficult to be honest, you know, it's very hard to run a business. So

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we did, we were able to distribute, I was able to send, I got some people together, we were able to send copies to some prisons and to some universities throughout the United States and whatnot. But it was a little slow then for a while Juma magazine was helping to distribute it.

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Suleyman ended up selling the copyright to it to a Melinda l Islami, which is a Nora International. Yes. Um, so, you know, I don't

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have really the control of it, that I'd like to have this as another thing that, you know, translators have to worry about. Um,

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and, again, I'm not living there. So it's not always easy to, you know, control everything. If I had my way, I would just look for people to be able to take it and print it and mess distributed. But, um, I don't have that control. But I'll have the luck.

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I know, there's been a lot of people who have made copies and just put it online, there's a, there's been actually an organization in another western country who, who have collected money, and they've taken it and they've put our name on it. But then they've added like introductory chapters or something. And I can't verify whether that if they kept all of our work or not, and they just added their introductions. I really don't know sometimes people could be using it and making changes, but Allah knows, you know, Jackie, I have a couple of beautiful comments. I'm going to put one I actually want everyone to hear this. And this is from the system I would like to know what brought

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them to

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it always love these stories. It makes me a much better Muslim. When I listen to these a lot is my witness. So

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well, I can't speak too deeply for my colleagues. I you know, that would only be fair for them to do it. But I think Mary would say that, Uh hum. dilla she married a Muslim brother. And I think it was through him teaching her that she accepted her Islam. Oh, Muhammad also was married to a Muslim brother. And

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I think she would say that she was a little bit resistant for some time.

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It wasn't until she really studied Arabic, that she, you know, understood more and that's she became a Muslim. My story is that there's no

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thing really exciting in my story I, I was raised in a Catholic household went to Catholic school for 12 years of my life, but from the time I was very young, I questioned, I mean, you know, second, third, fourth grade, I can remember, fourth grade, I remember, that's when we had to start going to confession. And, um,

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every time we went to confession, it didn't matter how small or big the sin was, we were always told this to do the same thing, say 10. Hammer Mary's, our father's promise not to do it again. And at that time, I remember thinking as a kid, like, you're talking to God right now, and he's telling you this, it doesn't matter what I do, it's always gonna be the same penance. It didn't make any sense to me. What if there was something I remember lying and confession? Because I felt, you know, it's that but I always see that Catholic guilt. Like I would say, I talked back to my mom when I hadn't talked back to my mom, because we were supposed to be such sinners or something. Anyway, it was all

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very confusing to me. Um, and I just didn't believe them. By the time I was 16. I claimed atheism, because in my mind,

00:31:08--> 00:31:43

yes, in my mind, I remember being in kind of a hot mess. And I was talking to my friend about it, and she said, We'll pray to God and I said, God, there's no God, if there was a God, why do we have war? Why do we have poverty? Why do we, you know, yes, this was this was my logic. This was my my thinking, I always kind of felt like you should be a good person. You know, I upright, you know, you don't, you're not unjust. You don't take people's rights. You don't steal bla bla bla, bla bla, but I have more of this kind of Mother Earth idea that we're here we die, we become worm food. And that's it.

00:31:44--> 00:31:57

So then, off to college, I went, and I just happen to have met a lot of Muslim guys at college. And these were not practicing brothers. These were brothers who were

00:31:58--> 00:32:11

not practicing. That's fine. Okay. Okay, that's all we have to say. But so I was hanging out with them. But even though they weren't practicing, there was something that was different than like, all the American guys I knew, like,

00:32:12--> 00:32:24

the luck, you know, their generosity, their concern, their care, their, their decency, their level of respect, you know, there was just things that kept driving me.

00:32:25--> 00:32:30

But still religion, you know, they didn't religion wasn't a subject

00:32:33--> 00:32:52

subject to you. It was not a subject to me, but I'm the dumbest little things happened. I was in the car one day with one of the guys and I was telling him that I planned on taking this, you know, day trip and he said, Say Inshallah, Inshallah, you know, but Subhanallah I got literally cold shivers down the back of my spine.

00:32:54--> 00:33:26

Like, Allah's trying to tell me something, but I'm not listening. You know, this is the fitrah you know, so it was dumb things like this. There was another occasion when I had bought this, you know, I was a college girl, I didn't have money, but I splurged and I bought this amazingly beautiful, very expensive knit sweater. And we were all hanging out and my watch kept getting cut on the sweater and pulling out you know, was loose knit, and kept pulling out the yarn. And one of the guys said, tell them to say mashallah, they keep looking at your sweater, like, and I'm thinking,

00:33:27--> 00:34:01

like, this is weird, but I got the same feeling. Yes, I like I had to do it, like a little was pushing me, but I didn't understand it made no sense at all. But so then they kind of said, you know, you should think about it. And I'm like, You're crazy. You think I'm gonna live that way because I had, you know, the very bad media image that women were second class that, you know, men were in control of everything. You know, I didn't know anything about Islam. You know, I just, yeah, what what we see was what was the point?

00:34:03--> 00:34:04


00:34:05--> 00:34:18

so one of the women that was in our group of friends, she wasn't really a practicing woman either. But she literally said to me, if you want to learn anything about Islam, you're not going to learn it from us. Let me take you to the Islamic center. So

00:34:19--> 00:34:24

she was amazing. May Allah it was funny. So she took he

00:34:25--> 00:34:44

said, she took me to the Islamic center and and the brother said, you know, what can we do for you? And I said, Well, I don't really know any Muslim women. And I keep the guys keep saying that women have all these rights and women are honored and women are this a winner that but I don't know when you muslim women. So I'd actually like to meet some Muslim women. So then he hooked me up

00:34:45--> 00:35:00

with the phone number to a sister I called her. She hooked me up with another sister. They were having a hell of her every week in her house. And at that time, the majority of the women in that group happened to meet students from Malaysia for at the one of the universities

00:35:00--> 00:35:01


00:35:02--> 00:35:18

I remember going to the first Holika and it came time for prayer and they put it you know, back then the cassette tape right of the event. Before the prayer. I had, I didn't know Muslims prayed, I didn't know anything. And when I heard the event, I started crying.

00:35:19--> 00:35:22

girl said to me, what's wrong, whatever you

00:35:23--> 00:35:50

said, I don't know, just when I heard that, and she said, you're a Muslim and you just don't know what and I thought that is the strangest thing anybody's ever said to me. But um, so I didn't understand it. But one of the women whose house it was at took beat mashallah her husband who just happens to be in the month, she took me under her wing, and she just she told me stories about the prophets. You know, we rented the the, the, the messenger video, remember that with

00:35:51--> 00:36:26

the story? It's like a Syrah. Have you seen it? Yeah. You know, we rented that we watched that she tried to, you know, kind of get me to understand some Islamic history. She she brought out the Hadith books, the old nine, volume, Bihari, you know, should we just studied, she taught me everything. And and just one day, I decided, you know, yeah, I believe in this. This is right for me. And that was it. And the rest is history. The rest is history, as they say, go to the bookstore, because this is really inspiring. For me. This is a couple of questions. Where can people purchase sucking International? Oh, well, um,

00:36:27--> 00:36:37

I believe you. I'm sorry, because I've kind of lost touch with the people who now have the copyright. But I believe you can go to Nora International and oh, are

00:36:38--> 00:36:53

international? I believe that's the website. Okay, no question came in, and then I'm gonna rephrase it. How much does it cost you to do this translation? How much it costs to do this translation as the three of you any cost?

00:36:55--> 00:37:31

There's no cost. There's only benefit? No, I mean, cost, money wise, because it was a question about where did you get the funding? So did it even cost yo? No, we did the publisher. So the man who owned the bookstore previously? Yes, we to print it and he sold it we have, we had nothing to do with money. We we like I said, we tried to do this for the sake of Allah, we didn't get paid for doing the work. We got we got paid like, I think it was 75 cents of page two for the proofread that like like that, or something that was between

00:37:32--> 00:37:46

much better. I'm not the law. So the reward is pure the law. And so now, you know, I really mean it. So this question can what's your advice to someone intending to start their Quran learning journey?

00:37:50--> 00:37:56

As it evolved, as somebody who didn't know how we lived in different parts of the world, what do you tell people?

00:37:58--> 00:38:38

Well, I think some of it may depend on where you live and what's available in your community. Of course, nowadays, there's a huge advantage that you do have the internet and you're probably much more familiar Dr. Haifa with, you know, organizations that are here. I've only been back in the States for four years, and I, you know, re establishing myself having to find work and my children and whatnot. So honestly, I was very, very, very fortunate that I studied in Saudi Arabia. And I haven't really studied here so I'm not the best person to answer that for for the cookie. I will say because this is not the subject of our

00:38:39--> 00:38:51

program tonight. But in general number one after was pantah. It doesn't matter where you live. It doesn't he will make things easy. Have the sincere intention the media that you you just

00:38:53--> 00:39:36

matomo asked a lot that you want to learn his book prusik ask him in purify your money. And then it depends where are you? Meaning where are you? Do you know anything from you read it. Start with reading. Start to learn how to read if you are somebody who absolutely don't know any letter of the Arabic, then go and find a program. We have one actually in Genoa City, we call it Veronica COVID. This is for people who doesn't even know what LF look like or BA and then you go more and more just to start reading. And as you start reading in Allah see your sincerity, he sees it to us. He will open many ways for you as as a system to what the beginning said is to understand or to memorize it

00:39:36--> 00:39:59

depends who are you as everybody memorize and people understand but start the journey today by asking Allah subhanaw taala to facilitate it and allow you to open it for you. Another question is came in here or I want you before I don't want to run out of time. You need to tell people about dogs our arson, the one I fell in love engender, not one the need to know about two honestly

00:40:00--> 00:40:07

because it was not something easy for a woman No, no, to have a bookstore in, am I correct?

00:40:09--> 00:40:52

It was filled with challenges. It was one of the biggest accomplishments probably of my entire life. But again, this was a lot it was I always said it was almost projects, because I was things just fell kind of into my hands, and then I'll open the doors every time things were closed. So I'll give a couple examples. So you have to first understand that the bookstore was originally started by Suleyman got some, I believe, in the very early 1980s. You know, he used to publish the books for Africa, d dot, did, I used to come and visit I was so fortunate to have gotten to met him through the bookstore. And so then in the, you know, like I said, in 1989, we started collaborating with

00:40:52--> 00:41:00

him, like as subcontractors, you know, during the editing work and the layout work for the books that he was publishing. And then,

00:41:01--> 00:41:43

slowly, mine was a bit older, and he was due to health reasons, no longer able to keep his store open. And by then we had done maybe 80 books, 70 to 80 books, either ones that we had written, or ones that we had edited. And I just felt so sad that like, all that work is just sitting in a warehouse, and it's not available, right. Um, but I didn't have money to buy a bookstore, and all of the work days and all of that. So I approached him, and I said, um, you know, so they might, you've known me all of these years, you know, I had the distributorship in the US for five years, I would really love to open the bookstore again. But I don't, you know, my entire life savings was maybe

00:41:43--> 00:42:25

$10,000, or something, and we're talking hundreds of 1000s of dollars, you know, to purchase the company. So, um, I said, you know, will you take a risk with me, will you take what I have, and little by little, as we get established, I'll pay you back or blah, blah, blah, blah, blah. So, yeah, we came to an agreement. And we had everything signed, I had actually even going back to the same location that three years prior or so he had closed down, and they have rented that place off, but the people who rented it for something, you know, their business wasn't successful or something. And so it became open again. And I told the landlord, I said, Listen, you know, it was kind of

00:42:27--> 00:42:52

it was an older building, and it needed some other thing, the same page when I visited you the first one, yeah, yes. I said, I will rent this space from you, but I need you to guarantee me a five year contract. Now this isn't they don't usually do that, you know, business is different there. I said, I will fix this place up. If you guarantee me the rent for five years, so they gave me a decent price on the rent. And by Allah's mercy, He sent a sister

00:42:53--> 00:43:33

who she happened, did some construction projects. And so she knew some builders who could come in and you know, fix it up and blah, blah, blah. And so, you know, she helped me a lot in getting that taken care of, I did have some friends who kind of pitched money in the pot, let's say and, um, you know, for the sake of Allah helped me out, I had a lot of help, actually, because I could have never done it on my own. And 100 low, we were able to reopen the store. But one of the most amazing, amazing I swear to God, there are three miracles in my story, that I can still when I talk about it, I can hardly believe that this happened. And this is why I say it is almost projects, not mine. So

00:43:33--> 00:44:16

there was a brother, a lawyer, humble Filipino brother, who worked for many years as the office manager for durable custom, a very trustworthy, honest, decent man. Well, when the bookstore closed, he went back to the Philippines. But he had asked Solomon, hey, will you give me a visa to come back and look for work somewhere else? So he happened to be walking down the street or coming out of a plane or whatever, and Omaha his husband happened to pass by him on a street in Jeddah. Now, you got to realize how many people have been dead? It's like a million people. It's a country junction. What are the odds on the face of this earth that goes to men? Oh, Muhammad has been an avid Dean, the

00:44:16--> 00:44:54

former employer of the bookstore ran into each other. And he said, What are you doing here? Well, I came back, I'm looking for work. I'm trying to find a company blah, blah, blah, blah. And he said, Well, you know, Sr, I was was thinking about is buying the business and opening it up. I'm sure she'd love to have her. Of course, I'd love to have him he knew everything about the business. He basically you know, he did all he was the office manager. He knew everything. And I knew that brother for 1015 years, you know, before then because I dealt with him. So he was the perfect person. So Allah bless the bookstore with him. He knew the box he knew the customers he knew how

00:44:54--> 00:44:59

everything ran Subhanallah so again, this is the My the first miracle

00:45:00--> 00:45:41

So then, um, by this time, were getting the things put, you know, into the store, I'm having like the the shelves made and the counter and all of that. And we had done the paperwork, we had signed the contract, we had gone to the Chamber of Commerce, you know, everything was plugging along and, okay, okay, you know, we just waiting for the paperwork to come back. Well, the paperwork was sent from Jeddah to Ria. And there's a department there that has to Okay, the stuff that comes from Jetta. And someone in the higher department decided that they weren't going to approve my application. Now, I've already signed a contract for the five years of the building, I've already

00:45:41--> 00:45:45

signed a contract to give away all my life savings and for many years to come in.

00:45:46--> 00:45:48

And so it was like,

00:45:49--> 00:45:52

they told me that I couldn't open the business.

00:45:53--> 00:46:16

And literally, there was only a minister and the king above this person, your way. And because I wasn't going around telling people, of course, I was, you know, kind of private. I wasn't telling everybody that I was planning on doing this. You don't tell people until it's ready, you you're getting ready for your grand opening, right. But I was very, very close group knit,

00:46:18--> 00:46:54

close knit group of my friends. And I was like, What am I going to do? Guys, I am so stuck. I just there, what am I going to do? And one of them said, Well, who's the minister and so so and so? Oh, I look good. Might have a connection. And so you know, a phone call was made. And I didn't hear anything. Like my friend called and said, anything ever happened? No, nothing? Well, I'll try one more time. But I can't make any promises. I'm trying. And so the one day I'm standing in the bookstore, my telephone rang. So this man says, I'm full of Bentley. I said, Yes. Wait for me. And I thought, who are you?

00:46:55--> 00:47:19

I'm sorry. But that was the thought in my head. Are you gonna tell me to wait for you? You don't even tell me who you are. Right? Well, knowing why. It's another vessel and I'm waiting 510 minutes I almost hung up. And another person gets on the phone say? Yes. I hear you have a problem. This is Minister so and so. And you know, there's a protocol in Arabic for how you address a minister.

00:47:20--> 00:47:40

I can I know it Sahih Muslim or you know, something like that. But I don't know how to say it. And I'm thinking, oh, like Mr. President, and in America, right. So I'm like, Oh, well, good afternoon, Mr. Minister, and he probably just thought I was the dumbest thing on the face of the earth because that's how you address a minister there but that's what I did. I'm

00:47:42--> 00:47:45

here you have a problem. And I say yes, I have a problem.

00:47:46--> 00:47:48

I lived there so I can

00:47:51--> 00:47:54

imagine how humiliated I felt but I didn't know what else to do.

00:47:55--> 00:48:35

So anyway, he was Mashallah. Mashallah, may Allah reward him, he saw that, you know, that I qualified, I had the I had the, you know, the the business degree and I was a Saudi citizen, you had have Saudi citizenship, there was nothing legally that prevented me from not having it. And I don't know why this other person denied the application. But Subhanallah Whoa, Allah opened the door. And then, so we get that through. And then there was one more little thing that had to be taken care of, and I, this isn't the time or the place to go into all the details, but let's just say that, again, was in the store, it's still not open yet. He's in the back room, you know, counting merchandise,

00:48:35--> 00:49:15

and bla bla, bla, bla, bla, we still don't have the official paper, there's one little step left to go. And an old customer walked by the bookstore. He hadn't been there in years. And it was time for her prayer. He came out of the back now there's no windows in the back. He came out of the back into the main showroom, which is completely empty at this time, goes to make will do before going to the measure for the work. This man standing at the door of Dean recognizes him as an old customer, he opened and he said, Well, what's going on? You know, you're renovating and so he tell him the whole story. You know Suleyman sold the business. I'm sister I'm trying to open it up. But she's got this

00:49:15--> 00:49:23

problem because she's got a fault. Well, he turned out to be a person that could help. Let's just keep it at that. And

00:49:24--> 00:49:59

within so this is not from us. This is from Allah subhanaw taala No, why? Because be done. Not only that, but this is for everybody. And I'm not praising you out there. But when Allah see sincerity inside us to do something for him, things happens without your imagination. Exactly. The right person comes in knock on the door, how often this happens. Or you walk in this thing, can you find somebody but when a long one saw us, he knows we are sincere. We want to serve Him. You

00:50:00--> 00:50:09

Want to help his team who want to learn his Deen to say how Allah has his voice and your story is absolutely proof of that. So hon Allah. So

00:50:10--> 00:50:19

believe it like when I'm saying it describe it. I'm like, that was me. That was a less plan. It was It has nothing to do with me nothing.

00:50:21--> 00:50:26

And what was that when you opened a muscle? Oh, goodness. Oh.

00:50:28--> 00:50:47

When I when I arrived in 2010, it's a you're established. I remember the first time in the bookstore show in the Juliet in the in the center for the new Muslims. And you have you established everybody was talking about Donald? Awesome. Yeah, it had to have been probably in the

00:50:49--> 00:51:35

in the very probably the mid 2000s Yeah, probably 2006 2007 something. Okay. Okay. And then I had this store for 10 years. And we, you know, we sold the books, you know, internationally as well, that we had some distributors here in the US and Canada and Australia. I guess our most popular book was called Clear doubts about Islam. It's a 50 questions and answer kind of book. We did the Global Messenger. So we tried to do an O Muhammad actually did go on to do to tough Sears tafsir of surgery as seen sort of normal and sort of cuff. So she did three tough Sears. Um, I hope one day that I could make everything available online. I don't think you can get the books anywhere. Actually,

00:51:35--> 00:51:45

that's two questions came in. One says are you planning on not finding what I'm going to say? Or you can do the Quran this international as an app. So

00:51:46--> 00:51:54

we in it, it's already been licensed to different companies that have apps. I honestly don't know who they are like I

00:51:55--> 00:52:01

sold the copyright. We have nothing we never had anything to do with the finances the money, nothing.

00:52:02--> 00:52:09

And how about the books where where somebody can find the real books. They're in a warehouse in Jeddah, sitting there.

00:52:11--> 00:52:57

When I had to come back to America, I kept my business open for about a year of Aberdeen stayed, and he kept it open. But again, you can't run a company when you're not living there. Well, you know, an older your honeymoon was, you know, he went back to the Philippines. And then he passed away, maybe six, eight months after he went his family sacrificed all those years with him being gone working to provide for them and you know, all the Subhanallah he worked so hard, and he finally you know, went home, and Subhanallah you remember when I visited you the last time when you were selling all the books, I can tell you how many books I bought most of my books that I have now is from from you. And

00:52:57--> 00:53:41

I remember was an amazing place. But you know what, this is what I felt when I was in it's a huge beautiful place. And those of you who have lived in today's like bookstores is not something you'll find everywhere and let alone English bookstore, but I could tell that this place has helped a lot of people Allah has my I wonder when I came in remember the last time we met in Jeddah? You know, when I was buying the books, and I liked that, I like that. But definitely this is another thing we all learn the last pantalla Jana you know, any cliche has a time everything has a point of time, he by his wisdom wanted the dollar awesome to serve from that time to that time when he brought you

00:53:41--> 00:54:23

back to the states to serve another thing you don't know what it is Subhanallah and this is what we learned is submitted the rule of Allah in my Wow, always and I'm gonna say this to everybody at one time in your letters to your Allah usually. And don't replace use me in any way. You are now a manager in a school that's maybe how he wants to use you. He use your foresight international use you for the bookstore, you don't know. But absolutely aspiring, we have less than six minutes left. Anything you want to tell our audience how do we know we have a very good interaction from the audience? I don't I don't hold me to it. I can't make any promises because I've been saying it ever

00:54:23--> 00:54:39

since I came back from Saudi but I would hope one day that we could make a website and at least try to you know, sell PDF copies of the work or something, you know, just minimally but I just I just swamped with, you know, the professional work I'm doing now and

00:54:40--> 00:54:40


00:54:42--> 00:54:45

know, when they need to talk after the program, okay.

00:54:47--> 00:54:56

We'll make it work. What do you have in case I don't know if we have the audience? nuisance? What do you want to tell them?

00:55:00--> 00:55:01

You know,

00:55:03--> 00:55:21

I became much more optimistic after embracing Islam, I was able to let a lot of things slide, I didn't feel like I because I trusted that whatever was happening, there was wisdom is it and I could, you know, accept it and use it as a as a form of strength. However

00:55:25--> 00:55:34

we always have to be careful not to get too comfortable in that as well. I will be completely honest with you, I have struggled quite a bit after coming back just in

00:55:36--> 00:56:02

you know, my whole world changed. I live, I'm from here, I grew up here. But when you're away from your family for 30 years, when you're away from your environment for 30 years, when you come back, you know, every year when I'd come back to visit, there'd be something new, you know, remember back the old payphones, and all of a sudden one year I came back and there was no paper on the call. Yet, you know, I didn't know how to turn on the faucet because they didn't have a handle.

00:56:03--> 00:56:47

You know, and those things weren't in Jeddah yet. I mean, it was like culture shock coming back home sometimes. So we, we have to remember that, you know, shaytaan is always out there and, and we can be strong practicing Muslims and sincere, and it only takes, it doesn't always take that much sometimes to kind of pull us away. So, no matter how much you might feel, there are moments when you're slipping. Like I literally imagined myself one day like holding on to that rope, like they say in Quran and sliding down and just barely holding on. We all are. We all have struggles, we all have temptations, we all have weaknesses, but we can never ever, ever, completely let go of that

00:56:47--> 00:57:30

rope. Never give up the hope that even if you've slid down, that you can't start climbing back up, you just can't let go completely, you know, because once you let go, he will let you go but as long as you're holding you will pull him right and you can't you can't get consumed and guilty if you've you know, for mistakes you make you can't you know, the straight path is there. And it's always there to run back to and you know, I'll have the love for Allah's mercy and forgiveness. Um, I you know, tried to surround yourself with good people. And, and don't give up. Also don't give up your whole identity. You know, I feel like I'm myself again. I feel like there was a time to that I was

00:57:30--> 00:57:50

so rigid and, you know, don't go overboard. Don't go to any extreme. I'm still my bubbly self. I'm still I love to joke around I'm a bit of a smart alec but you know, that's me. You know, just be true to yourself. But always check yourself. Well, you know what? I'm jealous. Oh,

00:57:52--> 00:57:52


00:57:54--> 00:58:39

Really, I somehow her all our, the people who are listening to us I when we before we came in, and I said the only thing I want you to say something to inspire people. I have to say I'm the first one inspired. That's why I'm jealous. Because you as a Muslim as a born Muslim. I always asked myself What did I do for this day? What struggle I went for this thing? Honestly, we all have as Muslims. This is why I love meeting the verse because when they speak it makes me feel so small. What is the struggle? What was the big thing and what if now even now what is the r&b the big deal I was born, learn how to speak Arabic? May Allah subhanaw taala make us remember is never his blessings. And may

00:58:39--> 00:59:11

Allah subhanaw taala make us grateful. And then the biggest Nirma to Yeah, I met a lot of course, he guided you to stop, he guided you. He opened your chest from the story. And then he used you to translate his words. So how you didn't do it, but you were a key factor. And then have a bookstore to teach people to spread the knowledge of Hamas pantallas Panama, I'm sure the way you use you, it will use you and make you use us all your being and it's a pleasure having me meeting your online is okay.

00:59:12--> 00:59:45

meet again in sha Allah Shala next time you come to the cities, you you have to come here but you know, I used to have that thought like, Why did Allah guide me when I denied him? I said he didn't exist. I did not believe in him in the least bit and I had other friends who were quote unquote, religious right, you know, practicing their faith. And and that's that's even a bigger namah like he could have just left me wandering. You know, it's it's such a mercy on

00:59:46--> 00:59:56

me May Allah guide to protect you and user, everybody else. So pleasure. May Allah make us meet soon. Again. Y'all be on a desert island.

00:59:57--> 00:59:59

stuff look over to boutiques around us.

01:00:00--> 01:00:04

Now while he was happy to Steven Kathira you're on vme