Mindful Ramadan 2021 #08 – The Power of Hospitality

Haleh Banani

Channel: Haleh Banani

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Islamic Psychology

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thumpa thumpa thumpa

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thumpa

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thumpa thumpa thumpa

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Hello Malcolm and welcome to a mindful Ramadan. Hospitality is one of the corner stores of the slum. The relationship is triangular it consists of the host, the guest and a law. And we see hospitality as a right rather than a gift. And so we want to reflect on how important it is for us to be hospitable to be inclusive, not only when we have guests over, but also when we're interacting with others in our communities in our massages, and we have a wonderful guest today a dear friend of mine massala sister Lauren booth. She is a highly sought after writer, presenter and public speaker. Her focus is in the creation and delivery of content offering Muslim narratives across multiple

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platforms. She currently hosts two YouTube series on faith and politics and health and care for the environment massage Allah in 2019 she adapted her well received memoir into a one woman show, which she performed to excellent reviews at the world's largest art gathering Edinburg festival. She offers online and group training to adults and young people in public speaking TV techniques authenticity, and she is the author of finding peace in the Holy Land. Salam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato. Welcome. walaikum salam rahmatullahi wa barakatuh. First of all, I'm very sorry to all of your listeners for having to listen to that rather long list, May Allah forgive us and make us

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better. I know.

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You've worked hard, you've done some impressive things. And it's and it's inspiring for the sisters, when they hear this you will inspire others to do the same inshallah. I had the pleasure of meeting you in Ottawa when we were our panelists, were speaking at the same conference. And it was lovely, because I felt like we hit it off immediately. Yeah, for sure. Right. You're someone that that I didn't forget. And you know, when you travel to so many conferences, people become a sea of faces. And then these, these wonderful images and these wonderful characters stay with you. And yes, for sure. Martial Arts about a color two souls met on that day by sunlight. And we also experienced

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South Africa together, we went on the Safari and that was really exciting. That was that was really a experience of a lifetime. You know, what was the experience was actually the people. The You know, there were there were real there was you remember the sportsman who taught about how to be an inspirational, you know, character and, and, of course, check Idris camisa. Oh, he's wonderful, you everyone. I like it. He was terrific made us feel so welcome. And actually, this is a great starting point for our topic is is hospitality. And I truly felt so welcome. And they were the most hospitable people. And and so this is, this is a great starting point for our talk, let us know, how

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were you welcomed into into Islam? And what kind of hospitality did you experience? So panela the first time that I really experienced Muslim hospitality was in 2005, and it would be in the West Bank of Palestine. I was there as a journalist covering the story of elections for a newspaper. And I was just walking around, meeting people, which you're not really supposed to do because there's a protocol, you know, Palestine is made to appear a scary place. So the first thing you're done as a non Muslim is told stay in your hotel to be safe. I completely ignored that because they didn't follow. I didn't follow the protocol. And it looks so interesting and so vibrant. And so, oh, my

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goodness, I mean, that the first the first incident, I remember was it was January and I didn't have a big coat, because I thought it was gonna be hot like the desert because I had that. And an old lady came up to me and started speaking in very rapid Arabic and looking me up and down, like who's this strange woman with her, you know, wandering around without a coat literally pulled me by the arm into her house. Oh, and I thought so panela and it was quite a humble house. And she took me into the bedroom and she opened the cupboard and she looked at the size of me and looked at the coats and took out a coat and put it on.

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Give you a coat. He gave me a coat.

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She wrote down her phone number, so that I could give it back. But she didn't know if I was ever going to see her again. Oh, that's beautiful. So she just she looked out for you, she probably you're cold, and she brought you to her home and give you that's a beautiful introduction to Islam. Right? That's quite something on any city anywhere. And it really like it really struck me that are these people real that you for real? The second incident really that I'd say that that shook me was, you know, again, it's generosity. When people are hosting you and hosting for Muslims. I believed were meant hosting you in their land. The minute you came off the plane, you were automatically

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their guest live. So if you can imagine if we were to do that in in London, like everybody who's coming to London, I consider me to be hosting you. And it's my duty to look after you. Can you see how wide range Oh, yeah, I got, I got goosebumps thinking about that. It's just, they see a foreigner as like, as a guest of the country, not just individual. Oh, beautiful. So you felt that you felt the hospitality you felt welcomed? I didn't think of it as hospitality. I honestly felt like I was family. Oh, that's beautiful. That's beautiful. And that I think that's an important distinction, right? In that when when someone is just being kind versus feeling like family. And

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that's that's what the feeling I had in, in South Africa while we were there. And that while they were taking care of us, and it's just you do feel like family, I I went to buy souvenirs, I picked out my stuff. And, and the sweet lady came in and paid for everything. And I thought that's something like an aunt would do. Right? It's something a sister would do not not a complete stranger. So that's incredible. So Pamela, you're right, you're right. But imagine COVID that we were Muslims, you know, together in South Africa, I was a non Muslim.

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How is that that is very powerful. So, so the power in the behavior to do good. And I just realized that that I came from a culture that had sadly become quite mean spirited. Because, you know, I come from a culture where you make appointments with your with your sisters, you know, shop around that, you know, that's not suitable Wednesday, we've got this. And Firstly, we've got that, and it's nothing real. It's nothing big that you couldn't move. But it's like the diary, the calendar.

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The stuff is much more pivotal than the people.

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I see. So they prioritize prioritizing the schedule over the relationship. That's exactly it. You're right. Okay. And so you started feeling this warm? And what did that do to your heart? How did that affect you?

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Well, I mean, you know, I spent a lot of time kind of hadn't been tearing up, I thought, that this woman's having a nervous breakdown. And I was praying every day, it's like, Why are you being so nice? What's wrong?

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Yeah, okay, you know, so it's overwhelming. And then, of course, what happens? When you're when you go back to your hotel room, you think, would I do that? Have I ever done that? How do I do that? Can I do that? I want to be that? Oh, wow. That's powerful. That's powerful. So you started taking all those emotions, reflecting on it, and then wanting to embody it?

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Yes. But you know, then then then, of course, shaytan gets involved and says, well, you're never going to do that. But these people and and you know, that then you can get into a mindset. And I think this can happen to all of us where, you know, when you meet somebody, and they're so good that they put you in their shade, and that you almost feel like giving up it's like, because you're never going to be an Abu Bakr acidic, because you're not going to be an Omer shaytan wants us to feel like failures rather than being inspired. So I guess that when you don't know how to start on the pass riving up is sometimes the easier way? Yes, yes. Well, in from a psychological perspective, anytime

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you make comparisons, and you try to live up to someone, it really makes you feel a bit defeated. And rather than being inspired, if you feel like oh, and this happens in Ramadan, all the time, I'm not reading as much I'm not doing as much prayer or some women who are, you know, boggled down with their kids, they feel they're not doing as much and that comparison can actually lead a person to stop trying, but we really need to just compete with ourselves. I think that's an important point. When you do your absolute best, you get that inspiration, but you don't have to be exactly like anybody else. It's just about doing your effort. So you started feeling that you wanted to take this

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on.

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Yeah, absolutely. And and what happened was when I went back to the UK, I thought, Okay, so those people are from another planet. I don't I didn't think at that point that the Palestinians were human. I thought there was clearly a spaceship alien a few 1000 years ago, and they're amazing because, you know, so extraordinary. But then I started working with the Islam channel. And gradually, I began meeting Muslims in the UK. And, of course, when I came to Islam, and I took my Shahada, I'm jumping ahead too far now. No, that's fine.

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When I took my Shahada, and everything changed, and then there was a real unveiling. I mean, it was like if people had been generous before. Now, it was to be enveloped in a whole new world, a whole new world of family. I'll give you an example. So I went to, I went to a mosque. straight after taking my Shahada, it was a jamaa and I stayed until the evening prayer till Maghreb, and there was only about two ladies in at this point. And one of them saw me and said, Would you like to please, you have to come to my house to dinner. And there's that there's that element that British people would never do? Right? which people are? Yes, let's do something. Let's do something means never

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stop me again.

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Don't call me.

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snowball. Okay.

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So I'm like, yeah, yeah. She's like, No, no, don't get your children. Here's my address and come round tonight. So I said to the children, we're going out now having been raised as British kids, and we're like, but we don't know this person. Who is this person?

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Why are we going to a stranger's house? They're not strangers. They're lovely people. You know, they're Muslims. We're now going to be family. No, no, no, no. So go to dinner. And it's actually in Ramadan. So Pamela, and we have this lovely dinner, and the minute we take off our shoes, the weirdest thing happens. I just want to relax. Now, interest in that here's the thing in non Muslim households in Europe, I'm gonna say no, that's not fair. I'm going to say, in London in modern London, go in with your shoes, you stay with your shoes, sometimes even keep your outdoor coat on, you know, just in case you want to leave quickly, and it's boring. Sometimes you might take your

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coat off, but that's going too far. You know? Here, we took off our shoes. They put rugs around us the Fed gas. And then they said would you like to stay the night? Oh, which was bizarre, because they were in West London, and we're in North London. And you know what? Here's a really weird thing. My two British kids said Mum, can we please stay the night? Oh, they felt the warmth and the love. That's beautiful.

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Beautiful. And so as weird and as uncharacteristic and going against every grain of my culture. I run ready to stay the night I never wanted to leave. I just wanted to be loved and loved and it was wonderful. And of course you feel the prayer brothers and sisters, you know, when a house has lots of prayers in it, or

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the peace the serenity you feel that when you walk in you do and non Muslims access that to you should know that so Pamela we might not show it. But as far as you know, our politeness but we

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like It's lovely. So they they cleared a room and they said Good night and in the morning I came down and I realized that room had been the couple's room and they slept on their living room floor. Oh my goodness upon Oh Escobar in the 21st century

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unbelievable for strangers they gave up their bedroom and gave you the bedroom that's amazing what it what a beautiful way that you you know, I think it's also an indication of your heart and you know, Allah guided you and put these beautiful people in your path to just soften your heart and to be able to to experience that you know, because not not everyone has that same experience and sometimes they face them it's sometimes it's you know, they they experience the harshness or people who may not have developed the characteristic and and then they have to overcome those experiences but I'm so glad that you've had this beautiful experience and we want to know about how to adopt

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this right because we are talking all about the the above that during our Ramadan experience the fasting the reading differ on and this whole series is about taking all of our ibadah and beautifying our character because that's that's you know what the prophet sallallahu Sallam came? The complete complete our character is the heaviest on the scale. So how can we adopt this kind of mentality the hospital

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tality and is it just for gas? Or is it also something that is like about being inclusive of, of, you know, of everyone that we are around? So let's so let's, uh, let's begin with

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how we are taught by the examples of the Sahaba. Okay, yes. And the Sahaba. Famously, there's many stories, but one in particular is to actually, I'm going to tell them one is a Sahaba, a man knocked on the home of one of the Friends of the Prophet, one of the companions, and was asking for either money or some kind of business support. And he said, and the Sahaba said, Thank you so much. So what are you thanking me for? Because you've bought barraca to my door, and this idea that we are not giving to the person that we are giving to Allah? Now, of course, I love doesn't need us to give anything. But what what he is, he's allowing us to give what we have as an access point to him. Yes.

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Right. So the person who comes asking whether it is, you know, somebody coming for dinner, or whether it is a charitable cause? It's while you knocked on my door? That's a good sign.

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Yeah, be really delighted and actually excited about that. So I think first and foremost, is there is no asking, there is no such thing as somebody asking you, they're asking Allah through you.

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The thing is as an honor, rather than because a lot of times people see it as being burdened, or Oh, gosh, I'm being being asked to do these things for the favor or the amount of money I have to get. But you look at it as this is an honor, it's an honor that you've been chosen to be asked or called upon. And so making that, you know, the mindset shift is very critical. So you have a positive outlook towards being asked and to get your right Sr. And the other thing is, because you are counseling people day in day out, it can be very, very hard to to notice that this goes on all the time. So I just want to reiterate that sometimes we focus so heavily on on the few, the rare cases

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where this doesn't happen. And we forget the many cases when it's going on right now, in the plentitude, around the world, the owner of rasulillah is overwhelmingly beneficent, and chosen to be good to mankind. I love that. I love that. I love that that is just you know, the optimism in it. And the reflection on the beauty was just incredible. Michelle, I love that.

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handling that so there's so that's the that's that's the nature of forgiving if we're talking about charitable acts now with a guest. So remember, I wasn't born a Muslim. And I noticed early on that when I said my Shahada, that, rather disappointingly. All of the qualities of the Prophet peace be upon him did not just abandon me. You didn't wake up one morning, just characteristic. No, I was still a bit rubbish. I was my stuff going on. Right? It's like, okay, I felt better. Yeah, wrong. It could all be sorted. Because Allah was with me. But I'd have to do something. Right. And so what I realized quite early on was, boy, I go even more respectful of Muslims. Because when people would

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visit my house, and they'd come at one in the morning, it's like, the question in my mind, to my husband would be, shall we go and pick them up at the airport, though? What is this question?

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Are you even Muslim right now? And it's like, no, but it's one I am. It's like, No, no, no, not even possible. Not even a thing. And so fully, you know, and I just want to say to all of you guys out there all your brothers and sisters, just love the stuff you do naturally. Just everyday say thank you that I find this easy because it is an element of love Allah to Allah has given and everybody else has to work really hard just to get to your, your ground level, you know, and hamdulillah. So what I've learned in the 10 years,

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to put into place to overcome that, you know, those kind of resistances and we all get busy. Have you ever been busy? And you've been expecting guests for ages, and looking forward to them coming and then on the day, you're like, whoa, I'm not ready and how good

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the kids are doing this, and I'm not really in the mood, mood. And then that's where the Islam comes in. That's where we say,

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Oh Allah, thank you for bringing this guest and the Baraka with them. Oh, the blessing

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Then the blessing and just to see that when that doorbell rings, that's a blessing arriving at your door. So and also to see the people as just,

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you know, innocent souls who want to be loved and looked after. And that is your moment to shine. Allow I say helps me. Lovely, lovely. That's your moment to shine when you have a guest that is ringing. Did y'all hear that sisters being gone? Baraka is at your door, it's not Amazon, it's a blessing at your door. And to just see it as such a something to be grateful for Mashallah, that's a beautiful perspective. And what about extending that hospitality? So just not only in your homes, right? Because even in our massages, many times,

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people may not have that inclusiveness, right. They tend to maybe get together with their own kinds with their own people with their own languages. And, and everyone wants a clone of themselves, you know, that someone is there, you're looking for your clone, and you're like, Okay, now you're perfect. But then everyone else? Yeah, they're problematic. And so it's this idea of having hospitality, I think even in gatherings, even in, in massages, we're we're inclusive and and make everyone feel welcome, rather than making anyone feel left out in any way.

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You know, what, please? I think it's for all of us, myself. First and foremost is, especially in the masjid, we should all have our eyes peeled for the person with the sad face with the person who's new for the person who's on their own, with the person who doesn't look like us. That's exactly the person to spend time with at that moment.

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You know, you scratch the surface, and you're going to find a story. And yeah, maybe a need to be fulfilled. That's so actually, it reminds me of a story. It was I think two Ramadan's ago, right before the pandemic, it was two o'clock in the morning. I had not slept that night, I was tied to time. And I was one of those, you know, just thinking, Okay, when when are we gonna finish it was like, I was really exhausted. So I was not in the right mindset. Just wanted to go home and sleep. And as we were going out of the session, it was very, very crowded. I noticed and, you know, a non Western, a Western lady. And so part of that the timing of it, right? Because if we were not going

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down the stairs at the very same time, I wouldn't have talked to her, right. So I see her and I'm like, Oh, hello, you're new here. And she goes, yes, I'm like, So how long have you been? I'm assumptions like, I'm not a Muslim. I said, Why?

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Are you married to a mother? She's like, Yes, I married to him. As I said, Okay, I woke up, I was like, Okay, I need to wake up And see, what what is the story? And I said, you know that

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millions of listeners are asleep right now. And you're here at the message. There's the reason for this, like, how is it? And as we started talking, I suppose Yeah, I'm curious. I'm interested. No one has ever really talked to me at the message like, thank you for talking to me. You're the first person who's talked. And I said, of course, like, I felt so humbled that I had that opportunity. And so as I started talking to her, she was Yeah, I'm very interested in two o'clock in the morning, and I started asking her, do you believe in a blog, you believe in the Prophet? Do you believe it? We started going through the posts afraid she said it she? I said, Would you like to give your Shahada

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and she ended up taking her Shahada with the ladies in our massage and outside, it's a lot like, Here I was, I was exhausted. I just wanted to go home and sleep. But just taking a moment to acknowledge a new face. And just asking about her, like, I just I didn't assume I was like, how long have you been Muslim? And as she explained, and I just I felt like that was a beautiful gift gift for me. And, and it was just yeah, so it's just about taking that time to acknowledge and talk and reach out and connect and ask questions. Those are so important as part of hospitality of our team. You know what, that's so beautiful. And I love that you're probably in hospitality of the dean.

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Because you could have asked a different question. And as, as, as, you know, a white British Muslim. This is the question that my daughters and I have got over and over again, not unnecessarily. How long have you been Muslim? But are you Muslim?

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You know, and that's why in hijab we're clearly praying.

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We already have to do we're doing are you Muslim? I mean, I don't know. I'm just hanging out here. I was looking for a nightclub but like this seems familiar. What

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are you?

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No, I went so far. I love getting dirty looks in the street. You know, I love it. When when people are racist to me, you know, it's great. How do you love it? Tommy? Let's Let's reflect on that.

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How do you love people giving you restless look? Exactly you can't possibly right it's it's not possible. Yeah. So clearly you're a Muslim so asking how long have you been Muslim? Would you like a chat? Do you want a cup of tea? That's the hospitality link to the masjid that's our opportunity right there.

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You know what if somebody came in from the cold but Allah to Allah was about to guide them. I've heard so many probably like you amazing stories about people who went into, you know, the wrong house. And it happened to be a Masjid upstairs or but they ended up taking their Shahada because they believe when is the right time. But beyond that, beyond that, not above that because because we always want people to be close to Allah to Allah. Beyond that is our duty just to be kind to the, to the traveler. Yeah, the person who, you know, if we see our our Masjid is an extension of our home. And I really felt that, you know, when I first went to mosques, I was like, the kids are playing the

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mums are eating. Whereas in church, it's all things bright and beautiful. It's like you have to dress up and you have to sit really stiff, and don't don't look a certain way. And it's a very alienating odd experience. And imagine you sit on the floor, you can lean back, people are chatting, kids, there's laughter

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laughter the holy place before. So it really is an extension of our homes. And I think once we start seeing it like that, you know that then we can really host people in Charlotte, I love that i'd love that. I always said we need to have like a hospitality crew and the massages were individuals, let's say they're volunteers and they kind of look out for the new people welcoming them because you never know the person who is at the mosque. They're there probably because they have a heavy heart. Probably they're experiencing loss. Maybe they are. Maybe they're asking for guidance, maybe they're there for the you know, it's the last bit of hope. Right? And so how we interact with them how

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loving we are, how welcoming we are, that may make the difference between someone staying in Islam and someone leaving Islam and and I think when whenever we want to, let's say give advice, we need to really be aware of that, that there they might be hanging with a thread and slight harshness or slight you know, exclusion may may make the difference

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over the edge. You're so right and I've met too many sisters who have been pushed over the edge and left Islam unfortunately, and there's a you know, there's the wonderful sort of the Prophet peace be upon him where we are told in Hadith that if you speak a language and the third person doesn't understand what you're saying, bring them in, sir. Amen. Yeah.

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Something that happens all the time when you feel you just feel excluded, there's a language they're talking and you can't even take part in it. So that's that it's just rude. It's just it's absolutely rude to do that.

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So thank you for bringing that to light thank you for sharing your beautiful stories. I love that and and inshallah please let us know Where can the sisters and where can they follow you? I'm sure they're inspired and they want to know more about you where can they go to get your information in sha Allah? Well hamdulillah I've been in the media for a quarter of a century now I saw Allah amazing right hamdulillah and I love to share my skills with our community. So I have a course on a major platform called teachable and the course is called find your voice if you go into the teachable platform and you put in Lauren booth find your voice okay and find out all about the

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course. And I'd like to offer all of your friends followers and people viewers watching this yeah completely an FYI v special FYI v special and why v as in Victor. Okay, I V for Victor special and that's a coupon that you can use to access the course. Great sisters we got a coupon as well just like a lock up for your generosity and your hospitality. We're just been an honor to have you and I really enjoyed our discussion so it's like a lot Faden. Thank you so much sister. You're always a light in my heart may Allah Allah bless you and give you the best Ramadan yet and answer your doors I mean and everybody out there as well Allah bless you. I mean all right, lovely thing I hope to see

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you in person inshallah. Love you to Allah bless you too. In sha Allah. There's like a lot here for tuning in. So I'm I like bump Bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump.

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Bump, bump, bump, bump, bump,

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bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump,

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bump, bump, bump, bump.