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Mindful Ramadan 2021 #09 – Thinking The Best of Others with Sarah Sultan, LPC

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Haleh Banani

Channel: Haleh Banani

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Salaam Alaikum and welcome to a mindful Ramadan. No it is so critical for us to have the right perspective and have the best view of others because when we don't not only are we harming other people but we're also harming ourselves It is critical for us to see the best and others and emulate the Prophet sallallahu alayhi Salaam in his dealings and him in his interactions with others. So today we're going to talk about the benefits the psychological benefits and the spiritual benefits of thinking the best of others inshallah and today I have a special guest we have Sarah Sultan with us Michelle less than armonico radico salon wanna have the law so happy to be here just like

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laughing for having me. Of course it's a pleasure to have you and you know many people may not know that we have been family friends Mashallah that your mother in law is Dr. Hannah gumma who has been a dear friend from I think almost 20 years Mashallah so this is a long going family friend, Mashallah that we've had on hand the last hour and it's a privilege Yeah, it's it's always so, so nice. Whenever I talked to my mother in law, and we talked about you it's always such positive memories that she brings up Mashallah, so that's wonderful. She's been and she's been instrumental in, in I always say that, so much of what I do is on her reason, because she's the one who said, you

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need to teach you need to do this work. So May Allah bless her myself,

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myself, I want to share some of the your background, you're doing wonderful work, and I'm so proud of all that you're doing. And Sarah Sultan is a licensed professional counselor who strives to empower her clients through achieving healthier, more fulfilling lives and relationships. While reconnecting with Allah during the healing process. I love that Sarah has a master's degree in mental health counseling, and his practice therapy for nearly 10 years. Her specialization include the intersection of Islamic values with psychological and therapeutic principles, the impact of trauma on faith, identity development and techniques to provide strength and healing to marriages

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and families. She has been actively involved in serving the Muslim community over the course of the past 15 years through providing lectures, high law classes, and workshops. Mashallah so lovely. I love seeing how you get active in the community and all that you're providing we need we need more individuals like yourself, Michelle Allah, just like la fatale, you've, you've definitely been an inspiration and a mentor for me through through so much of that. So it's, it's, it's much appreciated, and I pray that a lot of it is on your music as well. So sweet. So it's like, I love it. And you know, we all support one another in different ways and get inspired. And it's, it's

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beautiful to acknowledge that just like I love fish, so this idea of having a positive intent or positive outlook on other sellers, what is the benefits? What is the psychological benefits and the spiritual benefits of doing this? Or, you know, I think that thinking positively of others, a lot of times we think about this on behalf of the other person, right? We're attributing a positive intent to them, we're working toward forgiving them, and it's all about that person. But in reality hasn't been right or giving benefit of the doubt or thinking well of others. It's something that's for us, right? And I think that's so powerful. And if we can switch that mindset, then we realize how

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powerful it is. Right? Because it's something so rewarded as sonically like there's a there's such a beautiful Hadith of the Prophet SLM, where he talks about, like, there's a man who enters the mess

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In two, three times, this man is entering the masjid and the prophet SAW Selim says, a man from the dwellers of Paradise will walk in now. And then the same person walks in three times. And when one of his companions heard that he's like, Okay, what makes this this guy so special is and the companion who wanted to find out was Abdullah.

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And he follows him, he stays with him for three days, and he doesn't see anything super special, like he does all of his obligatory acts of worship, but nothing so special. And then the end of the Hadees you find out that the special thing about him is that when he goes to sleep, he says, I don't hold any grudge against any Muslim or envy anyone for what bounties the LS patha has granted them to beautiful quality. So he wasn't doing extra zeca extra prayer extra any worship, but it was just the idea of being able to let go, that's, that's powerful. And I thought what you said about the fact that it's about us, right? So many times people are stuck because they've been hurt, they've been

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oppressed, or they've been betrayed in some way. And they feel that no, I'm not gonna let this person off the hook. And they're holding all this resentment which actually harms them it actually is this it affects their mentality it affects their energy levels. So it is powerful to think about yourself in this process. Absolutely. And it also like, you know, it impacts your mental and psychological and emotional energy but that also then impacts your spiritual energy right? And a lot of times we see that like husband like thing in others like thinking well of others, can be connected to being able to think well of LS path data as well. And so I think if we make that our

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intention, that you know, there's this beautiful idea in the Quran, where Alicia pensado talks about one of the rewards of Jenna and he says that one of the rewards of Jenna is that I will like and we will remove whatever is in their chests of resentment toward one another so that they will be brothers on thrones facing each other Oh, I did response because that's so beautiful because that the verse that says Sanam and Salah, they will be saying Salah, that is what appeals to me about Jenna the most honestly, it's just this idea of wanting good for another person and spreading that tea. So how beautiful is that? salutely? Absolutely. So how much and you know, like, when you think

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about this reward of Jenna, it makes you realize just how exhausting it is when you don't have it here. Right? Like if those negative thoughts, those negative feelings that we harbor in our hearts, especially people who are close to us, or people who are impactful in our lives, it can, it can drain our energy to such an extent that it drains our spiritual energy, right? And so yeah, so you know, when we ask ourselves, like, Is it worth it to hold on to these negative feelings? We're like to think that this person is trying to hold me is it helping me to get closer to Allah? subhanaw taala? Or is it pushing me further away? You know, and so trying to reconcile our hearts with one

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another is like, it's so it's beneficial from so many so many angles, definitely. I like to see it like if the analogy is like, we have a limited amount of energy, right? Whether spiritual energy, and then each time we're thinking on that person really makes me mad, we're like, we're pouring a little bit of that energy out. And before, you know, it is completely depleted. And you are, you know, you have no more energy to deal with the circumstances that you're faced with. So it really does for you, it frees you emotionally and spiritually. subpanel Absolutely, absolutely. And I remember, like, early on in my career, one of the metaphors that I had heard was, you know, why are

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you allowing this person to live rent free in your house, right? Like, this is expensive real estate. So So take care of it and be cautious of it. And, you know, it truly is like, even when we're thinking about it from like, the like the spiritual perspective and like the psycho, like Islamic psychology perspective, right? Like it is expensive real estate, our thoughts impact our our emotions, impact our behaviors impact our hearts in such a profound way, you know, and so, like, sometimes I like to think, okay, you know, if if I wasn't giving this energy toward this, like, attributing a negative intention toward this person, if instead I thought to myself, you know what,

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this person just like so many others is doing the best that they can, you know, they're not intentionally trying to hurt me giving my brother 70 excuses my sister 70 excuses, you know, then what does that free up for me? Right, like that energy now that I've reclaimed it, where can I direct that energy toward, you know, some how long? And it makes me think about like the heavyset prophesize lm where he told his companions, you know, should I tell you something that's better in degree that fasting prayer and charity. So they said, you know, of course, we want to know what this is. And he says, reconciliation between people, putting things right in between people. And so if we

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can do that, just in our minds, to reconcile things between us and another person, like imagine that has an app that we're getting and imagine now the energy that we can use, like using that energy towards

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more impactful than active constructive ways Exactly. Because many times when we are taking all that energy it is, you know, we are we are wasting so much time, and we can definitely have a profound impact. So inshallah, that we can look at it in a way that we are constantly improving ourselves. And one of the ways and, you know, with reconciliation, I mean, that's why we're in the field that we're in, right, because it gives us so much reward so much reward, I love the job that we do, because it is it is combining, you know, our faith with our profession, and allowing people to get back, you know, restoring their relationship is weighs so heavily on on the scale. So when you do

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it, I love how you said that we do it mentally, because even if you're not reconciling, because sometimes you really can't face the other person, you may not be able to resolve the issue, but just as long as your mind is at peace, then then you're good, you're in a good place. Absolutely. 100%. You know, and I think that, like, the way that we perceive the intentions of other people, it becomes kind of a self fulfilling prophecy, like, in the same way that, you know, we talked about, like having customization of LS Pat data, having good expectations of Allah, that you know, and Allah tells us that, like I am, as my servant expects of me, if he expects good, he will have it.

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And if you expect evil, he will have it right. Because it leads to a self fulfilling prophecy, if you if you expect, good have a list have data that you strive toward pleasing Him, and you love him more, and you want to do more, you want to get closer to him, and you do. And if you expect evil of Allah to count that if you attribute bad intentions to others pathetic, you're not going to want to pray, you're not going to want to connect with him, right. And that's the same with people in our lives, too. If we expect that this person is trying to do evil toward me, is trying to hurt me, then that's naturally going to completely divide that relationship. And you see this in marriages all the

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time when they just really demonize their spouse. And you know, I'm just waiting to meet the spouse. And when I see them, I'm like, wow, they're so different than how they were depicted. And it's just because it is this is the picture that they have painted about their son, they don't see anything else they don't see beyond that picture. And you know, what I, what I really focus on is that, you know, the reticular activating system in our brain, we can set it, either this filter, right, and we can either set it on what's good about a person, or what's bad about a person, or what's good about our life, what is bad about our life, and sometimes people have it set on that pessimism, their

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serial pessimist, right. And then they just anything that happens, they filter through that. And it makes some always search for negativity. And if we set it on that positive, like search for something good in a person, it's amazing how creative our brains have come in searching for it. Even it could be someone that that could be very challenging, but you can find something to benefit from even if it's what not to do. Right? Yeah, absolutely. Absolutely. And I think I love what you said about like the filtering, right? Because, you know, it's something that's amazing about the way that our brain works is what you look for, you will find, yeah, if you are looking for evidence of some

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particular thought or assumption you have, you will find that evidence, you assume good, you'll find the good. So it's like, if it's raining outside, you can you can interpret it as well, now my shoes are gonna get dirty, and it's gonna be hard for them. I had to leave in two minutes early for work, because and you're you're thinking about all the negatives of it. Or you look at that same exact circumstance and you say, you know, well, I'd have done that. Now I don't have to water my lawn, the trees are getting what they need, and all of these different things, right? So it's so much about how we choose to what lens we choose to put on and to wear. Yes, and if you change that lens, it

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does everything because our brain, the main objective is to keep our sanity. And this is what a lot of people don't realize that the brain cannot distinguish between what is real and what is not real. And so even if you say things that are just completely absurd, that have no basis, but you said and you believe that your brain is going to prove you're right every time. So it is very critical for us to make sure that these limiting beliefs that we have, whether it's about ourselves with our spouse, our children, our oma our communities that we really re evaluate and we choose what we're thinking because it could definitely harmless harmless on so many different levels. Absolutely, absolutely.

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And I think that's why, you know, one of the things that so important is the idea of understanding where the thoughts came from, right? Like, what why does that Why is it such a struggle to attribute positive intent to people in our lives, right? And a lot of times, it's because we're trying to protect ourselves, you know, you said that our brain tries to get us to survive, right? And so our brain protects us from potential risks and potential hurt and potential pain.

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And so what's the best way to do that is to scan your environment for every possible risk, right? Or so we think, although in reality, it actually ends up hurting us more, you know, so so you know, sometimes I think it's really helpful to think, you know, have you have you been hurt by someone in the past in a similar circumstance to this. And so you're reading into the situation, based on a past event, and based on the emotion that's coming up, you know, and so and so asking yourself, well, is the present the same exactly as the past? Or is it different? can I possibly view this from a different perspective, and you know, what else could be happening in this person's life, that

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resulted in them being a little bit short with me when they spoke to me, you know, and attributing that positive intent to them and reminding yourself that this situation isn't the same as that past one? It is, it really is freeing when you do that, I see this with couples that when they overreact to a circumstance, and then we start kind of digging, like this, dig a little bit what happened in your childhood, what does this remind you of, you find that the it's kind of like an iceberg, right, and just the little bit of it is about the present, and there's so much underneath. And it comes from their childhood, it comes from, you know, an incident they have, and when they recognize that

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this is all this anger is not just about your spouse, you know, not taking out the garbage. It has to do with so many other things, so many unfulfilled dreams, and, and recognizing that really relieves you of that of the tension, the tension, that it's not just about this person there. There's inner work that needs to be done. Absolutely. And that's one of the questions that I like, I'll ask a client, you know, like, if she has a problem with her mom, for example, you know, and they got into an argument. And I say, if a friend had said the exact same thing that your mom said, would you react the same way? Would it feel the same? And no, typically not because you have all of

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this baggage and all this history with that person. And so when they say something, so much of the past comes up, and it's not about the present anymore, right? It's funny that you say this, because I, I do this with like, when it's a mother in law, I have a lot of mother in law.

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A lot that you may not be able to relate to this one. But it's, you know, they'll say, my mother in law said this, and the mother in law, I have noticed that they could say anything, and it will be categorized as a negative. And then I say, I use that same approach. What if your mom had said this, she's like, I'd be totally cool with it. So you realize it is the filters your interpretation? And that's why our interpretation of what people say what they do is so critical. And why are we choosing this narrative? Why are we choosing this narrative of being a victim? Why are we choosing this narrative of life is so horrible, and everyone is out to get me? Because when we do that,

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we're, we're in the state of victimized mentality, it is so disempowering, and you can't get yourself out of it. Absolutely, absolutely. You know, and I think it just, and then to hear what you're saying, right? Isn't it so empowering to realize that so much of that is within our control? Right? That we can then make that change? It's not about that other person, it's all about us. And we have the power to change. Like you said, the narrative, you know, sometimes something that I often ask is, okay, well, what's the story I'm creating in my head? You know, like, here's the facts. This is one story you can create from the facts. Here's another story you can create from the

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facts. So why am I choosing the one that makes me sad? versus choosing the one that makes me happy? It's something I do with my kids often, you know, like, it's, you know, they talk about, you know, Oh, I'm so sad, because, you know, like, I didn't get two cookies, I really want two cookies, and was but you got one. So if you choose to focus on the cookie you didn't get how do you feel sad? If you choose to focus on the cookie you did get? How do you feel happy? So what should you choose to focus on? We all have that power, the power? fluidly? It's that choice, right? When you feel like you can actually choose to feel better on a daily basis, because too many people are like, you know,

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my spouse made me mad, or it's my kids, it's the community, it's the whatever the government, and they just put all the blame on everyone else. They don't realize like, you know, the fact that when you choose how to look at things, then that is completely freeing. So absolutely very important. It's important to take the power back, we got to take the power back. Yes, yeah. And that's like, you know, in, in psychology, right, we talk about internal locus of control, an external locus of control, that if everything is external, where you're saying, these situations have the power to break me, this person has made me this way, right has done this. And now, you know, like you said,

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My spouse made me so mad, right? I'm sure there are things people do that bother us. That's absolutely true. But we can't allow these external factors to dictate our reaction because our reaction is within our control. And that's the internal locus of control. Yes, yes. And it's 10% is what happens to you 90% is how you react. So we've got the power, and it's really critical to think about it that way. I use it and now

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With my clients that you know what if your friend came and said, I watched this movie, and it makes me so sad, so depressed, I'm crying, I'm angry. I'm so frustrated. And they tell you that they watched it five times a day, like, what would you tell them? They say, Well, I would tell him to stop watching that movie. Unless, Yes, exactly. But you're replaying the movie, in your mind, of every hurt situation, every time you were betrayed, every time you were hurt, every time you were abused, and you're replaying it over and over and over again, for what you know. And it's just, when you recognize that and you finally break that CD, and you stop playing that, then you were just

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actually, you're into so much more peace at that point. Absolutely. I love that analogy of like the movie that you will have to continue playing through your, through your mind to pauwela. And, and, you know, like, I think about it also from the idea of, you know, we're promised by all this path data that we're going to be tested, right? Like, there's no there, this is non negotiable, we know we're going to be tested. And so it's not the circumstances. And other times that tells us you know, law you can live for long enough and Ella was I heard that he's not going to be a soul will not be burdened beyond what it can bear. And so, you know, when you think about, okay, we know there are

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going to be circumstances that are beyond our control. But again, like our reaction is what what is within our power, otherwise, unless pancetta wouldn't test us, if, you know, if we if we couldn't if we couldn't manage the reaction? And of course, there are circumstances that are incredibly, incredibly difficult. And that's not to, that's not to diminish that. Right, but knowing that our reactions are within our control, which is why we're not held accountable for our circumstances, we're only held accountable for our reaction. Yes, yes. And that's powerful. When you think about you know, it is a promise from Allah and Allah says, and, and I feel like many of the many of the

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circumstances in this one verse is like we are experiencing all at once. So unless as well another new one Nikon Vichy in middle how he went jewelry went up some middle amali Well, we'll see what thammarat progression is saw bedene. So that fear tested with loss and fear and death, I mean, so many things, and good glad tidings to the one who is patient. So Alice guaranteeing that we're going to be tested. And now, you know, I just made this shift, because I was always about tests, right? We are, we are tested, and we have to pass the test. But sometimes that the reflection on a test, it creates a lot of anxiety, right? We feel anxious, we feel stressed when we were tested. So I've made

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this shift, I just recently turning 50 100 a lot. I'm saying you know what, it's a gift. And when you look at it as a gift, when you recognize the incident, even if it's a loss of a loved one, even if it's loss of finances, even if it's you know, your health, and you say this is a gift, because it is ultimately from Allah, then suddenly, you're just you can't help but surrender and submit. I love that diploma. And actually, it's so powerful for me because I was just talking to a friend that my goal was sama bomb. I'm on a submission mission. That's what I

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that's what I named it. Because, you know, I think that in so many aspects of our lives, especially for those of us who are parents to the idea of submitting and realizing that we're not in control of a lot of circumstances and what our children do, what are, you know, the different people in our lives, you know, we can't control what other people do, we can't control what they think we can't control their perceptions or any of that, right? And you're certain and then the circumstances arise and you when you submit to them, is then when you can handle it right? And you know, and it's it's an amazing thing to be able to kind of use that as your frame of reference, like what you said

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shifting from this being a test, right to this being a gift like that. That's a lens, right? That's a mindset shift of like, oh, what's almost pancetta trying to gift me with what lesson? Am I meant to gain? What one of the things I think is so powerful when we are when difficult circumstances arise is thinking about, like, what quality Am I gaining from this within myself that I wouldn't have had otherwise? I think that's so powerful. He is and I asked my clients is sometimes they're going through so much hardship, maybe it's a divorce, we'll take that as an example. So what's you know, what is it that you're learning? What have you learned through this and then like, there's

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nothing or what's good about this, or there's nothing good about it, I've you know, I'm losing my, the my life partner, it's terrible, but I start telling you my probe and I'm like, just think about it, what did you learn? It's like, I've learned independence, I've learned, you know, and they come up with a list of at least 10 things because why they ask the right questions, when we ask the right questions, our mind will generate the right answers. And so it is you know, you suddenly realize that my God even though you know, I went through you know, a person will say they went through a divorce or they've had certain hardship but they gained so much and then the

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That's when you understand the wisdom. That's when you see that Allah, you know, this was an act of mercy, it was a blessing. And, and if we can just surrender from the beginning, it'll be a lot easier. So everyone get on the submission mission,

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we're all gonna submit and a lot, really is a great way to improve our character because, you know, this is the whole mission of mindful Ramadan is to take our abaza and to beautify our character, and if we can beautify, because a lot of that has to do with how we interact with one another. And so if we assume the best, if we are, you know, not painting someone out, we're not demonizing them and we really look for goodness, we first and foremost benefit ourselves because we're more at ease. And and then it's that sisterhood, you know, because that is a really important part the sisterhood, the Brotherhood, then collaborating together, it is. That's what I believe Allah had intended for us to,

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you know, to implement, right not to tear each other down not to think the worst of each other It is to, you know, unite and be a stronger force together. Absolutely, absolutely. And, you know, when we go in with that intention of, you know, every time I choose to think, well of this person, every time I choose to attribute a positive intent, then until now I'm being rewarded for better than fasting charity and and prayer, right and so imagine then how many good deeds we could gain this summer done by just using like our just shifting our focus upon and I'm always amazed by how much psychology is embedded in Goran and Sunnah. And you know, just this what you have mentioned, is that

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Allah motivating us to have the positive thoughts when you just simply think I want to feed let's say 100 people, I want to build a school I want to, you know, help you to, you know, help with the orphans, just having that positive intent it's recorded as if you've done it so unless training us to have positive thoughts because it is it's rewarded so it benefits us It benefits our relationships benefits our spirituality so beautiful discussions is like a lot of Faden. I enjoyed it. Michelle, Allah were yakko Same here this was really this was wonderful. I love the conversation and it made me miss it. Like we realize how much I miss our you know, our chances to to have

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conversations at times Oh, this was wonderful. Exactly. I'm delighted really proud of the work that you're doing and May Allah reward you and keep you going strong Michelle law it's I think it's wonderful. When we are expanding our you know, the circle the mental health circle, Michelle law, because our community really needs that. Absolutely. Absolutely. And just like lifting rails want to reward you for all your your wonderful work and allow it to be Southern Nigeria for you and your whole family. Just like Allah feta is give my love to everyone. It's so good. You to just like love it for inviting me on this. And it was so nice talking to you. I have been nice talking to you too.

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Good luck with your submission mission.

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Yeah, yes. Thank you. I appreciate it. All right.

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Well, it is papilla Thank you, everyone for tuning in. And Salaam Alaikum.

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Salaam a call is a pleasure to have you here. I'm so glad that we talk about this very important issue of thinking that the best of others, right, because we can really harm ourselves in the heart of our relationship with her constantly thinking about the negative. So let's make a commitment to ourselves right now today that we are going to give that a benefit of the doubt whether that's to a family member, whether that's for sauce for his or her parents. And if we do that as community members, right, if we started doing this, you're gonna feel a lot less anxious, you're gonna feel a lot less depressed. And before you know it, your marriage, your relationships are all going to

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improve inshallah, I wanted to give you an update most of all what I call Allah with the side project that we're doing for my roof, this is 100% of donations are going tomorrow where they are distributing you know, stars to the refugees or a lot of homeless Muslims you imagine what we're going through right now with with Ramadan imagine a family and there are so many of them that they don't have a home to be in they are under you know under the bridge living in danger really and having young children it on the streets and word of mouth is doing is they are getting they are finding the most of them homeless individuals that are getting that shelter they're getting, you

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know, job they're feeding their do so much. So, whatever you can do to help will be excellent and will be rewarded greatly during the month of Ramadan.

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I wanted to choose a local organization. So I went to a Nola organization that I trust so that you can see updates. Michelle on a daily basis, what they're doing is they're giving 100 families meals on a daily basis and on when on Saturday, the weekend 300 cars come out to get a foreigner imagine 300 cars means over 1000 people, because they are each each car has, you know, as a family, or maybe four or five minutes of the vigils. And they are lining up and they're getting the food vehicles to break their fast. So you are sharing in the reward of breaking the fast of all of these individuals who may have gone hungry, right. And your whatever donation that you give is going to help them get

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back on their feet. So imagine the reward of helping someone get back on their feet from being homeless or losing a job, or being a refugee and having anywhere to go so I really want to encourage all of you to give what you can and 100% is going to the the Baton Rouge Dallas organization right now we're up to $18,000 Mashallah, so just talk a lot here, all of you who have been so generous and who have thought about others. And you know, no matter what we're going through, I'm sure that we can help another person and when you do, you know, the lie, has taught us that charity does not decrease our wealth, right? No matter what you give, and when it when it isn't charity, use the

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skill to get an abundance, you get an abundance of reward, you get that a piece, and your your risk is multiply. So inshallah we can go with that intention of wanting to have this weigh very heavily on our scale to the goal is $100,000 in sha Allah, imagine what that would do for the refugees for the homeless, we're going to target this week, and it's all by the end of the weekend, we can reach to 25,000, we're going to break it down to make it more exciting and to feel like yes, we can do it. And really, it just takes each person to do it whenever you can, right. It's each person according to their ability, according to, to their lifestyle to get what they can. And it's all 100% of all

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those. And I'm just really excited. I'm really glad that you're tuning in on a daily basis, watching these beautiful interviews, all about improving our character. And imagine what our Omar will be like if each person took it upon themselves, to change themselves to beautified our character, and to do what was meant to do and that is to have the best character that is what the deposit came, he came to the kind of play our characters I pray that we can all aspire to prove ourselves to see our shortcomings. And it's just really work on making a difference to this Ramadan, not just the focus of the work should have been to do that beautiful worship have that villages have that dedication,

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but at the same time thinking about how can you approach and this is an ongoing process. It is not just you know, a month long, right? And then I find you know, I have a mentorship program. I have the meaningful part of city Academy where we work on this throughout the year to improve ourselves to be the best version of ourselves and I would love for you to be a part of it. The Registration is open I would love for you to be a part of it and saw that

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for your support for all the positive feedback that we're getting. It makes all the hard work worth it and we're just so blessed and so grateful for the opportunity and Sharla you can donate generously to this beautiful cause set out a

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bump Bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump, bump,

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thump thump, thump, thump, thump,

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thump, thump, thump, thump,

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thump, thump, thump, thump, thump