Prime Minister Imran Khan Discuss Pride

Hamza Yusuf


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The speakers discuss the importance of faith and humility in restoring pride and humility to the Muslim world. They stress the importance of respecting oneself and not bowing in front of others, as well as the struggles of Pakistan's current leaders and the importance of protecting animals in protecting humans. The speakers also touch on the importance of praying for Muslims and not just in the Muslim community, as well as the challenges of restoring people to their potential, including insecurity, deserved status, and delayed tries. They believe that these qualities will unleash Pakistan's potential and create wealth and opportunities.

Transcript ©

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First of all, I really want to thank you, I know, I, I'm running a small college, and I know how busy that is. And you're running a very large country with many challenges. So I really appreciate the time, that you're affording us. For me, it's quite extraordinary the times that I've interacted with you, and the few times that I've met you, you seem to be a very down to earth person. And, and that's a very interesting phrase that we use down to earth because the, in Arabic, the term for

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the, what the Prophet SAW ism asked us to do is to is to water, which means to stay close to the Earth. And so just looking at that,

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I'm just curious how you've dealt with all these remarkable achievements. Sure, well, let me say one thing,

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or, you know, and I have a had a very varied life, you know, someone who

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finishes education, got a degree, but at the same time played international cricket. So normally, when you play international sport, you have to be very focused. And, and it's a way to Excel, you know, to become the best in your country, you really have to have that tunnel vision. And normally, it's very difficult to study, you can't do to most international sports men actually do not finish their studies. So because I did the two I had,

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you know, I had a bigger perspective of life. So if you,

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if you, all you do is play sport all the time, and you you know, you have, you have no other perspective in life. So this, the, everything becomes that sport. And, and so when you excel in it, you think, you know, you've conquered the world, and there's always a chance that you will,

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you know, you will have arrogance in you, because you're so much better than the other players, you know, you it's a very natural thing, when you excel as a sportsman and you, you know, you, you reach the top, so others are not as good as you and because that's your world, you, you, you have this

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a chance of, in my opinion, what is the worst quality in a human being arrogance, you can get arrogant. On the other hand, I played 20, almost 22 decades of international sport. So in that period, you have lots of ups and downs, that also tells your loss, you know, it, it when you when you fall,

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it leads to a lot of soul searching. So when you go into the cycle of up and down, you know, when you reach the top, and then you have setbacks, and over 20 years, I had lots of setbacks, a lot of successes, but a lot of setbacks. So during the low period in your life, it teaches you a lot. So you do not eventually lose your you know, when you go up your feet stay on the ground, because you know that, you know, you're not always going to stay up there. So that's one. But really, it is, you know, later in my life, just at the end of my sporting career when I was blessed with Almighty His greatest gift, and that's faith, you know, I never understand, understand this concept of people

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forcing into someone to your religion or faith. Because for me, faith is is a gift of God. You know, not everyone has this, this a man of faith. So once you have that, then you have a completely different perspective on life. Because you believe that success, respect is in the hands of God. This is you know, clearly stated in the Quran. So once you know that

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when you have successes, you then attribute it to God. And you know that it's because of his will that you have succeeded. So, arrogance disappears from your life. And then the most important thing that you control what is the most destructive thing within any human being is the human ego. If you do not control the the ego, it is very destructive. And I've seen it

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you know, destroy human beings. So, Faith actually true faith a man firmly makes you control your ego. And there's a tradition in American baseball that when

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When they see a pitcher pitching a perfect game, all the other players leave him alone because they, you know, he's gone into a kind of zone. And and they don't, they don't want to disrupt that. But what they do at the end of the game is they, they, they push up a pie, a cream pie in his face as he comes off the mound. And it's a way of reminding him, you know, you had a perfect game today, but tomorrow you might lose. So if there is an awareness, I think, in people have that up and down, we read in the history books that when a Roman general used to come back victorious, you know, there would be a man standing behind him, and he would be taking the all the applause from the crowd, he

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would be telling him that remember, you're human. Exactly. And I think this is something that a lot of people in positions, when they get into positions that you've gotten into, they, they very often shut that aspect out and surround themselves. I mean, this is one of the things that Aristotle says is that tyrants surround themselves with Yes, men that they don't want to be reminded of those things. And Pharaoh is, is a good example of that. And it's it's very interesting that in the in the ironic narrative, the the most repeated story is one of immense arrogance, which is Pharaoh, and then the humble servant of God, which is Moses. And then this idea that in the end, it's humility

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that God gives victory to

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I'm one of the things about pride that really interests me is in I know in order they say her or which is very interesting, because because it's taken from the Arabic, which is a kind of self delusion that you enter into a delusional state from Arabic,

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or is one of the names of the devil. And then

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and then there's this idea of is that which in Arabic is actually a positive thing, the Quran describes the believers of as having a kind of dignity and, and a sense of self worth. And I think what it seems to me is it in many parts of the Muslim world, a lot of Muslims have lost that sense of civilizational pride. And I think, it seems to me that what you're really trying to do, in an extraordinary country, with an extraordinary people, is restore that, that pride and, and and sense of, of who we are, as as a, as a people,

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that the Quran liberates a human being.

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When God says that there are three things that are in his hands.

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Number one is respect and humiliation. So, you cannot be humiliated, and you cannot respect unless God wills it. Number two is

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how much risk in other words how much you will, the sort of money you will have in life. You know, how much you will make in life that is an all sons God's and you can only strive, but he is the one who will determine how wealthy you will be become. And third is life and death. That's in God's hands. So, in my opinion, these three, these three areas are which give us greatest concern, we are scared of dying, we are scared of being humiliated or being deprived of a livelihood. So in my opinion, when you have faith, you have complete belief that these are the things that cause you the greatest fear are in God's hands. And therefore, you realize that only thing you have gotten your

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hands is to struggle.

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success lies in his hands at which I've always tried to tell my, you know, my political party, I've always tried to make them understand this. Because, you know, when I came into politics, there were two things everyone because they're mafias in politics, everyone. People were scared to come into politics because they're scared they would be killed, or they would be beaten up by these mafias. So number one, fear was actually of dying. And number two was of being humiliated because they had they were powerful people they were, you know, I mean, I my character assassination in these past 20 years, the sort of things that have come out against me and all sorts of scandals and fake news to

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humiliate me. But the reason why I you know, I mean, I struggled all this time and for 15 years really without

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My success is because it was my belief that no human being can humiliate me, no matter what they say. And secondly, you know, life and death is not in, in my hands, it's an, you know, I had built this cancer hospital and I'd seen friends of mine come in to the hospital perfectly healthy, with a tumor and gone in a few months time. So, this fear of dying is also a big impediment and a human potential, a human being achieving its potential, but the important thing which you said was pride,

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you know,

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over my, during my life, also realize that

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self esteem, it is the greatest trait of a human being. And in our language, we call it rare earth.

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It is it is a great quality in a human being. And I, you know, I remember I was my house was being built, and it was the hottest time of the year. And I was just watching this house, the sun was blazing down and the laborers are working. And there was this one guy, you know, a young man who was just, I mean, his shirt was drenched with sweat. And he never once stopped working, whereas others would sit in the shade for a while, have a glass of water, and then come back. So at the end of the day, when he finished, I went in and handed him some money, which would have been a lot of money for him.

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And he asked me, he said, Why are you giving me this money? I said, because, you know, I saw you the way you worked. He said,

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the work I did, I am I've been paid for. And please keep your money. So the respect I had for this ordinary laborer was much more than all so many rich people I've met in my life, you know, who just do not have this self respect and this dignity, or rarer as we call it? And you're absolutely right, that, you know, I find

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you know, who have dignity and respect, no matter whether they have money or not, you know, they command respect.

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You respect them. You know, it reminds me I was I was in I took my sons to a hood to visit

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St. Hamza. And that we there were very few people there, but there was a man selling candy. He had a he was a little, like a Bedouin man. And he was selling candy on a on a little cart. And so I wanted to get my boys something sweet at the place. And they had 10 reels, and the candy was only like two I think reality and I told them and keep the change. And and he said, he said no, the candies only two or three hours. And I said No, it's alright, you know, you can get he said, Look, I'm not a beggar. This is my job. And it's only Tuesday. And he refused to take like what I was looking at his charity, because of exactly what you're talking about. And and that that is something I think God

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loves it's it's it's that dignity, that you carry with you. The Prophet sallallahu sallam said in a very interesting tradition for me, I think he said the believer and movement allow you the LU NAFSA. The believer should never humiliate himself. And and that gets to what you just said is that really, it's it's, it's we who humiliate ourselves, nobody can humiliate you, if you have that dignity. They can attempt to take it away from you, but they can't. And and that gets back to a question of how how you think we can can restore this sense of dignity that for a lot of Muslims seems that there's almost a shame and especially in wealthy people, and I think it's something that that I find very

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inspiring in you is that you

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you know, you're not ashamed of your faith and your tradition, which is quite rare amongst people that have entered into politics. There's almost a reservation in acknowledging the part of faith. shakeups are two things. One that

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lie lie Lilla no God but Allah.

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That in itself gives you dignity. You know, the motto of pipe party when I started my party 25 years ago, is economic the way you're gonna Stein, you learn, I worship you alone, I ask for help.

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You see, in my opinion, true faith a man. That in itself gives you dignity. Because just the fact that you don't bow in front of anyone but the one that

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Is the liberation of a human being.

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I've always, you know, young people ask me about, who do I respect?

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What is the concept of richness? You see, for me, someone who's rich, is someone whose conscience has no price. You can't buy them. And that's what I mean, you know this. And you talked about the candy man and I talked about this labor. People who,

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who, who don't bow in front of anyone who do not allow the dignity,

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lose the dignity, whatever happens. They are the ones who command respect. And you know, if I'll, I read this book after the, it's called the Arab conquest. It's after a prophet.

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You know, after after his death, the way the Arab spread all over the world. And it's very fascinating. If you read that. It was not they didn't have any technical advantage over all the people, they defeated. The Mongolians, for instance, they also had of, you know, conquered half the world very quickly. But they developed a certain form of warfare, they had these special bows, which used to shoot arrows much further than anyone else, they had this special losses and award technique. But these Arabs had nothing. They were the same Arabs who have were insignificant in front of Persian and Byzantine Empire. So but when you read about it, they were liberated souls,

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they were fearless. They were fired with a higher imagination. And this is the basis of, you know, if one team one sports team is very talented, the other sports team has self esteem and respect. You know, they have pride, they will beat the talented team. And I've seen this more often in my life. And this is really

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the problem when you say about Muslims and rich Muslims and wealthy Muslims. I've seen them lose the, the pride, I've seen them,

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you know, become servants of wealth. You know, the, the wealth has made them, enslaved them actually and they stick to the world. Thank you. That's everything. So

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this is unfortunate. In our Muslim world, we have very few

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leadership in the Muslim world, which actually is true truly liberated. Yeah. Okay, leadership. And this is something also really of great interest to me. The one of my teachers is Satan, a paper out pass and from Malaysia, who I think is a brilliant philosopher, but he wrote a book called secularism, which which he identified as what he felt was one of the fundamental problems in the Muslim world is the secularization of the Muslim mentality and this loss of the sense of the sacred. And I think even a lot of people here recognize that, that a lot of the problems in the world are a result of seeing the world as a commodity, seeing it as something that you simply consume. And

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there's a type of human arrogance that goes with that. But one of the things that he said, he, he basically argued that the biggest problem in the Muslim world was a confusion of knowledge. And and he said that confusion and error in knowledge created a condition for what he called the loss of adab within the community. And and that condition arising out of one and two, the confusion and error in knowledge. And then the loss of Adam has led to a rise of leaders who are not qualified for valid leadership of the Muslim community, and who not possess the high moral, intellectual and spiritual standards required for Islamic leadership. So he makes an argument, that it's really a

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confusion of knowledge. And I think one of the things that you and I share is trying to restore knowledge as a basis for

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as a starting point, really, and so I know that you have the the university that you've been working on in Pakistan, among other amazing things. I mean, I've followed some of your political career.

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And I think like the reforestation project is is is a really interesting project, trying to bring back the trees that have been lost. It will have dune mentions that the when the when the Arabs went across from

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a tree across Africa, he said that you could, that you could, a squirrel could literally go from Egypt to Morocco without

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touching the ground because there were so many trees. So we've seen a real loss of that. But I'm curious what, you know, just how you see the centrality of knowledge and restoring that, as part of this

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restoration of civilizational pride for a community, you're right about, you know, when you have total divorce, from the sacred, and you just operate on the material, and which is basically what is happening. And then, but the problems because of that, for instance, I mean, the, this big environmental disaster in the world, which is called Climate Change, is purely because there's a human beings have moved so far away from the sacred. And sacred basically means being humane thinking about others, it means, you know, the, the saying of a Prophet, peace be upon him, that he left for the next world as if you die tomorrow for the next word. So your deeds should be such that

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if you die tomorrow, you you can stand in front of the Almighty and be held accountable, but live in this world as if you will live for 1000 years.

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So whatever you're doing right now, you should think the repercussions that will have on humanity for another 1000 years. So it's one of the greatest statements, you know, about, I mean, it just completely enveloped everything, about environment, about how we should be treating the way we live on this earth. So that also I believe, this whole environment, environmental movement is sacred.

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Whenever you think about other human beings, you know, you are because God, whatever you do for Gods, if you want to get close to the Almighty, you have to be human. So what I find, unfortunately, basically the leadership that comes up through this political system, you know, they just are too divorced from, from the from demand from tenants of the faith. And so, basically, they come in for power, and then they compromise for staying in power. And power is for personal benefits. And it's all over really, most of the politicians, very few politicians I find come with a specific objective of looking after humanity, their main objective is the benefits of power and most of the developing

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world, it is coming into powerful self interest, how much money they can make. So unfortunately, you know, there are very few Mandela's someone who came in for a higher cause.

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And, you know, our great leader Jenner, who was the founder of Pakistan, someone like him who, you know, came in

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and sacrificed himself for this great cause. So on, which is why politician politicians are looked down upon in the world, because they say, they come in to help the people, and they really help themselves. This is a huge problem. And I think it's interesting from a spiritual perspective, a lot of the, the ethical traditions that we have, and not just in the Muslim community, at the source of this is actually his arrogance. And because it's, it's the idea that the human being somehow has only responsibility to himself, that he's not responsible to anything above himself. So he, he, in essence, makes himself like a god. And, and that gets to how do we just in terms of as a community,

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how do we get out of the conditions that that we find ourselves in? Because I think a lot of Muslims, you know, have looked at the Muslim world for some time and seeing the type of rulers that that exists in the Muslim world. And I think there's there's so much animosity, unfortunately. So instead of like praying for people, because one of the things that traditionally like in a month, how is creed, he says that we have to pray for our leaders, that there's this idea that as you are, so are the people put over you so that if the people themselves are corrupt, they very often get that type of leadership. So how do we get out of that situation? I mean, I know that the trials and

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tribulations that go with leadership, like I said, I I run a very small college and and the headaches that I have just from that, the lack of sleep, the difficulties that come with that, and so I can't imagine the type of burden to somebody like yourself would have on your shoulders. So how what, you know, what's the light at the end of the day?

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tunnel that's not an oncoming train. Your show Hamza, you know, when I started politics, I only came into politics, if I did not have a man of faith, I would never have come into politics because I had everything. I mean, I, I was already a big name in my country, a sports star and I had, you know, respect and I had,

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you know, the money I wanted for my life, I had enough money. So, you know, for me to spend 22 years of my life struggling to, you know,

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become a prime minister, you know, it made no sense. Why would someone like me wear everything. So, the only reason was, I believed that I had a responsibility to my society, because I was given more than others. You know, the whole test of a human being, according to, I think all religions, is that if God gives you, he will test you according to what he's given you in life, the hereafter test, the test, when we when we meet a,

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when when we meet a God, he will test us What did we do with all the

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benefits and privileges and, you know,

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his blessings He gave us. So I figured out and I had already had faith, before I came into politics. And I came into politics because I had faith. And because I have faith, I realized that I was so blessed, that I had a responsibility to the society. So I wanted to make Pakistan an Islamic welfare state, based on the concept of the state of Medina by a prophet peace be upon him. And I also, you know, looked at his struggle, you know, he used the Almighty made him struggle for 13 years. So I figured out that, you know,

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if, if he could make his, you know, the person he loved the most to struggle, then and we were told to follow his way, his sunnah. So I've, that's how I did it, because I did not think that I was going to make any, you know, any personal gains or

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some benefits of power. I came in, because I thought we should make Pakistan

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make the state on the principles of the state of Medina. And I always believe one thing that, you know, despite all the difficulties and adversaries, and disappointments, I believe that, you know, we human beings only have, God has only given us the power to struggle, whether we succeed or not, is not in our hands, as was shown by, you know, the life of a prophet because for 13 years, he struggled and a very tough struggle. And then when he

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did the hedgerow to Medina, he didn't know that it would be the beginning of his rise. And even then, in Medina, for first five years, it was a real struggle. So therefore, you know, for me, it was just a struggle, and I, and I have this ideal, that we want to have this country based on two principles. One is it should be a welfare state, a human state, which takes care of its bottom.

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Start off the society. And secondly, rule of law, the fundamental

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principle of a civilized society is where you bring the powerful under the law, and which is the biggest problem in the developing countries because we don't have rule of law, powerful of one law and, and the weak are judged by another law. So the jails all filled by the poor people, the rich crooks never get into jails. So these two concepts are the basis of what my struggle is about for Pakistan. I don't think that's just a problem in the developing countries. Unfortunately, a lot of people that should be in jail in the in Europe and America are not in jail. So I think that that seems to be a major problem. I you know, in just in coming to a winding it down, I

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you know, I think it seems to me that you've taken on an incredible challenge. And it's very inspiring, and I think a lot of Muslims, I know a lot of Muslims here are inspired by it. The one of the most successful communities in in the United States is the Pakistani community in diaspora. And in fact, the college that I'm running in right now that I'm in is largely here because

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of Pakistani immigrants to America. I mean, we've, we've had the the real backbone of our support has been from South Asians from largely Pakistani, but also Indian and Arab, and other groups. And it's the Pakistani community here is is a very successful community. And there's a very interesting book it was it was somewhat controversial when it came out. But I actually found it very

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eye opening. And it was a book by these two Harvard researchers, it was called the triple package. I don't know if you ever saw the book. But it looked at the, it looked at the most successful communities in the United States, and one of them was the Pakistani community that they looked at. And they identified three qualities of their success. That's what they called the triple package. And the first one was, they had a sense of superiority, which, which I thought was very interesting. And it wasn't so much in an arrogant type of way, but they really saw themselves somehow as exceptional. And they said that that view could be a religious exceptionalism, like the Jewish

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community, like a chosen us, or it could be ethnic or national. And but the second quality that they identified was a sense of insecurity, that they had something really to prove.

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And that it created a kind of tension that forced them to really work harder than the other people, because they wanted to show that they were worthy of that exceptional status. And then the third quality that they identified was delayed gratification that they were able to put off. And that gets back to what you were talking about about discipline because certainly, I know that anybody that becomes a world class athlete, delays gratification, they have to because of the of the type of discipline and effort it takes. And so those were the three. But what struck me about that is I really felt that the Quran in some ways was a triple package book. Because on the one hand, it says

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things like, you know, that quantum hydrometer and Odisha ons, you're the best community that's come forth for humanity. And then on the other hand, it says things like you were created from a vial fluid, you know, that the human being is, is is of Earth, you know, the Prophet SAW I Sam said, Kulu come in Adam, Adam and Torah, all of you from Adam, and Adam is from dust. He said, I was commanded to be humble so that nobody could show arrogance towards another person. And then the third thing was this delayed gratification, which the Quran in so many verses tells us to put off for, for what's coming, you know, that, that not to take things now. So I feel

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those three things that restoration of that, in your country, I think, it seems to me that you yourself, display those qualities and, and how we can restore that in the greater community seems to be the challenge that we face, you see, shikantaza I feel that in Pakistan,

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this country has tremendous potential.

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People are immensely talented, they're quite diverse. We have a very diverse mix of ethnic groups in Pakistan.

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Very talented. Problem is, you know, we have you know, if I look back, why we haven't achieved our potential is one, you know, one centers rule of law, we have, you know, we have had elite capture. So a society where a certain elite just captures the resources and deprives the majority of proper education, healthcare, justice. And so, you know, if I had to put my finger on it, it's the lack of rule of law is the reason why we haven't achieved our potential. And I actually am convinced that no society, no society can ever achieve its potential, if there is no rule of law, because merit is also associated with rule of law. And if you do not have meritocracy in a society, you have this

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elite which is a which which is spoilt, which has rich which has captured the resources, which doesn't struggle and strive. They sit on the main positions, they decay, so countries disintegrate because of a decadent elite. People don't decay, it's the elite at the case. And what our Prophet showed in Medina was that, you know, he brought in a very selfless, an elite which looked upon him as

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role model, all of them became leaders. And they just lifted the character of the entire nation. And, and, and the potential unleash the potential, because all of us have tremendous potential. But we we have imposed chains on us, which stops us from achieving the potential, our great poet Iqbal. He was your greatest sport of this last century. You know, he or he came up with a concept of the Shaheen, the eagle,

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the eagle flies soars above the rest. Because it breaks the shackles which keeps us grounded, and, and all these shackles of materialism, these false gods of power, and you know, all these things that keep us grounded. And basically, that's what happened when the, when the Prophet set up the state of Medina, he unleashed the potential of these people who were nothing before and all became, you know, the leaders of the world. So I believe Pakistan is in the same situation, we have this, people have great potential, they go outside Pakistan, they have a level playing field, they excel. But in this country, it's a system does not allow them, as I said, this elite capture, whether

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whether education, quality education is only for a smaller, maybe 1%, one and a half percent, the rest, do not have access to it. And similarly, you know, they don't have opportunities,

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don't have level playing field. So what I feel is that by two things by by, and this is the struggle going on right now in Pakistan, but winning the struggle will unleash the potential of this country. And secondly, to lift the people out of poverty. So we've, in in the country's history, we've, we've started the greatest welfare plans, programs ever in our history, we were spending most money on the bottom people to sort of raise the levels. So this is basically my ambition. And I feel that if I can just

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do these two things, lift people out of poverty,

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create wealth, so that, you know, you can spread it around and break the monopoly of this elite. This these mafias, I feel this country, you know, I, I always believed it had great potential. It's a great vision. And I really pray that, that you have Tofik in that, in realizing that I there's a novel that was

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that was written here. And I think they made a film out of it called The Reluctant Fundamentalist about a Pakistani who had a bad experience in America. And when and when he he got he ends up going back to Pakistan, and being a teacher, but one of the things that he said in in a class to his students that in America, they have this thing called the American dream. And then he asked the question of what's the Pakistani dream? And I think you've articulated a very powerful

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Pakistani dream that inshallah I really hope that it's realized in your lifetime that you see the fruits of the labor, and it seems to me to be a struggle against arrogance and hardiness.

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Because people that see themselves as above the law are arrogant people.

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Yeah. And so I think pride is definitely that negative horror war is what we're up against and what we have to fight in ourselves and then in in, in the society around us.