Sacred Text Messages S02 E03 – Quran and the Content of Character #01

Hamza Yusuf

Channel: Hamza Yusuf

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God tells us in the Qur’an that the origin of the human story began with the binary—Adam and Eve. God then assigned us nations and tribes in order that we might come to know one another and distinguish ourselves through virtue. Don’t miss this important Qur’anic lesson that Shaykh Hamza focuses on in this week’s Sacred Text Message taken from the 13th verse of the 49th chapter of the Noble Qur’an. Hear how these Qur’anic truths are as relevant today as they were over 1400 years ago.

Episode Transcript

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Bismillah R Rahman Rahim

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al hamdu Lillahi Rabbil alameen wa sallahu Annecy, then I'm Mohammed Ali will save you will send them home during

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today I wanted to look at a text message, which is really one of the most fundamental messages in the entire Quran, which comes out of Sora through gerat, which is the 49th chapter in the Quran, and it's the chapter of the the actual the hedgehog or the quarters of the prophets or lysosomes. home. And if you look at the Surah

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holist, holistically, it's really a chapter about behavior in the homes and how we treat one another, reminding us not to make fun of one another to mock one another not to speak ill of each other. So there's there's a whole bunch of injunctions about just good character and good behavior, but it ends with the last few verses are really quite extraordinary in summing up something about the human condition.

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And that is the verse Yeah, Johan so in Huracan alcom in

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the region now come sure obong elita out awful, in a caramel coma and a lie at power con in Allah anyone heavier. So this

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verse, which is the 13th verse in the 49th chapter is calling a yohannes which is all of humanity. So whenever the Quran uses NAS, it's talking to everybody, all of humanity. When it speaks to the believers, it says, Yeah, hello, Dina amanu. But generally yoga nurses an indication when it's to all of humanity, that it's actually a mechon chapter. So in Mecca,

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Allah subhana wa tada addresses all of humanity and gives a method message through the province or ICM in Medina, then you get the differentiation Yeah, 100 in a Kaffir, or people that rejected and then people that accepted. So in this versus all of humanity, or you have NASS, so and and in Arabic that you have is like, what they call 10. b. It's a way of it's evocative, it's a way of calling people's attention. And then the article of definition there is for totality all of humanity. So it's saying, oh, humanity, oh, humankind, all mankind.

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In surely in Hadoop are now coming decade. And surely we have crazy from a male and a female.

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So this is a reminder that all of humanity has been created from one male and one female. And in modern biology, they actually have designated the these first two, they call them Adam and Eve,

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based on the biblical idea, because most of these biologists are coming out of Christian or Jewish tradition. So they do call the first two people and there, there is a belief now that all of humanity actually did come from two people. So we know from just from the genetic information that we have a lot of these studies, there was actually a documentary called the journey of man, which looked at

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all of the biological evidence now that they have that we really are all related from the same people. So in that way, we're all the same family and and in the Quran, they're called benu. Adam, this, this tribe. So one of the things about human beings is that we are tribal by nature. We fall into tribes and we get it we fall into tribal mentalities. So a lot of what's happening today is really tribalism. Because people, it's hard to get out of those ways of thinking. So we tend to think we otherwise people who aren't in our tribe, whether it's an ideological tribe, or whether it's an ethnic tribe, or whether it's a linguistic tribe, or whether it's a class tribe, like a

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certain elite group, or whether it's an educational tribe, all of these different tribes that make up human beings. But this really is talking also about just pure tribalism. It's reminding people that all of you are part of the same tribe is called bento, Adam, the tribe of humanity. And so this is the reminder that we're from veka and untha, which is the male and the female. One of the things that Iblees according to the tradition is that he in the Quran, it says that he will continue to compel people until they change human nature. Now more unknown.

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What are you hearing

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You don't know how Allah I will come, Kunduz compel them until they actually change human nature. So the fundamental nature of human beings is a filter on nature principio nature, which has the male, and the female is called a binary. So this idea of removing these things is, is really part of a long term strategy to confuse human beings. And, and but then it says what you're on now come sure Obama about it. So once these two people were created, the male and the female from them came, what the Quran call shroob and kabbah. So the shab is people's and abeille are tribes. And, and the Mufasa, Iran, the people that the exegetes, who actually are scholars that have the ability to

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really interpret the Koran, which takes many, many years of study, learning, mastering 12 sciences, according to images. But the scholars differ on this. So some of them say that the scheibe is, this is the

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it's bigger than a tribe. So it's, it's a group of tribes that have a common father. So for instance, in Arabia, you have mobile, and the rugby are the two dominant tribes.

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The more daughters is the branch that the province is and was from, and then there are B is the branch that Benny Tamim and the people in.

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Not Benny, Tommy and brother,

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Robbie are the people like Anna's and these people now like unset Oh, this from the robbia tribe. So these these two tribe Benny, Timmy was actually from Mother. So these two were the dominant shuru of the Arabs. And then from them come all the different tribes and then you have the Yemeni tribes, and their Shabaab was him ER and Catalan. And from them come all the different Yemeni tribes. So that's one view but the other is that the Shabaab is for the non Arabs and the end of that is for the Arabs or tribal peoples. And I think that's a better way to look at it that there's tribal peoples. So for instance, the Irish were once a tribal people, they're not really a tribe anymore, but they were

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once a tribal people now, which they called clans. So, in classical English tribe actually means a group of goats a tribe of goats. So, but a clan is a group of people who have a common father. So for instance, you from the

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the O'Leary clan or the O'Connell clan or the O'Connor clan. Then

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the Conor was the, the progenitor of the O'Connor clan. That was the original one so they all know they have a the same father. But in the Scottish were like that as well. And the French and all these different peoples, they actually tribal people. But over time they the tribalism dissipated, and they formed into shroob. Like peoples, so I have the Irish people. They don't really see themselves as clannish anymore, even though they have some concept like the eye. The Scottish still do they have the Highlanders, and some of them will be guilted into a clan and things like that. But they're their peoples now. And so the Anglo Saxons were once tribal peoples they're not anymore. In

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fact, a lot of the the names that they have are things like Smith, which is from actually what they did. That's, that's actually occupational job or carpenter. So you have like john carpenter. That's because one of their ancestors was a carpenter.

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And many, many examples like that. So European peoples were used to be tribal. Now their tribes have diminished greatly. So is you still have like lap landers. So if you go, there's Aboriginal Europeans,

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that like in Finland, the people that the Lapland are peoples and things like that, or if you go into places like Greece, you still have families like that are almost tribal, they're clannish. But overall tribes have been eliminated in the West, whereas if you go to Africa, where I live, for instance, in West Africa, tribes are still very much a central part of, of, of the, the way they live and experience the world. And their great advantages to that. But there's also extraordinary downsides. One of the great advantages of it is that there's a type of social welfare. So just like families will take care of themselves. Tribes will do this also. So which is a much larger family.

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So they actually help each other because they're from the same tribe.

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The downside of it is, you'll find very often that they really look down on the other tribes. So each tribe will think they're superior to the other tribe, and one of the things that I got very good

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Doing was distinguishing between different tribal groups based on physiognomy. But if I made a mistake, because I used to test myself and say, Oh, you're from Europa, or your Ebo, or your house or your Fulani, and if I was wrong, they get really upset. So I stopped doing it, because they would take it as an offense. It's like, in Mexico, I want to ask somebody, if he was a Indian, you know, India, from Mexico, and he got he was offended by it. Because unfortunately, in Mexico, a lot of Mexicans looked down on the Indians. In fact, when the Spanish ruled Mexico, and they still do, I mean, people don't see the Mexicans as

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Spanish, but actually, the most of the people that are in power in Mexico are actually Europeans, they're not natives. But if you look at in Mexico, they actually had 10 racial classifications,

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to distinguish between people. So this is something human beings do is that they, they use these taxonomies as ways of elevating one group over another group. Sometimes this is about class, like, very often in a lot of the more industrialized and post industrial societies, it's class that determines a person's worth, whereas in previous societies had to do with lineage and where you were from. So what this verse is doing really is telling people that we made you show what other add, we put, we made you God did this made you into different nations and tribes, Lita autofull, in order that you might come to know one another.

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In other words, the reason for this is to create these distinctions so that you can actually benefit from one another, the different gifts that have been given to different peoples. So it's Lita article, and in the commentaries, they say Lally tocado, not to hate one another, but to know one another. So this Maratha, this knowledge is the knowledge of other peoples and how they do things. And what we find it's very interesting that people are very often prejudiced towards people they don't know. But if they know people, then they lose that prejudice about people because they see them as human beings, as opposed to other. And so the verses really talking about

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this fundamental problem that we have. So in the commentaries, images, Ed Kelby says this as a reminder of the equality, that Tesla and he actually uses that word of the equal the basic human equality, that we're equal in our humanity. And it's not these tribal distinctions that make us superior, but it's actually character. So people are superior by character, there are superior people, but it has nothing to do with race, or color,

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or even creed because somebody could have the right creed, but be a horrible human being. So one of the things that this verse is really reminding us is that there's an essential equality in your humanity. So don't boast, because you're from this tribe, or that tribe or because you're of this color or that color, or think you're better than another person, but rather

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know that in a comic mountain to lie, it's common this how the verse ends, that Verily, the noblest that the most honorable, the most generous, the most dignified, because Kodama is dignity. All those words are understood in that word in Comicon, the most noble amongst all of you, with a law with God,

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are the people of the conscientious people, the dutiful people, the pious people, the people that that are beautiful in their character and behavior, that this is what makes superior people, his character. And this is why,

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in that extraordinary speech, in Washington, DC, when Dr. King said that he wanted to live in a country where people judge by the content of their character, not by the color of their skin, that is exactly what this verse is telling us that we should judge people by the content of their character, and not for any other reasons. Because you're not superior, by some accident of your being. In logic, they have this distinction between essence and accident. So in essence is is is what defines you. An accident is something that is secondary to your, to your nature. So you can take somebody who's has black skin, they can actually get an illness and turn white

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The same thing kept for a white person get illness and in turn dark. So that that's an accident, it's not essential to their character or nature, you can actually, in places like there's certain countries where people use dyes to dye their skin color, so they can actually change their skin color because it's, it's accidental to their nature. One of the things that a lot of modern

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people now are promoting this idea, no, this is essential to my nature, this is going to define my being, like your sexuality, defines your being, these aren't. Traditionally this was no, nobody had that understanding that people were defined by accident. They were defined by their essences. And so a human beings essence, in our tradition, is this has the potential of being either good or evil, that that's what the province is and told us that, that it has an inclination towards good, but it can be perverted. And and, and this is the nudge day and the two roads that human beings have been guided on in the Native Americans have what they in the Navajo tradition, they have what's called

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the walking path. And there's a belief in their tradition, that everybody

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will walk a path in their life, but they choose the path

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that God has given us two paths, the path of righteousness, the path of virtue, and the path of viciousness, advice, and wrongdoing. And what's amazing is that human beings really do know these distinctions, by filter by their principio character. If you've, if you give a cat food, it'll eat it with you, but if it steals that it runs away, so even the cat knows what's right and wrong, very few people. I mean, there are sociopathic people that these are called shaping, and it's in our tradition, demonic humans, there are those people, but they're very rare, vast majority, people really do have an innate understanding of right and wrong, and then they choose. But because we're

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weak, we fail. And then and what we have to do is work on our character, until, until goodness is habituated. So this really is one of the most striking verses in the Koran to be understood at a deep level, because this really,

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people all peoples have gifts. And some people, if you look at certain people's, like the indo European peoples have been given a lot of gifts and sciences, like if you go to India, and Persia, Greece, these areas, if you go to China, they all these other gifts, you go to Africa, there's all these other gifts, that this is part of the diversity that Allah has made, but nobody is superior,

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because of their ethnicity, or because of their color, or because of the ethnic group that they come from, not what makes them superior, is in the cultivation of of their goodness, and their character and their virtue. And that does make them superior and there are superior. In our tradition, there are superior civilizations, those civilizations that are virtuous, and that strive to do good, those are superior to civilizations that use their power, for harm and for doing other things. So this idea somehow that we don't make a judgement about things that's completely antithetical to our tradition, we really believe in the superiority of a civilization whose whose, whose goal is to

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is to work towards a more just merciful and compassionate society, whose endeavors are for the common weal for the common goodness, and not for the personal in your mentor,

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or benefit of individuals or the powerful against the weak things like that. That's why you're judged cultures are judged by how they treat their the weakest amongst them, you're judged judged by how they treat their women by how they treat their children, by how they treat their prisoners. All of these things will determine the goodness for the fallenness of a culture or civilization. So it's a it's a beautiful verse that should be well understood. Because it would solve a lot of the problems that we have around the world of one people thinking that they're over another people because of anything other than character and belief in Allah subhana wa Adana, which is something

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that

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unfortunately, in the modern a lot of modern people are losing this but traditional peoples never lost this and there's still places in the world where the vast majority of people still hold to a belief in in the creator

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At an irreverence, they now you have these post industrial cultures where they make fun of God, and they mock God, but God will not be mocked. And, and it's, it's only one of the names of Allah subhana wa hellene, the forbearing The one who, who is patient with his creation, but there is a reckoning.

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Anyway, so those are some thoughts on sort of that hi gerat verse 13, in the 49th chapter of the book of Allah

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was a lot all the

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I did have a story that I mentioned last week that I wanted to

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tell, and that that is, it's, it's very interesting how

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you meet people along the way in the path of life. And, and sometimes they're, they're brought into your lives in very interesting ways. I when I, when I was younger, and I read Dickens, I always thought Charles Dickens had the all these contrived plots, because they, they will always come at the end, like everybody's related and, and it always seem, but what I realized as I got older, that he was actually dealing with the mystery of Qatar, with faith and how things really are interrelated. And how everybody in some mysterious way, these people that come in and out of our lives.

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There's, there's just all these really, really wonderful, strange, marvelous connections that you begin to see and discern a pattern. And one of the, even now, we wrote a beautiful qasida about this, where he said, Hey, come on new seajets via then hacker mats. Now, these, the pattern of life is a is a carpet woven by a wise hand. But there is a pattern in life. And so I, I

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had a

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read this article about this extraordinary woman called

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Hedwig Klein,

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and hell with Klein. She was actually

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when she was in our 20s, she was studying at the University of Hamburg. And she, she was she was Jewish lady in Germany, who was studying Arabic studies in Islamic Studies. JACK, she did her PhD on a history of earliest law. She translated a book from Arabic. So I found out about this lady Heatherwick Klein, and I just she was such an extraordinary woman and the way they described her her professors that she was very gentle and, and very soft spoken and painfully shy, but brilliant. And so she actually did her PhD in but when in when the Nazis came to power, they actually refused to, even though she she did her dissertation, and it was given us some outcome louder, which is with the

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highest praise, they wouldn't give her because they wrote on her thing that she was a Jew so that we're going to give her her PhD. But it turned out one of her teachers who was very good man.

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He, he asked her

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if she'd be interested in working on the hands bear dictionary. So she actually got a job with Hans there. And the dictionary was actually commissioned by the Nazis because Hitler wanted minecon to be translated into Arabic. And so the dictionary was commissioned by the Nazis. And so to to these Jewish people, one of them was this woman had we

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had we Klein

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and she Hedwig, I think if I said how it should be Hedwig Hedwig Klein. So she worked on this dictionary and did exemplary work, according to the people that that worked with her but she ended up

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in

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ponds, very tried to keep her on. But the Nazis ended up arresting her in 1942. She actually tried to get out of Germany, and got as far as Antwerp and then her. Her ship was sent back to Hamburg. She was on her way to India. she'd gotten a job. But they sent her back. And so she ended up zoo. Quite a tragic story. But what was interesting is I read this story and it really affected me because I've been using hardware for

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I think, these 40 years. And I know the book so well. I've read it so many times.

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So when I found out that these four people ended up in Auschwitz and were murdered by the Nazis, I mean, it's enough just to have killed somebody like her just this really brilliant scholar who should have been allowed to do her scholarly work. But the same day, I got a letter from

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this organization in Hamburg, Germany,

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of these Jewish people that asked me to write something about Islamic Studies.

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That was so serendipitous, that really affected me just because I just was thinking all day about this lady, Hedwig, Klein, and just the debt that we owe people, you know, we don't think about the debt that we owe people for the work that they do, like, when you look, all these houses that were living in, these were built by people, and many of them are now gone. All the food that we eat, who cultivated those lands, and did all of that breaking the earth, like the indebtedness of human beings to other human beings, is so great. And we just take these things for granted. And we don't think about it, we don't think about all the Knights that, that scholars stayed up to leave these

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books behind that we read and benefit from, we don't think about all the people, you know, that sewed our clothes, and, and

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all the things that that are done for us. And those are just people those. I mean, if if we really thought

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deeper than that, those are just people who made those people to do all those things for you.

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And that's, that's your Lord. And so when you start thinking about all the things every single day of your life, I was once talking to this man. And he said to you know, he wasn't a Muslim, but he wanted marry this Muslim girl. And so he was thinking about becoming a Muslim. And so he asked me, like, you know, what was the biggest benefit of becoming Muslim? And I said, Well, I think the biggest benefit is that it's just an extraordinary way of showing gratitude to your Creator, because we actually pray five times a day, and just turning and being in a state of gratitude. So they said, he said, Well, yeah, I suppose God's done some things for me in my life. And he literally said that

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to me. And I just looked, I said, if I took your temperature right now, it's probably 98.6. Or at least there abouts.

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Who do you think's keeping it at at that temperature? Like, I mean, every single moment of our life

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it's God that's sustaining this whole thing. So it's just interesting how people have these perception anyway, I had a client as somebody that

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just occupied my thoughts and and every time now that I go to the hands where she does come to mind, you know, this poor innocent middle

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Jewish girl who actually in a letter said that she believes that God that Allah and the letters actually used Allah she said, I believe Allah will help me because I've met one of his friends. And so we don't know who that is, but maybe in the afterlife, we'll get to, I'll get to ask her, who she was referring to. inshallah. So anyway, that was a story that I wanted to tell