Sacred Text Messages S02 E08 – When the Famous Become Infamous, Remain Faithful

Hamza Yusuf

Channel: Hamza Yusuf

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Throughout history, there have been many religious charlatans. For those who have been deceived by them, the personal and community impact is devastating. Some even lose their faith in God and leave their religion. In this episode, Shaykh Hamza untangles this sensitive subject by reminding us that true faith is not rooted in the fallible nature of man but the timeless truths found in God’s Book, the message of His prophets, and the rightly-guided teachers who mirror them.

Episode Transcript

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I was given a Michelle Obama regime this minara Rahim

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al hamdu Lillahi Rabbil alameen wa salatu salam ala Sayyidina Muhammad wa ala and he was he was in the city McCarthy era acetamide Omar Abdullah II obika to Al Hamdulillah.

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Today I want to look at a verse that's in Sora. And it's verse 53. And whereby Allah subhana wa tada says, What kinetico Fatah and

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then Leah kulu.

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Eman Allah Hardin de Nina. That is Hello. I'm Abbi Shakir in.

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So this verse basically says that we have tried some with others.

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And the result is that they say, oh, did Allah prefer these over

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us?

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And then Allah Subhana, Allah says, doesn't God know who the Grateful are? Doesn't he know Who? The shacking or the people of Chicago?

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So this is, I think there are several verses in the Quran that deal with this issue. We don't know about other company but then fit now we made some of your trial for others. Allah Subhana Allah says was, but it may akuto and tells the prophets Allah Allah, it will, it will sell him to be patient about what people are saying. But I think the general idea and there are many verses in the Quran that indicate this, that there's a lot of trial and tribulation, in in life on Earth. So one of the trials that I wanted to look at today was the trial of, of scandal, the idea and scandal scandal on it's a Greek word. And the idea in scandal is that somebody falls who is highly regarded. And then

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that leads to a crises in the people that highly regarded that person. So for instance, recently we had in the Christian community, there was a huge scandal that involved a very, very popular Christian preacher who'd been actually one of the top evangelical preachers for four decades, and have laid it came out that this person was actually a scoundrel that he, in fact, his own organization did an internal investigative

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study on what happened and interviewed people saw text messages, saw this corroborating evidence and indicated that the person was indeed just simply complete, really hypocrite. And it had a huge impact. I mean, it was quite stunning how many Christians actually did podcasts about it? And did things and so what it made me think about was these when these crises happen with celebrity

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scholars or II moms, or do add people that publicly preach Islam to to others, that when it turns out that there's some kind of

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shortcoming either serious or less than serious, I mean, sometimes it's just character flaws, people get angry people.

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But sometimes it's very egregious, sinful mistakes, people that actually will end up abusing other people.

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I mean, there are many examples of it. So but a lot of people were just really distraught because they'd listened to this man for decades. And that turned out that they feel like they that he was a fraud, that they were fooled. And then it it really creates a crisis internally and people about wondering who, like go, does this mean? And so it brings to mind a tradition from even Massoud or the Latino the great companion of the province will I send him when he said McKenna your stent failure stand bill may get whoever is going to follow or take a sooner let him follow somebody who's dead for in the year that our people because the one who's alive, we don't know what his end is. And

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that was a really just understanding amongst the people other than the Prophet sighs um, who is my assume, like all the prophets. They're protected and infallible in that way. They they don't have character flaws. They don't have any sinfulness. They live transparent lives. Nobody lived a more transparent life than the prophets Elias and we know the arguments in his household. We know everything that happened. We know how he bathed, we know how he slept. We know how he got up in the morning. We actually literally know how he rose from the bed. He lived a transparent life and

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In that way, he becomes an exemplar for anybody that wants to find the best way to live. But

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other than the province is nobody is free from

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the trials and tribulations and also just simply hypocrisy. The follow up is a very real phenomenon. One of the things that when I was studying Arabic, many, many years ago is almost 40 years ago now, one of the I read the format, and there was a,

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which is a genre in Arabic literature. It's very beautiful that it's it was actually designed more for vocabulary acquisition. So I, but I preferred a Harrier. He is the one that everybody reads, but I actually really liked a bit there was a man on hamadani. But he had a character in there, and the character was a religious charlatan. And so and he was very eloquent, he would go to the mosques, and he would say, I saw the prophets alized him and he told me to come to this mosque, in a dream, and he was so eloquent and everybody would be mesmerized by his eloquence. And yet he was a complete charlatan, or he would go for instance, he goes to a place and he tells them that they have a

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drought and he tells them, I was told by the province, I simply come here and to lead you in the in the rain, prayer, and rain will come but there's a condition that the says that has to be extremely long. And and so he leaves him in the prey, they go into such depth, and then he gets up and robs all their houses and leaves them in such debt. So it really struck me at the time, I didn't really understand why he would do that. But I came to realize later that he was actually warning people about a character. This is a character that's very common. Talk to one of the great players by maleah, the comedic French playwright or two of which is really worth reading, because it's about a

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Jesuit, a complete hypocrite that comes into a house. And this man believes him to be this religious saint and this guide. Meanwhile, at every opportunity, he's trying to seduce the man's wife, and the wife knows, but But the man won't listen, he won't listen to her. Her telling him this man is a complete fraud. Again, this this is because this character exists. And one of the problems with religious frauds is that because religion is such a,

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an exalted thing for believers and human beings, they can't imagine that somebody would actually lie about something like that, because they themselves couldn't do it, they, they couldn't find it in themselves to tell a lie about God or about a dream, I saw the Prophet slice him in a dream. That, to me has always been a red flag when people say those things, it's, it's just a red flag, whether it's true or not, it's a red flag for me, because I think people shouldn't share those things easily. Except with, you know, maybe a teacher or something like that, to find out what it means. But

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so it's it's quite tragic when these things happen. So this man, this Indian preacher has really caused this problem inside the Christian community, and, and some people end up actually losing their faith. And which strikes me is very strange, because there was a atheist,

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many years ago, and for decades, he was one of the leading atheist. I think his name was Anthony flue, and he, he wrote all these books, why there is no God, and all the atheists hailed him and put them up as this great teacher. And here's our hijjah. This is our proof that there's no God, this great philosopher, who knows everything, and he's so smart. So of course, there can't be a God when somebody is brilliant, as this man says, There's no God. And then at the end of his life, he ended up converting to Christianity. And suddenly all the atheists, they didn't become Christians. They didn't suddenly revert to, oh, the leader has has changed sides, we must change sides. No, they just

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said, He's, he's looking at his death, and he's just hedging his bets. I mean, they explained it in other ways, but they didn't change their faith in nothing. They still believed in nothing, which is quite extraordinary. So for people who say they believe in something, then when their guy switches sides, or turns bad, they lose their faith. That doesn't make sense at all. But the problem is that people put too much faith in celebrities, they put too much faith in leaders and every human being on this planet.

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It is under God's microscope. And until they're dead, we don't know the outcome. We don't know. There were people that were companions of the Prophet who actually left Islam. Norma Habib's husband, he he became a mortared in a Habesha, he didn't come back with the people. So there there will be people that leave Islam. There might even be moms and people that you looked up to who might, in this time of great confusion, end up telling us they don't believe in God anymore or in Islam. How does that how should that affect you? Well, if you're a believer, it shouldn't affect you at all because we don't worship men. I mean, even the say no Omar when the prophesized him died,

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that incredible situation where Satan Omar was, he couldn't, he said, if anybody says he died, I'll I'll, I'll take his head off. Because they couldn't imagine it. They never imagined that he would die. And aboubaker got up and in that incredible moment said whoever worship to Mohammed solo I said, I'm just know that Mohammed is dead. But whoever worship Allah,

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know that Allah is living and never dies. I mean, what an incredible presence of mind at that moment. The Prophet is a messenger, and we love Him with all our heart, and our soul, and we hope for his intercession, the day of judgment, but he is a messenger, he is delivering a message. And that message is that either in Allah, and that's what you have to hold to. You have to hold to that with all your heart, and not let the vicissitudes of time upset you or turn you away, because somebody fails to live up to your expectations of what they should live up to. And I'll give you an example. There's There's a wonderful story in in Harada, tous, the great Greek, they call him the

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father of history, is a great Greek historian, but he tells a sore story of creases, who was the king of Lydia, and creases was considered the richest man of the ancient world actually had had a proverb. richer than creases would be like today saying he's richer than Bill Gates. And this was a just a man of immense wealth, he led the Lydian Empire which is now in in Turkey. And he actually conquered the Greeks took tribute from them. But Harada tells a story where Sol on the great lawgiver of Athens, he was a extraordinary philosopher and, and created the laws that really enabled the Athenians to live in, in peace for the time. And he goes, he ends up leaving political life and

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wants to travel the world. So he goes to Egypt and, and visits Lydia. So he went when he gets to Lydia and he had a great reputation so long, so he goes into crisis, his palace and creases, the great soul on from Athens is here. So he shows him all his riches and takes him to the Treasury, and shows them all his palaces and everything, and he's spending these days with them. And then at one day, he says to him, who's the happiest man you've ever known? Or you've ever heard of, and he said, that would have to be tell us and

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creases says, Who? He said, Tell us, he was an Athenian general. He had beautiful and good children, he lived to see them grow old. He lived to see his grandchildren, they all survived childbirth, and then he died gloriously in battle, defeating enemies of the Athenians and was hailed and honored by the Athenians as a great man. He said, Well, then, who, who after tell us and he said, Oh, that would probably be clear vision, and beaten. And he said, to clear this and be taught Who are they is they were to youth, who, when they couldn't find the oxen to take their mother to the temple, which was 90 miles away, to celebrate a religious festival, they actually harnessed themselves to the

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cart, and out of filial piety, took their mother, those 90 miles and when they got to the temple, they dropped dead. And so they were honored for their filial piety and, and to this day, they're still honored there. And then he looked at Solon. And at this point, he was thinking this man's a complete idiot. And he said, Well, what do you think of me? He said, Oh, no, we could never determine your happiness until you're dead. Because a man we never know what's going what, what the vicissitudes of time, will bring what tragedies could fall upon you. So we that's not something we can determine. creases thought he was a complete idiot at this point. And later, Harada just tells

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us that he goes, he wants to invade Cyrus kulish, the great Persian king

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Who Some say his little codename? And he goes to the Athenian Delphic Oracle, and he asked them

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should he pursue that and the Delphic Oracle, in its usual enigmatic way says, Oh, well, if you, if you cross this river, you will defeat a great empire. So he takes out as a green light, like April glaspie, when she told saddam that the Americans have no interest in in Kuwaiti Iraq, he disputes that he took that as a green light, little did he know how that would change. So So at that point, he thinks, oh, he's going to defeat Cyrus, he doesn't know he, it's his empire that he's going to destroy. And so he, he crosses, and then Cyrus defeats him in battle, and then to punish him and to show the lydians and all the kings around, that they shouldn't mess with Cyrus, he orders that he be

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burnt at the stake. And so they create this funeral, this pyre and they, they put them on, on the stake and and

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they light the fire. And as it begins to burn, Cyrus is watching this and he hears creases, call out soul on soul on soul on and Cyrus wants to know what he's saying. So he tells him put out the fire. Harada says it actually rained at that point. But then he brings him down, he asked him, Well, what were you saying? He said, I was remembering a very wise man, whose wisdom I did not understand until this moment. And it's he's a man that I wish every ruler could have a conversation with. The point of that story is again, you don't know until people are dead their lives. People have horrible scandals and things affect them. And if you look at somebody like there was a man that might you

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know, my father studied with Martin Van Doren. And he had a son, who was a brilliant man, Charles Van Doren. And he had a terrible scandal he was, had an illustrious career ahead of him. But it was cut short by the scandal on a television quiz show where he was pretending to know these answers and didn't and ended up destroying his career and scandalized a lot of people. Because he was a lot of kids were starting to study because they were so impressed with all his knowledge. But he is the story they never tell about him and read for did a film on him, called the quiz show. And the story they never tell about him is he spent the rest of his life editing the Encyclopedia Britannica, like

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he became that man that he was pretending to be as, like a type of penance, which is quite extraordinary. It's, it's an amazing story. But this, this is life on Earth, and you cannot, you have to be focused on God, you cannot be focused on people. And if you're fortunate to have a good teacher, then that's, that's wonderful for you. But if you're, if you have the misfortune, of having a bad teacher, just know a few things. One, that there's something to be learned from that, because I've had, I've had teachers that ended up really disappointing me, but I've also had some incredible teachers. And I genuinely hope that I never disappoint anybody, but

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this is life on earth. And you can't, you know, as as

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you know, the poet said, you say, you lost your faith, you know, it's not like that you had no faith to lose, and you know it, I mean, that there's a lot of truth in that, like, what kind of faith is it that you can lose it?

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You have to hold on to your faith, and certainly faith in in Alon is messenger. So when these things happen, it's just really important to, to hold on. And just know that this too shall pass that whatever happened, if there was real abuse, if you were the victim of somebody, who, for instance, sexually abused like that, unfortunately, there's some of these so called teachers

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end up even violating

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women or children or whatever happens. It happened in our air, there's a parent teacher that was actually turned out that he was molesting children. These things happen, they're great.

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calamity, calamities, that if we followed the son of the Prophet, if somebody invited you to their hotel room, that's a red flag, you just don't go It doesn't matter who it is. And you and you think, Oh, well, he's a chef, he must know. No, you should know you have to know the Sharia. And I'll just there's there's a really interesting story. There was a West African chef who had some Mediterranean students and he always showed deference to the morning.

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Italian students and the other West Africans were. They just were upset by that. And one day, they asked the teacher, why do you prefer these Mauritanians? And he said, Well, it's something I know about them. And that was his answer. But then Time passed. And when the day of arafah came

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the day before he told all of these students not to fast on our sofa.

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And so the next day they came, and he asked, who's who's fasting, and all the Mauritanian students raised their hand. And, and then the chef looked at me said, didn't I say, not too fast tomorrow? And they said, you did but the province eyes and told us we should fast. And and so he just looked at the other he said, This is why I prefer them is that they're not blind followers. Like you don't be a blind follower, you have, God has made you a sovereign individual, you cannot give up that sovereignty for somebody else. You have to hold on to that. And you have to use your brain. And Sufism, unfortunately, is one of those

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sciences that can be grossly abused in the wrong hands. And that's why again, traditionally, unless you had studied shadia, you really weren't supposed to go into tussle wolf. Because you have to have the criteria. You have to know the criteria to judge things. He Mamata has already said something extraordinary. He said don't know the truth through men, no men through the truth.

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And and this is why it should not affect your faith when you see these things. In fact, it really should just confirm the fact that this is about you and God. It's not about you, and

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whoever that teacher is. So unfortunately, there are abusive teachers out there. This is a time of abuse the prophesies and warned us about monaca porn, you know, and he said, The thing I fear most for my oma is a hypocrite who has an eloquent tongue, somebody that doesn't do what they say. So I just I hope people really think about this, because I think it's a really important issue. And and

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it's it's very tragic, and it's very sad. And for people who have been victims of these things, I completely can understand. But you can't let this affect your faith in that way. If anything, it should it should wake you up to the importance of having first and foremost a relationship with your Lord and and with your profits on the lightest send them through following his learning his teachings and following his teachings. And then being having discernment. And being able to discern things red flags are real. And you should be able to discern when something's not right.

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And, and that's why the problems I sent it was said a stuffed aliquot of token, like listen to your heart, even if people say otherwise, because one of the problems are not. And I'm going to talk about this inshallah, about groupthink and the problem of groupthink because it's a very serious problem. It's a human problem, but it's certainly a problem in religions. When people think as a group as opposed to individuals, and we're raised up as four other the Quran says, we come to God on the day of judgment as individuals, we're not judged as nations. The judgment of nations is in this world. But the but the judgment in the next world is that as it was done with little or no soul,

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there's a sense of another soul.

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So that's really, really an important thing. And this could even be your own spouse, unfortunately, um, you could be in a relationship, and then that relationship could turn you're like, why is God doing this to me? Well think of us. Yeah. I mean, ASIO was in the house of their own. And she was being abused by the greatest tyrant in human history. And she's asking God to build her house in paradise. In other words, this house is this worldly houses a house in hell. But I know that you're real, and that this is a trial. And so just remember that people have suffered greatly. There's people right now in horrible situations. There's people right now. I mean, I feel sorry for them.

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But there's people right now in in sexual trafficking, and some of them have faith. They're praying to God to get them out of those situations.

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And, and so I think it's also important to keep things into perspective.

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Because we can, we can our own private little experiences can become so distorted in the grand picture of things

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And the province of Lyceum reminded us of the people of the past. They had their tongues cut out, they were torn from limb to limb, and yet it didn't diminish their faith. And he mentioned that in that famous Hadeeth Habad.

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When he asked him to make dua, he mentioned that you're people that are you're, you're impatient to stand, you know, you're trying to hasten something that will come in it's time. So stay on the path, hold to the path, adhere to the path, don't deviate from the path. And if your teacher deviates from the path, don't follow them, follow the path.

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In fact, I think one of the best examples of somebody who had false teachers and yet that did not prevent them from continuing their journey. In fact, they saw that as part of their journey is the greatest hobby salamander fantasy, because Sandman or the Aloha Anna was born in Persia and he was actually raised as a fire worshiper, and he served the temple. He actually learned he the the rites and traditions of the Zoroastrians, and he served the temple. One of the things that the priests told him is the fire never went out, but he knew that it did, and they would relight it. So he saw that there was something false about that. But then there were Christian nestorian churches in

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Persia, and he would hear them singing and praying. And he thought, this religions better than our religion. In the end, he told his father and his father actually, at one point, tied him up in the house, to prevent him that he was afraid he would go join the Christians. And then he asked the Kool Aid, or he asked the Christians where their religion came from, and they said Syria, and so which met Sham at the time, which included Palestine in these plays greater Syria.

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And so he set out to Syria. And then he came to when he got to Sham, he asked, Who was the best person in this religion, and they said, Oh, that's the Bishop of this church. So he went there. And he told the man, where he was from, and he said, I want I want to learn this religion and serve. But the bishop was a bad man. He was a false teacher. And he saw him he would exhort people to charity, and yet he would hoard gold. So he was doing the opposite of what he was teaching. And so salmaan then went and looked for another teacher. And then he met a Christian who told him that the hour is coming soon when the last prophet was, will come forth. And he's in Medina. And so then he set out

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from Medina, and he was actually tricked by people, and they enslaved them, and sold him to a Jew. And so, I mean, this is incredible trials and tribulations, but he was so inner focused, that he wasn't to, oh, this must I'm sincere. And yet here I am enslaved. He didn't he didn't do he didn't lose his faith. He was searching. And when he came to Medina, he and the he heard from the Christian the signs that the prophesized him had so because of his sincerity, Allah took him through bad teachers and false religions, to the true teaching. And to the true teacher, the Prophet sallallahu said I'm so I think he's a really remarkable example of just recognizing that you can have bad

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teachers, and that's part of your path to God.

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One of the first things in fact, it was the very first thing that I translated, when I got back to the United States was a little text by CD Amazon,

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called the I called it foundations of the spiritual path. I mean, he called it all sort of Edina, which are the roots or the principles of our spiritual path. And it was basically a way of determining

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a true teacher from a false teacher. So we're gonna have a link, inshallah, to that paper that was published in seasons, which was the journal before renovado. So if, if you want to look that's a short piece, but it's very useful and I hope people derive some benefit from it. botica love UConn was set on mighty calm