Sacred Text Messages S02 E11 – Meaning – Less or Full, You Choose

Hamza Yusuf

Channel: Hamza Yusuf

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Our Ramadan journey continues with more wonders from the Book of Allah. In this episode, Shaykh Hamza explains the linguistic miracle of the Qur’an, analyzing the fourth verse of Sura al-Muzammil in which God commands us to “recite the Qur’an slowly and distinctly.” This measured recitation allows for a deep reflection of the words of Allah, instilling a sacred monotony in our practice that prepares us for eternity.

Episode Transcript

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How's it going? I'm in a shell banyule regime. Bismillah al Rahman al Rahim al hamdu Lillah wa Salatu was salam, ala Sayidina Habibi, now rasulillah he also had that he also habit he woman Wada a Salaam Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh who Alhamdulillah

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Allah subhanho wa Taala says in the Quran water Tara or on a tough Tila.

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The 30th of the Quran is is to recite the Quran in a slow and distinct manner

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so this is a command the Quran tells us that the prophet Isaiah was commanded to recite the Quran it's one of the commandments of Allah subhana wa tada to the prophet and report on the recite the Quran and to our is elenia to your to Luna Kitab Allah who have petite ality those who recite the Quran properly. So today our in Arabic and tortillas are are related, they're related, because they share some of the letters which in the Quran is

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is one of the mysteries of the Arabic languages that actually letters that are found, even if it's two letters that are found there, you'll usually find some relationship between the words this is a type of wish to pop or derivation in Arabic. So the The interesting thing about the TL is it's it comes the Arabic word is related to the RA TA. And rutta in Arabic always has a relationship of

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one thing that follows another. So there's a type of following anti Lauer is also a word which means to follow what somebody that Ted, by the moon when it follows, so Tito and turtle are related to following so part of recitation of the Quran is actually following the Quran on on the one hand, you're following the letters, but also you're actually you're being commanded to follow the Quran. And so if you look at the urata sound in Arabic, the, you'll find it, it relates to like things like orotava, which is routine, monotony, that's the Arabic word urata is actually the the practice the daily practice that somebody does. In some traditionally, they call this holding monotony or sacred

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monotony, the idea that, in essence, there's an aspect to life which is what some would call Groundhog Day that life is, is these repeated days over and over, we wake up

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the great poet tsla, it said, you know, we measure our lives in coffee spoons, like just putting out the every day, the coffee, or the tea, or whatever you do the brushing the teeth, these routines of life that have a type of monotony to them. But when you begin to practice a type of mindfulness, they actually become meaningful. When the more mindful you get, the more meaningful they become, because these practices are inherently very human things. But they're also there are practices that are related to art, the art, the cultivation, or the preservation of our health, for instance, like brushing your teeth, that's related to the preservation of your health, which is very important, or

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exercise, the preservation of the body, or eating well, the preservation of your energy, because the caloric energy that we get from at least it's the suburb for the caloric energy that we get to actually work in the world. So all of these aspects of life are actually really important. And when they're done with intention, then they become fused with a type of meaningfulness that is absent from a lot of other people who don't, who aren't aware of what they're doing. So like these monotonous practices that are related to the preservation, the enhancement of our health. There's also spiritual practices that we do every single day and the fundamental and most important one

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above everything is the prayer. And the prayer is in the body because we're embodied creatures, Allah subhana wa tada has made us creatures that are actually spirits embodied. So we've been incarnated. So our souls are, are incarnated, they're there, they're brought into a flesh and a new creation comes about, which is a spiritual material creation, an earthly and a celestial. So the terrestrial component, which is the mind and the water that were made up, and then the celestial component which is the spirit in the end and the consciousness or the mind itself, so that we have this this

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Extraordinary spiritual component, which is our mind, the ability to think and thoughts are a great mystery. There's, we know that the brain is obviously a type of hard drive. But where does the software come from? And where does the the programming because every computer, you have the hard drive, then you have the software. And then you have the cloud, which we can't we don't even see the cloud, where's the cloud? And so like that, our I mean, analogously our bodies are like the hard drive. That's all it is. But then there's the software. And then there's the cloud, there's the thing we, we can't even see that, that all of our consciousness is uploaded onto. And so where does

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all that come from? So the spiritual component of the of the human self is extraordinary. And we should really be marveling constantly because people, people, you know, often say to me things like, no, I really want to have a spiritual experience. And my response to that, and I really, genuinely mean that is, is what do you think you're having? Like, what do you think consciousness is? consciousness itself just being alive, being aware of being able to look at things around you, and this is, is a spiritual experience, because it is, although it's through the vehicle of the five senses, but the five senses are only the vehicle for the experience the experiences is transcends

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the five senses. And this is why we dream, what were our dreams were when we go to sleep, where, where where is that world that we enter into, and people can live their entire lives in their dreams, many people have experienced very long dreams that go on. And yet, if you actually measure it, the way we now know how to measure the dream period of sleep, it's actually very short periods of time. So how is that time expanded or contracted? And this is part of, of the mystery of just being in the world. We all have experienced those of us who have gone to Medina or Mecca, we've experienced the experience the the time expansion that occurs in those places. We also for instance,

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in Ramadan will experience a shift and in our own consciousness, the time can actually expand it seems you get more done, we call that Baraka. And when you look at some of the lives of the people of the past, where did they get the time to do all they did we have all these literally judges who had full time jobs? And when you look at their actual intellect, intellectual production, people like Aveiro Wiese, even Roche had both the grandfather and the grandson. But if you look at what the the actual

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How did he do a commentary. He has a magisterial the the grandson has a magisterial work on the format hubs, the diets and mustad which is is still used to this day it's it's it's an important work, it's probably the single most important work in comparative fit. And, and yet this man was a judge, he was married, he had a family, he had a social life. And then on top of that, in his spare time, he was able to write commentaries on most of the books of Aristotle. And if you read just for instance, his his longer commentary of the Aristotle's de Anima it's, it's mind boggling. How could one man one know so much, but how can he produce so much in a lifetime? Or if you look at somebody

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like, flouted Dena Razi? How did he do this? One of their secrets is that they really understood the routine nature of life. It's interesting routine has run into it. So even in our English language, the writer has that sound what I'll do I'll tell you a really strange thing that because when I was studying this, what's called the enemy out of which I've always been, since I found out about it at least been fascinated by it, but I was Yeah, I used to go through hands where and look at these different when I would find out what it's called a fool. Like you have a hula lo Aloha, which are the try little roots but they are word called ooh food with a third which are the the die literal

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root. So those are the roots that have to and then the third one nuances that so for instance, you have something like Nafisa, so, you have Nat which relate to some kind of blowing and then you have Nef s, which is breath neph s, and then you have French and also nephrosis related to blood and we know now that oxygen to blood is what oxygenates our body so in essence the blood like brings the wind throughout our body. But then you have like nefa like nefa 30 filler Oh god. So the third then is like another blowing. It's like

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To blow, like a wind, and then you have NASA ha, which is is is stronger than NASA, and then you have NASA ha, you know, so the enough is is the blast of the trumpet. So that's enough. And so the same you have urata. So you have like karate, which is like a routine, something that you do. But I came across this really interesting

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word

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like karate Judo is

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to, to, to lock something. And I was wondering about that. And then I realized because it has to do with a sequence of things. So I realized actually, that when you lock something, there's a sequence to traditional locks, you have to pull and then move over and slide the lock itself. So there's actual sequence. But the one that struck me was an attack, which means to graze like goats grazing, you're thorough. And

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I was wondering what that was, is there a relationship. And so I actually looked up how goats graze. And I was stunned to find out that they actually first eat the tops, and then they move, and then they come back into the middle, and then they move, and then they go back and do the, so there's an actual sequential, the way they eat grass is done sequentially. And so it's actually and obviously, these are these are miraculous qualities of the Arabic language. So the the point, I went off on a digression, but my point was, is that you have in the Arabic language, you have these extraordinary semantic fields. So the point, the point I was making, essentially, is that you have this monotony,

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you have this routine, or a tab in Arabic. And you have these daily

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opportunities. What you do with that daily opportunity, is exactly where your freewill comes in. You choose, each one of us chooses how we're going to use this day. And even though we make our plans, we also have to always include the very real possibility that God has other plans. In fact, even ATI, Allah says that the fool wakes up in the morning and says, What am I going to do today? And the wise man wakes up in the morning and says, What is God going to do with me today, which does not mean that you don't plan it just means that you recognize that when Mousavi said him, went to find the fire for his family, and to get some news, God had other plans. So when most arrived there, and

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God said, in any anila, I am God, and I'm going to talk to you, Moses didn't say I didn't come here for that I came here for the fire. He, he, he allowed the interruption of his plans by the divine plan, and just moved in that way. And so this is something that we all have to be aware of that we we do, we should plan to be here is part of life. But Deb that I led to the bear, which is what our has to share that he said, meaning plan not to plan, it really means plan not to decide your outcome or determine your outcome, because that's what you can't do. Only a law can do that. And so each day, we have this extraordinary opportunity to do something with our lives, to hone our souls to

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move towards a more perfect state. And, and this is essentially at the heart of what life is. I was once I had the opportunity to have dinner with the great South American writer Paulo Coelho, who wrote the alchemist. And we had an interesting conversation where he asked me what I thought the the purpose of life was. And I told him, in my estimation, the real fundamental purpose of life is preparation for death. And he told me, he had a really hard time accepting that and he said, it has to be more than that. And I said, Well,

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I think that be the fact that in each moment,

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we are literally on the doors of infinity, that there's not a moment of your life, there's not a breath that you take, there's not a heartbeat that occurs in your body that

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does not hold within it, the possibility of being the last that you take, or the last that occurs. And because of that, you're on the threshold of infinity because we are Eva eternal beings, we, we were created, but we were created for eternity. And so and part of my own experience of being in a head on collision in a car when I was 17 years old.

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Becoming intensely acutely aware of the possibility of that transition. Because when you're 17, you have a sense of,

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of a type of almost immortality, this just this idea that you can get away with anything. And that's why so many young people have tragic deaths, because they, they just don't really put death into the equation of life. And yet it is, which is why the province I said, I'm said that Teddy car, that the inheritance laws are half of knowledge, because death is half of life, we are all going to die. And so then it becomes how do I prepare for death? You mama has already wrote 40 books, which he called Luma, Dean, all of those 40 books are in preparation for book 40, which is called the book of death Kitab al mote. So he, the entire corpus of that work is to lead up to the the penultimate book,

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which is called the book of meditation, and then the book of death. And so all of life is preparation for us to be able to meditate in a deep level, and the greatest meditation that we can have, is on the book of Allah afinia, to the bar owner, or an amount of Peruvian Oxford, or do they not deeply ponder this book? Or is there a seal upon their hearts, umami, because it talks about the ocean of the Quran, and that so many people remain at the shore of that ocean. And when I wrote the, the essay, in the study of Koran, I was asked to write about death. And for me, it was very significant because the way I came into Islam was, through a near death experience, it's really what

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started me on my journey, as a as a 17 year old, just realizing that I could have died. And

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what what I realized in, in writing that essay is that the entire Quran could be read as a profound death meditation. And I don't think that this is, is in any morbid sense, it's in a sense of making our lives count, making our lives meaningful. And there's, there's an actor Christopher Reeves, who I think some people might older people might remember him as Superman. And he is very talented man. He was an accomplished musician and other things, but he was also in a very committed athlete, and he

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trained on horses, and one day his horse bulked and, and before a jump. And when a horse does that, it's very dangerous for the rider because they can go headfirst. And he literally went headfirst and broke his neck. And he and I saw him in an interview. And the woman asked him, like, how was he able to have this attitude that, you know, projected a type of positivity about his condition. And he said, that he realized when this happened, that there were two ways to view it one that it was meaningless, in other words, absurd, and the other that it was meaningful. And that's a beautiful word meaningful, which literally means full of meaning. And so that's what he chose. And that's

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where free choice comes into it is to see what happens to us. It's our responses to what happens to us, which distinguish us amongst people. And so whatever happens to you, whatever God sends to you, whatever he thrusts upon you, how you respond to that is going to determine the mettle of your very being, it's going to determine who you are, and, and whether you're worthy of the mantle of being this rational, intelligent

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creature that God has created for the solitary purpose of knowing, in a fully conscious way, your Creator, that is a stunning proposition, that this is this is why we were created. And so to squander this extraordinary opportunity that we were given, which is about 60 to 70 years for most of us, the province Elias m said our model Amati ma baina said Tina was a bit ina, the vast majority of my my own which includes the Muslims and the non Muslims. So his oma is not just the Muslims, it's the Muslims and the non Muslims because he was set to the last phase of the human beings he's he's the only prophet that we know

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All of that was sent to all of humanity, all the other prophets were sent. I mean, Adam obviously was sent to all of humanity that existed that time. But the prophet is unique in that he was sent to all of these diverse peoples, all the different races, different ethnicities, the different also the different capacities, he was sent to the philosophers, and he was sent to the peasants, and he was sent to the poor people and the rich people. And he was sent to the Arab and the non Arab. So he saw a lot of sytem, was sent to all of these people as a war and a good giver of glad tidings. And so he said, the majority of my people live between 60 and 70 years, which is pretty consistent with what

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we know, with modern science now. So you have between 60 and 70 years, the majority of us, some of us will, will die before that, and others will live beyond that, but not much 10 2030, maximum, maybe 40,

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or 50 years beyond that, I mean, I think the older person was 122. Recently, so the,

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the opportunity that you have, is not a lot of time, it's about 20,000 days, it's just not a lot of time. And so each day becomes in this holy monotony of just doing the work, doing the practice, doing the

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things that God has given us to do. And one of the most important ones is

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reading the Koran on a daily basis, and really doing what's best to focus and to concentrate on the book. And although the translation in no way can convey ever convey the power of the Arabic

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embodiment of the meanings, it just simply can't I and I say that as somebody who knows English relatively well and who knows Arabic relatively well, I just cannot emphasize enough the fact that the impoverishment of translations the inability of the translation and I would argue in any language, simply because of the extraordinary richness of the Arabic vocabulary of the syntactical possibilities of the of the ironic structures, but also the newness of the Arabic language, the fact that it that the Quranic language in and of itself is an entirely new type of language. So

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but despite that, if one does not have

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Arabic, one should at least attempt to learn it devotionally to be able to recite it, and then just to take a portion of it each day, and and to try to look into the meanings from from whatever translations that you can find as long as they're good ones. So that is, I think one of the most important practices that one can do every day and I'm always bewildered by people that have a lot of elbow rod, and yet they don't have a serious word from the Quran. Like I would put the Quran for any rod.

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And and the teachers that I've had like models that had led me have totally San Juan de karela and his liquor was the Quran. He just Mashallah he constantly recited around Chicagoland Bay Yeah, I spent many, many

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a good deal amount of time with him. Constant recitation of put on constantly and also constantly Come on new meanings. I mean, I, I had a really extraordinary and I'll and I'll conclude with this, I had a very extraordinary experience the other day, because I had I, you know, I had this little makeshift sundial, and I fortunately, where we live in California, there's a lot of sun and model that has always measured every single day when the sun was out, he always measured the shadows to determine the prayer times every single day. And there's a hadith in Al hakam, or the liner that says that the best of the service allied or a bad dealer, under the new euro on a hill letter what

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letter they currently that the best of the servants of God are those who who are constant in their vigilance of monitoring the shadows, and the new moons as a way of remembering God. And these are them. What are the known people that call people to prayer? So traditionally, that's how they did it, they would measure the shadows. And so he did that every single day and he taught me how to do that. More law. And so I was measuring the shadow but I sat there watching I had a little makeshift

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sundial and the gnomon, which was a pencil poked into a paper plate. And so I had it set to North

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And I was watching it as it moved

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past the, the the construction of due north, which is the beginning of law. And according to him and autofac in his book, dude, he says it's India.

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The shrimps

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on

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COVID this summer be datasheet and why he didn't.

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So the sun has something called sdwa, which is where it sits for a few moments. At the 90 degree, if you look at the earth as a flat plane, which by shadia, it is even though we know that it's round now, but the experience of it will always be flat. So you look at it, it's basically a semicircle of 180 degrees. So when the sun rises in the West at at the zero degree moves up when it reaches the 90 degree geometrically, that's called sdwa. You stairway so it sits at that point for a few minutes, and then it will begin to move across. So that one data is low hot, once it gets to 91 degrees. That's the thought it takes four minutes from the sky from the point of the Xena. So I was watching

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this and you can actually see the shadow. It's very subtle, but you can actually see it move pretty quickly. I mean, it'll move very slightly. So I was watching it for a few minutes move. And I thought of the verse in the Quran in surah Ted for Khan, which says, oh, what I'm Tara Vika k for med the will have you not considered how your Lord moves the shadow.

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What OSHA the Gerardo sakeena and had he wanted, he would have made it stationary. In other words, not moving.

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So this is what Allah subhana wa tada says in the Oran, and so there I am literally considering as a lot told me to do,

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considering the shadow and reflecting on

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the fact that the shadow

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is moving and that that it's God who made that that shadow move. And then and then when he says what OSHA at a gelato sakeena had he wanted, he would have made it stationary Thumma

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on the shim side, he Derrida This is very interesting. Because he says and then we made the sun as an indicator of the movement of the shadow thumb about now who IRENA cobden yesira

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on. So when he says that, Now traditionally, they if you read the tough series on it, it's very interesting what they talk about, I mean, for how to do you know Razzie gives an incredible

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Tafseer of that just about the nature of shade and the fact that everything is shade. And we wouldn't have known that had we not seen that type of shade that the specific shade. There's also a nice empty fat in that eye, which is where he goes from third person to first person. Jada was very interesting, one of the rhetorical devices in the product. So what I realized that that moment was that's actually a proof. For Foucault's pendulum. It's a proof that the

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that the earth is moving and that the sun is stationary. Because Allah didn't say, we made the sun a cause of the movement of the shadow. It's a law who's moving the shadow, but he's moving it through the movement of the earth. So the earth is turning on its own axis. And then it's also moving through. Its its kulu colon pfieffer case by one each is in its own orbit. So the earth has its orbit. And then it's got its turning on its own axis. And that's what moves the shadow is the earth turn, and not the movement of the sun, which is exactly what that verse indicates, is that the sun is not moving. It's rather a deal, but not a suburb for the movement of the shadow. And that really

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struck me is amazing. In fact, it struck me as so amazing that I immediately called our great astronomer friend use of his smile to share that with him and he agreed with me that he thought that was was a really fascinating insight. He He's been Mashallah for 30 years. He was one of my early students 30 years ago and in the end he Mashallah is very brilliant.

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Scientists so he he studied at Stanford, and did a PhD there in engineering. So he's always he's always been interested in nature. But he learned how to do the sacred timekeeping. And then he was very influenced by shape Hopper, either more Italian scholar that we had here for that period. So he started actually watching, learning how to monitor the moon. And he's been doing it consistently. I think he's probably now one of the most knowledgeable people about sacred timekeeping, particularly about the

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the, the new moons and how to determine them. So he, he's been doing that it's a great service because every committee is supposed to have him walk, somebody that does that. So he also teaches geometry that at zaytuna College so the students actually learn how to do these things. They make sundials and they learn how to,

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to determine sacred timekeeping. So Alhamdulillah Allah subhana wa Tada. Give us all openings, this Ramadan in the book of Allah, and give us a love for the book of Allah and restoration of the book of Allah as this as the central and most important

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core of the teachings of our tradition of prophesies, stems, miracles, the Book of Allah, and he was sent to teach us the book of Allah through his Sunnah. And Khanna who Dakota Quran, his character was Quranic, so May Allah subhana wa tada restore

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us to the character of the origin to the knowledge is of the Quran, to the ocean of the Quran. May we become divers in the sea of the Quran, and may we become those who bring forth the pearls and the coral from the depths of the Quran. Me