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Moral Teachings of Islam 3 – Human Nature In Islam

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Jamal Badawi

Channel: Jamal Badawi

Series:

Episode Notes

Episode Transcript

© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.


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In the name of God the beneficence the Merciful, the creator and Sustainer of the universe, peace and blessings upon His Messenger and servant Mohammed forever meaning, I bear witness that there is no god worthy of worship except the one true God. And I bear witness that Muhammad is the Messenger, and servant of God. To all of the viewers of the Islamophobic program, I greet you with the universal greetings of all the profits from Abraham to Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon them all. Assalamu Aleikum, which means peace be unto you. I'm your host Hama Rashid. Today we have our third program in our series on moral teachings of Islam. More specifically, we'll be looking at

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the question of human nature is viewed by Islam. I have joining me on the program as usual, brother Jamal, brother Dr. Jamal, By the Way of St. Mary's University, brother Jamal Assalamu alaikum.

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Now, last week in our second program in the series on moral teachings of Islam, we were looking at the question of religious ethics and more specifically, we were looking at the concept of God and and in the concept of life in the hereafter. Perhaps before we get into the our questions for today's program, could you very quickly go back and highlight the main points that we touched upon in our second program in this series? Okay, the first thing we discussed was the difference between secular morality and religious morality. And we said that in religious morality, there are some basic things that are considered like the conception of God, like I said, the belief in the

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Hereafter, and also some of the ideas about what is the nature of the human being can What is his or her role on earth?

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On the question of conception of God, we have seen that how Islam insists on the pure and perfect monotheism, that Islam rejects the philosophical notion of God. When philosophers perceive of God as an impersonal being, who is so high and so great that is either totally separate from the universe, or certainly identical with it says I must have believed in God as a person.

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On the other hand, we said Islam also rejects the polytheistic notion of God, which believed that there are other gods beside gods or mine or gods, because he said, That's contradictory to logic and science, even that the universe apparently is ruled by one ultimate Well, they can be no two conflicting, or different wills in this universe. Thirdly, we said even when we compare the Islamic monotheism with the conception of God and the Bible, even find that there are some differences, both from the Old and New Testament, we discussed again how sometimes in the Old Testament, a person is left with the impression that God for at least early Israelites was perceived as superhuman,

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somebody who walks rest after creating the heavens and earth, whose feet are hurt when he walks in the garden and all that, nor does it also accepts the notion that appears in the right in some of the writings in the New Testament about the necessity of blood sacrifice in order for God to accept men or mankind and reconcile it unto himself. Similarly, we have also indicated that the importance of this pure, consistent belief in God, the importance of having a belief in God, which is free from any errors or inconsistencies is very essential and related to the ethical outlook of the believer. The by the similar in a similar way, also we discuss the belief in the hereafter. And again, we say

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that Islam does not accept the notion of renouncing this world in order to work for the Hereafter, just to clarify the soul. You don't have to reject one or the other, that both should be coordinated and harmonized in order for the person really to fulfill his

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Oh, let's take a look now at another aspect of ethics and that is this question of human nature. Perhaps before we look at the Islamic viewpoint, it might be helpful to develop the Islamic view or to develop an appreciation of Islamic view by first looking at some of the

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other views of human nature some of the common views that are held regarding human nature. Okay, I think we can perhaps you're fair to the chart we have here,

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which summarize in a very simple way, at least some of the main or common what they called common views about the nature of the human. As you notice here, the first one is to view the human being essentially, as an evolving animal, basically,

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that the basic nature of the human is material material is the basis of life, that there is no particular divine plan for the creation of the human on Earth. The second view on the chart is to view the human as basically and

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spiritual being emphasizing or over emphasizing to be more accurate, the soul to regard the body or the physical body as nothing more than an illusion, that this body has to be neglected or at times even tortured, in order to free the soul, from the shackles of material to get the soul in the highest level or

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Nirvana as some religions also call it state of Nirvana.

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A third approach is to regard the human mainly as an intellectual being, with perhaps even overemphasis on the intellectual qualities of the human, regarding intellect, as the masters of everything as the ultimate judge.

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In fact, in this way of thinking, also, intelligence or intellect is regarded even as the judge over revelation. That revelation even has to be judged in accordance to what one's intellect tells him.

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Firstly, we have the view of the human, essentially as a sinful being, that sin is very central, in human existence, the notion of man or mankind has fallen,

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one who inherited the sin, and who is looking desperately for salvation, as some scholars, for example, refer to the writings of Paul, who regarded sin as a universal tendency, and human beings as people who are really enslaved by their fleshly nature. And by sin, that the wages of sin is death. And that salvation is not by the law, but only through blood sacrifice. This is like I said, again, is a very simple, simplified way of looking at some of the common ways of

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looking at this whole notion of what's the nature of the human. Okay. Looking at some of the going back to these these common views that are held by various communities. I wonder if perhaps you could

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give us some idea of how you would evaluate the the fuse that you've just mentioned, from an Islamic point of view? How Muslim would evaluate kind of critique? Yeah, more or less? Yes. Okay. Let's defer to them. Again, one by one, first of all, Islam rejects the notion of regarding the human as essentially, an animal. That's the first point that we discussed before as an evolving animal. That's, that's not acceptable for the Muslim, that

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the notion that there is no divine plan behind the creation of mankind is totally unacceptable to the Muslim. Let me quote you a few citations from the Quran that might perhaps shed some light on this. In chapter 54, verse 49, God says in the Quran, in Aquila Shai in hallak, now because that is very old things have recreated in proportion, and measured, as similar verse appear in chapter 25 verse two, it is he that's God, who created all things and order them into proportion. So the notion of haphazard existence is alien to the mind of the Muslim. The notion of regarding the human being essentially as an animal or physical body

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is also described in the Quran as very erroneous. For example, in chapter 47, in verse 12.

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Parts of the verse says, well, Athena furuya, tamatoa Guna, Karnataka and Han when narooma salam, that is those who reject God will enjoy this world and eat as cattles eat. In other words, the matter of just eating or sustaining a physical body, the cattles also

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have something in common with the human. And then it says a continue, and the fire will be their home or their abode. So the question of just physical or material existence. Indeed, there is one citation in the Quran. More specifically, in chapter seven, verse 178, it shows that those who overemphasize the material existence and forget about the existence of the soul,

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they are even less guided than animals. It says they are like animals, they are even less guided than animals, because animals at least do not have that intellect or spirituality and then knowledge of the truth that God has inspired into them. If we move back again to the second

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item, or regarding the in the chart, the human being as basically

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a spiritual being. Again, there is nothing wrong considering the spirit or the soul. But the problem again, with over emphasis on the spiritual aspect is that usually it's done at the expense of material. That is to say, as I said before, the torturing the body, thinking that the salvation of the soul can only be attained by neglecting the body, leading to certain ideas like celibacy, like monasticism, whereby you escape from life, you just keep away from any pleasures of life. Again, we find that this goes against human nature, if there are few peoples who can possibly take the discipline of this highly simply type of behavior, which is commendable in itself, you would not

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expect that, from an average You and I, most people, even those who have good intentions, they find that extremely against the human nature effects because following universal What am I just interrupted, was following a universal basis, why society would be unable to perpetuate itself. Exactly. That's another point. If you follow that thing, penal civilization, no life to be perpetual, exactly everybody is required to do this. And once you keep pushing people against that human nature against their natural needs, which could be partly physical, you're really pushing them to play around the law, or sometimes when they are pushed or pressures too much. They just blow it

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up. So that's, again, one reason why Islam doesn't accept that, if you refer back to the third view, for example, on this list,

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regarding the human basically as an intellectual being. Now again, when you talk about intellect, we have discussed in several programs before in different contexts, how

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useful intellect is, but how deficient also, it may be, that there are lots of sources of knowledge, intellect is a very important one. But it's not all. There is a relation also that's needed. And when you talk about intellect, intellect, you mind his hurts, always lack of

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ultimate, and final standard of right and wrong. And as such, again, to overemphasize intellect is to worship intellect and to forget that there are other sources of knowledge that are badly needed.

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Going back again to the chart, you have the fourth item regarding the human century as a sinful being.

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Again, that contradicts with Islamic notion, which does not accept any notion of original sin. In Islam, a human being is not regarded essentially, as a falling,

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being.

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In fact, it is not a phone but rather as

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human beings are managed, regarded mankind in the generic sense as a special creature who's trying to rise above his or her shortcoming trying to overcome

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the difficulties and weaknesses that might be inherent in his or her creation. So the whole notion of original sin is not necessarily, again, in line with the Islamic idea of man, or this last point, needs further clarification, because I understand that Muslims also believe in the story of Adam and Eve, and I wonder, I'd be curious to know, and I'm sure many of our viewers would be curious to know

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how the how Muslims interpret the story of Adam and Eve without accepting the doctrine or the notion or concept of original sin. Okay, first of all, the fact that the story of Adam and Eve appears in the Quran, there is no dispute about it, but the way

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it's interpreted, is quite different.

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Let me clarify that. When the Quran talks about the story of Adam and Eve, it does not present it only as a study of the first man and woman.

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It's rather depict that as the ethical experience, not only of Adam and Eve, but of every human being, that connects with what I was saying earlier. It is the ethical experience of each one of us, each and every one of us. That is a human being who has within himself, the Spirit of God, but who's also created of material

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matters. how a person tries to reconcile this, how can he try to fulfill his spiritual aspirations, and yearning, still, with the limitation and shortcomings of the physical body isn't itself the kind of experience that Adam has gone through? How person would be tempted because of the physical part of his existence? to disobey God? And how would he be also pulled up by his spirituality, how he falls and try to overcome that fall, make a mistake and repent. From that mistake, this is something to start with. In addition to this, when the Quran speaks about the story of Adam and Eve, it talks also about them, committing the mistake, realizing their mistake, repenting and praying insincerity

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for God, who forgive both of them as you find, for example, in the Quran in chapter two, verse 37, as one example, where it shows that the word forgiven, so there was no Original Sin, the matter was settled there. God who created Adam and Eve, he knew that weaknesses, he knew that there, they can't help it at times. So he forgives them when they show this sincere attitude and as such, it ended there's no original sin to be inherited. The Quran is very clear that sin cannot be inherited. That as it was, it was a currency that no soul can carry the burden of another soul. How could we believe that the Senate could be inherited or passed on to any future generation in Islam, every child is

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born fused, just like white cloth. It is what happened to him later on. But nobody really is born with inherited sin as such, to say that the person is born with tendencies towards sin. That's a different issue from saying that he's coming in this world, essentially, and largely as a sinful individual. The other thing about it is that the human existence on earth is not regarded as punishment is not a wage to pay for the original so called sin because there's no real

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life on Earth here. As the Quran indicated, it was planned by God that we are destined to live on Earth. Before even a human being was created, God was telling the engine that he's going to create a trustee to live on this earth. So it's not here as punishment. It's just the experience or lesson that Adam and Eve had to go through before coming to this earth.

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To add one more point, just to clarify, again, your specific question on the question of sin. What to do, then if we as human beings have this tendency to send one standard approach is very simple and direct.

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You make a mistake, you make a sin, you acknowledge your sin, that's one condition, you can sorry for it. second condition, you earnestly pray for forgiveness and have the determination not to fall into it. Again, these are three conditions, if the sin involves the rights of some other person, of course condition would be to return back whatever you took unduly from that person. And that's it. In fact, the Quran talks about this notion of sin in a very beautiful way, not to condemn the human being because they send not to say that you have to go through this or that in order for your sins, to be forgiven. In a very simple and direct approach. We read in the Quran describing those who send

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and

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that's in chapter three, verse 135. It says, and those who haven't done something to be ashamed of or wrong, their own souls, earnestly bring God to mind remember him and ask for forgiveness for the sin and who can forgive sins except God, and they are never obstinate, inconsistent, knowingly in the wrong they have done. Now would you acknowledge that they

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If something goes wrong, if I may just give you one more, or two more conditions. For example, in chapter nine in the Quran, verse 114, it says, Good deeds, remove

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those that are evil. So you do something bad if you did something good afterwards, and had the intention not to do the evil things again, the good deed would remove the effect of those bad deeds. And in a very moving citation also in chapter 20, verse 82, God speaks about himself. But without doubt, I got, I am also he that forgives again and again, to those who repent, believe and do right, who in fine are ready to receive true guidance? This is a very simple and direct approach of this whole notion of sin, Redemption of sin, no difficulty or no

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particular doctrine or bloodshed is needed. It's simply the direct approach to God who knows our weakness and limitations?

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Well, now that we've examined some of the more common notions of what human nature is all about, and your critique of those notions, to the property, we can now can lend to the Islamic viewpoint of human nature. Can you comment on that? Sure. could go back to the chart, perhaps you can find there very concise, hopefully summary. Especially in the first line, when you talk about STEM view, a human being is regarded by Islam as the trustee of God divinity, most briefly, the trustee or vice gent of God

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on earth,

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most specifically, before they go on and analyze what this trusteeship means, what implications there may be, let me quote you a couple of key verses from the Quran to justify that statement, not my own, and just based on what the Quran actually teaches, in the Quran, in chapter two,

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in verses 30, particularly, it leads what is called a Booker manner.

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That is to say, behold, thy Lord said to the incense, I will create a vise journal, or just tea on Earth. They said that the engine will you place there and one who will make the trip there in and said blood, while we do celebrate by praise and glorify thy holy name. He said that God, I know what you know.

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So here's the term alita. Vikings are thirsty of God is very specifically mentioned as the nature or essence of the nature of the human being. In a very similar citation also appeared in chapter six and verse 165.

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It says, It is He that God has made you as a human being his urgent inheritors, of the earth.

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In other words, he appointed actually, not that God needs our help,

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you know, to help him with with any particular work on this earth, but it's the kind of expression of the dignity that God has endowed with mankind. And that's what appears, if you go back to that chart again.

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The essence really, of the kalasa or trusteeship of God starts

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with the notion that the human being is regarded as the crown of creation, as I have shown from the Quran. Even angels were commanded by God to bow down in respect to men out man in a sense again of mankind. The Quran also in chapter 17, verse 17, specifically mentioned Quran never any item that says we have honored the children, or descendants of Adam. A second point that's related to that also

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is the, the secret for this honoring of mankind that the integration that only the human being has to integrate and harmonize the various components of integration, his physical body, his intellect, and his soul, or spirit. You find the Quran, for example, describe the human being as created from clay, that's the material part. In chapter two, it talks about God teaching mankind that the knowledge or intellect in for example, in chapter 16, verse 29, talks about the human being, having the Spirit of God within him that God breathed into him of his spirit, the knowledge of God and the spiritual that all these components must be harmonized together. The third

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One that we have often the in the center is that the reason why human beings are dignified. And given that particular status is that they have free choice. They have the, the potential for good and evil. A human being is not all devil is not Angel. Sometimes his behavior could fall in either categories. The Quran explains it very clearly. For example, in chapter 19, verse 10, it says that God has guided or shown the path, or given the knowledge to the human being about the two paths, the test of truth and falsehood, right and wrong.

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In a dynamic study, in Matthew, chapter 76, verse three says that God has shown again, the mankind the way, either to be thankful and grateful to God or to be arrogant and haughty.

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In chapter 18, verse 29, it gives the human beings a choice to say, truth has come from your Lord, whoever wishes to believe, let him believe whatever whoever wishes to reject, let him reject. But of course, everyone has to take the consequences for that. The first one that we have on the turkey that to explain again in full what this trusteeship means is this notion of responsibility, that if it is true, that there is a choice, freedom of choice, then there must be also responsibility to be to go side by side with this

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choice. Let me give you a few citations that we still have a couple of minutes in the program, perhaps to,

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to make the point clear.

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First of all, in the Quran, in chapter 7536, verse 36,

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it raises the question is does humankind or mankind think that he or she will be left uncontrolled without purpose.

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So if there is the purpose behind creation, if there is a responsibility to carry on this earth, then it follows that one should be questioned, and to be questioned for that

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responsibility. Indeed, another

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verse in the Quran, it says, a system Anima lochmaben.

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Down, do you think that is mankind, that we have created you in vain, and that you are not coming back to us

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or returning,

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responding to some of the people who used to talk in price, for example, about their ancestors, in the Quran, in the context of talking about Prophet Abraham, and other Israelite prophets, and how many people claim allegiance to them? The Quran says, particularly in chapter two, verse 141, let's say these are people who have gone already before you, for them what they have earned, and for you, what you earn. So you can say my ancestor was trying to talk about that. But after all, it is what you do, not what your ancestors have done, that would really count in terms of individual responsibility.

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In the times of the Prophet, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him also, some of the Israelites used to both also have the fact that

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after all, even if they are going to fire, the fire will only touch them for a few days. For example, in chapter two, verse 80, it cost them a thing

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that they say, the fire cannot touch us, but for a few number days, say, Have you taken a promise from God? For he never breaks his promise? Or is it that you say of God, that or what you do not know. So there is no excuse again, neglecting that responsibility, indeed, addressing the Muslims and to avoid also this attitude of spiritual elegant in chapter code in the Quran, in verse 122, and 1.3, it says, It's simply not your own hope, or wishful thinking, knows the hope of the people in the book, whoever does something wrong, you will be punished accordingly. And he will not find any definitive for him before God. In other words, it's very essential when you talk about this notion

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of trusteeship of mankind on Earth, that you have got a big gap to do and will be responsible for our performance.

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Now, that's our coins for today. We want to invite you back. Next week, we will explore the topic of excitingly continuing our with our report.

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Programming

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Thank you for watching.