Moral Teachings of Islam 30 – Moderation And Generosity

Jamal Badawi

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In the name of God the benevolent the Merciful, the creator and Sustainer of the universe, peace and blessings upon his servant and messenger Muhammad forever amin, 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 slave servant of God, I greet you with our usual greeting, a greeting of peace, a greeting that has been used by all of the profits from Abraham through the prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon them all. Assalamu alaikum which means peace be unto you. I'm your host, Hamid Rashid. Today we have our 30th program and our series on the moral teachings of Islam. More specifically, we'll be

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talking about the topics of moderation, generosity, and concern. I have joining me on the program as usual, Dr. Jamal Badawi of St. Mary's University, where the tamale Assalamu alaykum wa Alaykum said,

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Could we start off today's program, perhaps by having you shed some light on the meaning of moderation is a moral virtue, especially when the issue of the moderation as a moral virtue is a reflection of the approach that Islam text was like, an approach which emphasizes the sense of balance that it tries to inculcate in the hearts and minds of the believer.

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An example of this is that you find for example, that Islam, on one hand,

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condemns and discourages excessive materialism. On the other hand, you find that in the same tone, the same degree also, it rejects monasticism or seclusion from society, and not really trying to make some reform and struggle within society itself.

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For example, on the first issue on the question of materialism, the Quran considers the excessive materialism is an animal life type of behavior. For example, one verse in the Quran in chapter 47, it says the unbelievers eat and enjoy themselves as cattles do, but the fire is their abode. In other words, a person who rejects God and just engage in excessive pleasures, it's just not really and the status of a human. But in the meantime, also we have seen in the Quran in previous programs, for example, the statements such as seek the pleasure of God or seek the life hereafter and what God has blessed you but don't forget your share of this life. One of the most beautiful verses in the

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Quran which Prophet Muhammad peace be upon us to repeat after the prayer, by way of supplication. It says there have been attina for dunya has offered karate Hashanah or Kannada, or Lord, grant us goodness in this life, and goodness in the light here after and save us from the fire, which combines the moderation and benefit in both lives. So the ideal situation in Islam is not really either deprivation, or excessive materialism, but moderation and balance in the life of individual. Are you talking about avoiding excesses? Now, problem may arise in terms of how one would define excesses? And also, you know, what are what forms excesses might take? Could you shed some light on

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that? Well, of course, when you when you say access, we have to keep in mind one reservation that the what determine what is excessive, and what is moderate reasonable, is something that's at least partly determined by the customs by the changes of time and place. Except, of course, in some very clear cases, like when you say, somebody's eating five chicken for a snack, well, maybe everybody might consider that to be excessive, but other than that, there have been other you know, gray areas where you can't really say what is existed in some countries, for example, a car is a luxury in some other places, just basic necessities of life or for transportation. A second basic

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remark on definition of excessive is that it's

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So, as determined in Islam or moderation, as defined in Islamic law, may be a bit different from what people also define in the normal situation and example of this. Some people might tell you drink, but in moderation. Well, in Islam, you cannot use the term moderation here because drinking, unless you talk about soft drinks or something, or talk about liquor, had hard liquor, or life liquors, even because beer would be good in that that's totally prohibited in Islam and Muslim is not supposed to do that. So we cannot say drink in moderation. So one condition then, to use the term moderation that it is moderation in something that is permissible, something that's wholesome

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and pure, but avoiding to have excesses of that permitted things, as well as the forms or manifestations of excesses. It could be different. It could be excessive eating like that friend, for example, we're talking about eating fried chicken for a snack. The Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said something that's very interesting, especially for people in the medical profession. He said that the worst containers to fill is your stomach, referring to the various health problems that could result from overeating. The Quran also mentioned the same thing it says eat and drink, but don't be wasteful or excessive. Because God doesn't like those who are wasteful. It could be

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also excessive, or excessiveness, in matters of clothing.

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Now, some people are so much enslaved by fashion and billions of dollars are made out of just playing that on people,

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sometimes forcing them or enticing them to buy a lot more than what their needs

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are. Of course, I'm not saying that one should not dress gracefully. Indeed, one person came to Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him as narrated in an essay. And he didn't have nice clothes on. So the Prophet asked me, Do you have any words? He said, Yes, I do. I have all kinds of words, said well, if you do, then God would like to see the effect of his blessings on you. In other words, this nicely and gracefully. But we're talking again about obsession. Excessive,

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excessive, this could also be in matters of overall adoration, or atonement, whether in homes buying very, very expensive paintings, which perhaps might be used better or the price could be used better for a more constructive type of,

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of purpose excessiveness and makeup. That's why the profit for example, peace be upon him,

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said it's prohibited for the Muslim to eat or drink in something made of solid gold or silver, assuming you can afford it but still it reflects on you.

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luxury that is not really very desirable.

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There are many other manifestations of course, there are people who are for example, workaholics people work

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overwork, to the point of harming themselves, other people might be a sport, the Holocaust. Any excess, even in legitimate and useless things is not regarded by Islam as a very commendable attitude. Well, before we move on to some discussion of the other aspects of today's

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topic, I'd like to ask one further question on this question of moderation. And that is, you know, what kind of attitude isn't collocated in the individual by practicing

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moderation and by avoiding excess? What benefit? The main purpose behind you? Right, right? Well, there are a number of things that could be related here. But the basic ones, first of all, is that when you teach people, or when Islam teaches its followers to practice moderation. It gives the sense of balance or equilibrium in the life of the individual. I mean by balance or equilibrium, that's a balance

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between

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control

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and deprivation. So you have control, but without deprivation, you have joy. Without access, you have grace. Without pride, you have humility, without humiliation. So moderation then is a reflection of an overall attitude of balance, which is a basic characteristics of, of Islamic teachings.

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A second basic point is that in order to go through life, and the various difficulties and tribulation, people need to have some more solid ability to resist and to stand to this troubles and nobody's really from this struggle regardless of wealth or position, all that and Islam teaches person to practice Jihad and Arabic means to struggle.

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And in the case of Gods on the individual level to fight even on all levels, finally, even within oneself within society or community and within

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the world at large, these are all duties and achievements that could not be attained by people who are so obsessed with their personal pleasure. So that's one part of upbringing, the individual also in the more solid ground.

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That's why you find that the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, did warn against excessive lecturing.

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Indeed, he was addressing the people 1400 years ago, and he told them, I'm not afraid

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of you are afraid for you to be poor, I'm not afraid of poverty. What I'm really afraid is that the world would open for you that you have lots of wealth, and provisions. And then you start competing in this rat race, as we call it today. And as such, this kind of thing, attitude would destroy you as a destroyed people before you see, like I said, that was said 1400 years ago. But you can see now in the actions and behaviors of some people who claim to be Muslims, how true that prophecy was, indeed, in one even more explicit prophecy that he made.

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And he said that apparently was as merited there. It said, in the last letter days, there would be some of my followers or some people who claim to be Muslims, who would eat all kinds of foods. Now a very luxurious drink all kinds of drinks were all kinds of claws, and speak with pride and vanity. These are the worst of the people. These are the most evil of the people and we see manifestation of that today, and one should not make no apology about it at all. Indeed, there are some who claim to be Muslims who are definitely squandering money and over luxurious things, which really should not be the attitude of moderation that, that Islam teaches. In addition to this, you could also say that

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moderation helps the individual to share also with others, to show concern towards others. If one is too much obsessed with achieving the maximum pleasure or what they call hedonistic type of attitude, just your pleasure, and that's it, one would have nothing left to help the poor and needy and possibly even in some cases, disturbing. These are all related issues that pertain to the character of the believer as perceived in the teachings of the Quran, and the expansion of Muhammad.

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Now, this last comment that you made brings us to the

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other aspect of our topic for today in terms of generosity and showing him being generous and showing concern. How does the Quran depict the generosity is a moral virtue? Okay. Well, to start with the Quran indicates that

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the property or possession that we have on this earth is not just an absolute ownership is not absolute position of us, that God alone is the ultimate and only owners of the universe and what is contained there and to start from. And that means then, that whatever God has blessed us with by way of property resources, mental, intellectual,

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spiritual, or otherwise, physical, these are like thrusts in our, in our hands, as we indicated early in the series in terms of standard view of the individual and how he or she relates to the universe. And if this is the thrust, it means that you have to dispose of that trust in accordance with the will of the ultimate honor, in this case, God. That's why when the Quran for example, speak about the obligation to take care of the poor and needy. It referred to them as hakuho. Like in chapter 17, give the poor and the needy his right. It's not just a charity, which is one day it's his right by way or on the basis of the the trustee, ship position that you are

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occupying.

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The other thing that would be related here also is that, generally speaking,

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when you are generous towards others, when you show concern towards the needs of other fellow humans, it teaches the person to be less selfish. Of course, God has created us with self love, there is no question if we don't love ourselves or want our own benefits. We cannot survive. But sometimes that goes again too far. And one of the basic models which is an Islamic

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causing all other religions is to have some control on this excessive self love. And that's why in the Quran, for example, in chapter 59, in verse nine,

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describing the believers, white sirona, and forcing him What kind of emphasizing that they say that others are put the needs of others over their own needs, even though they may really need it. And actually, this came in commentary on a story when a person entered the mosque. And he needed somebody to, you know, to host him for a couple of days.

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So, one of the companions of the Prophet offered to do this, so he took him to his house. In fact, that man didn't have much food left, he had only a little food for his supper, for free, and his wife, he asked his wife, to turn off the lights and put the food pretending as if it's eating with his guests, so that the guests will not get embarrassed until the guest really has sufficient food after his traveler, whatever tribulation comes through, and they slept hungry themselves. Of course, you cannot expect everybody to act in this very noble spirit. But it shows again, this attitude of coming forward, to show concern and to help others who may be in need.

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It relates also to the aspect of mercy, the topic that we discussed before. And manifestation of mercy is not just feeling of pity, but of actually being generous and come forward to the helpers. And maybe one final remark on

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the word, generosity itself, it doesn't necessarily mean generosity in terms of

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giving away money. Like we mentioned before, in another context,

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the prophet said that even a good word that cheerful face is just like a charity, that was your dad is a charitable character also is related. And nor does it mean you have to be generous only with the poor, and needy, one of the sayings of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, whoever believes in God, and the hereafter, he should be hospitable or generous to his guests, regardless of the status or financial aspects of that, yes.

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Are there any specific forces which may help a person become less selfish or, or more generous? Well, there are a number of things, first of all, the various points could relate here also, as well, the sense of trusteeship, that the person feels that he's responsible or responsible, being who is entrusted by God to dispose with the property the way God wants. Secondly, is to remember that whatever we possess in this life, is going to vanish. And only the thing that we make by way of charity, and out of the expression of the love of God and love of fellow humans, is the thing that really would remain in our balance or our credit.

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One beautiful verse in that in the Quran is in chapter 16, it says, whatever you have, or whatever you possess, in this world, must vanish, everything would vanish.

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But what is with God is the thing that will induce and remain by way of, you know, charity and help of others.

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The other thing to remember here is, as Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him indicated that after all,

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even though we always are obsessed, of increasing our wealth and positions, that we take nothing with us when we depart from this very limited life on earth to a more eternal life. For example, in one saying, as narrated in Muslim, he says, one of you are the servants of God, keep saying, my money, my money or my possessions. And in fact, he has nothing of his position except and when he mentioned three, except what he eats, and just get consumed,

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or worse, and get worn out. Or the third one, or whatever he pays in charity, which would actually remain

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to his credit, which means that the first two are gone, whatever we have on this is consumed by way of food or clothes or anything is gone. But the only thing really, that would remain in our account, the more lasting and enduring would be those acts of kindness towards other human beings. And Bukhari.

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Bukhari also mentioned, that the Prophet once said that Who among you, loves to or loves the property of his ears more than his own? And they said, well, all of us love our property first. He said, All right. If you

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do not try to put something to your credit for the life you're after, then in fact, you're savoring your ears because

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You would leave everything to him. I'm not saying don't leave anything to him, but at least you should do something also for your own benefits also, in the spiritual sense, in terms busy, we have enough an example of the behavior of Mohammed peace be upon him one time, which was a very rich time, of course, when they had shipped the slackers in his household.

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And the his wife, I said, you know, give almost all the land, or the sheep distribution for the poor and needy, and they remained only the shoulders. So when he came back, he said, anything left of the lamb, you said, it's all gone, except the shoulder. He said, No,

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only the shoulder is gone, and all the rest remains, you see just the reverse. It means that the thing that we're going to eat, that would not be to our credit, that's the only thing that's done, the shoulder only is gone. But the rest of the lamp is really something that would remain in our favor, because we gave it to those who were in true need. The other thing that are other steps, if you will, which might tend to the person overcome this attitude of selfishness is to remember

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that Satan tried always to inspire us, against or away from the obedience of God. And one of the techniques used, as I mentioned, is to tell you that if you be challenged, if you become charitable, your property will go down, or you will be poor. For example, in chapter two in the Quran, verse 268, it says, A shaitan.

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Satan

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promises you or scares you from poverty, but God promises you forgiveness and an abundant reward.

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You might recall, in one of the programs also we quoted, the Heidi's are saying of Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him, when he said that

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the property of

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believers would not get reduced because of charity. In other words, there would be more blessing and more compensation. In the Quran also says whatever you spend in the past of God, He will replace it, you might even get more benefits in this life. But of course, that shouldn't be the main purpose. But again, you would need to have blessings in your positions as a result of this kindness. And some of the points that you have just mentioned can certainly inspire generosity. But earlier in the program, we talked about the

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the undesirability of any kind of excess, is it possible for one to be excessively generous?

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When it Yeah, it is quite possible. And there are some parameters that Prophet Muhammad peace be upon and tried to establish to help us avoid going to one extreme or the other. Of course, there may be some acts of extreme nobility, like we have mentioned, which really is inspiring to every one of us. But as a basic rule, one should not, for example, given charity, all that he owns, that happened in the day of the Prophet peace be upon him, somebody came to him and he said, I have this golden piece, which was estimated at about the size of an egg, that could have been quite expensive. I said, that's all I own. Here, it says, you know, use it for, to give to the poor and needy, the

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prophet peace be upon him, turn his face away, he didn't want to accept, he came from his left side, the man kept insisting on him to take it, then the Prophet took it and threw it to him again. And he said, one of you brings all he possesses and say this is charity, and then after that, he goes and beg people for help. And then he said, the best kind of charity is to make charity after you have already satisfied your needs when you're self sufficient. So this was an example again, that of course, you trust in God and everything, but there is no sense giving away in charity, all that you have, and then sit down and beg people to help you that's again, sort of access in another

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parameters is established also that if one really wants to be charitable, charity, like we say starts at home, at home, either by way of obligation, the obligation to take care of the needs of one's family and children, parents of their all parents and in need of his help, as well as other relatives also, indeed, the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him was very explicit in this and

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hobbyists are saying narrated by Ronnie he says God will not accept a charity from a person who still have needy benefits. In other words, you start first with closer relatives who need your help and expect actually, to get this help.

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another indication also we find in a little story when a person came to the prophet and he said, I want to donate all my money for charity.

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He said no

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Then he said, okay, I'd like to donate half of it. He said, No, you're right, I donate one third of it. He said, All right, one says, and even once it is too much, and then he added, it's better for you to leave your ears in some comfortable position, self sufficient, then leaving them, you know, begging people. So again, you get the sense of Venice, you can donate something for your own benefit and for your life hereafter by way of credit yourself. But one has to keep in mind also other obligations and demands on him.

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Now,

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today is our last program is what has been a very comprehensive series, we've done 30 programs in the series. Today's our last one, I wonder if perhaps you might take a few minutes remaining on today's program to sort of

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sum up the series by giving a bit of an overview of the topics that we've covered in this in this series on more teachings of Islam. Sure. This has been our six series, if I recall correctly.

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I would say in this 30 programs, we had three basic areas that we touched on. First of all, in the first six programs, we try to address the Common Core general questions related to the moral theory of what determine morality. basic questions like what is the supreme good, how to get information about the ultimate good?

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What kind of sanctions are there for doing good, and what motivates people to do good, we try to shed some light on this questions from the secular point of view secular morality, religious morality, morality, and then we looked at it from the Islamic point of view as a specific unique way of having its own structure or theory, in which we emphasize also other aspects like the nature of the human how the person relate to the universe, the main characteristics of Islamic moral system in the next 14 programs. In second part, we addressed some basic objectives of Islamic law, mainly safeguarding the face, life, mind,

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owners, and property and we'll discuss the whole variety of topics that relate to this, what Islam ordains to be done or prohibits in order to provide the safeguarding for all these five basic

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purposes I was trying to claw and then in the last 10 years, or 10, programs from 2001. Till today, we talked about the various moral and virtuous taking the positive part of the moral code, in which as you might recall, we covered a whole variety of moral virtues, piety, sincerity, trustworthiness, truthfulness, humbleness, dignity, mercy, forgiveness, purity of the heart, from grudges, patience and perseverance, the responsibility of the World Bank today, again, the related complimentary topics, I'm not claiming at all that we have been that comprehensive, and that we covered each and every virtue and Islamic moral system, nor did we really talk about each and every device that Islam

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has forbidden. There are so many others that may relate to future series like social system and Islam where it could be discussed in that context, but I hope at least it gives some kind of overview.

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Well, I look forward to beginning our newest series on the social system on Islam. But before we sign off for today, we want to invite all of our viewers back next week, we will have a special program and we'll try to present a viable alternative to the current mortgage dilemma. We want to invite you to join us for that very special program. And of course after that, we'll go on to our next series which will be the social system of Islam. Thank you for being our guest today. Assalamu alaikum peace