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Escaping the Western Mindset I TM Podcast #2

Lauren Booth

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Channel: Lauren Booth

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Just how duplicitous maybe the British political elite were and in particular the Labour Party were and then you're, you're suddenly find yourself in a mosque waking up going, Oh my God, God is Allah. What do you do with that? How do you understand this indefensible support for Israel? In the West, you have young men saying, I get to dominate you. I mean, it's really it's like seven year olds.

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So you live in Istanbul and anecdotally, it seems to me that more and more Muslims have decided to leave the West and to move to Muslim countries like Qatar or to Kuwait or to Istanbul. I think in Istanbul, we've seen you know, a, probably, I mean, last time I was there, I saw a growth in a number of Westerners, Western Muslims who have decided to, to live there. And most of them say they, they just had enough of the criticisms they get in the West. They've had enough of the racism, maybe they get Islamophobia, but also they fear for their kids.

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It's now common for Muslims here to think about if not moving to a different country to think about pulling their kids out of school. I mean, where do you stand on this discussion about how intense it's become in education, and just general society towards Muslims? You know what, it's really interesting for 10 years, 10 years, a friend of mine called Denisa. She's an educator, mashallah, she has been raising the alert girl. You don't know what's in the books. She's been on these education groups that I'm on she's like, see mums wake up, asked to see the books on your kids curriculum. What age not 11, not 10, seven, and eight, asked to see them. And when you asked to see

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them, the teacher say you don't need to, or now increasingly, you can't see them. In case you you protest, because it is such disgusting content in children's books at schools, that they cannot show it on the news, the same nightly news that shows dead bodies and bombs falling and explosions and horrendous things going on, cannot show the books that are being given to our four and five year olds. This interestingly, this is a sign of a failing society. There was a study done in 1936 by a British academic, and he found the same trigger points for each failed civilization that he studied. Yes, rise in androgyny. libera of not liberation of women. I forget the word, but it's basically no

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protection of the women. Right. And the sexualization of society, a rise in homosexuality. All of these things are happening. It's a dire situation. And I totally understand Muslim families wanting to leave it is I thought about 10 years ago, actually rather that and I still do that if you really wanted to get the Muslims out of Europe. And you couldn't kill them like the French did with the Algerians just 30 years ago and then through their bodies or 40 years ago, through them in the same I was a biller

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that what you do is you just make it a little bit unlivable. Little bit unlivable. Let's say, in France, you can't have halal meat at school. Why is that? No halal meat, you have to eat pork if you're at school, or go without? What if we ally? No, they don't like sex with outside marriage, the Muslims? How about we talk about that all the time? And how about we force we say to their children, homosexuality is an option. And we we do that at a young age that that is kind of social engineering. I'm not saying this only affects the Muslim community. We're not paranoid. This is a devaluation of the human spirit across the spectrum. But it really is helping us leave. And I think

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it's a good leave. I think it's a good, a good thing. We should yeah, I think we should, we should leave the sinking ship. And we should be building up our countries and offering an alternative, which is what the ottoman and the alanda Lucien society's did was say, hey, come over here. We've got beauty here. We've got fairness here. We've got a way that you can move up the ranks in society, you're not trapped. And for that reason, hundreds of 1000s Millions perhaps of Christians came and lived in our Muslim communities and the Jewish community thrived for centuries there.

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I'm I used to be an educator and I know that 20 years of the war on terror has in a way radicalized for teaching profession. And today you've got teachers who see it as their duty to proselytize, to convert Muslim kids into good liberal liberals or you know, or something like that.

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You know, this type of fear I think that Muslims have

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faiths in this society is very palpable. Now, not everyone is going to be able to leave the country, you know, we've got what, two 3 million Muslims in Britain hat, it's not going to be possible for those 6 million Muslims in France, economic situation for majority of us Muslims in France will not enable them, allow them really to leave, even if they wanted to leave, because of just the sheer amount of money that's required to move to somewhere like Turkey, you need to have some some, you know, some some capital behind you, I suppose. So, you know, in your job,

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or a job, right. So in the absence of of that,

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how does a Muslim in this country still make it in these societies? It's really tough. It There's no quick fixes there. Yeah. I mean, you you live between here and turn Istanbul to Right, yeah.

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I left.

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But people do have to be here. And they have elders and the people, the families I know, who don't want to move, usually don't want to move, because they had they want to look after their parents or grandparents, which is a beautiful duty. And also, these are our roots. This is our home. These are our villages, towns and cities. Where do we go and start? Again, it's pretty scary. The I don't think there's a quick fix to this. But I do think that we need to improve our Muslim schools. I think we do a good enough job that that the non Muslims with an ounce of ethical grounding will actually want to come and be in our schools.

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I don't know if I don't know enough about the education had to say can you fight?

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Can you argue with the department of education about what children see now?

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And they're coming for homeschooling as well. Yes.

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Yeah, that's very true. Can I turn to a a broader question about how you perceive gender relations in Islam? There's a there's a raging debate. And again, it's usually on line about whether what is the role of the men and women in the family? What's the role of men and women in society? And of course, there are some who have a very liberal interpretation, and some will have an interpretation, which makes it impossible for those families to function. But I'm just talking about, I want to know about, you know, the, the average, how do normal Muslims view this? Let's, let's first consider the idea of patriarchy, which is, of course, a buzzword in the West, can we describe the Islamic faith

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to be a patriarchal faith because of the way Islam views the Father as the as the authority figure in the family and the responsible person and the person who has to provide, you know, for the maintenance of the entire household? That, for me, sounds like a very patriarchal system idea. But, you know, the connotations attached to patriarchy, of course, are very negative. So how would you navigate that term patriarchy? I think our idea of patriarchy really, culturally goes back to the Victorians because they're the man in certainly middle class and upper class society had absolute dominion over the women. Property Rights property inheritance, you married, you went from your

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father's house, to your husband's house and you could carry none of that world wealth with you. Yeah, right. And if you if you if your father died and you inherited a great amount of land, it was your husband and he could do with it what you what what he liked, spend it, drink it, give it that give it away. Yeah. And so that is a terrifying prospect. And I think really, as Westerners as Europeans, we're as British people were traumatized by that the women, which traumatized by this legacy, which traumatized by the fact that there was no protection from the heavy drinking from the beatings

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that we couldn't escape because we had no money. And this is not the Islamic This is not the Muslim experience. Look at her deja radula who and she had inherited wealth from a husband's she had built an empire that she could keep after marriage. We have always had this and yet we're supposed to look at Islam through the lens of Victorian patriarchy, and superimpose then hyper feminine femme feminism on top of it. Reject all of that. We don't want anything to do with art again, we start blank sheets. Yeah. And also where is the pay? Does Allah to Allah say this is a patriarchal religion, women are lesser no these interpretations work with

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would never what was understood, right? You know the man, the woman has a cover for the man, the man has a cover for the woman, the man has a one one over on the woman. But what does that mean? What does it mean? He's got duties that are really really heavy and beautiful. And actually, you know me and my husband speak about this a lot because he's he sees he studied handily loads got Jazza in fic. And

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it's, it's a man thrives with the weight of caring for people. And a woman thrives with that care being lifted, and being looked after. No point is one pressure, right pressuring or destroying or saying to the other change. But growing together and thriving, you know, I want to say to my young sisters,

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you're talking to someone who, for 30 years as an adult, lived, the ultimate in feminism. I've worked at I worked since I was 16. I was hugely successful at our age of 30, I earned more than my husband, no one could tell me what to do. I was entirely liberated from any man. And what did that look like? I'm telling you, you have your time in the month, you're tired. There's nobody showing you sympathy because hey, I don't need your sympathy. If you said I don't need your sympathy 100 times don't expect on day 101 to go I'm in pain when you said you didn't need sympathy. Right? I carried my own bags. When I was pregnant. No man was carrying my bags I had, I had some really

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horrible experiences during pregnancy. I remember once.

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And I hope you keep this in because it's really telling about about vulnerable vulnerable moments that women have, okay, because we need to accept our vulnerability. I was eight months pregnant. I was showing off how I could carry my eight months pregnancy and still be at the Labor Party Conference. And it was one o'clock in the morning because I wasn't going to go home early, just because I'm pregnant. And I started to have really bad pains. I mean, like stabbing pains. And so I was sitting on the brightened pavement in the rain, at one in the morning waiting for a taxi. And the taxi came and two young men from Blair's government, by the way, jumped in jumped into the taxi

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and I went wait. I'm waiting as well. And they're like, Yeah, whatever. And I said, Can't you let me go in? And then one of them said he was 20 years old. Why? I said because I'm pregnant. He said, Well, it's not my babies. It

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is sad, really. The society that we want is that really the Liberty and egalitarian equality that we're fighting for? Don't be fooled.

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I want to give another example because because this is this made me laugh. I was on an underground train couple years ago, and I saw a young black sister. And she was looking like she was absolutely going to find I don't know whether she was ill or just had been working hard. And she was exhausted standing up and next to me was a young man and he looked Asian. I just love being an auntie. That's something else by the way. Great. You know, Islam gives you a status to grow into. I can be as an ignore annoying and bossy. And people like that. Auntie, leave Auntie alone is wonderful. You know, you have that space. Anyway, the young man next to me, young Asian guy, and I said, Excuse me,

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Brother, are you Muslim? He said, Yes, I am. I said, get out of that chair and let the Muslim sister sit down. And he was like, okay, Auntie, you know what she did? No, I'm all right. Thanks.

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I said, you're gonna sit down and you're about to have a three stop lecture from me about how to enable men to look after you. Yeah, because we're not enabling our men any longer to be the carers. And that makes them bitter and frigid. are more likely to say I don't want to care for you. You don't deserve it. You're this you will that leads leading to these these schisms and illnesses and and I just wanted to end on that point of the patriarchy.

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Islam, Allah to Allah sees believers, and cares about piety. That's very clear. From all of the texts. There isn't a male female divide. You know, it's not men in this line. Oh, yeah. You get fast track to Jana. Show me that tract. Show me where it says that doesn't Hamdulillah you know, the patient wants to submarine the kind ones. The good ones are the ones who give charity, the ones who pray to their lords, the ones that that's that's our parameters, not the patriarchy. There's a interesting point you made earlier about the friction that exists in wider society in the spillover into the Muslim community. I've noticed and again, this may be and we don't have to talk about him

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in particular, but the Andrew teeter fed where there is this extreme response to hyper feminism and a response is this macho ism where

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With it comes this attitude that all women are bad. I mean, I think it's it's maybe a response may not be a response, but there is a an associated

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feeling amongst women that all men are bad all men are evil. And that doesn't lead to very good relations between men and women. We've noticed and again, you know, you've been out of the country from for a while, but we've noticed in his last year or two, that the and rotate type of ideas have started to develop currency amongst young men and young Muslim men. And some of it may be may be positive, you know, giving them giving, but a lot of it actually is a, an Islamic way of viewing women. I mean, how have you come across this, and it's a confusing world for young men as well as young women. I said, you know,

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be right on the cutting edge of it with a daughter at university, you have young men saying, I get to dominate you. I mean, it's really it's like seven year olds going in, I don't like boys, I don't like girls. You know, I don't like you. Because you're less than me. And I don't like you because you smell It's pathetic. And it really is damaging the relations between the genders.

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For our young Muslim Subhanallah, you know, you've got, you've got an environment where a young man can, and I've heard this twice recently, in two potential marriages or two engagements. And both times the young men said, I have the right to check your emails and your phone. Wow. Really? Yeah. And the family of the young woman went hell to the no. Because because that is psychologically controlling behavior. Yes. And it's unhealthy. But these sorts of, you know, Noises Off, if you like, these surround sound.

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I'm not going to even name them. These these people on social media, there's men on social media who have their own toxic problems and their own, you know,

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lack of spirituality, it's a lack of spirituality from the brothers to to to look at themselves and say, am I be How am I being beautiful? How am I being kind? How am I going to bring kindness into this? That's leadership, that is leadership, being chivalrous as leadership? And on the other side, yes, we have a fractured and

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what's it when it's, it's not frigid, it's easily breakable. version of a female feminists see where they're afraid of the men. And then that makes us more likely to run to the safety of the office, the safety of having our own money, the safety of a life without a family, because I'm afraid of you. And we all need to get breached that gap. We will all all of us, you know, the learned people, the ones who are who are, you know, role models or speakers, however you want to call ourselves as we need to bridge that gap and say come on guys speak to each other. Let's because I think it's Hyper V hyper individualism is the issue here. Right. So that explained our hyper individualism,

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it's, it's about my rights, but my response, my obligate and that's it, that's all that counts. Yeah, you've I mean, you know, I mean, we think so.

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A lot of the brothers young brothers are saying, feminism, and everything that a woman wants is now feminism. She's the kind of woman who wants to dress is not one feminist. What are you talking about? She's the kind of woman who would like to have her own keys to the door feminists know what everything is called feminists nurse, and it's such a derogatory term. That's true, isn't it? Yeah, it's just bandied about for normative behaviors. Yeah. Just like Okay, I think that's, that's interest and I suspect there needs to be more effort, probably from Islamic scholars or Muslim role models, to to address this subject in a more rational way in a more sensible way. Probably. I know

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Imam Dawood Walid has written a book on Islamic Shiva and Muslim chivalry and he gives classes to young men as to how they should you know how they should respond to women and what should be their response and ritual was the world where domestic right teams to my young sisters, I'd say don't be brittle. Okay, if a young man says Can I take your chair say thank you so much. Yes, it doesn't make you weak. It makes you cared for it makes you a part of that society. I'm a big one for going to events. And at the end, the sisters always want to gather the chairs. I'm like, No, you don't move anything brothers. Get in there that's use those muscles that you're buffing up at the gym, come and

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do something useful. You know, we need to give each other spaces. And when I said hyper individualism, what are they

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mean, I met this, like you said, there's a selfishness. If you are a young sister and you want to go into marriage and you're like, but I'm not gonna cook, and I ain't gonna do this, and well, what is the point of marriage, you just want to flat share basically, with somebody paying your bills, no one's gonna buy into that it's not fair. And it's not nice. It's not kind. Just be kind to each other. Why can't we just be normal? Can I can ask you a couple of political questions, because I know a lot of your your book does discuss your politics prior to becoming Muslim and how you you changed

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not only socially and change in terms of your spiritual attitude, but also your political understanding and the Iraq War. Is, is I think, a a key milestone in your political journey. And just how duplicitous maybe the British political elite where and in particular, the Labour Party were in taking Britain to war. I mean, again, you're from a from somebody who now lives a lot of the year outside of the country. Has any of that improved? Do you feel about British politics has moved on, since that disastrous Iraq War decision, we know, this book really tracks a spiritual and a political journey of a person who wanted to have beliefs but not do anything about it. And then was

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forced by as many were by the Iraq war to wake up in 2003. When I went on that March, I was breastfeeding one baby pushing another in a in a pram, it was minus three degrees. If people were there, you they'll remember snowing and sleeting. And I told my three year old it's not meant to be fun kids like you are dying. Okay, which can sound kind of harsh on the three girls walking in the snow. But you know, if you believe in something, you have to put yourself out there don't be an armchair anything. And what I saw on that March was amazing. There will there were women from middle England, who told me I've never been on a March before, you know, dear, but this isn't right. What's

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happening? You know, Shaka nor is that what we're about now, my grandfather might my father fought in the war, and it wasn't about killing civilians. Alright, so we had this idea of decency. And what the Iraq war did was it wrecked our version of ourselves as British people. This is before you became most This was before. Yeah. And I actually,

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I make use of chambers because of my activity there. And we is the lawyer. Lawyer convert. Yes, sorry. Yeah. Yep. And he invited me to give a speech at an event for Iraqi war, widows and orphans. And I bring it up because that that event was were the first time I'd really experienced segregation of the genders in my life. Yes.

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So I was speaking on the stage and then use of certain then I saw all the cool guys sitting over there and the shares and Cat Stevens use of Islam was there. And I'm like, I'll be sitting over there and you sweat? No, no, the women are over here. And I went

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I'm really like a salty child. And I being a thinking person by the Grace of Allah. I thought to myself, oh my god, I think I'm a misogynist because I don't like women. I don't want to and not apart from that all the racist racism thoughts that I was having, like, Oh, God, gonna be talking about biryani and kids house I mean, these are all things that we can ignore or actually pick out in ourselves. And Assam is a very reflective mashallah

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you know, spiritual way of life, so, so I picked up on those anyway, I went to the table, and there was the first Nickleby I'd ever spoken to.

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So she's sitting opposite the table, and I thought, I'll just be nice and engage her poor thing. You know, little bit about kitchen stuff. And so what do you do? And I fully expect to say I've got seven kids, and I'm a third wife, and she said, Oh, studying civil Civil Engineering at the University of x, y, and Zed in my fourth year, you know, I've got a first in this, and under the then I'm leading my class, and I was like, oh,

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and she wiped the floor with me, intellectually. she just, she got the mop. She put me in there and she wiped the floor with me. And I loved it because I saw Good on you. And what she said to me coming right back and circling back to the beginning of our discussion. What does modesty mean to her? She said she used to be when she first started university to fit in. She was in a T shirt and jeans. And she noticed the men looking at her and when she got up, she might she knew there was an uptick in the scoring, but good because people liked her presentation because she was pretty and she said then I

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started getting closer to my dean. And I wanted to take away those triggers and protect myself for my lord, my family. And now I have to work, not twice as hard, exponentially hard in my presentations, because I have nothing here. But my words are good enough for me to be the head of that class. I'm like, boy, I got it.

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I think that's the moment I got modesty. And that's the moment I started to like women. Can I ask you about your book, your biography, your memoir, in search of a Holy Land i, I read a really fascinating section in a book about your, your experience. I mean, you were someone who was very much in favor of Tony Blair, of course, he's a real relative of yours. I mean, I've used we know that he's married to your sister. And you were very much someone who was within the labor mode, and you supported new labor as the alternative to, to, to conservatism, which was, of course, you know, a horrid in the 1990s Oh, it's hard now. And it's still hurting. That's true. That's very true. But

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then there was a change in, in your view of labor and the Iraq war, of course, as you've just disgust, you know, comes into that, but, uh, you know, I found it a fascinating read. And, in a way, it allowed me to understand how someone who's a non Muslim, viewed versus yours, because from a Muslim perspective, you know, I saw it very much as a war on terror. This is a prime minister is getting close to Bush. And it's amazing. Every day, there was something on TV about Muslims. And every other day, Tony Blair was announcing an anti terror law. And I just felt that Muslims were under siege during that period. So it was fascinating to see from your perspective, but just one

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broader sense. I mean, what lay behind why did you write this book, your memoir, I wrote this for somebody, like myself in my 20s, who got a sense that, that this, isn't it, this table, this mug, this world isn't in the material world, that there's something more

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out there, but couldn't put my finger on it. And many of the people that we meet, they're exploring Buddhism and they're going through the tick boxes. Even veganism is almost like a religious cult. Now you're cleansing your body to get closer to some a more first being right. But the minute what what is the access point, to a spirituality that leads to God, I wanted to give that access point. And also to run through the the differences in the culture, the things that have been happening over the last 25 years, who were we and who are we now? And there's so much in there as well, about traveling to Muslim lands, and to accepting my own innate prejudices as well. I hope I've done it in

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a humorous way. I think people do tell me that yes, I laughed my way through it, and I cried my way through it. But that honestly about what I thought about Muslims, then you meet them, and then you're, you're suddenly find yourself in a mosque waking up going, Oh, my God, God is Allah. And this guy, Muhammad, I kind of think he's the last prophet. What do you do with that? And so it takes us on that journey. And I really wanted to, to do that for people like me in my 20s. But I think more than ever, my readers are Muslims.

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young Muslims are asking themselves, I don't know why I'm, I'm I don't know why I'm Muslim. I'm Muslim by heritage, but I don't know how to ask the questions. And I don't know how to come over this hump. If I can make it in modernity as a Muslim.

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It answers those questions, Inshallah, in what, in one, in one way, from a Western perspective to an Eastern perspective from, from a Christian to a Muslim? Can I ask you one last question about Palestine? Now, you've been a advocate for Palestinian rights for a very long time. And it's often quite perplexing to just see how Israel is treated in a very double. Yeah, it's become now common to say that there is a hypocrisy it has double standards and Israel is is treated in a completely different way than any other country in the world. It can get away with anything, really. And there will not be a uproar in the British press or in the American press or the European press. How do you

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understand this indefensible support for Israel in the West? I don't think they're getting it all their own way anymore. Right. It's changing since you know, Justin, the little timespan when I've been an observer. And the other good thing by the way, much better thing is that the Palestinians now

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have their own voice. Social media has allowed people like me to step back, you know, you don't need my voice now. Maybe you never did. Maybe it was white savior Willow LM, I just, you know, we saw something and we wanted to reflect upon it with the world. So there's a Palestinian voices now of pain, of brilliance of cleverness of resistance, and they're being heard. So that's number one. And the second thing is, I think the exceptionalism is falling apart of Hamdulillah. Studies have shown that young Christians in America, which is which is really Israel's capital state of support, are now more likely to support the Palestinian cause, then be Zionist. And that's huge, I think, a

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couple of weeks ago in Australia, is it the government who said they're going to be referring to the occupant, they're not going to be calling it the occupied West Bank, they're going to be calling it Palestine. Now that for the Zionist is like, the stab in the heart. So yes, there is still political exceptionalism. And unfortunately, it looks gonna take many more deaths, and much more pain, probably for that to change but it is changing Alhamdulillah you know, never give up, never give up. Allah sees or they they want to destroy a laksa, like, you know, and that Allah is with the believers, and the world is waking up. So I actually feel much more positive than I did at the start

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of my personal experience with the quest this question in 2005 Star group JazakAllah khair for your time today, it's been fascinating. Feekes absolute pleasure.