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Ramadan Reset – #17 Omar Esa – Faith and Fame
Channel: Lauren Booth
Series: Lauren Booth – Ramadan Reset
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Welcome to Ramadan reset with me Your host Lauren booth. This podcast series is sponsored by what handled org.uk delivering services to Syrians in need. Bismillah Ar Rahman AR Rahim Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh care to how you doing how's life today? Well, my wonderful guest today, Mashallah, who's back for a second time? He is the universally renowned. We don't know about other planets, but let's just say globally renowned. Omar Isa, Salaam Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh What a good flower after Lyrica, my sister who started out wanting to do and doing mainstream music, right. Talk to me about that. Yeah, yeah. Yeah. So for me my goal from 2007 when I discovered music
was, you know, to to win over me. That's one of the Music Award Ceremony based in in USA. And I wanted to and I wanted to famous that was my goal. I wanted to be known worldwide, I wanted to win a Brit Award to win an Ivor Novello. I wanted to win every award that came with music. And, you know, fame. Very dangerous thing because you start playing with your ego. And I don't know what the ego is an ego than the being prideful and being arrogant. And everything's upon them. For me. I'm very, very arrogant. I was very egotistical. And to be very honest with you to a certain extent, I guess my ego hasn't gone. And that's my kind of my biggest drawback that I tried to fight all the time.
And that's what the after effects of that world has left in me that at the end day, I'm a Muslim, but I'm a human being. I am very competitive even now. But now I try to understand why I'm competitive to destroy my fellow eyes and make them play. Or am I competitive, because I want to just do good in my art. And that is why I constantly keep telling myself now is that be competitive, but don't be competitive in a kind of a ruthless manner, which is what I was, which I was in the past, I was I wanted to I was ruthless. I didn't care. If I cut you up with singers that were kind of, I'm gonna go back to the artists kind of thing. We're very, very sensitive people. Were very
selfish as well, unfortunately. You know, we're very needy, and honestly, really kind of weird to play with. But we if me, I'm going to stop. I'm going to stop you there, brother. Oh, my sorry for jumping in. But if there's such a lot to unpack there, there it there is on the one hand, I want to know how do you cut up another artist? Right? Obviously, that's not a violent term, it's to do with getting some job that they didn't have awesome bookings. Right. And on the other hand, let's unpack why why needy people put themselves in a place where it's a horrendous situation of love and hate with audiences. So, so talk to me about cutting up other artists in that professional way. So
basically, it's getting to the top it's about for me when I was in the mainstream industry is about what job, I'm going to get that job before somebody else, I'm going to get that gig before somebody else, and I don't really care who it affects, I don't care what you've done to get good opposition, I'm going to do whatever I can to get into that position. And that's the kind of mentality that we we find a lot when you don't have a connection with God, you need Muslim, Christian, Jew, Hindu, whatever. When you don't have that kind of belief, and a conscience and a morality basis. You don't care. That's why, you know, when I speak to people who are atheists, I asked them, you don't believe
in God, but where do we get our morality from? You know, we just got it. It just came about it. Doesn't that make sense? Because we had to have got it from someone. My morals and somebody else's morals be different. And in the music world. My kind of thoughts when I was doing music back in the day was that will get to the top no matter what I will step over people, whatever, for me to get that big house, to get that cop to get that, that money to get that jewelry, is what I need to do. And it's a very selfish kind of mind to have some fun. That's interesting, because what you've described there is that the end game then was an art or the beauty of music, even if even if you
love music, even if you love that as an art form. If you love the sound and you love the process, the end that you that you listed there was going to get that big house, I'm going to get that car I'm going to I'm going to what why is that? Why is it about that? Because how does that change? How do you know?
Do you know? Is that an intention?
No, I don't think so. I think I think even me when I started off doing music, I did it from a place of you want to I want to bring my music to the world. But the thing is, we are surrounded
by people who are looked at
by wealth, and your your your drive
In terms of life, like if we look at the some of the most popular women on Earth at the moment, so I would never do look up to these women, obviously, I respect all women and I respect all human beings, but I don't aspire to be like them, because of what they portray in, in their social media activity. And music today, about fast cars, jewelry, when it comes to men, it's about once a woman, it's about men, and everything has a kind of a
empty base to it. And when you you're surrounded in that kind of rat race, you are caught up in a sack a whirlwind, and I was of my environment, basically, you know, I didn't tell my mom or dad to
cut any opportunities up. But I just got caught up, because if I didn't do it, someone would have done it to me.
That's really interesting. And of course, that's because it is the music business. It's show business. It's not show art. It's not music culture. It's it's a music business. You know, my dad was an actor Anthony booth. And when I said to him, I wanted to be an actor. He said, right? Are you willing to starve in a Garret? In other words, are you willing to live in a tiny little room at the top of somebody else's house in order to be on stage just once that month just because you love it that much? And I said, Yeah, he said, then go for it. But the minute you're not get out, because there was 10 people behind you who wanted that badly. He was never ever about the money. My father
was genuinely about loving the art and loving what it could portray. But he was about I recognized in me that when I stopped loving it enough, I didn't know I hit 30. And I thought, You know what? I don't want to be poor for this for for a lot a single line on EastEnders. Alright, I love being on stage. And when you are working, it's fine. It's the unemployment. That's not fine. And what that does to your mind, right? Because here's the other thing, you get a little bit of fame, and then they take it away. And then it's taken away. What happens then Omar, what have you seen happened to people?
I think I think that you get to be very honest with you that that's what they say. So fame, right? 15 minutes of fame is not a saying that somebody just came up with there's everything that that when people taste that they want, they want more downloads, and just going back to that needy kind of the word Are you
you're insecure and you want to be accepted. Like I was insecure, even to a certain extent I'm, I'm an insecure artist now. Because it's not on social media, and we're looking for the likes, we're looking for the champion for everything. No matter who we are. We are all somewhere deep down look for like looking for that acceptance. And and if you know if somebody criticizes you, you get back foot like white with even though the advice might be amazing. Obviously, in this town, we give it a funny, we don't publicly give it I don't believe to give it like publicly. I think we should give it privately. But that's the kind of thing right? Like he says that there's people waiting to take your
place. And it's how it's a rat race, it's a rat race at the end of the day. You know, even even in the kind of thing you look at, you know, journalism, it's a rat race, who's going to get that scoop, even if you have to,
to put that article out there. What are you going to do? Honestly, and this is what Islam gave me Islam gave me a kind of morality of saying, you know, what, who am i doing it for? Am I doing? Who Oh, but the people are going to come and go the people who are really love our family members. But that's not what we are taught to love. You know, I have to love after love for my brothers and sisters as I love myself, and that's a very different concept in the West Division. If I do that, then how am I gonna? How am I gonna grow? If I want something good for me. This is why Islam is is our perfect religion. 100 law. So I think that kind of need of you know,
in the mainstream world anyway, is that I need to get to the top no matter what. And if I taste it, you know, they say when
you taste you know, they say when you get that stage bug, right? Yeah, you just get the bug. People say access time. I when I'm on stage, it's an adrenaline rush. I call that adrenaline rush does not leave me with an evening. It's upon Allah. And it's so I hate it. I hate that feeling.
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So when did that change happen for you? And what did you have to leave behind? I pretty much left my life behind my sister, i the only connection I've actually had to Islam before that was my mother and father. Apart from that everybody around me wasn't Muslim. My friends were non Muslims. You know, and that was everything. It was weird, because when I started practicing, people sometimes say to me, was it overnight. I know, it wasn't overnight for me. For me, it was
I picked up the Quran, the English version of it. And I also picked up the Syrah of the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam. And I used to have ice ice to play the guitar. So when I started delving into the research of Islam and finding little things out, I found out about the obviously they said, there's a difference of opinion. But I'm from the school of thought where I don't, I don't think there is a difference of opinion when it comes to music. So I had what the problem is that someone said about, you know, leaving not using instruments, because they'll come a time when my alma will make something which are Haram. Hello. And he's and in those four things, he
said, one of the things was instruments. So I had, if I wanted to come into this religion, I had to leave it. I mean, I couldn't come into my Islam, how far the I had interest bank account, I had everything. I got rid of everything when I started finding out the things were in my life. So when I left it, it was it was it was it was for me. I was already broke anyway, because you know, you're a musician, and you're struggling. Half of nothing is still nothing. Yeah, indeed. So I was thinking to myself, What am I going to do now? And I was actually told by somebody, what are you doing the sheets? And I was like, What is that? That's I've never heard of this, what this is, and somebody
said, Have you heard of some Yusef and I said, I have, but I know that some use of using instruments for example. So I went, but I can't do that. Because I'm not, I've given my guitars away, I've given my piano Well, I don't do that anymore. Because but you don't have to just use your voice acapella. So I was a big fan back in the day of, you know, old school r&b groups. So I knew I knew acapella was and I knew how to do harmonies and three part harmony. So that was the beginning that was in about 2011. And it was a really, you know, to this day, people around me still say my sister, come back to music. You're wasting your time, with your talent in the Muslim world. Let's come back here.
I get offered all the time to write for mainstream eyes and all that. But I said I can't I can't write for people. That's hypocritical of me. If I write for mainstream arts and say, I don't use instruments that's that's not why is it?
A good question came from one of our
followers here on Facebook, who's joining us today. And it was this camp, in your opinion, and then what you know and have experienced, can a man in other words, a person have both music and color and in their heart.
You know, if they think instrument music, no, because I am a person who used to live music was my religion, the stuff that I mean, I used to sleep to wake to drive to shower to eat to it, it was everything for me. And when I used to listen to liquor on,
it was basically this kind of thing that is weird. It's edgy. This has been passed on my personal experience. Lyrics used to pop into my head, and he says, What is happening here? Right, I used to wake up my sister singing lyrics. And I remember when I started researching about Islam, there was a talk that a scholar did. And he said that there was a police officer in the Middle East, and two young youths had a car crash. And as he went to them, he said, they were they were dying. And he said to them, recite, like, the love from their soul. And he goes, they couldn't there was singing lyrics of a song. And I looked at my separate photo, myself, I cried. Because I thought, imagine if
that was my Imagine if that was my end. And to be honest with my sister, last time, that is one who guides, I don't know, I always pray to Allah to keep me guided, and keep you on this route. And we'll stick him you know, and this is one thing that we have to do as Muslims is always, never disrespect somebody who's misguided. Never disrespect somebody who's not on the path because we might be off that path tomorrow. And they might be on the park tomorrow, if that makes it. So it's that kind of aspect of art and music will never, ever mix. And you can ask anybody sincerely, they will tell you that doesn't mix. What I did today, has it brought me closer to Allah, or has it taken
me away from Allah.
And we have to review what we do. And we have to look at it. And if we spend hours and hours listening to music, and then getting dropped, because it
It doesn't stop at music. That's the thing, right? It doesn't stop there is a lifestyle with music. Tell us a bit about the lifestyle and show so my sister basically for me, I always say to people, when I talk about my life, I say that music was was always apartment, everything I did wrong, according to the commands of our last panel. I mean, if and for me, whenever I'm not gonna, I'm not gonna expose my sins, but in my life, I've done a lot of wrong. And every time that wrong was being happened, music was always a partner in that crime, if that makes sense. And I know that last one sisters are probably going to do people do get upset when you say that. There was no benefit music,
and I can understand that because once upon a time, that was me. But what I want to say to people is that we love the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, he's the mercy of mankind. Now, if you were listening to me, in your bedroom,
and hypothetically speaking, the prophet muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam knocked on your door outside? Would you keep that music on? Or have you turned it off? And it's something that we have to understand is that who we are on this dunya for we are on this dunya for Allah subhanho wa Taala. To get us into Jenna in sha Allah, and music is something is a temporary enjoyment. Nobody can tell me that music fully fulfills them, because musicians are the first to tell you that they're unhappy. I'm example a, and many musicians unfortunately passed away the biggest musicians have killed themselves.
And why is that they've got everything that we suppose to be one in this world, wealth, health, they've got everything, but they're still empty.
And they do music, they are at the top of their peak, they can go to any they can listen to any type of music, they can speak to any type of artists in the world. But the anti de gras is the fruit of the soul, not music. And it goes back to those Reverend sisters who listen to music I know Please don't be angry with me. I'm just
I'm just the person who reads the message of Allah, Allah and His messenger Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, and we are now trying to give you a lot of options. You know, it's my job, my goal in life to give my brothers and sisters an alternative to music. I do. That's why I do machines. And that's why I do voice only machines, you know, it's difficult, because we're competing with it with with a with a with a, with a machine, a well oiled machine. But at the end of the day, we're doing it for for the sake of Allah subhanaw taala. So ultimately, when you do something for the sake of Allah subhanaw taala you never fail anyway. Because their orders with Allah, Allah, and I don't look
to please anybody. Because ultimately my sister, human beings will will never be happy. You know, we'll never be happy with one. You know, one another fair, balanced runtime, make it easy for everybody out there, who listen to music, and who don't listen to music, because I struggle with it myself every day. I want to pick up my guitar every day. Every day I struggle with it.
Subhan Allah, I want
someone experience like yourself from both both ways of life.
What advice you might have for young Nasheed artists?
There's a lot of talk about authenticity. Okay. And I was speaking about this with my brother Julian drill on the other night, but I think it bears repeating because a lot of people who
perhaps perhaps see you on stage and think, you know, you must have this famous way of life and they see me on stage and they're like, Oh, you maybe you get a limo here and there and oh, and it's a draw with us the same aspirations of people who, who have fame and want that money.
Unfortunately, some of our young Nasheed artists are really being pulled away by by shake hands whispering and for example, what do you think about this statement?
I was singing songs about Allah. But then I found I was being hypocritical. So now I'm not going to sing about Allah. I'm going to sing about what I want. I'm going to be authentic. What does that tell you?
Oh, that's that's that's the the claw. That is a trick of the Shakedown right there. In example, in written forms upon, you know, this is what the Shakedown does when we do something which is wrong. He he taped in the voiceless sign ahead goes that you can't ask Allah for forgiveness, he did something so wrong. However, our last panel with Allah is, hypothetically speaking, arms open all the time for us to come back to him. Like this is a this is the Shakedown strict and make us think that being authentic is being like everybody in society, unfortunately, and everybody in society wants the latest car, wants the latest trainers wants the latest, you know this and that. But when
they get that, they will tell you themselves. They are not happy. And music is something is about peer pressure. And I meet with lots of young artists and they always message me and they say, brother, I want to be an Ishida and I go look. The one thing you have to ask yourself is who you're doing it for
Are you doing it for yourself? Are you doing for the people? Or you're going to do for our last panel, Tyler? Because when you do for Allah subhanaw taala I tell you something, it's not gonna be easy, because the road is bumpy, very bumpy and it's you're going to be falling, you're going to be betrayed. You know how many people think I'm a multimillionaire, and I go to Subhan, Allah Al Hamdulillah, whatever I have, I'm happy. But trust me, multimedia net, you know, you see me traveling all over the world, but it's far from what other people are speaking to somebody just the other day. And you say to me what he was telling me what you don't, you don't have this. And I went,
No, I don't have that. Like, I'm just a normal brother, who's trying to please our most popular, and my sister. You know, I fell so much. Every day I fell. But it's about getting up and trying again, and our buttons and stuff to understand that
the shaden will trick us in ways that we can't even fathom like this authenticity thing. I don't know who said it, but well, as far as I know, you know, help the brother or sister whoever whoever said that statement. But that is the trick of the shader on its cost a, that's his job. That's what he said to Allah. He said, Give me respond to the day of your karma. And it's my job to make that as many as I can.
Somehow, I was just thinking about the Prophet statement. sallallahu alayhi wasallam talking about fame and the law of fame. he likened a passionate desire sallallahu alayhi wasallam, for fame, to a ravenous Wolf, a ravenous wolf that would tear apart one's religious commitment. Allahu Akbar, that's really strong, you know, a setting out to do something
really powerful. I mean, if you can envision a ravenous wolf on your back, and you're trying to escape it, but it drags you in, it pulls you until there's nothing left but the bare bones. Yeah. Allahu Akbar. Is that something that you that you've seen in your in your life as as an artist?
Yeah, you know, you can you I so relate to that, you know, it's a constant pullback of, you know, as that even now i have i work with most people, I work with my producer non Muslims. And you know, they sometimes look at the I put a post up and I'll get, you know, you get criticized, you know, as in the Muslim or we get criticized very quickly. And then they're completely baffled. Because the non Muslims, the non Muslims, I have my friends, I'll read and they'll go, you don't do nothing. And you get criticized, bro? How do you how do you handle that? Like, an aspect of people
making this kind of defame and constantly pulling you pulling you in and out. And it's that constant pressure of what should I do? And I question it every day, and I lost my sister, every day. There's not a time that goes by where I don't think about going back to music. Because sometimes I think you know what, I also want, I also want when I'm a human being at the end of the day, but then it's that kind of the kind of the grounding of what Islam has given me, Omar, what do you really want?
Are you gonna be happy with that, that call or that thing, what you what you read. So it's an everyday struggle. That's what people think. People have to understand that it's not easy. But nobody said it's easy. When you start practicing this Deen of Islam, Allah Subhana Allah says in the ground and there is meaning. When I guide you, do you really think I'm not going to test you like and we see the believers are tested all over the world. But when it comes to our suffering, after going through this, have they lost a child or lost a partner or lost their whatever, is the constant test and the illusion of faith or fame is something that is the biggest delusion of this earth, you
know, Subhanallah You know, there's a story if I can quickly tell you a sofa easily Islamic easily Some said he met denier. And once he met Danny and he and he met dounia like and like dressed as a woman of the night can easily Salaam said to the woman of that night. How many people have come to and and the woman of Macedonia said billions and billions and billions and easily Some said how many of you been faithful to and and the woman at the site said none of them. And this is exactly what dunya is dunya is not going to be faithful to us because we have to be faithful to our last panel data. And the job of this dunya is misguided, you know what they say don't use this to that, you
know the the kind of the trappings of dunia are surrounded around like, like having For example, I think is having right where the trappings of that and it's difficult to go. You will want to go to Jamaica, but there's so many things that are tempting you in this dunya that you get knocked up and you get caught up in it. And what can you do when your next door neighbor and your friends are all talking about the latest TV show? Or the latest musician that they love or the latest actor that they look up to? Right who keep saying one quote and you go oh my god, but we've got quote upon quote from the problem.
So I'm going to sahabas and the women in our beautiful religion, wisdom, you know, the first, this is what we forget about our women, the first scholar of this religion was a woman. But we have to constantly keep telling people that you know, we we don't oppress our women like if that makes sense, you know, constant that kind of discussion we have to have in the West Anyway, you know, with people always speaking about
Muscle, Sadie. So he Daria says this subject is very important, and some artists are misleading the use, we need to be able to put our nafs aside and simply say music is haram and not shy away from saying it again and again. Yeah, I agree with that. Like, I sometimes say that I will scholars to speak up more about music because music is such a fitna that we cannot fathom, I see it myself much is that I have still got my ears.
They say to the streets.
I've got young nephews, I've got you. I've got children now as well. And I've got lots of young people who come to me, music is a fitna that we have to constantly keep speaking about. But the problem is now if you speak about, we get that terminology of,
you know, only God can judgment. And I get that. I respect that, if that makes sense. But this saying that only God can judge me is from Tupac, from either rapper it's been from it's not even from it. So Subhanallah I want to just let it let
let you know some of the teachings on this, that Islam considers self promotion and seeking fame as a spiritual sickness. It's a destructive desire for a worldly matter similar to wealth, it eats you inside, while seeking wealth is a hunger, to possess material things seeking fame, is the desire to what possessed people's hearts, to capture their love. That's all it's about all of these artists. They're just seeking love. And you'll only be as big as your next hit the for these artists Just so you know, when they hit comes out, and they got that great album, they don't get to enjoy it. They're then stressed about that. They're the a&r people, their promoters will come in and say, What
What have you got on the table for us now, and we'll be feasting on their wealth, and feasting on them. And meanwhile, to fill that hole, which would have been a void filled by Islam filled by Vicar, you then fill it with other things that and then you're revolted by yourself, and then you and then shaytan tells you can't go back to Allah. So then you're down, you know, into the cesspit and it is a cesspit. And by the grace of Allah, our brother Omar, Isa has been guided by Allah to Allah, to see out of that, and to change what he does for his for his risk. And I pray that Allah to Allah gives us all the blessing of to look at risk risk in a different way.
You know, that we're here as well to help Syrian refugees brother. And perhaps we can, you know, encourage our brothers and sisters to understand what contentment is, and to really, you know, to know what generosity is inshallah So, you know, the, the kind of the thing that Islam gives you like going back to where I've come from is it gives you a consciousness of other people, my brothers and sisters, we have to give for the sake of Allah subhanaw taala when we give for the sake of Allah subhanaw taala we never lose that money. I don't think there's ever anybody has come to me, and I've done a bit of fundraising on TV here and there. I don't think anyone's ever come to me at an event
and going over you know, one time You told me to give that money. For the sake of our last panel, I really felt it because you don't feel it. When you get for the most part or you don't feel it. And in this moment of lockdown that we're going through is a time that we should understand and reflect that calamity can come anytime. But one thing that removes calamity is giving charity is given for the sake of Allah subhanaw taala. So I urge my brothers to give because the Sahaba has never stopped giving, even the ones who are guaranteed gender. The Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam urged us to give but Allah fantastic and this is the Prophet Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam,
the most perfect human being the walk the face of this earth upon Allah. So who are we, you know, we're just normal creation of Allah subhanaw taala and we are here talking about the giants of our religion who usually constantly keep giving charity. So it's very important that we give our ancestors for Allah sake and it will never leave your bank account. Contact me if it ever does, because it will never leave in Sharla Do you notice a panel I used to travel the States
and around 220 11 2012 with the Islamic Council of North America, Aigner, you know Aigner
great organization, Mashallah. And there was a brother who passed recently. His name was Mohammed and he was a big fundraiser. And because he was such a massive fundraiser, Mashallah to baracoa because he inspired people. He wasn't upfront.
Underneath, he wrote books about Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him and he was a lecturer. He loved to fundraise for good causes. So he traveled the country and he'd go from the the, the the parts of Canada down to Mexico and back around in a year. So you see the same people. And he would always say that he would meet the same brothers again and again, he'd say, you know what, you encouraged me last year that 5000 that I gave, you won't believe. Here's just one story that he told me directly. This is Toby directly. He said,
a brother gave gave the last money that he had, that will spare because you know, you don't have to take from the mouths of your babies. You have a duty to your family. We know that right? Did he go all he had, he said, I'm so moved by this. I'm going to give it but know that I'm worried about this. A year later. He came up to the brother as he came offstage. He sort of took over telling my story said, you know, after I gave at that fundraiser, he said, a paitent scientific patent that he had had for 10 years on a website, 10 years, nobody shown any interest in the scientific discovery that he'd made. The next day, they got taken up for 150,000 pounds 1000 pounds became 150,000.
Well, Allah, Allah will provide for us from where we cannot imagine. And that's one of the doors we make. Isn't that amazing? So
I also knew a true story of a brother who used to sell lottery tickets. He had a garriage in the States. And one day she came to me said don't don't sell gambling stuff, you know, okay, you know, to do things for Alitalia. He said, You know what, it's, it's my income I make so much soutter Allah will replace it actually, you love a lie. See you at fauja change it he got rid of he tore out the lotto machine. and a month later, Dunkin Donuts came and said, We want to buy a section of the lot, he gave him so much money, you wouldn't believe 100 100 he absolutely saw a lot of hair in that handle. When you give when you give something up for the sake of Allah, Allah, Allah, He, I've got
so many stories I can tell. But we'll be here for hours, to say that when you give for the sake of Allah subhanho wa Taala, you get back so much more. And this is a last part that always says, and be grateful to me. Because the more you're grateful to me, the more I give 100 Allah and this is important that we give we give for the sake of Allah and Allah, and my sister that this is the essence of this beautiful religion of Islam, that we are taught one of the pillars is the god charity, you know, constantly giving and giving, and not giving. And like you said, of course, we're not telling you to give everything you've got.
We're saying whatever you've got whatever you can give, give, even if that's the littlest amount, because nothing is small in front of Allah subhanaw taala especially if your intention is for his sake and his sake only. So thank you so much for being our guest. So I'm going to cover I'll tell you about a cat. So if you've enjoyed this podcast, please take a moment to visit what ten.org.uk to support Syrians in need.