Muslim Identity, Beyond the Rituals

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Maryam Lemu

Channel: Maryam Lemu

Episode Notes

Episode Transcript

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


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Assalamualaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu

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Well, may Allah accept our ibadah during this month of Ramadan, and May He grant us the full blessings of this month inshallah we may we reap the full reward of this month of Ramadan, I was given the liberty to pick any topic of my choice. And there are two topics that I'm going to be covering today that are extremely dear and very passionate to my heart. The first one is with regard to our Muslim identity. Now I've presented these two lectures before however any opportunity I have, I continue to talk about them because they're so relevant, and so real, and they're affecting so many families today.

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As we have reached halfway through this month of Ramadan, I see a lot of Muslims putting a lot of energy into this Ramadan, doing all the things we're supposed to do, having the willpower and the discipline to do all the extras that will help us reap the full blessings of this month, we are lowering our against guarding our thoughts, guarding our tongues, and for men in particular guarding some body parts that normally wander around. Some find the strength to take a break even from social media, whereas during other months, we almost feel like we cannot live without it. While neglecting the big picture of what the month of Ramadan is meant to be the main essence of Ramadan, and what it

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is meant to help us achieve often we miss that big picture. Whatever we do during this month, of course, we've heard this and lecture upon lecture is meant to be sustained long after this month is over throughout the year. And throughout our lives. It's not just for one month.

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I think of the creativity so many of us come up with how we're able to balance and juggle so many things simultaneously. We come up with unique ways of doing the extras. We come up with beautiful ideas to help strengthen our Eman and to give us hopefully the beautiful blessings of Ramadan.

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We talk to our children more during this month. We share with them tips on how to be better Muslims and how to reap the full blessings of Ramadan, families start to get closer. during Ramadan. We become more and more patient more and more generous. However, I have such a deep concern that many of us are actually seasonal Muslims, where we put all this effort into this one month during this season. And after that we go back to business as usual. I heard somebody saying that, Oh, I'm fasting I cannot gossip. Or it's Ramadan I cannot lie. As if after Ramadan, we are allowed to go back to our old ways of gossiping and lying or that the sin is not as heavy as during the month of

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Ramadan.

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I wanted to say please can you just fast throughout the year so that you will restrain and refrain from committing those acts.

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You find Ramadan Tafseer holes filled to the brim.

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Yet before and after Ramadan, you find the room very scanty.

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As if this period is the only time where we can listen to tafsir we can grow and learn more from those who know more than we do. Let me share a story with you.

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I grew up in a very religious home. Both my parents and my brother are known to be religious scholars. My father used to occasionally give the hotbar the central mosque. He was a Sharia court judge until he retired. He and my mom established a huge Islamic organization. They also Islam established several Islamic schools. they've written books, giving lectures all over the world, all on promoting Islam and the dean. My father was also honored with the King Faisal award for service to Islam.

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And then there was Merriam lemo.

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I was a Muslim by name by chance, not by choice, because I was born into it. I prayed five times a day, but I didn't know what for. I didn't see instant results for my prayers. So I felt Allah wasn't listening to me. Prayers became more like an exercise to me. I did things like a robot. I became a blind follower.

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I was told to pray and I would pray. I was too old to read the Quran I would read. But why? I would ask because Allah said so and he would reward me and have discussion. I had questions like where Allah came from, and

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proof that the Quran was actually him speaking to us. When I asked my teachers, no one seemed to have answers that satisfied my curiosity, just that Allah appeared from nowhere. He's everywhere.

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And he exists.

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I had so many questions. Unfortunately, my curiosity often hit a brick wall.

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There are some questions that I'm told. Just don't ask, have faith have Eman? That's the proof of being a good Muslim. Now my brother and I grew up reading the Quran with my parents. Almost every single day we would sit together, read the Quran, the translation, its interpretation and its application. We would read the Sierra de with the Prophet, Hadith books and so on. But I didn't connect. I actually zoned out. My brother, however, seem to accept embrace and be able to apply all the lessons that were being taught. Now two things happened to me that created this big problem in my life. The first ones were the Muslims, the Muslims that were interested in teaching us the Quran,

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they were very wicked. They were very generous with the Bula Allah.

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I often associated Islamia reading the Quran with pain.

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Some had questionable character as well. I remember one particular one who would have my brothers and I take turn to go and take things out of my mother's pantry. today. It's my turn to go and bring milk. Another one it's Maggie another one it's rice and so on. In other words he was teaching us to steal.

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They didn't either, on the other hand, make Islamia fun or lively. I remember my friends who went to Bible school, they would come back and share fun stories of what they learnt. I thought that their Moses was far more exciting with his animals climbing up on this boat that he built. Then my Musa alayhis salaam. I thought that there Noah was far more adventurous. Sorry, Moses was filled with magic tricks. Noah was filled with the animals there my know alayhis salam there Jesus, oh, that Jesus was so cool. He had swag. Compared to my ether alayhis salaam. The day I finished the Quran, I was about 16 years old. There was a big celebration. But it didn't mean much. To me. It was just a

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day for me to stuff my face, and eat a lot of meat. Because I had tuned out, I didn't feel and I didn't get the message. And I didn't realize that there was a relevance to my life. Now what I notice in our society today is that we focus so much more on how much of the Quran we've memorized more than how much of the message we have gotten. We've understood, we want to show off that our children are half is of the Quran, more than how much they've translated what they have learned into action.

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So even though there is a huge reward for reciting for reading, and memorizing

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the greatest, most important purpose of the Quran is that it's meant to be a guide for us, which requires us to understand the meaning of it and the message. So what's the point of reading if we don't get the message? While the recitation of the Quran It's beautiful. If it's not translated into action, we have missed that message from Allah. It's meant to be understood, not just the letters with the beautiful melody. It has a message that's meant to be put in place to guide us, to inspire us to caution us to comfort and to solve our problems.

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If you ask many today, what makes you a Muslim? What separates you from others who are practicing their Deen? Often you will get a response I prefer five times a day.

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And I believe in one God and Muhammad Sallallahu wasallam is His Messenger. I fast I do sadaqa I go for Hajj. However, if you ask what is it in your character that differentiates you, from others who are practicing their Deen?

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What gives you conviction that you are in the right Deen in the first place because like me, many of us are born into it. And we just start to live our lives and go with the flow. Often the response you get

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is something that most likely will not truly satisfy the answer that we're supposed to get. Yet the answer is right there in the message. Because we pray five times a day doesn't make us good Muslims, because we fast we go for Hajj and Umrah doesn't make us good Muslims. The greatest Jihad we are fighting today it's not struggling to practice our religion freely. It's actually a struggle of our own Muslim identity.

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It is a Muslim

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identity crisis that we are facing. So what does it mean to be a Muslim?

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Because if the message from Allah is that we shouldn't cheat, gossip, steal, or lie, and we do.

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And he says we shouldn't find a case we shouldn't drink alcohol, collect interest, give bribes have pride, yet we do.

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And he tells us to enjoin right and forbid wrong, and some are trying. However, if you look around today, there is so much wrong going on, when we could actually do more. Instead, people choose to either look the other way, hated in their heart, or sadly join in.

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If you were to ask many, what makes you a Muslim, what you hear is the pride of the label of being called a Muslim. I'm a proud Muslim. But how,

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in what way I ask,

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after doing all those things that you're not supposed to do, you're still proud to call yourself Muslim. Muslim is not the name of an identity, which some of us treat like a big tribe. For example, I am a new person, I'm loopy, and I'm a woman. That's an identity.

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However, I behave does not reduce my loopiness or my identity as a woman. So if I shaved my head bolt, if I wear trousers today, nobody suddenly is gonna start calling me a man, I'm still a woman. If I behave badly, it doesn't reduce my femininity.

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If I speak French, Yoruba, Ebo, Chinese, it doesn't make me less of an up. However, if I call myself a Muslim, then anything that I do that goes contrary to what Allah once that makes me a Muslim, reduces, if I may use this word, my Muslim ness, it also affects other Muslims, because if a Muslim behaves badly, immediately, people will assume this is how Muslims behave. Let me explain. The word Muslim means submitter a Muslim is the one who does their best to submit to the will of Allah. If we stopped submitting, or stop striving to submit to His will, or go against it,

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go against Allah injunction then to allow we are no longer a Muslim.

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It is like being part this is how I describe it to myself. It is like being part of this exclusive club that belongs only to Allah. And to be a member of this club, I have to agree to, and follow all the rules that permit me to be a part of this club. When I think about us here in Nigeria, I would say Muslims, at least half of the population. And then here in the north, definitely Muslims are the majority. However, if you look around, you realize that crime and corruption are at an all time high. And yet we are the majority. We can't be blaming the non Muslims, or those from the other parts of the country for the corruption and the crime we are seeing. Yet we call ourselves Muslims.

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A lady I was counseling said to me, she had marital issues and it was infidelity. She said Maria, we just need to understand and accept the reality that our men are going to cheat on us. They're going to have an affair. And she's talking about us, our Muslim men.

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We hold on to political positions, and have influence over leaders who deny the masses, opportunities to develop who denied the methods, potable water, good health care, facilities, schools, and so on. We're not done naman Machado mahaki. Yet we call ourselves Muslims. Many gain income through non halal means, and we still call ourselves Muslims. Some acquire positions in companies where more qualified people deserve to fit into those positions. But because we have the right connections, we take on or put up people in key positions. And we call ourselves Muslims. Our kids gain admission into schools where more qualified candidates are passed, because we put pressure

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or were able to pay for their seats, and we call ourselves Muslims. Islam encourages us to seek useful knowledge and develop ourselves and our families and our communities, yet we have been left behind. We also once again call ourselves Muslims. We watch and forward jargon on social media including fake news, gossip, and sadly, even pornography, things that make us dissatisfied with the dunya dissatisfied with the little we have because we look at what others have and compare it and such

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We are discontent. And we call ourselves Muslim. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam lived an exemplary life with his wives and with his family. Yet we do not fulfill our basic obligations to our spouse and our children. The divorce rate in the Muslim community is at an all time high. Yet we call ourselves Muslims. We don't fear shaytan. he whispers to us, he tells us to lie gossip, steal, cheat, and we listen to him, and we cooperate. Yet we fear his Aaron voice, the jinns and give them power over us, we actually fear them, and give them room to take over. We give them more power than the creator of all the gins themselves, at least.

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We visit brokers and Muslims and attribute trials and misfortunes that befall us to things other than Allah trials. By doing things like this, we are actually no longer Muslims, yet we call ourselves Muslims. We commit slander, we gossip, we associate things with individuals who haven't done anything wrong. In other words, character assassination, to our sisters, and our brothers. And we still call ourselves Muslims, we treat those that help us, our house, help our drivers security, and so on the junior stuff, we treat them so badly, like animals, sometimes depriving them of their basic rights. And we call ourselves Muslims, the list is endless. And I can go on forever talking

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about all the things that actually stop us from being true Muslims that we do. So what does being Muslim really mean? If we don't follow the rules that permit us to be part of this exclusive club?

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in religious vocabulary, hypocrites. monophonic means you are a believer on the outside, and a disbeliever on the inside. This believing also means going contrary to the injunctions of Allah.

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Yet we hold on tight to the labels that help us identify ourselves as Muslims, the external the outer symbols, that the moment I see somebody I can say, that's a Muslim. And we have these false as of modesty that we go around with, and we love to sport that. So now look, sadly, we do all these bad things, wearing the Muslim look only feeding the stereotype because people can only judge based on what they see.

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The actions of a few Muslims have affected even us sitting in this room today. It has changed the Muslim world. And it's the action of a few Muslims. So being Muslim, is beyond just the looks. It's a mind thing. It's a heart thing. And it's a soul thing.

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Islam is about submitting to the will of Allah, not to the will of man. It's not about our judgments of each other that matters. Ultimately, what people think of us, sometimes we take our time to look in the mirror to dress up, because we don't want people to judge us wrongly.

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So we should stop trying to impress or fool people with the outer looks. We don't say to humans we belong and to humans will be our return. So that external, that Muslim look doesn't impress Allah.

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If it doesn't translate into being a better person, at the end of the day, it is the character that matters most to Allah.

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It's all about our ultimate return to Him. So the beautiful character of a Muslim This is what disturbs me why I'm so passionate about talking about this constantly, especially now more than ever. The beautiful character of Muslims is missing in action in so many of us, yet you find it featuring during this month. And then afterwards, we go back to business as usual. Our true personalities return.

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The Prophet sallallahu wasallam has been chosen for us as our model as an expo of how Allah wants us to behave with people with our families to carry and conduct ourselves.

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Allah has given us this model to show us what we need to do to be part of this exclusive club. And we are meant to copy his examples. His example is in his character and his actions. We need to constantly ask ourselves, what is it in my character and my actions that makes me a true Muslim. So as important as reciting the Quran is as important as understanding the meaning of the message is what is critical is having the willpower to translate it into our actions

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that

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When we become true Muslims, and that is the real struggle that we are all facing. My parents struggled so hard to teach me this message. Like I sat we sat almost every day reading the translation, the interpretation, its application. However, unbeknownst to my parents, I had actually tuned out. I had rebelled. Why I had shared with you The first reason that the Muslims were very wicked

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and the immediate lamea very boring and dull. They didn't make it fun, and they had questioned the question abroad character.

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However, the second reason was because I got turned off due to society's expectations and being judged. Soon as I step out of the door, so Pinilla Maryam, you're not behaving like Ashley moves daughter. Your dressing is haram, your words, your friends, everything went under the microscope, my conduct, everything was wrong.

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I saw how beautiful Islam was meant to be practiced in the home. But being Muslim is being part of a big community. And I was part of that community. And when I stepped out, that's where my problems got compounded. Every small thing I did, people will say, I'm not being a good enough Muslim. The focus was always on my negatives, and they didn't celebrate the little goods that I did. Everything was haram Haram, or you're gonna burn in hell, a lot to me was made to look like this very serious, very strict God eager to burn me in hell. The way parts of the community presented in Islam to me, was not very appealing. Unfortunately, all efforts put in by my parents, and my teachers to teach me

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about Islam failed, nothing was entering. I became allergic to anything associated with Islam. The word to me that rhymed is it with Islam was Haram. At one point, I went for over four to five years without praying.

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As you can see, because we are born Muslim doesn't make us Muslims. Because we are born into strong Muslim families doesn't make us Muslims. It wasn't until my mid 20s, mid to late 20s, that I started to feel this emptiness inside, I started to feel something was missing. I felt incomplete. I also started to feel a bit guilty. Now one thing I knew for sure is that I didn't create myself and that I'm on this earth for a reason. But I'm yet I was yet to identify what that reason was. So I called my brother who was good at listening when we were being taught who embraced and accepted and applied the lessons that were taught to us.

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Contrary to what I thought he would say, Subhan Allah Merriam, you're going to burn in hell.

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On the contrary,

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he told me that allow is very forgiving, and very merciful. What was the most comforting was he told me that Allah knows exactly what I'm going through.

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He started to get me to count my blessings because he knew one of the things I've said is that Allah isn't listening to me, allow us and answering my prayers. He started to get me to acknowledge that in fact, there were so many things I hadn't prayed for, that Allah had granted me. And that may be some of those things I had prayed for. Allah was saving it for a later time, or that he knew that wasn't good for me, but he gave me something better.

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I also got to realize that in spite of turning my back on Allah, Allah never turned his back on me.

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Now growing up, I recall the image of my mother sitting early in the mornings with her Koran, reading the meaning of the message.

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Now, of course, most of you know that my mother was not born Muslim. And I remember her saying that she felt something was missing. And she wasn't getting the answers that satisfied her needs her curiosity. So she went on a journey to research so many different religions, before she discovered that Islam was the one the one religion that had the answers that made sense to her

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that were reasonable that made sense to her logic, and gave her peace of mind. So I embarked on my own journey to find out if there was anything missing in the religion that didn't satisfy my curiosity. So I started to ask various people, I started to read and I started to listen. And this is what I found out. That for us Muslims, the Quran is the basis of our religion. It is the basis of our beliefs. It is the foundation it is the anchor it is it. So its authenticity is so critical to our beliefs.

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It's preservation that it's been preserved from the time the Prophet sallallahu wasallam was given the book, till now, that is also something that gives us this conviction that its integrity is everything to us that it is genuinely the Word of God. This is the one main proof that Muslims can have that they can hold on to that this is the same revelation, that Prophet Muhammad Sallallahu Sallam was reading 1400 years ago, and that it came from Allah. So it's a rational claim that even non Muslims who have studied the Koran deeply historical archaeological facts confirm that the Quran we have today is identical with the one the Prophet sallallahu Sallam was reading and his

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companions, scientists who have studied the Quran that is there in the University of Birmingham, they have done every scientific research possible, they have carbon dated it, and they all confirm that it dates back to no less than 1300 to 1400 years ago.

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And that there is no doubt that that same book that's in the University of Birmingham archives is identical. Every single letter is identical with the one we have in our hands today. The ones we have in our homes in our phones,

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the message is exactly the same. So it's a rational claim for us to say that the Quran could not be the work of a human being called Muhammad Sallallahu wasallam. How can a man who was illiterate in the Arabian desert with no binoculars no telescope, no satellite, no microscope, know what's happening in orbit and at the bottom of the ocean? How could he know what's happening in the womb of a mother or historical facts that nobody at his time could possibly know?

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If one had said that a committee had been set up a committee of poets, philosophers, astronomers, scientists, lawyers, gynecologists by biologists, historians, if one had said they had come together to produce this book, however, all evidence shows that 13 114 100 years ago, there is no way any man that existed could possibly know things that were going on outside their circle.

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So the fact is, there is an inability, by all to find the author of the Quran, other than Allah. Allah even said that if the whole of mankind and jinn could come together, they would not be able to produce the likes of this Koran. So for me, in my journey, to do my homework and do my research, what was comforting is that Allah will for mankind is with us, it's with me in my hands, but to what extent we choose to follow it now that's a different story. But from the point of view of faith, having faith and conviction, it was reassuring for me to know that there is no confusion on the issue to do with has the will of Allah by His grace, feeling been preserved faithfully through human

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agency and history. The answer Alhamdulillah is yes. Then the question of Am I on the straight path? Am I on the teratoma Sikkim? Do I know what Allah's Will is for my life for my purpose? Do I know what Allah wants me to do to be part of this exclusive club of his? Do I have a map Do I have a guide and a prescription on how to get there? Well, if the book is genuine,

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and authentic, then the message is genuine. Then Alhamdulillah I do have a guide, I do have a map and insha Allah, we are on the Serato Mr. Kim, now to the meaning of the message, which I keep emphasizing, most of us focus on memorizing, and not so much on the meaning of the message of the Quran. Now one thing is clear that the book is there for all to read and hear directly. What did Allah say?

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Because nobody speaks to His creation better than the Creator Himself. So while scholars are extremely important, what I love is that I can read the Quran myself, and there's nothing better than that firsthand access to the word of Allah. What did he say to me in his book, so why should we study the Quran because it's direct, live and direct Allah speaking to us, me hearing what my Creator has to say to me.

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And what does he want of me? It's not a middle man's interpretation of what Allah said. But

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What is not clear what we are uncertain about? Then we find authentic scholars, those who have studied the Quran more, more deeply more frequently, who have studied how the Prophet sallallaahu narrated by the author Geoffrey Lang, who was the author of several books, including even angels ask, losing my religion and struggling to surrender.

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It was a story that was in his last book losing my religion. A couple came to be counseled by him. The husband was a very problematic man. He drank, he wasn't ethical. He wasn't faithful in the marriage. He didn't take his prayers fasting seriously. In other words, morality was an issue for him. Now Jeffrey asked him if he read the Quran he said, No, he doesn't read the Quran. The Quran was full of warnings. The Quran is full of punishment and Hellfire do's and don'ts, everything is haram, that Allah doesn't like people who do this or that, that Allah was very angry.

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Now Jeffrey loved reading the Quran. And when this man spoke, he found it interesting, because when he read in the Quran, he didn't see those things that this man had seen.

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He never sent that. So he asked the wife who seemed to be a pious lady, a forbearing patient person, a forgiving person. So he asked her if she read the Quran and she said, Yes. She said the Quran to her was full of mercy, full of Allah, compassion, forgiving nature that Allah is very loving, and that it gives her peace and comfort when he or she read the Quran that it was a guide for us. And she felt that Allah was always close to her.

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Now, what Jeffrey found very interesting and very striking, was people who seemed to have a rebellious nature seems to seem to sense that the Quran was talking to them to their rebellious nature. And those who seem to want guidance, want to get closer to Allah see the compassionate side of the Quran. It was as if the Koran was speaking to our conscience. So if you have a guilty conscience, you know you have been doing wrong. It has a way of adjusting its message to suit you. Geoffrey Lang once shared that he likes to read the Koran. Someone said to him, but you don't understand what it means. You don't speak Arabic. And he said, After thinking for a while. He said,

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just as a baby doesn't understand its mother's words. It finds comfort in her voice. He said he felt it was something very similar, that it's the word of the Creator, and that it's a source of comfort for him. It's his creation. In that sense, the way people respond to the Quran, and how it touches them is interesting. You find people who don't understand Arabic, actually break down in tears when they hear the recitation of the Quran. For some, it's the deeper meaning of the Quran that touches them. For others. It's an emotive conscience. So I find in that sense, that the Quran because its contents covers all aspects of our lives. As you read through it. Some parts stand out more than

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others. Depending on the stage you are in your life, where you have reached. When you get to some places you pause, you ponder, and that you as you reach others, you just skip through them. However, a few months or years later, you come back to that same portion that you had read, and it says something that you didn't catch the first time.

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One of the names of the Quran is Al Karim.

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It is sometimes translated as noble

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but it comes from the word Khurram, which means always giving helpful and giving generous. So the Quran is always giving meaning always presenting to every generation new meanings to a generation of science. You see the science in the Quran. To a generation of linguists, you see literature, poetry and beauty, to a generation of legality. You see law, you see wisdom in the injunctions and justice in the Sharia.

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to a person looking for help, they find guidance, they find comfort, they find peace. At the same time for a person needing wanting, they get it. The Quran describes itself as Bashir, and when a theorem a book that gives glad tidings, but also gives a warning. So if one's journey in the Quran comes from a place of rebellion, when you look at the Quran, it's actually talking to you and you realize God is not pampering you. He is warning you. Allah is not a politician interested in telling us what we want to here.

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He is a guide for us, and he speaks to our hearts and our conscience. Sometime later, you find those same individuals including ourselves

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We come back and we read the same portions of the Quran and we don't see the warnings, or they don't stand out the way they used to. You realize that Alhamdulillah maybe you have changed, maybe you are getting closer to Allah. However, don't overestimate your spirituality and closeness to Allah don't develop spiritual superiority. Sadly, this is a huge turnoff for many like me who are still on the journey. Those who want to seek knowledge, have a better understanding, find the straight path, who are trying their best, however small but at least are trying.

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However, the sad thing is, they discover that their biggest obstacles come from those who think they have more knowledge of Allah, who think they are closer to Allah, those who act holier than thou, who I describe as those who are suffering from cache Tam syndrome. The syndrome is a syndrome of pride.

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Those who understand the message its interpretation, those who recite so perfectly However, their actions and their conduct don't go in line with the teachings of the Quran, and the examples of the Prophet sallallahu sallam. They condemn those who they deem spiritually inferior. They misguide people with the power of the knowledge they have. They nitpick the parts of the deen that's convenient to them that they want to preach. They misguide followers. By taking verses out of context. We mustn't forget that when it comes to knowledge of Allah. When it comes to knowing Allah very well, she knows more than any human being does. He knows Allah well. However, what she turned

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is missing is taqwa guided action. The same applies to so many scholars out there who can tell you about Akita and tauheed. However, when you look at their character,

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so it's about the knowledge coming to life, through conscious actions, and this applies to all of us, let the input what goes into us produce the right output. So for those who judge on condemn, I always say judge and focus on judging yourself

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and calling yourself to account and leave the judging to the Creator. We mustn't forget that if our ultimate purpose on this earth for our existence is to worship Allah and follow his injunctions. And all our striving and hard work is in the hopes that we will please Allah and be granted Jana, then let us remember that if Allah can grant a prostitute, Jenna just for saving a dog from thirst. Then let us be careful with the kind of judging we do of our brothers and sisters. We don't seem to judge and condemn those celebrities we follow on social media and those stars on TV. Yet sometimes we end up pushing people away, including those who are on the journey, instead of bringing them closer to

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Allah with beautiful preaching. When I think about my mother, may Allah have mercy on her if she had listened to the criticism, and the condemnation when she embarked on her journey, once upon a time, she didn't cover her hair, once upon a time, she was wearing short skirts. But if she had turned back due to being judged and being discouraged, I think about the contributions that she has made to the oma and Allah is the ultimate judge, and may it serve as a witness for her. But I think that she wrote textbooks even till today. One of the books she wrote a series of books is used as the textbook for Islamic studies here in Nigeria, in many West African countries as well. She was the

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mother of former when the mother of the Islamic education trust, she was the mother of New Horizons college, and has established so many schools traveled around the world, give lectures and so on. People have said I embraced Islam because of her.

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And I, all I can say is just Alhamdulillah that she ignored all the noise. And even for me once upon a time, I wasn't wearing hijab, I was wearing short skirts. I didn't cover my hair. And like I shared with you I wasn't praying for about four to five years. Yet till today, I'm being told that my dressing is fitna and my lipstick is haram.

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One thing I know for sure is that I follow the deen to the best of my ability and everyday it's a struggle. Every day I'm striving every day I'm doing my best to make sure I follow those rules that permit me to be part of this exclusive club that belongs to Allah. And this is a lifelong journey that I'm on. But I'm so grateful that he will be my judge. And we continue to learn and grow and we pray for his guidance. But while on this journey, I make sure I carry people along that will encourage me and not judge and condemn me

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We have to be very humble with our estimations of our spirituality.

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We need to focus on our own self assessment and strive to get even closer to Allah and continue to grow and learn. Now that is the real struggle. That is the real jihad. When the Prophet sallallahu wasallam was asked, Are you going to paradise for your faith for your works? He said, No. We all go to Paradise because of Allah, Rama and compassion on us. So the person speaking to him said, even you, he said, yes, it is only by Allah's grace and compassion, that even I will go to Paradise, or we're talking the Prophet sallallahu sallam, but a word of comfort. For all those amongst us who have done wrong, who have been doing wrong, even up until this moment, we continue to remember Allah

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as mercy. When we look at our hypocrisy, the hypocrisy that exists inside ourselves. What I love is the comfort that we should never despair, or lose hope of Allah Rama. That there is no sin so great that Allah will not forgive and erase.

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What I love is that, that even when I felt I had gone astray, I had stopped praying. I wasn't dressing as I was supposed to. The mercy for me was knowing how merciful Allah is how forgiving and that each day as we look to a new horizons, it's an opportunity for us to turn a new leaf and start afresh and put away all our bad habits. What I love is when the Prophet sallallahu Sallam was speaking to the Sahaba, and he was describing to them, how huge how hot, how big Hellfire was, and he asked them, Do you know what can put that fire out? He said, One tier,

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one tier of a sincere is thick fire can put that fire out. So don't ever despair or give up hope. And don't ever say it's too late. I'm a lost cause. Just one tear of a sincere is too far.

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I always believe in staying in the middle with my expectations. But I am hopeful. But I'm also afraid of Allah as punishment. So on the issue of my topic, Muslim identity, the Quran is a journey through a book that we never ever finished reading. It is a book that is always giving new meaning not just to individuals, but to generations. There is never an end to the Tafseer in the Quran. It keeps finding the soul of an evolving humanity. Yet it remains the same with its message of guidance. Our job is to beautify it with our voices, to recite it in beautiful ways, but most importantly, to live it to be the walking or on. It's not just an academic textbook to be read to be

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studied. It's meant to be lived. Because the Quran on the day of judgment will stand as a witness for or against us. That is what truly scares me that the Quran will stand as a witness for or against us. It is a book that calls us to think, to understand, to ponder on and follow its guidance. There are many acts of sadaqa that we can do. However, one of the best which is also inshallah sadaqa jariya for us, is to read and understand the meaning of the message, and try and spread that to as many people as possible to find every possible way that we can share the meaning of the message with everyone. The Prophet sallallahu Sallam said the best amongst you are those who

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learn the Quran and teach it to others. Please let us continue to have gatherings either small or large like this, long after Ramadan is over, where we are able to connect with people through social media, through our neighbors community nationwide on television, whichever Avenue we can to make sure that the true meaning of the message of the Quran is shared,

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even after Ramadan. However, the most important most effective way of sharing this message is you reading you understanding and you being that walking or someone asked me what does it mean to me to be a Muslim? What I believe it's just simply having a very clear purpose and a direction on a path that I am certain of.

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And having that strong burning hunger and yearning thirst to follow allows rules and guidance to the best of my ability to

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So that I can be part of this exclusive club that belongs only to Allah.

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As we come to the end of Ramadan, we need to make a resolve that we will continue to reinvent renew our intentions. Growing up my father always desmodium kid genta Nia, renew your intention. And each and every day when we wake up, we need to renew our intention. And during this month, we need to renew our membership with Allah in this exclusive club or sign a new contract. If we're not proud of our yesterday that we are going to break those bad habits and continue to create new ones that will be sustained inshallah, throughout our lives. May Allah grant us the strength to resist temptation, and develop the willpower to do the right thing, even when we don't feel like it. Now that is what

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makes us true Muslims, may Allah increases all in knowledge, and grant us the humility and curiosity and guidance to learn and grow. And when we are called to account for what we did with this gift, this book, may our book be handed to us in our right hands, and may it weigh heavy with all the good deeds we did. From the lessons we learned from it, and may allow rewards those who organize these events during the month of Ramadan and beyond. May Allah forgive me if I have heard five offended anybody that was not my intention, I ask you to please forgive me. I'd like to end with the farewell football of the Prophet sallallahu wasallam.

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All those who listened and listened to me, all those who listened to me shall pass on my words to others, and those to others again. And it may be that the last ones understand my words better than those who listened to me directly. I will repeat it. All those who listened to me shall pass on my words to others, and those to others again, and it may be that the last ones us here who hear his words, will understand it better than those who heard him speak and acted out directly. Islam today has been diluted so much, so much more than during the time of the Prophet, but let our character today be better than those of the individuals who existed during the time of the prophet who saw how

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he lived it because that is his wish for us. JazakAllah hiren