Dismantling “ISM”s

Mohammad Elshinawy


Channel: Mohammad Elshinawy

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Episode Notes

ICNA-MAS Convention 2022 Baltimore, MD


AI: Summary © The speaker discusses the challenges faced by Muslims in the past, including the problematic definition of man and women, the importance of accepting the definition of man as a woman, and the success of the Turkish reformer. They stress the need to build out one's truth and good in order to perish, and emphasize the importance of faith and compassion in building a strong bond to achieve political and social goals. The speaker also touches on the differences between the Prophet's teachings and the legal system in Turkey.
AI: Transcript ©
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sounds like everybody

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we begin to name of allah whole Praise and Glory be to Allah and mais finest peace and blessings be upon His messenger Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, and his family and his companions and all those who tried his path may Allah azza wa jal grant us and you a life upon his path and a death while adhering to his guidance, and a reunion around him and a drink from his blessed hand sallallahu alayhi wa sallam on the Day of Judgment, the day of thirst, Allahumma, Amin, and an opportunity to see the face of his lower than ours Allahumma Amin,

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Zach Lafitte, for me for making it clear that I'm going to be speaking about dismantling the isms. I have no intention whatsoever of dismantling the isms.

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Because how in the world do I do that in 20 minutes or in 20 days? Right? And how do I do that? When there's still more isms to come? Right?

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And how do I do that, when many of the proponents of these isms

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make some very valid points, and they offer some very valid critiques and sometimes some very valid solutions to the very valid grievances that they speak in the name of or attempt to remedy.

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And that's really the secret of the talk. You see, Muslims face two major challenges in light of these prevailing ideas whenever and wherever they are these prevailing ideologies, the isms.

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One challenge is to not get sucked into

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accepting it all wholesale, right, the bandwagon effect, you know, hook, line and sinker, they call it without any sort of discernment without any sort of discretion.

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The other challenge is to not get sucked into or bounced into the pendulum effect, you know, the pendulum on the grandfather clock, where you categorically reject everything that is associated with that ism.

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Like think of liberalism, for example, right part of the dominant paradigm, the lens through which people see the world today, liberalism is pushed and understood to be necessary liberalism, just openness. If we want to simplify terms, as the world is becoming more and more diverse, and exposed to its diversity, and societies are becoming more and more pluralistic, right.

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Openness is sort of happening naturally, organically, it's expected you need to just be more open to more difference. But what happens when you just accept that as a superficial principle, unregulated openness, unregulated open mindedness? Are we to be open minded, even too close mindedness? You see the issue here?

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Like racism is an easy example. Should we be open to the idea that to your beliefs are yours and to my beliefs are mine we want to just accept it all and be inclusive of it all? Even if someone has the superiority complex that I'm inherently better because my skin color is XY and Z? No, I would not be open to the right.

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Or openness to the idea of for example, racism was the easy one. Here's the sticky one gender non conformism we shouldn't define what is a man what is a woman?

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super tricky.

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Because you're open to the fact initially, that yeah, a man is a woman is no less, you know, human than a man, there's no difference between a woman and a man. And then you jump further and say we should be open to the fact that a woman and a man could mean anything to anyone, then what is the, the issue here? If we don't have definitions, then nothing will mean everything will mean nothing. So openness to things that are incoherent becomes a problem. At the same time, on the opposite end, in flexibility, right? When you just become rigid, and reject openness altogether, like one of the trademarks of Islam, one of the hallmarks of Islam is its sense of freedom, right? Its sense of

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tolerance, a degree of tolerance. And this is something so beautiful about our deen that was actually exported to the rest of the world by the Islamic culture, the Islamic influence, you know,

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secularism right, sectioning off religion to one hour on Sunday or one hour on Friday and making sure it doesn't appear in public life appear in public discourse. That was sort of seen as a necessary solution. Because if you say this is true, and I say that is true, we're gonna kill each other.

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It's gonna get real toxic real fast.

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But in our tradition,

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When we actually had something very different, we were not blind to the differences, we in very differences. Islam makes some very unequivocal assertions, it's very assertive that this is true. Allah is One, Mohammed is his prophet, the Quran is from him. And at the same time, it gives people a degree of freedom, because why else would they be accountable if they didn't have a choice to accept or reject the truth that I'm asserting is true. That's part of the hallmark of Islam, the tolerance and freedom that the other nations of the world even 1000 years after, couldn't work to. And so they said, Let's just section off religion, let's not assert anything anywhere, let us be

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secular, that was seen as their only possible out to the in flexibility, sometimes as Muslims as well, we sort of fall into that we ricochet right from the Islam, and start defining Islam as the very opposite of the Islam when the Islam could have had some truth in it. Does that make sense?

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So resisting the bandwagon effect, that's the first duty, right? Because if we don't resist it, what we are unintentionally implying is that Islam is basically like some homeless orphan

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that is shivering outside in the cold, or waiting 1000 or 1500 years, right? For some movement, to adopt it and take it in and define it for us. Right. Islam was defined 1400 years ago, wasn't it?

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That is the danger. Islam is not defined, adopted. It's not an orphan. It didn't wait for 1000 years for some man made movement that could be responding from a good place to an injustice in some error or period of history or not. That's not Islam.

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Islam was perfected on the day that Allah subhanho wa Taala revealed it to us. It's not a reaction or an overreaction. It's not some superficial solution to sometimes very real

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considerations, very real circumstance, very real injustice. And then on the opposite end, if you don't resist the pendulum effect, of swinging to the opposite of all isms to define your Islam, then you haven't escaped the isms either. Because the Islam is still what defined your Islam, right? You're still a captive of it. I am the opposite of the Islam. So what have you really done there? Yes, Islam does not have any of the cons, the downsides of these prevailing manmade ideologies. But at the same time, Islam does also have

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all of the pros all of the benefits that human beings might have just arrived that out of their nature, their love, for justice, their love, for goodness, their love for equality, that Allah put inside us, a product of human intellect, a product of human goodness. We don't believe humans are inherently evil in Islam, we believe they're inherently good, susceptible to evil, short sighted and susceptible to evil. And so they could have arrived at some very good solutions. Incomplete, but solutions. That's why the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam said, I was sent to perfect good character, because a part of it could be inborn. Right? And that's why Allah azza wa jal said, The

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word of your Lord, I met Kelly matura, because

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the word of your Lord has been completed has been perfected in truth and injustice, meaning there's justice out there, there's truth out there, but only Allah's deen is perfectly true and perfectly just completely true and completely just so that was the first leg of our journey together.

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The second is now what do we do these isms are here and people react in these, you know, very dangerous ways the bandwagon effect the pendulum effect.

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I want to show you what I think is a success story, you know, by Dr. Zimmerman, and notice the the famous Turkish reformer. From this past century, he lived at the heart of

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the the dismantling the destruction of the Philippines, right. The Islamic State, the Khilafah, was canceled in his lifetime, and the colonial project and it's conspiracies and its invasions and all this stuff. We're in full swing, right? And everyone is so consumed with this issue of how do we react to this new world that has us down for the count because he was in Turkey, Turkey meaning he was at the heart of the anti religious sentiment, right?

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And he said something that I wish you will remember it's a very Quranic principle. And it's no coincidence that he has his own 5000 Page commentary on the Quran.

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Rasa and you know, the messages of light which I have a very superficial familiarity with, but the connection is obvious, he says and remember

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Bro this if you remember nothing else from the talk and national ILA Bina Ilma. Do me a schwa. Jimena, Illa head millimole jute.

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We are far more in need of building what's absent than dismantling what's present.

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We are far more in need as an ummah

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for building what's absent over dismantling what's present.

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And as for this being super Quranic Think about how many times the Quran has the pattern, promoting the good forbidding the evil promoting the good forbidding the evil. It always began with promoting the good because yes, you need both, but you need to prioritize promoting the good over preventing forbidding pushing back on dismantling the evils.

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Elsewhere in the Quran when the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam was entering Mecca on the day of opening Mecca liberating Mecca towards the end of his life, but not quite right. he recites the IO apologia and half goes I have been belted in Albertville again as a hookah and say oh Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, the truth has now arrived and falsehood has perished, falsehood is bound to perish. Think about that. What do you mean falsehood is bound to perish? It's been 20 years, why didn't it leave 20 years ago, that I came down or out 20 years into the ministry into the prophethood of Muhammad sallallahu alayhi wasallam. And what do you mean the truth has arrived?

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Islam was the Quran was being revealed for 20 years. And the Quran had not fully been revealed. Yet the last few years of the prophets life, a lot of Quran came down. So what does it mean? What's the secret here? Say the truth has now arrived in equal strength. falsehood is flimsy falsehood is bound to perish. But because truth is absent in equal force, there's not a level playing field on the ground on Earth. That's why falsehood sticks around. You need to build out your truth, build out your good in order for falsehood which is bound to perish perish to finally perish. That is the idea.

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You know, in sports, they say the best defense is a good one. Good offense, right. And in medicine, even in ancient times, they say prevention is better than a cure. This is just understood by everybody. And even like in management, they say that Firefighting is bad management, you just keep reacting to problems trying to dismantle and undo and put out fires. It's not sustainable, it just won't work.

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And then you look at the Quran again, the Quran does something profound in building the hearts and the societies of believers. The Quranic narrative, focuses more on the praise worthiness and the perfection of Allah, way more than it does.

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Establish that Allah is glorified above imperfection. If you try as the scholars did to look at how the Quran speaks about Allah, it tells you so much more about who Allah is, than who Allah isn't. And when it speaks about people that are confused about Allah or have ascribed, you know, some divine qualities to an idol, or some entity or being or idea or otherwise, the Quran says What a smell and send me to Musa these gods that you called Gods. No one's buying that, right. But no one's buying that Then why won't everyone just believe in Allah? No, until you know and your heart is nourished and you are acquainted and experience the greatness of Allah, then and only then will your

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spirits be liberated by it. So that's why the Quran and even the Sunnah of the Prophet alayhi salaatu wa sallam said that Alhamdulillah is superior to Subhan Allah, even though you say both, they go hand in hand, the differences and hamdulillah establishes what Allah is perfect, glorified, is Allah means what Subhan Allah means Allah is not imperfect. Right? So establishing his greatness is the best way to go. Otherwise, you could be validating false gods without realizing it. You could be validating if you speak about it too much the imperfection of the true God.

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You know, like if I if I went to a king of this world, and I want to praise him, and I praise him by negating bad qualities, instead of saying, Your Highness, you're so amazing, and you're so generous, and you're so kind and please let me live. Right? If I say, you're not a trash man, and you're not a loser, right, and you're not a tyrant, and you're what's gonna happen

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he's gonna give me the extended tour of the dungeon downstairs. That's what's gonna happen because negating the opposite too much sort of adds credence validates the opposite. Like if it weren't imaginable, you wouldn't have spent so much time on it. You're you're throwing shade here right now

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It's almost like

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when the parent says, who ate the chocolate in the cupboard? And one of the kids says, I didn't do it.

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That's mighty suspicious. Right? You know, even Omar Radi Allahu Anhu. He wants charged a young poet with slender and had him punished, because he said in his poetry, and my two parents are not fornicators you know, because poet sometimes if you're battling, right and rap, or whatever it is, right? You just got to quickly think of the next line not to calculate to keep the write up, and so on and so forth. Right. And so they say things that are sometimes

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problematic. And so he said, I didn't say the fornicator I said, they are not fornicators. He said, You made it the conversation. Right? The fact that you say my parents are not you dismantle the suspicion, when no one ever suspected them? You sort of added a layer of it's possible that they might have you made it a conversation

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you know, even they'll claim it a few layers to this if they'll call you and when he speaks about an ism we should speak about more materialism. Shopaholic ism, right? He says people that love Allah and are devoted to Allah, but they don't have sacred knowledge. They're not close enough to the Quran. They make a huge mistake, when they try to get other people to hate the material world hate dunya stay away from dunya and dunya. This and then you're that right? He said, But the person who knows Allah, what they do is they don't dismantle the love of dunya. Materialism.

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Even though dunya is wider than the material world, that is the ego and everything else, right? Your worldly reputation. And otherwise, he says, but let's just simplify as materialism. They don't try to dismantle materialism. He said, what they do instead is that they cultivate the love of God. Because it makes it easier for someone to temper their love for this world when their love for Allah becomes superior to their love for this world, as opposed to trying to get them to hate the world that is their world, my oxygen mytrees minus theologia. My parents my home, right?

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And so this rule of building what's absent more so than dismantling what's present, you find it everywhere. Even when people have doubts about Islam, by the way, skepticism.

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You will never have the answers to every single doubt. So it's a bad strategy, try to get an answer to every single doubt, become some doubts or not doubt some questions or non questions, right?

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Just the question itself is wrong. Is God so powerful that he can create a circle with four corners? Oh, my God. It's true. No, it's not true. And it doesn't deserve an answer. Because we define objects you tell me you want to square a circle. And so imagine a person gets riddled with doubt, and sits there for 10 years stuck on this question. What? And so trying to answer every doubt, your life is not long enough, and your brain is to finite, some answers only the scholars know. And some answers only Allah knows. So what is the better protocol to build the faith, strengthen the ABS strengthen the faith that could be absent, its strength could be absent? Do you think I have the

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answer to every doubt that comes my way? I just undid the circle square thing. You think I have the answer to every single one? No, I don't. But the difference between me 20 years ago, and me now is that I can go to sleep at night. Now knowing why Islam is true for very good reasons, even without the answer. Like you know what I'm sure is a really good explanation about Hadith. I never heard him before. But I'm fine. Right? That is the idea. May Allah give us all on first from faith say I mean?

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And likewise in Dawa, you know, one of our teachers used to say, that, if you your Dawa is to pick at and critique other people's systems, belief systems, moral systems, he says, When you attack something, people get defensive and protective of it. Even if they originally believed it was worthless. Like if I had some sand in my hand, he told us and you attack the sand in my hand,

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I'm gonna go

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and get protective, this, Oh, this must be important. Right? Maybe the stock value on sand went up or something. But if instead of attacking and trying to dismantle my attachment to sand, you present your diamonds, I'm probably going to go like this and open my hand right or wrong. So inviting to the truth is far more effective than you trying to respond to deconstruct these untruths.

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And so, in terms of political justice and political systems, and otherwise world paradigms, world systems out there, we can't just critique the dominant narrative is extremely important. We have to build a suit

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barrier alternative, a counter narrative, a counter culture, once our communities for example, and then in sha Allah Our Ummah, but it also starts before community with family and before that with individual, once we build the representation of

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beauty in us, we start representing beauty. We start representing justice, we start representing compassion, we start being recognized

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for our concern for the world for our progress and contributions to the world.

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people gravitate towards strength, like look at athletes, do you think we would take great pride or even know the quotes of Muhammad Ali Rahim? Allah or Habib, if he was one in 28? Instead of 29? In Oh, right. We wouldn't know and we wouldn't care. Even politicians, many times people speak about these politicians, you know, and like sometimes like, they think they represent the Muslim community. And we can't let our children believe this because there's some like maneuvering that they're doing that our kids don't understand that it's mixed messaging and say, Listen, they're gravitating towards strength. And your children probably know that there's certain things ABCs Islam

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here that are arrived. But you can't stop them. People need heroes. So build the hero, and stop complaining that the anti hero is taking someone or someone who shouldn't be a hero. It is our problem, to build that representation cognitively in the minds, right, but also concretely on the ground of strength and beauty and justice and compassion and the values of our deen. The last example I'll give you because I'm out of time.

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You know, the Algerian writer and philosopher Maliki been nubby. He died in the 70s Rahula. He coined the term regarding our OMA called civilizational bankruptcy.

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And if less we have already civilizational bankruptcy. And basically, once again, colonial project and full swing, he's one of the visionaries that said, you Muslims need to just chill out and stop whining.

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I'm sorry, forgive me, like about these days that never existed, right? Like things were really great until the invasions happened in the colonial powers cancel the Khilafah. Wrong.

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They weren't that great. They weren't. He's telling you. This is selective memory. This is defective memory. Also, it's very dangerous to have this romanticized view of our history. Because if you think an external force is what broke Allah's promise to support the believers who are upright, and that's not the Allah we worship, right.

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And it means we can't solve anything because we didn't ruin anything. It was someone else who ruined everything. Stop projecting blame. He's saying our Ummah in the political sense was called the old man of Europe for 300 years before the collapse was cancelled, right or wrong before the abolishment of the Khilafah he said you're just looking at like the the symptom of the political debacle.

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Before that, there was moral corruption there was a dismantling of our morality. And before that, the bedrock of our morality our deen our theology, our spirituality our deen became more culture than than Deen, right? A commitment to Allah Deen from debt then our indebtedness to Allah Subhana Allah without, we didn't have that authentic God centric lifestyle. We were no longer known for this. We no longer enjoyed this. And so the morality fell. And that was just the tip of the iceberg. That was just the end result. That was the straw that broke the camel's back, which is the political system sort of got dissolve.

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He's saying but we were bankrupt way before that. The fact that colonialism found a landing site for its conspiracy or found a landing site for its foreign ideas is because the Muslim heart and mind before that, he says another term he coined was colonized double, what made us colonized double the vacuum inside he says,

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and so that is the root cause. And the reason why we will unless we recognize this continue as individuals or societies be cycled through, tossed around from one ism to another ism, because the problem is not the ISM. The problem is our vulnerability to the ISM. Does that make sense? Jimmy? So may Allah azza wa jal make us people who are self determined to rebuild say I mean.

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We ask a lot of Artico Tala by his most beautiful names and his loftiest attributes to make us of those who build solutions. Instead of just whining about problems. Allahumma Amin May Allah subhanaw taala makes people that are better at anchoring the good. Even more so than we are at dismantling and uprooting the evil say I mean,

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we ask a lot of auto italic

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To make us better at providing solutions for the world, over describing them and observing them from the sidelines Allahumma Amin, may Allah make us an ummah that returns to being better at lighting candles than disapproving of the darkness. Allahumma Amin well Salallahu Salam Baraka Vienna, Muhammad Ali, he was Sofia drain