Ramadan in the Lehigh Valley

Mohammad Elshinawy


Channel: Mohammad Elshinawy

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Episode Notes

With Gruen, D Hernandez – Muhlenberg College

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Welcome to worldviews. So this is our third and final event of the semester, I just want to make you aware that we have our we're hard at work, Christina and I are hard at work at the building of the program for the fall. It's not totally ready to be unveiled yet. But make sure we have your contact information, snail mail, email, if you want to be notified of events, and you will, you will get all of our publicity when the time comes. Again, I would like to take this opportunity to recognize the generous support of the Charles and figure Kline foundation for underwriting both live streaming and the archival video of the program. So that these are available, not only immediately to people who

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can't be with us tonight, but also on our website for future study and reflection. So they're, they're underwriting this whole year. So we really appreciate the client foundation.

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So as the name of our program, indicates, worldviews is interested in considering the beliefs and practices of cultural actors and religious and cultural actors, from people within our region.

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I think that exposure to individuals and communities and how they operate in our world differently than we might as a super important part of developing not only religious literacy, but empathy to, to those people who are not ourselves right to the whole point, to a large degree of what we do when we study religion and humanities in general, is to imagine a world is not our world. And that's what we're doing here tonight. So, since we are have two guests, this is a first in a lot of ways it is a first because I'll introduce Sheikh Mohammed in a minute. He is the first repeat guest of the institute's I think that's super important and great. And then, and then the other. The other first,

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this is the first time we've done a dual interview. So hopefully, they will let one another talk a little bit. So with that, please welcome. Please help me in welcoming Imam Daniel Hernandez, and Sheikh Mohammed Al shonali. Super happy to have you both here. This is this is exciting, and I am going to give you a hard time because I understand what imposition This is to happen during Ramadan, and that you all are super busy. So we really appreciate you all taking the time to be with us.

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So, actually, before we get started, I know that because you're both here and I've introduced you with different titles, Sheikh and Imam. Just because I know I know my audience. I think my audience is probably thinking the same thing. What's the difference? Can you help us understand? We don't have programs. So can you help us understand the titles? The honorifics

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for the shift? Okay.

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So Bismillah

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they're actually a bit interchangeable, quite interchangeable. Islamically speaking, there are no there is no clergy in Islam whatsoever. And so these are both honorific titles that are used with community leaders.

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That's the short and simple answer. I mean, the word chef, usually pronounced shake

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has nothing to do with dance skills or any.

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It just means elder. And so of course, the elders are rightfully associated with wisdom. And so people with religious knowledge are looked to for wisdom. That's where traditionally the title got passed down. An imam

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literally means leader in any respect, whether a political leader or religious leader or otherwise, and so those who stand in front of the congregation, and we model after them because we pray in congregation as a leader to the prayer, or a leader who's delivering the sermon, the scriptural reflections or otherwise, that's where the term Imam comes from. There are other usages maybe in the Scholastic spaces but that's essentially it. But having said that, in theory, Imam Daniel is my senior in age and knowledge and may God bless him and his loved ones and all he does.

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So on that note, we're gonna we're gonna jump to you then Imam Daniel and sort of give you first crack at Ramadan and helping us to understand so for those who know anything about Ramadan at all, they know about fasting and we'll get to that and let's not talk about that just yet. Because I want to sort of jump back to talk about the the reason for the celebration the reason for the for the holy month, can you talk a little bit about the event that is commemorated why is there this month of Ramadan? So Ramadan is

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I became significant because of the revelation of the Quran.

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Before that amongst the Arabs,

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Ramadan was not considered a sacred month. So it is considered sacred, or holy or sacrosanct because of the revelation of the beginning of revelation of the Quran. So that's the that's what we celebrate. We celebrate the God's mercy upon humanity,

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for giving us revelation, and not not letting us stay astray. Because when the passage of time

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happens, typically people go away from the way of the prophets from the way of the messengers. And that's why God often sends prophets after messengers after prophets in order to redirect the people back to the right course. So after Prophet Jesus peace be upon him,

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there was a period of 571 years.

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And then that period, there was there were no prophets. It's called the period of Fatah. And then God revealed, began began to reveal the Quran in the month of Ramadan. And it took 23 years to be completely revealed.

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Great, so following up on that, Sheikh Mohammed.

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So there's this the celebration of this commemoration of the revolution itself. Can you talk a little bit about how that translates to like the values of the of the month in the community? Like what are the things that are emphasized? What are things that people are supposed to be particularly mindful of, at during this period of Ramadan? Like, what does it what does it mean? Certainly. So just as Imam Daniel eluded, the Quran itself speaks about this in its second chapter, and it says, the month of Ramadan in which the Quran was revealed, and so it is distinguished because of revelation being reborn. And so we fast the month of Ramadan, which is the verse right before it in

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gratitude to God for having not left us in the dark, right God who gave us life and gave us oxygen and gave us light and gave us all that we need didn't leave us with out the most important thing that we need, which is guidance, a moral code accomplice on how to live our lives. And so that segues perfectly into the function of Ramadan. Ramadan is a month of fasting, ritual fasting, without getting too much into it. The objective of that fast the Quran says Lala contacter cone so that you may become more conscious of God. So it is a season where through fasting, we restore the centrality of the divine in our life. Right? If you think about even subconsciously how that happens

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seamlessly for a Muslim, this cup of water right before sundown we fast till sundown, is impermissible for me to drink. Then as soon as sundown happens, and now it is permissible for me to drink. What's the difference? Same cup of water. God said so that's the difference. I'm heading out first few days of Ramadan, I'm in my my coffee run habit. And I'm gonna get oh, no, wait, it's Ramadan. Right? What's the difference? It happened so so subtly, and so subconsciously, but it's restoring the centrality of God in our life. That's a big part of that. And also, removing the focus a little bit from the overemphasis on the carnal around the body, right. We're not expected to be

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angelic in Islam, but to live for what you eat, drink and consume doesn't separate you much from the lives of the livestock, the lives of the animals and so to lift yourself above by addressing what is worthier and what is more you, we speak a lot of identity nowadays. You know, reclaiming your identity as a spiritual being in reality within a physical body by downplaying a little bit the harassment of the appetites of the body. That's a big part of it as well how we reclaim consciousness of God and consciousness of self.

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So moving forward then a little bit more at the fasting Imam DANIEL So can you give us the nuts and bolts like what does this look like? What is the ritual itself look like? You know, we mentioned

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you mentioned the the rising the setting the sun, obviously, but there's there's got to be more to that right there another in another way. If you had somebody who comes to the mosque for the first time and says, Okay, I want to do this, how do you instruct them to do it? So we go we go by the

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The same verse that Sheikh Mohammed mentioned. Right? The the Arabic language is very rich. And there's a word in that verse that says,

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and Zillah, right, that this is the way it was revealed.

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But Angela means revealed that once, but there is another word in Arabic, which is Nasrallah.

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And if you translate it in English, it means the same. But in Arabic, it doesn't mean the same answer. That means it was revealed that once from the highest heaven, right from the preserve tablet,

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and it was revealed, it was descended to the lowest heaven in that one night. But then from that lower heaven, it began to be revealed, gradually, for 22 years, according to the needs. So we take that gradual process.

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And we take in consideration the human readiness to fast, and we say that gradual approach, right. And so some of us might have different circumstances, some of us might have a medical condition, some of us might have a terminal medical condition, or

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temporary medical condition. So therefore, that same verse, towards the end, he says, and if you're sick, or you're traveling, then you can make it up, if you're able. And if you're not, you don't have to make it up. And then God says in that verse, you read Allah have become a loser of Allah, you need to become a loss. God only wants for you. That which is easy. guy wants to make things easy for you, with the objective, that you achieve the goal, which is so that you can perhaps complete the observance of Ramadan, whether you're sick, whether you're healthy. So there are different options if you can't fast, what you can do, but the most important thing is that God's objective,

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God's objective for mankind in the Islamic jurisprudence is to the bringing of benefits and the removal of harm in everything that we look at the bringing of benefit, and the removal of harm. So we take that, that God's objective in consideration when dealing with with fasting, so fasting, you begin pre Dawn, right, we Dawn, which is before

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you know, by now it's we stop,

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but 10 minutes, in 515, right? Something like that. So we wake up like an hour earlier, so we can, you know, stuff ourselves, right?

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I can say spiritually stuff ourselves with the right intention, but we starve ourselves with food. So we eat well, we make the intention. And there is something amazing that happens is that that food, that pre Dawn meal is blessed, as our beloved Prophet Muhammad stated, so therefore, it's amazing how we become able to fast, you know, throughout the day that when Ramadan ends, we miss it. We miss the fact that we were able to do so much in this month, and by God's divine decree, and order, because God is wise, and God knows what's what's what's good for us.

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So therefore, we, we fast throughout the day, no food, no drink, no matter of relations. Right? But it's not only that you also fast with your eyes,

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should not look at that which is not pleasing to the Lord. If asked for the hearing, shall not be listened to that which is not pleasing to the Lord. If as your hands you should not be sending messages that are not pleasing to the Lord. No text messages, stuff like that, or hurting someone. You should not get angry. You should not you know, you get tested, somebody comes in, you know, you're exiting your drive thru and somebody comes, you know, going, you know, on a farmer five mile, you know, sometimes we're in a rush, we got to go to class, we got to go, and we and we speed through the subdivision. And somebody almost hits you right. And you've asked it that way. You

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really know I, I came from Texas. This is my first time in Muhlenberg. So my

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So yeah, so I mean, but we can lose our cool, right. And if we lose our cool and we and we spit out some words and we get upset and we curse someone out, we lost our fast, right? So therefore it's not worth it. Right. So it teaches us self restraint, it teaches us how to be patient, that if we can sacrifice what we need, though, because sacrifice that which we do not need and fasting serves, I have many testimonies, as a as a method of rehabilitation, for those that need rehabilitation,

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whether from anger, whether from it doesn't mean you ignore the medical treatment, but anger or any, you know, addictions as well, right, it happens it there's a strength to fasting. So then we end the fasting as sundown, right. And prior to that, we make a prayer, we ask God to accept, we ask God to accept and then we, we, most of the time, we go to the mosque, or we can eat at home with our, with our loved ones. And we we have a good breaking of the fast and then we pray and then we we have the big meal. But but the breaking of the past is that little meal,

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right at the time of sunset. So the pre Dawn meal, you should

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delay it as much as you can. But the breaking of the fast, you don't delay, you eat right away when the time entered, you just devour what's in front of you. But you say the name of God first.

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So let's follow up on that actually. So I you'll have to excuse my ignorance about all of these things. But as we were talking beforehand, Sheikh Mohammed, you are telling me about what the life of the community looks like right now. In this month, so in particular, with the breaking of the fast that I'm sorry, it's 728 tonight, so see, this is the imposition that I have I'm keeping them here. But so it's 720 Tonight, can you describe what what does that look like? What does that look like at the in just generally tell tell us a little bit about the life of the community at the mosque and and how that might look different during Ramadan, then then the rest of the year? Oh,

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yeah, for sure. I mean, you walk into any Islamic center or, or mosque,

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probably in the world, just before sundown, you have a whole bunch of people,

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hands in their poems, having intimate conversations with God.

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Because the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him said that the prayer, the supplication of the fasting person as they're about to break their fast is never rejected. And there is so much to be said there. But that's what you will find people As the day winds down more in touch with how fragile they are, how we're all just a few meals away from falling apart. It's our human nature into that little bit of pinch that little taste of hunger. We don't starve ourselves. If you're sick, you don't fast as you heard, right. But that pinch of hunger reminds you of just how dependent you are on God for subsistence. Right? And so they're all praying to God and recognizing their dependency on

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him. How we're utterly impoverished in front of him and he's utterly independent of us. And then the call to prayer is made and we sort of rushed to pass out dates date fruits to each other usually, that is the tradition of the Prophet Muhammad peace be upon him to rate the fest with dates and some water and then we offer the prayer at the sunset prayer. It's one of the five prayers and Muslim makes throughout the day, year round. And then we go and have the meal meal.

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Some people prefer to eat the meal meal right then and there. After that fourth prayer. Some of them prefer to pray the night vigils. First there are voluntary night prayers. In every mosque they're held and hundreds of people show up, you're more than welcome to come visit where we stand there reflecting on that Scripture because it is the month of Scripture where revelation was reborn, and you reflect on it the Imam is reciting from memory. There are 10s of millions of people that memorize the Quran by the way cover to cover in the original language. In the original Arabic the Quran is Arabic in its language, but universal and its message less than 20% of the Muslims of the

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world are Arabs, by the way. So what they're all reciting it in Arabic and everyone is listening, either understanding the Arabic or peeking at translations or otherwise. And that's what we do for a night then we get home and try to like steal a few hours of sleep, their sacrifice the schedule is turned upside down. But sacrifice we are taught is is how you unlock human potential. You know people as he was saying, don't think they can.

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self restraint is an acquired skill. It's a muscle that can be grown and so fast thing is one of the ways to show you oh man

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I can be more patient, I can be more forbearing I can tolerate more frustration, I can serve higher purposes, I can have higher mental functions than just my next meal. And what comes after that of desserts, and so on and so forth. So, yes, it is taxing, but there's a beauty in the grind. It's almost like a vacation resort. It's not your house. You're not very familiar, but you don't want to leave. It's truly special.

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Mr. Daniel, so right now we're very close to the start of spring. But the calendar is a lunar calendar. So with a lunar calendar, right? Not we call them solar calendar, right? So your birthday is the same time every year, right? But a lunar calendar things travel right things move around the solar calendar so that the season is different. Right now we're sort of I think, half Ramadan's are easier and half of Ramadan czar harder, because we're right here, kind of in the equal day and equal night. Can you talk a little bit about how the month feels different, like when you're when it's June 21. And you're the longest day of the year versus when you're in December? 21? It's the

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shortest day of the year? How does that affect the way that the celebration or the commemoration of this happens?

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I want to share a prophetic saying that the Prophet Muhammad said, look at those less fortunate than you. But don't look at those who have more than so when I look at when I think about brothers and sisters is Scandinavia.

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Right. And Sweden, Norway, because I visit it. And they and they're trying to figure out and and their days is 20 plus hours. And by the time they break fast,

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and they pray, then they pray the next prayer by the time they finish the night prayer is almost done. Right? So they so So that's their circumstances, right. And also, we look at the verse from the Quran that says, Lay you Kelly for low enough sunny lows,

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God, the wise, will not place a burden on the person greater than he or she has tried to bear. So we have the God given ability

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to navigate through the seasons. Like we just did, you know, daylight savings time, right as stress, right under stress, right. But we have the ability. And we have to believe in that, that if God prescribed everything goes back to the wise that a god prescribed something that we just got to look within ourselves. And first and foremost before

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questioning God

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is we have to believe in ourselves, that we're able to do it, that we're able to fast. Let me experiment, let me challenge myself.

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And you'll be surprised. You'll be surprised.

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The limits only set by God.

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We usually set limits on ourselves. The limits are only served by God. So therefore, we learn how to navigate it's difficult is difficult, but we learn how to navigate. And we just again, eat well remember God and just

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make the most out of it. But I think I've been fasting now going on 23 years.

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I've been through the seasons. I fasted in Egypt when I was studying there. And it was different. It was different, you know, getting in, you know, getting into public transportation, right. And everybody's trying to go to a destination to break their fast. And

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you're hanging outside of the bus. Yeah, get outside of the bus. And you're just trying to make it and the bus stops, like a 15 minute walk to your destination, and it's time to break fast.

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And you're exhausted and it's hot.

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But what did we experience? We experienced that as you walk in as you're exhausted. As you're thinking man, I got 15 minutes to make it to my destination and it's time to break fast. Somebody walks by with a little bag of dates

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and a little bottle of water

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and lets you take a break

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to break your fast. So God provides like you provide to the birds you can provide for us to

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you know if I may Yeah, now it's not that as well.

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Much of a of a

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of a thing for people to consider Muslim fasting atypical because intermittent fasting is sort of the the data is mounting on that.

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But like 10 years prior 20 years prior, I remember people would tell me stuff like, you Muslims crazy man fast for a whole month. I was like no, no, no, it's not the whole month it's actually sun up to sundown we eat every day. Is it? But still, though, you know, why are you starving yourself and you know, like, the healthy human being can actually go few weeks without food, right can go a few days without water. And so even for the Scandinavian country or otherwise, I remember 20 or 25 years ago, when we're like, oh man, Ramadan is gonna be in the summer, this is going to be impossible. And then the summer comes and you realize that you're setting limitations on yourself.

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And also, when you recall what this is for this is for the love of God, you know, when you love someone,

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like when I love my child, and the child has a fever at 2am, and I'm out of Motrin, I'm gonna I'm not gonna say, Well, I'm really sorry, but I got work in the morning and got asleep. It lightens the load. The love lightens the load. And so we do this out of love for God, out of devotion to Him, and out of gratitude for what he has privileged us with guidance, you know, to this devotional framework, that's what you know, we will keep repeating the word revelation because the theme of our month, but revelation means secrets are revealed. So we believe that had God not revealed the secret to us how to connect with him how to unlock our potential how to hit the reset button, we would be

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in a very confused, very painful, very animalistic place. So it always like Man, why was I worried him and year in year out, it's it really is a walk in the park a lot of times, more often than not.

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So Imam Daniel, you mentioned, practicing Ramadan, practice fasting in Egypt, and I would guess,

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Sheikh Mohammed, you would have similar experiences in other parts of the world. Here's my question.

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How is this feel different being

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in a minority religious group, where everybody around you is not fasting? As opposed to being I mean, I have this vision of you, you know, maybe this is not where you were, but being in Cairo with 15 million people all on the move, right? All in the same sort of desires, you know, to get where they need to go. I mean, that that must just feel very, very different right then than it does here where, you know, average person on the street Rama, Rama would write I don't, I'm not sure what you're talking about.

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I found this wrong, or I accepted Islam in America. So I experienced, you know, the reality of being a minority as almost a religious minority. And then being a minority within my community, right, because, you know, we converted to Islam, right. So, but the community is very welcoming, very inclusive. So

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it's a learning experience. It's a learning experience in Egypt. And in the Muslim world, the beautiful part is that everything revolves around the call of prayer. And once it's, we're getting prepared for that. Everyone is moving in that direction.

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You see the waves of people going towards the mosque, children, and it's gonna, it's gonna be difficult to get attacked again, to get a cab. Right? It's but but it's doable. Now, in America, it's a little bit challenging. And but now, we have come a long way. We have there's more awareness. There's more awareness towards fast and, and, you know, the, the involvement of the community, you know, from civic engagement, interfaith is at a high level, it's, you know, it's about more correspondence, mosques are very involved with with the local communities before, that wasn't the case. They was like, close bubble, right, and that everybody's just doing their own thing. So now,

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it's a little bit different. And I think

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people are coming to see the experience on their own, that they're just walking in the mosques. And people are sometimes choosing to

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after experience and have a brother who was Mexican, and he was, I just want to, I want to experience it. So he tried fasting. He was working in a restaurant.

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And he's a good cook, a pastor, a pastor one day,

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so I want to accept Islam.

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The feeling that I experienced, fasted, restraining myself from my appetite

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that I am able to do something, right that is of that spiritual state statue. Yeah, he just took one one experience. So fasting in Ramadan

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is, is considered a school.

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So consider a school in where we engage the Scripture. So every night, as Sheikh Mohammed was saying that a person who memorize an imam who memorized the Quran reads the part of the Quran. So in one month, those that are behind, listen to the complete Quran in one month.

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So that's one part of the school. The other part is the fasting.

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The other part is the communal that we're coming together every night. You know how you come together once a week for a congregation. Think about congregation for 30 days, that you're seeing each other, you're breaking bread together, you're eating together, you get to know one another. You're

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exchanging a spiritual experiences, right, that sometimes bring tears, sometimes tears of joy, sometimes tears of fear, right? tears of repentance. So

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it's a school for the families, for the children for the communities. So it's it's really, it's a school for the soul, we try to purify our hearts and get right with God. Why? Why why is it important we always focus on the body and not the hearts is because though the one that will be successful, as God says in the Quran, the one that returns to God we call being studied with a sound heart. The one who will be successful is the one that returns to God with a sound heart. So this is what fasting and the Ramadan experience provides. For us. It's like

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a bootcamp a spiritual bootcamp.

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Alright, that God prescribed for us to give us the fuel for the rest of the year onto the next round.

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So I want to make sure that we leave time for questions. So there are a couple of things I want to make sure we get to those. So at the end of the month, we have the E the feast eat outfitter. Can you talk a little bit about that how that fits into the to the month itself what that you know how that's understood as a part of this, this holy month as well? Sure, there are two eats and there was some calendar right or you just means festival or celebration.

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There's a needle Filter Filter means breaking a fast, same like if tar. At sundown we break our fast or either filter is like the official concluding breaking of the fast or conclusion of the fast. And then there's a needle up here which is there ie the celebration of sacrifice. Both of those come on the back end or they are on reverse it but trust with seasons of worship. So we are celebrating ultimately our devotion to God. Right.

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So on the back end of Ramadan, after you've devoted yourself for a month, there is the breaking of fast where you celebrate the accomplishment that by divine grace, you were inspired to bring full circle. Right the Prophet peace be upon him said that the fasting person has two moments of joy when he breaks his fast. He enjoys his meal. And when he meets his Lord, he enjoys his fast. Those are two celebrations. So this is the first installment of the celebration that you know you should enjoy. associate those positive emotions with fulfilling the purpose for which you were created. The Quran is explicit on that you are created for no other purpose, but to devote your life to God not

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because God needs that because we need them. That's how we function otherwise we would forever be dysfunctional. The secondary is Riedel OB Ha, it happens on the back end of another pillar of Islam, which is Hajj, the pilgrimage that a Muslim is to make to the house that Abraham builds peace be upon him. Once in their life, they make this pilgrimage if they are able bodied, financially solvent and all of that. They make the hedge on the back end of that hedge that lifetime pilgrimage. There's a little overlap, there is the read of sacrifice, of course, a reference to the sacrificial

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lamb that God had granted or RAM depending on the tradition, right? That God had granted Abraham peace be upon him when he passed the test of being willing to slaughter his son. God would not permit him to slaughter his son God was testing his will

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willingness, when the willingness was there, he surrendered to the will of God, which is the definition of the word Islam, by the way submission to the will of God. When he did that God gave him around and he slaughtered it and the food was in the most humane way it was slaughtered and in the most generous way it was distributed the meat of that. That's what Muslims do at the back end of the pilgrimage to the house of God that was erected by Prophet Abraham, peace be upon him.

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So much so fast. I'm so so no, no, no, no.

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I think my students will be very upset with me and you would be very hungry, but we could sit and talk for three hours, I'm sure.

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So Imam Daniel, I know that both Muslim Association, the Lehigh Valley and the Islamic education center of Pennsylvania are both really interested in outreach to the community. Can you talk a little bit about the ways like if people want to learn more about Ramadan or experience, if thar what, you know, however, what is available right to the community around around this time of year for the, to learn more?

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Personally, I think that we were blessed in the Lehigh Valley with, with several massages, right? We have masks by so we have icpa. Right? We have mouth, we have respect graduate school, we have Mikaze. We have EPMA, Eastern Phillipsburg. So we have

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more places to go to, right. So my recommendation is just visit a mosque in Ramadan, just stop by, you don't need no invitation. You don't need to make a call, just walk in and just say, Imam, Sheikh Mohammed, an Imam, Daniel gave us an open invitation. And the people will take care of you. Right? They will, they will, they will guide you, either to us, right? Or they will show you around, you know, just, you know, be clear. I want to experience the breaking of fast. I want to experience the the prayer, you can say, I want to see the prayer, right? Because you might end up standing up and not being able to get out for close to two hours. All right. So you see, I want to see the prayer.

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So you can sit in a chair, and you can observe the prayer. And don't feel shy to just leave whenever you need to leave. But the most important thing is just know that the masks have many open doors. You're welcome, anytime to come and see and ask questions, anytime that you would like. And especially I mean, outside of Ramadan, it will be like the Friday during the Friday prayer, because that's when there's more

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more population with the congregational prayer.

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And then also learning about Ramadan, online, we have information on our websites and about Sheikh Mohammed and myself, we have most of our, our the output that we give to the community, the spiritual output. It's live, either on our Facebook page, or either on our website or either on our YouTube page. So there is recordings available as well. So you can also access these things also from the comfort of your home, as well. Your options.

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Yeah, and this isn't gonna be a question, but I'll get you to respond to it. Sheikh Mohammed, but I remember the first time that I went to the Muslim Association, Lehigh Valley for an open house, one of the things that just struck me and you don't get this online, I think, but the diversity of that community is absolutely amazing. I mean, people from

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I mean, what 40 countries something like

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this, yeah, it's just absolutely amazing. So for no other reason, than if you want to go and meet somebody from, you know, various, various places. It's

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it's really eye opening to see the sort of global nature of, of Islam and how the world right has come to the Lehigh Valley in the last few generations as well. Absolutely. One Creator one planet, one family. That's the that's the mantra that's very much Quranic the planet worldview. You find that permeating the Scripture.

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Pew Research mentioned that it is the most ethnically diverse religious community United States. And that's not just by migration. I mean, I was just mentioning to you before we got online, that in the past 14 days, just randomly

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on their own, they've walked in through our open doors and like seven people in the last 1415 days have just come in and said, You know, I had no idea. I want to become Muslim. You know how and it is that simple. It is that simple. So please come, please join us. There is no prayer. That's two hours, by the way. He He's right, but not what you're thinking. It's not obligatory. Yeah, that's the five prayers in the Muslim day, they are fixed times, like three, four or five hours spans. For each one, they're like four or five minutes each Sunday, we voluntarily choose to stand everyone to their capacity, some choose to sit, some choose to be there for a bit and leave to read through

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Scripture in the nights of Ramadan. And that's purely volitional. Absolutely. Yeah. And and I'll just put in my own plug for what we do in the institute, and why many of you are in a religious studies class right now, right, is that the point of going as

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you know, is not to be converted. Right. But the point of going the point of exposing yourself to, to difference to religious difference to cultural differences, to know something more about the world you live in, and the humans who co inhabit the world with us. So I I've never reached out to a community and gone to community and been disappointed that I

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eat no strings attached. That's, it's an important disclaimer. All right, absolutely. So I think with that, let's see, do we have some questions from from the audience here that we can feel Edna and Annie are on either side of the microphone? And if there's anything online, I will not just regard Christine, who's going to wave me down for online. So I am glad. I'm actually have two questions. If I may. My first one, I'll be mine. Daniel, I go back to something that you said when you're using the example of perhaps midday during Ramadan, and you're driving and somebody cuts you off.

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Sometimes it's very difficult to not get angry. What happens in those times when you in essence, broken? The fast and midday because of a response reaction? Is there some sort of atonement aspect that comes into play in those moments? So there is

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some time we human beings make mistakes, like we slip?

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God knows best? Right? You know, we slip and we'll continue. And there's other ways of compensating for it.

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The stricter position is like if you commit a sin, that it's clearly a sin in the religious tradition, then there's things that invalidate your fast, right? So but that's again, it's, it's important for us to, yes, try to be strict on oneself.

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Leaning towards others,

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be strict on oneself according to one's ability, and according to what what you want to get from God. Right. So if you don't feel satisfied that maybe I broke my fast, right. So there is a legal axiom that says, certainty is now removed by doubt. So if you're if you feel that you're not certain, then you make an extra effort by just because you want that acceptance from God. Right. But again, if you slip, that's part of the learning process, right? We are with, like I said, the school, what school has students that don't make mistakes? Right? So we are, God knows that we are human beings. And we are forgetful by nature.

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That's an odd creation. So therefore, it's okay. If you make a mistake, if you slip if you mistake a bug or fast as you're learning, when I started fast, and I didn't, I made a mistake. I didn't know this sunset existed. I didn't know when when to stop fasting. I would fast until like Asia until the last prayer. I didn't know I was out. I wasn't.

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I was fasting, but I wasn't a Muslim yet. I didn't like I submitted but I didn't make the announcement. So I was trying to practice fast. So I said to myself,

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I'm not a hypocrite.

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I know that I have food in my refrigerator. I want to fast and so I feel pain, the pain that the poor people feel and and when I can't

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bear it any more than hour eight hour fast on so I couldn't bear it anymore. But that was wrong, because that's not the religious mandate, right the religious mandate that sunset sunset you rush to break your fast. So that's where knowledge comes into place as well, I would just add very quickly so there's two layers to this without turning it into too many, you know legal technicalities there are the Nullifiers of the fast like eating and drinking having marital relations if you deliberately do that, not forgetful Lee not so accidentally, you deliberately do that you would have to make up the day. That's all that's what he means by the extra effort. The second layer to this is when you

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violate one of the boundaries of God, you disrespect your parents, you look at something inappropriate, you lie, you cheat, you steal those sorts of things, right? Those would compromise the reward of your fast. So you would have to just repent from it and try to compensate, offset it with more good deeds as best you can. And in particular, there is a mandatory charity at the end of Ramadan. So on the day of Eid, before you go out to their Eid prayer, you have to extend to a needy person, one meal, an average meal that you would you would accept to eat, so say a $10 $15 meal. And that represents sort of an atonement and expiation for what may have happened have blemishes, not

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major Nullifiers, but blemishes. So that on the one hand, you're squeaky clean, God willing, on the other hand, the needy don't have to worry about what they're going to eat, at the very least on their day of celebration. So it has a dual component there. Thank you. I love that. And real quick My other question. You mentioned profits what's the difference between the Khalif and a profit

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so the word Halifa translated as Caliph into English.

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Not Calif means Khalifa. Khalifa

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come, it means successor, though the one that comes after. And so effectively historically speaking, basically means the next guy up with a guy who's extending the monarchy or whatever else. If it happens to be a monarchy, I don't mean that all Catholics were monarchs. But that's the idea. This is sort of the religious head of state is usually called a caliph in Islamic history, because they are all seen as extensions of have the prophetic tradition, meaning their legitimacy, not in the religious realm. But then even being allowed to lead a Muslim community is by virtue of the fact that you accepted the leadership of the Prophet Muhammad, above all, peace be upon him, who speaks

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on behalf of God Himself, the Almighty, the Creator. So that's where the word successor is operative. They're all successors of each other. The idea is tracing it all back. You've noticed in this last hour, we do this because the Prophet Muhammad said and we do this Prophet Muhammad said peace and blessings be upon him. traceability of tradition, is inseparable from the concept of this framework is revealed. It's a secret, had God not sent it through prophets, we would never have had it, we would never arrive at it with our own intelligence with our own sort of

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whatever it may be talent, skill, smarts, resources. So the caliph is just like a political placeholder of a name. Whereas the prophet is someone who will reveal was revealed to receive divine inspiration and was commanded to share it with the world. Thank you, if I can add something I'm sorry. But also, since Prophet Muhammad is considered to be upon him,

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the Seal of the Prophets means that there's no prophet coming after him, then whoever takes the leadership after him cannot be a prophet, but it's considered a successor, a Calif. See that? So that says that there's no prophet after prophet Muhammad. So anybody that comes after, right, and this is not self appointed,

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it comes from a body of scholars. Right, that and that's the election process, historically, you know, and it evolved. So that so that's what Cardiff is distinguishing between Cardiff and the prophets. Thank you.

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I'll just add while we're getting ready for our next question, I think these are really interesting. Again, those un New Testament especially thinking about transfer of leadership that we've been talking about lately, like these are super interesting questions, the way that religions evolve, not only sort of theologically, but historically and communally and politically is super interesting. So you know, what happens with the when the most important when the when the Prophet Muhammad dies, right? Who's in charge right? That becomes an interesting, you know, issue and we can talk about it and we've talked about it in emergence of Christianity. We talked about it in lots of different

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religious traditions. So I think that the religious

00:50:00--> 00:50:12

Studies, structuralist comparative thing is super interesting to do there to think about how this is, you know, this is what humans have to do, even if humans are doing it in the context of their religious tradition. So

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another question

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we are getting on so that you are almost, we're almost at the breaking the fast, so I don't want to keep you too long. But I just,

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I just want to sort of finish up this is a question I always ask our guests, I think it's, it's good to do to do now. You know, again, I profess my ignorance of the ins and outs of the belief and practice here. What is it that we haven't talked about? If there's something you say, if you get in your car, and you're on your way, and you say, Oh, we really should have talked about this, this is what's important or essential, that that that ship missed? What would that be?

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So one thing that's been on my mind as I was driving over here

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is that

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I've had a lot of friends growing up.

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By the way, I didn't get to travel the world like him, I'm from a different planet called Brooklyn, New York.

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My whole life I was there, a lot of my friends that sort of had a fallout with their religious tradition. And I've alluded, you know, about the seal before. It was because of too high of an expectation of the religious tradition, or their parents who had a particular understanding of their religious tradition. And it was forceful on them. And one of the most beautiful things that I love about Islam is that it was for humans, clearly, to me by the creator of humans, he understands us our capacities, our psychology, all of that. And so the religion that came to fit that perfectly, to me was a slam, I often tell people that, you know, I chose to be a Muslim, because

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Islam did not make me choose between my mind and my heart. And so even in the in the context of fasting, like we read throughout the Scripture, that angels don't eat, angels don't sleep, angels don't sin. And we are called to transcend sort of some of the the,

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the inadequacies, that the carnal might press us to, these are not sinful and Islam in and of themselves, by the way, but to go too far with them to live, right for eat, drink, you know, made sleep repeats, this is just unbefitting. And it made me consider that we are trying to be somewhat angelic, without being built as angels. And that is why in the Islamic tradition, the believer by God's grace only if they're able to succeed at this, they are ranked superior to the angel. And I just found that so heartwarming, like the concept. And I know I've mentioned animals a lot, and it's your fault. You told me teach a class on animals in scripture.

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But the way our scholars put it is that sort of the animal does not have intelligence, human intelligence, obviously, is what we mean. And they have desires and so they're not blamed for living for their whims and desires and fantasies, right. The human being has, you know, intelligence and desires. And it's it's the battle within right it's the the disciplining battle, the spiritual refinement battle. And if he is able to reel in or restrain, not obliterate not turn off, we're human, we're, it's expected of us, but to restrain your desires within the confines of intelligence, then you become superior to the angel because the angel, third category has intelligence but no

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desires. So you want up to them in that sense. So that's the Cinderella story of the human experience that with all the scrapes and bruises and mistakes, and sins and falters you can actually be God's most chosen creation, after the test of life is over meaning in the hereafter in paradise, because you did that. And so fasting is a little bit of a deep reflection time for me on the potential that God who loves His creation extended to us through this opportunity. And so hope it's of benefit. So I'm, I'm Daniel, I'm going to borrow channel the respect of

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Sheikh Mohammed here for you, and give you the last word. Is there anything else anything else that you feel like should not be left unsaid at this point?

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Before I say what I'm gonna say, because I'm, I'm laughing internally, right? I don't

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know that God is the only guide. And we have no missionary work in Islam, right? We don't. We believe that ultimately, our duty is to educate.

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So therefore, but now I'm gonna say what I'm gonna say

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You're all Muslim,

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you are all Muslim, right. And if you know the definition of Muslim, a Muslim is one who submits to God's will,

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your bodies, your digestive system, submissive God's will

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not by your control. So your digestive system is a Muslim, your nervous system is a Muslim, the world is a Muslim, it also emits to God's will.

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Right, so don't feel I'm not when a hits on a convert anyone. But But that's one thing to know that submission to God's will that's universal.

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And like Jesus Peace be upon the set, right, and the book of Matthews, not the one who calls me master masters or enter the kingdom of the heavens, right. But the one that does the will, of the Father, right. So doing the will. That's what Islam means, by submission to the will of God. And the last point is that

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don't look at this as

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an exotic experience, where you're learning something

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about a foreign entity.

00:56:20--> 00:56:21

Look at this as

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the purpose of God for revealing the Quran is to show us the universality

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of God is one, his message is one, all the prophets and messengers came with one message, right. And the reason why he revealed the Quran is just too it's like, you take your car for a tulip. You don't change the motor, you just take her tune up, and it gets gets rid of whatever is unnecessary. And then your car is running nice and smooth. So Islam is like that tune up for the human being filtering out whatever is not befitting

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and whatever is falsely or wrongfully attributed to the religion of God. That's what it is. I'm just want to share that, that Islam is a universal religion, which is a submission has nothing to do with race with the country. It just me is a practice. And that's, and that's what it is. So it's just wanted to share that that Islam is a universal religion. And it's for it's, it's a way that we show our submission to God's will. Thank you. Sorry. All right. No, that's great. So I think on that note, we can leave it there if everybody would help me. thank our guests for coming tonight. I think we all learned a lot

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All right, everybody, have a good evening. Thank you.