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S01E43 – Umm Zakiyyah on Finding Your Authentic Self

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Channel: Muslim Life Hackers


Episode Notes

Mifrah interviews Umm Zakiyyah about finding one’s ‘Authentic Self’!

Highlights from the show:
– “Is it possible to be living your life not in touch with who you really are?” (Mifrah 6:10)
– “We as muslims need to be really clear that we are not mixing up our personalities with what we want to do, that may or may not be pleasing to Allah” (Umm Zakiyyah 8:42)
– “The authentic self deals with the heart, because knowledge is not helpful to a heart that is not inclined towards Allah” (Umm Zakiyyah 13:05)
– “It is not that there is a lack of reflection, but self reflection now is being done in a very selfish way that is away from spirituality” (Umm Zakiyyah 16:35)
– “If we want to get into the right frame of thinking, what would be the action steps?” (Mifrah 24:31)

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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Episode 43. Figuratively speaking, this is the culture that's happening even amongst Muslims great people are, quote unquote, and I don't mean it literally, obviously, but they're creating their own sort of God in their head. Welcome to the Muslim law Packers podcast, the weekly podcast providing you with tips and tricks on how to hack your life and maximize its potential. And now for your hosts Mithra maroof and Mahima Lake

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as we said, across the sea of that

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Assalamu alaikum This is a Malik here and this is episode 43 of the Muslim life hackers podcast. In this episode, my co host, Mr. Murph is going to be interviewing almost IKEA on the topic of the authentic self. owns. IKEA is a writer from Washington, DC, and is the author of the award winning Best Selling trilogy if I should speak her books and literature have been used in schools and universities all around America and in other countries for multicultural and religious studies. She writes about the interface struggles of Muslims and Christians and the intercultural spiritual and moral struggles of Muslims. Today, Michelle is going to be interviewing her on the topic of the

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authentic self, what it means to be authentic, how we can align with our true self and who we are in relation to our Creator. So with that being said, I'm going to hand it over to me for to get right into the interview. As a lovely call sim life hackers, welcome to another episode of The lots of life hackers podcast in this podcast, we have here a special guest on sekiya. Joining us on the show today is not local ones IKEA. How are you? Well, Alex, I'm good. How are you? hamdulillah. We're good. We're really excited to have you on the show today. Thank you for having me. So we wanted to know more about the topic about the authentic self? Um, first of all, would you be able to explain

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to our audience, what exactly does it mean by the authentic self? Well, this is

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when I when I think of authentic self, I think of two possibilities. We're either talking about the authentic self of our fitrah, meaning the perfect nature, in which a law created us in which we are propelled or inclined towards a path of obedience to Him. Or we are talking about the authentic self, of our other, meaning what will ultimately be the path that we take that will lead to our destiny in the hereafter. And the difference between these two is something that people really don't think about when they begin to talk about who they really are. And the difference is so significant in the sense that when we talk about our fitrah

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there are many aspects of that. But the foundational aspect of that is that we are living a life

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that is reflective of what Allah wants from us, in respect to our the purpose of our creation. But we only talk about authentic self in respect to our other. This is a matter of the unseen, we don't know where we're going to end up in the hereafter. But whatever steps that we take in this life will ultimately lead either to paradise, or Hellfire now.

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So sometimes when people are talking about their authentic self, they're actually talking about the test that a law puts inside of them or in their life that they are supposed to overcome. Yeah. And so for example, if you look at someone who perhaps wants to live a life of sin, and it feels so right to them, yeah, this is their, this is their, this is the destination that Allah gave them on this earth, that they will have to decide, are they going to live according to the authentic self of this Cipro? Or are they going to oppose that? And so that's what I'm think of when I think of authentic self is we have to differentiate between what Allah wants for us and the choices we make

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that ultimately decide our fate into here. Okay, so pretty much by the authentic self, Joe, she's super into two years in desert fitrah. And this also the third which is like what ultimately happens, yes, because we have in and when we say authentic, because authentic is just an English word. It doesn't necessarily have you know, a definite meaning per se, you know, in our religion, except that it is the truth of who we are. And the truth of who we are, can be good or bad. If we look further. Now, we don't know the unseen. So therefore, as the scholars sometimes say, whenever we see a possible evil outcome we fight otherwise.

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Yeah, we actually use the knowledge that we actually want to obey along want to get to paradise, to fight against the possibility that our fate could be something different. But you

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Also have under the authentic self of the sitter, you also have two parts. When I think of authentic self, you have two parts of the sitter, you have the similar that we all share, which is, which is basically the spiritual part. And then you have the authentic self, which is very unique to each person. Whereas, for example, my personality, the things I like the things I dislike, and this has nothing whatsoever to do with, you know, something good or bad. It's just how Allah created me, maybe I'm more outspoken, maybe you're quiet, maybe the person who will be friends with you will have a certain personality, maybe a woman's husband will be of a certain characteristic. These are

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things that are also that are in our nature that a law put inside of us that represent our authentic self, and they have, they don't have a quality of good or bad, they just are what the Lord gave us. And that's under the Citadel because those are the things those are the tools that allow gave us to live in a life of obedience. Okay, so like under those two in under the fitrah, the particularly the one that you spoke about, which was like unique to each person?

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Is it is it possible that a person can be living their life and not being in touch with who they are uniquely like who Allah Subhana Allah has made them to be in debt, not kind of like living in line with that absolutely is possible. In fact, it's probably more common than actually living in line with who you really are, because we come from many different backgrounds, different cultures. And no matter whether you come from a society in which the predominant population is Muslim, or you come from a society where you're surrounded by non Muslims, you have a certain idea of how things should or shouldn't be with worldly matters how a woman should or should not be a certain way, you know,

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how a man should or should not be a certain way. And so we end up a lot of times looking around us, and deciding based upon our culture, our family, our friends, our society and saying, This is what I have to be either, I need to be outspoken. And you will find that this is something very common in the West that everyone needs to be able to get up, get up and give a speech and be able to allow all the audiences are new. If you look at some of the predominantly Muslim countries, it's the opposite a woman should be very quiet, she shouldn't speak up. She shouldn't be, you know, both of these are not these either. Both of these are extremes. Yeah, the truth is that some people have male or

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female, quite frankly, has more of an inclination to be quiet, more reflective, their personality is not outgoing, they may be introverted. And then you also have, you know, on the other end, people who are more their personality is more active, more extroverted. And the bottom line is, is that we are sometimes so out of touch with that, because we've been taught that this is right or wrong, or this must be or must not be based upon our cultures. Hmm. It's amazing how how our culture can have such a big influence on a person and the way they see themselves. And like, say, safer person wants to find out Okay, so. So they actually grew up in a particular place, like St. St. Was the West,

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right? And then after that later, they desperately want to realign with who they really are, how can they go about doing that? I think that one of the things that has to happen is that the person first needs to look within themselves and be honest with themselves about who they really are, at this point in their life, I'm assuming that anyone who's gotten to this point, realizes that there's some inconsistency, there's something that's wrong. But the first thing is, especially if we're talking obviously about Muslims is that we need to make sure that we're not confusing our mixing this issue of who we really are in terms of our personalities, with who we really are in terms of the things we

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want to do that may or may not be pleasing to Allah. And the problem with this topic is that so often, they get very confused. And people begin to believe that, you know, this is who I am, you know, and this is what I must do. Like, for example, even if you take an example of a child inside of her, our young woman or a young man who's about to go to college, and the parents have decided, Okay,

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I want you to do this such a such career, and they don't want to do it, maybe let's say for example, a woman she loves sports, but she doesn't want to

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be a teacher, a doctor engineer, and she's saying to her parents, you know, this is who I am. I love to run I love to jump. Why should I have to confine myself to a certain career I think that did in this case. The The girl is confusing.

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Her authentic self with a career and these are not necessarily they don't necessarily have to oppose each other. You could be a teacher and you could still be sports. When you go home. You could be you know, you could be a doctor.

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And on the weekend play tennis, you know. And what we have to realize is that sometimes and I think this is this is a spin off for me, you know a lot of the influences that we get from different societies that tell us be who you are, follow your heart. But we forget that every single circumstance that we that we're in is not one about being who you are in the sense of doing what you want. I mean, for example, we clean up our house, not because we woke up and said, Wow, my authentic self is cleaning house, you, you clean up your house, because it needs to be done. And it's dirty. And similarly, sometimes in certain situations, a career choice is not really about. And I'm not

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saying this is true for everybody, but in certain situations, and you have to know based upon a staccato, you are reflecting on your situation. Sometimes a career choice is really just about finding a field that you can go into, that you have some abilities, and that can help you support your family, if you ever need it to work. It's not about necessarily doing you know, the thing that you always want it to do. Now, ideally, that's great if you can find a career that meets everything you love, if you can make money from it at the same time. That's wonderful. But I think this is important to differentiate when we're talking about a person making a decision that can cause huge

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problems in their families, and also a problem in their future when it's not necessary. Because it's not mutually exclusive. You don't have to give up sports because you become a doctor, you don't have to give up sports because you become a teacher. Yeah, you know. So these are things that we have to keep in mind when we're talking about it. But going back to the question how you do that? Is it self reflection, asking advice and making to us that's what we have to ask a lot for you know, about how we should go about certain things, because although when we're talking about authentic self, it sounds so clear, like, what's the definition? What should we do. But remember, as we're part of this

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world, everything starts to get muddled. Like, for example, you find that in the West, a very popular discussion that's going on and found his way into Muslim countries, and societies and communities, unfortunately, is this concept of homosexuality, like a person could be gay and lesbian, that's who they authentically are. And I know that might sound like an extreme example. But this is obviously not the authentic self of the Sidra, who allow wanted us to be. So when we talking about this, we have to be careful in to realize that that is really, you know, an issue of morality, of right and wrong. And this might be someone that someone might have a test that is very, very

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severe in which they are given this, this trial that they don't know where it came from. But we cannot go into this, this idea that, oh, let's find out who I really am. And, and then I go and follow a path that is in direct opposition to what a la would want for us if we want our destination to be paradise. Yeah, yeah. So if a person wants to differentiate between like, what's the what the nuts like their desires is telling them and what they should do, then it really comes back to the knowledge of knowledge of the religion and praying istikhara Well, I would say even before we get into knowledge, your authentic self deals with the heart, because knowledge is not helpful to a

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heart that is not inclined to a lost funnel. So the first thing that we need to ask for is a purification of the heart in a constantly and this is why we make so much to offer. This is why we resizer. And if the purification, our life is a constant, because it is constant purification. It's like taking a bath. So so much emphasis sometimes is put on knowledge and acquiring information. And this is absolutely necessary. But if I don't have the heart, and that heart can only come from a lot, purifying that for me. So the first thing I need to do is constantly make a commitment each and every day, to constantly do things that will purify my heart so that my heart loves what Allah

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loves, and dislikes, what he dislikes. And this is not an easy exercise, because you can have it for one moment. And the next moment you do something and it turns. So the heart is always changing. So more important than the knowledge is actually the pure heart in essence, your heart. So when the knowledge comes to you, you're able to receive it or recognize it as truth. Yeah, so pretty, pretty much putting more priority on purifying one's heart because that's that's how they're going to see through it and make the decisions. Absolutely. And then of course, coupled with the knowledge we don't separate the two because the only chiffon has a lot of knowledge.

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So, so we're so you absolutely must have that

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Heart, and it's not something that you can look inside yourself and say, Yes, I have a pure heart. You're constantly praying and hoping, you know, praying and hoping and striving, praying, hoping and striving consistently until death inshallah. And that's how you get back in touch with that authentic self. And again, we should not confuse having the like, even if, for example, if I have a heart that's constantly being purified, that doesn't mean I'm not going to have desires or tests that pull me away from that. And that doesn't mean that they won't continuously happen until I die. This is a part of being on this earth. And because if we were all in touch with our authentic self

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in a perfect way, with no testament that will be called gender, you know?

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That's so true. Like, we weren't actually called done yet he will be gender. So going, going back to what you said about like, you know, for a person to help find themselves, like one of one of the things is like self reflection, would you say that today, there's actually a lack of that happening? I don't know that it's a lack of self reflection, to be honest, I think that

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it's very, it's much more complicated than that. I think, actually,

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we live in a society outfitted like this, I live in the United States of America. And I find that at least the people that I'm in contact with, who generally tend to be very fluent in English, and, you know, have studied in the West, and so on and so forth. There, you have Do you have a, we have a culture of self help book, find yourself. So there's a lot of reflection and discussion going on. But it's not so much that the reflection is not happening, it's being done in a very selfish way that is distinct from spirituality.

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And it's interesting. So it's, when I'm talking to people, for example, when I'm doing dow, or when I'm talking to non Muslims, when I'm talking to Muslims, I talk to people with many different walks of life and what I find about people who are indulging in sin, and who believe this to be the right path, because we live in a time, unfortunately, where Muslim people who profess to be Muslims are changing the religion to say, Oh, we don't have to do this, you know, this is outdated. And these people from, from my experience, when I'm talking to them, they spend a lot of time in reflection.

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But it's not necessarily connected to what a loss kind of without we want them to be doing. It's connected to a lot of nisi issues, you know, I want this, I end this, why would I have this? If I'm not supposed to do it? Why would I and so it's not so much that the self reflection is not there is that this self reflection is being kind of done in an independent way, where I'm number one, and after I finish, I put a name on it. At the end, I put a law's name after I'm, it's over after I'm done. Once I realized that, you know, it makes sense that I don't have to wear hijab, it makes sense that I don't have to, to follow the the rules of marriage and, and intimacy. And it makes sense that

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I don't have to agree with these, quote, unquote, orientations. It makes sense that, you know, I don't have to pray every day because you know, I'm really busy. And then they say, and that's how Allah would want it. Because otherwise, why would he make me this way? Yeah, yeah, that's just so. So it's not that there isn't self reflection happening. It's more that like, the way it's happening, it's not the right one. Well, I don't even want to say it's not the right one, I would just say it's being done in an inverse order. So so what what would be the right audience? The first thing is, is that we have to realize that we have a creator. We didn't create ourselves. So the first self

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reflection needs to add to we need to ask What does my Creator want from me? Who did he intend for me to be on this earth? And then after we figure that out, then we can get into our personal likes and dislikes and choices. You know, but there's a lot of reflection. But it's, it's not. It's basically not necessarily in tune with the law. It's almost like for example, you know, it's this concept, although this is not this is not an Islamic concept, but it is a concept that's happening in the West is that they make this claim that you people who believe in God, you create it God, you know, and then that obviously, this is not true. But figuratively speaking, this is the culture

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that's happening even amongst Muslims where people are, quote, unquote, and I don't mean that literally, obviously, but they're creating their own sort of God in their head, like, a lot is not separate. You know, who who he taught us who he is. We decide who he is, and we bring him into our life in the way that we want to. And so you will find that amongst people who believe in God, you'll find many different teachings going on but they're all you

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Using God's knee. And so they're creating their own, they're creating their own concept of who they want God to be in their life, and then they, you know, then they move forward based on that.

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So like, pretty much instead of like having the first question to be, what does Allah subhanaw taala want me to do? It's like, it's actually being turned to like, what should I do? And then after that, like the second, yes, exactly, basically. And it's not something that's done on a conscious level. By the way, this is not something that people are sitting down and deciding, you know, I'm going to put myself first. And then I'm going to put a bow on that. No, it's actually

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it's so muddled and confused inside of people's head, it feels natural, it feels normal. And that's actually how people come to conclusions about things like when you talk to people, they seem so quote, unquote, sincere about, like, you thought about it, and God would not want us to be put into this great difficulty of covering our hair, you know, these are the kinds of conversations people have, God would not want us to be put into this great difficulty of not acting on our sexual desires, if we want to, you know, and it's very strange, because it's as if they're rewriting the religion, you know, for themselves, and then they're going to share it with other people, as this

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thing has received some sort of way from Allah subhanaw taala, to now, guide the rest of the world to their misguiding. So it's very, very complicated.

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Yeah, that's actually a very interesting observation that's, like, really subtle, and like a person won't really know that they're doing that on this, like, they really like step back and think about it. Where is their thinking process going? Is it is it starting off with? What do I want to do? Or is it like, What does Allah subhanaw taala want me to do? Exactly. And it's very, it's not in for for issues that are not mentioned in the Quran. So now, because there are sometimes situations that we face, and it's not a inherently religious issue, it's not always going to be obvious, but it's very helpful. When we, when we are dealing with something which is obvious whether or not we should

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cover whether and how we should live our life morally, with regards to the opposite sex and, you know, nowadays, it's actually become the same sex, you know, so, you know, so these sorts of things are covered in the Quran as soon as so you don't, this doesn't take a lot of stepping back. It really, it really takes a lot of things just consciously engaging with the innocent, innocent fear away ignoring all the little voices and the things that you want to believe. And just actually asking yourself truly from the bottom of your heart with a shoe and a law, what is it that a law would have believed?

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So having that sincerity? Yeah, absolutely haven't necessarily, because it's almost impossible when it comes to clear issues to get misguided in that way. Unless you make a conscious decision, to distance yourself from the end and to distance yourself from the last panel of the aisle and make your primary feeding of the soul something else, which is what people do, they feeding their souls with other material other than the end. And I was just in a conversation with someone the other day, who was falling into that mail log, guide her back. And she was basically coming up kind of within her own little new religion with all kinds of new rules where even the concept of marriage was no

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longer she was saying, you get has outdated, you know, and as I listened, as I'm sorry, I was reading her words, I realized that all of the material that she was telling me to read to better understand where she was coming from, all of it was was coming from sources that were not from the parents. And so for someone to get to that point, you have to feed your soul, consciously. And purposefully, you have to feed your soul with something that is outside of a laundry list of revelations to the point where you are now this person was Now speaking of humans,

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as being more authentic than a loss. And it's very scary to see that kind of process unfolding before your eyes. So their FTP or feeding their souls with

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information that comes from a human being and there's they're treating it as if it's revelation from the law.

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Yeah, yeah, that's true. Well, just actually nearing the ending of our interview, like, before we end off I just, I just want to ask you a final question. So if a if a person wants to get back into like, the right frame of thinking in order to, you know, find their authentic self, then if you were to summarize it in a few action points, what would they do because I know that you, you actually touched upon the one about being conscious of what you're feeding your soul. So just some action points a person can take going forward, I would say the number one is, is supplication and prayer. That is the first thing alone and consistently by yourself.

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I would say, number two, is constantly reading the press. And then and number three is just actually, once you add your pin, by the way, number one and number two are constant, this is something you have to do every single day. And number three, find out the practical ways because everyone's story is different. What are the practical ways that you can act upon that in a way that does not go outside of the law of law?

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So pretty much the first one being, making sure that we engage in drama and like supplication and make sure we're reading the Quran as well. And the third one, like that's where the whole like, you know, finding out the practical way, and that depends person to person. Yeah, absolutely. Find out the practical way. I mean, if they're like, for example, if I love sports, I'm going to go and research how I can do that, you know, while I'm still covered, or, or in a way that's not compromising my modesty, because you absolutely as a woman can be involved in sports and different things like that. If I wanted to follow a certain career, I'll go and research, what are the options

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for this career path. And that will be different for each and every person. But what's not different is to constantly make DOS and to constantly engage yourself with just you and a law, no one else without trying to rationalize anything and just constantly get a loss to guide you on the right path and purify your heart.

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Oh, perfect. That really puts things into perspective and really puts out like with that focus and really puts our hearts in the right place. So that after that, if we're seeing it was like our priorities are right. Absolutely.

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Okay, so thank you so much for joining us for today's interview. We're just like, end of our time for the interview. So, for our listeners who don't know about you, would you have to tell them like where can they find you online, they can just go to my website that ewz author.com that's like the mind issues. uza Tia, author usee author.com. Okay, so, you see author.com Perfect. Okay, so thank you so much. Once again, once again for joining us on today's interview, we have to speak to you against Susan.

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So that concludes the episode on the topic of the authentic self. As usual, you can find all the links and resources mentioned in this episode. And also the links to over here sites in our show notes at Muslim life hackers.com forward slash 43. And to find out more about Muslim life hackers, and to check out our other episodes and interviews like this one, you can go to our website at Muslim life I can still pop or hook into one of our apps on Apple, Android and Windows devices. That's all for today. Until next time, aim high take action and people

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