Nouman Ali Khan


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Salam Alaikum warahmatullahi wabarakatuhu This is Raj Mohammed from Muslim matters. This is our first of three pilot episodes for Muslim matters live. I hope you guys like this show. I hope we get good ratings and inshallah we'll continue today inshallah our guests with us his brother in Oman Elisa. He is the founder of Aveda Institute and he's here to join us for a little discussion today at Elm summit in Houston, Texas. Sound like a

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pretty good handle. Awesome. So first up, I started playing a lot of ping pong today. And yesterday how many games you won?

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I lost count.

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Why don't we play

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it? I don't think so. doubles? doubles? Yeah, last? Yes. I was.

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Awesome. So we'll have to play against some time you have to get your revenge inshallah. So lots of good stuff. I wanted to ask you.

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One of the things that really amazed me, when I when I see you up on stage is your teaching style. I think you have a very unique teaching style. And I think a lot of people are really like feeling that connection when they see you up there. Where Where did you develop that philosophy? I mean, like you were talking about yesterday, you were talking about that reached out to me Optimus Prime, but

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I'm really old. That caught me right away. Were you referring to the Michael Bay version? Or were you referring to the real Oh, the animated version? Yeah, there you go. And that just brought up memories and also call. But I mean, like people can relate to that. So how did you develop that style, I think it's mostly my teacher, who me is a remarkable teacher.

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And I think the thing I learned from him was the difference between a scholar and a teacher. And you don't necessarily communicate to your audience, what you know, in the language that you learned it, you are more concerned with the aptitude of your audience. And really learning should be turned or as a teacher, you should be more engaged in a conversation than in a speech. So as if you are talking to someone you wouldn't use, so, you know, verbose language, you wouldn't resort to technical terms, you wouldn't try to act super sophisticated, even if the concept was sophisticated. You know, so you, as long as you can think of yourself as engaging an audience, I think it's not

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some great secret of public speaking, but I think it really helps connect to the audience. And it's really back to the basics, if you will.

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Um, that's awesome. And, and honestly, like, I really like that same teaching style. I mean, when we talked yesterday, we were talking about a very technical subject, we were talking about Bulaga. And you were like coming at us at a very even though it's a sophisticated topic, and a very academic topic, you were coming at us in a way that we could sort of relate to it and understand it, and it was really coming through. And speaking of which, let's talk about that a little bit. Can you tell the audience what you are teaching here at home summit? Yeah, I'm doing a something new Actually, it's sort of a five hour crash course in Bella. And I mean, I love the subject that the technical

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term for it in English is rhetoric.

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But what I, what I was asked to do this year by cfsr, Fabi, was to present it from a technical traditional point of view how the classifications have been made. Personally, my own conviction leads me to say that the traditional classifications are good for academic value, but they're not very, very good for instructional value. In other words, sometimes there's over technicality involved, and we give terms and then sub categories and sub categories of sub categories. And it just gets it's turns into an encyclopedia of terms. And people just get blown away by that, right. So you have in education, you have two things, you have terms, and you have concepts, right? Now,

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the hardest subjects you can think of like medicine or you know, architecture or whatever it may be. The one of the things that makes them really hard is there's a huge like vocabulary of terms that you have to sort of immerse yourself in. So a physician has a certain kind of language that the layperson doesn't have, the concepts behind those terms may well be really simple. But it gets coated over with this really strong, thick layer of terminology, right? So if I was asked to present this stuff, but I can only come to it from the philosophy of education that I'm convinced of. So I have to so I say over the money, you know, and then I'll ban these technical sciences of Arabic. And

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they have really long technical definitions. But instead, what's the bottom line? Yeah, what's the heart of the matter, let's cut through the fat, let's get to the concept first. And then the term to me the terminology can wait for when you are the the rest of the audience, the few of them that want to go further into subject and really want to get a master's degree in this, this thing or read four or five books on it. Now they can use the technical terms. As you know, for a general benefit, you don't really have you don't get much out of learning the terminology, you do get far more out of it, appreciating the concepts behind them. So that's really what I approached the subject with. Before

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this, I actually used to teach applied by law. What that means is, these are concepts of this study, but as I was exploring what makes the Arabic

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Language remarkable or how do you speak in an effective fashion? And usually it's studied so you can appreciate

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because it's remarkable language. So some of you Bulava actually go straight to for RSA. Let me show you how that's really awesome. hold us. harmless is is one thing, or how he uses that one word, or how this story is placed here, then it's placed here. What makes this so amazing right? Now, this is a fight Bulava. So instead of getting into the philosophy and the academics behind it, we just go straight to the point. Why? Because I think in our times, most Muslims, even if they read for on the reading and translation, and when they do, because you're coming from a literature background mean, you've taken English class in high school, you've done you know, history or other studies in

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college. So when you come to a book, you come to it with a critical mind, this critical analysis is part of our academic training. Okay. So when we come to the Koran with that, even though we have a faith perspective, questions do come up in our minds. That's very true, right? Why is this changing all of a sudden, how come this story was here? And it was here again, how come the subject was about this? And all of a sudden, it was, it was fascinating. Then I went to fighting and then went to hudge? What just happened here? Right? These kinds of questions, some of them, you know, why is this suit over here? Why is that one of these? These are literally kinds of questions, right? And the

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answers to them lie in books that are very technical. There are two problems with them. One, they're technical, too, they're in Arabic. Right? So you've got this, the answers to these questions that are just very the way libraries, and this stuff needs to be there. For the access of the average was initially watered down to Popular Science versions of this stuff. Why is that critical? Because I'm not even talking about the student of knowledge, or, you know, the really serious Muslim or whatever, or the aspiring scholar, the average Muslim has these questions. And what it creates is, then they go online to search the answers, and the more of your hips are not going to be on muslin

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sites depicting the beauty of the Koran, more of those hips are going to be on criticism against the poor are actually criticisms against it. And allegations of the foreign being grammatically incoherent, or all sorts of stuff. And so the Muslims are reading this stuff. And even the Muslims are like, What's going on here? This guy has a PhD next to him, he must know what he's talking about. Right? So we need to make this stuff. Mass knowledge, public access knowledge, and it needs to come off the shelves and needs to be presented in basically this fashion.

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You know, I completely agree. I remember when I was in college, and the internet just started taking off. There were all these websites out there that were listening, here's a contradiction here. Here's a contradiction there, the internal, external, blah, blah, blah. And a lot of people had questions, and there were no people to really answer there would be, I guess, you could say lay students of knowledge, lay people who try to answer the questions, try to answer from a logical perspective. But it was very difficult to find people who could understand and respond from a technical Arabic perspective, exactly. And really just lay it down and say, Look, this is a problem,

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or these questions have come up

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1000s of 1000s, but about maybe 1000 years ago, 1400 years ago, they've been answered, we already know the answers to these problems. The other thing is, if you answer those questions, from a technical point of view, that may not help the person asking the question, right, they don't have the technical background. I mean, if I if you asked me a question about some software bug, and I started talking to you in technical jargon, oh, there must have had this syntax wrong, or that it wouldn't make any sense to you. Right? Right. So it needs to be watered down to your level, you know, you have these, these doctors, nowadays, physicians, they have this requirement that they have

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to make sure the patient understands the problem they have. So they need these dummy charts.

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This is you, this is your disease, and this is how we're going to solve it, etc. You know, watering it down, it's okay, it's not insulting the audience, it's really coming to them, respecting the level they're at at this time. And if they get to a higher level, they can have access to those books directly. But until then, we need to come to them. I wanted to ask you about

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a program you have online, you've been doing tafsir online for ages. Yeah. And in that in the intro to the website that you have, for that program that you're doing. You talk further about the dream program. Now, I got really excited about that. Because I thought this is amazing. I've been talking to friends who are overseas, for example, in Alexandria, they tell me that they're actually having trouble learning Arabic over there, because there used to be academic style over here. And over there that the only way that the only benefit that they really have is that they have all the time in the world to go and research what was kind of

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handed to them a little bit, but not really like properly taught to them. So the dream program when I heard that from them, and then I heard about your dream program, and I've seen the way you guys have been doing your banner classes already. I was really excited about that. And so tell us a bit more about that. Okay, essential idea of the dream project. First of all the you slash dream check it out in Sharla.

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The central idea behind it is it's rooted in the concern I had for myself when I was in my journey to Arabic studies. And essentially my journey, with the exception of my foundation, which was with the teacher has been a self study journey over the last 10 years and I've gone through

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Virtually every curriculum I could find, I mean, whether it came from Cambridge University, Georgetown, Medina, whatever I can find, I went through it, I plowed through it myself, and with the help of scholars here and there, but I figure if this is what I have to do, then how would I create a program that would produce students that I wouldn't be jealous of? That I would, I wish I had done this. Now, most people when they think about Arabic studies seriously, they don't think of the United States they think of overseas across the ocean, right? You know, you don't think of it here. The problems that are associated with studying Arabic abroad, in and of itself, it's a noble idea.

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But first of all, we're not living in a simple world, right? So there are ramifications on your family, and even on yourself for traveling to places in the world, that, quite frankly, when you come back, you're gonna get some sort of a welcome party at Duquesne, whether you like it or not. And that brings stress to your family, undue stress to your parents and to other salt, you know, zealous youth go. But it's not exactly the if you ask their parents, they're not comfortable with the idea. So that first of all, the concern is family. The second concern is financial, the tickets to go there, then you're you're getting, you're spending about two, three weeks, if not a month, and

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two wants to get adjusted to the kind of food to the you know, the transportation system, the educational style of the teacher, simply put, very simply put, the eastern model of education, this is not just the Arab world, this is the eastern world of education. The teacher is up here, the student is down here. And the teacher says Why don't you come up to me? Right? All the expectation is on hold on to the students just do what I tell you. Now, the western model of education is quite the opposite. You have the professor, the teacher, and here's the student. And the professor says, Let me come down to you and try to pick you up. And if he doesn't do that, he gets bad ratings, and

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he gets fired. Right? So the idea, this, this idea of, you know, coming to the student, instead of expecting from the student spoon feeding, right, this is one of the philosophical differences between the models of education that we have, right? Students are used to this model. And also they're used to, you know, handouts, bullet points, specific milestones, I know this now, I will know this Tomorrow, I will know this The next day, the exam is on this day, etc, etc. There are objectives and expectations. Now, with language, you can sound learning a bit General,

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I'm learning to swim. Now, whether you're swimming in a kiddie pool, or in a swimming pool, or in the Atlantic, I'm learning to swim. It's too general to say I'm learning Arabic, there's so many facets of it, there's so many dimensions of it, they need to be quantified, they need to be qualified, what are the skill sets the students actually looking for. So there's a difference between somebody who wants to learn Arabic to be a tourist, right, or to you know, make small talk with their mom or something. And there's a difference between that guy and the guy who wants to maybe read Sonic books in Arabic. And even between that guy and someone who wants to analytically

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study the Quran, word for word, and grammatically analyze it and lexically analyze it, right? There's a difference between these people, their objectives are different. So they're really engaged in different kinds of Arabic studies. And until you define Arabic is clearly marked separate objectives, you can approach them that way. You can just say, I've been learning Arabic, right. And maybe you have a little bit of everything, but not a whole lot of one thing, right. So the idea of the program is take these focuses, and to organize them as milestones in the beginning is grammar and syntax, you must master this stuff. And then you move on and you you master reading, Arabic text

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and navigating, and eventually you master communication in Arabic and be able to write and read and converse and research. Basically, you get immersed in the language. All of this here in the US in sha Allah, our vision to be very basic about it is we're hoping to literally buy a mansion. Okay. And like a 20 bedroom thing. Awesome. Okay, I was inspired. This is crazy. I was inspired by this to this idea. I was at a friend's house who loves watching what's that called? Mixed Martial Arts. Okay. So I'm sitting at his house, and he's watching this stuff. Yeah. And these guys are beating each other to death. And then they go back to this mansion where they live together and train

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together or something. But there's one place. That's so cool. Once you guys live together for 10 months, and they just study down. No, no ideological stuff. Nothing denominational, if you will, they're just purely mastering the language. That's all they're doing. Right? And they're doing it, you know, with a top notch scholar. And there's under contract that after the first month, they can't use anything else. So they're in the heart of Texas, but they're speaking Arabic for those six hours a day, or that, you know, during the daytime, and they're allowed maybe two phone calls, three phone calls a day to family and stuff like that. But they're under this tight regimen of a program.

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The idea behind which is to be very crude. I want to make somebody who spent two years abroad to study Arabic. I want to make them look bad in 10 months.

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I want to make her feel bad for going. And I it's an ambitious goal, but I think we have the curriculum and the instructors in place, and we have the methodology in place to be able to produce that right.

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Now, just imagine you have 20 students a year that are coming to this thing.

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I'm all over the country. And they're spending 10 months, and they're getting just, they're getting hit with an Arabic sledge hammer every single day. Now, at the end of these 10 months, these people go back to their own communities. And they are not only are they learning here, they're actually getting teachers certified to. So they're getting trained, and how to teach at least the first tier, the first quarter of what they learned, they can teach, right, they're getting certified in that so they can go back and enhance their Islamic school, they can go and enhance an Arabic study circle, they don't have to wait for me or, you know, some other teacher or some program to come and visit

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their community, they can make their own now, it becomes a homegrown solution. So you have you know, masajid and halaqaat, you have in communities, you have youth that have potential. Now communities, this kid has potential, but we don't want to ship them to overseas overseas, let's just send them to Vienna and let him at least get the Arabic out of the way. And then he can do his Islamic Studies in this place, this place this place. But what's the real logic for Islamic studies? what's the what's the big barriers? Arabic, right, you're listening to the speaker, you understand everything until he busts out the Arabic until the quote unquote, right? So if you get that out of the way, you've

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opened the door to Islamic Studies, generally. Right? So that's essentially the idea. We're hoping to actually even open up over the years, multiple campuses. So start with Dallas, one ranch out to North Carolina, and Michigan, these communities because we have strong support in these communities. And even if one of these three, we're hoping that it's even a sister's only campus with a sister instructor. But in the meantime, the one I'm hoping to launch right now in Dallas, we're trying to raise awareness of it and raise funds for it out on the dream site. Yeah, but I don't, I don't feel comfortable raising funds, like fundraisers for projects. So I want to give back something in

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exchange. Yeah. So the field lectures that I studied for 20 hours a week, yeah. And put up as a public service. Here's a service to the community, and you can help us.

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Yeah, you whatever you want to do, you don't want to help just make God if you want to help you can help as much as you can. And inshallah, Allah will make this project a reality. Awesome. Awesome. And if people wanted to volunteer, how would they go about doing that? Let's say they had some ideas, they wanted to contact you, they wanted to say, Hey, you know, I'll help you guys gonna head over. Now, to help me a lot of technical help. We need, you know, our art, the technology of our site needs to be overhauled, needs to be enhanced. So we need developers to come forward and maybe put some time in and help out.

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We need you know, if you're in a small town somewhere, and you have one machine or two machines are something, you have two 300 people coming from July, even less, and you want our programs to come to you.

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For the team of people together, maybe two people even I don't need 10 people, two people that do the legwork with the local center, and then they contact our PR, you can email me at Arabic and, you can email our PR department PR COMM And see we want you guys to come to our community, we can start setting something up so we can start branching out our our methodology isn't state by state or city by city, it's really Islamic Center by Islamic Center, we want to go to the heart of the Muslim community, which is the masjid and really, essentially, first and foremost, conduct our programs there, and then do larger programs better together. So at the same time, we're

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doing this cream of the crop 20 students a year thing. At the same time, we want to do like, reach everybody out there. And you know, get to them and Scala it's been amazing that our programs are attended by like 75 year olds and eight year olds at the same time. All of us it's a gift from the last. I have a very pressing question. You spoke yesterday about your specialty. And uncle psychology. Is that is that something in the linguistics department you picked up? No, it's Yeah, PhD MD. What is this?

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literally dozens upon dozens and dozens of machines. Yeah. And dealing with elders in the community. I see that there are their wrongs and two sides use get frustrated too easily. And the elders are hard to communicate with their they have

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dictation can use some very sharp commentary to get their point across. They're not exactly that subtle in how they approach you sometimes. So there's this clash that occurs between young people at the machine and the older folks. And most of the time young people start abandoning the machine. And when you say why don't you guys come to the machine? I see you guys are Jamal, but I didn't see any of these elders, man, I don't want to deal with them this way or that way, the other way, right. And there's some legitimacy to that claim. There are I mean, from what I've noticed, also, people as they get older, generally, one of the things that happens to you is you get more set in your ways.

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Yeah, you get set in your ways, and you can get annoyed easily. And you don't necessarily want to take the time out to understand everything. The other saying you have an expectation you want it a certain way, right. And when people get like that at their work, and they get locked out of their home and to bring that to the machine to bring us to the community to now for us, it's really important that they understand that and they use that to their advantage.

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What what elders appreciate more than anything else, is a young person who's not trying to dodge them or always trying to critique them or coming after them, but actually someone who's trying to be friends

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break the ice hang out with them. right this is what's become is the elders have their own social circle. Like you could tell this after the salon is done when the slides on and and every month every month the who's talking to who the elders are talking to each other. Right? Sometimes it's ethnic, the Arabs are talking to each other, they're talking to each other, the Bucks nice to each other, and the youth to each other. Right? It was cut off, right? What needs to happen is the use need to come in and just say How are you? How's it going? You know, like, grab a doughnut or something? Let's you know, just drive by them with a weightlifting with me? Or maybe you can go bond

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with them? What would that be? What would that be? Good idea. So you take into consideration their physical

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you know, the arthritis or is about to kick in or you know, back problems or whatever.

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Yeah, exactly. Ping Pong men will break the ice with especially the Arabs. And this is

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this should be at every, like international negotiations. Ambassador should bring ping pong paddles, breaks the ice, I tell you, I've seen it happen. And the best of a lot of frictions are taken away, just on you know, this sort of thing. So the youth like the ball court, and they won't play football outside or whatever. And the ping pong. Now what happens if you beat them? Will that ruin the relationship on purpose or will keep playing until you lose? And you probably won't win anyway, uncle's are all uncles will have changes?

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Just how they are?

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All right, we'll just go fairly appreciate it. I just want to say that, you know, I've benefited a lot from you. I haven't really taken too many of your classes. But last year, when you did home summit, you spoke about the poor and you spoke like you said, you what you brought it down to my level, because I'm a guy who doesn't understand Arabic. And you brought out those miracles and those those points that most of us missed, because we're just reading translations. And I have to admit, for myself, personally, when I would read a translation, it was almost like bringing my man down because of that critical thinking mindset, right, that you take with you. And it's just natural

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because of the environment we're raised in. Yes. And you actually helped me touch that miracle when you explain it like that. And it was, and it was just really amazing for like me, and I can tell you for a lot of the other people who came to lm summit last year, we really, really those like, for me, when people asked me what was my favorite class, I was like, brother, no mas class was the most my most favorite class because I was able to actually touch that miracle just briefly, I was able to touch it and understand it as follows. So that was you know, really great to me and just generally speaking, you guys are doing an amazing job of bayonet meaningful prayer in Chicago. He did okay.

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And my for sure. Like after that after I understood all the words and the reason why those words were used. This is just two weeks ago, I took that class I really benefited and brotherly sound just a gem of a guy I'm really loving we're very fortunate to have an awesome team of guys you guys have also some you know the real blessing to me You guys are all very young and very like you're from here and we like people just relate to you so well. Really appreciate the work you guys are doing Allah give you guys more success I mean and then make the dream a reality inshallah. Zack, look again for coming on.

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What's the matter? What's the matter?