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The Need For Civic Engagement

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Nouman Ali Khan

Channel: Nouman Ali Khan

Episode Notes

Ustadh Nouman Ali Khan looks into the need for civic engagement in our Muslim society and the repercussions of failing to do so.

The fragile nature of our community is a stark reality in the modern world and hence, the need for civic engagement becomes a necessity by leaps and bounds. Our loyalty and allegiance is only to Allah alone and His beloved Prophet ﷺ. We should realize this fact asap so that we can live as complete Muslims following our religion freely without any apprehensions meted out to us by the conflicting factors all around us.

Listen intently to note down points that would enrich our understanding on the propagation of Deen. 

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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I have obviously a very important discussion that we're having right now, especially this day and age, but inshallah without further ado

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lillahi Rabbil alameen wa salatu salam O Allah seydel ambia, even masala vada Allah He was a minister in the vicinity he Elijah Medina, Allah, Masha Allah, Muhammad, Allah Deena,

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whatever. So we'll have what it was for the sub minella below the mean to mama.

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My intention this evening is to share just a couple of thoughts with you really, I think this sort of a subject doesn't really necessitate a long lecture or a long discussion, but really some things that we can think about and, you know, hopefully put into action. The first thing I'd like to share with you is the conversation about political activism or getting active in the larger American community. This kind of a conversation is something that I have been exposed to for the last 1516 or so years. And every time there is some kind of political tension in the air, the Muslim community gets together and has this conversation. So whether it was the elections way back in the day, and it

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was, we were thinking one candidate is going to be better for the Muslims versus the other, or there were new policies coming into place, I still remember these kinds of programs being held when the Patriot Act was being signed. And you know, other things. So what I'm trying to get at first and foremost, is, there's a tendency that we have as Muslims to actually be reactionary. We see these kinds of events happen in the news. Nowadays, there's Trump fever, right. And it's, it's taken hold. And it's had quite a few very negative very serious ramifications on the Muslim community. I was not too long ago, spending some time in New York City. And the tension that the Muslims are facing in

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New York, some some of those horrible events have made it to the news, a lot of horrible events have not made it to the news, they have taken place in subway stations, and have taken place at offices and campuses, but they haven't made their way into the media. So the tension and the the the fragile nature of the community is very, very real. And of course, that can sometimes inspire us or motivate us to have a you know, to remind us of the importance of importance of civic engagement. But I'd like to take a step back first and foremost, and just mentioned something about, you know, where we come from, as a people, you know, the United States has is an incredible, incredible country. It's

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got lots and lots of different immigrant populations that came here. And they settled here, and they made a better life for themselves. If you travel, like I was just making reference to New York City, there are parts of New York that have been, you know, Mandarin speaking or Chinese for a very, very long time. There are Greek neighborhoods that have been there for almost a century, there are Arab neighborhoods on the you know, the south side of the city or west side, even right or parts of Brooklyn, they're Indian, Pakistani neighborhoods where you can get in trouble for not speaking or do or something like, you know, they're they're entirely Spanish neighborhoods. It's a pretty crazy

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place where you can actually immerse yourselves in a society and never come out of that bubble. Right? I'm actually reminded of an example of a machine and on Second Avenue and 11th Street in New York City, you want me to move the mic up? Okay.

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Do I have to have both of these? They're really intimidating. Okay. All right. I'm just gonna hold this one. I feel better. Okay. Is this better? Okay. Yeah, so I'm reminded of a mustard on Second Avenue in 11th Street in New York City. It's been it's one of the oldest massages in New York. Okay. And the hotbar is in Bangla and has always been for 70 years. And you you don't speak English inside there. Everybody speaks to everybody else in Bangla. I used to go there to pray once in a while. And that's just one of many examples. What I'm trying to get at is the following this nation and this country is built upon a lot, a lot, a lot of immigrant communities coming and settling and agreeing

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upon certain, certain values and certain freedoms that we all cherish. You had an opportunity, many of you and myself, opportunities to start entrepreneurial businesses to give ourselves and our children a better education, to enjoy, you know, relative to other parts of the Muslim world, the kind of freedom that we couldn't have imagined. And that kind of opportunity opened doors to opportunity that we couldn't have imagined. That is what drew us here. Right. And in that sense, we have rights, just like every other community. We are entitled to, you know, we're we're taxpaying citizens. We're just as American as anybody else, and a nation that celebrates itself at its core

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with a freedom of expression. Then we are free to express ourselves with as many folds and Goofy's and beards and pajamas and niqab says we want that's, it's cool. That's what America is. If somebody can tattoo their face with a, you know, you know, where you can't even see their skin anymore and it's totally cool or they can put rings on

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over their eyebrows or wherever places you can imagine. And that's freedom of expression, then we are not ashamed to express ourselves in any way, shape or form. That is not, you know, we shouldn't feel ourselves any less American. The second thing I'd like to say is actually there is a problem, a bigger problem that has been there inside the Muslim community. And that problem has been that we actually don't think of ourselves as American. Forget other people not thinking of us as American, we don't think of ourselves as American. As a matter of fact, for many people, let's let's be frank here, the word American and the word casier are synonymous and interchangeable.

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are non Muslim, and American are interchangeable. So you will stay in conversation, hey, I met an American today.

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Which means probably I met a white person or I met an at the very least it means I met a non Muslim. That's what that means. And that's how we talk in our community. Man, I have this American friend, what are you Chinese? What are you? Like? No, no, I'm Muslim. They're American. You see what we just did? psychologically, we cannot reconcile these two things. Somewhere in our subconscious, these two things don't exist together. You can either be Muslim or American, which is not very different from what fox news is telling you and me is it. That's they're telling you either you're Muslim, or you're American, you have to take a pic and we're like, yeah, you're right. You know, this is

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actually a problem that that's a deep inside of ourselves, and it has its roots. its roots are in the idea that you cannot have allegiance or loyalty to a country, if you have loyalty to Islam, that our our loyalty and our allegiances are to Allah and His Messenger, sallallahu alayhi wasallam. And therefore, as a result, we cannot have loyalty to the home that we live in to the place that you may have been born in or your children may have been born in. Because no, no, this is not the land of Islam. This here is America. Let me just give you guys a reality check about that.

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The prophets lie some of them spent a good amount of his life in Mecca, and when he lived in Mecca was that a Muslim majority please know, when the profits are sort of moved to Medina, a significant number of people became Muslim and some of you might not know they were still the minority in Medina. The entire life of the Prophet slice of them has been spent as a Muslim living in a minority. That's how it's been sent spent. And even though Muslims were in a much better political position in Medina, the Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi, salaam had a deeply found love for Mecca.

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He had a deeply found love, even for its people, for the extended family that he had some Allahu alayhi wasallam the vast majority of it was not Muslim. As a matter of fact that the death of his uncle, the prophet SAW Selim was told in the manner when I came to La Jolla de monisha, you no doubt don't get to guide whoever you've loved. And if it was, if the ayah was only about Abu Talib, then the Arabic of the ayah would have been in nicoleta, the mana Doctor Who

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is the pronoun is not there unless that in Nicoletta de man, now that what that technically does is tell us what that does in Simple English is the Prophet sallallahu. wasallam has an exhaustive amount of love. It's kind of limitless for his entire community, all of Makkah, he has a love for all of them, even the ones who hate him, he has a love for, and he has a loyalty to that place. There are people that came to the Prophet slice of them, and they would be proud of their tribe they came from, they would take the name of their tribe with pride, even though the majority of the people of that tribe non Muslim, and the Prophet salallahu alaihe salam would actually not crush

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their, their, their pride and their part of their identity to come from those people. You know, I'll give you an interesting bit of a narration from the higher shot of the Allahu anhu, just about the way we thought about how we think about geographic locations and how for the Sahaba being proud of where you're from, and being proud of Islam can coexist, that you don't have to pick one over the other. It's not a question of loyalty. So I shadowed the Allahu on her when she was asked to tell the story of if, which was 50 years or so after the event. This is the Prophet has passed away so I saw them. She's almost 70 years old. This has many, many, many years. Decades later, she was asked

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and part of the narration she said something really weird now it's gonna sound strange. Bear with me.

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The Arabs of Makkah used to have a different kind of lifestyle than the Arabs of Medina. The way the Arabs of Makkah did things is they never had a bathroom in their home or next to their home. Never the entire city of Mecca, nobody had a bathroom. They used to go out in the mountains and then come back. And the women couldn't lie lie lie lie in the women didn't go out except at nighttime one night to the next time they want to relieve themselves. One night Wait, you know, basically almost 24 hours go the next night because you know

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Why? Because they need the privacy of night, the cover of night. That was their culture. So I was telling the story of when she was really sick. And when she finally got better, good enough to go relieve herself, she was taken by, you know, Ole Miss out into the mountains. And she says, Let me explain. And this was 50 years later when people had bathrooms next to their homes. But what does she do? She says, you know,

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for the habla kybella, Manasa.

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Una, we went out to the mountains out in the outskirts, because that used to be our bathroom. Well, I'm gonna umbrella, umbrella bill Oh, well. Nando De Anza and Natasha kunafa. Nw, Tina. She says we used to do things like the real Arabs back in the day.

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Because we used to think it's disgusting to have a bathroom next to your home. We did things the way the actual Arabs did them. So we used to go out one at one night at a time. Now she's saying this 50 years later and living in Medina weird now 50 years later, there are bathrooms, extra homes. And that's the normal part of life, which is why she has to explain that's how it used to be things used to be back in the day, the reason I'm bringing this up, is this not more Islamic to go out in the mountains, you're like, we want to be just like a high shot will be Allahu Tada, and high. And she said she did things this way. And that was the original way of doing things. And therefore, you

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know, we're gonna have to buy some extra property in Texas. Like you don't, you don't have to do any of that relax. She was just proud of being from that culture. she's proud of being from that land, and how they did things and how they have their own heritage. she's proud of that. Now, a lot of you and myself included, I'm partly American, and I'm partly Pakistani and partly confused, and that's completely okay.

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And I'm proud of every one of those things. That's completely okay. And our children are far more American than we are because they're born here. They've never seen, you know, a life abroad, not not not intimately anyway. They don't know that culture that well. I mean, they know the food, kind of, you know, but other than that, they don't know it. I wanted to bring this up. Because before we talk about engagement in society, practically, we have to change something mentally, like we have to actually see ourselves as part of this society. Until you see yourself as part of this society and your concerns, genuinely, your concerns for this land, this people, this nation, become your

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concerns. There actually stuff that worries you. I'll give you an example. My mom is not American. And I don't think she ever will be. She's extremely Pakistani though. So when she watches news about what's happening in Pakistan, it worries her.

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It concerns her, you know, and she's worried about the people there, etc. Because the place you come from, it has a place in your heart and you're worried about it. And when you hear news about it, it bothers you, it concerns you, you have a love for that land, you have a love for those people, and that's natural. What I'm trying to say is if we are going to engage in any kind of civic involvement, like we're gonna be community activists, we're gonna do registration drives for voting, or you're going to join Habitat for Humanity or do some kind of outreach program, whatever you're going to do, if you and I are going to do this, because we think it's good PR for the Muslim

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community. Don't do it. Do not do it. If you're going to do this, because you genuinely see yourself as a member of this society whose well being is associated with your own well being. You don't see yourself you don't see yourself as a separate entity from these people. And for anybody here to think Well, you know what, these are kuffaar Why should we be worried about the kuffaar? read a little bit of Quran I'm not saying read a lot. I know you don't have time, read a little bit of Quran and you find what the prophets are saying about their people. I know he was allowed to study new had a serum, what with what love? Does he speak to the people that spit at him? With what

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concern does he speak to the people that have raised children? Dickerson?

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You know, this is the legacy of prophets, are they hemos salatu salam, which messenger hated his nation, you tell me which one hated his nation, which messenger would go out of their way to pray against the nation 950 years and new high salon at the end of it at the end of it? He says, you know, that, you know, you know, I look at me look at the era, you know, don't leave any home behind. Y'all not destroy all of them in their car into their home. You know, if you weren't to leave them, then they're going to this, you know, misguide you'll be a bother whether

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or not they're going to give birth to nothing but more disbelievers. He said this really like intense prayer against his people at the end of 950 years. But even that, let me tell you what happened on the day of judgment when people will go from one nation to another to one profit to another to another to another to seek refuge. When they go to see can you help us

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When they go to when they go to Adam alayhis salam he says I can't help you. I disobeyed a lot I don't know what I'm going to do go to Abraham. Abraham said I lied one time to make a point I don't know if I can stand in front of a lover you go to a new you know actually do first and they go to a new place and you know what he says? I prayed against my people one time I don't know if I can stand in front of Allah

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to Allah call me.

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If

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I trade against my people go to somebody else. When the Muslim community can have and the Muslim world even can have stand in prayer and make entire dollars against countries, entire countries. I don't know what prophet they've been learning from what nation they've been learning from, you know, a lahoma dumb mid America Aloma this I'm standing in prayer like oh, Lord, crush America was like I got a return flight tomorrow. I don't know if I can. I cannot break by prayer right now. Because, you know,

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and that some of that poisonous mentality unfortunate mentality that doesn't represent anything of our religion has made its way even into the minds of some of the members of our community, and that needs to be addressed. First. We as Muslims are concerned for whatever society we live in. That was my first point. Quickly, I'll make my second point. And I'm done. The second point that I'd like to make is we are not the first people to face propaganda.

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propaganda is actually the, the Sunnah of the Muslim community.

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Throughout the ages, whenever people have stood for La ilaha illAllah, and we are the last of the oma. We are after on oma, we are the last of the nations. And we are the ambassadors, whether you like it or not accept it or not, whether you take on the burden on your shoulders or not. You and I are ambassadors of the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, and our children will be there, his ambassadors and their children will be his ambassadors. if Allah wills until the day of judgment, we are it there are no more messengers coming. So Islam that used to be its light use torch use to burn by the hands of messengers, and those who follow them. That torch is gone. Now

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it's been passed on to the oma Muhammad sallallahu alayhi salam. And when you study the history of all of those believers, and what Allah wants us to know about them in the Quran, you learn that they all face propaganda, they all face lies against them. To give you an idea, the nation of Iran said, well, you don't have a particular Muslim, I love this phrase. They said about Musa and Harun, they are a threat to your society, not because they're talking about one God, not because they're preaching justice. You know, what Fidel, his argument was, these two people, if you follow them, they will get rid of your perfect exemplary lifestyle. You guys are number one, your lifestyle is

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number one, your freedoms, your your advancement, your you know, your way of life is superior, these people will come they are a threat to your way of life. Don't follow them, they're a threat to that. Whereas hobbyzone Karthika will Muslim, exactly the kind of language that is used about Muslims when being when, when suspicions are raised about them. So here's my last point, the propaganda will go on. And no matter how many PR campaigns we do, our misconceptions about Islam videos we make the videos and the blog posts and the noise that will be against us will always be louder. It will always be louder than the noise that is for us accept that reality. Don't defeat yourself, but

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accept that reality and learn to fight in a different way. How do we fight it? We actually fight it on the ground.

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You could say whatever you want about the Messenger of Allah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, but the old lady that throws trash on him and he takes care of her. She knows better. Now she knows you could say whatever. And he never goes out and defends himself and says, Look what I do. Can you can somebody take a picture of this and posted at least so we get recognition that we also volunteer and listeners are not that bad? No, he's quietly doing this. He's quietly helping people. He's quietly engaged in what you can only call call I'm gonna build my roof. When he woke up, that's all he's doing. What is the Quran coming and fighting for is the Quran giving revealing I don't don't oppress

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the believers, leave them alone. They have the right to pray. You know, they're not that bad. No, cron is coming to the believers and saying you guys are being tortured, suffer the wrath of server for us.

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And on the other hand, when Allah gets angry, he doesn't get angry that the Muslims were oppressed in Makkah, you know what he gets far more angry at

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us amil miskeen

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he gets more angry that a baby girl was buried alive. He gets more angry that somebody was cheated in the marketplace when we live in an arena is actually rather nasty. So food. And by the way, the people who were cheated in the marketplace were not Muslims, and the orphan that was being pushed around. And the poor person that wasn't being fed was not Muslim. And the baby girl that was buried alive was not from a Muslim family, but the Quran is angry about those things.

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Quran is angry about it makes noise about those things. Why? Because Allah wants us to stand up for the oppressed, we will be patient in the face of oppression. And we will stand against the oppressed, not not for our rights, but the rights of everybody else around us. This is what makes us the Omar Mohamed Salah Lahore and even saddam, we are not I started this talk by talking about all these different immigrant groups that came to the United States, right? Each one of those groups has advocacy. They have people that look out for the interests of their community, don't they? They have people that want to get involved politically, like the Hispanic community will support its

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candidates because they're gonna look out for immigration rights or Hispanic community rights, etc, etc. What I'm trying to argue with you is that's all well and good. But that is so far secondary, on the mind of a genuine Muslim, because the primary objective to a Muslim is actually not to be a lobbyist and an activist for his or her own people, is actually me to be an activist and a lobbyist for the society in which there are people that need help. Those people need help. And that's why a lesson is here, actually, we were sent so we can be carriers of justice, whenever Allah and forsaken Quran says, even if that means you have to stand up against yourselves, which another meaning of

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that is, even if you have to forget about yourself and worry about somebody else's rights. That's what that means. This is what we must become. We must not be We are not afraid that we are under pressure or, you know, I know I said, this is the last thing one last thing I promise. This is totally, I know, I'm never gonna get invited again. It's okay.

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I live here, I can just come back even if you don't invite me. Okay, so. So here's the last thing I'm going to share with you just some perspectives. I just came back a couple of weeks ago from Turkey. And I had a chance to meet some very interesting people. When I was there, Istanbul and Cora and I had some fascinating conversations. And it is one conversation that just, it's drilled in my head, I can't get it out. And I'd really love to share it with you. I met a lady who was a grandmother herself, and she's a historian. She's an ottoman historian or a family historian. And she told me the story of her grandmother. Briefly, I'll share some things about that with you. This

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old woman, her grandma, she was actually a young woman working in the government in the education ministry at the time when the Ottoman Empire fell, and the hardcore secularist regime took over. Okay, so this is like the mid 1920s. And there's a shift from the Islamic empire now in Turkey to this extreme secularist anti Islamic regime, okay. She is describing the scene where women are getting their jobs pulled off of their heads in the middle of the street by other Muslims. She's describing the scene where people are going door to door, finding copies of the Quran and burning them down.

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That's that that's a history. And that's not 1000s of years ago, or centuries ago. This is just the last century we're talking about. There are people who have heard these things from their own ears from their own family. So she tells me the story of her grandma who wanted to continue her relationship with the Quran. So what she did was she hid the copy of the Quran. And they had a barn in their backyard where animals do their due, she hid it under the pile.

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And she used to go into the barn, pull it out, recycler on in the barn because she got caught otherwise, and the noise of the animals would hide her recitation. And when she couldn't take it anymore, she'd come outside and throw up and then go back inside and recite her fur on.

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And that's what what they were talking about Muslim community under pressure, right. And she actually the grandma that I met has that copy of the Quran, she keeps it in a Ziploc bag. Because she opens it, the whole house smells like animal feces. But she says, I have this to remind ourselves, that, you know, Islam made its way through Islam came through. If you know That's intense.

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If you think you and I are under pressure, this is nothing.

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This has nothing to do my husband through a lot worse, and has come out strong. So don't be afraid of the ladies in this audience, the men in this audience, don't be ashamed of your response. That's the first thing this as long as is as American as anything else. This is not a foreign entity. This is part of the American fabric and a proud part of the American fabric. And we don't need to hear rhetorical speech to believe that this is what we actually genuinely believe. When people like literally Tell me go back to your country. Like that's happened before go back to your country. I was like I am I'm heading back to Texas.

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You know, because according to some it is a country.

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You know? So we like a mental shift is necessary not only in how we think

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Have ourselves but really the work that needs to be done. How many people in our neighborhood that we don't do not know? Why is little superveloce lights on and telling us 40 neighbors this way? 40 neighbors that way? How many of those neighbors Do you know? You know, and how many of those are non Muslim that we've ever cared for? If we don't do our part, then we can complain about the political climate. We can't complain that unless health hasn't come unless health comes when we follow the legacy of His Messenger sallallahu alayhi wasallam and I pray that us and the generation that's coming after us even better carries that legacy like it's never been carried before. barakallahu li

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walakum wa salaamu alaykum wa rahmatullah wa barakato