I Called Boonaa! Being a Public Figure, Single During Quarantine, Going Back Home
Channel: Saad Tasleem
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Hey, so I want to LA while they come
to live on my couch. Oh, good man. How are you? I'm still living the quarantine like, I don't know, just me or No, I don't want to. I don't want to go outside now I'm comfortable. I'm going on quarantine seems to be
treating you well, you look good man. Like he was like an introverts like fantasy was it seemed like that's what they wanted all along 100% you're an introvert, you're not introvert, I think I have become an introvert. Because I've been inside for so long.
So happened. So you're saying you appreciate the introvert life now? It's not that I appreciate it. It's almost like my default. Like, I don't know how people mixed in large gatherings before, it seems like so much better. And like more stress free to just be by yourself. Like, I don't know. It's weird because I genuinely felt like I, I, I was always a person that thrived in large environments around people, like, you know, that's a general kind of characteristics of extroverts, like you're a person who likes the company of others, but I don't know, man, this world has just become so weird and crazy, so fast that I just, I've been stuck inside for like, so many weeks now.
And months, and I've just gotten used to it now. Like there are opportunities to go outside, but I'm still like, No, I'm good. I'm gonna wait it out. Yeah, you notice how we've done a lot of events together like Film Fest, and, you know, large events.
And people have this perception that they're very, like public events, because there's a lot of people there, right? But in actuality, unless you like make an effort to go out and like mingle and like hang out with people or whatever. It's actually a lot of alone time like even though you might be standing in front of like a huge crowd. You know, you're spending time with yourself a lot. Right? You have like, you have like your conference, buddy. They'll give you like, like a driver, like speaker, buddy speaker. But yeah, like an 18 year old guy who saw your name on the list. He's like, yeah, I want to go with that guy. And then, you know, Baba Lee, and I used to have this funny
phrase, because we spent a lot of time touring together, we used to say that organizers treat us like fruit baskets, you know, they always bring you a fruit basket. In many ways, we are the fruit basket, like they drop us off. And then when they're ready, they'll like when everything is logistically convenient for them, they'll come back and pick us up or take us someplace, or, oh, by the way, you have the spinner you need to go to or you know, just throw things at you. So you're essentially just this object that they just move around, you know, accordingly. So do not like that, like ideal in an ideal buno world. How would that how would the experience be like, you're invited
to somewhere or, you know, speakers are invited? Like, how should that how should that go down? It's weird. You know, when I when I first started really traveling and performing and touring, I remember like, going to New York and like sleeping on brothers couches, and you know, it was a much I felt much more organic, it didn't feel like it was an industry or there were guidelines and protocols now, like, you know, volunteers and these speaker buddies, they get like a pack, they things you can say things you can say, delete his number right away afterwards, you know, like this certain protocol that it feels a bit forced. I think, organically it should be ideally that people you know,
all gathered for the same purpose and goal, which is to please Allah subhanaw taala I'm there to do my bit, you're there to do your bit. No one's better than anyone. It's like, you know, I feel like when people treat you as an equal, and makes the kind of, you know, experience a lot more enjoyable when there is this perceived hierarchy. Or when you're told that this is what you're what's expected of you and you need to go here and then it feels more like a job and it feels like, you know, sometimes you don't want to do it. Yeah. I don't know, man. I'm I have mixed feelings on that. I don't obviously I completely agree with you. There shouldn't be that hierarchy. And you know, like,
*, come on monkey. He wants. He's to have this. I don't know if you remember this, like Punch Punch in the face list or something like that. Yeah. Yeah. Very, very humbling.
So he like and he's he's real, like, low maintenance, like super low maintenance. Most of them. Yeah, I know. Definitely. Yeah. He's Yeah, he's like, super chill. And I remember one time he said to me, he said, he said, you know, it's, it's such a travesty. Like it's, it's, it's so ridiculous. When you see like a volunteer pickup pick, pick the shop or pick up the speaker in the airport, and he's carrying all their bags or whatever. And since then, like I've had in my head like I never let anybody touch my bag. You know, pick with everybody leave my bag alone. Get away from me. Cuz you know, I'm just very mindful of that now. So that I agree with you on that. But that being said, I
think the the, like the fruit basket aspect of it is
logistic from a logistical point of view. I appreciate that that things run a certain way. Certain people
to certain things, the expectations are clear. And yeah, it is like a job right. But, you know, the good thing is you get the professionalism that is involved in a job by Garrett. You're saying no, no, I've seen it when it doesn't work out. And then you wish you had the professionalism. Like I've been in circumstances where I've like, I've weighed at an airport for like, four hours. No one's coming. I don't have the, the guy I'm calling is not answering, like, you know, that I don't, I don't know where I'm staying. Like that. To me. Those are a lot of red flakes. One chef, actually who I remember. I was traveling with him. I think we were in Kenya. He He told me that something
very profound that just stuck with me. He's like, you know, if something happened to me, who would you guys call? Like, if I got sick? Or if something happened? God forbid, you know, like, Do you know my emergency contact? Do you know my wife's number? Do you have access to my medical records? Like, you know, and sometimes you're dealing with some elderly people who have like, real medical concerns. And and that part of it I definitely agree. And like, I've been very fortunate that I haven't been in bad situations like that. But I can see how it could go from like zero to 100 really quick like if somebody you know, gets sick or you know, even getting like denied entry to a country
you know, that happens sometimes. Right? Like, yeah, in situation like, I don't have his number. I'm just literally sometimes you just walking out of a terminal just hoping there's like a bearded guy.
You look like you're here to pick me up one time I kid you not the last time we were in Detroit, in Michigan Film Fest. I cannot I got out of the airport. And I walked to like the you know, the terminal or like the outside the curbside pickup thing. And a Muslim brother was there picking up someone else, incidentally. And he looked at me, I looked at him and I'm like, Alright, cool. I just jumped in his car. I just got in the back seat. And he's like, oh, sorry, brother. I'm like, like, say yes. Okay, you know, how are you? We had a full conversation and I'm like, okay, where are we going? And he's like, what he's like,
he's like, I just know, he knew who I was. That was the funny thing. Okay, he saw my facial he recognized me he was just being super nice. Like, he had no idea why I was there. What was happy he didn't even know there was a conference or anything. He's like, Oh, I just recognize you from YouTube. And I saw you just came in my car and I was like, wow, and that could have went really bad really quickly. I could have just been abducted and taken somewhere who knows right? But I man I appreciated the fact that yeah, if things were you know, if there was enough to say there was anything bad on the organizational side, I just jumped the gun just assumed that this was gonna
happen and when that really wasn't the case, that reminds me of this one time in Medina. So there was a period of time like close to the end of my studies. I was living off campus I had my own apartment is like a studio apartment like not a big deal.
But one evening I got out of the shower and like the floor was was wet you know that you know like I don't know we didn't have like my my apartment didn't have I didn't have a bathtub or anything like that. It's just the floor and the shower on the floor and you got to like all connect us yeah squeezy that Johnny squeezy the water in, so sometimes it gets wet and had a lot I got out, and I slipped. And I hit my head on the floor. And I passed out like a concussion like legit so so I don't I don't really know, like, till this day, I don't I you know, I never got a check to actually but all I know is like, I remember slipping. And then I remember like getting up and being like, Whoa,
what just happened? Wow. And then some panelized thought about like, What if something had happened to me? Or like, I was like, What if I, you know, what if I died? Like, how long would it have taken for people to realize, you know, like, I'm sure my friends would have eventually been like, yo, Where's he at? Ya know, I haven't seen him so long. Like Ohio hasn't been to his classes, but like, how long would that be? And then my parents and like my family and it's just like, this crazy thought, Man, when you're in like a foreign country, like, you know, you're you don't have the benefit of the system on your side. Like you're theoretically a foreigner. Yeah, yeah, that's scary.
You know, and I think the bright side of this, like, for me, at least my situation, you know, being at home, like with my wife and kids, I'm very grateful for that. I can only imagine what it would be like to be by myself. Yeah, for like, you know, four month period five month period, you know, people who don't have someone to check on them people who don't have that, you know, it's hard enough not having the interaction of like the community like you the massage and we're close for so long. Now, being in a situation where you you're cut off from everyone like that, you know, that to me is is very sad. Like, I'm happy like my wife and kids are here. I spent a little bit too much
time with my wife and kids. You know, you get a little bit of cabin fever. But first I would never choose the opposite. Yeah, I've heard people say like, you know, especially married people with kids. Like I've heard people complain a lot, right? Like all you just stuck in the house and your kids like, you know, kids are not going to school and this is getting on my nerves or whatever. And then they look at people were single, and they're like, Oh, you have so easy and so much time. You're
So, um, the grass is always greener on the other side, right? Because single people are like, mad, depressed these days. Oh, I can imagine, you know, being by yourself. And I mean, I'm the type of person like, I enjoy being by myself, like even the day and I was by myself and I was totally cool with that. But I think for most people, like it's really hard to be by yourself for such a long period of time. Oh, yeah. So yeah, it might be difficult to like, you know, deal with your kids all the time. And you just have that complete, you know, spending 24 seven with your wife and your kids, you know, it's not always easy. But how do they know? Like, we have family you know, that's, that's
there. You know, it made me think about how would it be like to be like a river for example. Like a lot of you know, river brothers and sisters like, that's their life, like, you know, they might have to cut off ties with their family, they might, you know, even spending eat theoretically, like, you know, by myself, but I was with my family, my wife and kids. Yeah, that feeling of you know, missing out on that. I imagine the amount of people that feel like that all the time, like on a day, you have no one to enjoy it with you, you know, with my family, like my wife makes a big deal out of aid. My kids, they put up decorations, I'm not an E person per se. Like I never I never really got
into like the the celebratory part of it. I just kind of do my bad then whatever. But like my kids, like look forward to it. It's it's something that's big on the calendar. And I can imagine like someone being taught like this is this huge occasion is this festive activity that almost and then your eat is literally like nothing like you just go pray and then that's it. You know, the one of the most depressing days of the year when I was in Medina, was eight. Oh, yeah. For the students. I remember man, like you go early in the morning, like especially a prayer. They're like super early, go pray for a job. Mission number one, and then you wait for the eighth prayer. And then you know
what, it's so crazy, because nothing is open. Everyone is with their family. There aren't even cab you can find a cab. Yeah, so you're just like by yours. And everyone's celebrating with their families. And you're just like, it's so depressing. Like, you know, what a students do for fun over there while you go out. You got to eat, you know, things like that. Even that's close. Our members have had a low like, I remember hanging out with a gentleman. And we're just like, super depressed.
on a dime. Remember, somebody has had a lot I remember one day, somebody called chef innovate and you know, navaid he was one person that people would call with their, with their problems and issues or whatever. And he like counseled them or whatever. I remember one day he and I don't know who he was talking to. But he's like, he's like, no, he like, Don't cry. Like, it'll be okay. Like, he will be over soon. You know, classes are gonna start everything will be fine. And I'm going to try and come see you today. And I was like, oh, man, I've had a lot like that experience of you speaking to another student. Yeah. A student, a student who's like super depressed on the aid because you know,
you're 1000s of miles away from your family. And you just see everybody celebrating. And it's it's sad, man. So yeah, like, with reverts mean. Yes. How to LA. I can't even imagine like, how difficult that must be. Yeah, yeah. I mean, this, this quarantine thing has really taught me a lot about like myself about the things that I value, but the things that are important to me. And what I'm more scared about really, like, I think where some of my anxiety comes from is like, I don't know what the world is gonna look like, like moving forward. Like, I don't think it'll ever go back to how it was like those days of the fight like that will those will be like, the golden years for us. You
know? Like, I don't know, like, I don't know how people realistically can, you know, will we ever get back to this days of large gatherings? Will you know, people's be in the habit of wanting to go outside again, like, even now here in Toronto, like, there's a big debate, I'm sure it's the same where you are like about going back to school for kids.
Online, like, imagine even that basic thing like school is not going to be the same forget, you know, everything else that we knew to be normal. Yeah, I feel like it's like, in my mind is gonna go one of two ways, either. Well, definitely, it's going to be a new reality. Right? That's just I think that's something we've got to come to terms with, like, yeah, it's never gonna be the same. I mean, that's just and but that's life anyway, right? We're used to things being very constant and consistent. Not everyone is that fortunate, right? people's lives change overnight, you know, for so many different reasons. And you have to deal with it. But in my mind, like, I've been thinking about
this, and I'm like, Yeah, I think it's gonna be a while for things to get like back to quote unquote, normal. But I had this feeling that like, once like the we get the vaccine and things like people are gonna, they're gonna go insane
be out and about and learn or want to be at gatherings and I'm like, so. So it might be that it's like we're going the other extreme. Right. So I don't know it's I think we'll never forget this feeling of what like helplessness we had like, being forced to be locked inside your home. That's like, like, if, like I felt like I
lives in the Hudson, you can imagine what people might feel like. Yeah, under military control, a lack of access to freedom of movement. And that's their life. That's not life. That's their life. So we now experiencing that I don't think our memory banks will ever allow us just like we never forget 911 like, even though 911 happened, and it was a while ago, I remember, as a teenager, the feelings post I mean, you're, you're in DC, you're in my area, like, yeah, post 911 is it's a different world, there's pre pre 911 and after 911, like, the world kind of shifts back to how, you know, you'd hope it would but like, you never forget those moments. Yes, changed forever, you know, and
you're absolutely right. Like, in my mind, there's a memory there's a clear distinction between pre 911 post 911 because just the world which is so different, I used to go to the US as a Canadian citizen as a as a teenager like a 13 and 14 with no ID
I kid you not we would drive to the border and my dad would present like his ID and then I would have like a library card like it didn't matter. The borders were so flexible, remember, like how that that time is? It was like there was no suspicion there was no like, those were the golden years, you know, but for us now it's like, I don't think people growing up today even realize, like, you know, how weird of a world it is now. Like with the, you know, even just security and borders and all that kind of stuff. I mean, in my I think I've been so traumatized by like, the way the world is now like intense security and screen with it. I don't even remember what it was like Korean
I like traveling pre 911. Like, I don't remember people say, right, that you used to walk through, like mad, easy screening or whatever. And I'm like, I can't Why do I not have memories of that, like I just in my mind is just as this is like, this is the way it is, you know, this is the new normal. I think like masks are going to become the new normal. Absolutely. I don't think that's going and you know, fair enough, like in Asia and stuff like you even before this whole crony thing. Like that was a common thing. Like people were just conscious of that, right? They've been wearing masks. Oh, you're like, what's the big deal? And Americans are losing their minds and
protesting for lack of masscue. So people walk into Costco and they you know, have a temper tantrum. But yeah, I think that's going to become a part of our like, lexicon. Like, it's just Oh, yeah. Like, where's your mask, like, you have to have a mask you have to have, and I don't think that's a bad thing. Because even if we do get a vaccine for like this COVID thing, there's obviously chances that something else might pop up in the future, right? I think Yeah, idea of us taking preventative measures and understanding the transmission of diseases and stuff. Like I don't think that's a bad thing. I think that's more overall moving forward. We'll be better equipped for something like this
in the future. I think it's just like, I just thought full thing of the days like walking into a theater or an auditorium. And you have like, 20,000 people. I don't think that I don't know how that can happen again. How can we have a conference with 10,000 people without shall be six feet, each person being six feet apart? Man, yeah, that's gonna be weird, man. Everybody wearing masks? You know. I mean, I think you know, I was constantly like, there's knowledge and wisdom and everything I don't like I said, I don't think it'll be a bad thing. I think it's like you said, it's just a new reality. Like, yeah, my kids are now growing up doing kindergarten online. Yeah. I think that their
reality when they get older, we'll just be like, yeah, that's how we did things like Yeah, what do you mean, you didn't have internet schooling? Like, we didn't even have dial up when I was a kid? Would you mean internet school? Like it was even something you can imagine? Right? But so I think just the world moving forward, it's just gonna look a lot different. But you know, I'm hopeful that we'll still thrive. That's so crazy, man. Cuz you know, life is starting kindergarten.
And it's online. Right?
And it's like, That's his reality now like that is you feel bad for him? I do feel bad for him, man. Because, you know, it's just like, That's his experience of school. And I was actually very excited for him to go to school. Yeah, experience, you know that. But now it's just, and he's totally, like, unfazed by it. Cuz he doesn't know. Right? He's like, oh, online. Awesome. And yeah, online and great. Like, he doesn't complain about wearing mess. He's like, yeah, cool. Can I get like a ninja turtle mask? and this and that. Yeah. And he's because he's like, you know, he's like, Okay, so this is what it is, is what is that kids? That's how they are? Yes. Looks Oh, yeah. But mass man. This is
the time to invest in math. I've been investing in math people have been people have been sleeping on math. They're like, Oh, you know when you get those? You gotta you gotta get some nice I ordered like I ordered like bulk. But yeah, it's it's it's just the world now. Like, my my kids are completely like schools like an app now. It's like an iPad. Oh, yeah, I go to school here. There's classes. And like, for all intents purposes, like my kids do, like they have a court and tutor and stuff that they do is online. So it's not a foreign concept to them. Like they understand the premise of being taught online. But I definitely feel bad for them, even if they don't realize it.
Like I'm like, dude, your childhood sucks. Like you don't know what it's like to go to school and like have friends and run around and
Get like injured and that's it's sad for me inside. I can imagine like the kids that graduated this last year, people are calling them like, they're like the the war babies, you know, like the baby boomers like Yeah, yeah and I in a minute in many ways I'm like this is gonna be a strong bunch of people because their life they didn't have like the ease that we had and imagine our ease was still like post 911 ease, which was like, you know, you can still travel you might get sent to Guantanamo on the way there but like a museum get on a plane, right? Like that world is done now. Can you imagine going to college working hard for five years, whatever your big day and it's like, dude,
you're on zoom for a little
longer. That's Yeah, that makes me thankful for like, even the struggles that I had. And you know, being in a family that was immigrants and being relatively poor, and but like, even those exams like to me, that was still fun. Like, yeah, I don't know. Of course, like, like you said, it's all about context, like our kids don't know any better at this point. Yeah, yeah. for them. It's just that's what it is. But I don't know it doesn't feel right. It doesn't feel right at all. But like you said, maybe things maybe things will go back to normal, right after high school vaccine things seems like in the US To be honest, things have been normal all along. It doesn't seem so so let me tell you
something Americans, Americans are just like, and obviously I'm generalizing here, but a lot of Americans are like, you know what, we don't want to deal with it. So we're just gonna pretend like this is not happening. Like, I can't be inconvenient. So I'm just gonna go and live my life. And it's like us crazy man that, you know, that mentality of, you know, hey, I'm just gonna live like, a basketball is back on. So
I'm cool. You know, it's, that part is scary to me, because I obviously travel to the us a lot. And I almost feel bad for the Americans. I'm like, Damn, you guys are taking this thing serious man. Like, it's scary as a person outside the US to see how badly like leaders and stuff are dealing with obviously a state to state you know, region to region. I mean, the leader is obviously not doing a fantastic job with that. I feel sorry for like, the the people who are going to be affected by it, like the how many, you know, 1000s of people are going to really lose their lives.
Other people being inconsiderate, like, not what you know, wearing masks and stuff, like you're saving lives by doing that, you know, it's very selfish to to really do otherwise. And the thing is, you know, when it comes to America, like it's like the land of extremes. It's not like, oh, some people are okay with it. Some people are not in the favor of asthma. It's like you're either completely against it, right? Like you hate it. Like you're attacking people who wear masks, or you're like, against that, right? It's just so polarized. It's like half of the countries in in one camp, other half of countries and that, and that's what, like almost every issue. So it's like, it's
black and white, red and blue. Yeah. It's, it's really sad. I mean, in all fairness, like, I think, in Canada, there are definitely segments of the population that are like that, but it's for the most part. Like if I walk into like, I went to a cottage, like, you know, maybe a few weeks ago, and I walked we were like driving into a small town and I walked in some people wearing masks and people weren't. Yeah, and in Toronto, it's like mandatory like they don't let you into shops if you don't have a mask, but in this small town, it was like some people were to be I didn't care. I'm like, I'm wearing one I'm good. Like whatever cooties you I'm gonna catch it right. People just like to make
issues polarizing. I don't know why it's like that. Like, I think aside, yeah, man. It's really disheartening sometimes, because it's like, man, as like, we can't agree on anything. Like, everything becomes politicized, like the smallest things become politicized. And people draw lines, you know, and like battle lines drawn over, like a match against us. Yeah, that's what it is. So, so how to LA. I mean, I think this is a good time for us as Muslims as well to show, you know, I know, we've dealt with this, like within the Muslim community, right? groups and things like that, or whatever. But Muslims coming together for the common good. I think like, this is our time to shine.
And that's why like, I like so far, I think, listen to at least my experience, Muslims have been doing a great job, you know, like, coming together for the common good, helping people.
Like we got to, we got to show people waste them in a lot of ways. We got to think Corona took a lot of blame off us for a minute, you know,
I feel less under the spotlight. Well, I would say I felt less under the spotlight as a Muslim. But then as a black person, I was like, Oh, yeah, this is definitely not the time to be alive. Like, I mean, just with everything happening in terms of issues around race and stuff like that. Yeah. So in many ways, it's like a breath of fresh air that I feel like this. This like, pressured situation that everyone's under has forced them to, like, reflect on everything, like yeah, everything you can imagine. But at the same time, it's like will things get better? I think so. I think you can't go anywhere except up from here. Like, this is pretty cool, man. I don't know how low the low goes.
That's just the thing, right? Like we don't know. Like things turn and I hate to be like, you
No Debbie Downer or whatever, I usually try to be the positive one. But we also have to be realistic, right? I mean, to be honest, like I, you know, I tell people around me all this all the time, like how many, like, real hardships and tragedies have we actually faced? Right? Like people and their people in the world right now who are dealing with serious pain, serious suffering, serious tragedy? Why do we think that we, we don't deserve that right? Or we are not going to face that? You know, my love protectors? Obviously, we never asked for that we have a lot to protect us. Yeah. But you know, that's the reality of this life. And it's a big wake up call. I think for a lot
of people. I think we're living more and more in a globalized world. So a lot of problems are not just restricted to one area anymore. Right? Like Quran is a worldwide problem, right? So there are countries that are better, there are countries that are worse, but there's no country that is like, completely untouched, other than New Zealand, New Zealand, new but even Yeah, so it's only because they close themselves off, right. But realistically, a country cannot close themselves off from the world. But you can only do that for so long. We're not you know, now in 2020. You know, you can't, you can't just there's no place in the world where you're completely isolated. Unless like you're
living on some Island somewhere and you make it you know, you have your own food and your farm and but that's a completely different life mission. I mean, that's a lot of people now are really looking at that as like a viable option. It's crazy to just because of like, the whole online thing now even working, like you could literally work you can be anywhere working from quote unquote, home. Yeah, you could still work for an American company living in, in whatever part of the world you know, like, I don't know, I think it's, uh, you know, like, when, I don't know how it is how it was for you, but like, probably for a lot of people, you know, when you just start practicing and
you get really, you know, enthusiastic about being this is the thing that always comes up, like, I want to live in a Muslim country, I want to, you know, and I actually got my, what they call that CELTA, you know, like the teaching English certificate thing. Okay. Okay. So I'm qualified to teach English as a second language.
And I got it like, right out of university. Before I got married. I was like, Oh, this is a backup plan. Because everything here fails. At least I have an out that thought now for me is become so foreign. I'm like, why would I want to live here? Why would I want to leave here? I've been here. I've built my life here. My family's here. You know, a lot of I respect them a lot. A lot of Somalis who have been educated in the West have, you know, done their schooling when they're going back to Somalia? And actually, they're helping rebuild the country and they're doing a really good job. That's the chief of police, I think in Mogadishu is a Somali sister who grew up in the UK. Wow.
Yeah. So there's a lot of people who now see the value of giving back to those places where historically they haven't had the same infrastructure, they haven't had the same people that you know, because of colonization and so many other issues that haven't given them the opportunities to thrive. So who are we to then deprive those places of those experiences? I think for that for the children of immigrants, it's, it's a little bit different, right? Because their identity is forever tied into, you know, where they're living. Like, I, I lived, I lived in Saudi Arabia, where I studied there. And I went through the same thing you went through a lot of people do when they first
you know, either accept Islam, they start taxing as rosy picture of the Muslim world. Until you go there. Or until you until you live there. Yeah. And I remember, you know, first time went to Egypt for I want to spend a couple months there. And before I went to Egypt, I had this I'm like, I'm going to a Muslim country. I've never like properly lived and
died, I'm gonna just fit in and, and Subhanallah I remember this, this feeling of like, feeling. Like, I felt like such a foreigner over there. You know, and even though like a Muslim, I by a Muslim, were praying this and that, but I just felt so foreign there. And I remember coming home, landing in DC, and it's like, I'm like, home, like I felt I felt, you know, because that's part of who I am. That's part of my identity. So it's your family from your family's from India or Pakistan. Pakistan. I don't want to generalize. I didn't want to generalize, but I think it was one of them. Yeah. But now like, Yeah, I do, I can connect with Pakistani culture, but not in the way that I
connect with, you know, the culture here. And that's why people like, Hey, you should, you know, like give Dawa, to Pakistanis and this and that, whatever. I'm like, I don't know if that's the best idea. Because I don't know if I fully relate to that culture. Yeah, when you're giving dry to people, like you have to understand who you're giving away to. Now, of course, there are things that I can relate to because of my parents. But then there's a lot of stuff like I may say something like, Oh, you know, you should do this or whatever. But I'm completely missing a perspective. Yeah, right. It's like when,
you know, when this when, you know, last few months, Black Lives Matter or whatever. You have people talking about, you know, black issues and they had no insight into
What black people have been going through? Right? And a lot of people are like, yo, let's let the people who are experiencing this life talk because that's the person that like, they that's the real perspective. Right? So, you know, weird my experiences, it's like, like, so I went I visited so I had this, like this awakening in like maybe 2008 2007, something like that I decided in one summer, to go to Egypt to study Arabic And then to visit Ethiopia in the same summer. And mind you I had, I had never traveled like outside like North America. And I I, in my, my language skills are very bad. Like, I don't speak like my parents language that well, I don't speak like we speak the language
like my my ability to communicate is like a two year old, like, probably worse. So I remember first I went to Egypt. And I was like, Alright, I'm going to the Muslim land. I'm going to enjoy my brothers and sisters. And I could not I could not leave the apartment I had, I was so scared. Like, people are just shouting and
horns honking. And I'm like, what is going on your car? Oh, I was in Cairo. Yeah. Man. Cairo for you. Yeah. And I had a complete culture shock. Like, I was like, What is this place? I, I at that point, I realized, okay, they're Muslim, but I'm not then like, I cannot function here. I'm, I've been civilized in a different way. And then, and then I went back home. So then I went to Ethiopia. And when I went back home, everyone would call me, the foreigner.
And then Egypt, they'll call me the African. Wow. And I'm like, Damn, I thought we were in Africa. What's going on with Africa? Where are you guys? It's funny enough, like having those experience of being an outsider in places where I thought I was supposed to blend in. And then finally coming back to Canada and being like, same thing like I'm home. Yeah, but then it's almost like, is it home? Like, I I love being here, and I love being Canadian. But then at the same time, you experience things like racism and discrimination growing up, and you're reminded constantly that like, you're not like, well, who like you think you are this thing? You think you are part of this population,
Yeah, but that's the dunya. Man. I mean, you know, we don't actually truly belong to that. So I'm not you know, I'm not belittling anyone's struggle. Absolutely not. Right. Of course. Some people have been really bad.
But yeah, you know, that's, that's the reality of, look. Our identities are so complex, even within America, it's so interesting. You can go from one state to another state, and you can feel completely comfortable. What and at home in one state, and another state, you feel so different. You're treated as an outsider. I remember one time I was driving through driving through the south, the Bible Belt, and, you know, we pulled over at a rest stop. And it was me and my brother, and we got out to pray. And we're like, ah, should we pray outside? We had to pray this and that. And like, we we pray finish, I saw this pickup truck came by this guy rolled down his window. He goes, Hey,
I'm like, Okay, all right. Because I just, I just want to let y'all know, y'all welcome here. And I was like,
Well, I'm glad that you know, you said that. And I guess that had to be stated. It wasn't a given. Right. Yeah. Yeah, exactly. Right. Like the fact that he has to point out that hey, don't feel alarm buddy. Exactly. Like why would I didn't feel alarmed until you told me not to feel? Yeah, yeah, exactly. Exactly. Yeah, but you know, that's, that's the humbler man. It just I was wondering if maybe this whole Corona thing and you know, especially with the whole renewed discussion on racism, if any of this will point people to another solution, which is, hey, let's just leave a lot of people's many African Americans in the US are like, yo, we got let's go back to Africa. You know,
people have been telling us to go back to Africa for years. Let's go. You have people now setting up in like, in the West Africa, a lot of people like there's like literally, like communities that are being formed of like expats who live ethiopia where I'm from, there's a region called shusha. Monday, I think it's called. And Funny enough, it's the it's the area where like Rastafarians because you know, like Rastafarians have a connection with Ethiopia and Haile Selassie Yeah, place where they like claim. So there are a bunch of Jamaicans like living in Ethiopia as locals, there's like a this is our place now where, you know, when they're settled, they have their own culture,
society, everything. So I was wondering if like that something like that will emerge out of this. People just be like, yeah, this this place too crazy. Like, I don't want to be here anymore. It could happen. But I don't think we're anywhere close to that point right now. Like things have to get really, really bad. But from, from an Islamic perspective, like it has to get to the point where you're not able to practice your faith. Right, right. And when it gets to that point, yeah, then you gotta go. You gotta go somewhere where you can practice your faith. And in many ways, I think the people that are overseas, they look at us, especially like people who are in the field of dow or
like, in the West, and I think some of them are not jealous, but they're like, wow, like, you're really doing something like I hear that from people because they're like, like, try giving Tao in a Muslim country. It's like, it's like it's like a gas station on every corner. It's like you're not doing
anything unique, there's no excessive need. Like, it's like, I don't have to listen to you, I can go to the machine, I have seven, massage it around my home. So I think Either that, or it's you're not allowed to get home. Yeah, the other thing
is if it's government dollar, like if you're giving off again, I think, I think like we're in a unique position where like, we are actually teaching people and have an opportunity to expose people to Islam for like, the first time. Yeah, and leave a lasting imprint and actually, you know, affect generations of people like you have free for like, second or third generation revert families now, or the great grandfather converted. And now, you know, that historic and I know, people look at what we're doing, and they're like, you know, they wish they had that opportunity of actually effecting change. And that's why English I think, is so universal. Because a lot of people now even you'll
hear that ease and stuff in India and in like, Nigeria, and then they're number one, like mode of communication is English. Yeah. Have you ever have you ever checked your your stats or whatever of your social media, like where people follow you? Um, big. Top, Top three countries are big in Legos, man, I don't know why I don't know how these guys figured me out. I don't even know if they if they don't know, I'm not Nigerian. But I like to do not might like one of my like, my top five is like Nairobi, in Kenya, and then Legos. And then it's like, the rest is the rest of it is like American city like London. And I think like Toronto, and like New York or something. And it's funny to me,
because I'm like, a lot, I get a lot of curiosity from them. Because a lot of times, they hear what I'm saying like in the in the language, they understand the language, but they don't understand the context. Yeah. And they don't understand some of the nuances that maybe we would pick up. And sometimes I feel like telling them like, Dude, this is actually not for you. Yeah. Will you speak English? This is actually not Greek, you know? Yeah. But that's the problem, right? with social media and the internet, you know, there's no filter, like, you post something, and somebody sitting in their corner of the world is listening to it, and they're reacting to it based off of their life
experience, I guess is all the time, man, you must super upset at my posts. I know. Because, and you like to provoke them. That's your problem. You enjoy it, I think I think you enjoy a little bit.
I like it to actually I'm
gonna wake people up. Right? Like, and get them out of their comfort zone. I think especially for people that live in a traditional Muslim society, they've never heard outs, they never heard conflicting opinions, you've never heard it or even heard there is a difference of opinion, you know, for those things are given. Exactly. So for me, I like that I'm like, I want people to understand that Islam is not just Pakistani Islam. Right. Islam is practiced in other parts of the world. And it looks different. And the cultures are different. And I know you're used to something being the norm. And you're used to some being defined by what's what happens in your culture. But
I'm sorry, you know, Islam is not restricted to one culture. So that's part of the reason why I do it, you know, because for some people, certain things are shocking to them, not because it goes against Islam is because it goes against their image of Islam and their culture. I think their culture. Yeah, I think I kind of think like Western Islam is pretty dope in that sense that like, because there are so many people from from coming from so many different backgrounds, like everyone was explaining, like hardcore Hanafi, Cher, was explaining that, you know, he has to pray behind any man who he just saw wipe his socks. Yeah, maybe we'll do over his socks. Yeah. And, and his instinct
of like, nature would be like, Alright, there's no way like, if he was with his people, he was back home, we'd be like, Nah, that's not really yeah. But he recognizes that I'm in America, I mean, you know, with the gym with the people, these are my people. I may not agree with everything they do. But we have a commonality and a value that, you know, he's not going to dismiss. And he's like, that's, he was my he's mentioned that in the context of the fact that many scholars who come from overseas, they find that adjustment really hard. Yeah, you know, especially when you've been taught and taught to think a certain way and certain principles, and then when you discover, like, Hey, you
have people from North Africa, from this place in Asia from this place, and you know, places that have varying opinions on many different cultures is different. You have to learn to accommodate, I think that is a beautiful perspective. And we have, we really get, you know, privy to like many places don't really see that. Absolutely. That's the beauty of living in a place like this. you're forced to deal with your differences. Yeah. Right. Because you go to the masjid with people from all over the world, all different backgrounds, all different without him and it's like, you have to live together. You have to pray together. You got you know, one mission hopefully, right? You have one
mission it was there, you got it. Either you deal with your differences, or it's not going to work. So that's, that's a blessing that we come out of it. I like those small cities like you said, like sometimes you go to small towns and they have that one question. Those are like the best towns where like, literally everyone has no choice but to work together. problem is when more people start moving in, then you can start making your little his black. Okay, this is our mustard. Yeah. That's the biggest
Cities, man. Yeah, you've got just somebody's machine. You've got your Bengali machine. You got your Pakistani machine, you got your out of machines and this and that. Whatever. Yeah. Smart. Yeah, you're absolutely right. smaller cities, and everybody gets along, man, because you have no choice. You've got to make it worse. And it's beautiful. And they may not like it, because they're like, Oh, you know, we'd have lack of lack of access to knowledge, but your email, you have your email on speed dial, like, you know, at any given point of the day or time like, you know, who to call for whatever reason, like living in a big city where you know, and as a cosmetology, cosmopolitan, and
there's so many sides, and you actually sometimes you feel like you're kind of left, like you can get stuck in the cracks, like you can get Yeah, I go to a machine I could you not. And I've been praying, I've been praying in my machine for like, five, six years, I don't even know probably more than three people's names. Wow. Wow. I went to this one city, I think I think it was Maine or somewhere. But in the whole city, there's one mission, obviously, but the whole Muslim population is made up of like, a handful of families. That's it. That's beautiful. So they had an interfaith event. And they invited like, you know, Christians and Jews and people that people of different
faiths. And like 200 people showed up, and only 40 of them were Muslim. And that's unlike all Muslims. They didn't come out to that. They're like, no, this is a total mix of puppies. This was this was like, this is it. And I was like, wow. And it's beautiful. cuz everybody gets along, you know, they make it work. It was like founding fathers and mothers and families. Like I always envied them a little bit, because I'm like, Man, you guys, you guys got the ball rolling. I can imagine like, in Canada, the first machine was in Edmonton. You've been to Edmonton a few times? Yes. Yeah. The first machine in Canada was built in Edmonton by Lebanese settlers who came. And I sometimes
think to myself, man, that that guy probably had no idea. Like, cuz that community now is thriving. And from there, you've built you know, the entire country's had a hump to Islam. Like, imagine leaving that as like a southern contatti. You know, imagine you live your life down dedication to the community. And then like, you know, 1520 years later, maybe, you know, obviously, he dies from the last panel data, like there's no guarantee, right? But imagine you leave that legacy with other people. And then with your own kids, your own family, it's just like,
they got under the deal. That's your thing, man. You know, that's why I you know, I never judge people and because you just never know, right? A lot of there's a lot of mounds and scholars and speakers or whatever, and their kids are very far away from the dean. Yeah. And that truly shows us that he died from a law. You just you just never know. So, yeah, that's true.
It's weird when their wives look like they're far away from a slap. Somebody just sticks out like,
I always worry about, like, especially makes sense. It makes sense to me to be honest, why is that? So I'll tell you what.