Suleiman Hani – Religious Pluralism

Suleiman Hani
AI: Summary © The speakers discuss the importance of acknowledging differences and living among oneself while being different. They stress the need to address issues such as Black Lives Matter and recent protests in the United States, and emphasize the importance of history and the evolution of society in addressing issues such as oppression and injustice. They also discuss the importance of building bridges and common goals for society, and stress the need to increase volunteerism and teamwork. The speakers emphasize the importance of being a role model for others, especially in areas like education and peace, and stress the need to reward those who serve humanity.
AI: Transcript ©
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Salam aleikum wa rahmatullah.

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Smilla Alhamdulillah. Wa Salatu was Salam ala Rasulillah, who are other early he was asked me he woman Wala.

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doctor just said, may Allah Subhana Allah preserve him eloquently covered the gist of the topic, I will try inshallah with the remaining time to cover two points. The first is the question, How can we live together while having differences. And this is important in our times as believers to know, and even be able to respond when you hear things being discussed content contemporarily in society. The second is how can we fit into this picture of religious freedom or pluralism. And again, as was elaborated and elucidated, we're referring to pluralism and living amongst one another, not theologically, because that is not the issue of today's subject. Now, you and I know from

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experience, that we tend as human beings, and it is natural to kind of isolate ourselves or be amongst groups that are similar to us to use our time and to socialize with these groups. It is natural.

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And there are some advantages and disadvantages. And we're not referring to isolation and activism. Rather, in the general context of everyday situations, think of your friends, the people whose time you enjoy and company you enjoy, generally speaking, generally, but not always, we tend to stick to certain types of groups. And we see from the various studies in the last 2030 years, that children at a very young age, they say up to the age of four, they begin to recognize some differences in language and ethnicity and hair color and eye color and things like this. By the age of six. Some studies have shown that children who are constantly being bombarded with negative messages about

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their group as marginalized people, what happens to this child is they begin to have all types of mental health problems, they begin to to embrace and exemplify something called internalized oppression, where they begin to hate their own ethnicity, their own language, and so on and so forth. Because of the negative messages they're hearing, either from society or from other groups that are marginalizing them in society. So these are not things that are minor in any way whatsoever. Rather, the stereotypes that are very prevalent and common, even amongst Muslim communities. These are not things we can undermine or brushed aside, we need to address these things

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head on, because they do exist. Even here in this room. Perhaps there are some types of stereotypes that you do have, based on what they say that everything that you perceive in this world is based on your experience and information. You receiving this information time and time again, you hearing and experiencing certain things with certain groups will affect the way that you perceive them, whether you are publicly and externally dealing with them that way or not. So when we talk about stereotypes and addressing stereotypes, we have to realize that Islamically speaking, our way of life as Muslims is extensive. It is wide ranging Islam encompasses all types of issues in life, addresses the minor

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things and the major things as well. And that is because its roots are divine. It originates from the One who created this universe, the one who knows what is best for society, how society can function most efficiently, how human beings can live amongst one another, despite their differences, differences, many of which Allah subhanaw taala created us with. And so when we talk about Islam as a way of life, and when we talk about Islam historically, and when we talk about coexistence and harmony, the first thing that we have to address is that any issue that affects people that is in any way oppressive or unjust or unfair is an Islamic issue, as has been said, all of these things do

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affect us. And if you do not think that this was the way of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, then I assure you you have been misinformed about the Sunnah. Because the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam every time you hear his name sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, the Sunnah of the Prophet salallahu alayhi wa sallam was not just to defend Muslims when they were oppressed. The Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam was always a rights activist for all types of people. And this is why most of the followers of the Prophet salallahu alayhi wa salam in the early days were those who are oppressed, because he was giving them the rights that society was oppressing, and refusing

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and resisting

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And so the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa salam shows us through his beautiful example, that Islam is truly a religion of justice and peace. Because when you talk about justice in the theological sense, Allah created us, therefore he has a right upon us. It is a matter of justice for you to worship your Lord, a matter of servitude and submission and humility, and justice between the creation, dealing with each other, interacting with others in society, addressing issues of injustice, whether you think they relate to you or not. So when we talk about issues such as Black Lives Matter, there is no doubt whatsoever that we should be on the forefront supporting these movements. And it's not

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just one movement, it's not just one idea. It's not just one ethnicity. Rather, when you look at society, here in this country and all around the world, we see we have many problems we need to address over here, as American Muslims, we need to stop looking at other places around the world and saying they need to be changed. They need our standards, they need our way of life when we have many societal ills here in the United States. And so we address these issues by being at the forefront by trying to raise awareness for justice for all types of issues of oppression. And again, they spat outside of just religion, but ultimately in the sight of Allah subhanho wa taala, you are fulfilling

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your religious duties by doing so by integrating by communicating by reaching out by being active by volunteering. Justice is the core of Islam.

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And so Allah subhanho wa Taala tells us in a very powerful verse, verse 135, of swords and knees up a verse that is so beautiful and addressing the concept of justice that Harvard Law School has it engraved in their entrance. Why? Because it is one of the most powerful verses addressing justice in all of mankind's history, in which Allah subhanaw taala says, Oh, you who have believed Yeah, you are lucky enough to be witnesses for justice, establish justice for ALLAH SubhanA wa Tada firmly, even if you are witnesses against yourselves, even if you're a witness against yourself, or your parents or your kin, your relatives, and if they are poor or rich, ALLAH SubhanA wa Tada will take

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care of or protect both. And the verse continues, do not follow your desires, meaning your personal reasonings. Rather do not swerve for Allah subhanho wa Taala if you distort or declined to do justice is aware of all that you do? Know Allah subhanaw taala reminds us in a verse that we should be hearing every Friday in Allah Hi yah, Moodle, beloved in Allaha, Moodle builiding, Allah commands Justice in Allah, He will be laden with sun and good conduct when he died in Cordoba and giving to those who are close to you. While you're in her annual fascia you will mourn carry one belly, and He forbids from all types of a morality and all types of oppression and all types of wrongdoing. Why

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are you LUCAM? Now Hannah come to the karoun he reminds you, he admonishes you, so that you can take this remembrance, this addresses our religion completely and wholeheartedly. It encompasses everything that society is trying to figure out. And this issue is an issue also of meta ethics. And that society is constantly evolving, developing, who decides what is right or wrong oppression or in oppression, justice and justice, good and evil. As Muslims, we have a moral reference code, we have a moral reference point in moral epistemology, your study, where does the definition of good and evil come from? And how can you defend that? And for us, as believers justice and everything that

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solves every societal ill, that we see and perceive and experience is addressed by ALLAH SubhanA wa Tada. And so we have to take pride in our faith, and that it covers all of these issues. Now, there are many people who would love to incite hatred and division amongst Muslims and others, between Muslims and externally in society, claiming that there is no such thing as coexistence, living with me having my own religious identity without any compromise without an inferiority complex amongst others who hold different views with mutual self respect. And we see throughout history time and again, from the time of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wasallam. This has been very clear during the

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lifetime of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam. We have dozens of examples of coexistence, and everyone here is aware, there were treaties and alliances made. People lived amongst each other with no issues. Rather, the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam even established what could arguably be the first religious Political Constitution in history. The Medina charter and the issue has its own session tomorrow. The Medina charter gave people rights and established

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These issues between Muslims and non Muslims living with one another. So there's no doubt the harmony did exist by noon are drawn the tribe of baboons, Iran who came to Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam. Again salAllahu alayhi wasallam.

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They asked about Islam, what do you believe about Jesus and he recited recite it to them from the verses of Surah Demetria. Did they all believe in Islam immediately? No. Many of them refused. And yeah, the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam had one of the scribes write out a constitution, a treaty to protect the rights, do not attack them, leave them in their houses of worship, let them worship as they want let them deal with matters of justice and dispute as they desire. This is what Islam is lived was lived through practically. And so when you ask where is the Sunnah of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, what is it say to address this issue? Look at the life of Rasulullah

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sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, and then Abu Bakr Radi Allahu Han, despite only being a Khalifa for two years, despite the strife that he went through during his times, Abu Bakr throughout the long run, tried to encourage the Muslims to hold and uphold the rights of the Christians of Tiberius. During the time of aroma Radi Allahu anhu, the OMA expanded massively. Omar will be along well established many cases and exemplified many situations of coexistence, protection of one another, the aroma agreement that is alive in prison to this day, the agreement with the conquest of Jerusalem, that preserve the church that is still today preserved for the Christians. So Omar Roddy along run an Abu

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Bekir and early and others followed in the footsteps of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wasallam in their understanding of coexistence, there is no theological compromise. Rather, when we say that Islam throughout history, when it was practiced properly, actually gave the solutions to society's problems. We see this with facts. And even in modern history, if you look at the Ottoman Empire, during the era of the Ottomans, over 100,000 Jews escaped from Spain from persecution, and came to the Ottoman dynasty War era. And what happened, they were not just given protection, they were given roles and rights they integrated into society at the highest of levels. And they found no problem

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doing this. Rather, I wanted to share with you a quote of a famous professor, a Jewish professor, Zachary carrabelle. He wrote in one of his books about this topic of Jewish and Islamic history, he wrote, The Jews enjoyed more freedom, and affluence, wealth, and more social standing under Muslim or in Muslim communities than any other time and history. Furthermore, he wrote for over a millennium and a half, 1500 years, at least, until the end of World War Two Jews under Muslim rule enjoyed more safety and freedom and autonomy than they did ever under any other rule, including Christian rule. He said, Muslim states over the course of 14 centuries have allowed for religious

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diversity, and not insisted on converting people to their own creed. Meaning what we might have examples of Muslims or governments who do not establish these principles properly. They are not representing Islam as a system. They're representing themselves. And they are small places in history. Unfortunately, they are also the contemporary and modern history. But you look throughout the past, and you find what you find that there is coexistence. And there is no problem with it. Islamically theologically, there is no issue of living side by side, there is no compromise in you worshiping in your faith, you're not forced to remove your hijab, you're not forced to stop praying,

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you're not forced to cook, consume, something you cannot consume. And so when you look through our history, you see that this is very possible. So to answer the question, yes, not only is it possible, but Islam as one of the religions gives the solution to this issue, and gives the solution to a lot of societal issues. And so I want to mention some points, action points that we can take. These are things that need to be done, and they have been done to an extent, and they will continue to be addressed. The first is increased integration,

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increased integration into society. A lot of people think of integration as a negative thing. A lot of people think integration means you have to give up your beliefs or compromise on your religion, or have some kind of inferiority complex. Whereas the reality is, you look around you in this very country. And you see people from all walks of life are proud of their identities. And so we too, should have some kind of integration in every area politically as well, which we are lacking. And we need to continue addressing these issues by integrating completely again without any theological compromise. The second is building bridges, working on common goals and campaigns together, of 100

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of the vast majority

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of major cities in the US already doing this. They're reaching out to their neighbors. They're reaching out to the local churches, the mosques, the synagogues, and others. And so you have a lot of alliances and trees that are working in addressing common issues of society, common issues that are taking place, and we find that some people will criticize this. Why? Because they look at it as interfaith where you're giving up your beliefs or something along these lines. But once again, we are not talking about theological compromise. We're talking about building bridges. How do you expect other people to know about Islam? If you're not willing to open the door? How do you expect

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people to know the real teachings of Islam if you refuse and you remain in isolation as a community, obviously, we are already aware of this, and we are doing this to an extent, but again, there's always room for improvement. Furthermore, the communities that have already excelled in this area, we need to start deriving resources, any one of us take the initiative, don't wait for someone to do it. Come up with resources that can be used across the country across the world. And don't wait once again, for someone to take this initiative, someone to take this role. Rather you volunteer your time and effort, address a community or come up to your mosque will come up to a local conference

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such as this one and show them what ideas you have work towards something, don't think that you do not have value because every single person in this room, rather everyone in this conference has a role to play. This is not a an issue or a role for community leaders for organizers for Imams. This is something that all of us collectively are working towards. The third point, we need to raise the standards of knowledge, we are living in a time of constant distractions, a lot of entertainment and leisure, a lot of ways to avoid truly seeking knowledge, traditional powerful life changing enlightening knowledge. And when we look at the past, we see that Muslims were at the forefront of

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society when it came to knowledge. Look at the Islamic Golden Ages, you see that Muslims were productive, not just in the religious sense, but rather every worldly or scientific knowledge as well. We need to try to address this issue by raising the standards of knowledge for every single one of us, individually as a family as a community as he measured and across the country as well. Raise your bar for knowledge by asking yourself what do you do consistently to learn and grow? How much do you truly give a priority to learning about your own faith or other faiths as well. And another issue that's related to knowledge is that of stereotypes. We all know deep down the

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stereotypes that we hold prejudices, discrimination. And if you find that something like this does exist, even at a minor level in your heart, then you need to address this stereotype. Now, some things are backed by facts, some things are not stereotypes are not something positive. Because we as Muslims are always on the receiving end of stereotypes, we should know more than any other group that this is not okay. And this causes more problems. This causes burning of bridges rather not building of bridges. The fourth point, we need to be very frank here. We need to as a community, as Muslims and with our alliances, call out and refute those who are trying to cause division in

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society. Those who basically use their entire campaigns, their entire reputation to create divisions and hatred in society, whether it's Fox News, or Donald Duck or any Donald Trump or anybody, I'm just kidding. Anybody that tries to create division, is has to be called out. And we know this. And I want to be very frank here. You look at examples of Richard Dawkins, the famous self labeled atheist agnostic. He writes in his book, The God Delusion, that religion is the cause of problems and wars in the world. And not only is this untrue, because most of those wars, the vast majority were politically motivated. But you look at society and you look at history, when it comes to people

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with his ideology of rejecting God, and he's free to do what he wants. But look at the statistics of the past 150 years. World War One and Two. How many people died in World War One? Does anyone know the estimate?

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World War One.

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Does anyone know anybody remember American history from school?

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This is awkward.

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About 20 25 million there are different estimates World War Two, does anyone know?

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It could be 50 to 85 million. Now you tell me in the last 150 years, actually, in the last 2000 years, the greatest death toll for any war that took place was World War Two. And let's say the average the median is 75 million human beings killed. Was it a religious war? Absolutely not. So people who are trying to create divisions by claim

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Neither religion is the source of problems. What are they doing by saying this, they are creating more problems. Because more than 5.9 billion people in this world have a religious ideology. To claim that religion as the cause of problems is not only a lie in a fabrication, it causes more problems and divisions, it causes people to have more conflict and tension and enmity. And this is not encouraged by anyone who truly and sincerely and objectively wants coexistence in this world. The fifth point

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is we need to start exemplifying a proud identity. And again, we need to say this very frankly,

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we are living in a time in which you cannot be you cannot afford to be embarrassed to be Muslim. You have with you a treasure, a gift. Allah subhanaw taala has given you this gift. Don't be embarrassed that you have it. There is a difference between fear for your life and a certain context and embarrassment. Because when you have pride, it is not the pride of arrogance. It is the pride of knowing that you are attributed to this faith that you have with you what you truly believe with conviction in your heart is the truth that you saw. And so when you talk about Islam and embracing Islam, we have an issue that is related to Islamophobia, and coexistence, and that there are many

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people with an inferiority complex. They think there's something better out there, their standards are better than mine. Their moral conduct is better than mine. Let me ask you a question. If somebody else's moral conduct is better, but there's no reference point for it? What are the limits? What are the boundaries of morality, because as Muslims, we have limits, we know based on what Allah told us what is permissible and good for society and what is not. And if other people want to live differently, that's fine. But don't ever allow yourself to be fooled. And to think that what you have morally is not superior, because it comes from Allah subhanho wa taala. This is not an issue of

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arrogance. It's an issue of conviction in what you have. And we have and should have conviction in all that we do. And unfortunately, we see around us the recent incidents with with people taking advantage of this false attacks and false claims of attacks and false reports of being kicked off on planes and so on and so forth. You all know what I'm referring to, we can't afford that. And we cannot afford that. Why? Because when there are real attacks, and there are many hundreds, what starts to happen as they start to diminish in their value, they start to be overlooked. They start to be undermined in their importance and not addressed properly.

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I'll give you a funny example of coexistence based on us being visible. And this is my second last point.

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I was I'd usually traveled to the US and I connect in Paris. I like their lounge, and I always stopped there for a few hours. So I was flying back, I believe, six or seven months ago, and I stopped in Paris. And it was February time.

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So I'm sitting in the lounge and there's nowhere private to pray. So I looked for the cable on my phone and I started praying fidget.

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I finished, got back on my laptop, I'm doing work. And the guy right across from me to my right on his laptop as well. He was staring at me was praying. And I assumed he had a problem. I was waiting for him to say something waiting for that lawsuit. What happened? He closed his laptop after a while he faced a different direction. He took out his hat skullcap and he started praying. He was Jewish. He started praying in a different direction. And I thought to myself, Wow, this is very interesting. And there were people walking by who had seen me pray there in the lounge. And they saw this man praying after I finished and they thought this was very interesting. After he finished, there was an

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African American or French from I don't know where with a Christian ideology, and he had a Bible in his hand. And he started chanting and praying really loudly. I don't know what he was saying. And he wasn't facing one direction. He had no Qibla. But he started chanting loudly. And now people were freaking out. Because they passed by this area where it's just a lounge and there's like an interfaith masala. Like we had this little prayer hall. So I got my stuff I packed up I went to the other side.

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But Subhanallah I thought to myself, I wonder if that man over there would have been embarrassed to pray had not somebody prayed before him. And you think to yourself, you don't realize the effects of your actions on other people, whether they say it or not. Everyone here is aware that many times people come to the masjid or they want to become Muslim. You ask them where did you learn about Islam? They might say I saw Muslim woman praying, I saw Muslim woman wearing a hijab, I asked what it was about or I read about it, I saw a guy praying somewhere so on and so forth. They see things and not everyone will address you. Not everyone will approach you. But it might cause someone to go

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and search for something that they find to be truthful. And so don't be embarrassed of your faith. rather give it its value and give it it's right in your life. Number six, we need to be the best role models in society and Alhamdulillah

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In many areas we are when it comes to education. For example, you found a recent study that showed that Muslims are at the forefront of education in the country. Many people are studying and graduating continuing with their studies to higher levels. This is something that is encouraged. But we need to take our moral standards as well to the highest of levels, which levels are they they are our levels Islamically we need to be the best of neighbors, everyone who lives around you should know that you are the best of neighbors, the best of classmates, this person does not cheat the best of co workers, the best of employers and employees. We need to show people through our actions as

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well, not just through Dawa, not just through calling people not just through building bridges, not just through addressing oppression and injustice, ask yourself, what role are you playing with your manners and morality in society? And really ask yourself, what can you do to take it to the next level? Number seven, we need to increase in our volunteering and teamwork internally as well. Oftentimes, people take things to the next level and they reinvent the wheel, there are so many things we need to pull together as resources to have a stronger community collective voice. And we see the power and effects of this, especially with the recent elections, and more people started

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addressing the so called Muslim voice. And I want to give you just a practical example. Imagine just 10% of us in this country, let's say there are 6 million Muslims, if only 10% of us started volunteering an extra one hour a week, two hours a week for any cause that is good, does not have to be specific to something that you don't like, rather any valuable cause one to two hours. Imagine the change that will come about through society, not just for Muslims, but for all oppressed people. We need to individually ask ourselves, Am I doing anything outside of my work? My life, my achievements? Don't ask how can the world serve me? What can I get from the world? Ask yourself how

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you can serve the world? What can you do to fall in the footsteps of the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, in giving servitude to humanity. And the last point, we need to as much as possible continue raising awareness on these issues for the up and coming generations. Because the youth should be learning from us paving the path constantly. And every generation thereafter is learning from our mistakes and the things that benefited us. And as long as we are connecting the generations, work, working with one another, and working for good causes and not having inner strife and conflict and drama and politics. We'll start to see that the effect that we have on society,

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again, is not just limited to us as a community, but rather embraces all of those who seek any kind of justice and any kind of peace. We ask Allah subhana wa Taala to make us of those who are the best of role models in society. We ask Allah subhana wa Taala to reward all of those who are known and unknown in serving humanity. And we ask Allah subhana wa Tada to forgive us for shortcomings to increase us and motivation and to raise us to the highest levels does Akuma Clayton was something to hold on and Muhammad while he was off manage money in wa Salam o alaikum wa Rahmatullah.

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