Tom Facchine – Imam Talk Podcast #08 – Difficulties, Uncertainties & Lessons in Seeking Knowldge with Imam Shahma Hoda

Tom Facchine
AI: Summary © The speakers emphasize the importance of learning about one's oneself and community in learning about others, as well as the challenges faced by students and teachers. They prioritize family members' opinions and be consistent in teaching children to hold on to early on, while also acknowledging the need to prioritize family members' opinions and produce benefits from education. The challenges faced by parents include teacher retention and lack of pay for trades, and the impact of graduates on graduates' education. Financial aid and equal pay are important factors for graduates, and a recent study on graduates' education has impacted graduates.
AI: Transcript ©
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This one I'll handle ourselves some sort of law so that when they come after law will come back to you to convince you that we have a very special guests in town today. safma my bro.

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Welcome to Utica. Welcome to you to commission on time. Yeah, now we've been hoping that you would pay us a visit for a long time. And so schema a little bit of background of we were colleagues, we're now colleagues, we were students together and Medina, together part of the same faculty Padishah a lot delayed his studies, just so he could graduate with me along.

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I like that I'm gonna roll with it.

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So one of the things, you know, technically, you know, with the amount of talk, you know, we try to talk about community leadership. But we also try to talk about sort of your personal arc, your personal narrative for how you even got to be somebody who studied went and studied Islam in the first place, because a lot of people, they don't have backgrounds that are conducive to that. And sometimes maybe like a spark hits them, and then they have a big change other people, they grew up in a religious household they grew up practicing, and then it was just sort of like a foregone conclusion.

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Take us through a little bit of your upbringing. How religious was it? When did you start considering about studying Islam for real and going abroad? I think it all goes back. When I was very young, actually, you know, off camera, when we talked about like, my father had a very important role in encouraging

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all our, you know, siblings to go in one direction, right. So I remember Subhanallah, when I was a kid,

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he would take us to classes early on, right? Adult classes, but he would take me with him. So that really instilled in me early on that this is important. And that

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later on, it really came to fruition. When I was in high school, in New York, SubhanAllah. I remember, I started listening, listening to lots of lectures, like 10th grade, I was always into politics, but then I got into listening to lectures, Islamic lectures, right. And at that time, if, you know, like, Sirajul Hodge of the world, you know, they were really big SubhanAllah. So I started listening a lot. And by the time I was about to go into 11th grade, I was like, I'm gonna go to as *, or that's where I want to go. So, at that time, obviously, you know, you're preparing for college, you got to college application. So, so, I was encouraged to go to the guidance counselor,

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and they, you know, talk to them what your interests are, what do you want to do? So I was like, I want to go study Islamic studies. You know, I want to learn our deen better. So she was like, Well, let me look for some Islamic University in America. And she searches like, guidance counselors have no idea how to handle that one. Yeah. So but she was very kind. So I've had a lot, you know, she was like, Well, I didn't find much for you. But I found one thing, but it's out in California. Right. And that's when zaytuna was just coming up. Okay. So I was like, to be honest with you, I want to go to as her as her words as well. So she didn't know, but Hamdulillah that interest was there. And

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then family started to kind of chime in, like, you know, you should consider this or that. What's your college early on?

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Well, look, it's misleading. If I say support, you're not because their support is always there in terms of they won't play it for you, they won't good for you. And whatever that means to them, right? But my interest was that I want to go study. So they're like, Okay, I know you're considering other, but why don't you just go for now go to college, and then you will figure things out over there. So I was like, You know what, fair enough. So I started college, and then at that time, you had a lot of people coming in, you know, do it and you know, the love and and and especially from Medina. That's where I met Mufti. Okay. I went one day walked inside the mission. And I see this,

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who's this young kid giving a lecture, and he happened to be talking about, you know, a topic that I was just recently learning about Islamic history, you know, that the Khilafah woman we and so he was mentioned, I was like, wow, this guy is very knowledgeable. And he looks very young. He literally looked like he was 14.

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So I walked in and I'm so impressed by him. So I remained at the masjid was Ramadan time. And then I stayed until February. Because, you know, college years I was I had a lot more freedom to do what I wanted to do. And I had my friends with me, so I stayed at the mission the entire night, because that's the culture over there. You know, so everyone says that the mission so after fidget, I got a hold of the sat him down and literally, we sat there for three hours. Yeah, if I'm not mistaken, my friend and I sat there and he mostly mashallah, you know, he was powerful Lama Baddeck and he really encouraged me, Medina is a place for you to go and what you can and I got very excited about that.

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So that's where the interest kicked in. And then obviously,

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I had an opportunity to go to Medina for aamra but with the intention of applying for sub University in Medina and then move there was the one who facilitated that

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One of the one of the benefits from your story and that I hear from so many other stories like it is that you know, as a parent, right, the things that you do your kids pick up on. Oh, yeah. And honestly, it communicates your priorities, much more than the things that you say. Right. And so Subhanallah like, you took me back because I remember when my my oldest son was just a baby.

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While maybe, okay, like, like six months to a year, I was studying for the GRE. Right. So I was like, always hitting the books, you know, and like, always had a book open, and they imitate, right. So it's like, he was like, in this little bouncy chair, right? With a book upside down. He can't read. But he's holding it upside down. Because Papa is holding the book, right? And subhanAllah like, like, like, pay dividends later on? Because he did. And I saw him. You know, he was very, very studious. Yeah, exactly. And all hamdulillah like, Oh, my children, like, are very studious. And they're, you know, and, but it really does set the tone of the expectation. This is just something

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we do. You know, it's like, subhanAllah, there was, um, you know, in our community, like, like, I think one of the sisters gatherings one of the sisters like, asked, like, how many people have read a book in the last year? And like, a lot of people can't raise their hands. Because like, so many people don't read books anymore. Yeah. Right. And then it's like, well, how do you expect your kids to, you know, be literate? Exactly. In a sense of like, you know, like philosophy and culture and took off and like, you do you got to read man, like you got you have to do exactly a lot of times, they might want to drop their kid off to some program or the masjid or bring in an outside speaker

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and a heart softener. And, yeah,

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it's got to start with you. Absolutely. Absolutely. And, you know, it comes full circle. Subhanallah, you mentioned that, you know, the impression that your parents leave on you, when you're a young kid, it really comes back to you later on. Right. And I always give this example to sometimes, you know, I'm teaching at a high school. And parents, when they asked me, we're having this conversation, and they're like, you know, the, my kids, they love you, you know, and they can you talk to him about this guy, right? That's always that's where it's headed, you know, you know, already where the conversations gonna go. And I always tell them, you know, subhanAllah,

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what you do matters far more than what I can tell them. That's very important for them, I tell them listen, if I give them a certain message, in class, that look, xy, and z is important for you. But they go back home, and they see their parents, either don't do that, or do the opposite of that. You know what message they're actually getting?

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Oh, whatever the teachers telling may be important, but it cannot be that important. hadn't been that important. My parents would have done it. Right. And that's mixed messaging right there immediately. So that's when students come out as Islamic school. And then you see them on Facebook posts and like, you know, make you make the offer to Allah. Hopefully, there's some Muslim, right? Why does that happen is because in my estimation, is that we're getting mixed messages. And we can't do that. You have to be consistent, right? You got to play the long game. instill the idea that you want them to hold on to early on, and show them in your life that I've been consistent on this idea.

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And they'll follow. Yeah, kids are so honest. Right? And it's really just, they're a mirror of what we find important. You know, so when when we hurry through our salah, or if we don't take off for Joomla or if we like, whatever, that's we're gonna they're gonna pick up Yeah, absolutely. And you know, the thing we were talking about this earlier, apples do not fall too far from the tree. Except rare circumstances, right? You can always quote to me the story of new holiday Salaam. Right. But even then, if you look very closely to his story, yeah, one of his son disobeyed and went with three other sons still remained with him. Right. So he was an anomaly, right? It's an exception that

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proves the rule. Exactly. So yeah, those things can happen as an empty love for you. Allah is testing you. But those are rare situations, right? It usually doesn't happen if you are doing what you're supposed to do as a parent, which is you have to model right it's a big thing in teaching this you have to model your your teaching you have to do that so and that holds true 1,000% with kids you have to do it. Yeah, Mashallah. Okay, so you've you've got you've caught the bug you caught them in the in a bug movie it was your

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so was that an easy process was a difficult to you know, the the journey from having the intention you're in you're in Long Island and you want to get some of the difficult or easy to get actually get some Medina Okay, so leading up to Medina was difficult getting there was difficult. And first few months are difficult, right? And this is where you and I can relate because, you know, the I don't want to throw any names out there. But you know, people you call up and it won't pick up the phone. I'll know if you if you know if you

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And that name. Everyone knows, everyone knows anyway, you know what I was saying? I had to say I forget who was to remove it. Yeah, I've actually become like that individuals. Because, because when I came back to the states, you know, and so many people got my number and it's like fatwa hotline, like 24/7, I became the person who doesn't pick up the phone and find a law. Like, I can actually, like, have a little bit of understanding, you know, I'm gonna get message after this. Yeah. Because there are people who have legitimate grievances against me for not responding. And I totally and if you're watching this, yeah, I'm telling I apologize.

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I was already bad as it is, I started off poor. And then after now, it's gotten even worse, right. But I tried to prioritize now that family members, I have to really improve. That's not an excuse ever, right? Family members, you really got to stay on top of and still work in progress? You know, you know, my family, they're, they're the best, you know, critics of me, they will they'll tell you exactly what I need to fix. But yeah, so early on, I remember when I was trying to apply, you know, I was advised that you should go there and apply there directly. So my brother and I, we went out there moved, he was very gracious to take us do the interview, and then apply it and then I didn't

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know that you don't get a response for a long time. Right. So in my mind was like, you know, you apply maximum two months, you get, you know, a response. Right?

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off, man, yeah. SubhanAllah. So every year for six years or something like that he applied? It's yeah, that's determination. Right. But I remember I came back and then few months went by, and I'm, I'm waiting to hear a response and like, you can't put your life on a hole like that, you know, so I was advised by some of my family members that, you know, actually my brother in law, may Allah, you know, increasingly, he said that take whatever opportunity you have when you have it. Like you're young.

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Financially, we can arrange, right? I mean, you colleges, you know, they're off, you know, but we can arrange for that. And you have time during summertime. You have time, so why don't you go so I ended up going to Egypt, Allahu Akbar. Yeah. So that was like, Okay, let me kickstart my Arabic journey. So important. That's so important. So many people, they they sit back and they wait for life to come to them. Exactly. Especially what I would have been the same, to be very honest with you is you need those people in your life who can direct you and you know, fine tune certain things. Hey, listen, you have an opportunity. If it comes to comes, but it may never come, right. Yeah. So

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he was he really he was really instrumental in you know, he encouraged me to go that route. And I'm so glad that I did. You know, and I went 2012, I had a plan with my colleagues and my college friends, that were all going to go together for me. So I was right after the revolution. How was that? Oh, yeah. Well, I mean, without getting too detailed, but I went right in those subtitles. Yeah, that two month where, you know, he was President Mohamed Morsi was president. And then I came back within like, few months of my return, hold control. What was it like over there? Why so short? Yeah. So because it was summer break. So I went there for two months programs. That was the plan.

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Yeah. And that in and of itself is the story, right? Because I went there.

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The institution that I was going to, it's called Cordova Institute. You know, I'm not sure if it's still exist. But originally, it was in Alexandria, but the one I was going to was in Cairo. And they, you know, I spoke to them filled out the application, everything, what I was expecting from them that they will give me certain details before I arrived there. I was mistaken. That's my introduction to the Arab world.

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Education of the Westerner, I get I get to Cairo.

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I don't know where the institute is.

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I don't have an address for the place. They told me somebody will pick you up. They didn't give me a name, who's going to pick me up. So I get there. And I lose my bag. Gun. And obviously, I'm going there to learn Arabic. So I don't speak any Arabic, very little that I learned, you know, high arabic and egyptian arabic is, is something else. It's something else. Right? So Subhanallah I got there. But you had a wonderful lady who was sitting next to me Egyptian lady, and she was kind enough to actually give me a Egyptian VNA to buy the SIM card so I can call people. And then she spoke to the people at the airport that hey, listen,

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this person is coming in to learn Arabic here, he doesn't know where he's going. And the airport guy who was like him, this person who simply worked, there was kind enough, you know, and this is the part in the Muslim world, you know, they're not going to say, Hey, that's not my problem. They'll say, You know what, I'll take care of you. hamdullah I lost my I didn't find my bag. So I go outside, right when I'm walking out there's one person, like hours have gone by at least like six, seven hours have gone by somebody who's supposed to be picking me up. I go there and there's one guy who's standing there and he's literally like, half asleep standing like this.

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Has my name there. Then I say oh, that's me. And then he says

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And he started to go off in Arabic, obviously, where were you have been waiting for you for so long. It's like I didn't even know what your name is, you know, you didn't, they didn't give me any information. So that was a very interesting experience. But Egypt was wonderful. It really was. I liked it. I don't know how it is now. But it was wonderful. I spent my first Ramadan in a Muslim country in Egypt. Allahu Akbar, yeah. How was that? It was amazing. It was wonderful. You know, I mean, I grew up in India. So it felt like, you know, it was a Muslim country, because very different. But you know, obviously, it's a Muslim, there's still minority there. But it was

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But then upon return from Egypt, within like, two months of my return, I started going back to college, I, you know, I was writing my papers for my class. And then one day, on the weekend, the same brother in law that encouraged me, you know, to go to Egypt, he's like, Hey, let me get the the number that you have the reference number for Medina university when you apply, because you need to give you the paper as a reference. So he puts it in online. And then he says, you know, lo Akbar, you got accepted. And I was like, He's trolling me, you know?

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Like, I didn't believe him. He was like, no, no, seriously, you got to accept it. And this isn't like living area where everyone's in my whole family is there. So he's like, Come Come here. I was like, stop playing, you know, you're not going to take me for a ride. So I go, and it actually is there. I see my photo there. And the human accepted, you know, they give you very little information.

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Just completely shocked, you know, SubhanAllah. So I went and I was like, You know what, I'm going to stop my schooling because I'm going to Medina, no, big mistake. Big mistake, right. And I always tell new guys that are going now. Hey, listen, do not do anything until you have that visa. In your hand. Don't do it on the plane ticket. Yeah. So I ended up withdrawing from my classes lost some money to write because you pay early. So

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now I'm sitting in waiting, and I'm calling that person you know,

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no response, you know, SubhanAllah. So we ended up dropping, but he knows there's one person that works at the what do they call it? The cultural is?

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What was the name for it? Oh, forgetting natural attachment or something like yeah, cultural mission. Something like that cultural mission. Yeah, there was one person who was in charge of the students. Yeah. She never ever answered the phone. You know, do you know that when I actually went in person, and like, I was standing next to her while the phone was ringing off the hook. And she told so you got to witness she told me, I don't answer the phone. Allah Subhan Allah, we went to that place to we ended up driving there. So it just so happens. I drove there multiple times. So fortunately,

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I had it bad, right. But I'm the Lead the way it worked out for us was that where I'm at, so when he came, picked me up, you know, he drove by pick me up, and we met with another brother who had just gotten accepted. Costello, you know, my Charlottesville article always helps to have people to go through child law. And they reached out to me, I didn't know. So you say, Hey, listen, I saw your name. You got accepted. I also got accepted. So how'd you find my number? Firstly, I was so glad that okay, let's work on this. Let's figure it out. So we ended up driving there and we go there and there was a problem Allah and find out that we had an easy actually, another brother, when we went

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to Medina, we find out that he drove all the way from like, I think, Atlanta, all the way up there. And when he gets there, they tell him, you're missing this paper. You gotta go get it. I was like, it was always someone who had it worse. Yeah. Oh, right. Exactly. But yeah, so I don't know if that person is still working there. The new students can tell us, you know, subhanAllah so yeah, I mean, it was it has, you're going to face your fair share of difficulty and Mufti. May Allah reward him, he, he really did

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try to prepare us you know, there's some things you cannot prepare yourself. You can't tell people hey, listen, you're about to go into a different world. You have to have this much patience and all that and we're like, okay, we know what patience means according to our standards, right? And then it's a different ballgame out there. You know, so it's mostly will give us that look, you know, we would ask him, hey,

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so can I just call the university and find out? And he's like,

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just take one thing at a time you know, and like, I'm like, why so like, why are you like tiptoeing around this tell us you know, because he knows you're not going to get it you're not going to understand and Subhanallah later on, I had the exact same situation when I took leave of absence from Dino I came back I took officially for one year I took off and then I ended up staying another year extra because the visa they messed it up for me right they issued my visa, but they never informed me and despite all this time I've been waiting right moment that's my mashallah he was the one like doing all the work for me. May Allah reward him, but I missed the opportunity. I presented

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to them all the document I paid the money for visa everything and they tell me your visa Salahi expired yesterday. So I'm like, I'm gonna miss an entire year. Can you guys just do this? They said there's nothing we could do you

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could reach other university call them, we don't have that.

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So, I go back to, you know, I'm telling everybody in the family, they're all expecting me to leave soon as like, hey, no one's a visa, we had some issues. So then okay. And then they would ask me this question very often. So, so when are you going? And I'm like, I don't know, you know? And it's like, why don't you just call the university? And, and I'm just like at a loss a word, I don't know how to explain to them that it doesn't work that way. Right? What do you mean? Do you have the number, call the number and talk to them? And you and I know what goes on, you know, a lot. So they didn't get it. So my, my, my brother Subhanallah, he, he made Hajj was the last year. Yeah, not this

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past hedge, the hedge before that, you know, and the wind down, you know.

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And he, you know, obviously began to experience my sister and my brother in law, also, they went, and they were so confused the process, you know, like, they had already booked their hedge, right, and then it got canceled, and they're applying and things are not working the chaos. So in that moment, you know, obviously, I felt for them, but I had a smile, year to year, right. And I was like, you are getting just a taste of what we have experienced for so long, showing up like, man just showing up at the mall head. And like, everyone having to go through, you know, there's certain things that you have to do, like, you know, the physical, they have to take a physical and then like

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a placement exam, like all this, and it tastes like two or three days. And no one knows what's going on. No one knows where to go. No one knows what to do. It's like literally are just like a bunch of sheep that are just like, let's, let's try this door. Exactly. What price go over here. Now let's try this. There's like the one guy who knows a little bit of Arabic who's like reading the thing on the on the paper. He used to tell me early on, you gotta roll with the punches. Yeah. Right. And I thought he's one of those movies. lingos you know, he just says it, you know, but you really have to roll with the punches there. Right? You just got to, you know, just go with it, you know, and

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hamdulillah it worked out. But it really did teach me patience, different types of patients, that's for sure. Hey, ran out at some point, but you know, yeah, it did you know, right. When I was leaving, I've told you the story about that. Right when I was leaving, you know, a COVID happen and they give me the runaround, you know, Subhan, Allah Subhan Allah, that was rough, but Hamdulillah you know,

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I really appreciate the experience in Medina gave me and it really matures you in a way that you will not mature if you stay here and it reminds me of the line of poetry that my math teacher taught me early on, I was like, was still a salad at the time. And he used to you know, he used to always come in and you know, he's very interesting guy, Mashallah. But he would teach us this poetry of we want to share theory about traveling for non knowledge, you know, Taha roba Anil Ohtani, futala villa, Rolla, and he goes on until in saying that, that you are going to have difficulty in tolerable, right. So, we always heard the stories of the self, they travel, and they had difficulty,

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and we have some kind of like a romanticized idea of what struggles are right? Not realizing that what we're experiencing, those are certain trials, they just take different forms, right? It took me a little bit of time to really come to terms with that reality that look, those are our struggles, right? You go to the data, and you get anxiety, why are you getting anxiety from the data? Because you know, what's about to come your way? You know, SubhanAllah? Do you know, Vanessa, right? I used to when we were there, they introduced that ticket system. Right? So it's like, if you go to like McDonald's, like now serving, right. And so that became a big excuse, because then they could say if

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the if the ticket printing machine was broken, they could say, exactly the arms down.

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We're not going to work today. I used to carry them around in my wallet, just like extra ones. Because like, just to show a flash people. It's like, here's why whatever, because it trains you in like a different, different way. And you take what you get, you know, that's one thing I learned, you know, without, you know, without being overly obnoxious. You just, when you can have certain advantages. You take it right, gracefully, I remember Subhan Allah

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may Allah reward them for the good that they do. But you know, in terms of Ebola, they can really improve, you know, and I'm sure even our chef, Ibrahim, shimmery, he always liked about it, right? Like, we welcome the students with open arms. But the exit is not as as nice by the time they're leaving. Many of them seem a little burnt out. But you know, that's part of the struggle. The moment you can calibrate your mindset that look, that's part of the game, right? It comes with the territory, it's the price you have to pay to be exactly and it shouldn't be easy. And this is why I tell people who are about to exactly abroad or thinking about signing up to an institute that's

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here. It's like, Listen, this should this shouldn't be easy. If it were easy, it would attract the wrong people, right? That's why many people get filtered out early. I remember a colleague of mine, we got there at the same time. And he was actually put in the same building as me in the same room as me, right. And we were sharing with with

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But the total five of us in that room right? was at like two room apartment in Rabat, right? Not on directly on campus. Within first week he left.

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He got his passport. And I'm out guys, I'm out, you know? And that was early on because for me, I had already stayed now.

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I didn't even have a place for good first month. I remember that. Yeah, man and Mohammed min. He took me in. And he I stayed with him for for exactly a month, right? He asked me mashallah, you know, and it was so he was so kind, Mashallah. But being in a place, you're new to Medina, I just got there, and I didn't have a place to stay, right. And there were times that, you know, I would be in the hallway just waiting, because you don't matter. He's a busy man, he's doing his studies. And the room was locked, and I'll be stuck outside, you know, SubhanAllah. But he was so kind to me. And I felt so indebted to him, you know. And as we will learn about the story of double hygiene, and

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unsought, I didn't have a place and he hosted me, I'm forever grateful to him. But that first month and a half, and I got sick, very, you know, I used to get sick very often. But I got sick very early on. So the first two to three months are very difficult for me, right? But because I paid the dues early on, after that, things kind of like, you know, settled down on the law, ya know, you really have to be able to deal with uncertainty in a way that you don't really experience in the West, right? Much like you don't know what it's gonna be like tomorrow, or an hour from now or whatever. And, you know, even just, you know, speaking of rubber, right, I remember that, I think we were some

00:26:36 --> 00:26:49

of the first students to live in those buildings, and they would run out of water all the time. I remember I used to have plastic water bottles that I would keep lined up on my desk. Exactly. I would go to the machine for Salah and I would fill them up because I didn't know if we're going to have water

00:26:50 --> 00:27:01

like it would run out and it would be out for days. You know, like I remember trying to like wash my clothes like in the sink. Oh, yeah. With like, little like little travel shampoo bottle like Yeah, well, we have stories about

00:27:03 --> 00:27:39

at the end of the day when you look back on it and so much that we gain from there. small price to pay. Yeah. Oh, no, of course do it all. Oh, yeah. So panel, I mean, the best days literally, without any exaggeration, Medina, with the best days of my life. You know, and you can see on you know, amongst our colleagues, we always talk about this reminisce over Medina, but you had to pay the dues, and we wouldn't have enjoyed Medina as much as we did. And had we not had those struggles because they make the best stories. You could tell people about it. But I remember one time I was in trouble I very early on. I remember when you came I think 2015 was a Yeah, January 29 2015. That's

00:27:39 --> 00:27:45

the year I took leave of absence. Right. And I remember you came to Ottawa. Right. I remember you used to have that nice little turbine that you

00:27:47 --> 00:28:24

think Emirati turbine or is? It was the black and white? Oh, yeah. Okay. Yes. I remember that. Yes, it's very unique, Mashallah. And then we used to wait for the bus, you know, in the evening, where that if it showed up? Yeah, yeah. So I remember I left at that time, but that's when a rapport really took off. A lot of students came in at that time. Prior to that. Everybody knew each other all the American students that were living in rubble at the time, all of them without exception. Actually, no, one or two, most of them had rooms to themselves. Hello, Akbar. Yeah, yeah, just to work that because it's so empty, everyone say Hey, can I have this room and they were in the room by

00:28:24 --> 00:28:39

themselves. So I had a room at one point. After I was shamed with five people I was able to get another room and another building which only had like a total of four people right on my floor there was another one another Chinese person you know Chinese student Mashallah. So I had

00:28:40 --> 00:29:19

a room that was built for three students all to myself. Yeah, so we used to have like you know, some of the guys that will come from the Japanese they'll stay over the night it was a wonderful time Charla and then then that virgin you Ibrahim entire crew, they showed up? MashAllah Tabata Allah that was on the beautiful days. So take it take us about take us through coming back now. Okay, so you finished Medina through all the all the hardship, but all the you know, also triumph. You come back, what do you want to do? You actually you you went a different way than a lot of us because a lot of our sort of defile of our car cohort went into mmm work winds and messy work and you ended up

00:29:19 --> 00:29:59

getting involved in Islamic education. Now was that was that was that by design from the beginning? Was it sort of circumstance? What How did that happen? I saw it coming to be very honest to you. And I saw the writing on the wall early on, because, you know, it was a very common discussion amongst colleagues and you know, very well, you know, they will talk about the pitfalls of being in a position of leadership, right. So, for me, I, I, the way I thought about this issue was that look, I want to maximize the benefit for the community, whatever that means to me, right. So my focus was listen, the way I see that we can really benefit the community.

00:30:00 --> 00:30:38

Is target the younger folks, right? If I'm at a masjid, then my attention is being pulled in many different directions. And that's a reality, right? Because you have, it's a greater responsibility in the sense that people look up to you as a leader in the community. And you have to, you know, where all sorts of hats right? With me was that in teaching environment, I'm going to a classroom where students are obligated to be there to begin with. So I don't have to make creating new fliers, ask them beg the message. Hey, listen, when youth to come inside the method, I was already getting them right access free access to students to young impressionable minds. So I'm I have those

00:30:38 --> 00:30:54

students in front of me now I'm like, what I have to do now is impart what I want them to have in sha Allah. Right. So for me, that was very, very enticing, very enticing, right. So I took that route. And I'm very grateful that I did, because

00:30:55 --> 00:31:33

the relationship that that a person builds with students is very different than you build with committee members. I mean, they all have their own perks, right. But I remember early on, I used to, I don't know who said it, but they said that there are two types of people that are never jealous of you. I used to hear this, your parents would never be jealous of you, your success is a crown on their head. Right? They will never be jealous of you. They're always happy, they actually want to see you go beyond what they did. Right? And the other is your teacher. They said that teachers will never be jealous of you. Because they vicariously Enjoy Your Success. Right? They Relish it, because

00:31:33 --> 00:31:59

when they see a student that they saw, it was just a child, right. And then he grew up to be X, Y and Z. It's really a source of pride for them. And I was like, my sacrifices were worth it. So that really stuck with me, right? Those two people are never and I Subhanallah experiences when I'm seeing the students, you know, the one I had in ninth grade and now know, their seniors are the ones I've got to know them. 11th grade the non college nones first year in college, no,

00:32:00 --> 00:32:17

no second year of college now. So I really saw that to be true, it's very true that you feel so proud of them, you see that, you know, the improvements that they have made things that they have learned. So I found that very fulfilling. So I stuck to it, you know, subhanAllah, and I love it, you know, I have no regrets about it.

00:32:18 --> 00:32:53

And that is not to say the other side, you know, they they're doing wonderful job, you know, but are sometimes, you know, different people's, their temperament. You know, they lend itself to a different kind of work, you know, and it takes a village at the end of the day. Exactly. And it takes time to figure out where am I better suited? Right? I'm not saying that I figured it out yet. Sure, sure. But you know, I've liked so far. I've liked it, um, the law. So, you know, being somebody who's in Islamic schools, like that's, that's a unique perspective that I think a lot of people need to understand. So from your perspective and experience, what are some of the things that

00:32:53 --> 00:32:56

the youth are dealing with that are like the priorities?

00:32:57 --> 00:33:30

Oh, that's it. That's how you question. Again, like we're saying, Okay, if it takes a village, you have the Imams over here, you have researchers, you have, you know, the Islamic school teachers, unfortunately, we don't have enough forums where we get together and swap notes. And, you know, we probably would be much more effective if we did. All right. So, you know, for somebody who sees people, you know, I mean, the first thing that comes to my mind is, and I'm sure you're aware of this, the Islamics school scenes in general, I think school in general, right, public school, private school, at some school.

00:33:31 --> 00:34:01

It tends to be dominated by a lot of female presidents, in terms of staff, teachers in general, you notice that? So I noticed immediately when I joined, you know, the school, that vast majority of the teachers are females, right? And they do a wonderful job, mashallah, you know, like, they have an in them to the nurturing, they're wonderful. But because the imbalance is so stark, you know, what happened is that the students immediately they can

00:34:03 --> 00:34:42

the students really like, change. Yeah, so when there's a fresher? Exactly, exactly. So they see a teacher and it's not that like, Oh, I'm so wonderful that they like me know it, most of it has to do with the fact that you're a change that they you know, they need a little bit so that to me, I feel like many of the young especially the boys, especially the boys stuff, right? They they really need teachers who can model for them what it means to be you know, we started talking about modeling right and so if you go through your whole educational sort of career and you're it's too skewed, it's too dominated by females. It's actually it deprives you deprives you of relationship to male

00:34:42 --> 00:34:59

mentors male role models examples that especially depending on your family situation, maybe you don't have those exactly role models in in your in your home life or in your private life. Yeah, absolutely. Also the dynamic changes immediately right. It's not even so much the moment a teacher walks inside the classroom right and depending is experienced teacher

00:35:00 --> 00:35:41

As a teacher who's brand new, you can immediately feel like, you know, the analogy I like to give us like when when a person goes on top of a horse, the horse knows if you are going to ride the horse, or the horse is going to ride you, right? Yeah. So exact same thing happens. But there's another level to this where just the presence of a male figure has a different dynamic, right? And that's really cool to see that happen when you go inside the classroom. And then students, they interact with you very differently. Right, boys and the girls, right? Because school I'm teaching is COVID. But and it's very SubhanAllah. Even the girls, I noticed they, they also need change. Yeah, right.

00:35:41 --> 00:35:56

Yeah, change a flavor. So they, they feel like they've had too much of one thing. So when you balance it off a little bit, it works really well. So that's number one thing that I noticed, I think the students need more male figures to be teachers, right? Unfortunately, you know,

00:35:58 --> 00:36:25

many, many people are not pursuing that path. Right? For for good reasons. Right? Many people, because it may not be as lucrative perhaps some people, you know, don't have the temperament for it. But I really feel like students, young folks, they need male teachers to be involved, right, in addition to of course, the, you know, the female teachers that are there already. So that's number one thing I noticed. Another big thing I noticed, is that

00:36:26 --> 00:36:27


00:36:28 --> 00:36:29

Muslim students, that is,

00:36:31 --> 00:36:47

they are just like other kids in that they're consuming outside of Islamic school, everything that other people are consuming. Right, right. And the number one mistake I noticed many people make right organization, Islamic schools, perhaps, you know, massage even.

00:36:48 --> 00:37:17

And this is my biggest criticism, right? You know, people may disagree with me, but they think that to be able to relate to the students, you must do the things that they're doing, right. And, yes, there are times where that might be true. Certain elements, you have to kind of like, you know, play the game. But I, in my experience, I found that not to be the case. If you as an individual, you are authentic, original.

00:37:18 --> 00:38:01

And Allah has given you certain talents in you know, building rapport with students, you can do without a lot of that stuff. And that's, that's my biggest advice to a lot of people who aren't involved with youth is that do not feel compelled that all the youth of our time they're doing X, Y, and Z. So I must do it. So they can very antiquated idea of like being able to relate, if I just throw enough movie lingo, you know, that they're going to get on my program, I did not find that to be the case, I felt that if you take a principled approach, in showing them that Listen, I want you to make the transition from where you are, to where I want you to be, that has to be delivered very

00:38:01 --> 00:38:06

clearly to them. If it's not, then you are confusing them even more. Because if I'm telling them listen,

00:38:07 --> 00:38:10

this is not something advisable for us.

00:38:11 --> 00:38:42

But you use the same type of lingos all the time with us, you you joke around about the same things you are talking about the same type of stuff. There's not much room for growth here. But if I give them a very clear instruction, that listen, we are here, but this is where we should be. And now I have to model that to show them that listen, this is the way out of it right by and I think the two things are often confused, people are confusing, selling the vision, buy in to the vision with being relatable exam, that's not the same thing. It's not, you know,

00:38:44 --> 00:39:19

what it is, is that, you know, the whole purpose of a teacher or a mentor is that you want to add value, you want to be able to give something that they don't have, right, you can't be the same thing that they already have that whether it be you know, completely defeats the purpose. But you have to get them to buy into it. Absolutely. Also, you must go in with the understanding, you're not going to win 100% of your student body, it's not going to happen, right? It's like you have to go in knowing that there's a percentage of the student body here that will be lost to the matrix. Right? They will be lost right to use. Entertainers were right, yeah, they will be lost. But you will must

00:39:19 --> 00:39:43

have the understanding that listen, I'm okay with that. Everybody did not make it. But I want to save as many as possible in terms of correcting their, their worldview. And that's, that's very important to have that because otherwise, you're going to feel like oh, it's not working. Yeah, of course. And many times you don't realize that what you're trying to do is a long game, folks, right? And I always look at our personal example when I went to Sunday school.

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We were bad kids, right? Literally, I'm just being very honest. We were bad kids. We didn't pay attention. Well, I shouldn't say we I was among the people who didn't pay attention, right? My brother or my brother he was Mashallah. He was on top of his game. He did everything but the rest of us we didn't do it right. We will go there.

00:40:00 --> 00:40:15

hoping to play basketball in a really terrible, you know, playground. And then what those things matter, right? Your companionship matters, the teachers you had, who were so patient with you that they might have at some time thought you're hopeless.

00:40:16 --> 00:40:52

When I saw those same teacher, right when I went to Panama recently, I was in New York and the person who was given the hook, but the mission was my Sunday school teacher. And after salah, I go down to him, and give salam to him, he was outside. And at first he didn't recognize me. And then he immediately, you know, picked up Oh, and I give him time to give each other a hug. And I always, always tell him the same thing every time I see him is that we are indebted to you. Right, all the hard work that you put in, and that did not seem like it's going anywhere. Because we were just bad kids. It's having effect you cannot see yet. It's like the seed that you put inside. You can't tell

00:40:52 --> 00:41:29

what's gonna stick. Exactly, you know, something might stick and it might just like you said, like a sea that might sprout but down the road down the road some time. Yeah, down the road. I mean, flowers don't blossom immediately, right, you got to keep watering it, give it the sun that is necessary. And then it takes time you have to be patient, persistent. Until finally, it begins to blossom. And that's when you get to enjoy it right Subhanallah so as a teacher or a parents even do your job early on, instilling and continuing to be consistent in what you're teaching them. And rest is dua to Allah azza wa jal you make the I O Allah, do not cause our efforts to go to waste, you

00:41:29 --> 00:42:07

know, so Allah does not cause you a sincere effort to go to waste ever right? And you make dua to Allah at the end, and you'll see in sha Allah things that will please you. So those are the few things I can not only if I answered you, actually 100% Yeah, we know, we need to get some New York pizza before you leave and jump on a plane soon. So we'll wrap it up maybe with with one last question. So you know, I teach online and online Islamic setting and, but I also homeschool my kids and you're in an Islamic school. Well, what do you see as maybe some of the limitations or struggles that Islamic schools are going through at least from your vantage point? What do we need to fix?

00:42:09 --> 00:42:10

Okay, so

00:42:11 --> 00:42:39

most Islamic schools that I have come across, they suffer from resources, right, like lack of resources, they don't have enough classrooms or or you know, the size of too big students, too many students in one classroom, they don't have necessary facility. I'm good at the school that I'm at, they do pretty well for themselves. Mashallah. It's one of the best I've seen terms of, you know, structure everything. Mashallah. But yeah, I mean, most of the complaints when I asked the students, you know, because it's fashionable to complain about the school year.

00:42:40 --> 00:43:15

I was, I went to one of them, like, to school it was, they did really well for themselves, the school, but it was fashionable to complain about the school you're in. And I always ask them, you know, what's your problem? What's your beef? Or, you know, why? Why are you so critical of the school you're in? And you? It turns out, it's all superficial, right? It's all superficial, you know, they think the grass is greener on the opposite sides. We saw that even in Medina. Oh, yeah. A lot of students complained about Medina. Oh, it's better. And as far as we hear, you know, come on, produce benefit. Exactly. So when I asked the students, you know, why, why are you so, you know, not

00:43:15 --> 00:43:54

a fan of the school that you're going to? Because you don't know what's out there? You really don't know. Right? I went to public school. Right. I know what awaits you and that was, you know, I graduated as a nine. So, you know, things have changed since then a lot. So I had a student in ninth grade. She transferred out of school. And this year, I saw her back at school. Right. So I looked at her and I was like, what brought you back? You know, it's like, I didn't get a chance to get a Mazur out of her. But you know, she was in class. But yeah, they realize that, listen, it's not what you think it is out there. But in general, the thing that parents in some schools that they really

00:43:54 --> 00:44:27

struggle with, I noticed is that from the school side is that teacher retention is a big issue. You know, so why what's what's causing too much turnover with teachers? Is it insufficient compensation? Is it too much admin work or too much expectation? So if I was to be very candid, right, what happens is what we're here for. So one of the reasons why many of the teachers are females in schools in general, is that because they already have children are grownups. So this is like, okay, I can I can

00:44:28 --> 00:44:59

contribute to the community by teaching, but the men, they are finding other trades where they can have better income, right? So men by and large, try to because they have the responsibility of providing for their family and kids. They don't choose that route because financially, many times it's not lucrative for them. So they have to go find, you know, other profession. That's why the females tend to dominate there because it could be a second income in the house. The house right yeah stage in their life when it's not so excellent.

00:45:00 --> 00:45:08

So that makes sense. Exactly. And I remember I was the first year that I was teaching there. i One of the students, you know, after the year was finishing, he was like, you know,

00:45:10 --> 00:45:47

you know, are you going to be here next year? And that question was what? Like, I didn't think about us like, Why? Why are you asking that question? Strange? You know, what do you mean? Like, do people expecting you to move on? Yeah. So he was like, Well, are you going to teach us next year as a big thing? Are you going to teach us next year, please? And I was like, Well, I teach ninth and 11th. So I'll teach you in 11th. Inshallah, he says, if you're still here, right. So, I mean, that's a powerful thing to say. Right? Because I was thinking about, I was like, why is that like, and then I found out from my students that one of my batch of students that I had, they said that in one year,

00:45:47 --> 00:46:22

they went through four different slumps that his teacher Subhanallah Yeah, I mean, can you imagine? Right, so why is that? I mean, those are some of the reasons, you know, maybe, you know, teachers are perhaps not compensated well enough. I'm not talking about some schools in general in John in, you know, sure. It's a crisis. Yeah, honestly, a nationwide crisis when it comes to our priorities as a society completely backwards. But then perhaps also another layer with Osama schools. Yeah, we're not sure how schools are funded in general or specifically the one that you're at. But you know, if it's mostly through fundraising, or it's mostly through tuitions, or whatever, it's like,

00:46:22 --> 00:46:59

we need to probably think about the models that are out there the community over there and mashallah they they they do all for themselves, you know, mashallah, that's a very well run school. You know, I, it's the best I've seen personally, like on site school, online school I'm not too familiar with, but on site, they're, they're very good. Mashallah. And the best part about the community is that you really feel at home. And that's wonderful, right? Because everything is catered to your need as a Muslim. Right? You don't have to worry about anything. You don't have to ask for. Oh, my mom's here. I need a break. You don't exemption? Yeah. So last reminder that you're different that you're

00:46:59 --> 00:47:00


00:47:01 --> 00:47:39

You don't have to go out of your way to request oh, I need What are you doing in the bathroom washing your you know? Or Right, right, exactly. Right. What do you do? Those things are never an issue. Right. Right. So it's a foregone conclusion. But not only is it not a problem, it's facilitated. Yes. Meaning you're the one leading those efforts. It's wonderful. I couldn't ask for anything better. Mashallah. Tabata cola. So those are the upsides for sure. You know, but yeah, I would imagine that, for a lot of folks, it might be financially not the best route for men, especially because they're responsible for you know, providing for the family. So, yeah, those are

00:47:39 --> 00:47:58

some of the stuff that come to my mind right now. Yeah. Well, thanks for giving us an insight to that and, and for sharing your story. And we ask a lot to put in vodka and blessing and everything that you do. Yeah. And then make a sincere and accept from us, and truly a pleasure as always, to have you up here. It's been a pleasure and you know, subhanAllah then on the last one, I would want to mention that

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I really sincerely make dua for those students, you know, I because remember, I don't know if you're in my class, the last year last semester we had in Medina, but we had total degrees. I don't know if you were in my class for that one. I don't have that many classes in common. So yeah, we didn't Yeah, but this was like one of the last class last semesters that we had. And the teacher he said something very profound, you know, and I took it to heart he said,

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a teacher must put himself

00:48:26 --> 00:48:29

in relation to his students, free mechanical.

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You must look at those students that you have, that they are your kids, not that you tell them oh, I'm your kids, because that's that's disingenuous, but you have to be in that position of like, Look, you have to care for them. So I look at those students and I always make the offer the May Allah preserve them because we know what awaits them outside. Yeah, you know, So may Allah bless them and protect them. Aloma mean, well, lo.

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Hopefully we'll see you again soon. In sha Allah Subhana Allah have the cash on hand to stop for a quarter with a cinematic and equal setting the law

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