Tom Facchine – Imam Talk Podcast #10 – Learning, Teaching & Community Building with Imam Ibrahim Hindy

Tom Facchine
AI: Summary © The speaker discusses their community leadership and personal experiences with Islam, including challenges in finding a place to live in rural areas and finding a place to live in a city where many people are focused on social media and Facebook. They emphasize the importance of community building and the need for professionalism to serve. The speaker also advises against trying to be a bit of a "people's agent" and emphasizes the importance of promoting Islam in a city where opportunities exist. They also discuss the challenges of living in a community center model and the importance of setting people up in a best possible way.
AI: Transcript ©
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Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa salatu salam salam ala very, very special guest today for Imam talk Shakib Rahim Hindi were up in Toronto, the GTA Maple Leaf country Hamdulillah. So thank you very much for honoring us with your presence and your time and your experience.

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The point of Imam talk is to community leaders have community leaders sit down face to face and kind of share our experiences. Learn a little bit about your personal path to a community leadership role. What were some of the things that benefited you along the way that other people could glean? Or something maybe the mistakes that you made that other people would like to know to avoid?

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And then we're going to eventually transition into thinking about community building and, you know, how has it looked for your community? And where have you come from? What have you learned along the way? And where are you going? So maybe you just begin by telling us about yourself, kind of your upbringing, and your path towards seeking knowledge and community leadership

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from the Los Altos and I'm Ana Rasulillah. What are the areas of women who are just like located for having me on this and have the lads have been awesome getting to know you and for you to be our guest here in Toronto? And for you to see the halal food capital of North America. We have seen shawarma for lunch.

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That's a good place as well.

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Yes, Hala.

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You know, I think of that hadith of our Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam medical for Kowloon. We assume the Makati Bella like the provinces work and all of you will be facilitated to what's been written for them divinely.

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I feel like I could have gone down a lot of different paths in life. And I ended up here and I think this is where I was meant to be.

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That's probably where I grew up. My parents are very religious. And my father himself was very much into community building. So he was one of the people I think, if you think about the pioneers in the Muslim community, who helped build the Muslim community in Toronto, versus many, but he's one of them for sure. And he's handled a lot to this point, he's helped, you know, be a part of, or himself has helped found probably like seven, eight masajid, across the Greater Toronto Area and Islamic schools like three, four, that Mexico was founded in them. So I grew up in that kind of a household. And I went to Islamic school my whole life. Here in Toronto, here in Toronto, it was the name of the

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song, the ISness, that Mexico okay. And so in my day we had from kindergarten to grade eight, and after grade eight, they didn't have anything. Okay. At that time. Now, there are some high schools in in the Toronto area. But my parents then said, you know, we're not sending you to public school, going homeschooling for La Crosse, so your home school.

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I remember you said that yesterday. Yeah, I was like, Yeah, I know what that's like.

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But you know, it's kind of like, going into Semak school, and having all these Muslim friends growing up. And then my parents, you know, having this concerted effort not wanting me to go to public school.

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It's still like, I had to make a decision in my life to become Muslim, right. Whereas like, obviously, I was praying, and I was fasting, and I was doing all the Muslim things. But really, like, it was a time I remember, I was 15 years old. And I felt like a lot of angst. Like, you know, I wanted to be I wanted to be in public school. My friends were all there. I felt excluded. I felt like a certain type of

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missing out, because I'm Muslim. And I remember once, you know, just sitting in my room, and I had, I just found a book sitting there because hamdulillah my parents, being part of the masjid and having schools now there's so many different books all the time in the house. And I just grabbed the book, and it happens to be a book by Bill Phillips. And it was a tough SEER book. And I think he wrote it to be like, kind of like a teaching book for like teaching kids. So I started reading Tafseer of Joe's Alma.

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And just this the way he was explaining some of the verses. I had never gotten that explanation before. A lot of our teachers in this school were, you know, from back home and had very thick accents, and often very little patience for the questions we would ask. So even though I had this Cinetic upbringing, I never got the opportunity to really learn Islam. And so when I was reading these books, and I'm reading like the words of Allah subhanaw taala, in a way that I could understand it, something clicked inside me. And I realized that number one, at that point, like I really felt like we got Allah's parents that is real. And this religion is real. And I don't know

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enough. So for me to come to conclusions about what Islam is telling me and that I'm feeling left out and that I'm feeling all these things. I feel like I don't know enough for me to be able to reach a conclusion.

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So really, from then

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We're at the age of 50. And I really became serious about studying what a perfect time. Yes. And like I actually convinced my father to let me travel

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by myself across the world a lot. And you know, there was good and bad to that.

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But I did get the chance to study with some scholars and certain kind of cloth and stuff at a young age. But it's interesting, because I was reading a tangent, I was reading that the more or less, the most likely age for somebody convert to another religion is between the ages of 13. And I think 23 or something, there you go. Like, and we think like, that's too young. And but that's actually what people are thinking about questions of morality, and where they fit in the world.

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So yeah, from then from the lie, like a lot of informal study, my father does have, you know, connections with different scholars, especially in Egypt and in different countries, so is able to sit with, you know, and have a class and do a lot of informal study, where are you staying with when you were there where you were with family, or just kind of so in Egypt, of course, my family's there. But in other countries, my father would know someone or know someone who knows someone, not just so

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you know, there were some challenges, but just being able to.

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I didn't really care too much. So if I went somewhere,

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and I ate no meat for like, three months, just eating potatoes, when you're 1516 years old, that's like, Whatever, whatever. Yeah. So destructable Yeah.

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So Hamdulillah, I got like, a lot of that.

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Experiences and got to learn a little bit.

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And then I came back, I spent maybe a year, often on abroad, and then came back, and I finished my schooling here. And I went to university, and I ended up studying history of religions. So I got kind of like the academic study,

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perspective. And of course, when I came back, I found myself, I didn't have any intention of it, but like, drawn into, like mshs. And, you know, work in the Muslim Students Association. And then

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given clip bezels, I didn't write like, again, I had no like design of this, but it just kind of would happen, right?

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You end up sitting with a group of Muslims. And they're like, Oh, you're Schiff at the sun. Talk to us about something, and you kind of end up feeling like pushed into it a bit. But, but I did love it. I did love teaching. And that would drive me to learn more. And that's something that I still have till today, like till today. In the masjid, I want to teach something. So that drives me to learn it more so that I can teach it. So position of you know, you have to know Yeah, so when you start teaching, you realize your own sort of shortcomings with knowledge. And you, it drives you to, exactly to know it. So Pamela, that's a really interesting takeaway. I mean, subhanAllah thinking,

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because it's, it shows like that, that, you know, trajectory that you were on shows both the importance of the Islamic cultural influence, right, it kind of gave you like a head start, but also the limits of it, right? Because at the end of the day, everybody has to choose it for themselves. Yeah. And then the other aspect, you know, subhanAllah, I just met somebody just just random. They know here, that at a similar little bit of an older age, but within that window that you talked about, they had they really wanted to go to a tuna.

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You know, they wanted to, and it was a travel for them, you know, they're from around this area. And their parents said, Absolutely not, you know, and actually, that ended up being a very consequential know, for that person's life. And it kind of put them on a, on a different trajectory. And, you know, yeah, I mean, there's different conceptions about what we're ready for, and when, and it's scary for a parent to think that, okay, my 16 year old, I remember when I was 16. When I was 16, I was an anarchist, I was an atheist, and I wanted to drive from New Jersey to Arizona, with my friend to pick up this printing press that some guy had craziness, and my parents said hard, no, so that's

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a good note, I think, you know, I'm glad that I'm very upset at the time. But I think that one takeaway for parents is that if you see your child leaning towards responsibility, and leaning towards taking ownership, over their own development and Islam, you know, then it has to be facilitated in some sort of way. You know, no, at the wrong time, it can be really, really crushing. It's true And subhanAllah. So I just wanted to reflect on that I think can limit people's potential. So like, even though it's kind of like my parents are in Dawa, and they're, like, you know, really leaning into this back then, not to date myself, but like, we're talking about more than 15 years

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ago, 20 years ago, the idea of somebody, you know, working full time and our man to you're going to be living in abject poverty. Right, right. So they didn't want me to pursue it as more than just a side hobby.

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So I actually did you know,

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Have a lot of studies and Business Administration studies and I worked in the corporate world for a little bit. Because that was like the push I got from my parents. And you know, may Allah reward them. They've done so much good. But I think if had they pushed me harder in the direction I was leaning, and said, You know what, like, who cares? Like Allah will figure out how he makes his money, just go that way, I think I would have benefited a lot more.

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So that's one of those regrets along the way that I'm like, I wish that And subhanAllah like 20 years later, Dallas scene has changed completely right. You know, messages are offering as much money but a little bit better than they were 2030 years ago. And there's other opportunities, there's people willing to pay to learn, and there's, you know, institutes and stuff. Yeah. So there's other ways to make a living while still pursuing that one putting down was like the number one thing in your life. So

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yeah, I think that's a really important point, like parents should encourage their children when they have a good passion. And like you said, leaning towards responsibility. Yes. Okay. So then you you kind of just fell into leadership. You're the, you're the son of a community leader, you come back and you've got these tools that probably a lot of other people don't have. And so was it all just right towards Imam work or what you know, what did you have different roles along the way? Yeah, so like I said, I was working in the corporate world for a bit at the same time, I was still getting clipped those every Friday, I was still trying to get Holocaust somewhere.

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And I found myself just in community building. Like, I'm very passionate about sports. And I play hockey.

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Canadian hockey is like the one sport I don't play. Yeah, I tried to escape one time. It wasn't pretty gonna work. But didn't what didn't work. Yeah. Unless you count falling. It's part of the process.

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And like, we started like some ball hockey here. So it's a hockey without skates just because a lot of new immigrants and people so ice hockey is expensive. I started a league with some of my friends. And we grew it and it became a big league. And I was running it at some point. And you know, it's almost thems. And,

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you know, a lot of that managing Muslims and having rules to this league and encouraging brotherhood in the league, so we wanted to not just be a Muslim League with Muslim people but have aesthetic values in the league. And I was just thinking back to the other the other day, like if I didn't do that before I start working in the masjid. Well, it would have been a lot harder. So tell us like some of the specific things that you learned through that because leadership and organization are like yeah, so not what you study in Egypt or Jana Norrell, Saudi, not at all. I think part of it is like eagles. So, running a sports league, there are guys who are, you know, more athletic than

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others. So they feel like they have an ego, they deserve something that other people don't deserve. And you as a leader, you know, we know the Prophet sallallahu sallam said, one of the people given shade on the Day of Judgment is a just ruler, just leader. So being able to be just between different people. The other thing that would happen a lot is you know, you're the commissioner of the league, you're running the league, people start accusing you of bias, accusing you of trying to support your team or support your friends teams. And that can be really hurtful. And that's one thing I hear from a lot of Imams, right where they feel like people in the community sometimes talk

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behind their back and people in the community sometimes accuse them of things. And they have like these noble intentions where they're trying to serve the community and they feel like they get this backlash from them. And I felt like I got a little taste of that

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before I came into Imam chef and so I it made me it made my skin tougher. Yeah, right. Where like, it doesn't destroy me internally and I feel like anytime that happens, it's just opportunity to renew my intentions purify my intentions, remind myself why am I doing this I'm doing this for Allah subhanaw taala

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you know, it's difficult and at the same time to remember and to remind ourselves like our prophets of Allah who I do send them help people accusing our Prophet had people grabbing him and telling him beat just so Allah why do says I'm so like, if that can happen to him,

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definitely only for us. And I had a professor Medina, you know, the first day of class, he wouldn't even shimmery. We're still post on the first day of class, he'd be like, I want to thank you all ahead of time for all your good deeds in the day of judgment, because I know that everybody talks behind the teachers back.

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And being anywhere was not too different.

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But those are things that are hard because they cause burnout. So a lot of people so it's hard to manage. So happy to have like have had those experiences whether it's in the Muslim Student Association, whether it's in like sports with with Muslim sports and just having the opportunity of interacting with people do you

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Then with people and

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you know, experiencing that and being able to, you know, not let that completely burn you out of of your goals in the end of the day.

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So then where did it go from there? So you started with like, at what point did you transition to doing like more full time that will work? And what did that look like? Was it mostly man? Was it you bouncing between places? Are you at one place in particular? Yeah. So I got to a point where I was going around the city, I would do this different messages. And I would do 100 plus different restaurants. And then I just got to a point where I felt like,

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I can't do both of these things. Or I'm working full time. And I have my kids. And at that time, maybe I had like two kids.

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Two kids at that time, and I'm trying to balance all of this. And at the same time, like when you're trying to give a hook, and you work full time, I'm not gone, like the average person leaves the work for their lunch hour, and they're back in time. And they might miss some of the hotspots that they get there for the prayer, and then they leave and they get back. If you're given a hotspot to get there before everybody. And then you're probably gonna get held up with questions. And so like I'm missing a good portion of work. And I'm like, I can't do this. And I can't I have to pick one thing, right? So if I pick work, and then I just leave it outside completely, or I picked out when I leave

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work because I completely and I couldn't leave the hour. I just felt too connected to it. I felt I benefited too much from it. Yeah, so maybe it's like a bit of a quote unquote, selfish perspective. But like, I need this for myself. So it's a passion project. Yeah. So that's when I made the decision, I quit my job. I don't have anything lined up.

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And I actually went to Alberta,

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which is a province in Canada. I'm one of the few Americans that knows geography. So

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I remember I remember speaking to an American Electric

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is that here?

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And it's a lot colder there than it is here.

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Yeah, so I went there. And I stayed with the community there a little bit.

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And kind of like, quote, unquote, like, Intro me, ma'am, for a bit. It was a big mess students a big community there. So it was kind of overwhelming to go from like never having done it, like sure and taking that over.

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And so I did that for a bit. I came here, I was interviewing at different messages. And at that point, my father was like, come work msgid That in his organization, he had some reluctance, because he didn't want people to be like, showing us on and and stuff like that. But at that point, he saw like, I was starting to get offers, and he was like, I think it's better for you to just like, stay here and work here.

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And, you know, his perspective is that I'm going to care more for what he's built than anyone else. Yeah. Which is true. Like, it's proven out to be true to me. So.

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So I came from that to this, this community. I've been here ever since then, I'm part time at the moment, but I'm really not into doing what, what I can and try and facilitate a vision, which I love for the future. Mashallah. So yeah, so that's a perfect segue to talk about the different types of communities you've been in and shift to kind of thinking about community building. So I mean, what were some of the lessons that you learned or things that you picked up in your time in Alberta, versus things that you've noticed, you know, being in the Toronto area, you know,

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compare maybe the different communities, I mean, every community is such a complex sort of situation with its own, you know, mix of ethnicities and you know, socio economic classes and things like that, like, what was that? What was the flavor of the community? In Alberta? What did you learn there? What were some of the challenges? What were some of the opportunities? And how was that like, similar different to the communities that you were a part of when you came back to Toronto? Yeah, so there are some similar themes, probably, but

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at the same time, they're, they're big differences. So one thing was, like that particular message, it's actually one of the oldest ministers in Canada. And

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there's a lot of people who identify with it, you know, they're even their grandparents been going to that Masjid basically. Right. So that like deeper connection to it. And, and it's a in a residential area. So there's a lot of people live near it, and walk to the masjid, which is very beautiful.

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And then I came here and the messenger this morning in an industrial area. So people don't typically live around or they're driving to the masjid. And this Toronto area, and Toronto in general, it's just there's a lot of Muslims here. A lot of messages here. Right, right. And I think we were talking about this earlier, where one of the one of the problems quote unquote, like it's not a problem. On the left, there's a lot of massages in the lab. There's a lot of organizations and there's a lot of data on there's a lot of work. There's a lot of opportunity that comes with it. But what happens is people don't feel connected to a masjid. Right. So somebody wakes up in the morning,

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whether it's let's say it's from Milan, and they want to go for Italy, or it's Friday and they want to go for drama. They wake up and they think should I go to mustard A, B, C, D, E, F, G and all of them are within like,

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You know, maybe a difference of five minutes of driving to get to either them. And they choose, they decide where they want to go. And then

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phased out. Yeah. Which is fine. But the problem is that they don't develop a relationship with the Masjid. Right. And because they don't develop a relationship with the message, they're not invested in it, because they're not invested in it. They're not doing more than just a transaction, which is they come into the masjid, they do their clinical business, they pray, and they leave.

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And there's not more than that. There's not like, this is my home, and I want to be fully invested in this. So would you say that there's like, I mean, I would anticipate your answer. But there's almost like a point at which the number of masajid becomes a liability and a hindrance to people's, you know, community and religious experience as opposed to facilitating it. You know, is there a sweet spot that we should maybe hit when we think about, like, if we thought of like a Muslim urban planning? Yeah. Right. Like if there was such a thing, you know, that maybe one Masjid per so many square kilometers? It there's a sweet spot there, where if it's too much, then people do feel too

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choosy? Or too consumerist, maybe with how they kind of relate to the machine. It's not like a neighborhood identifiable thing? You know, I don't know, it's hard to think about because I, obviously, I think that there should be maybe like one big messages in every particular area. Maybe there's like measurements to figure it out. But it's hard to do. Because, you know, we're coming to this country, even whether we're born here, or we migrated here.

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The planning, like you said, is not made for us. Yeah. And we're trying to figure out how can we find messages within our budget? Right, we can serve our community. And that sometimes means you're building in an industrial area. Yep. Right. There's not a lot of residential space. And more and more as society becomes more secular city planners, I'm not even looking for a place to put a place of worship in a residential area. In the past, they used to, but he saw the churches. Yeah, but they used to at least have a place there. Now, they don't even think about it.

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So we're, you're kind of dealing with a lot of these difficult

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decisions on where to put the messages. And the messages all end up in this like, industrial area, but there's nowhere else for them to go. It's it's hard to like say, why did you guys put these messages there. And, you know, Friday comes in all the messages are full. So it's not like they're not serving people. But it's just it turns into this situation where all the messages are bundled up in an area. People are just picking choosing. There's a lack of, you know, people feeling like a relationship is built to that Masjid. Yeah.

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So yeah, those are those are the challenges. And so sometimes people come here from smaller towns, and they're like, Wow, you guys have so much things happening. I see.

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So many restaurants.

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Yeah, like it is great, in a way for sure. But there is downside to it. So is that also what it was like? It wasn't that way. You're saying in Alberta, Alberta. People were very invested in that particular machine? Yeah. And so there was most probably maybe even like a much more community feel there was definitely more community feel. And I feel that when I go to other places around, like more rural areas, yeah, saying the same thing exists. Now that comes with it's also different challenges is because you have when you when you can pick and choose, what ends up happening is people who kind of think similarly, will go to similar investments, right? Just naturally, it's not

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like there's a rule or like a poster on the wall that says a fear like this, they'll come here, as naturally, people will start gravitating towards places that are similar to them.

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Whether that means language, or just like their understanding of SNAM, or whatever it might be. When you're in a smaller town. That's the only Masjid everybody's calling that Masjid. So then you have different ethnicities, different understandings of SNAM different thick rulings that people want to follow. Different describing Utica. Listen, this is you to convention? 100%. Yeah, we're maybe the opposite of and then they're all fighting about what to do. Right. Right. And so those become like difficult challenges as well. Yeah. So what do you think? I mean, like, so as far as community building, like, what were some of like, those are some of the challenges maybe, what do you think is

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something that a lot of mesh seeds that you've learned along the way are getting wrong, if you were to try to, like, save them from some mistakes that you've seen or done or, you know, witnessed or whatever, we want every community center and message to develop and it's an organism and so it has to continue to grow and to become more professional and serve its, you know, congregation better. What are what are the main limiting factors to that, in general that you've seen, or what are sort of the maybe, yeah, maybe some of the mistakes that you've seen community centers make that can be avoided. So what I'm learning

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I'm learning a few things. The first one is, like you, you think that you're gonna get people, and then you make programming for them, the reality is gonna make programming and then people will come to my field and they will count, right? The other thing, you know, it's related. But I remember when I first started, I was passionate, I started to Halacha, about like, signs of the Day of Judgment, like, you know, everybody loves science of the page, full of runs on all run all the minor signs and gotta go into the major science and all that. And I'm preparing, like, every day, I'm preparing, like, sometimes two hours of preparation to give like Hanukkah, and then nobody really state

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nobody's there. And very few people come, and the people come to pray 90%, and then just like, walk out as we're talking, right? And a few people who say you feel like they're just saying that be polite to Right, right. And I went through iterations of this. And then every time I kind of felt burnt out at the end of it, and I felt like I'm putting all this work in this effort, and it's not being appreciated, people are not learning people don't want to learn. And then that makes you don't want to do anything, of course, kind of creates this like negative situation. And then over time, I started realizing like, the problem is, I'm thinking about the average Muslim to stay in the masjid

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and to learn, and maybe the average Muslim doesn't want to learn. Maybe the average was them, says, Why should I sit in the masjid and listen, when I have YouTube, and I can just listen to whatever I want there. And so I started realizing, okay, instead of focusing on like, the, I want to teach the average Muslim, and I want the messenger to be full of average Muslims, I could teach them.

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Let me look at the people who want to learn and let me let me focus on them. And I create programming for them. And so I found like, one thing that we under, we underserved so much in our community is this this age group between the ages of like four to 12, we do some youth stuff. So like teenage and young adult, some stuff. We focus on the average Muslim in the older age group, like 3030 to 60. We're worried about them. But we're not doing anything for those young kids. So I started doing a lot of programs for young kids like Starry Night and, and Hamdulillah. They come in big numbers. They're excited to be there. They're dragging their Yeah. So I'm like, Okay, I'm

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focusing on that people want to be at the message, which are the kids. And like, in the future, those kids are going to be adults. Yeah. Right. And so and if they have this really positive association of being in the masjid, then when they're adults, they're also going to have it. So I started revamped everything to like, focus on that. And really focusing on like, the younger ages, so eventually getting like to the youth and teens and stuff like that, but focusing on this age, which actually wants to be served. Yeah. And they want knowledge. And they want that connection to the masjid.

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And that's been like the, the shift that I've done. The other thing is, you know, I started thinking about how,

00:27:57 --> 00:28:12

okay, if I get 100 People in the masjid, and I give a general talk, quote, unquote, on whatever the topic is, you know, the average Muslim probably knows 90% of what I'm going to speak about in my talk. So maybe I'm gonna benefit them a little bit. And

00:28:13 --> 00:28:21

and then I started to think, well, what if I just taught very high level Islamic Studies, like I went into sort of failed, and we went into like,

00:28:22 --> 00:28:26

like a delta that and like, all these different, like football hit,

00:28:27 --> 00:28:29

and go into, like, all these different,

00:28:30 --> 00:28:32

you know, somewhat complex ideas.

00:28:33 --> 00:28:48

How many people would be interested in that, and I didn't know. So I thought, let me try it. And I got him to do that. Like the first time we did this, we got about 25 students committed, they took a midterm test that took an exam, 15 pages for each of these a lot, multiple choice.

00:28:50 --> 00:29:17

But they did it. And they loved it. And I'm like, Okay, I'm putting a lot of effort into this. But they're getting a lot out of it. Right, they're coming into this class, maybe they don't know, 90% of what I'm teaching, they only know 10%. And they're leaving here with a lot more knowledge and a lot more appreciation for STEM scholarship. So I started to realize, okay, these are the two things I'm focusing on right now. Youth and kids on one hand, and on the other hand,

00:29:18 --> 00:29:31

I'm focusing on people who really want to learn, and they don't want to learn surface level knowledge, they want to learn really deep knowledge. Because they're committed and they're going to show up and they're going to take notes and they're gonna actually study and they're gonna,

00:29:33 --> 00:29:45

you know, do exercises in class and they're gonna they're gonna do like all that work, and handed it out. Like that's something that I've found to be start to work and I'm so I'm starting to feel momentum, and I'm starting to feel like movement.

00:29:47 --> 00:29:59

The end of the day, it's just like you're offering value to people. Yeah. And I think as much as I wanted my other Hello classes where I'm talking about the signs of the Day of Judgment of talking about marriage, and I wanted those to be impact

00:30:00 --> 00:30:34

Full? Yeah, they weren't providing value for whatever reason, yeah, whether the problem is me or them, or just there's so much choice that the, whatever it is, finding where your community needs value and providing that programming. Yeah, I mean, my whole thing, recently, the last few months, Jake, so good, Jess has turned me on to leadership books, and I never in a million years thought that I would be reading leadership books, you know, I think he might have sent told us the same, but I think he's probably totally follow the same books, you know, but, you know, it just goes to show you the benefit of sofa, you know, and because, on my own, they would not be the types of books that

00:30:34 --> 00:31:08

I would gravitate towards at all, I'm more of a theory guy, and, you know, temporary ideologies, this sort of stuff. But I mean, like, some of the stuff, you know, I've reflected on myself, and, you know, all these sorts of things that come back to leadership. And, you know, Hamdulillah, you know, probably not the worst leader in the world, but certainly not the best, you know, and a lot of room room for growth. And one of the things that's that's mentioned, you know, is the kind of 8020 rule that, you know, when we were talking about this earlier, I brought up the idea that, you know, 80% of your energy should go in the 20%, like the 20%, top tier of your employees, or your community

00:31:08 --> 00:31:49

or whatever, that you're gonna see a lot more return, and a lot more impact, if you if you do that. And, yeah, if the other day, I mean, it's hard, they say, connect, before you correct or reach before you teach, and, you know, people who are ready to be reached are significantly easier, you know, then I don't know how much art and how much science it is to connect, to bring the connection to make the light bulb go off, or to reach somebody, but it's a lot fuzzier of a thing than to take somebody who's ready to go, and, you know, just run with it. So that's, that's super interesting.

00:31:50 --> 00:32:29

What about like the, you know, sort of like the bigger picture level when it comes to the actual, like, community centers and management and things like that, you know, the current, the towhee, Community Center, they've got the high school that's operating out of it. And then there's the elementary school, and there's all these sorts of things. Like, you know, a lot of people looked at Toronto as like, as an aspirational sense, a roadmap for what they want their, their community centers or their area to become. So how does that stuff all fit together? Do you think that there were things that how would you advise, like an up and coming community, to like, go about doing

00:32:29 --> 00:32:46

things, realizing, obviously, there's going to be particularities to every community and whatever, but, you know, how there's, there's so many pieces that are moving moving parts of the school and the messages and the programs and all this, like, what are some things that at the institutional level have been learned? And maybe, you know, advice that you would give?

00:32:48 --> 00:32:51

Sometimes I don't feel like I'm like the person to give advice.

00:32:52 --> 00:32:53


00:32:54 --> 00:33:18

it's kind of a lot, I think. So we got to a point where we have the mastery of the school, they're connected, and the school handed out, like, it's been established for, I think, over 20 years. And it's gotten, you know, more and more students trying to apply and, and trying to trying to join, and there's limited space. And so we want to expand, we're actually renting units for the high school.

00:33:20 --> 00:33:46

And, you know, there's a lot of demand, especially for high school. So we wanted to expand, expand, but you know, we thought, okay, if we're gonna get all this, raise all this money, get all this capital build something, we should try to build something not looking at what we need to serve tomorrow, which is expanding the school, maybe expanding the message a little bit, but 10 years down the road, what do we need to have, right? And that's hard to do.

00:33:47 --> 00:34:26

But because most people look at your vision, and they're like, why, right? Why you want all this money to do this? Why? Yeah, right. But they don't see necessarily what you're seeing 1010 years down the road, 20 years down the road. We live in a city here Mississauga, which is a suburb of Toronto. 15% of our population is Muslim. That's almost getting to like 150,000 Muslims here. And that's just in the city, like people who live in Brampton is right next door. There's a lot of Muslims, they're driving distance from here, Toronto, la Muslims, they're driving distance. So you're looking at a lot of Muslims in a very concentrated area. And, you know, we realized that

00:34:29 --> 00:34:32

you know, you have these Muslim families, and what are they doing with their day?

00:34:33 --> 00:35:00

And, you know, there's a big mall here, called square one. And you go there any day, there's a lot of Muslim families and kids walking all over the place, right? So they're like, Okay, this is what they're doing on their Saturdays, they're going to the mall, and they're walking around. And if you think okay, well, what if we gave them a place where everyone in the family could do something? They can go there on a Saturday and everybody can do something? Where maybe there's one

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

and classes in the masjid. And there's a basketball tournament in the gym. And there's a women's fitness class happening in the fitness center. And there's a cafe for the dad who just wants his laptop and to drink some coffee and do some work. And everybody's got something to do this an art class, maybe for one of the kids, everybody has something to do on a Saturday in a masjid. And when the event goes off, there's a message for them to go pray one less drive to make. Exactly. And if we were able to establish something like that, and able to implement it over a long period of time, so you're able to go there, you know, every weekend, every other weekend, you're there for the next

00:35:41 --> 00:35:44

five years. What is the difference that's gonna make in those kids?

00:35:45 --> 00:35:54

And you realize, like you if if we gave them a place where they could practice, ma'am, and they could live Islam.

00:35:55 --> 00:36:04

I think that that would be really powerful in in a country where that's not always the case. And it's very difficult to live your Islam.

00:36:07 --> 00:36:40

You know, even more and more people talk about representation and there's representation and companies or representation and media. But then end of the day that representation is you know, by name we're looking for quality, not quantity. Exactly. Yeah. Maybe in Toronto, they've taken like some Muslim words, and they've put it in Toronto slang. If you've heard of Toronto slang. No, I haven't tell me about Toronto slang. I guess we could talk about like Inshallah, or like, what? In sha Allah has become part of it will lie he is. What's funny. It's a very big part of it. I don't know. Maybe Tarik knows.

00:36:42 --> 00:36:43

Behind the scenes.

00:36:44 --> 00:36:56

But yeah, Toronto slang is like a mix of, of like Jamaican slang. But we've added like a lot of words from Arabic From Somali use. I see. And this is non Muslims using these words. Yeah, it's not.

00:36:58 --> 00:36:59

It's not

00:37:00 --> 00:37:10

impossible to see like a white kid wearing like, Jordans. And talking. It's Torontos Lang and say, well, Allah He bro I saw.

00:37:12 --> 00:37:15

It's funny. It's not impossible to see that.

00:37:17 --> 00:37:31

Yeah, but then it's just like they've they've accepted like surface level stuff. Yeah. But they haven't accepted, like your actual beliefs and your actual practice. So we want Muslims to come out confident in their faith. And that that's the vision behind what we're trying to build.

00:37:32 --> 00:37:36

And I know there's other I think Adams centering in the US or something

00:37:37 --> 00:38:13

similar, maybe. So is this like, Would you call this like a third space? Is it redefining what the mesh sheet is? Is it the community center model? Is that all three? I mean, yeah, I think all three. It's like, we definitely looked at like YMCAs. We're trying to build this. The GCC which is the Jewish Community Center. Yeah. They have a pretty large one here. I've got Toronto, Utica. They have one. Yeah. So obviously, those communities have been around longer than us. And they figured out some things better than us. But we went toward them. We've spoken to people who run those organizations to get a better idea of what they're doing.

00:38:15 --> 00:38:52

I think that's that's part of obviously, like reimagining the masjid, where, you know, the prophets of Allah said they had a member in the masjid for poetry. Right? Right, the man would wrestle in the messenger, you could see clearly that the masjid was meant to be, for sure. It's a place of either, for sure. It's a place of sutras. But it's also meant to be a place to gather people to have meetings, to have the community just circled around it. And if you look at Medina at the time a prophet, really, the Masjid is the center of the city, right? Literally, that's where everything is happening. So trying to make the masjid central to our lives is something we should always be

00:38:52 --> 00:39:26

thinking about. How do you communicate and convince those who have a different definition of what they think the message is, like, everybody everywhere you go, you know, there's some people that come with MSG, and they kind of huff and puff and sigh if they see you know, those sorts of things going on. Every couple of months. There's like some viral video of people playing soccer in the machine and people somewhere laying a whole load of course, I look. Hola, right. So how do you how do you reach that population? Who kind of don't see that vision? I think it's hard. I don't know the answer to it. Like, like I said, we do that kids story. And as soon as we get 100 Kids come on Shala

00:39:26 --> 00:39:59

and you know, we do the story night they're so excited and they're like, energized. We give them like candy in course after. And then when it's prayer time, there's 100 Kids in the masjid. Yeah, there's gonna be noise. And yeah, you hear people saying like, what's happened to the ministry has become like a daycare center heard that for I don't know how to answer it, to be honest with you. Except that I think in the long run, we stick to what we know that this is a good thing we stick to like we know that this is going to bear fruit and you hope that in the long run, even the people who are huffing and puffing about it, they're going to say

00:40:00 --> 00:40:36

Oh yeah, actually, this is this was pretty good. Actually, this, this is useful and this has helped people. So then you would say maybe it falls on the message sheet to kind of know its vision, know what it's going for and not to have the skin thick enough to just keep piling the course, you're not going to convince anyone, everyone. That's just the fact. And I think to myself, like, I've seen their vision already. Right? We already did it. Yeah. i It's not the result of it. The point. So I know that I know where that road ends. And I think this road is better. That's very well said. Okay, so just a couple final thoughts. Like, imagine that you're sitting, you're sitting across from

00:40:37 --> 00:40:48

a young 15 year old, 16 year old kid, similar to maybe yourself, and they want to go seek knowledge they want to eventually, you know, get involved in Dalit work? What would you advise them?

00:40:49 --> 00:41:09

I think the number one advice is, because this happens a lot, lot of young people come and say, I want to get knowledge. And I say, I don't know if you're truthful, if you're truthful, you're gaining knowledge from the people already in your city. Right? You don't have to travel all the way across the world to go to Medina or as hard or wherever to study.

00:41:11 --> 00:41:46

You can view there's opportunities now, right? Whereas 3040 years ago, those opportunities did not exist. There are opportunities here to study and I tell them this, if you're not studying here, that when you go there, you're also not going to study? That's right. You don't magically change. Yeah, to the super, the super thought of them. Exactly. And if you're studying here, and you have that pure intention, when Allah subhanaw taala opens those doors for you and allows you to go somewhere and study with bigger scholars, you're going to be ready to study, right? And everything you study here, like sometimes they think like, well, I'll just go there and study. But what you learn here is

00:41:46 --> 00:42:25

gonna help you there. Yeah, right, it's gonna be, it's gonna make your courses that are easier, it's gonna give you opportunity to sit with more clouds than you normally would. Right? So if you're truthful about gaining knowledge, you're going to look for what is it in my locality? What is it that I have access to that I can gain knowledge right now, right? And then inshallah try absolutely to go somewhere where you can do a more concentrated study. And when you do that, that inshallah what you do here is going to help you there. Okay, next person you're sitting across as a 25 year old graduate, from some Islamic seminary University somewhere, they're about to start their first

00:42:26 --> 00:42:31

time, you know, as a community leader, as an Imam, somewhere, what would you advise them?

00:42:38 --> 00:42:39

Open your eyes.

00:42:40 --> 00:42:41

First thing?

00:42:44 --> 00:42:49

Yeah, I think my advice would be definitely focus on programming, above everything else.

00:42:51 --> 00:42:54

You can get pretty burnt out if

00:42:55 --> 00:42:57

you get drawn into it, like a lot of

00:42:58 --> 00:43:04

therapy and listen to people's problems. And that can really drain you emotionally. And I can really,

00:43:06 --> 00:43:21

you know, take the fun out of it. But if you focus on, like, the programs, you want to do people you want to serve in your community, and you find the things that you like, and that are providing value for your community, like, lean into that right away.

00:43:23 --> 00:44:06

Yeah, that's definitely what I would advise and start with, with kids and youth and all of that. I think that makes that makes a huge difference. That's good. Okay. third scenario you're sitting across from the board have a machine that is just really, you know, in startup phase, they've kind of been doing existing for however many years, the way they have, you know, rotating clippers between just whoever's around and stuff like that. And they're deciding that they actually really want to grow something significant to serve the community. What's your advice to them? So, first thing they need sit down and come up with a vision? What do they want? What do they want to achieve?

00:44:06 --> 00:44:32

What do they want? What's their goal? And they'll be surprised because if you tell them this, they're gonna say, well, we all have the same goal, right? When you sit down actually talk about it. It tells you different goals. Some of you are gonna say it's not like education is the most important thing. Some of you are gonna say no, just having our prayers on time. Good recitation. This is the most important thing. One of the things you realize when you whether you have a board or whether you're just dealing with like the people in the masjid.

00:44:34 --> 00:44:42

Everybody has a different definition of what a good message is. Some people it's the prayers are on time. There's a good Imam with a good voice. That's the Masjid.

00:44:43 --> 00:44:51

You know, one email was telling me once, like he had to go talk to the mayor about something to do in a city and like, because of that he missed the Muslim in the masjid.

00:44:52 --> 00:45:00

They're gonna fire him over the final law. He's going above and beyond to serve his community, because they're dead.

00:45:00 --> 00:45:31

finition of what an Imam does is that he leads prayers on time. They're like you're failing your job, right? Other people are like, we don't care about this at all we care about youth because I got kids, and I want my youth to grow up as good Muslims, I need somebody who's talking to them to do programs for them. And somebody else, everybody's got these different visions, right? And different goals and different what they see at the end of the day is they need to sit down and get on that same page, and derive what is their goal? What is their vision? And then what are your objectives to get to it? That's the place to start.

00:45:33 --> 00:45:42

And then, you know, to try to be like a bit professional about it of creating like job descriptions for what are the people who are going to work towards these things, but easier said than done?

00:45:43 --> 00:45:50

Especially when you're dealing with boards and volunteers to give people like direct job descriptions on what they need to achieve.

00:45:52 --> 00:46:11

But those are, those are the places to start to think. Okay, last scenario. Okay, so what about the, you know, your average kind of cultural Muslim parents who have kids that are just pressing that 1112 year old sort of area? What's your advice for them?

00:46:12 --> 00:46:14

So, you know, as Pamela.

00:46:15 --> 00:46:20

I'm a big advocate of Islamic schools, and homeschooling, and I've been through to both.

00:46:22 --> 00:46:26

And I've gotten a lot of heat for being as big of an advocate for these things.

00:46:27 --> 00:47:04

As they have been, I'll take the heat. But one thing like some people have come to me after that, and they said, like, you know, you've written a bunch of things about Islamic schools and about the dangers of public school, and etc, etc. Some of us don't have a choice. Our kids have to go to public school. So what do we do? Now? Tell them Okay, listen, like from what I've seen. Being at the masjid. There are people who do send their kids to public school and hamdulillah their kids are good. But those people go to the masjid all the time. Right? That connection between them and the Masjid. Yeah. And because it creates, like, first of all, this child now has a lot of friends who

00:47:04 --> 00:47:16

are connected to the masjid, right? That child is being raised in the bed of a lot like their their parents are with them praying, or they're seeing their parents model behavior of praying in the masjid and being in the Muslim community.

00:47:17 --> 00:47:49

So it's offsetting a lot of the negatives that exist in society. So yeah, like your, every parent has to sacrifice something. If you're homeschooling, you're sacrificing something. If you're taking them to Sabbath school, you're sacrificing something. And if you can do all of those, you still have to sacrifice something. And that means going above and beyond and like taking your kids and connecting them to the community and having that, that really deep connection. Like some of these parents, I think about them. They go to the masjid maybe every day, and their child is with them. Their son is with them. Right? Their daughters are coming to the masjid at least once a week. That's

00:47:49 --> 00:48:22

going to have an influence over a long period of time, right? So yeah, that's what I would tell that parent, like, look at what the possibilities might be for your child, they might take the road of righteousness, they might take the road of not righteousness. And the best way for you to set them up. Of course, every child is a human being they're going to make moral choices. We can't, we don't know what they're what they're going to decide at the end of the day, but to set them up in the best possible way. At least make sure you got that connection to the masjid. And you're letting them feel connected to it. Just share with us one one thing that people might not know about you.

00:48:24 --> 00:48:35

So there's a few things I think strange things tend to happen to me. I don't know why that's the case. But one of the strangest was I was away for Hajj. And while I was there,

00:48:36 --> 00:48:41

I think at the time was like Hurricane Harvey, and like, hit Texas and people were

00:48:43 --> 00:49:15

you know, going through a lot of problems there. And at that time, you know, there's a lot of like there is today a lot of Islamophobia online, but maybe a little bit more back then. And so someone wrote an article about a masjid in Texas, which doesn't exist, like fake name to mention that they kicked out anybody who was refugee who was not Muslim. And of course this story didn't happen, but they wrote this whole article on it. And they chose the picture for the Imam of this fictional Masjid was me.

00:49:17 --> 00:49:23

So I was sitting in Hajj and somebody is tagging me on Twitter saying Hey, isn't that you?

00:49:25 --> 00:49:30

So did you do that? Do you get in contact Did you pursue I'm busy I'm

00:49:31 --> 00:49:39

you know, we got a lot of things happening that had to was one of the most difficult hedges I've been on. So I just like we tweeted and I'm like, I've never been to Texas.

00:49:40 --> 00:49:53

That's me the victor. I've never been to Texas. And you know that that retweet went viral? Oh, really? Yeah. So like the next few days like we're doing them in ASIC and Hajin BBC is calling me.

00:49:54 --> 00:49:59

CNN is calling me they wanted to interview really hard as like story. Yeah,

00:50:00 --> 00:50:14

and all these celebrities were retweeting my tweet about and did you eventually, like, get on the media and set the record straight? Yeah, I did. So I did some interviews. I was really funny. Yeah, I'm like in the hotel lobby and

00:50:17 --> 00:50:19

white towels on there like evil at the

00:50:22 --> 00:50:46

strangest, strangest things. It's funny. Thank you so much for sharing your experience and your perspective. And we really appreciate you taking the time out of your busy schedule to sit down and talk about these things with us. And we look forward to furthering conversation in sha Allah was a lot lot to talk about, but that's it for now. Inshallah, so it's a panic along with him like a shadow on the Enter stuff to like, Thank you, everybody, salam alaikum.

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