With Shaykh Usta Discuss i3 Institute

Tom Facchine


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Bismillah Alhamdulillah wa salatu salam ala salaam aleikum. Hello and welcome back to state of the Dawa, where we gather local leaders and we try we talk about the American Dawa the Western Dawa the English speaking Dawa. What are our challenges? Where's our progress? And how can we work better together today we have a special guest Sheikh Memento Sta. Welcome to the program, a little better figment of listening shows. So give us a little bit of background for those of you who don't know you, what are the sort of institutions that you're associated with? What are your projects that you're currently running Bismillah Allahu Allah him. So I'm the founder of the IT Institute is

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Institute's built here in Canada. The focus is really Islamic education but not on an academic level on a transformational level. We believe in building a Muslim with a mission. We believe in helping our youth realize really the basic idea of Islam so they can live for it. And insha Allah Subhana Allah and they meet him and the you know, the struggle for the dean and help establish the deen of Allah subhanaw taala Mashallah. And you also have several different programs that are like that spin off of that correct. So you have like, also you have an academy that you're setting up, you have different brands under that could you just you want to give a little bit of definitely so we haven't

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we have a systems focus organization or brand as it is, which is called the versatile Muslim. Okay, she has a sister only organization they do or their activities locally and a national level, we have brothers only organization called Muslim manhood. So it's focused on basically building the Muslim man in all dimensions, five dimensions really the mind the muscles, of the relationship, we call it marriage, and the money and the mission of Islam. We have also a teenagers organization called Muslim youth X mix for short. We also have an organization that helps our youth and our young professionals to basically, you know, get their careers refined and get better basically, at career

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building and entrepreneurship and building their businesses. And the latest and the greatest, it really is the Islamic college that we've just, we're launching right now, next month, allies, Islamic Academy, and we're offering Sharla bachelor degrees in Islamic studies in Arabic, Arabic linguistics and in Quranic sciences, in short, nutshell, so that's about how many organizations like seven, so that's five underneath the eye three Institute. We have few others, basically community centers. We have a community center here in Brampton, which we are here at right now, which in the Brampton Muslim community center, we have the watered down Muslim community center in Hamilton. And,

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and we have to lay the foundation, which is an Islamic schooling focused organization. Okay. Mashallah. And how long has this taken you to accomplish? Because it's very ambitious? Like that's the one thing we spend about a week together at this point. You know, how long has this taken you? So I've got one more but reserves river river care, which is basically so that was that basically took us say, this is our 10th here. Next April is our 10th anniversary as a team. Yeah, like the teams basically built all these organizations, separately with different boards with different basically missions and and so forth. Yeah. But the first few basically, under the umbrella of that,

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I think in situation. I mean, I think definitely spending a week together, I think that there's some tremendous good that's going on one thing that I noticed, it seems a you have a background in corporate, and there are several organizations you against, it's one of them, right. And three is another where I think that people are starting to leverage the best that the corporate world has to offer when it comes to institution building organization processes systems, and starting to apply that to data. Because, you know, if you tell somebody, you know, I'm going to start seven organizations within 10 years, they're gonna have multiple locations, right across the country, like

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we just went to Winnipeg, you know, others went to Saskatoon, like, you know, it's extremely ambitious. But there's something both I think about the corporate corporate ambition, right, which, obviously, if it's applied to the wrong thing, it's a liability but applied to data, it's actually quite useful.

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And just the the, the mentality, the almost aggressiveness with which you're you believe in your goals.

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I think that there's several, there's several organizations that are starting to leverage that for the doubt. And that's a really, I see that as a strength on the whole. I also see the youth and the mobilization that's like, you know, what we I think we tallied the numbers are over 5000 attendees or around 5000, attendees, all told from every sort of thing that we've done in the in the past week. So you know, and we've both had conversations offline about the big common complaint that met masajid have, which is that the 14 to 30 page group is absent. And most of your programs target that age group, and they actually have mobilized them quite successfully. So that's something that I

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think a lot of other organizations should take note of and to see what's working and to continue down that path of engagement. And I think what you said is is also very true, I noticed that

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people, the people that you mobilize are very mission driven. And you give them a sense of mission. And that is, that's a really important important part. It's not just about making them feel better. It's not just about giving them what they want. It's not just about sort of, you know, patting them on the back or, you know, operating at the level of feelings, though. That's okay. That's something that also has to happen. But I think the most thing that you've gone through is to try to give them a sense of mission. Correct. And that, that is proven. I think you've proven that that is proof of concept. It's here.

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I want you to talk about what are the weaknesses of the organizations that you run? What are the things that you need to improve on? What how are you going to fix them? Yeah, so we have many to be honest.

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We had a retreat Leadership Retreat just a month ago, and we listed 25. So I'm just gonna give you maybe the the main ones, the main ones, I would say, our marketing, and social media presence really is super weak. Like, you know, even though mashallah, we're making lots of impacts on the ground, we were very on the ground organization, and mindset, like I love to work with people to help people transform their lives. And that takes, you know, person to person human to human interaction. Yeah. If I'm just gonna, you know, put a video on YouTube or IG. Yeah, it might be stirred some thoughts and so forth. But that person needs support, like, transformation does not happen without

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mentorship, right? Those wasila mentored the Sahaba, Yolanda and the Sahaba mentored the tabular in the Tibetan mentored the Tibet, Debian that works. Yeah, now, just Islamically, I was just say, basically, I was, I was in a training basically, for for management long time ago, at one of the big corporations here in Canada. And within the leadership training, the professor or whoever basically was in the video, gave the example of leadership development, like spilling water in a cup, right? If you want to basically before up there and just put all the cups on the ground, every couple get a little bit of water, you know, and, but if you want a great leader, he's like, you get the cup close

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to the bottle, and you fill it in, meaning the closeness between the bottle of the mentor and the cup, the student needs to happen for leadership development or happen. And that's really our focus, our focus is to develop leaders. Now. I think I believe basically, we cannot be very skewed to that direction, we need to balance it out. And now we're trying to focus in sha Allah, with the help of people like yourself and Pamela hijab and giving us lots of advice. Michelle, in the last six days, we're going to reorient to basically focus on our marketing infrastructure. And the social media presence number two, is financial. I think basically, Michelle, I think Institute's like your

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cleaning, and many others, have great financial strategies. And I believe basically financials, we've been able to make some breakthroughs and last for years now last round to Allah, like, for example, we helped the watered down Islamic school, just with your help and Hamilton job is helping everybody else to fundraise and hamdulillah we've been able to the team been able to fundraise enough money for for their school to run. So you know, we're trying to figure things out, but definitely finances and and, you know, financial revenue streams, is is another weakness. What's something that you feel like you personally can improve on three things basically, for next year? I

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need to start writing I think, basically, I've neglected writing because I was leading. I was on the operational side, I did not really, you know, do much writing. And number two, I need to basically be on social media myself, I think. I give lots of lectures, many things are recorded, not in the best way. So again, that's part of our media strategy to perfect it. You know, I have some audios here, bad audios here, bad, you know, some bad cell phone footage here, right? So I need to I need to improve in having that presence. And number three is finishing my studies. I think I'm neglected my studies and a lot to be honest. Basically, that's a common thing. I'm paying anybody in

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leadership. There's that responsibility and the weight of responsibility to do Dawa, to inspire others to give even if we know our own shortcomings, but we want to give what we have. But then if all you're doing is giving and institution building and you know, then you we put ourselves and our own development on the backburner. 100 personnel spent a lot No, I think we all feel that. There's an outside perception and and several people reached out to me before coming here. There's a perception.

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There's a perception that that three is divisive. There's a perception that it's sort of staging coos across mshs and things like that. There's a perception that i Three is really just a continuation of his material or as a front some sort of front for his pizzeria or rebrand.

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How you respond to things like that? Yeah. So I responded to that in another podcast last month with the three Muslims. I'd love to basically do it one more time here. So let's take it there's many questions here. Number one, the divisiveness, the MSA issues and the husband of yours. Let's go with it. First of all, as an ayah, three organization we have a belief system that we really believe in, which is being able to see the positivity in everybody. Okay. Okay. So we start with that because he divisiveness and sectarianism is is a heart issue. You have to hate the others. You have to look down upon others for

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For you to be Secretary, you have to exclude others. So it goes from the heart and to be until you get to the exclusion. Now we handed out a bill. And I mean, you know,

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we can see positivity in husband day, we can see also some of their gaps Speak, speak a little bit just about so what are some of the gaps that you saw or see in the hospitality or movement? Because because people are assuming that, you know, maybe you don't think that there's any they think that it's a one to one here. So definitely, just speak to that just a little bit. So the three main gaps I've seen has been to hear number one is the lack of Teskey. Framework. What does that mean? Lack, I don't want to be misrepresented here, basically. But definitely, there's a lack on an organizational level, meaning the organization does not oversee the task via development of the individuals, but

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does basically to unlock tasks. Importantly, go seek it out.

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Same thing, same thing with personal development, personal development important.

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Excuse me, they'll point it out. But they say look, you know, go and seek it on your own. Most people cannot do it on their own. That's true. People need mentorship, people need programs, people need curriculums, people need direction. Yeah. So they're very weak at that. Number two. So let's get the person to Romans one. Number two is community service has been to Haiti, they see themselves as a political movement, and therefore basically, they only do what political movements do from their perspective. Okay, so there's 00 Community Development is our community engagement, community service, we're all about that. Number three, is is the way basically kind of they think about, like

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changing societies, I think is one dimensional, they focus on the political side, let's say, right, and they don't focus as much on like developing, you know, the influentials within society. So really, the, these are the main three things where I believe they are gaps that has been to here, and it will stifle their growth, right. And you used to be very, very involved, I think you said for 20 years. And you left essentially write five years ago, or five years or so, you know, that might you know, for so from outsider's perspective, you know, you might be

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trained in a way in a language that for other people, they might be still seeing you in a certain light, but at least you're you're saying that you've seen deficiencies, and you've you're trying to move past those deficiencies and actually fix those deficiencies in the organizations that you're doing. And the second thing that you're saying is like so that you're saying, Yes, we love selfies, we love Sufis, we love deobandis, we love Valerie's we love you know, all these different groups.

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This is really, I think, important, you know, when it comes to the, you know, the state of the Dow and trying to patch things together.

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There's a lot of talk, you know, we let me put it this way. We've just started talking about the need for you, especially with Philistine everything's happening the Philistine I think things are crystallizing for a lot of people how significant and the consequences of both being disunited and being united? Sure. So how do we put our money where our mouth is? How do we walk the walk, because it's good. Now, a lot of people are talking about unity. And yet, we don't see a lot of collaboration, right. And when we were in a closed session, meeting with some of your students, that was one of the things I challenged them with, right, I said, think about, I want to see an eye three

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event where both Sufis and Salah fees are present, and everybody has a good time. Nobody runs away being, you know, tech feared or to be or anything like that. So how are if you haven't done it already? Or if you have done it already? How are you going to walk the walk? How are you going to put your money where your mouth is, and try to reach out to and collaborate with all these different groups in mail. bless y'all, America. So first of all, we've done it before we've done many times, we invited people from different, you know, segments of the community that's being done that, that being said, let me start with like, maybe, let's say, you know, at least self, you know,

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humility, really like, you know, being able to humble ourselves.

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Like we, with the Salafi sector specifically, they see everybody else as Muqtada anybody who's actually anybody who's mentally and that's literally like a big, huge chunk of the Ummah, definitely way but more than majority that 50%. So, you know, to be honest, I criticize that attitude, right? And maybe I over criticize it, let's say, or let's say you just criticize it. And I think today basically, maybe criticism to either say a bad behavior might not lead to the outcome that I even intended, which is trying to change that behavior, right? What happens basically, when I criticized some of the some of them, not all of you, some of the stuff is good, not all services are the same.

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They criticize back and they got hurt and blah, blah. I'm like, This is what you're doing to others. That's number one. Number two, right now, as we said, a few days ago, in front of all my students, I look right now what we want to do is to give love to people. Yeah, it's fabulous. He asked for the lady by Nicole Weiner, who I don't know, well, you and me. Choose the better path which is basically send love to those who basically HATE YOU to this, some of the segment of the selfies will hate everybody or will hate basically many other people and we're going to reciprocate with love until inshallah one day they become very close to us and love the OMA. So this is something I've done

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wrong. Then here basically publicly maybe for the first time. I say this is something that we've done wrong that we criticize, that even criticism of bad behavior, if it doesn't lead to the right intended objective, then we should stop

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So I realized that and I'm stopping to Allah, we're gonna reciprocate hate with love. In terms of basically like getting everybody we have insha Allah hopefully in April, we're gonna invite people from all different segments. We don't have you know who Annie's selfies do when the Sufis Bray Louise, you know, everybody in a conference where basically we can start putting our hands together, right, and respecting the differences. Okay, that's great. Um, what about diversity within AI? Three? Right. So one of the things that I reflect on, I'm thinking a lot about the the differences or the similarities between different organizations? And

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is there an argument to be made that in order to sort of achieve some of this unity, we also have to have that internally, right like that, you know, like I three maybe has a particular sort of flavor or particular model, and you don't want to dilute your model or the things that you're leaving, but, you know, accepting some internal diversity as well might be another avenue to explore. What do you think about that? Oh, 100%, I think is has some truthfulness to it. I think basically, at the end of the day, if you diversify everything, you don't get anything. So you do have to have some homogeneous. The reason Islam allows having different movements and different action groups and

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different you know, motherhood is not for the Maliki's to bring some chef as an Hanafis n so that they diversify their mother but want to be Maliki's anymore. So, but that being said, we have students who basically that we have teachers or teachers, instructors who come in from different backgrounds, that we align on certain things we agree upon, because this is this is like the this thing with the framework that we're going to work together. Yeah. Because what is it? What is what is obligation from Allah is its collaboration? Yes, not intellectual concepts.

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So definitely, you have some truth to that, but definitely not. It's a good point. I agree. I know, there's a certain degree, you know, but obviously, you know, if if your mission is tailored to, you know, some specific beliefs, then it has to have a certain uniformity of mission on the inside. Okay, well, the one thing I think you didn't address was the MSA issue. That was something I heard from several people. Yeah, definitely, definitely is unfortunate looks. When I was in the MSA. In the late 90s, early 2000. I was elected to become one of the leaders of the MSA. In the Anaga inauguration speech I told today from today, this MSA so everybody is for the believers, the Sufis

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the Salafi is the 20s. And the 30s. I wanted to serve in a way basically where I include everybody I believe in including everybody. Yeah. Since then, until today, nothing changed. Unfortunately, what happens basically, some MSA are still on this sectarian mindset. They went when people will say, like Aquinas will basic, for example, will will will push away all the salaries, salaries definitely will push out with all the Sufis 100% 100% rate service will push the service away from 100. So it happened to our we have lots of students who live we have over a couple 1000 stood maybe even 3000 students in Canada alone. So they're all over campus. So when they want to basically like become

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engaged in the MSA, and MSA knows that these are three if they're, if they're their sectarian organization, sectarian leadership, they'll push them away. So they always basically end up saying, well, we need to, you know, again, choose me get to the position. So we can also basically have a say, and so forth. And that creates tension. So this is a problem. I don't have a solution for I think, basically, there's two solutions from my perspective, either every Jamar builds his own MSA and clearly says, This is my Salafi MSA. This is a 20 MSA stopped trying to hijack everybody, stop trying to be a tyrant on campus. Stop trying to basically oppress Muslims, just because you differ

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with their opinions outmaneuver each other. Yeah, it's become like, it's a waste of energy instead of doing the hour, and serving the populace, and there's no continuity, either or basically, or just basically be able to solve the disease, which I think is gonna take time. Yeah. So I believe right now on public, I believe that no, I think we should be able to have different clubs with different this is what's gonna at least this, this engaging from each other will at least relieve the friction. But even then, when you do that, you're gonna get criticized. So Subhanallah Nia, May Allah help us? Yeah, I mean, now, that's important. And, you know, I think that this is something

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that the college students are going through the same thing that the post college students are going through exactly. Right. So it's kind of microcosms one or the other. But there have been a lot of, I think, promising, I think there's been a lot of promise when it comes to starting to turn this around. And, you know, I was very touched by your reflections on your own sort of mistakes that you made that you you know, share those with the students in a very candid way. I think everybody needs to be able to have those sorts of, you know, candid reflections and take criticism, I know, you've taken a lot of criticism face to face this week.

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Some of us more than others,

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you know, but honestly, it's like, when it comes to approaching each other and having that channel open, as opposed to what has been the norm up until now, which is avoidance hedge, you know, you know, criticizing just, you know, shouting into the wind, basically, you know, staying in our silos, it's very comfortable to stay in our silos are comfortable to stay with the people that already agree with you, you know, are the people that are you know, it's challenging. community life is challenging. Like actually being

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With people who actually disagree with you on fundamental things is very, very challenging. Yes, you know, and some people, as I said, they even criticize me for even coming here in the first place. But you know, I also disagree with that attitude. And one thing that, you know, I'll have to, you know, circle back to some of the people who reached out to me, I think that you need to have face to face, I think that sometimes we we live too much online. I think that, you know, when you watch things from a distance, you tend to, there are certain narratives that you can tend to believe or fall for more easily. When you get in person, you know, you talk in person behind closed doors, off

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camera and things like that, you get the sense for people's personalities, so you get the sense for what their missions is, what their background is, you've shared your part of your life story, like what this means to you. Right, so then we see each other, we can assess each other's strengths separately, you know, be frank about each other's weaknesses, look for opportunities, right to help each other. And the thing is, and this is something that Sheikh Abdullah and PT used to teach us in Medina that I tried to take as my strategy is that it's better, it's better to take your brother by the hand, and help them to be better than it is to just stay away from them and criticize them.

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Right. So you know, there's things that you know, whether it comes to Yaqeen Institute, or whether it comes to AI three, when it comes to any of the institute's, you know, I really believe that this is the way forward that we have to take each other by the hand and say, hey, you've got this going on, or you've got this going on. And this is really like how you can improve just out of necessity, right? And we throw this word around a lot, but this is something that is becoming a Hoja Elena what a Selena this is something that is becoming something that is in an indictment on us that we give it so much lip service, but we're so ineffectual, we're not practicing the actual what it looks like to

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have no see how towards each other. So I thank you for the opportunity for having me come here in the first place and give me feedback. And, and I hope that everybody learns, you know, this is part of an education and why we do these things in front of cameras, eventually, is to educate the people who are watching, right, because it trickles down. You know, I you know, you can take a sports analogy, I make a lot of sports analogies, that if you see behavior from the teammates, it means the coach is allowing it. Yeah, right. The coach has set the tone for the team, whether it's mockery, bad sportsmanship, you know, good sportsmanship, whatever. At the end of the day, it comes back to

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the coach, the coach has a responsibility to set the culture, right. And so as daddies as people who are at the head of, of organizations, or people who are, you know, you know, high up in organizations, we have a responsibility to set the tone and the culture for the data and educate people and show people that this is what it looks like, you know, for me to go and do a tour and a talk with people I don't 100% agree with or institutional 100% agree with is is an education for people, for you to invite people that you have, you know, fundamental bitter disagreements with to certain programs, there's an education for people. And if we have

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Zella, right, if we have shortcomings and gaps where we're not 100% applying this, then inshallah we're trying and bear, you know, bear with us and be patient with us because we're also trying to overcome our personal weaknesses in in doing that 100% So I asked last month out to make you successful, to put vodka in your Dawa then in all of our data and to bring it to a live Pinnacle Albina right to put our hearts together and so but to help us finally come together so that we can move forward as one OMA inshallah. So, with that, I think we'll close out the thing.

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We have the concerto and lowland ancestry records will be like Santa Monica after luck, I'm still gonna get