My Journey to Islamic Knowledge

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Yasir Qadhi

Channel: Yasir Qadhi

Episode Notes

In a bare it all lecture, Shaykh Dr. Yasir Qadhi shares his innermost feelings and emotions while shedding light on his inspirational and motivational journey of acquiring knowledge, learning and comprehending the Arabic language and specializing in Hadith studies. He also delves into a conversation that acquaints us with his high aspirations with regards to his worship to Allah SWT, while forming the crux of all motivations.

He also shares and discusses the innumerable challenges, predicaments and factors that tried to deviate him from this path and make him put an end to his undying quest to perfect the worship of Allah. The pearls of wisdom that are meted out to us from his experiences in treading on the path of sacred knowledge of Islam are exemplary and provide us with food for thought on how we as Muslims ought to conduct our lives .

Episode Transcript

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Salam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato. Good evening, ladies and gentlemen. And thank you so much, once again for welcoming me into your second room. As usual. I did not come along. Tonight I have for you.

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Yet another guest, a very, very interesting person. You've probably heard the name yesterday.

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And let me try and introduce the man to you. Because obviously in recent days, we have heard his name, but do we really know who he is? Where does he come from? What is he about? Shall we?

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Sir, welcome to my program was Salam aleikum, welcome to the Maldives. Tell me a little bit about yourself this name? Yes. Hello, party. It's very, very interesting. Where does that come from?

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That's a lot. Firstly, thank you very much for having me on your show for allowing me to come to your very, very beautiful, beautiful country. Absolutely amazing, stunningly gorgeous.

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The name, of course, you also called is of course to Arabic terms, but I'm not ethnically Arab. My ancestors go back to India. And my mother and father were both raised in Pakistan. So when I'm asked, Where am I originally from? Meaning ethnically, if I want to say India, I'm correct. It was a box that I'm correct. I was born in Houston, Texas. My father came to do his master's and then PhD in America back in the early 60s. So he was one of the first to emigrate from Pakistan to Houston, Texas. And this is before he was married as a single man, he's going to study and things, you know, moved on. He got married to my mother in Pakistan, brought her over and early 70s. I was born in

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Houston. So I'm like, of the earliest batches of the second generation of American Muslims a buck 70 and Indian descent because most of the immigration actually happened in the 80s. My father came in the 60s. Okay, so there's a 20 year gap, that kind of So, of course, the name yahagi, of course, is Arabic words, but you know, basically, yes, it means that the name of the companions of the process name his name was Yasser, the one of the first martyrs. M is the one easy going with things that are relatively easy for, and a name called the means judge. And I have been told that my great grandfather had a position with the courts in India, hence he was called Aldi. I see this is the

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time of the British, except in India and Pakistan, they would not even pronounce it that way. Well, here's the point. I'm the one who pronounces it that way. Okay, so of course they pronounce it kasi. Right? Yes. But when I was in my teenage years, I wanted the authentic pronunciation. So I began to write it and pronounce it as body. Okay, so that's what Yeah, so

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and when, when when did you pick up the Arabic language. So I

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studied Arabic, formally for the first time when I went to the st. Medina as an adult, I was 20 years old. And I already finished a degree in engineering from the University of Houston. So I actually had studied chemical engineering for a while, finish that up, worked at Dow Chemical, which is a very famous chemical Corporation work that that for a while, and then I realized I I want more out of life than solving nth degree quadratic equations. more to life than simply sitting behind the computer screen or doing what not and I went to the spiritual. So I applied to the rescue of Medina, Islamic University of Medina, and I got accepted this is in 1995. I got accepted and they teach you

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Arabic before they admit you into the college program. So I studied Arabic formerly over there, and for how long? So I finished their program in one year. They have a two year program. I finished it in one year. And then I went on to the college level Mashallah you went from zero Arabic or not zero. I had already started teaching myself Arabic. And here's your Houston. Actually, it's interesting I that's an interesting concept is that he started teaching yourself Arabic. Yeah, so I did it via it's not something I would recommend anybody to do how I did it. In hindsight, it was not the best way of doing it. But I was just desperate and I didn't really know what to do. I actually

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began translating the Quran word for word, or comparing the translations word for word, to see what word meant what. And then also with the Hadith of the process of Sahih Bukhari, I had nine volumes of Sai Baba at home. In an old translation, it's really not the best, but it's still the only translation out is nine volumes of English Arabic. So you have English and Arabic parallel. So you need this right to get the word forward. So I had Quran, English to Arabic parallel, and then I had the English job in parallel. So I would just read and try to, and if I'm not mistaken, I still have some of the notes in binders that I would write like this word means this and this word means that

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but that's not the best way to really learn. It is not the last way But, sir, as a language, man, perhaps I can insert this into your conversation.

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Yes, when you have nothing else, I have nothing else that's worse. And I remember there's still some of my Arabic Arab college friends, and I meet them every once in a while, I would literally begged them for half an hour, you know, a week or so. And we would sit, and I would read a pamphlet, a little booklet, you know, basic, and just try to get word for word, and I still have some of those, I would have the Arabic or English word translated above it, it also, when you're desperate, that's all you can do. So at Hamdulillah, when I applied to Medina,

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they let me finish the program in one year, they got me accepted to a higher level that finished in one year, because I have a message from for my for my audience here.

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If you seriously want to know Islam, especially if you want to read the Quran, one of my recommendations, one of my humble submissions is do it in the Arabic language. And if you could do it that way, if you have no way to actually pick the Arabic language up, follow my friend, my brother Yasser, is example, in the Maldives, we do have other options. But still, if you do not get hold of any one of those options, like like teachers, like black classrooms, like Internet lessons, and so on, if you're really desperate here is to one more way of doing it. And here's somebody who has achieved it. So thank you so, so much given for that.

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And within one year, you could actually follow college Arabic.

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Just about so that's why I hadn't studied grammar is the point, right? I had not studied formal grammar, I had learned enough verbs and nouns to understand much of the Quran, not all of it. So when I got to Medina, they were impressed with my knowledge of nouns and verbs and whatnot. But I told them, I don't have any training of actual grammar. So I learned all of the grammar skills in you know, to that I needed for college and that one year, and then at the college level, of course, at the college level, you study the classical lexicons, the classical, you know, books of grammar that were written 1000 years ago, five years ago. These are like the massive is a famous form of

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Arabic

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morphology in Arabic grammar called elfia. Diplomatic, which is the standard. So you studied at University of Medina, that's like what you do at the scholarly level. To get into that level. You needed that one year or two year immersion course I did it in one year. That's what, that's what I did. Amazing. And the US is probably one of the environments which allows you to do it. Would you believe it? I picked up my Arabic that way. My my greatest inspiration was somebody called Geoffrey Hayes, an American. Oh, really? Okay, who convinced me at the American interest in Beirut? He actually convinced me that while I was there, I had the one of the best opportunities in my life.

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That's an Arab country. Yeah. He told me one day look here. You're an Arab country, use the opportunity. Go out there. Talk to people risk it. Pretty soon you'll be speaking he was absolutely right. And it takes an American to convince me to learn the language hamdulillah. Today I do and I just spoke Arabic to win your case. Yes. So and they weren't here we are. Yes. And what a beautiful language and what a beautiful message we have that hamdulillah. So do tell me. And then so you were there in Medina. And then I was there for 10 years? 1995 to 2005? What are you doing? So I did my second bachelor's, and that was in from the College of Health Studies. Heidi has, of course, the

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things of the prophecies. And so this is a four year program, where you are introduced not only to the classical books cover to cover, we go over the methodology, well, not necessarily every single tradition, but the methodology of the classical works of headed, most importantly, you you study the science of the history, the evolution, the critic, the the the critical analysis of the prophet SAW Selim sayings, how do you understand them? How do you codify them? How do you categorize them. So that's a very specialized training is not the most common specialization of Islamic Studies, the most common is Islamic law, or dour to preach. I wanted something a little bit more rigorous. And I

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really appreciated the College of Hadith. So that's a bit of a bit of an advanced specialization is not the most common one. And it's also not the most relevant, the most relevant Islamic law. But I had an inclination to do this. And I'm very happy I did it. Then after that, I applied for the master's program. And I became one of the first Westerners to get accepted to the graduate level at that time, this was 1990s. There was a high dropout rate from Western students very high dropout rate. Why was that? Because it was rigorous. I mean, can you imagine people speaking zero Arabic And then in two years, you're introduced to classical. This is like, imagine a person doesn't speak

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English. And he needs to start studying Shakespearean, you know, analysis within a year or two. It's just an it's rigorous. I mean, now they've changed the program. And within that they've, in my opinion, watered it down, but when I was there,

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in America, you're only allowed to take 18 credit hours per semester.

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If you have the system here or not, in Medina, we were doing the equivalent of 25 credit hours, 14 different subjects a semester.

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Sometimes with 1560 teachers, sometimes two teachers would do one subject. But how many hours of sleep? Would you get a night?

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Alhamdulillah at least seven hours, six hours, I would definitely say for me, I mean, it's like, I've never sacrificed sleep for an exam. If I'm going to sacrifice sleep, it should be for a law firm, frankly, and being have never in my life sacrificed a night of sleep for an exam. Can you actually repeat that? Because I would like to underline this to my to my younger audience, do you say that again, please, I have never sacrificed a night's of sleep sleep for an exam. If I were to sacrifice my sleep, he should be allowed to pay 200 I'm not saying I paid 200. Like, really, what I'm saying is, sleep is precious to me. And I'm not going to sacrifice sleep, just to get a good

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grade on an exam. That's not worth it. For me. The thing the thing that should deserve that sacrifice for me, if I were to do it, is for the sake of love, you wake up at night and protection, this is the thing that you should really. So in my entire life, I can proudly say and I am very proud of this, that I have never once done an all nighter for the sake of an exam. I don't believe in this. And I never believed that even as an undergrad I never believed in it. Like I'm not going to give up my sleep just to get an A on the exam. If I want to get an ad better study from day one, and another live in a very good student in my ears, right? Always been in top of my class or in the

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top. So if I wanted to get an au study for it, but you don't give up your sleep the night before. Not only is that is that your secret? It's also foolish. You know, I do teach sometimes and that's okay. And as an old teacher, this is something I continue to tell my students. Thank you for that. And

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kids out there. Listen to us. Never ever sacrifice your sleep to get an A no all nighters. No six cups of coffee the way to do it is slow and steady. Yeah, know exactly like the tortoise gets there. The story of the tortoise and the hare Exactly. The tortoise gets there in the end. Exactly. And I want to pick up on something you said before and this is wanted to get more out of life. Yes, exactly what you mean by that.

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I,

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Allah blessed me to be from an upper middle class family, I was never deprived of food or drink or you know, worried about who for my hamdulillah bless me. And it was understood as a second generation Pakistani, a Muslim in America, you have to go into either engineering or medicine that was like understood, there's no third option. So I went into engineering, it wasn't. So I have

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this lawyer thing then come in doctor, lawyer, engineer, not lawyers. Wasn't that common back then? About? This is like the late 80s, early 90s. Right back then. So I have a I have a saying, and that is that an 18 year old is way too young, to make up his mind about his own career and education path.

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You're not qualified at 18. You're not qualified to know what you even want to do. You haven't experienced life yet. You don't know absolutely what your parents are gonna tell you. And then you might end up doing something you don't actually want to do. Unfortunately, there's no way out of it. You can try your best and ask a lot of people. But there's no way that you have to make that decision at a very young age. So at 18 Well, actually, I started University at 16 business, the guidance and counseling thing work. Not me again, but you don't even know what you want. Out of someone else. Yeah. Like you don't know which subject appeals to you at that time more than others,

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right? So I actually chose chemical engineering simply because I liked chemistry more than let's say physics. That's not a reason you're the teacher or the teacher. Well, my chemistry teacher of high school did have a very good impact on me. Oh, good. I mean, he's my favorite teacher of high school. Right. So because of this, it I liked the subject, because I like the subject. So you see this, this chain of events here. But in the end of the day, I had no idea what chemical engineering was when I chose the field, compared to civil engineering compared to mechanical compared to electrical, it's just a vague idea. You walk in, and then you just finish it up. And I worked at Dow Chemical, and I

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realized, you know what, this is I'm speaking to myself, I'm not speaking to anybody else. I said to myself, I don't want to be just another mediocre statistic of the number of engineers and doctors and lawyers and accountants. I want more out of life. I don't care how much money you give me. I don't want to live a mediocre life. A lot of young people out there who think that getting something out of life is getting a heck of a lot of money, excuse me, that and that really shows they don't understand what life is. talk to anybody that actually has money.

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And what do they have? And what do they have. Other than that, ask them about their problems and their woes. Ask them happiness comes from within. Happiness comes from here, not from outside. And the fact of the matter which young people are too young to understand, but they still think this way. Generally

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spending more money means more trouble. And more money means more walls. I wish more people understood that the fact that the undid Look, there's statistics and surveys done, people that live, generally speaking lower on the socio economic level, are happier in their lives, their family relations are better their families have good connections, they're actually sometimes even healthier. Because as money comes, your lifestyle and habits as well change, right, and you don't. So the younger people that are working hard and taking care of their families, the fact of the matter is that their lifestyles are happier than the lifestyles of many of the rich and famous. What

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has richness and fame. So, you know, I started to get a good salary at Dell chemical, the biggest that was a big paycheck, I could finally walk into a shopping center and say, I can buy this and that you know, but then I realized, like, so what? I want more out of life, I want inner happiness. And I realized that inner happiness for me was to know my religion. I have a little question here. Something that I usually put in front of young people in this country. What gives you happiness? Exactly? Is it inner peace? Or is it some form of external stimulation? You make your choice? Exactly. And you made that choice that what you actually feel like inside Exactly. A true human

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being exactly cruciate in the beauty that God put on this or exactly, knowing why we're here, knowing the purpose of life, right, this is what I wanted, and which of God's blessings, which of the god blessing leader phobia? Yeah, that'll be cool to get the design, which of God's blessings are going to deny exact so I made that decision. I want to study my faith study, what is the purpose of life? And so that's why I applied to University of Medina to and it wasn't my intention to become a scholar. Not at all. It was my intention to know my religion, because I realized the most important thing really is spirituality is that connection with the divine, nothing more important

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than that? And this is what makes us the most honored. Exactly, exactly. So I wanted to go and study and that's what I did, and hamdulillah. And I had no idea what I would do for a job, how I would get my I gave up a Dow Chemical offer, I was on my table. I said, it's not happiness, I want Hamdulillah, the only student in my university that he got a job offer before he graduated, it was on my desk before I graduated, he had a job. And I said this is not going to get me happiness.

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And so Alhamdulillah Allah gave me much more than what I would have been making as a chemical engineer. Not in the beginning, not the beginning was struggle, struggle, struggle, a lot of struggles, models, I mean, um, that one was I don't want to do a lot. But what I'm trying to say is, if you are sincere to him, he will show you that sincerity. He will test you to see if you're sincere. But if you are sincere, you will taste the results, the sweetness of those fruits, you will. So one of the main differences between the doctorial restaurant hobby and the chemical engineer, Dr. Yasser al Khali, the man sitting in front of me, I am no longer chemical engineer. I

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used to be a chemical engineer, what kind of engineer or you know,

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I would like to say the engineer of the soul, like does he, somebody that is shallow data, works on myself and my family, the party is always myself and my family, right? And I've said this many, many times, just because a person has knowledge doesn't mean he acts upon that knowledge, I have to always monitor myself and my family, then I monitor other people have to always keep track of myself. So being in charge of myself knowing

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some little bit about my religion, the history of my religion, the Koran, so no, my PhD is not in engineering. My PhD is in Islamic theology. Right, right. What is beliefs? What is what is, you know, what is the divine what not so Alhamdulillah, this is now my field. But engineering is simply something I did this is this is very, very uncanny, to me to actually sit here and listen to you. Because last week, I gave a lecture somewhere up there in the lammeter, which is in the in the southern southern part of the Maldives. And I was actually telling people that I made a few mistakes in life. And one of that was going after things I shouldn't, when I should have been actually

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concentrating more on myself and my family. And what were real values lie. Exactly. And you're saying precisely the same thing. Exactly. So those of you out there in the laboratory, especially on hittable, who listened to my talk, here's somebody who actually supports that point of view that in life, there are things more important than what looks immediately valuable.

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could happen.

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This is this is a really a very, very supportive.

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Something else I would like to say here. The man again, you yourself.

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What exactly are you doing in this country? So I was invited by the Ministry of Islamic affairs.

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The minister reached out to me actually have never been to Maltese and my first time here, the ministry

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Reach out to me ultramar Welcome hamdulillah Al Hamdulillah and said, you know, we'd like to invite you officially and I had heard so much praise of the views and as a destination and whatnot. So I am but humbler so busy now. So many invitations. I turned down 99% of invitation, I don't have the time. You know, I have too much on my plate and have my wife and children. Well, I can't do it. But the Maldives I said, I cannot turn down. And I had good friends from the rest of India. I just met them right now before coming to your show. After 15 years. I met them my two colleagues. So I met them as well. But I so I knew moldy is the people of baldies was so sweet. So kind, thank you so

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much that, um, that this is my experience. This is my experience at hamdulillah. And the beauty of Modi's is well known. So I said, I have to schedule you guys. And so this was in like, I think December of last year. So the first date that I actually had slumped was right now. So humbler we arranged the today's lecture and I said, you know, to come down with my, with my wife, and, you know, see some of the islands are humbled. I was at a resort here the Gili lankanfushi I was there at hamdulillah beautiful place, amazing place and under law, spend some days there is kindness to us, and that hamdulillah it's just been nothing but sweetness and amazingness and much of the

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cuisine, the culture, the people martial, and the history is amazing. I mean, the entire population embraces Islam without a single war or bloodshed or army invading absolutely the whole. And you know, what the shows, for sure is the goodness of the Maldivian people

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and the blessings and the blessings of Allah subhanaw taala Of course, for people and entire nation to just embrace their faith. And this happened on 1153, almost 1000 years now. Right? Yes, almost a night and not 90% 100% 100% it is it is really an amazing, amazing sight and Sharla of the sweetness of the Maldivian people Mashallah that faith just entered their heart Alhamdulillah This is a blessing, the Maldivian people should cherish and appreciate, rather than reject and turn away. You know, what is sad about this, though, I have this gut feeling somewhere in there,

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that we might be slowly losing this. This is what is my deepest fear now. They're not realizing the blessings of knowing who their Lord is. And the Creator. They don't know, what is the blessing? I mean, suppiler I am from America, and traveling Europe. Do you know what it means not to know why you've been created? I mean, speak to the conference. They cry when they embrace Islam, how many Shahada have given? And the brother or the sister just breaks down? sobbing? Why ask them why? Because they literally feel they were lost. They had no purpose in life. And Islam came and gave them a sense of comfort and support tells them why they're here on this earth. You know, sometimes I

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go out there, and I love being out there. I love standing on street corners and talking to people I don't even know. You know, that's what I call blessings in life. Yep. So many things I gave up materially, for that opportunity. Sometimes today in this country, I see people who look lost. Yeah, riding around at midnight, sitting in coffee shops doing nothing. Smoking away, waiting for something to happen, a little bit of simulation, a little bit of, quote unquote fun,

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really sad people I know, I tell them, this is not life.

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This is not life. What would you like to tell them?

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I will tell them something that they themselves will realize I don't need to quote, divine scripture, or into quote anyone or anything. You yourself, right? Every person knows when you smoke or take drugs or do something that is harmful for your body. Yes, there's pleasure. What comes after that pleasure? depression, depression,

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depression, isolation, alienation. filthiness. Yet when you connect with the divine, whether it's into our Salah, or on anything?

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Don't you feel sweet? That what comes afterwards? Even more sweetness? Absolutely. There is nothing that is sweeter than connecting with the one who created you. Nothing. Would you define that as happiness, the ultimate happiness, the ultimate pleasure is to connect with the one who created the ultimate love, the ultimate sacrifice everything.

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Ultimate, and then to connect with the role model that was sent by him and that is a profit enhancer center to connect with him to study his life and times to know who he is. You will feel such a sense of honor to be a follower of the sudo system. You will feel purposeful. He is our pride right? The more you study him, the more you feel a sense of

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How much Allah has blessed me to be a follower of this? Absolutely. So let's, let's, let's try and do this You and I,

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older people when compared to teenagers, let's try and get this.

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What would you try and say, in a couple of sentences to somebody whom we assume we don't know, is simply hopelessly lost. And looking for just a little, maybe 25 grams of of happiness in this world today, and you have no way of getting it.

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Right.

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Just a little bit of advice as to where they should start.

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If you assume that there is no mentor, assume that there is no relative homemaker reach out to assume that there are no teachers around, assume that they are out there on their own, and it's very dark. Okay, please.

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You're never alone. And it's never dark. Okay, wherever you are, you have a list.

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And one of the names of Allah is notice somehow it will, the light of the heavens and earth. So wherever you are, you have the one who loves you, cares about you, hears you, sees you and knows you. And you have the one who is the light and the source of light. So how can anybody ever think that they're alone and in darkness, immediately, wherever you are, fall down in such an open your heart, open your soul, open your mind and body, beseech him, pray to Him. And even in that prayer, as you humble yourself, when your head has lowered and touch the very sand that your feet walk on, in that prostration you will find dignity

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you will find self worth when you humble yourself in front of the exalted, he exhausts you.

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And you have to do this on your own. You have to do this on your own. Because no you cannot be spoon fed religiosity has to come from within. If you do it for the sake of the people he doesn't, he wants to see what's inside. You do it from you within you. And you do it for you. Because Allah doesn't need us. You know, we started this episode saying this.

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I was going to introduce you to my audience.

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And what we have done is we've put ourselves in front of the audience tonight.

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And our message is you are not alone. And for somebody who comes from Houston, Texas, it's got other overtones to it. We're not alone.

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Oh, that's another doctor. Exactly. So we are certainly not alone. And anytime we need help, we need courage. Allah subhana wa lays up there. Ladies and gentlemen, that's all the time we have for you this evening. But time is out there he is out there. His blessings rain down on us continuously. Once again, thank you so much for allowing us for permitting us for tolerating us in your sitting room setting your evening. Hope to see you again very very soon. Meanwhile,

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take out a little bit of peace for yourself. salaam aleikum wa rahmatullah wa barakato.