Avoiding Arrogance And Self-Righteousness

Yasmin Mogahed


Channel: Yasmin Mogahed

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Episode Notes

Avoiding Arrogance and Self-Righteousness
By: Yasmin Mogahed

Serenity Podcast:
Avoiding Arrogance and Self-Righteousness: The path to self-development is rewarding, but beware of falling into this dangerous trap. Yasmin discusses how to navigate your road to self-improvement.

Presented on September 28, 2011

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Assalamu alaikum This is his head and you're listening to serenity streaming live on one legacy radio. Today, we are going to be talking about a topic which a lot of times we, we end up falling into this trap. And begin before I talk about the trap itself, I want to talk about the idea of, you know, basically taking that path and deciding, you know, you know, we get into our, in our, you know, some point in our life, we decide, hopefully, that we want and some of us decide this that we want to sort of devote ourselves to making, you know, to self development, we want to basically focus on our, our, our building ourselves as Muslims building ourselves in our Deen. And what

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happens when we take this path, you know, this is the path of someone who decides, okay, now I'm going to be more quote unquote, religious. And this is a path which we, we we want to seek This is a path, we want to seek the path that will bring us closer to God and ultimately give us access in this life in the next. But there's a very dangerous trap that happens, unfortunately, when we do and tends to happen. And so I want to ensure the talk about that today, that this is a trap that happens on this path to Allah subhanaw taala on this path of, I'm religious now, right, that path. And I want to sort of as a side note, just mentioned that I drink a lot of coffee today. So

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I'm a little bit wired. But this, this topic is one that that, that we all take very, very seriously. And the reason is this, when we start to take that path, what might end up happening, and you'll you'll notice that this does happen, we might you might notice this in yourself. And oftentimes notice it in other people who've who've started this path, as soon as a person starts to become, quote, unquote, religious, unfortunately, what happens alongside is that they sometimes start to become self righteous. And what I mean by self righteous is the person myself, yourself, we, you know, we have to again, first and foremost look inside ourselves and see are these you know,

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are these qualities in me before we start pointing fingers at other people, but the problem here is that I start to believe that Okay, um, you know, I'm now I'm starting to go to the masjid more, I'm praying more, maybe I just started wearing hijab, I'm really starting to take this path. And here's what ends up happening. And this is the trap, I start to look at my deeds, and I start to become pleased with them. And when I do that, what I'm committing a very serious mistake. And that is that I think that these deeds, these good deeds, are from myself, I think that it's because I am a holy person, or I am a better person, I am a good person. And therefore, I am able to worship Allah

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subhanaw taala better than my neighbor is. The problem with this thinking is a couple of things. One is it's completely flawed, I am able to worship Allah subhanaw taala, because Allah subhanaw taala has allowed me the gift of worshipping Allah subhanaw taala. And so my worship to God is not a gift from myself to God, but rather a gift from God to me. And so I should never feel, you know, sort of this sense of pride in myself, if I am indeed able to take that path, or if I am able to worship God in some small, you know, some small way. And and this leads me to another very, very important point. And that is the idea that somehow my worship of God is sufficient. The problem with looking

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at my deeds, instead of looking at the greatness of God, is that I might end up in this trap that we're talking about today, where I become self admiring, I become self self self satisfied in my own actions. So when I, for example, I do some small thing, you know, I'm, I'm, perhaps I'm praying more in the masjid or I'm, you know, I started wearing hijab. Now, these are very, very great, you know, you know, gestures and these are very great acts of worship. But the problem is that when I look at the action itself, instead of looking at Allah subhanaw taala is right over me. That's when the action can have the tendency to make me arrogant. When I think that Allah subhanaw taala that

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somehow I am

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I'm giving God any portion, any part of his right over me

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This is a serious problem. Because the truth is that I could worship God from this day till the next day, every single waking moment, and it would never fulfill his right of obaldia over me. And so everything that I do for Allah subhanaw taala is is my attempt to be, you know, to worship him, but I should never feel like I'm doing enough like what I've done is sufficient. In fact, we know that the prophets of Elias and them said that no person enters Jenna, no person enters paradise, by their deeds. And so this the companions or the lion home asked him even you older sort of love, because we know that the prophets I send them is the example for all humanity. And he's, you know, he has the

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purest heart. And he said, yes, even me. And so the lesson here is that he said, that nobody enters paradise, by his deeds, but rather by the mercy of Allah subhana wa Tada. So, you know, the message here, and what we need to understand is that no matter what I do, my actions will never be as good will never supersede the actions of the Prophet Mohammed. So I send them and even he cannot enter agenda by those actions. So what that means is that I my actions are not sufficient for the, the the the level that Allah subhanaw taala deserves, my actions are not sufficient for a reward of infinite nature, because we know that Allah subhanaw taala is infinite. And if we have Allah subhanaw taala,

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as the reward, of course, we never paid for something infinite, with something tempt with something finite. And anything that I do, any action that I do, any amount of worship that I do, will always be, you know, finite, it will always be, you know, missing, it will never be completely sufficient for the reward that Allah subhanaw taala gives. So the idea here is that we need to be, we need to humble ourselves, we need to be to realize that if we are worshipping Allah subhanaw taala. At this moment, it is because Allah subhanaw taala has given us the gift of worshipping him at this moment. And we need to be very, very careful, because this is a gift that can be taken away. And if we feel

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arrogant, and we look down on others, you know, at any moment, this can be taken from us. And we know that the heart is, you know, comes from the root, which, which means to turn, called with the word itself, comes from the same root as to turn your lips. So the idea here is that the heart is something that turns and it can turn overnight, it can turn we're told by the prophet so I send them that someone can wake up in the morning as a believer, and by the evening they're a disbeliever. And similarly, someone can wake up in the morning as a disbeliever. And by the, by the evening be a believer that the heart is something that turns and that's why the profits of the lie seldom used to

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make the everyday yarmulke live and Kolb said Bitcoin Lubin Allah denecke alternative hearts keep our hearts firm, on your deen on your on your path. This is something we should never ever take for granted. And this is something that we should never think that it's because of me. It's because I'm something great. It's because I'm better than other people. Once I do that, the moment that I start to become self satisfied, or I start to look down on other people who who aren't given this same gift, that that's the moment when it can be taken away from me. And shala We'll take a short break. And when we return, we'll continue talking about this trap of arrogance that comes on the path of

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Allah subhanaw taala

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Salam Alaikum This is yes. And you're listening to serenity streaming live on one legacy radio. We're speaking today about a dangerous trap which a lot of us may fall into without even realizing it. And it's a trap that happens actually to the righteous it happens to those people who are seeking the path to Allah subhanaw taala and who are trying to rectify themselves and trying to become more quote unquote, religious. And that's the trap of self righteousness. It's the it's the holier than thou type of attitude that we might end up falling into. And I think that the reason why

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This happens, there's a couple reasons why this can happen. One is that we, it comes from, perhaps, a lack of understanding of why it is that for example, when you first you know, kind of wake up, it's, it's an awakening that happens when you when you first start to really realize, okay, I'm going to change my life I'm going to, I'm going to, you know, I'm going to focus my life on becoming a better Muslim. And this is a beautiful time. And this is actually something that even will claim Rahim Allah talked about, in this is the process of awakening, that when awakening happens, it's kind of like you, you someone who lived in a cave all their life, and never realized that there was

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a world outside of the cave, and then suddenly, something will happen. And it'll wake them up and, and they'll step outside of the cave and look outside and realize, whoa, like, this is actually the world. And look, there's a sky and there's clouds. And there's, and this is, it's this feeling of, of getting to that point in your life, where you, you make a shift you you wake up, you know, it's that it's that point where you, you start to leave behind, you know, your old ways, and you and you really start to focus on becoming a better Muslim. That part and this actually happens for for reverts. But it also happens for people who are born Muslim, that they get to a point in their life,

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where Islam is not just, you know, something written on their passport, it's not just the religion of their parents, but it's something that you personally decide to own, and you decide to live your life focused on making, you know, really building that identity. So that point is a very, it's a very powerful, you know, sort of experience in one's life. And it will claim describes Rahim Allah, this, this part of the path to Allah subhanaw taala as being extremely powerful, and when you are in that state of awakening, you're actually able to do much, much more than someone who is not at that point in the path to Allah. So at the very beginning, you know, that they sometimes call it I don't

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know, the con convert slash reverts zeal. And it happens again, it happens to, it happens to someone born Muslim to at, at some point in their life, when they, when they're, you know, just at that, at that point of awakening. And, and when you're in that state, it becomes much, much easier to worship a lot in at a certain high, high level, it becomes easier than it than it is when you're not in that state. And so, when you first you know, enter into this into this awakening, whether it's you just converted or you just you know, are turning your life around and really focusing on on making yourself better. And being a better Muslim, you're able to maybe, you know, you put on hijab, you're

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you're praying, you know, praying at night, you're going to the masjid, you're really, really, you know, your high, it's what you would call the spiritual high. And when you're in that point,

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there's a couple things that may make you look down on others during that point, and one of the things is not realizing that first of all, the spiritual high is by by definition, temporary, it isn't something I mean, we know that no state in this life is ever constant that the prophets I send them tells us that our Eman goes up and it goes down. And this is just a natural part of the dunya that our states change. And so if we don't realize this, one thing that might happen is we think that this is we're always going to be like this. And it's always going to be this easy to worship a lot at this level. And and so by thinking that we we may have the tendency to look down on others

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who are having more trouble, we might look at other people who aren't going to the masjid as much as we are, who aren't wearing Hijab who aren't doing these things. And we look down on them, thinking that my state is constant, and it's not. And the second problem that happens is that when we're in that state, the spiritual high state, the awakening state, we don't realize that this is actually a gift from Allah subhanaw taala. Again, this is not because I am in you know, by inherently better or something than someone else, but just that Allah subhanaw taala has given me a gift. And if I don't, if I take that gift for granted and I think for a moment that that gift is from me, that the reason

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that I'm able to worship Allah is because I am better I am inherently better than at that that is the point when it will most likely be taken away from you. So two things in terms of the the the idea of awakening is realizing that it's temporary and then realizing that it's not

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For me, and I think if we realize those two fundamental characteristics of this period of this state in the in the path to Allah subhanaw taala, this station is that we won't, one, we won't take it for granted. And two, we won't look down on others, when they are not in the same place. Now, the second issue that often happens when it comes to this sort of high this spiritual high or this awakening, is that after some time, it goes down, we, we, we feel we're very pumped, we're very high, we have that amen rush. And it might happen, you know, after like, a really great lecture, or it might happen, you know, right after you convert, or it might happen right after you start wearing hijab,

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whatever it is. And then over time, you know, a week will go by a month will go by, and then slowly, you know, it starts to dip it goes down. Now here is a very, very important part of this path. If you don't realize that this dip this, this, this, this down, little sort of this, this dip that comes after a high, if you don't realize that that's actually natural, and that's part of the path. This is where you might lose hope. And this is a problem that happens with a lot of us is that we felt, you know, we feel this, Hi, we're doing all these things. And unfortunately, maybe while we're doing them, we think they're from ourselves. And then once we're no longer able to keep that up, we

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become very, very disappointed with ourselves. And as a result, we might just give up completely. Now this is the this is a trap, because we didn't realize that with every high there's also a low and the prophets I send them explains that this will happen that we will have ups and downs in our faith and in our Deen. But as long as our lows are still according to the Sunnah of the prophets I send them then we're good. So the idea here is don't when you when you do have that dip, when you do have that, that low in your faith or in your Eman in your practice, don't ever lose hope don't ever think, okay, that's because I'm a failure, or I just can't do this. And, and, and that all of those

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things are actually signs that you thought from the beginning it was from you. And so now that you are not able to maintain it, you feel disappointed in yourself. When the truth is, it was never from you, it was a gift from Allah subhanaw taala. And in fact, that this dip is natural, and when we get to that dip, we need to just keep going, we need to keep going, even if it's harder, and it will be harder, it will no longer be as easy to keep praying on time and keep going to the masjid and keep the hijab on it's it's going to get to a point where it's more of a struggle, but that is natural, and that is part of the path. And so the main thing we have to realize is that you know, plan for

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this if you expect that this is part of the path to Allah subhanaw taala you won't lose hope when that happens when that dip happens. And, and and again, it will also knowing that that comes and knowing that that's part of it will make you not look down on those, you know, who don't have what you have when you are in your high knowing that you too will go up and down. And so, you know, realizing these things are part of you know, the whole process of you know, seeking the path to Allah subhanaw taala now what I want to do is inshallah encourage you to write in your comments, your questions in the chat box. I know a lot of us have experiences with this. If we've you know,

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we've we've either in ourselves or in others we deal with these struggles, we're all on the same path. We're all struggling to try to better ourselves and get closer to Allah subhanaw taala and these ups and downs are part of every human beings path. So inshallah I'm going to take a short break and when we return, we'll look at the chalk talks

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Assalamu alaikum. This is Yasmin majah heads and you're listening to serenity streaming live on one legacy radio. So we've opened the chat box right now and we want to hear from you. Questions, comments, reflections on this issue of how do we avoid this trap? That happens unfortunately, on the path to Allah subhanaw taala when a person first starts to become more, you know, into the deen become more religious. This, you know this possible tendency to become sort of arrogant

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Or look down on other people who might not have been given the same gift of ease in religion. And you know, in talking about this, we want, we want to have a balanced approach, you know, we want to talk about having, not losing hope, you know, and this is a really big message. Know that shaitan wants you and the way that he'll get you is through despair, he'll make you despair in yourself, he'll make you despair in the mercy of Allah subhanaw taala by telling you, you know, can't you You messed up, you're not as good as you used to be. So just give up. And that's completely from shaitan we should know that as human beings, we never should have expected that we would be perfect. We

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never should expect that we'll never fall we'll never dip our amen will always be at that high. That's completely against, you know, the very laws of the dunya that nothing is stable, nothing stays still, that the state of a human being is never constant. And so we should never give up when we have those dips, knowing that everything goes through seasons and our faith also goes through seasons are amen goes through seasons. And when we get to the season, that's cold and the season of winter, we shouldn't lose hope we need to keep going. This is the point where shaitan tries to get you, you know, you messed up. So just give up and never ever let him win. Because you're messing up

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can actually be a means to get closer to Allah subhanaw taala through through humility, and know that humility is a path to Allah subhanaw taala realizing that you're not perfect, realizing that you're you need Allah subhanaw taala that you cannot get to Allah subhanaw taala without Allah subhana wa tada that Allah subhanaw taala is the only one who can guide and that any kind of action any kind of worship is a gift from him. And it is a you know, even the word for guidance in the Quran, it hidayah also has the word for gift, it is a gift. And so when you mess up, it's when you should realize how much you need Allah subhanaw taala turned to Allah subhanaw taala in humility and

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in Toba and that will actually polish your heart in a way that will actually possibly make you closer to Allah subhanaw taala than the person who might feel self satisfied in their worship. So it's very important to not lose hope. And and at the same time, you know, not not become arrogant and not become, you know, think that what you're doing means that you're better than others. So, someone has asked Okay, on the chat box, please discuss as deeds slash worship are from Allah for us. Do low points constitute punishment from Allah subhanaw taala for our internal faults, and I have a friend who experiences despair For this reason, this is a really good question. So that the

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question is asking that when I do have a low point in my Deen or in my worship, is this because Allah subhanaw taala is punishing me or Allah Spano tala is displeased with me. And it actually may be the other way around, and I'm going to explain why it may be that this low, could actually be a means for you to be purified. And I'll explain why. If while I'm worshiping Allah subhanaw taala I think that my worship is because of me. If I think that I am something great, then this is the worst one of the worst diseases of the heart, you know, self admiration, or arrogance. And I and as a result, I look down on other people that if I'm in this state, what would be the cure for this state

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for this disease? Well, sometimes the cure for this disease is that that worship that I thought was from me, is taken away. So say, I had the ability to wake up at night and pray PM, and I start to become sort of self you know, I become I start to admire my own deeds, to admire myself and think that this is from me, and then look on others look down on others who don't have this same ability. So now I'm, I have actually a disease in my heart, even though I'm doing good deeds, my heart is diseased. And so the cure in this case, would be maybe that I'm no longer able to wake up for him. So that is taken away from me. He may seem that this is a punishment, but in fact, that by being

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taken away from me, I might realize that it was never from me to begin with. And as a result, it will humble me, it will make me humble towards other people who you know, you know, who who don't have that ability, and towards Allah subhanaw taala. And, and therefore, I've now actually been purified, and I've been my arrogance has been replaced with humility. And so in that sense, I've actually been purified and that's actually a gift. And once I've been purified of that decision,

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Have thinking that this worship was from me, or once I've been purified of that arrogance, then maybe Allah subhanaw taala will give it back to me. But this time when I'm giving it back, and given that gift of worship back, I won't, I will no longer think that it's from myself, I will no longer be arrogant, but rather will be a very grateful servant to Allah subhanaw taala, because it's been given back to me. So in this way, I've actually been purified by it being taken away from me. So I would say that, you know, it doesn't need to be a punishment, but rather, rather, it could be a purifier.

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So, one person says, to avoid arrogance, I think we should try and be thankful to Allah for guiding us every night before we sleep. And we should seek refuge in a law from all forms of pride and arrogance. I think that's absolutely right. It's a con, the concept of sugar, the concept of gratitude, we should be grateful for all the gifts that Allah subhanaw taala gives us. And it's interesting because a person might be grateful, you know, for their sight and for their hearing, and for their money, their wealth, their you know, their family. But But and this is the trap, they might not be grateful for their Deen, they might not be grateful for their so called religiosity.

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And in fact, that's the greatest gift. Unfortunately, we may feel that our money and our children and our, you know, our health, that these are gifts from Allah subhanaw taala, but my good deeds are me, that's from me, that's because I'm a good person. And so this is, you know, the most dangerous idea, this is the most dangerous deception. So, yes, we need to thank Allah subhanaw taala and be grateful for all of his gifts, first and foremost, for the fact that I say that ilaha illa, Allah, the fact that I say, and I'm able to bear witness in the in, you know, bear witness to the one, the oneness of God, and his and, and that Mohammed Salah, send them as His Messenger, that, in fact, is

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the greatest gift I have. And that's what I should be thanking Allah subhanaw taala for the most, rather than thinking that it's because I'm, you know, I'm just something great, I'm just holy. And so that's why I have it. And another person says, but there's something we should be wary of, and this was something that prophets, I send them feared for us, he said, If you did not sin, I would have feared for you what is greater, and that is a job of self admiration. Absolutely. This, this is exactly the concept that we're talking about today. And, and it's the idea that so much of we always, we always look at, you know, deeds, and we don't realize that sometimes there might be a

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good deed that makes a person arrogant, and in that case, that deed itself is worse for them than a bad deed which makes the person humble and repent to Allah subhanaw taala. So, ultimately, the goal here is not

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you know, is is not to, to do the good deeds, and then be pleased with them. But rather, the goal is to realize, Allah subhanaw taala is the goal. And to realize that our deeds are a means yes, one means to get to Allah subhanho data. But no matter what our deeds are, no person will enter Jenna, by the deeds alone, that we only will enter Jenna by the mercy of Allah subhanaw taala. And this is the case even for the Most Holy human being ever to walk the earth. And so who do we think we are? Basically, you know, you know, one of the most beautiful examples I've heard is an example that Jose le Rahim Allah gave in, in kind of a cure for us when we start to become pleased with our, with our

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worship. And that is an example of a great king. So if you imagine there's a great king, and there's all these people who are trying to gain entrance to the, you know, to the king, and they're standing outside of his door, and each person is holding some sort of offering for the king. And you can imagine that you're standing there, and you're holding an offering, along with other people, but the other people who are standing with you are, you know, like princes and visitors and really like people with high high statuses, with, you know, with the king, and you're standing there holding, suppose you're standing there holding a loaf of bread, and you're going to offer this loaf of bread

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to the king. But imagine that you're standing with other people who are holding jewels, who are holding, you know, like, like heaps of gold and silver. Now, this example, is to illustrate the idea that no matter what my worship is, no matter what I offer, Allah subhanaw taala does it compare to the worship of the prophets? does it compare to the worship of the angels who spend from the beginning of time till the end of time just worshiping God? So who am I to be pleased with myself and you know, it's

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Say I stood up and I prayed all night and I become very pleased with myself, that would be very silly. Because the idea is I'm that person standing with a loaf of bread. And other people around me who are seeking entrance to this same King have given him something so much greater. And you know, we're standing with you know, we're we have angels who we you know, we're told in one Hadeeth there are angels that stand from the beginning of time until the end of time just Institute and and in prostration and other angels who stand from the beginning of time until the end of time Justin record. And when they're, you know, when when the end of time comes, and they say, we haven't

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worshipped you enough. And that's the idea there is no possible way no matter what we do, to have our worship be sufficient. So we should never be, you know, satisfied, self satisfied or, or pleased with our worship, but rather, imagine that that King comes down opens, you know, that King comes, opens the door. And out of all the people standing there, he accepts your loaf of bread, what would you feel? At that point, you are going to feel completely grateful and humbled and undeserving. And that is exactly how we should feel when we offer our worship to Allah subhanaw taala. Of course, it's not sufficient, but because Allah subhanaw taala is the Most Merciful. And Allah subhanaw taala

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is the one who mens he mends our deficiencies in our worship. And because he's the most generous he accepts from us. And if he does accept from us, this is not something that should make us arrogant. This is something that should make us extremely humbled, and extremely grateful.

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So another comment says,

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sometimes it's hard to simply pray five times a day, millions of Muslims are able to do so every day, how can we make sure we never miss a part of the prayer?

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Again, you know, the idea of being able or being given the gift of a bad or being given the gift of worship. I think that one of the things that keeps us from being able to worship Allah subhanho wa Taala is our sins. And so for example, suppose that I'm not able to wake up for fetchit regularly, so regularly, I mean, it's not like I missed it one time, but I'm really just, I keep missing fetchit This should be a sign for me that may be there are things that I am doing during the day, that are displeasing to Allah subhanaw taala. And as a result of my sins, I am not given the privilege to stand up and pray to him at federa time. So what the first thing we should look at if

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we're not able to pray, or if we're not if we're having trouble, I'm sorry, having trouble keeping up with our prayers. The first thing we should look at is our own sins. And and the first line of action basically should be to make Toba is to fod is to ask Allah subhanaw taala to forgive us for our sins, examine what it is that we're doing that could be displeasing to Allah, and try to abandon it, try to purify ourselves of our sins. And when we do that, the more we can try to purify ourselves and struggle in that path because it's a constant struggle. We're never going to be perfect, we are not angels. But if we if we struggle in that path of trying to purify ourselves of

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our sins, then the path to Allah subhanaw taala will become easier, and worship will become easier Allah will give you the ability to worship Him and it will be easier for you The more you purify yourself of your sins. So if you're having trouble you know, with the five daily prayers, it definitely means that we need to we need to make us default we need to look at what actions we're doing that are displeasing Allah subhanaw taala and try to change them and try to seek forgiveness for them. According Holly had was definitely welcome in number four on Rahim We ask Allah subhanaw taala to make the path to him easy and to protect us from ever being self satisfied or looking down

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on others. Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh