Empowerment of the Ummah

Yasmin Mogahed


Channel: Yasmin Mogahed

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Santa Monica

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out of la mina shaytani r rajim Bismillah R Rahman r Rahim Salatu was Salam ala rasulillah Allah Allah He was savage mine. Rubbish rocky surgery where Siddeley Omri, Allah Allah Akbar melissani of cocconi.

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The title of this talk is about empowerment.

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But to talk about empowerment, we need to define the word empowerment, what does it mean to empower

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to say that someone is empowered, it literally means that they are being given power.

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So, a person who is empowered is a person who has or owns power,

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but in order to have anything you have to go back to its source, you have to be able to go back to the source of that which you seek, and in this case, what is the source of power?

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And that is the that is the heart of this question. Where do we find empowerment? The problem is that we live in a society where we seek power in the wrong places.

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We know that there is only one source of power, there is only one source of power, and that is alcovy. Allah subhanaw taala. One of his attributes is the most powerful alpha we are the source of all power. We know there is a statement that the Prophet sallallahu alayhi wa sallam tells us is a treasure from the treasures of jedna. And that statement is last hola while our home water illa Billah. Now this statement you've probably heard many times, you know, you can just sit and reflect on this statement alone for a very long time. And you won't get to the depth of this statement. The statement means roughly translated left Hola Hola. Hola means that there is no change in state law

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Hola. There is no change in state while a coma and there is no power 11 law except by a law.

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That still sounds very conceptual. Oh, yes, I know a law is the most powerful.

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But what does that mean in my everyday life? What does it mean to recognize that Allah is the only source of power? What it means is that you seek the only source of power to give you power. And when you do that, nobody can oppress you.

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Nobody can overpower you if the source of your power is infinite power.

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So now you're thinking, does that mean that I'm going to control the world? no true power? true power is when your source is Allah subhanaw taala for everything. Now, what does that mean specifically?

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You know, there's a statement and I think that is summarizes this whole concept in such a beautiful and profound way. One of the companions of Rasulullah sallallahu alayhi wa sallam, in his dour when he was bringing Islam when he was teaching the people. He said to them a very powerful and yet simple statement. He said, I have come to free you from the slavery to the slave and bring you to the slavery of the lord of the slave. That is the essence of toe heat. Because so he when I tell you what is when I asked you what is towhead? Many people will answer the question with, it's to say la ilaha illAllah. This is true. But though he is more than just a statement of the tongue to head yes,

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it is a statement of the heart. But the head is also an entire worldview. It's the way in which we see the world. It's the way in which we interact with the world. It's to recognize that there is only one source of everything. There's only one judge. There's only one source of ultimate power. There's only one source of ultimate hope. There's only one source of ultimate

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Salvation, and help, and safety and protection, it's to go back to that one source, it is to have that singular focus. And when you have that singular focus, then everything else falls into place. You know, there's this concept,

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which I mean, it used to be very popular when I was younger. It's this, it's this picture called the magic eye. And I don't know if any of you even know what what it is. But basically, you can go home and you can Google it, or you can google it on your phone after the lecture, not right now.

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But basically, it's a picture. And when you first look at this picture, it just looks like chaos, it just looks like a bunch of random shapes.

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But there's actually a picture hidden within that chaos. And the only way to really see that picture is you take that, you know, chaos, and you bring it very, very close to your face. And then you have to find a singular point in the center of the picture. And you have to focus completely 100% on that singular point. And slowly, very slowly move the picture away from your face. And as you do that, this image actually just pops up. So this picture that just looked like chaos, actually just clearly pops up. But here's what's very interesting. If even for a split second, you take your eyes off of that singular point, the picture is lost, you can't see it anymore. And it is such it's such an

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interesting example. Because it's literally a you know, a split second you see the picture. As soon as you move your eyes away from that singular point, you lose the picture.

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Now, what does that have to do with towhead This is the way this world is that everything in this world, all of our problems, all of our struggles, the understanding of our religion, the way we interact, the way we react, is all about keeping a singular focus. And that singular focus is a law that is so hate, when you keep that focus on a law in terms of your ultimate guidance and hope and fear and protection, then everything else in your life starts to make sense, everything else in your life gets taken care of it falls into place. The Prophet sallallahu wasallam teaches us this concept in a very deep Hadith, in which he says that there are two types of people or in other words, there

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are two types of focuses there are two kinds are two categories of ultimate concern.

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A car him you know, the acabado him as your greatest and deepest concern. He says that there are two there are two categories, there are the people who make their ultimate concern this life.

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And he says that there are consequences to that. And then there are people who make their ultimate concern the next life and there are three consequences to that. And he says that the consequences of making this life your primary concern three things first, he says Jalan folk Robaina na, that poverty is put between your eyes.

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Poverty is put between your eyes. See, this is the thing about running after dunya. When you run after dunya you're never satisfied,

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you will never have enough to satiate you, and you will always feel poor. This is poverty. You know, if I were to take something and hang it between my eyes, would I ever be able to escape it? I would see nothing but that thing that's hanging between my eyes, right? And so when poverty is put between your eyes, that's all you see, you only see what you don't have.

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No matter how much you have. You only see what you don't have. And no matter how much you have, it's never enough. This is a consequence of making this life your primary concern of making it your focal point.

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And then second, he says

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that this person's matters become scattered fodder. nacala hula hoop camera. This is a very interesting concept. Have you ever felt in your life that no matter what you do is never enough. You know, you're trying to please this person and this person is on please. You're trying to take care of this problem. And then another problem, you know, comes

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And it's just this constant feeling of being scattered, that your matters are scattered, your relationships are scattered, your feelings are scattered, you feel scattered inside your life is scattered. This is also a consequence of making this life, your primary concern that you become scattered, your matters become scattered.

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And then finally, he says

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that he will not get anything of this life except what was written for him anyways. So when you make this life, your primary concern, all you end up doing is losing this life and the next, and you don't get any more than what is written for you anyway.

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And then he talks about the second group of people, those people who make the hereafter their primary concern. And he says there are three consequences to that as your focal point.

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First is that person is given contentment in the hearts. You see, the opposite of poverty between the eyes is contentment. You know, we look at people in the news, we look at the people all over the world, the people who are suffering, the people who don't have homes, the people who don't have the safety that we have the people who don't have the security that we have.

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And yet those people may have more contentment than we do in our mansions. See, we have all of our our fancy things, we have our fancy cars and our fancy houses and our fancy clothes. But we are still not happy, we are still not content. You know why? Because when poverty is put between your eyes, you will never escape it, you always feel poor. And when you get the new car, you're waiting to trade it in for the new model, you get your new phone and you're waiting for when is the next you know, next one gonna come to upgrade you always you it's this constant feeling of not having enough of not being satisfied.

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You know, I have this friend. And when I met her, you know, like the experience of meeting her. Just, it really shook me. And the reason was that she really taught me some very profound lessons.

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This is a woman whose children, she has a child. And when her child was about three years old, this her daughter, you know, she got a call from the school and the school told her, you know, your daughter just suddenly stopped talking. And we don't know what's wrong. She's just not talking. And you know, for the rest of the day, she wasn't talking, you know, she didn't really understand what was happening. And then she took her to the doctor. And what she found out from the doctor is that this Daughter of hers has this rare genetic disease called MPs.

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In which the what will happen to her daughter, and this is what she's told, what will happen to her daughter is that

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she will slowly lose all of her faculties slowly lose all of her faculties until she dies. And they told her don't expect her to live till she's a teenager.

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But in the meantime, she will lose the ability to walk, the ability to eat the ability to, to to, to stand and even the ability to swallow.

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Now, this is what this mother is finding out. But then she has another daughter.

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And around the same age, her second daughter also stops talking and starts showing similar symptoms. She takes her to the doctor, and the doctor told her that your daughter second daughter has the same genetic disorder.

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So now this woman has two children with this disorder.

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And then she has a third child.

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And this child also has MPs.

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She has had three children in a row, all of them with MPs. And then she has a fourth child, and that child gets severe autism.

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severe autism and when I say severe autism, I'm talking about she can't figure out how to keep him from running across out the house and across the street. And no matter how many locks she puts on the door, you know, Subhan Allah, Allah takes some and give some he's a genius with regards to cracking the code of these locks that she puts on the door. And he will this and he'll just run away. This is this woman's life. But what really amazed me about this woman is that when I visited her, she is like, well, when you meet this woman, she's

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always smiling. She's always smiling. And she says to me, this was her quote, she says, I'm drowning in gratitude.

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Now, me watching this woman in

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living a life, I can't even wrap my mind around, right? I mean, people have one child with MPs, and they can't handle it to children, her children can't even swallow their own saliva. And, you know, Subhanallah I, I never thought that I was supposed to be saying Alhamdulillah every time I swallowed my saliva, because you can't swallow your saliva you choke on it.

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And so she's constantly actually having to suction them so that they don't choke, because they can't even swallow.

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And she is saying, I'm drowning in gratitude.

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So when I look at her, I say there's something that Allah subhanaw taala has given her that he hasn't given to these celebrities who are killing themselves, even though they have that power, right. And they have that money. And they have, they have what we look at and say, Wow.

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And and that is.

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And so this is what's so profound about this, this concept.

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This is empowerment, this is the fact that no matter what comes your way, you seek a power that has no end and nothing can overpower you. Even these types of hardships, even these kinds of things that would just completely destroy us. And yet, not only is she surviving, but she's thriving. She's telling me that she's drowning in gratitude. That is the power that comes when your power is Allah.

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And so the prophets, I send them saying in this Hadith, that when the Hereafter is your primary concern, contentment is put in your heart, and contentment is the greatest gift, one of the greatest gifts of this life. Because no matter what comes your way, inside, you're at peace. It's like that beautiful, profound statement. What can my enemies do to me?

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When my paradise is in my heart, what can they do to me? Well, they can try to imprison me. And for that, if they imprison me, then it's a retreat with my Lord. And if they can exile me, if they exile me, it's a chance for me to travel through the lens.

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And if they kill me, then it's a chance for me to be a martyr.

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And see, this is the power of someone whose power is unending. This is the power of a person have to hate. You can't overpower them. You can't oppress them, no matter what you do to them. It will always be good for them. This is the power of belief. This is the power of Amen. The prophets. I seldom said ajiboye new unwritten Walkman, that the matters of a believer are strange. You know, people ask this question, why do bad, bad things happen to good people?

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And some people because they can't answer this question. They actually disbelieve in God altogether. Just because of this question. You know what the answer to this question is?

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Bad things never happen to good people.

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That's the answer. Bad things never happen to good people.

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The problem is our definition of good and bad. Our definition of good and bad is just based on dunya. Our definition of good and bad is just materialistic. It's superficial. Somebody lost some money, something bad happened to them. Somebody lost their promotion, something bad happened to them. Somebody got money, something good happened to them. No, this is not the definition of good and bad.

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The definition of good and bad is actually very simple. Anything that brings us closer to a law is good. Anything that brings us closer to our purpose is good for us. And anything that takes us away from Allah and takes us away from our purpose is bad for us. And it does not matter in what form that comes. See, that's the way you know, that's the way it works with a doctor right? When a doctor is curing the patient.

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I mean, have you ever gone to the doctor when you're really really sick? And the treatment did not involve any pain? Has that ever happened? Think about it. When you go to the doctor and you're sick

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Have you ever had a painless, absolutely painless treatment? Is there such thing as a painless surgery as a painless shot? By its very definition, it involves pain. The treatment involves pain, the surgery involves being cut open.

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But this is the treatment. So my question to you this person who got the shot, this person who had the surgery and got cut open, did something bad happened to them or something good, if it cured them?

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If it cured him, was it good? Or was it bad? Someone comes to the doctor and finds out that they have a tumor, and it's malignant, it's cancerous. And then they go and they have a surgery? And yes, they have to get cut open. And yes, they are going to go through pain. But because of that surgery, they are cured. So would you say that something good happened or something bad happened?

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It was good. But no, someone might say, but no, they had to go through some pain. This, this is the understanding of someone who doesn't fully see the whole picture. See a child, when you go and you take a child to the doctor, and they have to get their shots, they're very angry. They're not happy with the doctor, and they're not happy with you.

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But that's because why because the child doesn't understand what's happening. All the child sees is the needle.

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All the child sees is that you know what's going to cut them open. If they were to have a surgery, they don't understand that this process that they are going through is actually for their own good, and that it's part of their healing, and that it's part of their cure.

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And so bad things never happened to good people. The prophets I send them says agile only on remote means that the matters of a believer are strange. Why? Unruh colo hide everything, about everything of their matters are good.

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Everything is good for him of for the believer. And he specifies. And he says that this is only the case for a believer. This is only the case for a believer that if you're a believer that things don't happen to you. Because even what appears to be bad from the outside is actually good for you.

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Now our problem is why we struggle with the question of hardship and the struggle of pain. And this and the question of suffering is because we are too narrow in our understanding, and we are too superficial in our definitions. We see only this life, we see only dunya.

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And we think that a person who is being tried in this life, that's not fair. And why is this person being given? Because dunya is not the definition of good and bad. It is not actually real. Allah subhanaw taala reminds us again and again and again, that all of this stuff is like Monopoly money.

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How many people played Monopoly?

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Like two people? Okay, um,

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you know, when you're playing Monopoly, and the point of the game is to just own stuff and get a lot of money. And when you're playing Monopoly, and suppose you're the richest person in the game, right? You just made, you know, millions of dollars. Okay, great, right? It's really great. You feel nice. While you're playing for like 10 minutes. But then Have you ever tried taking your Monopoly money and buying a house? Like a real house?

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You go, and you go to the builder and say, Actually, I got the money. Here it is. I mean, they're gonna look at you, like, You're crazy. And the reason is, that this has no value, that the that this money that you have in your hands has no value in the real world. And that's, that's what dunya is the things of dunya like Monopoly money, we run after it. And we, you know, we get kind of happy when we get it, right. Human, you know, praise, for example, when someone comes and praises you. And someone comes and praises you. It's like Monopoly money. And there are people who don't see through that, and they're trying to collect that Monopoly money. They do things because they want more

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praise. But it's an illusion, because what are you going to do with that praise? You know, the whole problem of rehab, the problem of showing off in worship, it's really a problem in understanding because what you're doing is you're running after this Monopoly money, you're running after people to say you're religious or you're knowledgeable or or whatever, or you're so generous, but then what what can you do

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do with that phrase? What can you do with what people think of you? Absolutely nothing. It has no value, it has no actual value.

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Our problem is that we put value to things that have no value.

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When you make

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the hereafter your primary concern

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Allah puts contentment in your heart. And the second consequence is Gemma, Allah hola hombre, that your matters become joined. Remember the example I gave of the magic eye, when you have that proper focus a lot takes care of your matters, a lot takes care of your life of your dunya. And then finally, this dunya will come running to you. Even if it hates to

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it as we would say, in Egypt, it was a banana. I don't think I have any Egyptians in the audience. But basically, whether it likes to or not, the dunya will come to you.

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This is because you've made your you have the proper focus.

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What are the consequences of tawheed in our everyday life?

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See, the problem is that we seek power in things which are powerless. For example, when you seek power, or you seek protection, in something that is weak, what happens to you

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take an example of the you know, the old fairy tale or the fairy tale, we, you know, we heard growing up of the three little pigs, right? The three little pigs, they all build houses, and each of them use something different to build their house. The first one built their house with sticks, or I think no straw, something very weak. And the second maybe sticks. And then the third built their house with bricks. And then what happens is, you know, they're all in their house. And then what comes along is the big bad wolf. Right? The Big Bad Wolf comes and he blows on each of the houses. What's that about? Well, we live in a in we live in a world where we're going to face

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storms, we're going to face hardships, we're going to face tests. That's a fact. That's just the nature of this life. But the question is, what is your protection when you face those storms, so when the wolf came and blows on the first house, he completely knocks it down. Because it was weak, it was a weak protection. And the second one, it was the one made of sticks, again, a weak protection. And it was only the one made of brick that he couldn't blow down.

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Here's the thing we have so many enemies, we have so many distractions, we have so many hardships that we have to face and struggles and and and and we have to we have to strive

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shaitan is going to come at us from the outside. We have enemies you know in the in the in the jinn and the ins and then we have our enemy inside. And the only real protection from all of those enemies is that solid house and that's only Allah subhanaw taala

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there's an area in suits an anchor booth, in which Allah gives us a parable. You know, one of the

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a very good teacher uses examples because you know, examples stick in your mind. And Allah subhanaw taala, of course, is the best teacher. He gives us examples. And in this example, he says that the one who takes a protector other than a law is like the parable of a spider.

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Because the spider makes a house, but the weakest of houses is the house of the spider. When you think about like a spider web, how easy is it to destroy a spider web? I mean, you just blow on it. A kid can blow on it. Allah gives us the parable that anytime you or me take a protector other than Allah. It's we're like that spider taking that weak house.

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How else does this tow hate play in our life?

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We have something called self worth.

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Where do we seek our self worth?

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You know what makes me feel good about myself? What makes me feel worthy. Here is the problem we take other than Allah in order to give us our self worth.

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We live in a society for people

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Example, that teaches women, that their worth is based on how they look. It's based on how thin they are, how light skinned they are depending where you live in the world,

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depending on how attractive they are, and girls internalize this idea that their worth is literally based on how they look

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and how attractive they can be. When you make a last panel to Allah, your source of self worth, you have a completely different definition of what makes you worthy. Allah subhanaw taala says in a chromosome en de la IE a token. So Allah tells us who of us is the most honored. He says the most honored of you, in the eyes of Allah is the one who has the most taqwa.

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So here Allah has given us a definition of worth, that has nothing to do with society's definition. He gives us a definition that is based on piety based on our our soul, on the condition of our hearts.

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When we have to hate in our life, it it liberates us from this concept of having our self worth defined by society defined by how much money we make, what kind of degree we hold, you know that we have this trend in our community, that people are sort of,

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I mean, they're sort of judged based on you know, what kind of degree they might have, what kind of career they have, right? So for example, if you want to go and you're looking for a spouse, for your, for your son or your daughter, if you guys ever looked at the matrimonial section of some of these, like magazines, it'll be like,

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you know, Gora doctor, looking for gaudy doctor, it's like white skinned, or light skinned doctor or MD, looking for another light skinned MD. Now this ad, which is actually written real, it tells us a lot about where we put our worth, one for the girl, you know, a lot of it has to do with how light skinned she is how she looks, you know, it's, it's, it's her external.

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And for the man, it has to do with how much money he can make, if he is an MD or not. And so this this is this is a type of this is a type of slavery. This is this is what the companion is talking about. He's saying, I've come to free you from the slavery to the slave and bring you to the slavery of the lord of the slave. Anytime we make our definition of success, our definition of worth, our definition of, of, of failure, anything other than a law, we are slaves, we become weak. As Allah tells us in Surah Al Hajj, there is this really powerful area in sort of that Hajj,

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in which Allah gives us another metaphor, another example for us to pay attention to. And in fact, the beginning of the area, he says, pay attention to this, this is an example that Allah is making. So pay attention. So imagine, it's like, you know, someone standing up here, and before they say anything, they say, Okay, everybody, pay attention.

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So now everyone who was falling asleep, just got up, right. So now you are paying attention what Allah says, pay attention to this. And he gives a very profound example, he says, that those who you call on other than Allah cannot even make the wing of a fly. Even if they all came together to work on this project. Even if they all joined together for that purpose, they could not make even the wings of a fly. And then if that fly were to come and snatch something from them, they couldn't even get it back.

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Why is this so powerful? Because when we seek other than Allah, when we seek the creation, for help over the Creator, when we seek the creation for our protection over the Creator, we're seeking something that can't even make the wing of a fly. And then finally, the end of the ayah in three words, is like mind blowing, epiphany, mind blowing lightbulb moment.

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Do I do it for volleyball? Well, Mark lube, Allah says. Now,

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the reason why this is extremely personal to me is because this these three words are basically for me.

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The probably the most profound

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light bulb moment I've ever had was this realization, and most of my book is based on this realization. Though I for volleyball, no clue, what it means is

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is the one who seeks and that which they seek.

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Weak is the one who seeks and that which they seek. What does that mean?

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In, in so many words, what it means is

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our problem is the reason why we are weak, the reason why we are not empowered, the reason why we don't have power, emotional psychological, a physical, every kind of, you know, spiritual power. The reason why we are weak is because we seek other things which are weak, we what we seek is not strong. And so we are not strong.

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We put our hope in things which are temporary. And so when they go away, we become broken, we put our dependence on things which go away, which are weak, which cannot hold us which end up dying, or go or leaving, or we lose it. And so then we become weak. It's like a person who's climbing right there. They're rock climbing, and they have a harness, they have a rope that they're holding on to. But what if they don't have any rope, and instead they're holding on to a twig? What's going to happen to them. If they're climbing a cliff, and they're holding a twig, it doesn't take, you know, a student of physics to tell you that they're going to end up falling, because that twig is going to

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break because the twig cannot carry the weight of a human being.

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Is it the twigs fault?

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Is it the creations fault that they let you down? It's not the creation fault. It is the fact that you are seeking something from the creation that it was not made to give you when we seek and let's just clarify this.

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When we seek

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ultimate security, from anything of the creation, we will be insecure.

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When we seek protection from anything other than the the Creator, we will be unprotected. When we seek ultimate emotional fulfillment, ultimate emotional fulfillment, what do I mean? I mean that you go to somebody emotionally empty, and you tell them fill me make me happy? Make me okay.

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Of course, they're not going to be able to do it, because they're not created to be able to do that. You know, I was I found it very interesting when I was listening to the other lectures, and I was reflecting about the words that Allah uses when he talks about family, and he talks about your spouse.

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Because there is this concept of comfort that Allah says the test school or LA ha in order for you to find tranquility, and shut up, the Nasir was saying peace and tranquility in your spouse. This is real and it can be real. And you say in another lesson, Jonathan tells us Rob Ben, I have Milena min as wodgina with react and kurata ion,

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that you asked a lot to give you the gift of making your spouse's and your children, the coolness of the eyes. But I was reflecting on the fact that these words are very obviously

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there they're chosen very carefully, very wisely. Allah says peace and tranquility and coolness of the eyes. Now while all those three things are awesome,

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but are they necessary for our survival?

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You see, here is the problem. There is a difference between a need and a want. There is a difference between comfort and coolness of the eyes and air in the lungs and food and breathing. Now here's the problem when we go to the creation, whether it is our spouse, or our money, or our job or our careers, for a need for them to fill us and keep us alive and fill that emptiness. That's something that they cannot provide that can only be found in the Creator.

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That our survival and our salvation is only in the creator but there is

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pleasure and there is there is coolness of the eyes. And there is comfort and peace that can be found in the creation. And so this is the balance, we don't say that there is none of that in our religion, that relationship that that comfort can only happen in Salah. But what can only happen through your relationship with Allah is that empty place inside you that empty place inside you can only be filled with your relationship with Allah. And when that empty place is filled with your relationship with Allah, then and only then can you really enjoy your relationships with the creation.

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The kurata, if you see if a person is starving, they don't really care much if their eyes are cooled. Right? If you're starving, you haven't eaten for days, you're not going to care about the coolness in your eyes, you just need food. And so in fact, when we go to the creation, and we go with our starvation, right, you go to your friends, and you're starving, and you need them to fill you and feed you, right, you go to your spouse, and you need them to emotionally give you that that fill inside, or your career or your or your job, or your prestige or your status. We go to these things, but they are all weak, and they cannot fill us. And when we go to these things, which are by

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definition, weak, and by definition, temporary, and by definition, limited, we also become weak.

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And that's the profound lesson of these three words.

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If you really want to reach empowerment, you have to make sure that your ultimate source is something that is infinitely powerful, something that doesn't go to sleep, something that doesn't let you down something that doesn't die, something that you cannot lose, it cannot be your money, or your spouse or your children or these things which are temporary. And so we mix things around. We have to be a people of balance and a people a focus. On the one hand, we don't say that that relationships are not important or even that relationships cannot actually give us happiness and give us comfort. But on the other hand, our problem is that we seek something in the relationship

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with the creation that can only be found in the relationship with the Creator.

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When we come back to the proper source, only then can we find empowerment. It goes back to this powerful statement. I have come to free you from the slavery to the slave and bring you to the slavery of the lord of the slave. According Coney Heather was stuck for a lot Lee welcome in Nova funa Rahim subhanak Hello behind deck a shadow and La Ilaha Illa and a stock Furukawa a tubular Lake