A Secret Path To Happiness

Yasmin Mogahed


Channel: Yasmin Mogahed

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I would like to welcome Sally asmita Mujahid. With her unique brand of inspiration and thought provoking talks he has been with Jad has become one of the most sought after speakers in the Muslim world. After graduate graduating with a master's in Journalism and Mass Communications, she has pursued a career in writing. Yes mean worked as a writing instructor at the cardinal Stritch University and a contributor to the Huffington Post. She has a great success in her debut book, reclaim your heart, which was released to a critical acclaim. Currently, she is an instructor at the unmarketable Institute. Please help me in welcoming you start as minimal.

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I want to come

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on a regime Bismillah R Rahman r Rahim wa salatu salam ala rasulillah Elio savage mine,

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westerly Omri,

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Minister, any of Gokhale,

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I want to begin by apologizing, I'm a bit sick. But inshallah I know, I have enough of a voice to speak to you as of now.

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Pardon? No, no, I'm okay. I'll stand,

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I actually want to share just a couple things with you. Every time I get asked to speak at events like this, I try to leave the audience with essentially one message, one take home message. And if and I feel like if we can leave with that one take home message, then I will have felt that I accomplished my goal. And that take home messages this. A lot of times, especially before I come on the stage, you'll have many people who came before me, encouraging you to give an encouraging you to share and encouraging you to serve. And that's the purpose of these events is to encourage you to help others.

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And a lot of times the the focus in that is help others because they need your help help others because they are impoverished or they are going through difficult times. And that's all true. That's all true. But a lot of times the focus becomes help others because they need you. I'm actually going to stand up here and say something totally different. And that is this, I'm going to ask you to help others because you need them. Which is a bit strange, because

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we're talking about people in Syria, we're talking about people, you know, we're we ourselves here, we're comfortable, you know, we have amazing food, we aren't worrying about getting bombed, we are a bit worried about being detained. But that's a different issue. We aren't worried about being we're not worried about our overall physical safety.

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And yet, I am telling you that you need them. And that that's unusual. That's a strange thing to say. And I'll explain why I'm saying that. The reason why I'm saying that is when and this is the argument I want to make, just for the next few minutes that I have is that actually when you help another person, you're helping yourself. And that may seem strange, we may not have ever thought of it that way. But in fact, that's the truth, that when you help another person, the very first person who you're helping is yourself, and that helping that other person is a beautiful consequence of help and service. But essentially, you are helping yourself first and foremost. And I'm going to

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tell you why that's the case using two different methods, two different paradigms. So when I when I talk about this, I like to talk not only from an Islamic point of view, but even just simply from a secular psychology point of view. What what studies have found that study things like that look into things like happiness, things like well being things, when you know, there's a lot of studies nowadays that move away from this whole focus on abnormal psychology. Traditional psychology has been very focused on looking at a human being and thinking okay, this is what's wrong with the human being and here are the symptoms and here are the treatments. But there's a new wave of psychology,

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called positive psychology. And positive psychology focuses is its focus is a little different. It's focuses more on how can we help human beings, how can we study what what will help increase well being? This is the wave of psychology that studies things like happiness, how do you increase happiness? How can I live a higher quality of life?

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Have a greater well being. And in this, in this research, what they found is one of the things that they found is that, when it comes to happiness, happiness is one of those things, we tend to think that if I can just, if I can just achieve x, y, z, then I will be happy. If I could just get that job, or if I could just, you know, get that raise, or that house or whatever it happens to be that we believe will give us that happiness. We think that happiness is something that once I receive this, this thing, then I will be happy. But what they found, interestingly enough, in research is that when people have events in their life, which they consider very positive, they win the lottery,

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you know, they get a new job, something that they really, really want, that what happens to their happiness is there's only a temporary spike, if that makes sense. So essentially, people, everyone has something called a baseline happiness, where they're at a certain level of happiness or well being, and that when events happen in your life that you've really been craving that you've really been working for something that's considered a very positive event, there will be a spike, but it's quite temporary, it's short lived. So a person will have an increase in their happiness, but then eventually, they just go back to baseline, and that people essentially live in their around their

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baseline, and it's not very easy to increase the baseline. So what do they do? They look at, well, what are the things that can increase the entire baseline, not just give us these spikes. And one of the things that they found, which, which I found just blew my mind, is that one of the most

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one of the most reliable ways to increase the baseline, not just get those spikes, but increase the entire baseline of happiness in my my happiness, your happiness, well, being in general, one of the most reliable ways to increase the baseline is the service of others. It's, it's to help other people, it's to give to other people.

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It's to be generous, it's to it's to aid a person who's in need. That's what they found, they found that things like volunteerism that this was this was, in fact, this was in fact, therapeutic to the person who was doing it. And what's very interesting about that, is, there was another study, so everyone tells you, money doesn't buy happiness, right? Everyone knows that.

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This actually isn't true.

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Money does buy happiness. And now people are wondering, well, what's wrong with her? Right? What if

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money does buy happiness, but what's interesting is it only buys happiness when you spend it on others,

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that they found that in the studies that the people who were using their money, who spent money on others, that it in fact, did make them happier. But when they spent it on themselves, it did not. Isn't that fascinating. So I have this money. But if I spend it on myself, it doesn't really do much for my own well being or my own happiness, it doesn't increase my happiness. However, they found that when they, when you spend it on others, it actually makes you happier. And this was such a powerful results, such a powerful outcome, that they found it even applied.

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If I if I even call to mind, something that I bought for another person or something I spent on another person, even that will make the person feel happy, just remembering a time when they spent on others, it will actually make them happy, it will increase their happiness. So now we're starting to see a trend here, right? That this is something within the fitrah of a human being. This is something that that is divine. It's a divine design, that it's something that the Creator has designed and inputted within the human being, that when I give to others, I feel good, that it actually makes me feel happier, to give and help and serve others. Now, there's another layer here

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that I feel is deeper. And that is this. Anytime there is a design within a human being, obviously we know by the Creator, a design within a human being is because Allah the Creator, God, whoever whatever you call, the creator intends for us to have a certain outcome. That's why he designed it that way. And what when I started reflecting on this on this fact, the fact that even secular psychology has found the powerful effect of giving the powerful effects of service the powerful effects of of being, you know, helping one another. And and what it made me realize is, this is what God wants from us. This because Allah because God the designer, right the creator put within us a

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nature of fitrah

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That makes it feel good to give it makes it, we actually get a reward intrinsically, you know what I'm saying? That it's intrinsic with it, that immediate reward. Before we wait till the Day of Judgment, we haven't even gotten to that subject yet, right? Just now here, even a person, even and this is what's amazing is a law created this in the human, even a person who doesn't believe in God, even a person who doesn't have faith is going to feel good giving. That's just the Human Design. And what that shows us is how much God loves us to give and serve one another. Because he designed us that way, he designed us to actually get pleasure from giving to get that intrinsic reward when I

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serve others. And that just blew my mind. That's one of the only ways to increase your baseline happiness, and everything else in the world won't do it, the lottery won't do it, your promotion won't do it, you know, getting whatever power positioning, it won't do it, but serving others will. And that's amazing, that just shows the power and importance of service to others within the divine design within that design. Now something else that they found, and I said, you know, it's very, very difficult to increase that baseline happiness, something else, the only other thing that that they found reliably to increase happiness, that the entire baseline is the practice of gratitude is to

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show and practice regular gratitude. Something for example, like keeping a gratitude journal, writing down five things every day that you're grateful for, will in fact, increase your baseline happiness, and has been found to to be a powerful treatment for depression, that that if they have people who are suffering from depression, just having them keep a gratitude journal will actually help them in treating their depression. Similarly, similarly, when a person is suffering from depression, when a person is suffering from any kind of difficulty when they themselves are in a in a low place, they themselves are suffering, one of the fastest ways to come out of your own

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suffering is to help another person who's suffering is to aid another person who is in difficulty to serve someone else. And it's, in fact, it's extremely therapeutic for the one who's suffering, that it's one of the fastest ways to come back out of your own dark place is to help another person was in a dark place. So you find that these these are just these are just again, secular psychological reasons why service is in fact serving myself that essentially that when I serve another person, I'm actually helping myself, I'm serving myself. Now, if I switch over to the Islamic paradigm, and what does what does the text say about service? What does the text in the Quran and the Hadith and the

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Sunnah say about serving others, you actually it'll blow your mind when you read how much emphasis there is within our our tradition within our Deen about serving others and helping others and the immense reward for that. One of the things now I told you that I have a take home message for you, does everyone remember what it was?

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We, when we serve others, we are serving ourselves or rather we help because we are the ones in need of those people. And to help. Now this, I'm going to add another take home message. And this is something that you'll find is an overall theme. Whenever you see if you scan the text, Quranic Hadees, Sunnah, if you scan the text, you'll find that there's one, there's, among many, there is an overall theme. And that theme is this, how I treat the creation is how I should expect God to treat me. That's that's the message, how I treat others. And this includes all creation, by the way, it includes humans as well as animals. As we know, there are many texts about the treatment of animals,

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and people who were in fact saved because of their treatment of animals, and other people who are punished because of their mistreatment of animals. So in general, the way that I treat the creation is how I should expect to be treated by the Creator. Now that's another very powerful, you know, message, right? That's a very powerful understanding. Because now all of a sudden, when I am good to others, when I give and I am generous and I serve others, and I am self lis. I am in fact doing what because you see, what am I doing? I am I know, once I know with certainty that how I treat other people is going to be how God treats me

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Then all of a sudden my goodness to others is, in fact, getting goodness for myself from the Creator. And that's a different level, right? Because now we're not talking about human beings giving to me, we're talking about God giving to me, we're talking about God giving to me, you know, that's a different level. And this is found again and again and again throughout the quarter and throughout the Hadeeth. For example, you know, during the time, when I shut off the line, he was being accused of being on chest, and her father abubaker, the lawn found out that one of the people who was accusing her was a relative, a relative of him who he was even financially supporting. Now,

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when he found this out, and we can imagine how we would feel right, somebody slandering your own daughter, and someone from your family doing it, not only someone from your family, but someone who you're, you're financially supporting, you're giving financial and financial support to. So what does Apple buckhannon do? He doesn't go and try to get revenge. She's not like going after him. All he does is he withholds the financial support. That's it. Now, Allah subhanaw taala reveals a verse upon this occasion, he reveals a verse in which he says to abubaker, the line now addressed as addressing this specific case, but of course, all people for all time, because it's a timeless book.

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And in that area, he says, Let them what's translated as let them part in an overlook. Why, why sort of the Lord? Why, Allah to have Buddha and your fellow Levitical? Do you not love for Allah to forgive you? And that's it. So right there unless peloton has established a connection, right? And that connection is that when I am a certain way with people, see if I forgive others, if I will buckler, the line forgave that man that relative for what he did, which is something that is unspeakable, what he did, yeah. And if he forgives him, then Allah is saying that there's a connection between that and getting the forgiveness of Allah.

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And that's a whole different way to look at it. Right? Because you and I, we don't like to forgive people sometimes, because we feel that they don't deserve our forgiveness. Right? He or she doesn't deserve my forgiveness, because he she hasn't done, you know, hasn't kicked my feet enough, hasn't grovelled enough, hasn't even said, Sorry, this relative didn't do any of those things. He didn't do any of those things. But Allah here is, is completely shifting the focus, the focus is not even about the relative.

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A lot doesn't say forgive the relative because he was regretful, or because he said, Sorry, or because he helped you one time, you know, in the past, it wasn't actually even about the relative almost becomes irrelevant in the equation. Does that make sense? In the sense that Allah is saying to abubaker, and to all of us, that how we treat others is really essentially at the root about our relationship with God directly about me and Allah, and he says, Allah to have Buddha and Yasser Allah who like him, do you not love for Allah to forgive you. And so it really just became about Abu Bakr and Allah, it didn't, you know, it like Allah taking the relative out of the equation in the

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sense, it's really a, a, a vertical transaction between me and a lot. It's not horizontal, it's not just me and the creation, but that the creation and how I am with the creation becomes a means to get my relationship with God. And that's really, really very mind blowing. It's very, very, it changes the way we interact. Because now it's no longer you see, if I expect if I expect that my return will come from above, then I no longer expected or wait for it from the creation. This what this creates, is a people who are generous of people who are giving up people who who are serving of others, people who are forgiving. Why? Because we know that our pay, yeah, ours in a sense, we know

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we're getting paid but by who though By Allah, you know, when you're working in like a corporation or something.

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And maybe suppose you're working in customer service or something like that. You're dealing with customers, but the customers aren't the ones paying you right? You don't get your paid from the customer. So how do you treat the customer even if they're terrible to you? I mean, has anyone worked in retail? Exactly. You know that you the customer is always right. the customer's always right like you have to treat the customer. Absolutely. 100%

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You have to treat them in the best way. Why is it because they're gonna pay you at the end of the call, you don't get a sense from the customer, in fact, or at the end of the transaction, you don't get anything from the customer. And yet, why do you continue to give them the best treatment, because you want to get paid at the end of the month, and you don't want to get fired. It's not because you like the customer. It's not because the customer likes you. And it's not because they're gonna pay you anything, they actually give you nothing, you get paid by the boss. And you know that how you are with each customer is going to be reflected in how how much you get paid at the end of

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the month. And sometimes you might get bonuses why because you're really good with customers make sense. And this on a much higher divine scale is how Allah is with us in the creation, that how we are with these with these customers, as you put other people other creation is reflected and then how Allah pays us, we get paid from him. And Allah subhanaw taala has a,

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an account that's infinite, makes sense. He doesn't run out, she doesn't run out of payment, he doesn't run out of blessings and mercy. And and there's a hadith that actually says this that says that those who do not show mercy

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to those on the earth will not be shown mercy from the one in the heavens, that Allah will not show mercy to a person who doesn't show mercy to people. And so what we always have to keep in mind is this.

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How I am with people how I am with the creation is a reflection of how God will be with me, not only in this life, but in the next as well. But also in the next. And that takes me to the next step. I've spoken so far about the reward in this life. And there is a reward, there's In fact, first I said there's an intrinsic and immediate reward in this life, in that I actually feel happier. And it's an alleviation of my own pain. It's an alleviation of my own pain to help another person who's in pain. And that's a fact. And it's been shown in in countless studies. Not only is it that intrinsic, immediate reward in this life, but on top of that, is that I will also be blessed by God

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in this life. One thing, anyone, anyone who's ever done, it will will attest to, and I know, I know anyone in this room can attest to this, any amount of money,

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actually any gift, but we'll start with money, any amount of money that you give for the sake of Allah, it always gets returned to you. And when it gets returned to you, it's usually multiplied. And I always see people nodding their heads, because if you try it, you know, it's experiential, that you In fact, do not lose the money that you give for the sake of God, you actually don't lose it, it becomes like an investment. So you see, for example, if I were to ask people in this room,

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if I went to ask people in this room, does invest in your money mean, you're losing your money? Everyone in this room would know what the answer when I invest my money? What am I am I losing that money? Question?

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I'm actually growing that money, right? But if I ask a little kids, a five year old, if I asked a little kid who only has like, you know, saved up $20, and they're really excited about the 20. And now I asked that 25 year old kid to put that $20 into an investment, they will feel what? That they've lost that money. Right? Why? Because the understanding of that child is not as advanced. The understanding of the child is as soon as I let go of this money, it's lost. Now, what am I saying that because some of us, we sort of have the spiritual understanding of the five year old that we think sometimes that when we give money for the sake of Allah, we're losing it. And that's why it's

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hard to give. That's the reason because no one wants to lose, no one wants to lose. But the reality is, it's in fact an investment. It's that we're investing that money, we're not losing that money. It's a very, there's a very powerful lesson that the prophets I send them taught us through an incident that happened without a shadow divine hug. What happened was one time when he was out, she had donated there was like,

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a lamb or a goat. And what happened is, when he returned, she told him that I gave all of this animal for the sake of Allah, and I only just kept your favorite part for us.

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And you know what? His his answer was so deep. He said, in fact, we've kept the part you gave.

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And we've just lost the part you kept. Does that make sense? I'll repeat

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What is teaching her is that the part that she gave for the sake of a lot is the part they're keeping that because there's no loss in what you give for the sake of Allah, there's no loss. It's just an investment. It's an investment that gets returned, many fold, just as investments do, that's the whole point of investment. It doesn't just come back as you gave it, but it comes back multiplied. So he says to her, that the part that you gave is what we kept. And the part that we kept is what we lost. And that's powerful. That's very powerful. We see this exact message in the Quran when Allah subhanaw taala tells us, as you know, in Allah in the Quran, what Allah does, is he

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makes you know, what, what do you and I do, when we want someone to really believe us? We want to really emphasize something we're about to say, what do we say as Muslims,

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Walla, or I swear, but in Arabic, one law, one law he or one law, what you've done, you've put a while in front of a law, which means you're swearing by God, that's what led me, okay? So when we want to emphasize something, we say, well, law will lie. Allah subhanaw taala also makes oath by his own creation. And so you'll find in the Quran was shamcey will do Ha ha, this is an oath by the sun and etc, there's many different verses where Allah makes an oath. And one of the, one of the ideas in sort of the last Allah subhanaw taala, makes an oath by time. And if you actually study the suta, it's just three is what scholars say, within these three, as you can understand your whole team,

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very, very powerful as a law makes an oath by time after making this oath, we're locked in an insane LFP force. Indeed, mankind is in a state of loss. Indeed, mankind is in a state of loss. See, every out the nature of this life is that we're always losing things. It's it's a, it's a it's an existence that's passing away, right? What are we losing, we're losing time. We're losing health. We're losing our abilities. We're losing beauty. Everything is it's slowly deteriorating, right? We move towards aging, we move towards sickness. This is the nature of dunya. Right? There's nothing you can do about it, no matter how much plastic surgery to you know, you, you get, no matter how

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many ageless creams you use. You can't stop it from happening. Right? And so Allah is telling us this, this reality. But here's something so powerful. Alan, Ben says that there's an exception, after saying one last initial incentive, if you host indeed, mankind is in a state of loss, overall universal loss. Right? Then he says in law in law means except, so now there's an exception to this rule of loss. There's an exception. Who are those who are exempt the exception inland Medina manual except those who believe

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inland levena Amano, Amina Scalia had an do righteous deeds, see a man by itself faith A lot of times people you know this my

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they think that all that matters is faith in the heart, but it doesn't show up in action. It's not enough, right? We can't say I pray in my heart I fast in my heart. I wear hijab in my heart It's something we have to also do externally. And so Allah is thing in an insane Allah he hosts in melody in a manual Whammy masala hats. So those who believe that the first qualification The second is they do righteous deeds that they turn that belief into action. And then in a Latina Amano Romulus Cali hot water also been hacked with our sub sub, it's completely comprehensive. They believe they do righteous deeds, and then they enjoy others they call one another. They do not only believe in

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practice, in private, and in their rooms and in their caves and in their massages, but they go out to the community, they work and they serve and they call others to goodness to law Sovan helped, they call for truth, you know, these people who are standing and protesting now, right? They are seeing a situation which they believe is unjust, even if it's not affecting them directly, but they see that it is unjust, and they are going and standing for truth. This is what a believer should do. That it's not only what's affecting me and my family, right? It's not only about just praying and fasting and, and and going to the restroom and coming home, but it's also service, it's going out

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and helping and standing for justice and standing up for what's right. So this is part of the qualifications. They believe they do righteous deeds, they enjoy one another to truth, what the law so we'll talk to you

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What all sort of stuff and they enjoy one another to patience. Because in order to take this path, you're going to have to have a lot of patience, and you're going to have to have a lot of perseverance. And you're going to have to be able to stand firm. And so what does this teach us? It teaches us that everything we own is actually in a state of loss, that we are in a state of loss of every single thing that we own, our money, our health, our time, except, except those things which we give to a lot. And so that's really powerful. Because our money just like this example with the goat. Our money doesn't go with us in our grave, doesn't it?

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Is there anyone in this room is gonna take their money with them to their grave?

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We actually can take our money to our grave How? Well that sounds insane. The prophets I send them said that when a person dies, and enters their grave, all of their deeds end except for three, except for three. And what are those three things? One of them is something called sadaqa jariya.

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Which means a so called a charity that you gave that continues to benefit others, it's actually going to come back to your grave. So your money is coming back to you in your grave, but only that which you gave to Allah. Isn't that powerful, the rest stays, the rest stays. The rest doesn't come back with you. Only that which you give you keep and that's the lesson occluding colony, however, was stopped for lalibela calm in overflown Rahim subhanak although we have that shadow 911 the ancestor Furukawa to Lake wa Salam alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh