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Seeking And Finding Divine Help

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Yasmin Mogahed

Channel: Yasmin Mogahed

Episode Notes

Seeking & Finding Divine Help
By: Yasmin Mogahed

Serenity Podcast:
Join Yasmin as she welcomes special guest, Dalia Mogahed. She is an accomplished author, scholar and Director at the Gallup Center for Muslim Studies. She is also Yasmin’s sister! Today, Yasmin and Dalia discuss how to seek help during life’s everyday trials.

Presented on July 6, 2011

Episode Transcript

© No part of this transcript may be copied or referenced or transmitted in any way whatsoever. Transcripts are auto-generated and thus will be be inaccurate. We are working on a system to allow volunteers to edit transcripts in a controlled system.


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Salam Alaikum This is histamine Mujahid and you're listening to serenity streaming live on one legacy radio. Today, we have a very, very special show, because we have our first guest on the show, and it's a very special guest. Because one because she happens to be my sister. And second, because her name is Danielle Mujahid. And then inshallah, we'll introduce her in a little bit. And first I want to talk about, you know, what we'll be discussing today, we'll be talking about an issue which, which a lot of people basically struggle with, and this is the idea of how to seek and find divine help during times of hardship, and the times of hardship. Basically, more talking here, not just

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about the you know, and this is one of the main things is that trials and tests do not just come in the form of, you know, huge losses on the death of a family member, or, you know, the loss of a job. These are considered, you know, bigger things, but but we actually encounter trials every single day of our life, small things in our life that we have to go through, and how is it that we can seek divine help, during those times of trial. And one of the stories that really inspires me, When, when, when I think about the issue of seeking divine help, is is the story of ESEA. And ESEA, was the wife of Pharaoh. And ESEA was a woman who actually, she, she was a queen, and yet she, she saw

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something beyond this life that she valued more than she values this life and that was the home in the hereafter. And what's really interesting about sex story is it's a story about a woman who goes through the greatest trial really one of the greatest trials that any person can imagine going through. She's actually physically tortured by her husband, who was the worst tyrant ever to walk the earth, Pharaoh. And and what's really amazing about her story is that even while she's being tortured, something amazing happens. And inshallah we're going to discuss more about her story, but I want to inshallah, introduce our very special guest, Dr. Mujahid is the director of the Abu Dhabi

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Gallup center, as well as the Gallup center for Muslim studies. She is the co author of who speaks for Islam, what a billion Muslims really think. And dedhia was the first Muslim woman to serve on the White House Advisory Council on faith based and Neighborhood Partnerships. Santa Monica and Dahlia, why they come is set him or her to lie about a ghetto. Now, one thing that you're gonna find is that we sound very much alike, so it's going to be difficult to tell who's speaking, but inshallah you know, we'll we'll do our best. Thank you for joining us today. Dahlia. It's my pleasure, thank you for inviting me to be here. It's our pleasure having you. Thanks. I think that

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topic is so important. Because it's a it's something that a lot of us struggle with, we're all going through our life, dealing with different situations, whether we are

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in, in a situation where we're where we're out in the in the public space, or leading private lives, we have so many things being thrown at us and learning how to cope with those things and even thrive throughout that trial is is really the the answer to happiness. Now, you mentioned the issue of living a public life and I think that a lot of us live some sort of a public life on you know, on one level or another, but I think you have have really been put in the public sphere and, and so I would like to ask you how how do you cope with, you know, the I, you know, all the challenges that come with having this, this, you know, this public life?

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I think that leading a public life presents a number of challenges, and that all really go back to having to constantly question our intentions and constantly ask ourselves, why are we doing what we do?

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When, when you're under public scrutiny or when you what you say is is

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really looked at very closely and often even misrepresented by some people, you you constantly have to ask yourself, why why are you continuing to to work or what what really is your mission. The other things that you have to deal with our

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the the attachment that you might have to your work which which might seem very important to you. It might seem very necessary.

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And so you, you become very

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focused on it, which all these things are good. But at the end of the day, what we do and and the the vehicles that we occupy in our journey

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back to a last panel, Tyler have to always be seen as a means, and not a mission onto themselves. And I think that it's very easy to lose sight of that, in our lives in general, you mentioned a really important term here, and that is the issue of attachments. And I think that a lot of times we become attached to things where we don't realize where our attachments are, and we things which should be our means actually become our goals. Can you talk a little bit about how it is that, you know, especially in the context of having a public life, and, and this applies to anyone who's who's doing diala, anyone who has a, you know, any kind of leadership position, or even just, you know,

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within within their own family or community structure? How can you talk a little bit about what happens when you mix your means and your ends?

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It's a very important topic, because I've seen this issue destroy communities,

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even even, in some cases, destroy friendships, where one person will build an organization or build a, even a project, and they'll become more connect more attached to that project than the very mission that they were trying to serve in creating that organization or project. And so the way you test yourself the way that,

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you know, the question that I think we need to always ask ourselves is, am I more afraid of disobeying a law? Or am I more afraid of losing, or having this organization or or project taken from me? And and I think that that question is, is so important, because if when we start to to fear loss in it, and it might, you know, on the surface seem very even noble,

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to, to want to protect what you've built to want no one to steal it from you to want no one to take credit for what you've worked so hard for. And yet, when that becomes the ultimate focus, and the ultimate fear, a lot of things suddenly become very justified in your mind. And I think it's a very important question to constantly ask ourselves to constantly keep in the front of our minds, especially in in the realm of public work, or being a public servant, especially in politics. If anyone is considering that field, it's a, it's a, it's a field filled with so many traps and stumbling blocks.

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And you mentioned the, you know, kind of pointed in direction of one of one of my favorite quotes. And I'm just this is a shout out to Star Wars. But the the, the quote of Yoda, right, the Yoda quote, where the fear of loss is a path to the dark side. And and you know, the idea here that that I think you're touching upon is that when we do have these attachments, and we're so afraid of losing these things, that we start to act in ways which which may end up being very immoral. And because our focus is that we're scared to death of losing something, whether it's we're scared to death of losing a position of power, or we're scared to death of losing a person, or we're scared to

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death of losing our job, whatever it is that we become very attached to child. I'm going to go ahead and take a short break now. And when we return, we'll continue speaking to Denny emoji head of the Gallup center for Muslim studies.

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Assalamu alaikum This is your Seema Hayden. You're listening to serenity on one legacy radio. Today we have a very special guest Dahlia Mujahid we're speaking to Dahlia who is the director of the Abu Dhabi Gallup center, as well as the Gallup center for Muslim studies. Delhi I published a book which which talks about the data of the largest study done of the Muslim world in which they pulled you know, Muslims from all over, you know, the Middle East in the in the Muslim world. And it's, you know, it's, if you can tell us a little bit about it. I mean, it's the only study of its kind

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Yes, we at Gallup, we collected survey, survey research on Muslim opinion from more than 90% of the global Muslim population by far the largest study ever done. And we ask people directly, their their views on things as diverse as gender, their views of violence, their views of the West democracy. And we really allowed people to speak for themselves to express their own views rather than being spoken for, and compiled all of that and wrote a book, I had the pleasure and honor of CO authoring the book with dr. john Esposito. And the book came out in 2008, and, and really finally gave the silence to majority of voice. Yeah, and that's, you know, and that's the thing as a result of, you

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know, the book and all the, you know, the media that that the data has, you know, garnered, you have, I think had to face also a lot of, you know, people who critique or, you know, people who are, you know, hard on on the type of data that they are presenting, because a lot of it, it goes against, you know, what we have been hearing in the media, for example, I know, one of the the really important data points that we found is that, you know, that you found is that is that violence is not motivated by religious, you know, motivation, but rather political. And can you speak a little bit about that finding? Certainly, we at Gallup, we found that the minority of

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Muslims who say that they thought the attacks of 911, were morally justified. This group, which we classify in the book as politically radicalized, when we ask them why they feel that way, why do they agree or feel that the attacks were justified, not a single one of those respondents cited religious justifications, not a single one,

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went to the Koran for an a, a two to explain their views. Instead, they spoke in a very secular language, they spoke in terms of their political views. And this idea of reciprocity, this is the same kind of violence in their mind that is done to Muslims, and therefore, you know, according to their logic, it's justified to do it back. So it's actually an idea that is essentially rejected by the Quran. And it's interesting, because the majority that say that the attacks were unjustified, it's only among this group that we hear religious justifications for why the attacks were wrong. This is where we hear verses from the Quran, like, the one that talks about a murder, killing one

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innocent person is as if you've killed all of humanity. It's, it's in this group that we

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that we have references to the Quran. And, and it's really to explain someone's moral objection to to violence that we hear about religion. So basically, what you found is that people who justify violence, they use political reasons, and those who do not justify violence use Islamic or religious reasons to explain exactly, that's, that's exactly what we found.

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And, and I think that it's very interesting to do this kind of research and to, to get the facts in front of people. So that we're, we're perceiving the world, according to reality, rather than assumption. And that is very important in in, in bringing it back to the idea, you know, because of this very, very important research that you've done, and presenting, you know, this data that that perhaps goes against everything that we're hearing in the news, where, you know, the idea that we hear in the news is that it's this concept of Islamic violence, right, Islamic terrorism, it's, so the idea that that we're fed in the media is that it's somehow this violence has to do with a stem,

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it's connected to stem, and what the data actually shows is, in fact, it's not connected to stem, even in the in the minds of the extremists themselves. It's rather it's rather it's politically motivated. And so I think, you know, what, what, what has happened as a result of you presenting this As you've probably come under some attack from from, you know, some fringes Now, how do you personally, you know, on a personal spiritual level, how do you

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you know, take that in stride, how do you how do you respond?

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I, I,

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it's, you know, it's not an easy thing. It's not as I it would be very, it would be inauthentic

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To say that it doesn't bother me at all, or I just let it slide right off, it does at first bother me, because in many cases, it's just false. It's just simply false accusations, things are not only taken out of context, but in some cases completely fabricated. And they're spread all over the internet. And so there's a part of you that that is just angry at the false accusations, it's very hard to, to not have that be your first reaction. But in in moving ahead, I, I, I just go back to really the importance, the importance of the work. And, and, and see that these things are, you know, like, many of my friends tell me, they're just proof of the importance of the work if it

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wasn't important, if it wasn't consequential, no one would attack it. And, and it's, it's good to keep reminding yourself, but I think that the, the main point is that I, I am not doing this to, you know, win friends or influence people, I'm, I'm simply doing this work, because I think it's, it's a needed, and it's very important, and

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whatever good comes of it, it's, I'm happy to see. And the, I've never been worried about being popular. And I, you know, I think this is a good preparation for that. Yeah, and, and you know, and talking, you know, about the whole idea of doing your work doing what you have to do. And I think you're sort of touching upon an important aspect of that. And that's detachment, detachment from what the, you know, what the people are going to say, what the people, whether they're your fans, or they're your critics, you have to sort of, in order to really be able to succeed, you have to take a step back from all of that and really detach yourself from either the critics or the fans. I think

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that's exactly right, I think that we really have to be indifferent to both the attacks of our critics and the praise the praise of our fans. When I say indifferent, I don't mean that we don't hear critics as if we're perfect. And, you know, we, there's no way that we could have done anything wrong, we should, of course, be open to feedback. But the what I mean by critics in that context is indifferent to the unfair attacks, where you're, you're being essentially smeared, that,

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that that really being popular cannot be the goal of any kind of work, it can't be the goal of any public service. And I think that that on a grander scale, that really brings us to the examples that we've had in the past of the prophets, peace be upon them. And the idea that the most of these, you know, callers, right, they weren't popular, as well. And, and I think that, um,

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you know, like, I, when I, when I look at it from from, you know, a spiritual sense, is that I want, you know, for example, the story of ESEA. And, you know, this is, this is a woman who,

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you know, she underwent this this great hardship, and I think everyone within their, within their space, you know, they they might be saying something, standing up for something that they believe in or standing up for truth, where, you know, it's not necessarily it's not necessarily popular. And and in doing that, I think you have to, you know, really like you said, check your intentions, is your loyalty to the truth? Or is your loyalty, you know, to really presenting things as they are? Or are you you know, trying to please those who those who may be hearing it or, you know, may or may not like, what what it is that that, you know, the truth has to say, and I think in terms of

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speaking about data, the great thing about having data is that it takes it completely out of the realm of opinion, right, and anecdotes, it's not, you know, a lot of so much of what's been in the media so far, has to do with anecdotes has a lot of a lot of it has to do with, you know, just these generalizations that have that have built have been built about Muslims. And I think that the wonderful thing about finally having this data is it really takes it out of that sphere. And now you're, you know, you're not, you're not talking opinions anymore, but rather the data speaks for itself. It does. And I think that going back to the original conversation about

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hardships, and going through,

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going through times of of difficulty, I think that there's a very important connection between this idea of being in the public space being attached to your profile or to your popularity, and and this idea of hardships because it's really, if you start to delete

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yourself into thinking that you are necessary that without you, the world crumbles and without you the work ends and without you, your organization will will fail.

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It's when you start to rely on yourself too much to to make, you know, your work seem like the the pillar of, of what, of what good happens in the world or even in your own sphere. It's really then when hardships become very, very heavy, when it does become up to you. And interestingly, it's it's when you have such an over

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an overdeveloped sense of self importance and self self quote unquote reliance, that that you truly become the least significant you

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and you feel every ounce of the hardship in an all its its weight in all its

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in all its difficulty. Because you don't want to share the load with anyone else, it might seem like a very self sacrificing thing to do. But in fact, it's it's a very self oriented thing to do.

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It's very these, these two things are very related. And it's interesting, because I think, unfortunately, we suffer from this a lot within our communities have, you'll see like a lot of different

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aspects of of the community are tend to be like a one man show type situation, right where you have, either, you know, whether it's the board of the masjid, or it's a school, or it's some any, unfortunately, our institutions within the Muslim community tend to be this one man show where one person has become so attached to the, the thing itself, right, which is supposed to be a means, and, and doesn't want to let it anyone else to, to have that, that control. And unfortunately, I think that, that this is sort of the root of this is what you were speaking about is this idea that of self importance that, you know, you think that the work will crumble without me, you know, and

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again, it's it's, it's it's an illusion, of self reliance, it's an illusion, it is and and it does hurt our institutions, they they become not institutions, but bricks built around an individual. And, and therefore they have no longevity, they, they aren't things that, that, that stay beyond one person. And so you have so many situations where this idea of founders syndrome, which is something that is everywhere, it's not just among Muslims, but it's the founder that can't let go that can't allow others to come in. So and these struggles can can really destroy very important and, and well intentioned efforts. And what are some things that you would recommend, and we've been talking

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about, you know, basically, the concept of seeking divine help in our trials, whether you know, as all of us go through trials, different different types of trials, big trials, small trials, what are what are some things that we can do, on a practical level, to really seek seek divine help and and just like, you know, we talked about the story of ESEA the thing that made her trial become light on her and, and, and, and bearable is the fact that she was able to see her home in Jenna. And I just love that. I mean, literally, she saw her home and Jenna and, and although we, as you know, we we you know, regular people we are never going to see with our physical eyes, our home in general in

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this life. But yet our hearts can see that home. And if we allow our hearts to see that home, all of our trials can also become light on us in the same way that's upon Allah that that her trial became so light on her that she was she was even able to smile. So I mean what what are some things that we can sort of take home with us and in dealing with with our own trials and seeking seeking Allah's help?

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I think that there are there are several things and even just going back to the story of say that is yet this idea of seeing your home agenda. If we bring that to to our immediate lives. What it means is a vision, a futuristic outlook, a focus on something other than the immediate clamor of of life's pettiness. And it's that taking that very long view of things, that those those small things, those small battles, those small hardships, you can see them for what they truly

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Are is is my new shot, things that won't matter? Probably in five days, let alone five years, let alone 50 years. And and I think that that long view is one key aspect of of moving past the small things. That is that is an excellent point. And I think the idea of perspective and having a you know, stepping back sometimes we really can't understand our own lives in fact can't even see our own lives until we first take a step back and really look at the big picture in terms of how we deal with with you know, everything that that is thrown and thrown at us, you know, an everyday type things. inshallah, what I'll do now is take a break and we'd like to hear from you on the chat box

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inshallah sharing your own struggles and maybe some advice that you'd like to give to others on how to seek divine help.

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Salam aleykum you're listening to serenity and this is yasmeen Mujahid. I'm speaking today with Danielle Mujahid. She has the same last name as me because she's my sister. And she is also the director besides being my sister, She's the director of the Abu Dhabi Gallup center, and the Gallup center for Muslim studies, and I'm very happy to have her today she's our first guest on serenity inshallah, we hope to, you know, until the hover, hover again, and inshallah, you know, what we're speaking about today, is the idea of finding and seeking divine help during our trials during our times of hardship, and, you know, we've been speaking with Dahlia about the idea of having a public

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life, and, you know, the trials and, you know, the the difficulty that comes along with, with having any type of public figure, you know, have being a public figure, and, and, and how this, basically, how we can apply this in all of our lives, because all of us, whether we are public figures or not, we all face trials every single day, and we seek, you know, we look at the examples of the people who came before us, and we really get inspiration from their lives. And, you know, one thing that I that I wanted to share is this idea, it's actually an idea that I used to have a myth, I would say, and that is that hardships can kind of be categorized in this objective way where there's a certain

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hardship, which is always difficult, and there's another, you know, lesser hardship, which is always not difficult or as difficult, for example, according to this ideology, you know, the loss of a loved one is always going to be more difficult to bear than getting a speeding ticket or being stuck in a traffic jam. And this idea of, again, hardship as this objectively difficult or objectively less difficult thing, I think is very, is actually incorrect and is inaccurate, and that the only thing that makes something difficult or make something easy, on me to bear is only one thing and that's divine help. That's the help of Allah subhanaw taala. And what that means is that I could be

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going through the most difficult hardship, and we talked about the examples, you know, example of SCF, for example, I could be going through the most difficult hardship, but if Allah subhanaw taala makes it easy on me, it will be easy on me, it will be easy to bear. And on the other hand, something as small as being stuck in a traffic jam, or getting a parking ticket or, or you know, not doing well on an exam, that something like that, without divine help, will be so heavy on me, and difficult for me to bear. And so the true really the true ingredient, which determines whether something is difficult or easy, is divine help. It's how much has Allah subhanaw taala made this

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difficulty or this trial easy on me. And we're, you know, we're talking with delta and you know, about the idea of, you know, what are what are some things that we can do, I think on a practical level, a lot of times people want to be able to take home what they hear and be able to apply it. And you know, I think one of the things that you really emphasized was seeing the bigger picture and realizing that these little obstacles that we face in our life, when you really take a step back, they're just minor, they're there. In fact, they're they're not they're insignificant in terms of the final goal. Can you speak a little more about that? I think that that's exactly right. And it's

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it's, it's taking that long view taking, focusing on that idea of the the end goal, which is really Jenna, that I

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Have saw her her palace or her home agenda. And that's how she was able to endure all of these things because they she saw them for what they were they were insignificant scrimmages on a very long stage toward that she could see and saw the the end product. The other thing that I think is really important to do is to imagine all of the things that you're not dealing with, that aren't going wrong, that could have gone wrong, because they're going wrong for other people. So if if you're dealing with, you know, if you're dealing with something as, as horrible as the, you know, the death of a loved one,

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you can imagine all of the people that are still with you, that, that you that you're able to still see and talk to every day.

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If you're dealing with something like an illness, there's always the idea of all the things that could have gone wrong and worse, I remember that

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I had to deal with an illness of one of my children, and they were in hospital for several weeks, it was a very hard time for our family. And I was very stressed out. But when we were in the hospital, we we saw other children that weren't gonna leave in three weeks that were were there and had been there for literally years, they had a terminal illness, and they could not leave the hospital, they they just live there, they were always going to live there. And so it just put things into perspective to, to really see

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all the things that you're not dealing with, rather than focusing on those little, the little inconvenience, really that that you're having to work on at that moment. And it's interesting that you bring up that story, because it was something I was actually thinking about recently is that, and this goes back to the idea that when Allah subhanaw taala, sends his hardship, or he sends the trial, he also sends the provision to deal with the trial. So for example, you know, unless part of that, obviously there, he sends the cold, he sends the hunger, but he also sends the heat to the warmth, and he sends the food. And similarly with with the trials that we face, Allah subhanaw

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taala, sends his send sober, he sends patience, and he sends in some cases of ribba, like contentment. And I think that's what you're really touching upon is the ability in the hardship, to be able to look at it and see everything that you have, rather than looking at everything that you don't have. And one thing I remembered in terms of when when he was sick, is that I think that this was something I always remember you saying is just how the one thing that was really difficult for you to, to, like cope with is that is any, like when children are sick. And I remember that that was like a big thing for you. That that was one of the hardest things for you is when children are very

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ill. And Subhanallah that was the test that was sent to you at some point, you know, that, that he was very sick. And, and and I remember the fact that she, you know that you the doctors didn't know like what they were doing. Like they didn't know what was wrong. It was it was such a test of, of trust, it was such a test of intellectual because you you know, people want to be able to put their trust in something concrete. And in those cases, you would you want to put your trust in the doctor that I know what I'm doing. But the point but what was made very clear in your situation was they had no idea what they were doing. They were just groping in the dark, and they didn't even know what

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was wrong. It they didn't it was it was really an interesting situation of of the longer he stayed in the hospital, literally the worse he got and the more complications he ended. He, he developed. And it was very obvious that they really didn't know what was wrong, they were trying different things, it was very much a process of trial and error. And, and, and so it was made so clear that this was the means and jawless at some point, they would hit on something that would work. But that it was very clear that they weren't in control, we couldn't rely on on these concrete visible means and and and it was just a matter of do I

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and so it was it was a process of of really pulling yourself out of the the inertia of what is physical and and focusing on on what is real. And and that was

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that was a loss

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will end in his power to heal. And of course that's that's what ended up working at the end. And I remember that the amazing thing about it too Is it all began with just like a cold or something. And it was just it just started. It was it was the other thing is that there was no predicting it. It was it was very shocking.

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came out of nowhere. It's a perfectly healthy child, who Three days later was doing an emergency surgery to clear his lungs of liquid when you literally couldn't breathe. So it was it was a very out of nowhere. shock. It wasn't something that we saw coming or was it was in any way gradual. And I mean, I remember that I went to Home Depot right before I got married. This was years and years ago, I was with you. Right. And and that and it was during Ramadan, the last 10 days. And I remember there in Mecca my first time there, my daughter in so much earnest was to have healthy children. Yeah.

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I'm so scared of

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that was like the only thing for you and children yes, even before I had them before I was even married. So it's such an it's just, you know, that's so interesting that that would be what would happen.

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I think that the other thing that is really important to keep in mind when we're going through a hardship is, is that anytime we are tempted to feel anger,

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or sort of resentment, or a certain sense of unfairness, there's several things that I think we have to keep in mind. First, if we were to be punished in this world, according to our actions, that hardship would seem like a very light punishment, literally no matter what it is, because we are so

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normally getting off so easy compared to all of what we do in this world against,

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against what we should be doing. The other thing to keep in mind is that the suffering of this world is the soil in which our virtues are supposed to manifest, it's the conditions that

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God provides us so that we are our virtues, which are all inside us, they have potential their seeds, but unless we have the right conditions, and unless we have the right food, and nurture those virtues, they they won't, they won't manifest, they won't grow. And and sometimes those hardships are, are those conditions so that patients can bloom so that gratitude, can, can grow. And they aren't suffering doesn't exist, simply because something's wrong with the world. But but because the these are the conditions, this is the soil in which human beings can become the best that they can be. Yeah, exactly. And I think it's important, like, for example, when we talk about virtues like

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Subbu, like patience, how are you going to have or build that virtue if you never have situations where you have to be patient. And similarly with with all the virtues of a dog contentment, you know, if you think about it, like you want to be in shape, right, and you want, in order to build the muscle that you want, in your body, you have to work it out, you have to lift, you have to lift, and in fact, the more that you lift, the stronger you become. So I mean, it's very similar with eight in the spiritual world much so I mean, how will we ever learn to forgive if no one ever wrongs us? That's true, how, how do we

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learn to,

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to see ourselves as as small and insignificant, if, if we're, if we're always just receiving praise, I mean, there's so many things that we can only grow through sometimes these hardships, that's absolutely true. And, and, and at the end of the day, this isn't our home, I mean, dunya is is just a, you know, a bridge to take us inshallah, to our to our true home. And the more that, you know, if you think about this life, if this life was perfect, and we never, you know, we never built these virtues, but also if we never encountered anything less than what we wanted, few of us would ever yearn for anything else, right, it would, we would, we would be completely satisfied and, and, and

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few of us would have that, that yearning for what is beyond which is you know, with Allah subhanaw taala So, inshallah We'll end inshallah, you know, tune in next week with serenity at 330 Wednesday. Assalamu alaykum warahmatullahi wabarakatuh