Serenity – On The Ground In Syria Interview Shafi Khan Mwb

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Yasmin Mogahed

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Salam aleykum This is Yasmin Mujahid and you're listening to serenity streaming live on one legacy radio hamdulillah we are happy to be back for for a very special show today. inshallah today I actually have founder and director of Muslims without borders sheffy Han and sheffy is has actually just returned from Syria only to just two exactly two weeks ago. And this is the first interview that he has agreed to do on the topic of Syria and his experiences there. So we're very, very fortunate and humbled and honored to have him with us today. inshallah, we will begin and speaking with Shafi out of Lebanon shaitan Allah James menara manera hemos salatu salam ala rasulillah while

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he was happy as mine as salaam alaikum Shafi

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Can you guys hear me? Okay? Yes, Hamdulillah, we can hear you How are you doing?

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Good humble, is about your experiences in Syria, and I want to really thank you for for agreeing to do this. One legacy radio, and hamdallah is very fortunate to be able to talk to you and I'm I think that all of us listening today are extremely, you know, everyone's heart is is with with the Syrian people. And, and we want to know, firsthand, from you, who has, you know, you've just come back from Syria just two weeks ago. You know, just just tell us give us a picture of what what's happening over there?

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Well, it's really, it's difficult to describe, you know, first of all, 100. So I was gonna say that Mohammed, I just,

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I've been to Syria three times now. And I can tell you, each time that we've entered, it's, it's hard, it's difficulties, but it's also had its moments of inspiration. And I just feel like each time,

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you know, the first time we went in was a very, very difficult trip. And, and we could hardly move around. And the second time, we went in, we went a little further. And this last time that we went and we went, we reached pretty much almost all the way to the city of Hannover, Aleppo. And the good thing is, we can reach further and further every time. What that means is the violence level gets higher and higher each time. And, you know, this last time you were in Mexico the entire time, you know, we have to we were getting used to airstrikes, and this is something new on the ground. But I can tell you one thing, one thing about the people of Syria, Panama is you know, we were I was in

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the war. And during the Libyan War Two, I went in three different times. And, you know, during the Libyan war I remember we used to see the NATO and the US Air Force in the sky, and we used to cheer and get excited. And, you know, we felt like the world was helping there was some care with Syria, it's a very different situation with the Syrian, they just feel abandoned by the world. And it's actually led to something good, it's helped the people of Syria realize that really, there's no help but I'm just gonna kind of like how they count on a lot of Allah for everything. It just it just embarrasses me to a point where I just I feel like I wish I had that kind of emotion and it's kind

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of like everything that's followed by you know, unless Donna and and they have hope and the situation is far far from hopeless. The people inside are some of the most amazing people I've met Mashallah and they're all counting on our last panel Valerie enough victory

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Wow, that is that is a powerful message and and you know, the the the idea of dependence on Allah subhanaw taala I think that it is a lesson that everyone can can really benefit from how for you personally in your work I know that you have been working with Muslims without borders for many years now and through you know, throughout your work you you've also needed you know, sort of that fuel what what keeps you going and and how has, you know, how has this affected your relationship with Allah and also in turn, how has your relationship with Allah affected your work?

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Good. Before before I get to that, let me let me just share one small story that I've only shared this with myself.

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stuff. And it'll give you an idea of

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what keeps us going. And our last trip actually, inside Syria, we, we delivered a lot of, we bought a lot of food and holiday and fed a lot of people. And we also gave

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cash distributions to people that were in need. And we had we spent about, I think it was about $29,000 inside and I remember we exited, we exited Syria, and we reached the statehouse in Turkey was right across the, basically, you know, less than it's just crossing the road, basically cut through the fence. And we were in Turkey. And we were at the CEPA. Center. And I looked over to Dr. Ennis, who was he's one of our local staff members. And I asked him, you know, we spent all the money. And he said, No, we have about $300 left. And at that moment, I felt so I felt kind of depressed, that we didn't spend every penny inside for the people that needed it. And at that

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tunnel, at that very moment, there was a family cross the border, and they had a little boy with them that they had to carry, because of his injuries, he couldn't walk.

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And I realize hairs, this family coming from God knows where walking, God knows how long, you know, with this beautiful little boy in their arms. He couldn't have been that seven or eight and he couldn't walk and they had nothing to count on. Like the only thing at that moment you can count on or just imagine walking across a frontier, with nothing, with nothing on your back, but the clothes basically. And the only thing they could count on was unless panada for help. And here we were, just somehow that very at that moment, we had, you know, we were there. And our mission was to obviously help people. And I looked at NSF and we looked at me and we knew the rest of that money was going

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and I thought about the the Hadith about giving to the traveler and how much agenda there is in that and I just thought Panama, like, what what a beautiful religion that we have, what a beautiful beam that we have, that these people, they had no idea that there was going to be help, you know, they're crossing a frontier. And here we are just meant for one reason to, you know, help them even though it was I wish I had more. And we didn't have more at that moment. But you know, we gave what we could and it just made us realize how much these people depend on that and how much we ourselves as Muslims should depend on and that's

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awesome. panela that is a powerful story. You know, we we listen a lot of times to lectures or semuc lectures, and we read slogans, you know, on posters, or in books about depending on a law, and it really, really doesn't become real until you're in a situation where you really where it's really tested. And it's it's then that you're you're you're taught the essence, the true essence, the hot pika of tawakkol have really depending only on Allah subhanaw taala and these are stories that we hear about in the hood. And you know, musante sent them in front of the Red Sea, where he had nothing, that he could see no way out that he could see, except in Allah subhanaw taala. And he had,

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you know, he didn't his his faith and his trust and didn't flinch. And he said, in my, in the mire of BC and in indeed My Lord is with me, and he'll guide me through and Subhanallah These are real life modern day stories of that kind of, you know, of Tilak all of really like that, that these people they're setting out, you know, like hedger was was running between the mountains and she had no idea where the water was going to come from for her and her baby is mine. But she was just running and you know, these people walking with their child not having any idea where the Help is going to come from but but Allah subhanaw taala sends the help. It is a very, very powerful reminder

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of this idea where Allah Spano Tata says, that, you know, and after telling us that, you know, we will be tested like those before us, until the people ask methanol sort of law, when is the help of a law coming, and unless panatela ends the AI by saying an international law corrib Indeed, the help of Allah subhanaw taala is near. And, you know, these these stories really remind us of that and you know, there there is hope. Because as long as you have Allah subhanaw taala as your protector and the one who's who you're turning to, there is always hope. Now, sheffy I want to ask you this.

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How can we hear sitting here in the United States or, or in or all over the world, you know, people listening are listening right now from all over the world? How can we help what is our responsibility?

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You know, this is this is one of the most difficult questions that I face, because I'm so blessed to actually get the chance to

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Get on the ground. And I had so many people that approached me and say, you know, I, you know, I want to get on the ground, how do I do this and, you know, just explaining the danger to them, sometimes it's hard. And sometimes people don't understand what it's like, and, you know, you have something, you know how it's affected me personally being on the ground sometimes. But you can do from here, you know, there's a lot you can do from here. And there's a lot of organizations that are doing doing a lot from here. And sometimes people think that, you know, there's these walks that are organized for Syria that, you know, they think it's flawless. And this and that, it's really not,

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it's really, really, really not there's such an energy, especially in the, in the young college community, and especially with this year, and Americans, and they're just trying to find a avenue to help. And there's so many different ways, there's people that are doing advocacy work here in DC, where they're reaching out to the government, and they're getting,

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trying to change policy. There's others that are just getting awareness and getting the message out to their community. I mean, just just look on Facebook, and how many friends you have, whose middle name is, you know, free Syria or home send, and you think these things don't make a difference, but they do. But it's kind of a what's what's inspired me the most is just being with seeing the young people, how they've really, really come together. And I mean, we've seen fundraisers all across the US, for Syria, and they're just, it just keeps happening. And the young people are just getting together and organizing efforts and raising funds, not just for the web for us, but for other great

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organizations that have that are doing work inside Syria, and you know, it's making a difference, there's a lot you can do and, and the only thing is, don't think whatever you do is meaningless, because it's not even a small thing, smallest thing makes the difference. So hon Allah and that, and that really gives you again, it brings home the message that it isn't our efforts anyways, that makes things happen. But it's always from Allah subhanaw taala, we, you know, the effort that we make, is, is an obligation on us. But the result comes from him. And you know, we see this panel and the blessing that Allah has given you in your work and him that may Allah continue to bless your

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work and continue to bless the work that Muslims without borders, is doing and on all the relief organizations are doing. Now, can you tell us a little bit more about Muslims without borders?

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Yeah, and web, the best way to describe it is it's it's the first I would say, student based, I wouldn't say for exceptionally I've had some brothers tell me that there was attempts at it before, but it just never succeeded. It's the only student based relief agency. And our mission is a little bit different. I don't I don't even know if I would call us a relief agency. It's it's really turning into a service organization. And even sometimes a movement. It's it's personalized, scary to us how fast it's grown. And we've actually had to slam on the brakes over the past year, and to make sure that we put our proper structure down, rather than than growing and web actually came out of

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George Mason University. And it count came out of earthquake in Haiti. Basically, it was an idea that and me and a sister and ensnare Hubby, who was a student at George Mason University, that we had been discussing. And

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what happened was, actually, let me let me go back a little bit further. And when this journey actually began, it was it was November 2008, actually, and my first son had been born. And part of law that

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you know, having having a child being born, sometimes it's a very, it is a life changing experience. And it really, really got me thinking about what I wanted to do in life and where I was going in life and, and I had a pretty, I had a very good, stable, secure job, you know, insurance benefits, all that good stuff. And I suddenly left it, I wanted to do something else. And I didn't know what I wanted to do in life. And I was very, very confused. And, and until I had the full support of my wife, and she knew I wanted to do something humanitarian wise, but I just I didn't know where to go. I didn't know what to do. And I actually ended up at a at an HIV orphanage in Panama of all places.

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It was the first orphanage was started by a Catholic nun in

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a place called aureon.

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Panama, right outside Panama City, and she launched it 20 years ago, when everyone else was very, very afraid of AIDS and they didn't know what it was. And, you know, people told her she was she was crazy and Panama hair she has 20 years later taking care of children that have HIV and AIDS and just giving them love and it's sad to know that, you know, their lives are going to be shorter than than everyone else, but at the same time, you know, she was a very, very inspirational figure for me, and I came back to

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The US and I still didn't know what I was doing. And

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I was blessed at that point to be introduced to a man named Dr. Osman del mundo de, who became my mentor. And he had, he had founded an organization Islamic Relief USA. And he had since retired from IR USA, and he was working as the president of mass and he took me on as his assistant. And I spent, I spent a good year working for him. And basically learning from him and Panama, he was one of the best teachers and mentors, you can imagine. He was very patient. And he saw a very, very confused person and mean, he really helped them and guide me. And this is one of the things that later became a part of the end web mission where our model is actually development in service. And the idea

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behind that is that you're not just developing, you know, people that need help abroad, but you're also growing as a person as a Muslim. You know, you're increasing your your Eman. And

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so to get to the story, and basically the earthquake in Haiti happened, and

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this was our chance. And pretty much I was on the ground within three days and having dinner we organized

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room relief effort, from all the way from Santo Domingo to Port au Prince. And I remember, you know, I tell this story, often, as I remember, we worked all night to load this truck. And it was actually two trucks and we loaded them all night. And we drove and we left that fudger. And we reached photoprints, eight hours later. And the first thing that struck me was the people were coming up to us and they were not just asking us for for food or water. They were asking us for masks because the the smell of death was so so strong. It was everywhere in the air and, and Panama just seeing For me it was seeing death for the first time and seeing human bodies.

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It was it was a very, very overwhelming experience. And I remember that day we reached the one the main mustard and Porter prints and it had a few 100 people camped outside around the mustard. And I remember the day when they opened the gates and they said, and they looked at us and they said humbler. Our prayers have been answered. Our brothers have come and they've come to deliver aid for us. You know Stoneleigh, these guys were not expecting you know, to truck full of aid just show up out of nowhere, in a place where there was nothing but fear.

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It was just an amazing uplifting experience. And I remember I watched with tears in my eyes. And that's that was the moment when I realized, you know, this, this is something I want to do. And I remember that day, there was so many Muslims and non Muslims, it doesn't didn't matter if you were that were camped outside the masjid and the people at the masjid made sure everyone received food and proper water. And so I came back to the United States and me and Somalia, and a few people got together. And we pretty much launched Muslims without borders. And we never, we never expected it to grow like it did. And we realize that the secret was just trying to get as many sincere people on

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board as possible. And we would go out and search and find and

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try to find sincere people. And I think one of the secrets that we learned early on was, we would approach people that that would say, Listen, I love what you guys are doing, but I haven't had time for you. Like I literally have no time I'm busy with the MSA and I'm busy with our mothers and I'm busy with mass youth, I wish I had time and we would just say listen, give us an hour or two a week and, and the people would give us an hour or two a week and they would quickly start realizing that oh my god, this is what I want to do and and they would start prioritizing and web over everything else, until they would just become an web full time. And so we would always you know, whenever we

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got an email that said someone said I'll have 1520 hours free, we would most of the time we wouldn't really respond and if someone responded and said we have an hour free only we would find those people those sincere people and that's how we basically built the foundation on the land has been growing since vanilla there's a lot that you said that that really you know, we can we can really reflect on one of the things that that stands out to me is this. The idea of that I see as unique in Muslims without borders is this idea of really development not just of, of other people in giving aid but development of the workers themselves. And and not only in development in terms of

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internally internal development and and in spiritual development development in terms of one's own character and relationship with Allah and I think that is so key in in this work and I think it's an element that has somewhat, you know, maybe been neglected or or missing from a lot of maybe the work that's out there. I also think it's, you know, the idea of who, you know, that core group of people that that I think

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you're alluding to that you you had these, you built this this organization, on with these core group because of the quality of these people and the sincerity of these people. And it's I think it's a very deep lesson about where success comes from again, you know, it isn't, it isn't from our our large efforts, but really, it's from our sincerity and from even just a small action, Allah subhanaw taala multiplies it and it becomes blessed. And, and I think that's a really, really important lesson that that we can gain from, from your experience.

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I'm gonna we're really, really blessed with, with with the people that we have, and Panama, it's just, I'm hoping that there's someone, you know, that's out there, that's, that's listening right now that that decides, you know, I want to be a part of an you know, an effort like this. And, you know, whenever I go out and talk about in web, or give a speech or anything or even Islam, when we had our booth, we always say, you know, even if we get one, one person out of here, that's going to be a major success. And you would be surprised how few people actually run and web our, I would say, our our thought, you know, 100, who hundreds of volunteers. But our base team, like the ground team

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is not more than 2025 people. And this is like the the foundation of the organization. And we are very, very careful on how we bring them in. And sometimes panella you know, right away. I remember

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some I've met, I remembered as you know, sister, Anya, who was our volunteer abroad coordinator, I met her and within two minutes, I knew this was the person for us. And she jumped on board and actually led our some of our best projects from the land. Other people are just very persistent. And they're like, I want to do this, I want to do this. And

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I just asked everyone to make up for all the young people that are that are running this organization, may Allah Spano Tata, you know, help them and enable them and bless bless their efforts. I actually had the privilege of meeting both sheffey and and Omnia when they approached me about joining the, the trip to Mexico last December. Right.

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And it was, it was an amazing, I mean, it was amazing meeting, you know, these people and in this effort and, you know, ever since then, it's like we don't you don't keep in touch with these people, but there's there's always that bond. And I think that's something you've experienced as well. When you when you work with someone on the ground, there's there's a very special bond that that I think that's created. And and have you found that, that, that that's something that that's different than then your normal interaction with people

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you know, we talked about we call them web family, and that the bond, you know, the bonds I have, with our staff members, it's hard to describe and we really, really, like truly care about each other, we get to know each other's you know, everyone knows my children, my family, and it's not it's not a business relationship where you just work nine to five and you go home, these people, you know, they, they really become your family and because you really, you know, your only goal in life is to please Allah subhanaw taala and to make sure to help people and get food and aid it's just, I can't even I can't imagine having a better better job for a living you know, to do this for a living

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and you know, speaking speaking of bonds, though, you know, I was thinking just start Syria team you know, I've been to inside with these guys three times the same guys that go in I we have two teams By the way, in Syria, we have blue team and we have red team.

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And by the way, just make Gloucester Red Team Red team has actually been inside Syria for the past week. And we actually, two days ago, we lost contact with them for 48 hours. And I can't I can't even tell you, you know, like, every few minutes, I'm looking at my phone checking. And I was actually at a staff member's wedding and it's you just you never have you know, in this field you never have like, you're always working and we kept just waiting and waiting for the call. And you know, they had they had very sophisticated satellite technology where they can they can reach us at any time. And what happened was actually they they were the satellite phone ran out of batteries and

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they were in an area that was just being shelled and the electricity and power was out for two days and they just couldn't move and they were stuck there and they called the red team causing me just about 30 minutes to go in. They said we tried to exit out today and we couldn't we got stuck. And we're gonna try again tomorrow. So just make both of these guys they're just a really really, really brave bunch of people. And then there's my team which is blue team, and blue team. We work out of Turkey and we work into edgelit and hollub and

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and blue team.

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These guys

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have become family and it's hard to describe the bond that you build with people that you've been inside situations of war and especially destruction and disaster and they're just, you know, you just come to count on them and trust them so much and I just missed them all the time and panella when when I'm there and when I'm going to Syria and I know that the brothers I'm with just it's hard hard to describe, yes upon allow me up May Allah subhanaw taala protect all the you know, all the members of who are on the ground and bring them back safely, inshallah And may Allah Spano Tata, you know,

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free the people of Syria and protect them and their families and, and end this, you know, the violence inshallah. I mean, we will take a short break now. And when we return, we will open the lines for those who want to call in and ask any questions to to Brother sheffy. But right now inshallah We'll take a short break, and we'll return with brother sheffy. After this

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Assalamu alaikum This is Jasmine matcha hidden, you're listening to serenity streaming live on one legacy radio. We are very fortunate today to have brother sheffy han from Muslims without borders. Shafi has just returned from Syria for the third time, just two weeks ago, and he's sharing with us his experiences in Syria, and, you know, his experiences with Muslims without borders, in different parts of the world. sheffey cintamani

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Shafi, I think there's a lot of discussion about, you know, what is our obligation? And what is the part that we play? And I think, you know, there's, there's obviously, you know, different opinions and, you know, the debate about, you know, what, what part should one play in, in, you know, what role does each person have, in this world in general, and then specifically with regards to conflicts like this, and then, you know, on a greater on a greater skill, just, you know, for for the deen of Allah subhanaw taala. And I think

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one of the widespread beliefs is that there's, you know, there's just one way or there's just one path, you know, to please Allah subhanaw, taala, or to help. And, and, for example, for me, personally, I think, you know, there's a lot of people who approach me, for example, asking about, you know, how do I, how does one get into Tao? Or how does one get into public speaking? And, and, and I always, you know, I want to really emphasize that it isn't necessarily the path for every person, and it isn't necessarily the best path to Allah subhanaw taala for every individual, and I think that, that I think you you probably deal with the same issue of people specifically wanting to

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be on the ground. Is that the, the the only way? And is that the path for everyone?

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It's definitely not, you know, and some, some people come in with the illusion, and I was one of those people that really thought that, you know, if I get on the ground, and if I spend my life, helping people that I'm going to become a perfect person, and relief work is going to help me overcome all the problems that I have. And you know, I'll just, I'll just be a great good person. And, and I didn't realize the, the, the delusion of that. And, you know, for me, it's panella. And actually, that actually gives you more to overcome, because you in my field use, you see things that you're you know, you're not

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it's a very unsanitized world. And it's hard sometimes to get used to, to, to what the, you know, the violence in this world and what it's like, and especially in Syria, it's just so indiscriminate, you know, I just Panama, just the airstrikes and the shelling and, you know, these things stay with you. And it's really, really, really difficult. And and, you know, you're saying that people come up to you and ask you, how do I get involved in Dawa, and people come up to me, and they say, How do I started a relief agency? And I actually have an answer for that. And I try to give everyone a very consistent answer for that, you know, it's not it's not for everyone, and it's a relief agency is

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just not something that you start what I try to tell them that is just start doing good. And for us, you know, before we even started on web, I remember that we used to do projects, I remember me and Somalia, we did a project where before that we launched them web. It was a homeless widow that was in the street. And

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she had multiple children, I think five or six children and it was it was

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wintertime and, and we just spent a few days where we just reached out to all of our friends and raised money and

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tried to raise money for her whether it was doing, we did food drives, and it's just something that you just keep doing and doing and doing until it becomes, until doing good just becomes a part of your life. And that's what I always tell people is just, you know, you don't need to go and start applying for the paperwork and say, you know, I'm quitting everything tomorrow, and I'm gonna become a relief worker, you just try to start adding small good into your life, whether it's on the weekend, whether it's volunteering, and you don't always have to take our path, where you know, here we are delivering aid in the war. I mean, there's so many other other ways to do good, I was looking

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at just I remember, it's not just being at the celebrate mercy booth, and being their website and Facebook and what they do. And I was just like, Mashallah, this is amazing. There's so many different places, you can get involved, there's so many different organizations that need dynamic people. And

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there's a lot of different ways to get involved, but I just don't want people to have the illusion that,

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you know, getting out in the field and doing this work, it's just somehow going to magically change your life because it doesn't, and I can tell you personally, it's, it's given me as part of 100, I'm blessed, don't get me wrong, but it gives you more to overcome and, and to think about when you're back in the world and, and realizing what you've been through and what others are going through. But just the suggestion is start small, but just be consistent. And Subhanallah, this is this is a powerful message. And I think that that message really is that in whatever walk of life, you know, a lot of people get to a point where they don't know which direction to take, they don't know which

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major to choose, they don't know which occupation, which career, you know which person to marry it really we we get to these crossroads in our life so often. And we all can relate to that. And the question really always is how do I decide which way to go? And really, the answer is always, it really can be found in one, one simple way. And that is, like you said, when you really make yourself sincere for Allah subhanaw taala, and you start to take that path towards his pleasure. And that's what's really key is a lot of times we have a certain goal in mind, which isn't necessarily the pleasure of alive may be let's, you know, to start an organization or it may be to have a

00:32:30--> 00:33:12

certain career to be a doctor. And those things may become ends in and of themselves, instead of just means and and I think it's so important to step back and to say, you know, my ultimate purpose is not this organization, or that organization or this work or that work. But my ultimate purpose is to be with Allah subhanaw taala and His Messenger in the hereafter. That's my ultimate goal. And now how am I going to get there? Well, the best place to ask is a loss of Hano data. And this is really the advice I give to to everyone when they want you know, you anytime you're trying to decide which way to go or which path to choose, is is really make yourself sincere for Allah subhanaw taala and

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and and then ask Allah subhanaw taala to place you Where is most where where would be most pleasing to Him and where you can be,

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you know, inshallah most effective as well. And this is something that that I was speaking to sheffey about, as well, it is not it this question of, how do you do it? Right, a lot of people will ask that question, you know, how do you balance your family life and the work you do, and, you know, being gone? And, and, you know, you need a really supportive spouse? And, and really, the answer I gave is that if Allah subhanaw taala has a path for you, he will also give you the means to be able to take that path. So he will give you what you need, he'll give you the supportive spouse and he'll give you the the openings, you know, he will open those doors for you. The key is just that you make

00:33:59--> 00:34:47

yourself sincere for him, and to be truthful for Allah subhanaw taala that I want to please you, and I want to do this for you. And unless panel data will open the doors to the path that is best for you inshallah, now, we are going to open up the lines, you can call in and the number is 714-988-8182. If you want to call in and you know, just just you know, share your reflections or ask any questions to rather sheffy you know, you can do that now. Now, Brother sheffy. I want to ask you also, you alluded to this a little bit, but, you know, if you can expand a little bit more on how this work. And I think what I got from what you said is that this work has been both, you know, a

00:34:47--> 00:34:59

challenge to your you know, your personal development and also an enabler. Now can you explain a little bit about how it has both challenged, you know, that that, that development internally, but also

00:35:00--> 00:35:01

helped that development

00:35:05--> 00:35:14

tunnel, underlay it? Yes, it hasn't been a challenge. But it's also been a major boost sometimes for me, I think the hardest part is just

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adjusting to, I don't know, real life, I guess, coming I remember coming out of Syria. This last trip inside we were we were on our way to we were on our way to Aleppo and we were driving in the middle of the night in this completely dark, bombed out road and and there was there was cards that were just littered with highway the highway was littered with cars that were just bombed out. And we were going through these empty empty villages and towns trying to get to Aleppo. And I remember the moment where the passenger started screaming to the driver, pull over pull over. And we pulled our car over and we turned the lights off. And we just sat in the dark. Because at that time, we had

00:35:56--> 00:36:01

these mc 25 fighter jets, they were buzzing us. And these jets were basically going up and down this road,

00:36:02--> 00:36:41

hitting any eight trucks that were going inside, and people trying to get eight inside. And I remember just sitting in that car, and every one that you could hear everyone's heart beating, and you know, you just have Latina and Milan your tongue and, you know, you don't know if this is it. And then, you know, fast forward two days later, you're back in the US and you're at someone's wedding, and everyone's having a good time. And, you know, how's life and housework, How are the kids and it's just sometimes really, really hard to adjust that to, to the real world and like, the war never leaves you. You're always I'm always in Syria, no matter where I go. And, you know, it's

00:36:41--> 00:36:44

the only thing on my mind. But, you know, from,

00:36:45--> 00:36:53

from how it's helped me perspective, I'm just, you know, when we when we reached when we reached harlot, and you know, when we were there, and we were,

00:36:54--> 00:37:23

we were working on these contracts on the ground, I remember and, and, and the shells were just falling and panelized three instances where they just fell just a few 100 yards from us. And I remember we would all hit the ground, and everyone would just get right back up and keep working. And one of the instances where the shell fell, fell near us was we actually had our university of maryland chapter they made these eat candies for for little children in Syria, candy bags. And,

00:37:25--> 00:37:56

and, you know, we were handing out these, these bags to children in the middle of, you know, a battle zone or in a war and they were just smiling and happy. And you know, just the idea that you can bring a little bit of light into someone's life. It just really really boosts your Eman. And I remember even before us carrying this bag in because to get into Syria, you have to basically run across, you know, a mile in this frontier, and it's very, you know, you go very light, you just have the medications on your back. And it reminds me we were we were actually about to

00:37:57--> 00:38:32

when I had these, this bag of candy with me weighed about 50 pounds. And I kept thinking, oh my god, how am I going to get this across, and our guides were like, you guys have 50 pounds in candy of all things. And you know, they were like, that's really odd. And vanilla right before we were about to cross, we had a few families cross across the border into the same safe house that I discussed with you earlier. And there was about 15 children in that in that group that crossed over. And mean and this looked at each other again, we're like, Listen, why don't we unload some of the candy here. And I remember we we handed out these bags of candy to these children that had just come from God knows

00:38:32--> 00:39:09

where and seen God knows what. And just the smiles on their face and how happy they were and how happy their parents were not even two minutes later, every single guide that was with me was like, Can I help you carry this bag, can I help carry this bag, and panella we ended up carrying that bag when I was holding one side and the guide would hold the other and everyone would switch out they all wanted to be a part of it. And when we got inside and everyone wanted to be there when we were handing up the the candy bowl things and just to see the children's smile and it I mean, it's moments like that, that just you just say handler of hunger, like for what I had more than anything,

00:39:09--> 00:39:19

when I come back and to stop complaining about anything and it really really does, it affects your amount, it really raises it and it gives you drive to go back and to do more.

00:39:20--> 00:39:20

Wow. So

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it really goes to show you too that you know, we're all like we're made of the same stuff, you know, candy everywhere makes kids smile, you know, no matter what they've seen Subhanallah and and you know, you see also that the that Allah subhanaw taala is is always there to lighten the load to we we look at these situations and we imagine you know, anytime you look at a situation that somebody else is in usually, you know our reaction is is I can't even imagine being in that situation and it looks it looks too heavy for me.

00:40:00--> 00:40:43

You must carry. And and that's really a lesson in and of itself because every situation is too heavy for any of us to carry. And it's only by the help of a law that, that it's made light. And it's only by the help of Allah subhanaw taala the mercy of Allah, that these children can still smile, even though they're in this situation, you know, and it's very inspirational for me personally. And I think, for many people listening today, that that no matter what your what your situation is, no matter how difficult it is, Allah subhanaw taala can make it light on you. And again, just that, that lesson of seeking the help of Allah and depending on Allah, no matter even if if the whole

00:40:43--> 00:41:03

world abandons you, as as, you know, you spoke about at the beginning of how the Syrian people feel that the world, you know, the world is not is not there for them. But Allah subhanaw taala always is, and I think that's a very important lesson that we all can benefit from, you know, both personally, and as well as collectively.

00:41:09--> 00:41:35

Now sheffy 111 other thing that, that, I think that a lot of people wonder, you know, in terms of this type of work, what what would you say, of all the experiences that that you have had, you know, in Syria, and you know, Panama and Haiti, if you had to choose one experience, what would you say was the most sort of life changing experience that you have had?

00:41:39--> 00:41:39

trauma?

00:41:41--> 00:41:57

Oh, wow. There's, you have so many, you have so many epiphanies, and so many things that, that, uh, that happening along the way, and I think it would really have to go back to that moment in Haiti, that I discussed with you guys. We're just seeing

00:41:58--> 00:42:05

how you how you can actually make a difference and, and help people but there's just, you know, every, every place, whether it's

00:42:06--> 00:42:13

whether it's, whether it's Somalia, or whether it was Syria, whether it was, you know, Kenya or Sudan,

00:42:15--> 00:42:20

Panama, there's so many so many experiences. And I think one of the more powerful ones is that

00:42:22--> 00:43:05

is that when we were in Sudan, we were our, our team, we had sponsored these, these cleft palate surgeries. And I don't know if you guys know what cleft palate is. And let me just give a quick background where these children they're basically born with with the lips that aren't closed, and they have these cleft cleft palates. And it's just really, really hard to even look at someone that has a cleft palate. And, and I remember a moment where, where we took a child in and doctors, they did the surgery on the cleft palate. And a few hours later, the mother came and she saw she saw her daughter, and she started crying. And she said, This isn't my child, this isn't my child. And

00:43:05--> 00:43:13

they're like, No, no, this is your child. And when we matched up the, you know, the bracelet, and the number like, no, this is your child. And this, this child,

00:43:14--> 00:43:54

was just very, very difficult to look at before. And with just a small $200 donation that some someone here in America had spent a day selling cupcakes to raise that $200. And that's one afternoon selling cupcakes outside the local grocery store. How much that made a difference in someone's life. And I realized, wow, it's Panama, like, really diets, all the all the young people that are out there. I mean, if you really want to make a difference, it's just it's not as hard as you think. And that child the mother has, she was crying when she saw her hair, I have a beautiful daughter now, because of just a $200 that someone else here in the United States

00:43:55--> 00:44:04

raised and by the way, this is a project that you guys want to get involved with. It's one of my personal like, I said, I remember I had a board meeting last week, and I told my board,

00:44:05--> 00:44:43

you know, if all we did was was this for the rest of our life, if all we did was fix these cleft palates, it would have been a life. That was good. And we have just launched we're actually fundraising right now to do more surgeries. Last year we sponsored 23 and this year, we want to do 50 to 100 so if you're out there and you just want to do something simple sign up for a cleft palate program, just go to our website, and you know, go out there do a bake sale, raise $200 and, and change someone's life and you know, for the rest of your life, like every time that person smiles, that you know maybe unless honor Donna or give you so much easier for it. So for me that was the

00:44:43--> 00:44:47

moment one of the moments where I just felt, you know, moved beyond anything.

00:44:48--> 00:45:00

Well Subhan Allah in it and it really it is easy. Allah subhanaw taala blesses even our small efforts, and we can do that and we can support you know, Muslims without borders, we can support this

00:45:00--> 00:45:45

effort and the efforts of those who are really working, you know, to help help those around the world. You know, one other, you know, one other effort that that really I want to ask everyone in sha Allah to support is this effort of getting the word out one legacy radio is also a nonprofit organization and, and in order to be able to have shows like this, and in order to be able to have this, this, you know, this, this support, and, and this service, we need the support also of listeners and, you know, to become a member or to donate even, you know, like sheffy said, sometimes it just takes, you know, $10 a month, and it actually really, it allows these things to be possible,

00:45:45--> 00:46:27

it allows for this platform, where we can talk about these types of issues. So, you know, really, our, our efforts and our money, just a little bit can go a really long way as as brother sheffy said, and then there was something else that reflecting on that you were saying that really hit me was when you were talking about your experience in the car when you you know, you and the other people who were in the car really felt like, you know, so close to death. And you were saying Shahada. And you know, you know, I think that that's those kinds of experiences are very powerful. Because it I think it removes this, this veil from our eyes which, as you as you mentioned, you

00:46:27--> 00:47:10

know, once you return back out of the danger, sometimes that veil comes back and that's the veil of love, love the veil of heedlessness that our comfortable lives sometimes put in front of our eyes. And you know, there's there's It reminds me of an A, and sort of call for a loss. Kanata says La Quinta de la flaten Minh Heather, Becca chef nan cabrito, aka basato Kelly, Omaha Hadid. And what it means is that you were indeed heedless of this. And so we took off your covering, you know that, that covering over your eyes, and today your your site is sharp, your site is sharp, and I think that we are blessed if we have those moments in this life, because for a lot of people, those

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moments don't come except at the time of death. When when it's really too late, that that veil of heedlessness, you know gets taken off of our eyes, and now we see the reality now we can see the reality of what really did matter in this life and what really did not matter. In this life, you know, you know, the things that that matter, the things that don't, and it's, it's, it's when that covering is taken off our eyes. And I think, you know, the people who have had those experiences and while they're still alive are actually very blessed. And do you feel that that has that those experiences which

00:47:49--> 00:48:00

which allow your site to be keen, you know, like, put things into perspective, do you feel that those experiences have have changed you and the way you you see the rest of your life.

00:48:02--> 00:48:13

Of course, of course, um, you know, when when you are living a life like this just going from war to war, you actually get used to the idea of living with with one foot in the grave. And as part of that, and

00:48:15--> 00:48:39

you think you think that, you know, it's going to change you and make you the perfect person and but at the start, I still have the same struggles that everyone else has, if not more, but it definitely helps you stay focused more than anything, we really, really are focused on on on the end goal where you I can't tell you how much it helps you just to think about death. That's often it really really makes you

00:48:40--> 00:49:14

remember less pinata and helps you and your work and become a better person. But um, it's just something that's that's never far from us. You know, especially when, you know, for me like the most reflective time for me, it's always that moment, where I'm sitting at a border and I'm about to cross in. And I can't tell you how many times I've sat at borders. And you know, some of the one of the best ways to describe war itself is actually his words, 23 hours of reflection and one hour of intensity and terror. There's a lot of time to sit around and really think and reflect and

00:49:15--> 00:49:39

Stoneleigh just coming back and just trying harder and trying harder and doing more work. And it keynote for me one of the problems you know, yesterday and I remember contacting you was at that end web just started taking over my life where I lost. I got lost in the means and forgot about the end. And that's where you have to be really careful. I remember one of the advices that

00:49:40--> 00:49:59

imaams johari gave me when we first launched and web was you know, don't become a crusader. Try to try to find try to find the balance. You know, don't don't go and sell your car to raise funds, you know, for Syria because how are you going to get around and just advices like that.

00:50:00--> 00:50:40

really helped us along the way. Some hanyalah and I and I, I remember those those moments, you know, those moments when you are at the border, because I often get a text message, you know, and asking for that. And it's, it's so it's amazing that, you know, I'm sitting in California and Hamdulillah, there's no earthquake outside, and you know, I'm relatively safe, and I get a text message about, you know, someone who's about to enter into the border of Syria, it's, it really, really puts things into perspective, and allows you to see a window into really what's going on in the world, and the fact that, what, whatever it is, whatever comfort we're in, you know, whatever ease we might be in,

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we should thank Allah subhanaw taala for it, but but never let it deceive you never let it distract you from from, you know, seeing that ultimate, and you know, that ultimate reality, which is that, you know, as sheffy said, we all have one foot in the grave, we just have a lot of fancy distractions from that reality. You know, things like Pepsi, which tell you to live for now and things like that. But But the truth is that we all we all are in that situation, but we just, we just don't see it. So I think it is a blessing for those who can see that, and live and live for those things that really do matter. Um, how has, has your work, affected your your relationships,

00:51:22--> 00:51:25

would you say you know, your family and with your friends.

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I don't, I don't know if I mean, that's the saddest part of this is, it is the time away from family and friends and handler for me, I was I was really, really blessed to, to have a wife that is very, very fully supportive of what I do, I remember my before I left for Siri, on my last trip, the last thing she said to me was, you know, God forbid, if anything does happen to you, I just want you to know two things is number one, that your sons will be raised with Islam. And number two, I'll never let them be bitter at you. So she was thinking many, many years ahead, and I'm delighted This is one of the reasons I always tell, tell the young people, you know, when you get married, make sure you

00:52:10--> 00:52:25

do it for Islam, if you do, you'll live a much, much happier life. And if this is a field you want to get into, it helps to marry for Islam, because my wife believes in the in the same goals as me. And,

00:52:26--> 00:52:27

and,

00:52:28--> 00:53:13

and just, you know, have them on the same page and my friends have actually become, you know, my RM web family. So basically, the people that I have the most contact, the only contact with actually are people that have the same goals and tribes as me and sometimes, you know, that's got its advantages, but it's also got its disadvantages, where, you know, you end up living in an, in a cocoon, almost where you're living in your own world, surrounded by people that only have the same, you know, goals as you enlightened. It. This is one of the problems with M wb is were very insulated organization, and we don't reach out as much as we should, and this is something that we're working

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on inshallah. inshallah, I think, I think also one of the blessings of, of treading any path to a loss of data is actually the company of those who are also treading that path. I, I consider that righteous company from for me personally. It's the righteous company, that's sort of that part of genda that glimpse of agenda that we get in this life, you know, so much of the code and you know, when it describes genda, talks about your companions agenda and your company, and and I feel like a last minute that it gives us a glimpse of that in this life, when you tread that path to a law or any, any path to to pleasing Him. One of the gifts of the of that path is is the people you get to

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meet along the way. And so I think that's, that's a huge blessing in and of itself, that you know, you that you do have those people around you. And one person has a question, I think we'll shall wrap up the show with this with this question. Someone's asking if you can address the reaction of the of the recipients in in Syria, how do they react to an American Muslim relief agency. There's also a moment of Dawa within the Muslim community as many internationals think we are separate from their problems.

00:54:28--> 00:54:59

panela You know, all of our aid, has an American flag stickers on it. And I remember one of the best moments was when we were in haunted and one of the shelves landed, and we all got back up and one of the brothers said something to me in Arabic and the other people said, he doesn't speak Arabic. He's from America, and they're like, you're from America. And like, Yeah, he's a he's a beggar standing from America. And they got so excited and they got so happy. That hair, the hair is this box anti American.

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In the middle of, you know, a battle in the middle of you know, this insanity here just to come to help us and 100 ally it really really truly lifted their spirits and it really just helped them realize that you know, that we're really really wonderful man. We're really one Stoneleigh one team. And it just, it's a feeling I can't explain and handle other people in Syria, they're proud people, but they're so grateful. They're so so grateful for the help that's coming and the thoughts of us here in the United States martial law you really bring you know, it really is an exemplification of this Hadith of the prophets I send them that this oma is like one body and if one part of that body

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is suffering, then the entire body reacts with fever and pain. And you see that you know, spawn a love because it isn't about national origin or, or even you know, ties of blood but there's something actually deeper than, than both of those and that's the tie you know, the ties of faith and and you know, the fact that, that our our faith commands us to serve humanity and to and to help those in need. We ask Allah Spano Tata to bless your efforts and to and to bless efforts of all those who are working for these causes and we ask Allah subhanaw taala to save the people of Syria to protect them and to guide them into and to always be you know, they're there for free you know,

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that that that the help of Allah subhanaw taala will always be there and near for them. According holy Heather was suffered a lot he would come in homophone Rahim was sent mo aleikum wa warahmatullahi wabarakatuh.