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Why Do We Sin? (and steps for prevention)

Why Do We Sin? (and steps for prevention)

Allah has ordained the nature of man to be fallible. We are constantly subjugated to the pulls and desires of this worldly life. While we have the ability to steer our “free will” in any direction, we remain exposed to Satan’s attacks and whispers that can stray us from the straight path.

How to repel Satan’s Attacks?

We can counter Satan’s plan of pulling us down with sins by increasing our faith, knowledge, and good deeds and that can then elevate us to a level which can merit our meeting with Allah with bright and shining faces. Alternately, we can ignore Allah’s commandments and burden ourselves with sins thus bringing in darkness and sadness on our faces. As Allah says in the Quran:

  • Some faces that Day shall be Nadirah (shining and radiant).
  • Looking at their Lord (Allah).
  • And some faces, that Day, will be Basirah (dark, gloomy, frowning, and sad),
  • Thinking that some calamity is about to fall on them (Quran, Al-Qiyama:22-25). 

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For those of us who believe, the anticipation of meeting Allah alone should invigorate us to straighten our acts and to stay clear from all types of sins. But again, the fallibility of our essential nature makes us either forget or neglect our obligations and drives our nafs (self) to sin. To shield ourselves from misguidance, therefore, we should look at the root causes that can help us become aware of Satan’s tactics and accordingly prevent our nafs from being misguided.

Overcoming Temptation of Sins

The following are some of those reasons and the divine guidance that can help us overcome the temptation to get into sins.

Lack of knowledge about religious matters

Lack of knowledge about religious matters and the vast chasms that it creates in our understanding is one of the reasons why many of us engage in sins. This also denies us the knowhow about the allowed (halal), and the prohibitions (haram). Consider what the prophet (S.A.W.S.) said regarding our responsibility to learn Islamic knowledge that he brought for mankind:

“The example of guidance and knowledge with which Allah has sent me is like abundant rain falling on the earth, some of which was fertile soil that absorbed rain water and brought forth vegetation and grass in abundance. (And) another portion of it was hard and held the rain water and Allah benefited the people with it and they utilized it for drinking, making their animals drink from it and for irrigation of the land for cultivation. (And) a portion of it was barren which could neither hold the water nor bring forth vegetation (then that land gave no benefits). The first is the example of the person who comprehends Allahs religion and gets benefit (from the knowledge) which Allah has revealed through me (the Prophet) and learns and then teaches others. The last example is that of a person who does not care for it and does not take Allah’s guidance revealed through me (He is like that barren land.) [Bukhari, Vol. 1, Book 1, Hadeeth 79].

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Unfortunately, it’s not uncommon to see Muslims today who fall in the last category and make little effort to learn such knowledge. This is what Caliph Umar Ibnul-Khattaab had predicted when he said: “Soon the bonds of Islam will be loosened bit by bit, because people will enter into Islam but will be unaware of Jaahiliyyah (ignorant practices that Islam opposes),” meaning that they won’t hesitate to follow them [Ibn Taymiyyah – Majmoo’ul-Fataawaa (10/301)].

Moreover, to excuse ourselves from the obligation to learn more about Islamic matters, some of us rationalize to ourselves that our daily worships may be sufficient for us to live meaningfully. Again, this is one of those traps that many scholars over the centuries had warned us about. This is because worshipping Allah without the basis of knowledge leaves our foundations of faith very vulnerable and fallible. In this context, Ibn Al-Qayyim comments about the two verses of Suah Al-Hashr (16, 17) where an ignorant worshipper based his life on worshipping Allah unknowingly, so Satan seized the opportunity and thus seduced him (due to lack of his knowledge) to disbelieve in Allah [Al Fawwaid]. So, we see that an ongoing effort to strengthen our faith through knowledge is essential not just to protect us from minor sins but also to prevent us from the greatest sin of all, which is to disbelieve in Allah.

Social pressures drive us toward sins

A number of us sin not because of willful disobedience but because sometimes we get pulled into the act reluctantly. It is no secret that certain social (and other) pressures tend to push us into committing sins that we normally would not commit. When in such situations, we quiet our conscience and then go with the social flow. This is one of the reasons why the prophet (S.A.W.S.) warned us about keeping company that can take us away from the straight path. He (S.A.W.S.) said: “A man will follow the way of his close friends, so let each one of you look at who he takes as a close friend.” (Narrated by Abu Dawood, 8433; classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Abi Dawood, 4046.)

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We should remind ourselves that time always passes and such friends won’t last us for the full journey of our life and they won’t be with us on the day when we are held accountable for the sins that we committed due to their influence. Consider what Allah says in the following two verses about the Day of Judgment:

“Friends on that Day (the Day of Judgement) will be enemies except al–Muttaqoon (the pious)” (Az–Zukhruf 43: 67).

“And (remember) the Day when the wrongdoer will bite at his hands, he will say: O! Would that I had taken a path with the Messenger (Muhammad). Ah! Woe to me! Would that I had never taken so–and–so as a friend. He indeed led me astray from the reminder (the Quran) after it had come to me. And Satan is ever a deserter to man in the hour of need” (Al–Furqaan 25: 27–29).

Let’s, therefore, ensure that if our social circles are directly or indirectly pushing us to commit sins or discouraging us from performing good deeds then we should disengage from such groups and people immediately. By quieting our conscience in the face of social pressures, we also start to slowly regard many wrongs as rights and gradually lose our internal compass of the right and wrong.

Sense of pride and arrogance driving toward sins

Pride and arrogance can lead us to suppress the goodness and common sense within us simply to provide merit to our egocentric agendas. One sign of such an attitude involves engaging in frequent argumentation, disputes, and quarrels simply to push misguided viewpoints. Such an attitude in general stands counter to everything that the Quran and the prophet taught us. As one of the Islamic scholars stated, if faith (eemaan) was simply knowing the facts in one’s heart, then that is similar to Satan’s situation because he was very knowledgeable about his Lord (rabb) [1], yet his arrogance and pride led him to become argumentative and disobedient to Allah, and in the process became the worst of creatures.

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Let’s remember that the prophet (S.A.W.S.) associated such an attitude with misguidance. He said, “A nation never went astray after being guided except by means of disputation (Tirmidhi #3253 and ibn Majah #48 on the authority of Abu Umamah).” Consider the example that Allah provides about such people:

  • And when the son of Maryam (Mary) is quoted as an example (i.e. Jesus is worshipped like their idols), behold! Your people cry aloud (laugh out at the example).
  • And say: “Are our aliha (gods) better or is he (Jesus)?” They quoted not the above example except for argument. Nay! But they are a quarrelsome people (Quran, 43:57-58).

We ought to, therefore, look within ourselves and see whether the pride in our hearts or the arrogance of our attitudes in anyway influence us to refuse seeing or listening to the truth. For those of us who suffer from such diseases, what is needed instead is an attitude of humility or humbleness that can motivate us to stay calm and open to seeing our mistakes thereby providing an opportunity to fix them. Ibn Al-Qayyim said that a sin that leads one to submission (and humility to Allah in repentance) is preferable in the sight of Allah than a good deed that causes pride (in one’s heart) (Al Fawwaid). That is obviously because pride puts a veil on our eyes and hearts and can lead us to more sins. (See Signs of Qiyamah)

Not taking minor sins seriously

Many take minor sins lightly taking it for granted that Allah will forgive them for such sins. As a result, they persist in such sins thereby getting desensitized to the need to address them. Consider the hadith of the Prophet (S.A.W.S.) where according to one report he said, “Beware of minor sins, for they will pile up until they destroy a person” (Reported by Ahmad; Saheeh al-Jaami’, 2686-2687).

Some scholars are of the view that when minor sins are accompanied by a lack of shame or remorse, and with no fear of Allah, and are taken lightly, then there is the risk that they will be counted as major sins. Hence it is said that no minor sin is minor if you persist, and no major sin is major if you seek forgiveness [2].

Abandoning the practice of enjoining good and forbidding evil

One of the reasons why we see sin proliferate is that many of us have forgotten the principles of inviting people to good and stopping them from doing bad. When people live in environments (within the family or other social circles) where advice for the good isn’t encouraged much, it takes away the opportunities for improvements and also lets people develop false perceptions about themselves. As we discussed earlier, Allah has created us weak and as a result staying away from sins requires periodic doses of knowledgeable advice and wisdom. Additionally, Islamic teachings also command us to advise each other on matters of right or wrong. When communities fail to espouse these principles, sins spread more easily. Allah says in the Quran (about Muslims):

“You are the best of peoples ever raised up for mankind; you enjoin Al-Ma’rûf (the good and the truth) and forbid Al-Munkar (the wrong, evils, sins, etc.), and you believe in Allâh . . .” (Quran 3:110)

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Malik ibn Dinar said, “We have become accustomed to loving the world, so that we do not enjoin good or forbid evil to one another. Allah the Most High will certainly not permit us to continue doing this, but would that I knew what kind of punishment shall befall us!” Imam Al-Bayhaqi (The Seventy-Seven Branches of Faith).

The Prophet (S.A.W.S.) said: “If the people see an evil and they do not change it, soon Allah will inflict them all with His Punishment (Hadith – Ahmed, graded authentic by Albaani in Saheeh al-Jaami’ (1/398).”

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However, matters of giving advice should be handled wisely. It is not uncommon to see people getting discouraged (whether in situations of advising or when being advised) due to the manner in which such advice is given. This is because they fail to see the difference between advising and condemning. It was said to one of the Salaf (pious followers that came after the death of the prophet): “Would you love that someone inform you about your faults?” So he replied: “If he does so with the intention of blaming me, then no.” Also, Al-Fudail (rahimahullaah) said: “The believer conceals (the sin of his brother) and advises (him), while the evildoer disgraces and condemns (him).” Similarly, when we know of the wrong actions of believers, we shouldn’t make it a point to propagate their weaknesses to others. The salaf, for example, used to hate the commanding of the good and forbidding evil when it was done to someone in a public forum. Instead, they loved that it be done privately. This is since it is not the goal of the one who is advising to spread and publicize the faults of the person he is advising, rather his goal is only to put an end to the evil that he has fallen into [The Difference between Advising and Condemning by Al-Haafidh Ibn Rajab Al-Hanbalee].

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Not knowing the ill effects of sins

Another reason why many people sin, or care little about their sins is their failure to see the impact that sins can have on their lives in this world and in the hereafter. The truth is that if we don’t understand the ghastly nature of sins, we wouldn’t stay away from them. Consider a sample of the ill effects of sins that Ibn Al-Qayyim had explained:
  • Sins deprive a person of provision (rizq) in this life. In Musnad Ahmad it is narrated that Thawbaan said: “The Messenger of Allah (SAWS) said: ‘A man is deprived of provision because of the sins that he commits.’” (Narrated by Ibn Maajah, 4022, classed as hasan by al-Albaani in Saheeh Ibn Maajah).
  • A sinful person experiences a sense of alienation (indifference) with his Lord, and between him and other people. One of the salaf had said that he could see the impact of disobedience to Allah (in some aspects of his daily life).
  • A person who commits sins sees that things become difficult for him. In any matter that he turns to, he finds the way blocked or he finds it difficult. By the same token, for the one who fears Allah, things are made easy. 
  • ‘Abd-Allaah ibn ‘Abbaas said: “Good deeds make the face light, give light to the heart, and bring about ample provision, physical strength and love in people’s hearts. Bad deeds make the face dark, give darkness to the heart, and bring about physical weakness, a lack of provision and hatred in people’s hearts.” 
  • Sin breeds sin until it dominates a person and he cannot escape from it. Sin weakens a person’s willpower. It gradually strengthens his will to commit sin and weakens his will to repent until there is no will in his heart to repent at all . . . So he seeks forgiveness and expresses repentance, but it is merely words on the lips, like the repentance of the liars, whose hearts are still determined to commit sin and persist in it. This is one of the most serious diseases that is likely to lead to doom. He becomes desensitized and no longer find sins abhorrent; so it becomes his habit, and he is not bothered if people see him committing the sin or talk about him.

All in all, let’s remember that for us to stay clear from sins we need to constantly work at building a strong internal frame of reference that is reinforced with knowledge of the truth. This must be coupled with a living conscience that can help us recognize sins when we see them and to have it poke at us should we get inclined to indulge in those sins. Again, reflecting back on the verses of Sura Al-Qiyamah that we reviewed earlier, let’s strive to keep the burden of our sins light when we meet Allah, so that our faces are Nadirah (shining and radiant) rather than Basirah (dark, gloomy, frowning, and sad).

References:

  1. Lecture by Sheikh Dr. Abdul Aziz Al-Qari
  2. Sheikh Muhammad Saalih al-Munajjid (islam-qa.com)

— The IqraSense.com Blogger

— End

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47 comments… add one
  • Musah Yakubu Yandar

    A website for every living being. Thank Allah for the Qur’an. He said we should always read it a great deal. This is to keep us awake all the time against as-shaitan and sin.

  • AlhamduLillah for such much needed and very beneficial reminders. A huge wake up call. May Allah (SWT) truly bless u.

  • Sameena

    JazakAllah Khair,
    Thanks for the much needed reminder to be constantly alert to both major and minor sins that we might be committing because of either the pressure of society or our own unawareness and complacence. The first requirement is discarding our pride in our knowledge and intelligence, considering these to be sufficient to guide us aright. And then we need to strengthen our will to stay away from even minor sins for we never know when they can overpower us. Like Imam Shafi has said, the sincere person is always in a state of worry. We can’t afford to be over confident about ourselves. May Allah Help you to continue in your efforts to impart such knowledge to your readers, Aameen.

  • Assalamu Alaikum wa Rahmatullah,
    JazakAllaho Khairan, this is the real purpose of our life that we worship our Allah Almighty and give advice to others. Guiding a person is better than the whole wealth and gold of this world. May Allah Almighty help entire Muslims to protect themselves from all kind of sins. May Allah Almighty be pleased by you, me and all Muslims.
    Countless blessings and peace be upon our beloved Nabi Muhammad, his family and all who follow him up till that big Day. Aameen.

  • Audu-Alqali

    Alhamdulilah that we have the ever refreshing Quran and a perfect example in the holy Prophet Muhammed(SAW).No doubt we are very confident as Muslims due to the fact that our Islamic teachings are incorruptible. Jazakumulah khairan

  • Muna A

    May Allah reward you for the great reminder..and may Allah protect us from committing any sin and if we did so to repent to him inshallah.

  • Rabiyaa

    Aswbh

    Once again through the taufeeq of Allah swt AlhumD a very detailed, truthful and beautiful nasiyaah (advice).
    May Allah swt grant you all Jannat Ul Fidaous fir all those who take heed of this advice and make ‘that change’ to become a better mumin in His Eyes – Summa Ameen.

  • Mohammed Basharathullah

    Assalamw O laikum VR/VB.,

    A wonderful article! Thank you for providing such excellent advice to help us all stay on the straight path. May ALLAH bless you and give you sound health. Ameen.

  • Shamsa

    SubahanAllah… this is certainly “food for thought” as so many times we THINK we are doing right – and yet we are slowly going off-track, especially when it comes to “pleasing”friends and family who are not fully guided. We are not to judge, but I am SURE our inner being tells us when we are “loosing the plot”
    PLEASE continue to remind us. May Almighty ALLAH be pleased with your tireless effort, and grant the Muslim Ummah FORGIVENES!!

  • Maryam Sh.Ali

    thank u very much,,you cant imagine how I need this,I live in a place that so many people around me and every one of them calling me to commit sins,now I am silent , I have stopped communications I just stay in my room,My Allah guide Us all

  • Dear writer,
    Many thanks for reminding me and all the belivers who read it.

  • H Ibrahim

    Thanks for reminding, May Allah Almighty help the entire Muslims, blessing and peace be upon our be loving Nab i Muhammad and his family, jazakAllah khaira

  • usman sani

    Your write up was quite educative and thought provoking. May Allah strengthen our faith and give us the will to resist the temptations and irrational desires that keep plunging us into the pool of sin. Ameen

  • Annonymmous

    this is in regards of this article a beautifull saying,(look within ourselves and see whether the pride in our hearts or the arrogance of our attitudes in anyway influence us to refuse seeing or listening to the truth. For those of us who suffer from such diseases, what is needed instead is an attitude of humility or humbleness that can motivate us to stay calm and open to seeing our mistakes thereby providing an opportunity to fix them. Ibn Al-Qayyim said that a sin that leads one to submission (and humility to Allah in repentance) is preferable in the sight of Allah than a good deed that causes pride (in one’s heart) (Al Fawwaid). That is obviously because pride puts a veil on our eyes and hearts and can lead us to more sins.)

  • Adetola Haruna (USA)

    May Allah increase our knowledge and forgive us all our sins.This type of information is good for all us,so that we can make an adjustment to our lifestyles and becomes a good muslims.

  • EDGAR M LEONARD SR

    This is a very good and meaningful article about sin and its affect on humans.
    Churches, Lodges, Temples, Mosques, Synagogues, and all worshipping situations should take note of such teachings, or atleast remind themselves about the ill effects of sins.
    None of us is perfect but we must still strive to attain perfection.

  • a.n.a

    am so proud of u maryam ;be close to ALLAH and u will be happy with all ur decisions I.S.A

  • Naz

    Assalamualikum
    Masah Allah for kind of reminder and personally I am so relieved reading this article about sins and its effects. I pray Allah always give people such courage to share such values knowledge. presently I am in a very bad personal situation due to family and sentimental problems. After reading this article I see clearly on my sentimental side that I am really not faulty because I was always doubting. May Allah bestow upon us all muslims His blessings.

  • zubairu muhammad

    JAZAKALLAHU KHAIRAN MAY ALMIGHTY ALLAH REWARD YOU ABUNDANTLY AND PROTECT US FROM COMMITING SIN AND ERASE THE ONE WE HAVE COMMITED & FORGIVE US. MAY HE ALSO GRANT US JANNATUL FIRDAUSI. WASSALAMU ALAIKUM

  • hamad

    Thank you for the detail information on what we should do in order to be a perfect muslim .May God bless you and accept your dua for all good which you will request ,Amen.
    Let us put this knowledge in the language which will be understood by other people and distribute it to our mosque.

  • Farhan

    May Allah increase our knowledge and forgive us all. Allah protect us from committing any sin. And peace be upon our beloved Nabi Muhammad (SAW).Thank u for spreading a true msg of islam .may allah bless u.

  • Mohamed Inshanally

    Assalaam mu’alaikum

    Alhamdulillaah. This is a very useful article. What could be more important than staying away from sins and involving oneself in good deeds? These are the 2 factors that would be weighed on the Day of Judgement. However, there was mention of some very important factors regarding sinning. I hope that we all benefit from this article by fully digesting all that has been said. May Allah (swt) lavish His mercy on you so that you could continue to strive for His Deen, ameen.

  • abdul

    Thanks once more for such a redeeming article! My take is on argumentation. My Imam is not that vast in Islamic knowledge, and some times I saw things going wrong and I would like it to be corrected but he keeps on resisting, would I keep silence or say it out? May Allah reward you and all those supporting this site. Ameen!

  • Yusuf Mohammed Bappa

    This article is very educating, informative and thought provoking to not only muslim brothers and sisters but to all mankind that acknowledge the existence and supremacy of Allah SWT. I pray to Almighty Allah to avail as much of his servants as possible the opportunity to see, read, internalize and utilize the content of this article for the benefit of all believers. And to you the writer, Jazzakallahu Khairan.

  • Asalamu-alaikum,this is very vital article. Why do we sin?
    The main reason is satan and our nafs(self) and also lack of knowledge. The only way we can prevent our self is to seek knowledge from the Qur’an and the Sunnah of the Prophet Muhammed (SAW).

  • Inayat Khan

    Jazaka-Allah for the great message regarding ways for sinfree life living.

  • Achmad Hanafi

    Jazakallah khair, its truly remind us to always remember Allah and seek bless from Allah the almighty God. Actually, syaithan should made human do sins due to their ability to walk in human blood. So istigfar is one of method to avoid doing sins in whole life.
    May Allah bless all of muslims and avoid us from sins.

  • Aisha bnt Yaqub

    JazakumullAh khairan. May Allah increase u in knowledge. May He forgive our concious and unconcious sins and make it easy for us to fight satan. Amin thsumma amin.

  • Mohamed Kutty N.

    It is really a thought provoking article. May Allath, the Almighty lead us to the Straight Path. Ameen.

  • Asslam-O-Alaikum! we do sins Because We Don’t Understand the sayings of the Holy Quraan …..We should follow our Propher Hazrat Muhammad(PBUH) because this is the only way to pass our examination in this World ……..
    we should read Daily Quraan with Meanings and Detail Tafseer ….

  • Dr. Gambari, A. I.

    May Almighty Allah bless you with paradise for this information. Jazakallahu Khairan, Amin.

  • A very nice and educative write up. May Allah continue to guide us to the right part.

  • Mashaallah what a beautiful article may Allah guide us all on the straight path with all good deeds without committing any sins inshaallah. ameen…….
    M.M.

  • Very inspiring mashallah.I make Dua that Allah(SWT)increase all the muslims eeman reward them in abundance.Also to let us as muslims be an example to all others. Insha-Allah Amen

  • May Allah deliver us from evil and strengthen out hearts to be good to all human beings.

    May Allah deliver us from evil and strengthen out hearts to be good to all human beings.

  • Bismillah hirrahma nirraheem. Khulikal insanu dhaeefa. Man was created weak. Weak in every sense of the word. There are innumerable verses/expressions of man’s weaknesses in the Al-Quran and al-Hadith. Seek knowledge about our innumerable weaknesses. ,’Muhasabah’ examine our human weaknesses, daily, weekly, monthly, periodically.It is our duty to regularly examine our normal human behaviour which sometimes infringe on the rights of other in our midst.’. Keep abreast of developments in our community, our neighbour’s, our human n inhuman needs and our infallibility. After all, we are constantly reminded to minimize our human failings by increasing our efforts to abide by the rules and obligations enjoined by the Al-Quran AlKareem, Al-Azeem……..we are but vulnerable, humble creations, subject to the laws of nature, laws of Allah, Gog Almighty. We must try our best to fulfill our obligations to the creator- Rabbul Jaleel. Wallahu ‘Aklam. Wassalaam.

  • Mariam

    MashAllah, it’s always enlightening reading from you. JazakAllah.

  • Hafeez

    My life is devoid of rizq, my relationship with most people is negative and my work is tough to deal with. I realise that they are due to my lack of love for my parents, relatives, sinning by seeing wrong things and nafs that I know more than others. Astagfirullah, I want to ask full forgiveness during this blessed Ramzan.

  • Aniq

    Ego is the obstacle to good advice.May Allah reside in our hearts and guide us to good deeds.Jazak Allah khairan for such good knowledge by the author, Ameen.

  • really absorbing article.Jazakallah

  • Anonymous

    Assalam-U- Alaikum May Allah bestow His blessing upon you, Infact very nice article both in terms of knowledge and introspect. Very well presented and beautifully arranged ..I like it so much ..thanks for awakening us and your true care for us..Jazzakallahu Khairan

  • Ray Russell

    Excellent reminder and explanation about how we fool ourselves into accepting “minor sins” in our daily life.
    Thank you and Allah’s blessings be with you.

  • May the Almighty Bless whoever is involved at iqrasense.

  • Mariam Goodur

    A very enriching expose on sins and how to avoid them. All believers should read it and apply the many so good examples in their daily life. Jazak Allah

  • ALVEERA KHAN

    ASSALAMU ALAIKUM WARAHMATULLAH WA BARAKATUHU
    JAAZAK ALLAH KHAIRAN!
    When person remember his or her last minute of life in this world and also that two angels are recording one’s deeds,then he or she will try to resist from doing sins.What is this world-a small station of journey!
    May ALLAH SUBHANO WATA AALA forgive each one of us and when we meet our ALMIGHTY we would be included among beloved servants of our Lord AAMEEN.
    ASSALAAMU ALAIKUM
    I

  • Ibrahim Bello

    Jazakumllah Khairan. As always good article. I would want to implore the Admin to Include other Social Media Links, like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn so we can share such beautiful articles there too where hopefully more Muslims would also have the benefits of this kind of information and knowledge.

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