Shaykh Ibrahim Niass on Monotheism | Translated by Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

Shaikh Ibrāhīm Inyās, may God be pleased with him, on the Levels of Monotheism:

Regarding the Quranic statement, “And warn them that there is no god so be conscious of Me,” Shaikh Ibrāhīm Inyās, may God be pleased with him stated in Riyadh al Tafsir, Vol.3, commenting on Surah al-Nahl, ppg. 271-272, the following:

Monotheism is of three levels:

1) The monotheism of the Common Folk, ‘There is no god but He.’

2) The monotheism of the Elite, ‘There is no god but You.’

3) The monotheism of the Elite of the Elite, ‘There is no god but I.”

(This third level) is not achieved through the monotheist, himself. Rather, its monotheism from the Truth (Himself) be He blessed and exalted, there is no god but I. It is not peculiar that God should cause His slave to be annihilated in His Self (fi Nafsihi) …”

Translated by Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and had assisted Zaytuna College’s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch  has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

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Killing Ourselves with Our Plans to Live – recording by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

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Killing Ourselves with Our Plans to Live

as per  Shaikh Ahmad Al Tijani’s (RA) teachings from Kitab Al Jami (pg 739)

Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam till for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and has assisted Zaytuna College ‘s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

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God’s Mercy Embraces All Things – a thought from Imam Abdul Latif Finch

Whatever mercy God unfolds for mankind none can withhold it; and whatever He withholds, thereof, none can release it after Him. And He is the Mighty, the Wise. (35:2) When something unfolds it is due to its having been folded up at a point. Whatever is folded up is not visible. Hence the People of the Cave were instructed to go out of sight to receive Mercy, And when you withdraw from them and from that which they worship except God, then take refuge in the Cave. Your Lord will reveal for you something of His mercy and prepare for you in your affair some comfort. (18:16) Whatever is invisible is in the unseen. Thus, God’s Mercy is coming from the unseen. Whatever is unseen cannot be detected, as He said, be He exalted, And if you were to count God’s grace you could never reckon it. Indeed God is Forgiving, Merciful. (16:18) Whatever cannot be detected cannot be proven. Whatever cannot be proven must be accepted on faith. Thus, God’s Mercy is accepted on faith and ..do not despair of God’s Spirit (His Mercy). Indeed none despairs of the Spirit of God save the disbelieving folk. (12:87) Those who reject faith in God are ungrateful to Him for the word kāfir means “ingrate”. Whereas in truth, Whatever grace you have, it is from God. (16:53) All the things that we have are given to us from Him, I have myself, therefore, “I” or my consciousness is itself a gift from God. As my consciousness is a grace and thus a mercy and through it I participate in the world, all things I know of come through mercy. Thus, I can vouch for His words, My Mercy embraces all things, (7:156) as my own existence and whatever I encounter is embraced by His Mercy. Al-Ḥamdulillāh.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

Sept 2015

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Receiving Allah’s Mercy – a quote by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

An extract from Imam Abdul Latif Finch’s thought ‘When you love something, you love its very self’

Mercy Thought quote 1b - Imam Abdul Latif Finch

Muhammad Abdul Latif converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam till for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and has assisted Zaytuna College ‘s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch’s website

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Allah’s Division of Mercy – a hadith from a thought by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

An extract from Imam Abdul Latif Finch’s thought ‘When you love something, you love its very self’

Mercy Thought quote 1a - Imam Abdul Latif Finch

Muhammad Abdul Latif converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam till for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and has assisted Zaytuna College ‘s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch’s website

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When You Love Something You Love Its Very Self – a thought by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

A Qurānic sign states, “Your Lord has inscribed Mercy on Himself.” (6:54) The ayah indicates, rather clearly it seems, that God has a Self. This Self has Mercy written all over it, to speak in the common vernacular. In other words, God’s Self and His Mercy are synonymous. We will attempt to show here that God’s ultimate mercy is with his very Self and those who reach that self-hood of Allāh are those who enjoy the fullness of His Mercy.

God’s Mercy is with His Very Self

God’s relationship with creation and our relationships with each other are based in Mercy. The tradition states, “Allah has divided mercy into 100 parts, and He retained with Him 99 parts, and sent down to earth 1 part. Through this one part creatures deal with one another with compassion, so much so that an animal lifts its hoof over its young lest it should hurt it.” (Al-Bukhārī) Naturally not every relationship is overflowing with obvious mercy, thus we know that there is some level of apportionment to each situation that we encounter. This division of mercy is accounted for in this tradition as 99 percent is with Him while the remaining 1% is amongst us. No doubt, this 1% is then further divided until it appears that some situations received no portion of mercy at all! Nonetheless, for our purposes, it is significant to note that the remaining 99% are actually with God, Himself. They aren’t with His angels, nor in His paradise or any other creature. Rather, these portions are, and most intimately so, with the Self of God.

We are Encouraged to Arrive to the Self

Every destination assumes at least four components: the travel, the path, the traveller and the destination. If one of these factors is missing there can be no endpoint to speak of. Without a terminus, travel has no purpose at all and to be devoid of purpose is to be meaningless. Surely revelation and meaninglessness are mutually exclusive concepts. In the Book God states, “And Allah warns you of Himself, and to Allah is the destination.” (3:28) Thus, the Self is of grave import for He is the Objective. As every target has the four constituents mentioned above, let it be understood that the travel is called worship, the path is known as Islām, the traveller is the worshipper, and the destination is God, Himself. This quranic sign also warns us about our destination. One must be careful regarding any warning by asking for guidance in dealing with whatever they have been warned about. As the path to the Self is termed Islām and Islām is the Straight Path, asking for guidance on the Straight Path daily, as per our recitation of al-Fātiḥa, is our encouragement to reach our Objective. The goal is God’s Self and thus we are encouraged to arrive to the Self.

Those Who Reach the Self are the Most-Mercified

If 99% of something is greater than 1% of it, then it follows that whoever has that larger percentage has more of it. If God has divided His Mercy into 100 parts and preferred to keep most of it with His Self, then those who arrive to the Self receive more of a portion of Mercy than those who do not. Those who are fortunate to receive more of the Mercy are, in this sense, more mercified than others. Thus, those who reach the Self are the Most-Mercified.

Warning is Itself a Mercy

We have stated that God’s apportioned Mercy is predominately with His very Self. We also demonstrated that these helpings are, and most personally so, with the Self of God. Thereafter we have shown that our goal is God’s Self and that like all goals we are called to arrive to the Self. As shown, those who arrive to the Self are the Most-Mercified. Those who do not arrive are in a sense devoid of Mercy. Those devoid of Mercy face some kind of non-mercy. Whoever lacks some of the mercy of His Lord has not been fully guided. Whoever has not been fully guided has some level of misguidance. The Book states, “And who despairs of the mercy of his Lord, but such as go astray?” (15:56).

It may be said, then, that to whatever degree we suffer from misguidance, i.e., non-mercy, is the degree to which we are astray. As most of us have not reached this Self-ness described here, we remain asking God for guidance daily, “Guide us on the Straight Path.” The recitation of al-Fatiha is a divine mandate. Thus asking for guidance is a command from God. The quranic sign states, “And Allah warns you of Himself, and Allah is Kind to [His] servants.” (3:30) In other words God has warned us of His Self, via revelation. We are therefore instructed to reach Him and to thereby avoid the consequences of not doing so, i.e., not enjoying full Mercy. To be warned of consequences is to be enabled to evade them. One evades harm through guidance. We do not ask but that God has already granted us our request. Thus to request for guidance daily is a kindness to those who ask for it, i.e., the servants. In this sense, warning itself is a mercy.

As His Self and His Mercy are in fact synonymous, God’s Self is the epitome of Mercy. Those who reach that self-hood of Allāh are those who enjoy the fullness of Mercy while those who do not ask for it daily. This appears to be the essence of guidance. Whoever despairs of the mercy of His Lord, which lies ultimately at His very Self-hood, it appears, has not been fully guided. Whoever has not been fully guided has some level of misguidance. To whatever degree we suffer from misguidance is the degree to which we are astray. As most of us have not reached this Self-ness, and are therefore in need, thus we remain asking God for guidance everyday, “Guide us on the Straight Path.” Those who have attained to it know that this is a permanent condition for Mercy will always belong to the Self. Thus their request is for the Self, constantly. May Allāh give us Allāh, Himself.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

Aug 2015

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Bring Belief Forward | from ‘Pious Shirk’ – a recording by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

Below is a quote from Imam Abdul Latif Finch’s short talk on ‘PIOUS SHIRK’

Click HERE to listen to the Pious Shirk recording

Pious shirk 2

Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam till for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and has assisted Zaytuna College ‘s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy from the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

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Faith and God’s Self-Evident Praise – an article by Imam Abdul Latif Finch

The most important aspect of the faith of Islam is the belief in the oneness of God. This oneness is understood to be his unity in His Essence, Names, Attributes and Acts. Commenting on God’s words, “Say, ‘With Allah is the far-reaching proof. If He had willed, He would have guided you all,’” al-Qurṭubī states that God’s far reaching proof or argument is…

…that which undercuts the justification of the one subsequently disproven and removes the doubt of the one who investigates it. His proof indicated here is that He is One, and His sending of the Messengers and Prophets. His oneness is made evident by virtue of observing creation. His sending the Messengers is made clear by his aiding them with miracles…

In other words, according to him, God’s far –reaching proof is something evident. This is quite a paradox as will be illustrated below. His unity is clear to those who see that all entities, for example, are unique: no two of them are identical. In this way, all are “one.” In other words, if all things were given a numerical representation they would all be the number “1.” This kind of illustration would have, for example, all the individual letters on this page to be seen as, 1111 111 11111 1111 111. If one were to lift their eyes off the page they would see the same number all around them. If they were to look in the mirror a matching number one would be staring back at them. Who gives them this sense of unity to all things but a Lord who Himself has this quality but in His own unique fashion? As for the Messengers, upon whom be peace, if activities were random and devoid of any designer then how does a miracle impress anyone when all acts would then be miraculous. Rather, it’s evident that there is a pattern and hence a Pattern Maker. It’s only when the miracle comes and breaks the pattern that we notice the presence of the pattern and call an act a “breaking of norms.” Both acts, those based in the pattern and those outside of it seem to show the evident nature of their Maker.

Faith, we should understand, is not the proof that would support it. If faith and proofs were equated, then were a proof to be disproven, faith would be refuted along with it. Likewise, if faith were a matter of proofs, then all one would have to do is understand the proofs of faith in order to have it. This is often not the case for God states, “And Moses had certainly brought you clear proofs. Then you took the calf [in worship] after that, while you were wrongdoers.” [1] Despite the clear proofs brought by Moses, his followers had weak to zero faith. Faith, rather, is something that stands on its own that comes directly from God as something self-evident. The Book says, “So whoever Allah wants to guide – He expands his breast to [contain] Islam; and whoever He wants to misguide – He makes his breast tight and constricted as though he were climbing into the sky. Thus does Allah place defilement upon those who do not believe.” [2] Here I will show that God’s praise, like faith, is self-evident, and therefore, not in need of proofs.

The Nature of Proofs

A proof is that which inclines to prove or disprove something other than itself. This evidence is sufficient to establish a thing outside the proof to be true. In order for a proof to be considered it must be established as true. If it has that kind of integrity then it may bring that which does not have the same kind of truth-ness into a state of truthfulness. In this sense, that which is to be proven is inferior to its proof. If God’s existence is to be established by proofs then His existence is inferior to these evidences. This presents a problem for, as mentioned above, God is one in all of His aspects. That which is one in all of its aspects does not have a rival in any of them. His Being, then, is rival-less. He whose existence is without a competitive existence is also not subject to inferiority or superiority with regard to any would-be viable existence. In other words, it’s inappropriate that God be proven for He is neither in need of anything, far less a proof, nor could there ever be a proof that would establish His existence as it’s own existence requires God’s own existence. Those who believe in God then, don’t believe in proofs for the above explanation. They simply have faith.

The Nature of Faith

Faith may be defined as a belief that is not based on proof. That which is not based on something else is not in need of it. Faith, therefore, is independent of proofs. As a proof is that which requires something outside of itself to establish it to be true and faith is that which does so without recourse to proofs, the two are mutually exclusive. In other words, faith and proof do not co-exist. That existent which doesn’t require proofs is obvious. As such, faith is self-evident. It occurs whenever and however God determines it to exist. It may also be removed as instantaneously. The tradition states,

Rush to perform (good) deeds now, before fitan (trials and tribulations) of pitch-black darkness (appear), wherein a man wakes up as a believer and becomes a disbeliever by nightfall, and another man goes to bed as a believer and wakes up as a disbeliever… [3]

In this hadith the Prophet, peace be upon him, mentions a time, “wherein a man wakes up a believer and becomes a disbeliever by nightfall, and another man goes to bed as a believer and wakes up a disbeliever.” If faith were something based in proofs, as long as a person knew these proofs their faith could not come and go so easily. Rather, faith is something apparent that exists in the heart or it is not. May Allah protect us from losing the obvious.

The Nature of The Self-Evident

That whose existence is not in need of proofs is termed to be “self-evident.” That which is self-evident is discernible. An example of the self-explanatory is the fact that we exist. Some would say that even our own existence is subject to debate. However, if we didn’t exist then the question about our existence would not occur. So, therefore, to question my existence presupposes our existence that might be questioned. At any rate, our own existence is not in need of proofs, it seems, and so therefore “I” am self-explanatory as well. “I” am the first thing that “I” know as a child and so therefore the basis of our understanding is on that which is self-evident; our own existence. So, the self-evident is, like our own sense of self, axiomatic: manifest, accepted and clear. That which is evident is not in need of proofs. That which is not in need of proofs is praised for its clarity. “Their messengers said, “Can there be doubt about Allah.” [4] Our relationship with God is based in faith. Faith, as mentioned above, is something evident. That which is evident is not subject to doubt. Therefore, just as there are no proofs for Allah there can be no doubt in Him. That which is free from doubt is true. That which is true is praiseworthy.

Good and bad are particular examples of existence and therefore are both equally in reference to God. The Book says, “If any good reaches them, they say, “This is from Allah,” but if any evil befalls them, they say, “This happened because of you.” Say: “All things are from Allah.” What is wrong with these people that they do not understand any word? “ [4:78] - Imam Abdul Latif Finch

Good and bad are particular examples of existence and therefore are both equally in reference to God. The Book says, “If any good reaches them, they say, “This is from Allah,” but if any evil befalls them, they say, “This happened because of you.” Say: “All things are from Allah.” What is wrong with these people that they do not understand any word?” [4:78] – Imam Abdul Latif Finch

The Nature of Praise

To be praised is to exist in the state of being approved or admired. In order to be approved or admired one must first be mentioned. Therefore, praise is based in reference. All activity points to an actor. Existence is an activity. Therefore existence points to one who causes it to occur. In this sense all entities reference or mention this Actor. Good and bad are particular examples of existence and therefore are both equally in reference to God. The Book says, “If any good reaches them, they say, “This is from Allah,” but if any evil befalls them, they say, “This happened because of you.” Say: “All things are from Allah.” What is wrong with these people that they do not understand any word?[5] Perhaps we cannot understand any word because we are left to our own judgments about them which causes us to be veiled from the Truth that is behind them?

I say that we cannot decide whether or not some event is ultimately good or bad unless one knows its ultimate ending when time and space finish. As creatures with only temporal orientations, we cannot know the atemporal result of any event; this is why the Day of Judgment must come for the ultimate end of every act will become clear. As such we cannot make judgments about anything outside of our perspective for we are not God and this is not the Day of Standing. Rather, the final say lies with the Actor who is beyond all events. As all activities lead to God, all acts are in reference to Him. This universal mention orients all creatures to their Maker. As objects oriented toward the Lord, He is above them in every sense. This exaltation or praise is absolute for, “Whatever is in the heavens and whatever is on the earth is exalting Allah, the Sovereign, the Pure, the Exalted in Might, the Wise.” [6] There is nothing outside the heavens and the earth and there is one act of reference to that which is above them. This exaltation comes from them to one Receiver of this Praise. As there is no one more appropriate for this referencing, all Praise or referencing is due to Allah.

Conclusion

That which is absolute is complete. That which is complete is sufficient. That which is adequate doesn’t require help. That which doesn’t require help stands alone. As stated above, proofs serve to assist. Faith doesn’t require backing, as it stands alone. Therefore faith stands alone without partner, yet in a created sense of the idea. Likewise God’s praise has been shown to be total. That which is ample is not in need of additions. Therefore, God’s praise stands alone without partner. All of this, upon deliberation, seems self-evident. That which is self –evident stands alone and has no partner, and this is true for both God and His creature that reflects His aloneness. Ironically then, the praise of God who is Himself alone and has no partner, like the faith in our hearts, is self-evident, and therefore, not in need of proofs. This oneness seems to be a self-evident and far reaching proof. May Allah guide us all. Amin.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch

June 2015


[1] Quran 2:92

[2] Quran 6:125

[3] Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim

[4] Quran 14:10

[5] Quran 4:78

[6] Quran 62:1

Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch converted to Islam at the age of 20 and has earned ijazas in Islamic Sciences including Quranic Sciences, Hadith, Maliki and Shafi’i Jurisprudence, Usul al-Fiqh, Seerah, Logic, and Arabic Grammar and Morphology under the tutelage of numerous scholars, including Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, Shaykh Salik bin Siddina, Imam Zaid Shakir, Shaykh Abdur Rahman Taahir, Qari Umar Bellahi, Shaykh Abdullah Ali, and Shaykh Yahya Rhodus.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch co-founded the Lighthouse Mosque in Oakland, California where he served as the Imam till for 3 years until he resigned in 2012 to focus on his graduate studies. In addition, he was a teacher and a program developer for Deen Intensive Foundation, Seekers Guidance and has assisted Zaytuna College ‘s Summer Arabic Intensive program for three years in a row.

Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch has recently attained a Master’s degree in Philosophy at the Dominican School of Philosophy and Theology, a member of the Graduate Theological Union in Berkeley.

Many thanks to Imam Muhammad Abdul Latif Finch for contributing to this blog.

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