Perspective: Perceiving Life

INTRODUCTION

We often view life from a variety of perspectives. It depends on when and how you were born; what environment you were born into; your race and the end results of your existence. From a scientific aspect, it would deal with your genes. From an economic aspect, it would deal with whether you were raised in a poor family or a rich one. When you get down to the personal level, it would deal with what life means from your experience and perception of it from a variety of angles. This is a reflect of what life is all about to you at old age. This view is a PERSONAL VIEW which may be full of bitterness or happiness or a measure of both. It will include what you should have done or could have done or should not have done.

ENVIRONMENT

The environment plays an important part in shaping you beliefs and approach to life. Your race, cultural and religious beliefs add to it. You are SHAPED into what you believe in by your environment. Your religious beliefs, culture and ethnic state shapes your view of life. Education merely ADDS to existing information which enables you to survive in your environment. It can improve your position in life but it CANNOT change what you really are deep down inside because the mould has been cast.

THE LAW OF CAUSATION

Life

Every cause has an effect. When a person uses the above words, it clearly indicates the life the person has gone through. It is full of BITTERNESS and it seeks to be understood. We all go through such experiences to some extent in life and wish people could understand the circumstances we were in and what made us act in such a manner. These JUSTIFICATIONS can be valid or purely based on our egoistic desires. SELDOM do we view TRUTH outside our perception of the truth! This takes place because we live in our own world of reality, reality created by us individually. It is a FALSE perception of reality as it truly stands! Therefore, it is a NATURAL response for a person on the defence to utter the words above. 

PERCEPTION IS DIVERSE

If you look at a coin, it has an image, a denomination, and a shpe and size. Add all this up and you get a coin. This is the WHOLESOME picture of a coin. We do not view life and situations in this manner. We have the tendency of viewing life in a NARROW CONTEXT. We view it from OUR perspective, from a SPECIFIC POINT OF ENTRY. We do NOT looking into what LED TO THE CURRENT SITUATION. To understand life, we NEED to consider all factors, possibilities, causes and effects, repercussions etc arising out of our actions which have resulted in the present. On the surface, the suffering of the Rohingyas in Myanmar amounts to GENOCIDE. This is the INITIAL picture. When you  look deeply into the whole issue, it produces different realities. In an Islamic sense, NEVER discount ACCOUNTABILITY. We are ALL held accountable by Allah for our actions. So too are COMMUNITIES, NATIONS!

You may state that the cause for an increase in devastating hurricanes and typhoons is due to the destruction of the environment; you may say the Mother Nature is rebelling etc. Your ANSWERS are correct because that is the way you were raised to perceive reality. However, that is NOT the ULTIMATE TRUTH! You may say that it is God’s retribution, and that too would be a perspective of reality. It exists ONLY for those who believe in God!

Whatever ANSWERS you come up with is JUST your PERCEPTION of the TRUTH according to your UNDERSTANDING of the truth! Unfortunately, we all do NOT share the same views. This brings me to a statement I heard at a Friday Sermon (Khutbah) on 15 Sept, 2017 at Masjid Al-Falah, at Orchard Road, Singapore. The imam said to this effect: “Goodness can only succeed through patience but unfortunately evil reigns.” It is indeed very difficult to be good or remain good, BUT it is so easy to be EVIL!

REALITY IS DIVERSE

drain_skeleton_halloween_2013

DO NOT BE A RELIGIOUS BIGGOT! Islam is very clear about this. There are countless verses in the Qur’an expounding the truth as it is viewed in Islam BUT at the same time it calls upon all Muslims to respect the faith and beliefs of others; to NOT to abuse their gods lest they abuse the good name of Allah; to them their way and to us our way.

DO NOT THINK like the Jews, who believe that ‘they are the chosen people of God’ or as in Christianity, that unless you believe in Jesus Christ, you will not be saved, nor adopt the Muslim thinking, that the rest (kafir, mushrik etc) will all go to hell, just because they did not believe in Allah and His Messenger.

The reality of existence, whether it consists of God, Jehovah, Allah or Siva, is a PERCEPTION INTRODUCED TO YOU in a religious context. It is TRULY pointless to kill one another over being a Shi’a or a Sunni etc. What is IMPORTANT is UNDERSTANDING the PURPOSE of existence in terms of SERVITUDE. Whether we were created for such or not is also IRRELEVANT. However, what is important in life, is to serve the CREATOR and HUMANITY out of GRATITUDE and SATISFACTION. In this manner, you SEE NO EVIL, HEAR NO EVIL, SPEAK NO EVIL. Your WHOLE LIFE is DEVOTED towards goodness and servitude. It this manner EVIL is subdued (cannot remove it). In return, you are blessed with HAPPINESS and the PLEASURE of having served the creator and humanity.

If you want to view reality in a religious context, you still CANNOT escape from the FUNDAMENTAL PRINCIPLES put forward above. If you want to view it in an Islamic context, ITS ABOUT LIVING ISLAM with compassion, understand and knowing that everything lies in the hands of Allah and He knows best  You REAP WHAT YOU SOW. DO NOT PLANT A SEED that is CORRUPTED THROUGH MANIPULATION but instead, plant a seed that has CHARACTER, VALUES, DISCIPLINE AND SERVITUDE…that my friend, will translated every verse in the Qur’an into a sincere meaningful expression!

EMOTIONS, HATRED, ANGER and REVENGUE are valid responses to EVIL but NOT necessarily the only solution to a problem. Any INSPIRATION arising from this is nothing but the handiwork of SATAN! Once REASONING abandons you, you become an animal! SELF-EXAMINATION (muhasabah), REFLECTING on your past actions, rethinking your approach to life, examining your relation with Allah, being grateful and striving to do your best – all these factors lead to ‘insanul kamil’ (the perfect human being). The Messenger of Allah used to take pride in being Allah’s servant before before being that of His Rasul. Throw you EGO in the bin. Know that you will die and can die at any time. Think of the ENDLESS time you have to spend in your grave; THINK of the UNCERTAINTY that awaits you in the grave; think of the companions in graves besides you (in a prison, you can sometimes hear the torture taking place in the cell next to you). TRY your best to be HONEST, SINCERE AND TRUTHFUL over trusts entrusted to you. If you offended someone, borrowed an item, owed someone money etc….. settle it immediately. DO NOT BE A PREACHER WHO PREACHES BUT LIVES IN CONTRADICTION. Do NOT be a donkey laden with books (Qur’an), or a man who speak that which he does not follow. You can SPEND your whole life crying over spilled milk; you can try doing something about it. Whether you succeed or fail depends on you. The OUTCOME will reflect what you are, and you will be REWARDED accordingly in this life and in the hereafter.

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Perspective: “LA ILAHA ILLALLAH” (There is no god but Allah)

Tabarani narrated it from Abu Dharr in the Kabir (7:55), Ibn Hibban in his Sahih (31), al-Hakim in his Mustadrak (4:251), al-Mundhiri in al-Targhib (2:422), al-Haythami in Majma` al-zawa’id (1:18), Ibn `Adi (7:2639), Abu Nu`aym in the Hilya (7:174), and al-Bazzar from `Umar. It was reported that the Prophet (s.a.w.) said, “Whoever says: there is no god but Allah enters Paradise.”

At the time, as a result of this utterance by the Prophet (s.a.w.), a man went around telling people that all they had to do was to recited, “Man qala, la ilaha illallah dakhalat Jannat,” they would enter paradise. You need to look at the time frame in this situation. At the time, Islam was in its infancy and such sayings would be appealing. However, the Prophet (s.a.w.) did clarify in later sayings what would be incurred if you just believed in that. I once met a namesake convert who could not recite the Kalimah Shahadah. On questioning him, he replied that he had ALREADY done so, yet you and I know that as Muslims, we recite the Shahadah NOT less than NINE TIMES a day in solat (five daily obligatory prayers)!

Sayyidna ‘Umar Ibnul-Khattab (r.a.) on hearing what the man said concerning the Oness of God and paradise, dragged him to the Prophet (s.a.w.) for verification. Sayyidna ‘Umar (r.a.) was of the view that if these words were spread around, people would not strive in the path of Allah. They would be content with JUST believing in Allah. The Prophet (s.a.w.) remained firm in what he had said, but we do know from many other Ahadith that “an atom’s weight of faith” will see you into paradise BUT you would have to be purified before you can enter paradise. When you read all these Ahadith on being cleansed, you will discover how terrifying it is and how long it will take, you will become conscious that it is NOT a good option and that there is a need to be a better believing Muslim than just relying on this declaration!

The same is similar to my previous posting concerning fasting the Day of Arafah. The Prophet (s.a.w.) is reported to have said to this effect, that you will be forgiven your sins last year, this year and the year to come. No doubt, Allah is ar-Rahman nir-Rahim. He is NOT keen to send people to hell. Anyone who believes in Him and His Rasul will enjoy His mercy and forgiveness. The Qur’an clearly expounds this. However, how you PERCEIVE this and ADOPT it is very important.

TAWBAH (seeking forgiveness) is a serious effort – an undertaking NEVER to repeat a pervious sin(s) etc. If this is NOT adopted sincerely, it amounts to HYPOCRISY. However, there is the possibility that your Tawbah (turning over on a new leaf) may fail BUT at least you did not plan it that way. Allah knows best!

DO NOT TAKE SHORTCUTS or MANIPULATE or DISTORT a Qur’anic verses or Hadith to serve you JUSTIFICATIONS (nafs, egoistic views of self-interest). Whatever the Prophet uttered concerning belief in Allah or the Day of Arafah is VALID. Such statements need to be VIEWED in perspective; need to be adopted with SINCERITY; most of all it DEALS WITH LOOKING TOWARDS HOPE. These general statements cannot be viewed in a CORRUPT sense. If you did that, you are no different from a Jew or Christian!

If you say that “minor sins” are forgiven concerning the hadith on fasting the Day of Arafah…that is your OWN corrupt understanding of the situation. Whatever we do, we do so with the HOPE that it will be accepted and we will be forgiven.

Just IMAGINE, you fast the whole month of Ramadhan, day by day and here we have JUST ONE DAY (the Day of Arafah) and you are forgiven three years? My daughter, once said to me after listening to a lecture on fasting the Day of Arafah, she said, “Daddy, just one day for three years forgiveness……better than fasting in Ramadhan…. I had to explain what was OBLIGATORY and what is SUNNAH; I then elaborated on PERCEPTION.

In concluding, I say to you that one needs to be sincere over one’s INTENTIONS; one needs to believe and accept whatever Allah and His Rasul (s.a.w.) has stated; one has to fulfil these statements/sayings with the HOPE of being forgiven. No one can ASSUME that because such and such was stated it will be granted to you. It MAY and MAY NOT be granted to you EVEN if it exits or you may receive such a reward and loose it due to your OWN FAILURE to fulfil many other obligations to Allah (such as dressing according to Islamic requirements, keeping your promise, avoiding slander etc). Please take another look at your report card; do continuous self-examination; fear Allah and hope that He will forgive you; Improve your performance and upgrade yourself in His sight. ONLY then do you have a chance to TRULY benefit from His many gifts of mercy and kindness!

NOTE: Please read what I have said several times to understand your attitude and perception about issues in Islam. Do NOT be a bigot, who adheres to the call to JIHAD (example) just because Allah or His Rasul said this or that without understanding the dimensions involved in such an undertaking and the political manipulations incorporated by invested interest. YOU will end up serving Satan instead of Allah.

[http://www.exploring-islam.com/promise-of-paradise-on-declaration-of-faith.html]

When Husband and Wife No Longer Communicate

This is NOT an uncommon situation in life. There are countless couples who live with this situation. They started out happily being married but have ended like this. Why does this take place? What causes married couples to end up like this? My analysis of the situation deals with the following evaluation based on logic, reasoning and Islamic principles:

  1. No one is perfect

No one is perfect. Marriage is NOT a Bollywood movie. Marriage has its ups and downs. The reality of a person or true content of a person becomes known only after marriage. Initially it was all about love, beauty etc but after marriage what surfaces is the real character and identity of a person. There are bound to be things you like or dislike about the person you are married to. This is the package you signed up for in marriage. You either have to make the best of it or get divorced!

  1. Period of Adjustment

Like a travel tour, you only realise what you signed up for when you begin your journey. Most of the time you were absorbed in the goodies not the discomfort. At times during Umrah, I have wondered why I did not take a direct flight to Jeddah. The reason I did not think about it at the time was because I was thinking about being in Mekkah and Medinah. Then there was the cost factor, but in reality, the tour agency wanted to make more money so it presented us with a cheaper affordable flight package!

Every marriage requires adjustments. Life is no longer a single affair. It now involves two people. Compromises, adaptation and a willingness to consider and to listen to opinion presented by either party. Believe me, marriage is NOT one-way traffic. Male chauvinistic attitudes arising from religion need to be re-evaluated in a current perspective. Therefore, it is IMPORTANT to determine who and what type of person you want to marry! 

  1. Understanding Your Role and Position in Married Life

Modernisation has its benefits but it also causes stress when it is in conflict with religious doctrines. Do NOT become an Islamic idealist. You may retain some major principles expounded in Islam over marriage, the relationship between husband and wife, raising children, family and public relations etc, because, the Prophet (s.a.w) himself has said that ‘a woman is like a rib bone, if you try straightening it, it will snap! What this indicates is the ACCEPTANCE of a person according to his/her natural state (fitrah). Even the Prophet (s.a.w.) had to live with wives who were VERY vocal!

To succeed, one needs to understand one’s role and objective in life. What are your priorities in life after marriage? Are you going to quit your job to raise your children? Can you afford to do so etc? This is ONLY one aspect of the situation; Other aspects involve managing finances but most of all ACCOMMODATING one another for better or worse.

  1. Cracks in the Wall

I am often amused when I see young unmarried couples hugging and kissing in MRT stations and trains in Singapore. It will NOT exist after marriage. The reality of existence and survival takes hold of our lives. There is NO longer time to daydream. You have to make ends meet and the focus of your life will shift to earning money to pay your bills.

Cracks in the wall begin to surface with age. Some refer to it as ‘mid age crisis’. The reason why this takes place is because both partners take one another for granted. There is no longer excitement in a marriage. Its boredom day in day out, so interest shifts to others, prostitution and different lifestyles. The major cause for this is lack of interest over what the other partner likes you to be (the way you dress; the colour of choice; development in character etc). Most fail to realise that with age we change and progress (position in employment, further education etc). There are marriages where the change is significant, where one partner develops and progresses while the other remains stagnant  (remain the same from day one).

Change is unavoidable. Electronic equipment like our cell phones have progressed tremendously, so too does a person’s attitude and approach to life. Religion is the only thing that strikes a balance. Married couples need to keep pace with one another’s progress and development to make life exciting. Expectations also undergo change.

  1. Communication Replaced with Silence

Why do most married couples find it difficult to communicate?  The communication breakdown begins when either party does not want to listen to what the other has to say. It increases in intensity when one answers the other, saying something else that is NOT related to the subject raised. Often, it has its roots over unhappiness, dissatisfaction, anger and hatred, over something (it could be over an affair or an intending second marriage etc). To avoid an argument, many will resort to silence. They hold the view that it is pointless to say anything because saying something or anything for that matter will lead to an argument! When this takes place, it is the beginning of the end.

  1. Solutions

As you age, you undergo physical and mental change. Your approach to life also undergoes change. You are NO longer the you, you were 40 years ago. You have slowed down, most probably non-functional, non-compromising, intolerable and easily irritated. Pleasing one another becomes a real challenge. The problem with this situation is that most married couples DO NOT WANT to look at thing as just events that have come and gone. No one is perfect. You witnessed it with Bill Clinton. Therefore, It is pointless to churn the mud over past grievances, deeds or faults. Do NOT waste your time being bitter and spiteful. At that point in age and marriage it is useless. This is how SILENCE comes into the picture as a response. The extreme solution would be to end the marriage if you cannot take it anymore, but is it a problem with your partner or are you the problem?

 

A PERCEPTION ON REALITY

When I refer to reality from an Islamic perspective, there are two aspects. The FIRST deals with visible existence. We all exist. This is a reality, not an illusion. However, this reality is not ‘permanent’, not ‘everlasting’. The SECONDS deals with reality as it really exists. In this context, the Islamic perception declares that ONLY Allah exists, while we exist by His permission. There are two perceptions of reality. In one sense, everything visible exists but at a highest level it is non-existent because there is ONLY one reality – Allah

If we take the view that only Allah exists, then everything in existence arises from Him. In this context, we say Allah is in everything but NOT everything is Allah. If you recall the Hadith where a stone will cry out saying that there is a Jew hiding behind it – this indicates that the stone is NOT just a stone but a living thing.

Our perception will defer according to the way we think and act. It also depends on our understanding within our own respective religion, but ULTIMATELY, we all want to seek out reality because we all know we will depart one day. In the movie BABE, the pig Babe on seeing all the pigs being shipped out was under the belief that they were all going to paradise BUT in fact were on the way to the slaughterhouse! We have had many movies dealing with our final destination. One such movie is Jupiter Ascending (2015). Then we have thee alien theorists and Orion. Every religion has a perception of reality. It exists in Buddhism without a god. Total enlightenment is its goal, whereas in revealed religions, it deals with God.

Living with reality will also differ from one religion to another. However, if you understand that you are a ‘created being’ or a ‘puppet on a string’ and that your ‘freedom’ is attached to conditions (servitude and submission), then, the concept of free will becomes limited in scope. It is not only confined to existing reality but also by Allah who is the final approver. This view is subject to various religious beliefs.  The reality of the situation is that you appear to determine your own outcome but in reality, to achieve success, you have to fall in line or fulfill your destiny as it has been preordained or ordained?

Philosophical Argument on Enlightenment in Buddhism

If you are a person with an open mind and capable of not getting lost within the basic content your own religious beliefs than I recommend that you watch the YouTube movie Samsara (2001) Pan Nalin. The movie has some sexual content which is typical of movie production (that the way they market movies these days) but the way it is presented in a philosophical argument related to human perception, in terms of opinion from a woman’s perspective is very enlightening. I suddenly realised that religion on the whole is a man’s world. Women are usually and often placed second or down the ladder when it comes to position.

What Does the Film Highlight?

The film tries to provide us with a perspective from a woman’s point of view. Whenever, we view any religion, women occupy a secondary position. It is all about men. If you look up Judaism, Christianity, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism etc, men rule the day. The point of view presented by Perma in the film does have a perspective. We all know and accept what Buddha did was right. However, we overlooked the feelings of his wife. This perspective does raise several questions concerning the quest for enlightenment. You just cannot run away from physical life and its natural instincts (like priests and monks do) to pursue some ideal of enlightenment. Islam strikes a balance between mundane life and spiritual life. Everything is not a ‘dream’ nor can we say ‘nothing exists’ when it does. However, in Islam, we say that ONLY the Creator exists, while we exists by His permission. He is eternal, we are not (that is if you accept the belief in One God).

In the film we have the statement: “How do you save a drop of water?” The answer: “By dropping it in the sea.” There is substance to this, but when we view the Islamic perspective of self-annihilation, it would mean: “By becoming one with the ocean,” meaning that you lose your egoistic desires in “I” to become one with Him (in Sufism).

The plot in the film deals with Tashi a Buddhist monk at the age of five. Twenty years later, he emerges from a three-year solitary meditation, for which he is awarded the degree of khenpo by the rinpoche. When Tashi begins to have wet dreams, his relationship at the temple becomes strained. On an official visit, he stays with a farmer and meets Pema, the farmer’s daughter. He leaves monastic life, returning to the farm, where he joins the migrant workers for the harvest. After another encounter with Pema, they marry. They later have a son, Karma.

The first point to note is that later on he is told by his mentor Apo at the monastery that it was not a dream but it did happen. Tashi in his logical rational argument points out that Siddhartha Gautama, before he became Buddha (enlightened), got married and had a child, so for him (Tashi) this was necessary. One has to experience a thing physically and not just dream it.

The second point to note is that everyone involved seems to know what will take place. When Tashi marries Perma and later on has an affair with Sujata, a migrant worker who returns to the farm to labour each year, that too is known in advance by Perma. While Pema goes to the city to sell their harvest, he and Sujata have sex. He’s told that this was something Sujata and Pema have talked about for years. 

The best part of the philosophical argument comes towards the end of the film. We all know that Siddhartha Gautama left his home without a word, without saying goodbye to his wife and son. We all know that he gave up being a prince married to a beautiful princess whom he loved very much; we all know that he loved his wife...

While travelling back to his monastery, Tashi is confronted by his wife. She speaks about events and related them to how Siddhartha’s wife felt. She said, “Yashodhara was married to Siddhartha. She loved him dearly. One night he left her and their son Rahul while they were sleeping to seek enlightenment to become Buddha. He did not say a word when he left. Yashodhara had shown compassion for the sick, an ailing long before ever Buddha did…long before Siddhartha was even aware of suffering. Who can say that he owed his enlightenment to her? Perhaps Yashodhara wanted to leave Siddhartha and Rahul. How can we ever know if Yashodhara fell victim to anger, to loneliness or bitterness after Siddhartha left her? Who even thought about her (feelings)?” At this point in the film, Tashi falls on his knees. Pema continues, “What must she have said when her son, Rahul asked that eternal question: Where is my father? What must she have told him? How could a mother leave her own child in the night? It is only possible for a man to do, Tashi, only for a man to do. After that Yashodhara had no choice. She had to lead a life of renunciation. She cut off her hair and lived like an ascetic. O Tashi, if your thought towards Dharma were of the same intensity as the love and passion you have shown me, you would have become a Buddha in this very body, in this very life.” “Perma, forgive me,” says Tashi. “I am going back with you to where I belong.” She then drops a cloth bag to him as he sits on the ground. He opens it up to find a wooden bowl   and his beads in it. She leaves and he cries out in pain and collapses to the ground. Later he moves to the grave of his mentor Apo, when he see the writing on the stone. It reads: “How can one prevent a drop of water from drying up?” The answer is revealed when Tashi turns the stone around. It says, “By throwing it into the sea.” The film ends with Tashi looking into endless space.

CONCLUSION

I do not want to sound irreligious but in general we all accept and submit to our various religious beliefs in a dogmatic theoretical sense. We have the tendency to obey and to submit obediently which is a religious requirement, but at the same time, there seems to be a degree of ignorance over justice and fairness when it comes to applying or implementing religious injunctions. The film highlights the actions of Siddhartha and his goal towards enlightenment. No one actually considered how his wife felt. This is evident in every religion. It does raise questions concerning enlightenment. 

 

The DAY OF ARAFAH

This is the first day of Dzul Hijjah. I want to draw your attention to the DAY OF ARAFAH at Mekkah (Day of Arafat 2017 will begin in the evening of Wednesday,  30 August 2017 and ends in the evening of Thursday, 31 August 2017). Anyone who has performed Hajj will tell you that at the appointed hour on that day, as everyone assembles at the Plain of Arafah, they will witness a change in the weather. A sudden gust of wind will appear; a sudden coolness, even a slight shower of rain; everyone supplicates Allah Almighty at that time. It is truly an experience. From a spiritual perspective, the angels descend on Allah’s command to forgive those present. The Prophet (s.a.w) said, “There is no day on which Allah frees (forgives) His servants from hell than on the Day of Arafah.” Don’t waste your time with eclipses (a reminder of doomsday and azab). Instead go for Hajj and witness the Day of Arafah with its BLESSINGS! The western global news media will enlighten you about a solar eclipse with full coverage of the event BUT they can NEVER enlighten you over the phenomena that takes place during the Day of Arafah.

saudi_hajj_2012_06

However, what Muslims are told about the Day of Arafah is confined to this: The Prophet (s.a.w) said that whoever fasts on the Day of Arafah is forgiven last year, this year and the coming year. Most Muslims get carried away with this because of its appeal, and if you view it in a literal narrow context, you would fast to enjoy these benefits. This is a CORRUPTION of Islamic understanding. It creates the impression that you can get away with sin, evil, robbery, injustice etc. Please do NOT waste you time reflecting on REWARDS and BENEFITS without EXAMINING YOU CHARACTER AND BEHAVIOUR…..Allah Almighty is NOT dumb!

Just What Is The News Media Up To

Just what is the news media up to everyday? To answer this question let me offer you an example. Of late, there has been a rise in publicity over the late Diana, wife of Prince Charles. Just a few days ago there was a news report that Charles should be bypassed in favour of his son. It produced today’s news report by Sky News that Charles is facing a backlash over Dian. All this news sounds innocent but it has an agenda.

This is the SINISTER approach adopted by all news media. Instead, of exposing REAL ISSUES, society is fed with SPECIFIC reports INTENDED TO SHAPE our understanding of events. I the meantime the UNGODLY is left to flourish because it serve western political interest. For example, look at what’s going on in Egypt and the behaviour of Israel.- they all continue FAVOURABLY with US-western consent and media silence….just as BUSH and BLAIR got away with murder!

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