Category Archives: Personal Development

11 Sayings of the Prophet to Inspire Optimism


By Taha Ghayyur

Those who don’t know him and haven’t studied his life, often think of Prophet Muhammad’s teachings to be full of negative or harsh messages. Many seem to be fixated on his sayings about the Day of Judgement and Hellfire, while conveniently ignoring his vocal messages of glad tidings and productive work.

After all, the mission of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was described by God as follows, “O Prophet, indeed We have sent you as a witness (Shahid) and a bringer of good tidings (Basheer) and a warner (Nazeer). And one who invites to Allah (Daee) , by His permission, and an illuminating lamp (Sirajan Munira)” [Al-Ahzab 33:45-46].

Prophet Muhammad was a beacon of hope for those around him. His ever-beaming smile would exude optimism. His words, whether of warning or of good news, inspired positive action.

Here is a selection of some powerful sayings of the Prophet to help us stay positive and productive in all circumstances.

1. Be a Bearer of Good News

“Give glad tidings, and do not scare people away. Make things easy, and do not make things difficult” (Abu Dawud).

2. Optimism is an Act of Worship

“Hoping for good is also an act of worship of Allah” (Tirmidhi and Hakim).

“There is no infection and there are no bad omens, but I like optimism… [Optimism is] a good word.”

3. Be Positive & Certain About Your Dua (Supplication)

“Supplicate Allah Almighty and be certain that He will answer your prayer” (Tirmidhi).

4. Strong Believer Doesn’t Make Excuses

“The strong believer is better and more beloved to Allah than the weak believer, although there is good in each. Desire that which will bring you benefit, and seek help from Allah and do not give way to incapacity. If something happens to you, do not say, ‘If only I had done such-and-such.’ Rather say, ‘The decree of Allah. He does what He will.’ Otherwise you will open yourself up to the action of Shaitan” (Muslim).

5. Do Good Regardless of Others’ Treatment

“Do not be people without minds of your own, saying that if others treat you well you will treat them well and that if they do wrong you will do wrong. But (instead) accustom yourselves to do good if people do good and not to do wrong if they do evil” (Tirmidhi).

6. Be Patient & Positive in Difficult Times

“Whoever abstains from asking others, Allah will make him contented, and whoever tries to make himself self-sufficient, Allah will make him self-sufficient. And whoever remains patient, Allah will make him patient. Nobody can be given a blessing better and greater than patience” (Bukhari).

7. Think Positive about God

“Allah the Most High said, ‘I am as My servant thinks (expects) I am. I am with him when he mentions Me. If he mentions Me to himself, I mention him to Myself; and if he mentions Me in an assembly, I mention him in an assembly greater than it. If he draws near to Me a hand’s length, I draw near to him an arm’s length. And if he comes to Me walking, I go to him at speed’” (Hadith Qudsi).

8. Istighfar Makes a Way Out

“Whoever does a lot of Istighfar (asking for forgiveness), Allah will provide him a way out of each concern he has, and will solve all his troubles, and will provide him with livelihood from sources that were not known to him” (Ahmad).

9. Affair of a Believer is always Positive

“Wondrous is the affair of the believer for there is good for him in every matter and this is not the case with anyone except the believer. If he is happy, then he thanks Allah and thus there is good for him. If he is harmed, then he shows patience and thus there is good for him” (Muslim).

10. Hope Prevails Over Fear at the Time of Death

Once our Prophet, peace be upon him, went to a young man who was on his death bed and asked him ‘How do you feel?’ The young man said, ‘I have much hope from Allah but I also fear for my sins’. The Prophet said, ‘The believer who has these two ideas simultaneously at such time, Allah fulfills his hopes and grants him security from fear’ (Tirmidhi).

11. Be Positive & Productive till Your Last Breath

“If the Day of Resurrection were established upon one of you, while he has in his hand a sapling (small plant), then let him plant it.” (Ahmad).

Got any Hadiths of the Prophet that inspire positive thinking? Feel free to share them along with reference in the comments below!

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18 Ways to Achieve Greatness through Gratefulness

By Taha Ghayyur

Whether you consider yourself a positive, easy-going person or a demanding, hard to please person, these tips can help you become a more grateful, caring, and content individual.

There is much more to gratitude and Shukr (thankfulness) in Islam than a mere “Thank You” that our ears have become so used to ignoring. Discover how you can be more thankful to Allah and His creation.

  1. Stop Complaining and be positive! This is the first step towards being thankful to Allah and people around you. We have become a community of complainers and whiners, which has lead to a collective psychology of negativity and unproductively.Stop complaining about the economy, weather, politicians, traffic, or ‘the system’. Refrain from blaming your Masjid, Imams, parents, spouse, in-laws, children, or boss. If you think with an open mind, you may find more positives in your circumstances and the people around you than negatives.
  2. Say “Al-hamdulillah” (All thanks and praise belongs to Allah) often: A constant utterance of this phrase reminds you of the source of all blessings and happiness in this life. This practice of attributing all good actions to Allah keeps you humble and content and has a positive affect on your relations with people.Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings be upon him, has instructed us to say “Al-hamdulillah” on daily basis: “Allah is pleased with His servant if, when he eats something he thanks Allah for it, and when he drinks something he thanks Allah for it” (Muslim).
  3. Respect others’ time and schedule: Part of ungratefulness is wastage of time. As a scholar once said, “Time is not just money. It is more expensive than gold, diamonds and pearls. Time is life itself!”Arriving late at a meeting or a class, cancelling appointments last minute, or starting off a program late, are not only a big waste of time and disrespectful to others, but also a lack of appreciation of others’ time on your part.
  4. Seize the opportunity while you can. Procrastination in offering your prayers, delaying a donation to a humanitarian cause, or filling your leisure time with unproductive or unlawful activities is ingratitude to Allah for the limited time and opportunity He has given you to do good and to achieve Paradise.Prophet Muhammad warned us, “Good health and spare time are two of the blessings of Allah with respect to which many people are deceived.” (Bukhari)Even if you live till tomorrow, what guarantee do you have that there won’t be any obstacles in carrying out a good action. The Prophet used to call on Muslims to take the initiative to do good deeds before any problems arise.
  5. Spend 15 minutes daily to think about things that you should be thankful for: Recall people in your life, whom you may have taken for granted like your parents, spouse, children, co-worker, or teacher, who were caring and loving.List some of Allah’s gifts that are not tangible or were not obvious to you before. Sulayman, a follower of the Prophet’s Companions, once said: “Remembering His blessings makes one love Allah.”This simple mental exercise not only makes you a grateful person, but also a healthy one. According to a 2001 research bythe Institute for Research on Unlimited Love (IRUL), based in Ohio, just 15 minutes a day focusing on the things you are grateful for will significantly increase your body’s natural antibodies, will make you less vulnerable to clinical depression, and will keep your blood pressure and heart rate stable.
  6. Be patient and grateful when disasters strike: The depth and strength of your gratitude is tested in difficult times. Allah wants to see how thankful you truly are when you loose your job or a loved one, or when you feel ill and or get injured.It helps to know that in times of calamity and distress, there will be some good for you, provided you respond appropriately. The Prophet said, “How wonderful is the case of a Believer! There is good for him in whatever happens to him -and none, apart from him, enjoys this blessing.” (Muslim)Sufyan al-Thawri, a famous early scholar of Islam, said, “He does not understand religion properly who does not count affliction as a blessing and ease as a trial.”
  7. Donate your time, talent, money, and advice to social work and non-profit efforts: In our profit-driven culture, it is burdensome to squeeze out time and wealth for others. Your selfless service and generosity towards people in need and non-profit organizations is a sure way of showing gratitude to Allah and to your community.The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him said, “People are dependants of Allah; the closest to Him are those who are most useful to His dependants” (Muslim).”As the blessings from Allah to a servant increase, so will the people’s needs of that blessed servant’s services. If the servant ignores their needs, it will cause those blessings to be removed” (lbn Hibban).
  8. Visit the sick, the terminally ill, and the disabled: Frequenting patients and families of the deceased, not only brings comfort to them and brings multiple rewards from Allah to you, it also helps you appreciate your own good health and opportunities you have in life to serve others.
  9. Share the message of Islam: If you appreciate the guidance of Islam as your most precious treasure, don’t hesitate to share it with others. If Islam has changed your life for the better, what’s holding you back from inviting your friends, family, neighbours, and co-workers to explore this message of hope and positive transformation?
  10. Recite and memorize the Duas of Prophet Muhammad: The most natural and beautiful way to thank Allah is the words of the Prophet himself.The Prophet told Muadh, “By Allah, I love you, so do not forget to say at the end of every prayer, ‘O Allah, help me to remember You and to give thanks to You and to worship You well’” (Ahmad and At-Tirmidhî).
  11. Fall in Prostration (Sajda) when you receive a blessing from Allah:Prophet Muhammad used to prostrate (Sajda) to Allah whenever he received something pleasant or was told good news to thank Allah for the grace he had received.
  12. Don’t consider any blessing too small: Treat all gifts of Allah with equal respect and gratitude, lest you lose it one day for good. Aishah said that the Prophet entered upon her one day and saw a small piece of bread on the floor, so he picked it up and wiped it, then told her: “O Aishah, treat the blessings of Allah with respect, for when it departs from a household it may never come back to them” (Abud Dunya).
  13. Use and display Allah’s blessings moderately. Part of being grateful to Allah is to look presentable and clean, and spend money on yourself with moderation.Abul-Akhwas nar­rated that his father said: “I came to the Messenger of Allah looking dishevelled and scruffy. He asked me, ‘Do you have any possessions?’ I said, ‘Yes.’ He asked me what sort, and I told him, ‘I have all sorts. Allah has given me camels, horses, slaves and sheep.’ The Prophet said: ‘If Allah has given you all of that, then let Him see His blessing on you.’”
  14. Don’t be too picky and accommodate others! Some people express their discomfort (perhaps unintentionally) with anything that they are not used to. They may be too picky about their taste of food, clothing and furniture; they may get irritated easily in new environments; they may like meeting only a certain type of people; they may not like working with others.This insensitivity to other people’s preferences and inability to accommodate others is a sign of selfishness, arrogance, and ungratefulness. Be content in every situation and you will become grateful.
  15. Admire those below you and keep your expectations low:  A lot of times the reason for our ungrateful behaviour is that we are constantly comparing our material success with the wealthier, healthier, and more accomplished. In our race to ‘keep-up-with-the-Ahmad-family’ next door, we forget so many obvious blessings that others may not enjoy and we should be thankful for.The Prophet admonished us, “Look at those people who have less than you and never look at those who have more grants than you, this will ensure that you will not depreciate Allah’s favours” (Muslim).
  16. Thank people for littlest things: People like to be appreciated for little favours they do for us, which often get ignored in our busy routines. When was the last time you thanked your little son for taking care of simple chore for you? Has your husband heard a compliment from you lately?Take the time to thank them for their thoughtfulness. As the Prophet stated, “The one who does not give thanks for a small blessing will not give thanks for a great blessing, and the one who does not give thanks to people will not give thanks to Allah” (Abud Dunya).
  17. Compliments & recognition and motivate team members: Whether you are an employer or a manager at work, or lead a volunteer based project, or simply a team player, a personal recognition significantly boosts the employee or volunteer morale.As Stephen Robbins in his book “The Truth about Managing People” explains, several organizational behaviour studies have indicated employees and volunteers rate personal thanks and recognition from a superior for a job well-done as the most motivating of a variety of incentives; yet not many team leaders use this simple, cost-effective technique that works like magic! What kinds of personal recognition and group success incentives does your organization have in place?
  18. When you thank someone, make sure you mean it: When you say “Jazakallahu Khayran” (May Allah reward you the best) to your wife, does it come from your heart? Or is it received as another cold cliché?Be a little creative when you really want to express your gratitude to someone. Say it with a personal thank you card. Show it with flowers. Accompany it with a genuine smile. Charge it with emotions. Enhance it with a meal or a meaningful gift.


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9 Things You Can Do To Revive the Prophet’s Time-Management Sunnah


By Taha Ghayyur

  1. First things first: Figure out the real priorities in your life. What’s worth spending an hour on? What comes first? What is a must-do and what is good-to-do?
  2. Allocate time consistently to activities that matter. Unless you plan for and schedule time for community work, or studies, or attending to parents, spouse, or children, on daily basis, it’s not considered important enough to you; chances are you will eventually start neglecting these high priority actions.
  3. Schedule your day around five daily prayers. No compromises. This will not only develop your discipline, but also your will-power to live a purposeful life.
  4. Plan for significant events in your life yearly. Whether it’s getting married, or applying for university, or going to Hajj, or paying Zakat, or attending a conference, or organizing a community event, plan for it so other trivial matters do not distract you from your goal.
  5. Be an early riser. Schedule your important tasks, specially that require mental exercise, earlier in the day, and see the Baraka (blessings) from Allah do the magic!
  6. Honour other’s time. Aim to make it to the meetings, classes, events 10 minutes before the start time. If you are running late, inform the other parties. Honouring other’s time is part of fulfilling your promise. Breaking a promise not only causes inconvenience to others, but also makes you loose respect in their sight.
  7. Just do it! Don’t waste any opportunity to do good. Don’t wait to ‘get old’ to fix your life. If you are not willing to live a purpose-driven, productive life now, then how do you expect Allah to give you a chance in future?
  8. Be optimistic and futuristic. Do not let failures and disappointments in life distract you from your lofty goals. Look beyond the temporal realities and plan for the future that matters. Otherwise, you may remain a loser now, as well as in the future.
  9. Think of a positive legacy you would like to leave, regardless of the time you have. Make your intention today to make a positive difference in your life and the lives of others. If you die tomorrow, your intention will count as your plan for a mission-driven life. But it won’t happen if you don’t act today to develop a firm intention and plan.

Taha Ghayyur is a writer, a consultant, and a community organizer. He works as a freelance writer with and as the Development Manager with Sound Vision, a pioneer in Islamic multimedia in North America. He writes and speaks extensively on issues related to Muslim youth engagement, education, leadership, communication, self-development and community development.

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The Sunnah of Prophet’s Time-Management Calls for a Purpose-Driven Life

The Sunnah of Prophet’s Time-Management Calls for a Purpose-Driven Life

A few glimpses of Prophet Muhammad’s time-management principles that contributed to a productive and purpose-driven life.

Taha Ghayyur

He did not have access to an iPad or a Google calendar, nor did he have the luxury of a secretary who managed his appointments and itineraries.

Yet, Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, was the most disciplined and productive human being and leader known.

If you study the Sirah (life) of Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, with specific focus on his daily and regular routines, it’s an eye-opener: How meticulous he was in planning every aspect of his day; how he prioritized his life; how serious he was about keeping his word; how he planned for important events in the year.

Here are a few glimpses of his time-management principles that contributed to a productive and purpose-driven life:

1- The Prophet divided the waking hours into three segments daily.

Spiritual Development: This was his time dedicated to Allah. It was typically the late part of the night when the Prophet would re-charge himself spiritually for the next day and boost his resolve to face the challenges in his mission. It was an intimate communication with his Lord, the source of all strength and empowerment, through Qiyam (prayer), Dua (supplication) and Dhikr (remembrance).

Family Affairs: This time, usually in the evening on daily basis, was with his wives and other family members. Despite his exceptionally heavy commitments to the community and governance, the Prophet prioritized serving his family and spending quality time with his loved ones over many other responsibilities.

Personal / Social Affairs: Throughout the day, the Prophet would try to find time to attend to his personal needs. However, he dedicated most of this segment to serving his companions and to attending to the community’s needs. This is the session when men and women would come with their personal, marital, financial, spiritual and even health problems; this is when he would receive delegations from other nations and faith group; this is when he would attend to nerve-wrecking issues of politics, conflicts, and leadership.

2- The Prophet’s daily schedule revolved around the five daily prayers.

As Aisha, the wife of the Prophet explained, when the time for Salah (prayer) approached, he would drop everything and head to the Masjid right away; it was as if he didn’t know anyone or anything else when the Azan (call to prayer) was called.

This discipline to give up all your work and life’s distractions for prayer shows the role that Salah played in living a mission-driven life and leading an extremely productive community.

3- The Prophet planned for significant events in the year.

Whether it was performing Umrah or Hajj, or sending a delegation to a nation, or freeing the slaves from their masters, or any other religious, political and family affair, he had it all figured out in advance.

4- The Prophet honoured other’s time.

He was sensitive to his companion’s time and needs. His Khutbas (sermons) were brief, concise, and powerful. Most of his talks or recorded sayings were no longer than 3-5 minutes. His more elaborate sermons did not seem to exceed 10 minutes. He would not only keep his sermons short, but would even shorten the congregational prayers if he realized that there were seniors, nursing mothers, or children attending to avoid inconvenience to them whenever possible.

He was also particular about keeping his appointments. Once, the Prophet gave an appointment to meet one of his companions to collect payment for a business transaction. The man forgot about the appointment and showed up three days later. The Prophet, peace be upon him, who was still waiting at the location, gently reprimanded the companion, saying: “You have caused me some trouble young man. I have been waiting for you for three days.” (Abu Dawud)

5- Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, encouraged his family and companions to start their day early to maximize blessings and productivity.

The Prophet said, “O Allah, bless my nation’s early rising.” If he dispatched an army or a division, he did that early in the morning. (Abu Dawud & Ibn Hibban)

Aisha reported that the Prophet advised, “Rise early to earn your living and do your affairs, for it brings about blessing and success.” (at-Tabarani)

Fatima, the Prophet’s daughter, said that when he saw her still lying in bed one morning, he told her, “My daughter, get up and witness your Lord’s bounty, and do not be among the indifferent; Allah distributes daily bread between the break of dawn and sunrise.” (al-Baihaqi)

Only a person with a lofty mission and vision would be able to commit to rise early every day and make things happen.

6- The Prophet had a sense of urgency in doing good & warned others against procrastination.

He said, “Lose no time to do good deeds before you are caught up by one of seven calamities awaiting you:

  • a starvation which may impair your wisdom;
  • a prosperity which may mislead you;
  • an ailment which may damage your health;
  • an old age which may harm your senses;
  • a sudden death;
  • the Dajjal (Antichrist);
  • or Doomsday, which is indeed the hardest and most bitter.”
    (Recorded by at-Tirmidhi, al-Baihaqi)

Procrastinators don’t appreciate the time, means, and opportunity Allah gives them to be productive. As Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, once stated, “Good health and spare time are two of the blessings of Allah with respect to which many people are deceived.” (Al-Bukhari)
Each day has its own share of work and each time has its own share of obligations. Therefore, in the Prophet’s dictionary, there was no such thing as idle time.

7- The Prophet had a broad futuristic vision that transcended the current reality.

Surely, life was difficult and extremely disappointing in Makkah; from drought, to economic boycott, to personal insults, to psychological abuse, to physical torture, to death threats; he bore it all along with his family and the small community of believers. Even in Madinah, his enemies didn’t want him and his people to enjoy peace; war and treachery became a norm until the final days of his life. He had every reason to be depressed and lose incentive to stay committed to his divine mission.

Prophet Muhammad faced it all with a positive, futuristic vision that inspired his companions to keep struggling and to plan ahead. He consoled them with the assurance that Allah’s hand is with them. He gave them the glad tidings of real success in the Hereafter. He promised them contentment and spiritual heights in this life. He assured many of Allah’s pleasure with them. He was concerned about the future of the generations to come, making prophecies about heir successes. He was constantly looking for opportunities for strategic alliances to establish a sanctuary of peace. He was confident about the rays of hope on the horizon. He was not bound by the negative realities of his time; he envisioned a future beyond his time.

8- Prophet Muhammad’s shining legacy shows that we don’t need a lot of time to accomplish a lot of things.

In barely 23 years, the Prophet, with the help of divine hand and wisdom, brought about such a phenomenal transformation of a staggering magnitude that humanity has ever witnessed before or after his passing away.

There were some extraordinary companions of the Prophet, such as Musab bin Umair, Jafer bin Abi Talib, and Abu Bakr, as well as outstanding leaders, scholars and authors who lived briefly, but made a powerful impact on the generations of Muslims to come with their sincere intention and contribution.

A scholar like Imam An-Nawawi lived only 44 years, but left behind some of the most popular compilations of Hadith, inspiring millions of Muslims around the world every day! Malcolm X (El-Hajj Malik El-Shabazz) lived only a few months after embracing the orthodox Islam, but the impact he had on American Islam and civil rights movement in America in the years and decades after his tragic death is incalculable.

Time is limited. Death is certain. But our intention to live a productive life and to serve Allah and His creation will itself be enough to count as a positive action.

Taha Ghayyur is a writer, a consultant, and a community organizer. He works as a freelance writer with and as the Development Manager with Sound Vision, a pioneer in Islamic multimedia in North America. He writes and speaks extensively on issues related to Muslim youth engagement, education, leadership, communication, self-development and community development.


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Muslim Standard Time: How to Cure the Chronic Disease

By Taha Ghayyur

“Oh my God. I am running late, again! Well, it’s all good. No one is going to be there on time anyway.”

How many times have you heard this and similar phrases in the Muslim community? Perhaps you are guilty of uttering them yourself as a habit.

Sadly, starting off late, arriving late, and delaying our programs has become a norm for many of us.

It’s gotten so bad that we no longer even feel guilty about arriving late to a class, function, meeting, Jumah prayer or appointment. Many don’t even bother to apologize. We fail to realize how much time and resources of others we waste due to our own insensitivity and indifference.

I remember arriving at a wedding last summer about two hours late (due to a pre-planned legitimate reason), only to find over half the wedding hall full of non-Muslim guests still waiting for the bride and groom and their families to arrive. The most heartrending scene was of a group of non-Muslim friends laying on the ground asleep. It turned out they were out-of-town guests who had arrived a couple of hours prior to the “official’ start time.

Of course the blame goes both to the organizers of the events and the attendees. It’s easy to criticize the organizers, but we have to do our part of making the program or meeting professional. It begins with arriving on time and respecting everyone else’s time.

As Muslims, every time we arrive late we lose respect in the sight of others. Imam al-Ghazali, in his commentary to a Hadith describing the characteristics of hypocrites, states that the trait “when he makes a promise, he never fufills it” includes specially those who consistently say ‘In-sha-Allah’ and arrive late.

I know of  a great contemporary Muslim scholar who, when he used to enter a conference, meeting, or dinner, the audience or members would match and reset their watches to the minute he was supposed to arrive at because he was reputed to be strict with time-management.

What can you and your family do and how can you prepare to arrive on time at any event:

  1. Get the directions to where you are going in advance. The common excuse for arriving late we often present is “got lost” or “I didn’t have correct directions.”
  2. Arrange your ride at least two days in advance. Call around and find out who can give you a ride. Always have a backup plan for rides. “I didn’t get a ride” is one excuse given, to which I ask: did you ask around early enough? Don’t wait for others to offer you a ride.
  3. Start getting ready at least 30-45 min. before leaving home. Don’t run into the shower, squeeze in three Rak’at of Maghrib, or iron your clothes just three minutes before you are supposed to step out!
  4. Have a realistic estimate of travel time. If you know it takes 25 minutes to get to a place, you have to leave your home at least 35 minutes before arrival time.
  5. Consider weather and traffic conditions. Listen to the local news or watch the weather report before getting behind the wheel.
  6. The 10-minute Rule works! No matter what the occasion, always aim to get to the destination 10 minutes ahead of time. This allows you to accommodate any last-minute uncertainties: “Oh, I forgot my wallet at home,” “”Man, I have to pick Brother x on the way,” “Oops! I have to pray my ‘Asr before I get to….” etc.
  7. If it helps you, set your personal watch, cellphone or car time five minutes ahead.
  8. “Well it’s a typical Muslim party or conference! There is no way they will start on time!” Well, guess what, if we ALL adopt this attitude, no one would ever arrive on time and let the program start on time. We have to change this thinking and make a point to arrive on time. Being people of principle, we must remain consistent in all circumstances.
  9. Be honest! Be honest to yourself and others. If you know you are going to be late to a party or Halaqa, clearly set that expectation with your host, coordinator or meeting leader. What does it take to drop a message or call to let the other person know that you will be 10 to 15 minutes late (whether it’s due to expected or unexpected reasons).
  10. Don’t succumb to the “In-sha-Allah Syndrome.” Use In-sha-Allah only when you know you mean it.

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