Islam 101

Islam 101: Salatul Tasbih

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies.

It is almost 2 am here in London and I just finished Salatul Tasbih. The Prophet (SAW) recommended for us to perform this prayer at least once during our lifetime. It’s a long one, but doing so will erase a lifetime of sins.

Honestly, after many nights of not sleeping after iftar, I am sleep deprived. Right now I can barely keep my eyes open. But tonight reminded me of the beauty of our faith. Prayer is a sort of meditation for us. It re-centers and grounds us, reminding us of what really matters. It’s coming up to 2 years since I became Muslim and I just have to be really thankful for where Allah (SWT) has brought me. This Ramadan has been a challenge but also a blessing.

Praying Salatul Tasbih reminded me of so much that I had forgotten. It brought forward a lot of insight into my own inner workings and reminded me that Allah (SWT) needs to be at the center of everything I do. It also reminded me of all the little bits of haram in my life that I need to fix. We all have these: little actions, words, thoughts that become habits that are subtly bringing us down in the background. Now, I feel in my heart an openness towards what I need to do to change and be the best Muslim I can be. I feel like I’ve been given a direction and now I know where to begin, insha’Allah.

I know it’s late and I’m getting too deep (don’t catch me in a discussion in the middle of the night, I get way too into it!), so I’ll leave you with the how-to below. It’s a little intimidating, but it’s worth it and you can do it!

Rasulullah ﷺ is narrated to have said to his uncle Hazrat ‘Abbas (R.A): O Abbas! O my uncle! Shall I not give you a gift? Shall I not show you something by means of which Allah will forgive your sins, the first and the last of them, the past and recent, the unintentional and the intentional, the small and huge, the secret and open? The Holy Prophet ﷺ then taught him the Salah al-Tasbih. Furthermore he advised him that it be offered daily, if possible. If not, then every Friday or once a month or once a year or at least once in one’s life time. (Abu Dawood)

The Tasbih that is read is: ‘Subhaanallaahi walhamdu lillaahi walaa ilaaha illallaahu wallaahu akbar’

Read here for the details on how to perform this prayer if you’re interested!

Much love,

Nahlah

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beauty, ramadan, Uncategorized

A Day of Halal Self-Care w/ Bayance

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

With most of us around the world in lockdown, the topic of self-care has been more popular than ever. And with Ramadan upon us, now is the time to establish a solid, halal routine to be our best selves! To do this, I’m teaming up with my girl, the amazing Bayance, to go back to the sunnah and a few popular halal beauty practices. The glow up is real, y’all.

In Islam, beauty is so treasured and respected that we have been given a responsibility to protect and preserve it. As Muslim women, we’re encouraged to beautify ourselves for the sake of Allah (SWT), our husbands, and ourselves. It is said that beautifying yourself can be an act of worship if done in accordance with the sunnah. Check out the list below for my halal Ramadan self-care routine!

1) Hot Oil Treatments for Hair

“I heard Jabir bin Samurah being asked about the gray hairs of the Prophet [SAW]. He said: ‘If he put oil on his head they could not be seen, but if he did not put oil on his head, they could be seen.’” (An-Nasa’i)

“Rasulullah often rubbed oil in his head and also often combed his beard. He put a cloth over his head, which became like an oil cloth due to the frequent use of oil.” (Shamaa’il Muhammadiyya)

Oiling the hair was recommended by the Prophet (SAW), who did it himself. It nourishes the hair, promoting softness and shine and can protect against split ends. To do a hot oil treatment, you’ll need an oil of your choice (olive oil is highly recommended), an old t-shirt, water, a bowl, and a towel or plastic bag. Soak the t-shirt in water, place it in the bowl, and microwave for 30 secs or until hot. Make sure it’s not so hot that you’ll burn yourself. As you wait for the shirt to heat up, coat your hair in oil. Once done, wring the excess water from the shirt and wrap your hair in it. To insulate the treatment and get the full effect, wrap your head in a towel or plastic bag and let sit for 30 minutes or until the treatment goes cold. Then shampoo your hair and you’re done!

And full disclaimer, you will look crazy while doing this. Good thing we’re in lockdown, right?

2) Manicure

A’ishah said, ‘a woman gestured from behind a screen, with a letter to the Messenger of Allah (blessings and peace of Allah be upon him) in her hand. The Messenger of Allah withdrew his hand and said: “I do not know whether it is the hand of a man or a woman.” She said: It is a woman. He said: “If you were a woman, you would have changed your nails,” meaning, with henna. (Abu Dawud)

It is sunnah and hygienic to keep nails short and clean. But this doesn’t mean they can’t look pretty and feminine! To achieve this, you can file them to a nice shape, clean under the nails, and use a nail buffer to increase smoothness and shine without polish. You can also use any oil of your choice to moisturize the nail beds and promote nail and cuticle health.

3) Black seed oil massage for face and scalp.

Abu Hurayrah narrated that the Prophet said:  “Use this Black Seed regularly, because it is a cure for every disease, except death.” (Al-Bukhari and Muslim)

Black seed oil holds a number of health benefits both internally and externally. It is a well-known antioxidant with anti-inflammatory properties as well. There have been some studies showing improvement of eczema, acne, and psoriasis for individuals using black seed oil. For skin health, you can use it to do an oil cleanse and massage for the face and scalp.

4) Rosewater

Rosewater is a very popular beauty product used in a number of households all over the world. It is full of antioxidants and has anti-inflammatory properties. It is also known to help balance the skin’s pH. This basically means that you can use it to soothe redness and irritation in the skin and also to protect the skin from damage. It can be used in place of normal water for clay masks or as a toner after cleansing the skin.

5) Clay

You can use rhassoul clay (or bentonite or green clay) to treat the skin and clear pores. You can also do a Moroccan-style hammam bath at home. This helps to draw out impurities from the skin, combat redness, soften the skin, and make it radiant.

And that, my lovelies, is my 5-step Ramadan self-care routine!

Bonus: make sure your everyday skin and hair care products are halal! One of the sneakiest ingredients is collagen which is often derived from beef and/or pork. Also watch out for wine and sake extracts. Funny story, the first 2 months I was Muslim I didn’t think to do this with my skincare routine. You would think I would have found the collagen products questionable with the cute little piggies on their packaging, but no. I continued to slather my face in it right before maghrib. Don’t be like me. Check the ingredients!

Be sure to check out Bayance’s post here for more genius halal beauty tips! What are your favourite self-care rituals? Tell me all about them in the comments below!

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ramadan, real talk, Uncategorized

Real Talk: Don’t Be an A**hole This Ramadan

There. I said it.

Last year I spent Ramadan by myself so I was the only hangry person that I had to deal with. But, I have this personal philosophy that you shouldn’t make other people suffer for your own problems. Have I always been a shining example of this? No, but I try my best.

This year, I’m spending it with family and am around a lot more Muslims than before. Let’s just say I’ve seen some childish and rude behaviour coming from some of them. Like, everyone can be chilling, doing their thing, getting iftar ready and then one person has to come in and ruin the mood. Snapping at people, talking down to them, being disrespectful, yelling, complaining are some things I’ve seen some people do this month and I am not impressed.

I won’t go into details, but I’m surprised that there are people who walk around like they’re the best of the ummah but so easily throw away a fast. Yelling, insulting, berating, and taking out your hunger on everyone else is not a part of Ramadan and is the exact opposite of what the Prophet (SAW) would do. Ramadan isn’t just about being hungry and thirsty, y’all. Those are just the basics. This is a time to practice respect and kindness towards others. If we have the strength to face a day without food and water, we should also have the strength to refrain from destructive actions and words. We’re all fasting this month, we’re all hungry and sleep-deprived, so treat those around you with love and kindness.

This message is for everyone, including our elders. Astaghfirullah, I’ve seen some of the worst behaviour from them. May Allah (SWT) protect our hearts from growing stubborn and prideful as we age. Being older than another person does not give us the right to disrespect them or treat them poorly. Especially if we’ve been observing Ramadan for years, we should have the wisdom to monitor our behaviour and hold our tongues when we are about to speak in frustration. And if we do speak out of turn, we should have the humility to ask for forgiveness.

Ok, rant over. I just had to get that off my chest because I can’t say anything in person. You are all amazing and I wish you happy fasting! Also, go take a nap if you need it. xx

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ramadan, Uncategorized

Ramadan and Your Menstrual Cycle

Y’all know it’s going to happen to a majority of us at some point during the month, so what do we do?

I used to get quite frustrated with my period during Ramadan. I saw it as a great injustice that I had to miss out on a week of fasting and good deeds just because my body decided to punish me for not getting pregnant. But the truth is, while you do have to put off fasting, you don’t have to put off your good deeds. Reading Quran may be off limits, but there is so much more that you can do to grow in your deen and serve the ones around you.

Mufti Menk once said something along the lines of this: what a blessing it is that Allah (SWT) chose to make things easy for women during their periods, subhan’Allah. It isn’t a curse and it isn’t something we should complain about. We get to rest and let our bodies do their thing. The female body is such a beautiful creation that requires a lot of care and that’s not a bad thing. She goes through seasons of fertility, rejuvenation, creation, intimacy, passion, energy, and nurturing. She is dynamic and transformative, subhan’Allah. The few days to a week that many of us have to slow down are crucial to reflecting and taking time to focus on things we usually move to the side.

All of the things we can do:

Make dua and do zhikr. Catch up on reading books on Islamic values and journaling your thoughts, feelings, and desires. Take the time we would usually be praying our 5 daily prayers and taraweh to reflect/meditate on whatever we feel needs attention. Volunteer and/or give to charity. Visit older family members, cook for people, or teach children about Islam. Slow down during this week (if we can) and practice a little self-care. Show a little love to ourselves and show love to our family. Especially now that everyone is fasting and low on energy, maybe we can help make everyone’s day a little better (which is also a form of charity, btw).

Obviously, we have to eat and drink during the day while we are menstruating. But it is also kind of awkward when you live with other people. Some women are still cool with waking up with their families for suhoor and then sneaking little bites of things throughout the day. But if you’d rather sleep in, that’s ok too! You do whatever works best for you. But also make sure you’re getting enough nutrients because your body definitely needs it during this time.

Live footage of me getting caught sneaking food.

How do you spend this time during Ramadan? Tell me all about it in the comments below!

Assalaamu alaikum!

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ramadan

Ramadan Countdown Day 1/2

Ok, I did get the days wrong. I’m sorry, I failed you all. Today’s preparation? I’ve got 2 for y’all!

1) Make sure you’ve got your alarm set for as much time as you need before suhoor ends. If you know you’re the type to hit snooze, put the alarm clock as far away from your bed as possible. Put your phone at the other end of the room. If you have a FitBit, set the silent alarm.

And when you’re waking up at 1/2/3 in the morning and it feels like the end of the world to get up, just remember that this is your last chance to eat food until Maghreb. Works for me every time.

2) Prepare your suhoor meal before hand. Since it’s the first one in awhile for many of us, it’s a lot easier to go for simple foods that you don’t have to cook from fresh. Cereal, overnight oats, granola, peanut butter balls, fruit, yogurt, boiled eggs, etc. Get all of it sorted out tonight so you don’t kick yourself in the morning.

Well, lovelies, it has been a wonderful 19 days with you. It would have been 20 but I don’t know how to count. Thank you so so much for joining me on this journey to reach this Ramadan, alhamdulillah. Ramadan Mubarak! And may Allah (SWT) grant you ease and blessing throughout this month, insha’Allah. Assalaamu alaikum.

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ramadan, Uncategorized

Ramadan Countdown Day 4

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

Thank you for joining me once again for day 4 of our Ramadan Countdown! Today I want to talk about how we can set up our phones for Ramadan. I know that we discussed curating our playlists and social media feeds, but this goes even deeper. Especially now with the pandemic going on, most of us in lockdown, and Ramadan beginning in a few days, we will most likely be on our phones more than ever. How can we use this tool to make sure we stay focused on deen?

Below I’ve put together a list of really helpful apps to download. Check it out!

1) Muslim Pro

This one has to be one of my favourites and one that I recommend to everyone. It is a central hub for almost everything you could want. It has the Quran in not only the Arabic script, but also the English transliteration and translation. The text is also recorded so you can press the button by each individual ayat to hear the recitation (you can also customize this). You can also choose from practically any translation of the Quran that you wish and choose what type of script the surats will be written in.

There is also a qibla finder, prayer times that play an optional adhan, an Islamic calendar with the important Islamic dates listed, duas, a zakat calculator, Allah’s (SWT) 99 names and their meanings, a digital tasbih, Hajj/Umrah guides, a prayer tracker, a community forum, a live stream from Makkah, and more.

2) Quran Pro

This is my second favourite app! To begin you can choose between a dark mode or a light mode and you can also choose your default language. It has versions of the Quran in French, English, Indonesian, Turkish, and Urdu. I love this app because you can listen to Quran recited by many different people. While most of it is the traditional Arabic recitation, there are also audio translations in French, English, and Urdu. You can also download your own playlists or the ones they’ve created to listen to offline.

3) Daily Hadith

This app is really simple but a nice little reminder during the day. As you can probably guess from the title, each day you receive a different hadith to read. You can choose which language you’d like the hadiths to be written in and you can share them with friends and families as well.

4) Salat Learning & Step by Step Salat

These were the first apps I downloaded when I was trying to learn how to pray. If you are struggling or still trying to memorize all the different steps and things to say, these are the apps for you. They provides graphics of how to perform each step, the transliteration of what to say, the meaning of what you’re saying, and videos to give a more in-depth demonstration.

The Step by Step Salat app goes a little more in depth so I’ve found that I prefer that one.

5) Quran Companion

Yes, this is another Quran app but what makes this one different is it’s also designed to help you learn how to read it. It comes with games, challenge, guided lesson plans, and learning techniques to help you with memorization.

6) MuzMatch

Ok, I know that the purpose of Ramadan is not to be focused on the opposite sex, but I’m leaving it here for those of you with Tinder hiding in your finances folder on your phone. Yeah, that’s right. I know all about that. It’s kind of obvious why Tinder and apps like it shouldn’t be on your phone during Ramadan. I mean, you do you, but there’s nothing good on them. On MuzMatch there are still people up to no good, but  you also find a lot more people with good intentions and it’s much easier to set up boundaries. Your profile has to go through review every time a new photo or info is uploaded which ensures that modesty is upheld and no one posts inappropriate things. If you’re looking to get married, this is a really good app. They actually boast 3,000 marriages so far!

7) Muslim Central

This app is chock full of Islamic lectures of all sorts. If you don’t want to download the app, you can also search the name on Spotify where you’ll find they have an entire playlist of stuff to listen to as well. I like having this app on hand because if I’m in the mood to listen to or watch something, it’s much easier to access good content on this platform than it is on YouTube. I always get distracted by skincare videos on YouTube so this is helpful for me.

8) Labayk & theShukran

If you’re trying to make your social media usage more halal and connect with other Muslims, these two apps are social media platforms targeted towards you. I have not used them myself and they are quite new and don’t seem to run as smoothly as the mainstream apps. So if you download them and they’re awful, please don’t hate me! They seem quite interesting, though and from what I’ve read on the reviews, you’re not able to contact people directly on theShukran so no worries about creepy DMs.

9) Investing

I’ve been on the search for good halal investing apps for those of you who are interested, and there seem to be quite a few. As I’m no expert in this field, I’ve linked to a website that actually lists these apps and their features out so that you can see what works best for you.

10) Muslim 3D

This app is a 3D exploring game. So far into playing it, it doesn’t seem like you can do much but walk around and explore the area but there are portals to different parts of  Makkah and interesting facts along the way. Definitely interesting if you haven’t been for Umrah or Hajj yet!


Let me know what you think of these apps in the comments below! What are your favourite apps during Ramadan?

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ramadan, Uncategorized

Ramadan Countdown Day 6

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

It is day 6 of the Ramadan Countdown and today we’re talking about social media.

I know that there has been a barrage of articles lately on the evils of social media and how it is ruining our lives. I apologize in advance for contributing to the witchhunt. Well actually, I’m not here to completely put social media down. It makes for a really great tool and most businesses today couldn’t succeed with out it. But while it has many benefits, there are also as many, if not more, pitfalls. It’s no mystery that social media has contributed to a number of mental health problems in its avid users. I mean, who can blame them? Consistently exposing yourself to carefully curated images that make it seem like everyone else is more beautiful, wealthy, successful, and smart than you is bound to have negative effects.

Following certain people can start off with good intentions but very quickly end in us feeling inspired to indulge in a lifestyle that is contrary to who we are and what we believe. Seeing beautiful women my age living their best lives in cute outfits with their hair like a crown shining through the screen is tempting. I could be one of those women, I kind of want to be one of those women. The more I look, the more I start to see the hijab as a burden and not a blessing. Why can’t I live my best life with my hair covered? In fact, my life should be even better because it takes me that much less time to get ready in the mornings. Also see, no bad hair days.

What about following people who post about doing haram things (partying, drinking, drugs, smoking, sex outside of marriage, etc.)? People who perform inconsiderate pranks? People who post crude humour (yeah, I know it’s funny but it’s Ramadan. Keep it halal, bro.)? I could keep going on, but I think another good way to prepare for focusing on deen is to go through our social media and curate who we follow. In other words, unfollow anyone who isn’t motivating you to be your true best self. And this best self means being the best Muslim you can be, the best daughter, the best sister, the best friend, the best wife, the best mother, the best employee, the best student, and/or whatever other role you fill.

If following someone is motivating you to be anything less than that or if following them makes you feel jealous or bad about yourself, then unfollow them.

In the past week I’ve had to ask myself, do I really need to follow a fashion blogger who has an enviable walk in closet and who’s style is the exact opposite of mine? Probably not. Do I need to follow a secular singer who also happens to be a Fashion Nova babe? Yeah, nah. These people live their lives, do what they want to do and that’s cool. But their lifestyle doesn’t match up with mine and social media doesn’t have many boundaries after you hit that follow button. I love seeing my feed full of other Muslim women, especially ones who have the same values as me. It’s encouraging and inspiring and that’s definitely something I need this Ramadan.

And if you want to go even further, delete all of the apps! Go crazy! Social media free for Ramadan 2020. For real, deleting it for a bit is so nice..but that’s up to you.

What are some pages you like to follow? Or are you social media free? Let me know in the comments below!

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Self Love Sunday, Series, Uncategorized

Self Love Sunday

Today, we’re going to talk about the fantasy self.

What’s a fantasy self, Nahlah?

I’m glad you asked! A fantasy self as I’ve come to understand it (aka can’t be bothered to Google it) is a version of ourselves that we create based off of who we think or who others think we should be. This can look like you wanting to be a doctor because your parents want you to. It can also look like you trying to get into painting because you like the idea of yourself as an artist. It could also be that you force yourself to be the life of the party because that’s what your friends expect of you.

What is the reality behind all of this? You don’t really want to be a doctor, you want to go into cosmetology. You get so bored with painting and would rather spend that time playing ball. You’re not the life of the party at all, but a homebody who’s idea of a real good time is spoken word poetry night. These are just a few examples, but this idea of the fantasy self can apply to literally everything down to the clothes in your closet. You know you aren’t going to wear that jumper because it’s not you, but someone complimented it once and you see yourself being the type to wear it.

The problem with the fantasy self is that we waste time stressing out and trying to be someone that we’re not. Instead, we can own up to who we really are, what we really like, what we really want to do and be so much more fulfilled; not to mention successful.

So, how do you even distinguish between your fantasy self and the authentic you?

There is no magic process. I did it by sitting myself down with a notebook and writing out basic questions to answer. I won’t say to put the first answer that comes to mind because a lot of times, we’ve conditioned ourselves to give the replies our fantasy selves would give instead of what we really want to say. I like to start with simple questions. It’s kind of cringey, but I will ask myself what my favourite colour is, what kind of movies I like, what my favourite food is, etc. It’s like playing 20 questions with yourself, you’ll feel like you’re on a first date. Starting out with the basics helps you get into the habit of being honest with yourself because there’s not much to lose. It’s a lot easier to admit that your favourite colour has been yellow all along and not blue, as opposed to you realizing that you want to style hair 5 years into attending medical school. This sounds silly but trust me, it gets you where you need to go.

You have to come to a place where 1) you own up to who you are and 2) you’re in tune with your feelings. I used to have this thing where I wanted to be a really artistic intellectual person through the types of movies I watched and the books I read. So I would force myself to watch independent films and I would buy all these classic books to read. The reality was that I was so bored trying to get into independent films and I never picked up those classic books. At my core, I was fighting against that version of myself and it was obvious if I paid attention to the feeling in the pit of my stomach (best described as bored nausea).

Where did this side of myself come from? It came from growing up as a creative child. I was always making stuff and writing things and painting. My parents ran with it and I was always described as artistic and was close friends with many artists in school. Am I still an artist? Yes, but in a different way. And you don’t have to be into obscure films or literature to be an artist. I like cartoons, okay? Let me live.  

It’s time to confront this fantasy version of ourselves. If we can fully realize who we really are, we will be a lot happier Insha’Allah. We won’t be wasting any more time and energy trying to run in the wrong direction. This is also a topic that has become a pretty popular discussion within the YouTube community, so if you want to know more you can find plenty of videos on the topic over there!

I wish you the best!

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ramadan

Ramadan Countdown Day 15

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

Today is day 15 and I want to take a break from all the physical preparations and focus on the mental. What do you want out of this Ramadan? I know that the main focus is to worship Allah (SWT) and strengthen our Deen, but it is also a time for personal reflection and growth in all other areas of our lives. So, what are your goals for this month? Who do you want to be at the end of it?

Take time to write out a list of what you want to do. It could be reading more books, memorising Quran, being more productive with your time, cutting out trashy entertainment, working on your personality, etc. And now think about what steps you need to take to get there.

I hope that the pandemic will subside before then, insha’Allah, but if it doesn’t, many of us will continue to have more free time on our hands to do with as we please. This way we have as much time to accomplish what we want to do as long as we’re in good health, have the resources we need, and are not working or working less.

One of my goals this Ramadan is to learn to read Quran. I’m getting there slowly but surely and I’m really excited to continue learning. Insha’allah, I will be able to read it fluently by Eid. What are your Ramadan goals? Let me know below in the comments!

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ramadan

Ramadan Countdown Day 18

Assalaamu alaikum, lovelies!

It is day 18 of the Ramadan Countdown and today I want to talk about another very important healthy habit to start practicing. It’s a long-time favourite and internet-certified cure-all. That’s right, you guessed it: drinking water.

During Ramadan not only do we not eat food during the day, we also don’t drink any liquids. With that being the case, my family and I usually end up drinking around 2 litres of water between iftar and suhoor. This is necessary to stay hydrated but it can feel like way too much at first. As soon as the fast is broken, I can’t get enough to drink, but a few sips in and I have to tap out.

The key is to get started a few weeks in advance so that your body can get used to taking in its daily supply of water within a few hours. If you already drink lots of water, congratulations! You have achieved a level of adulting that I have not mastered yet. And if you’re like me, start your morning off with a big glass of water. If you have a 32 Oz water bottle or an equivalent, fill it up and challenge yourself to drink it before noon. And then when that’s done, fill it up again and try to drink through the whole thing before dinner time.

Practice taking slow sips, don’t try to gulp it all down at once. Have the bottle/glass/Mason jar by your side throughout the day. Make staying hydrated a deliberate part of your daily routine. It’s important to start off Ramadan on a strong foot if you can. So, making sure that your body is already hydrated will keep you from suffering of thirst as much as possible during the day. You will also be ready to down those 2 litres between iftar and suhoor like a pro!

To go along with this, try to slowly cut down on caffeinated drinks as well. Obviously if we rely on things like coffee or tea throughout the day, Ramadan will be a real kick in the butt. If we can try to cut the habit now, (I know it’s asking a lot, I’m sorry!) we can potentially make life a little bit easier for ourselves down the road, insha’Allah.

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