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Free Course on the Bible by Ustadh Ali Ataie

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

A new course from SeekersGuidance, seeks to introduce and teach the Christian Bible’s 3 Synoptic Gospels and the Gospel of John to Muslims. This course will introduce students to the four gospels found in the New Testament (Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John) and provide them with new insights and a more nuanced understanding of who Jesus (peace be upon him) was for the objective of calling others to the truth of Islam. Click here to register for the course. SPACES ARE LIMITED.

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Debate Audio: Bob Siegel vs Ijaz Ahmad

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

Maligned apologist and radio show host, Bob Siegel and I faced off on what one can only describe as a controversial encounter. What should have been a debate about scripture and reliability, quickly turned into Bob describing Christ as a mass murderer whose return spells death and torture for non-Christians. What’s worse is, when actually questioned about the New Testament’s reliability, Bob really had no answers, leaving much of the debate to be about anything other than scriptural reliability, hear the debate here!

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Debate Video: Samuel Green vs Ijaz Ahmad

بِسۡمِ ٱللهِ ٱلرَّحۡمَـٰنِ ٱلرَّحِيمِ ,

I faced off against Pastor Samuel Green, dubbed by most Christians internationally as being the world’s foremost apologist. With decades of experience and expertise in the debate circuit, Pastor Samuel is well respected for his views and well spoken style of discourse. As usual, I promised to use arguments that the Pastor would not have expected. While I was underwhelmed with the Pastor’s arguments, I was thrilled to engage him in a public debate, click this link to view the debate and see what went down!

Recent Articles

16
Apr

Bart Ehrman and Muslims

Polemicists and Evangelicals far too often misconstrue the use of Bart Ehrman’s materials by Muslims. The record needs to be cleared, because somewhere along the lines of inter-religious discourse, Bart Ehrman’s works are quickly becoming the pinnacle of Evangelical appeals to scholastic authority. Muslims do not use Bart’s works because of his views, which most Evangelicals would consider liberal to say the least. His agnosticism being based upon his views on evil do not translate well into Islamic belief about God, the fact that he left Christianity for agnosticism is not an Islamic ideal.

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So why do Muslims use Ehrman’s works? The answer is quite less controversial than one would be looking for – he writes for mass market appeal. He isn’t writing books for use in a theological seminary, or for his academic colleagues, he’s writing it for the Divergent series reader, the Harry Potter reader, the whatever-is-popular-on-NYTimes’-best-seller-list reader. In other words, he’s writing for the casual reader who may be interested in Christ or the Bible. I’m not saying scholars don’t read his works, they do, and I’m also not saying that some Universities don’t use his books in courses, they do. What I’m saying is that those people aren’t his target audience, but the level of scholarship dedicated to his authorship means that his works can scale easily into the hands of the layman, the University student or a scholar.

The vast majority of Muslims don’t have any reason to bother themselves with understanding Christian teachings. Just as the average Christian isn’t going to dedicate their time to reading the entire Seerah an Nabawiyyah or Qasas ul Anbiya. For the Muslims who are interested in understanding the Christian faith, they are most likely to find his books accessible and easy to read, as well as understand. It takes almost no effort to find his books, they’re readily available in most bookstores, you don’t need a study guide or teacher to walk through his books with you, it’s easy to just pick one up and understand what’s written inside of it. There’s no secret that this is the honest answer as to why Muslims use Ehrman’s works. If we consider the popular works of other Christian authors, which one of them has the mass appeal and ease of use as any of Ehrman’s works?

How many Muslims are going to come across something by Immanuel Tov, Raymond E. Brown, K. and B. Aland? How many Muslims can sit and read E.P. Sanders’, “Paul, the Law and the Jewish People” and find it comparable in ease to Ehrman’s books? How many Muslims will even know his name? Not very many, not very many at all. Therefore, I find it quite funny to see some Polemicists and Evangelicals placing Ehrman on a pedestal of everything wrong with liberal Christianity or of critical Christian scholarship simply because Muslims read his works. If there was another Christian scholar that wrote on the same topics, with a similar writing style and ease of reading, Muslims would also purchase that work – but there simply is no other person doing this, so Ehrman is the go to guy in this case.

There are some in the inter-faith dialogue community who condemn Muslims for being hypocritical for accepting some views of Ehrman and not all of his views. Why should Muslims accept all of Ehrman’s views? His views aren’t part of Islamic teachings, and if he writes something that is somehow related to Islamic teachings and some Muslims want to adopt those views because of a correlation, then they are free to weigh which views are acceptable and which aren’t. Rejecting some of his views is part of the critical thinking process, it is far too infantile to generalize Ehrman’s views and dictate that Muslims must either accept them all or reject them all, that’s clearly an appeal to the fallacy of a false dichotomy. There is a third option, weigh what he says against Islamic beliefs and use them accordingly.

In conclusion, Ehrman is not the be all and end all of information on Christianity. He certainly isn’t for me, but his views, especially on the Bible’s preservation are shared by vast portions of the textual criticism community, even if Muslims had to disregard anything written by Ehrman there is still quite a significant array of literature and authors who agree with him that we can learn from. Therefore, we say to those who condemn Muslims for reading his works, it’s silly to focus on the man behind the work, the real problem lies with the information he makes accessible to the Muslim community, the Christian community and to the larger public. So, focus on dealing with the information and not the person. Far too many Evangelicals and Polemicists are zealous in their abuse of Muslims for reading his works, when most of them are unaware of what his works actually contain. What a sad state such people are in.

and God knows best.

15
Apr

Passover and Christ

For the Passover meal, Jesus sat with his disciples in the Upper Room and had that meal.

Christians contend that Christ was the Passover sacrifice (korban pesach). If he was the Passover sacrifice then what meal were they having?

Just something to ponder about…

and God knows best.

13
Apr

[Updated] James White, Shamoun and Friends’ Behaviour

Update:

The owner of the tabloid website claims:

“The difference between me and Paul Williams of course is that my Facebook is in private mode, while PW had his Facebook on public status.”

As of this posting, 8:36 PM (UTC 04:00), the extremist Christian’s page is still public. Lying about himself, for brownie points won’t work:

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As we can clearly see, I am not his friend on Facebook and as of right now, his profile remains public, not private as he claims. I think this should be a lesson to Christian extremists, lying is a sin. Here we can see Sam Shamoun’s hateful and spiteful comments on his page. I guess this is what James and his gang of miscreants want to hide, but the truth will always show itself.

Original article:

When polemicists are among their friends, their true colors come out. As most of you would remember, I denounced Mr. White of Alpha and Omega Ministries for supporting and promoting a tabloid website that published stolen photographs and posted articles speculating on one person’s sexual tendencies. James took offense that I would not visit such a website, and he refused to denounce his partner in Islamophobia, Sam Shamoun (notorious for threats and insults). As it turns out, the very said owner of that website, on his own Facebook page encourages insults and gossip – the very kind that Sam and James enjoy. Here’s just a snippet of what the owner of said tabloid website encourages:

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Once again, James’ and Sam’s friends have an addiction to involving Muslim speakers in their sexual fantasies. In fact, one of the Christian extremists in this photo, even claims he records everything I say and do – in the real world, we call this stalking. This is the same individual who steals photos off of Muslims’ pages and uses those photos to invent sexual stories about Muslims. Here, we can see one of these Christian extremists, engaging in his zoophilia fantasies by listening to a recording of my voice.

I was also informed that one of these Christians suggests that referring to Christianity as Pauline Christianity, sees such a labeling as an insult. It may then shock this extremist to read any classical Christian or contemporary scholastic works on Christianity by Christians which use this term constantly. If he has an issue with such a term, one has to ask what works of his own scholars he is using. I cannot blame him for his anger at being linked to the Apostle Paul, or his strand of Christianity, it would cause me anger as well. These extremists are commenting under an edited version of a discussion I had with Shamoun. On James’ program, I requested that Shamoun release the unedited version – he refused. He mentioned that side comments were removed, when I asked if by side comments he meant insults and curses, I received no reply and Sam left. Absolutely incredulous and purely Christian behaviour.

We pray and ask that God protects us from the fantasies and sexual perversions of these Christian extremists.

and God knows best.

12
Apr

Did Prophet Muhammad ﷺ bribe people to embrace Islam?

Critics of Islam argue that Prophet Muhammad –may the peace and mercy of Allah be upon him- gave money to people so that they convert to Islam or remain Muslim. They then argue that this is the reason why he had so many followers i.e. He used materialistic pleasures to lure people into Islam. Critics of Islam also argue that Islam teaches that Zakah (obligatory charity) can be given to soften the hearts of disbelievers. For their claims, they cite these narrations from Saheeh Bukhari. Read more »

12
Apr

Why do babies cry at birth? Hadith criticism answered

The Hadith under discussion is as follows:

قَالَ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ ـ رضى الله عنه ـ سَمِعْتُ رَسُولَ اللَّهِ صلى الله عليه وسلم يَقُولُ ‏”‏ مَا مِنْ بَنِي آدَمَ مَوْلُودٌ إِلاَّ يَمَسُّهُ الشَّيْطَانُ حِينَ يُولَدُ، فَيَسْتَهِلُّ صَارِخًا مِنْ مَسِّ الشَّيْطَانِ، غَيْرَ مَرْيَمَ وَابْنِهَا ‏”‏‏.‏ ثُمَّ يَقُولُ أَبُو هُرَيْرَةَ ‏{‏وَإِنِّي أُعِيذُهَا بِكَ وَذُرِّيَّتَهَا مِنَ الشَّيْطَانِ الرَّجِيمِ ‏}

Narrated Said bin Al-Musaiyab: Abu Huraira said, “I heard Allah’s Apostle saying, ‘There is none born among the off-spring of Adam, but Satan touches it. A child therefore, cries loudly at the time of birth because of the touch of Satan, except Mary and her child.” Then Abu Huraira recited: “And I seek refuge with You for her and for her offspring from the outcast Satan” (Qur’an 3.36)[1] Read more »

10
Apr

Snow meets Sand

Quick announcement:

Br. Yahya Snow of the Facts About Islam, and I, Br. Ijaz Ahmad have decided to unite in our efforts to respond to missionary attacks on Islam. The Muslim community can look forward to greater collaborative efforts, articles, videos and more in the weeks to come. It is our pleasure to serve the Muslim community.

and Allaah knows best.

9
Apr

How Do I Help Christians Understand Why Calling God “Father” is Wrong?

Question:

As a Muslim, how do I explain that calling God Father is actually wrong, and not something respectable to do?

Answer:

Use the synonym of “Daddy” instead. Christians are quick to call God, Father to demonstrate their personal relationship with the Creator. To have them understand that their relationship is farcical, ask them if they’d consider referring to him as “Daddy”, have them say the Lord’s Prayer using “Daddy”:

“O Daddy who art in heaven….”

In response to this, many Christians have said calling God, Daddy, is:

  • cringe worthy
  • unnatural
  • odd
  • strange
  • funny
  • disrespectful
  • heretical
  • disorderly
  • blasphemy
  • informal
  • non-Biblical
  • offensive

Indicate to them, that as Muslims we agree, referring to God as “Daddy”, is all of those things and more. I’ve found this method very useful in having them understand just how dreadful it is to call God “Father”. We can even give them something to think about by mentioning that, as a Son of the Father, if your relationship were strong with him, just as any other son – you should be able to call him Daddy, if not – then you should question your relationship with Him.

and God knows best.

7
Apr

Stumping an Evangelist

A week ago, I gained a significant insight into the mind of James White – the Christian speaker. He had a discussion with himself on the Qur’aan and its understanding of the Jews and Christians. You can listen to the program here. How the Qur’aan approaches the beliefs of the Jews and Christians, the corruption of their scripture and several other matters were discussed, but it’s something that James mentioned that really enlightened to me to his approach towards apologetics in relations to Islam. Click here and listen for the next two minutes of James’ dialogue. James is reading aloud a response I sent to a group email in which he was involved. To summarize James’ belief:

  • The author of the Qur’aan is ignorant about Christian beliefs because the author says wrong things about Christian beliefs.

Let’s take for example the claim that the Qur’aan gets the Trinity wrong, 5:116 says:

And [beware the Day] when Allah will say, “O Jesus, Son of Mary, did you say to the people, ‘Take me and my mother as deities besides Allah?’”

This is one of his common claims, but we must ask ourselves something that he doesn’t. Does the Qur’aan state that this is the Christian Trinity? It doesn’t. There are only two things that this verse states: (1) Christians took Jesus to be a God, (2) Christians took Mary to be a God. So how exactly does the Qur’aan misrepresent the Trinity in this verse? It’s obvious that James begins his argument by assuming what this verse says, isolating it, and then reading into it what he wants to claim, and then he “bravely” argues against this claim – his own claim. Let’s take another example, he says the Qur’aan again misrepresents the Trinitarian formula in the following verse, 5:73 which says:

They have certainly disbelieved who say, “Allah is the third of three.” And there is no god except one God.

His argument is that Christians do not believe that God is one of Three, therefore the Qur’aan errs in regard to common Christian belief. However, the Qur’aan here – without dispute, gets the Trinity correct. God – the Father (Allaah), is one of three. We must then ask, how could the Qur’aan get it wrong, if it gets it right? The Qur’aan can only be “wrong“, if Christians did not believe that each person of the Godhead was a God, is James saying that he believes otherwise? He repeats this argument in a debate he had in South Africa with Br. Bux, and that concerned me because he claims to let scripture speak for itself, when his own actions demonstrate otherwise.

Now, these are minor examples of his ineptitude and dishonesty, but in reference to my email – he’s indicated something far more insidious than I could have known. See, I made the claim that the Qur’aan doesn’t only speak about one specific set of Christians. James’ position/ angle when claiming that the Qur’aan gets Christian beliefs wrong is based on the fact that he expects the Qur’aan to mention one type of Christian beliefs only – his own. So that would be Trinitarian – Calvinist – Baptist -Christian theology. That means the Qur’aan must only speak about one sect and that it can only speak about one sect of Christianity, his sect. I challenged this by saying that this was a silly claim, why does the Qur’aan have to speak about one sect’s beliefs only?

His response to that was to ask, “Hmmm……Ummm…..(that particular work well known in early Church history), are you really going to try to defend the idea that the Qur’aan accurately represents a catalogue of variant Christian beliefs?” That statement is golden, he’s essentially type casting the Qur’aan’s approach to Christianity and that it should only represent his version of Orthodox Christianity and it should not speak about the beliefs of the Christian world.

James' Face of Confusion

James’ Face of Confusion

In response to James’ question, I ask, are you really going to try and defend that idea that the Qur’aan is supposed to only speak about one type of Christianity? For academic sake, the Qur’aan mentions that some Christians took Mary to be a deity, there are two prominent sects of Christianity that did this, the Collyridians and the Roman Catholics. If James is fair and objective, honest – he should concede that the Qur’aan is referencing the beliefs of more than one Christian sect from this claim about Mary alone. From this, when I heard James’ skepticism to my claim that the Qur’aan mentions the belief of the Christian world and not the beliefs of one sect – the one he happens to belong to, I then realised just how myopic and misguided his approach was, it’s merely polemical. I call upon James to demonstrate why the Qur’aan should only speak or mention the beliefs of one sect of the hundreds of Christian sects that exist. What makes Trinitarian Calvinist Baptist Christian beliefs so special, that a book from God can only focus on one heresy and not other heresies which defile a Prophet of God and his mother?

It’s now inescapable that every time I hear James applaud his level of study, that the image above (unedited in anyway) comes to my mind. The very fact that he approaches the statements of the Qur’aan by using eisegesis and cherry picking, demonstrates for me, his great ineptitude at being a formal scholar, an erudite, a consistent man.

and God knows best.

6
Apr

Sour Grapes: One Missionary’s Lesson in Futility

It’s been just over more than a year since I debated CL Edwards on the topic, “Jesus the Christ: Man, God or Both?“, however for my opponent it would seem as if the debate is fresh out of the oven – given his constant attempts at trying to right his wrongs during that debate. CL Edwards is at it again. The debate did not go well for him – in fact, if he’s willing to let me post what he said to me in private after the debate to me about his performance, it’d pretty much explain to the public why he has a fixation on constantly referring to our now more than a year old debate. The post I’m responding to was published last month – fortunately (?) it wasn’t brought to my attention until today, simply because no one I know, or no one in our community of inter-religious debate and dialogue frequents his website. So for this, I apologize for my late response. He says and I quote:

Also I think it is relevant since the person who helped Ahmad form his argument in the debate…

See, CL is still trying to find excuses for why my arguments caught him off guard, so his obvious theory is that someone helped me formulate my arguments for my debate with him. That however, is not the case. As the person who CL is attempting to appeal to, cc-2013-cledwardswould gladly agree that he did not help me formulate any of my arguments, he simply did a review after my debate with CL Edwards and assessed both of our performances. In fact, there is essentially no one who can lay credence to the claim that they have formulated any of my arguments for a debate for me. I do my own study, my own research and write my own arguments. I’ve actually made it a personal goal of mine to approach each debate without using another person’s methodology or approach. This is why, when persons view my debates from last year, especially between that of the one with Edwards and the other with Green, my scope of argumentation is vast in their disparity. I can’t speak for my opponent, yet from what I do recall of the debate with Edwards is that nothing he presented was new and he did not approach the topic as I did. In answering the question of whether Christ was man, God or both, he simply referred to New Testament verses to propagate his argument.

I chose a completely different route. My methodology involved using the socio-historical method while referencing contemporary cultural and exegetical approaches to the literature and events of that time period. Clearly one route is overdone, while the other is a great bit more advanced and objective, something my opponent did not know how to react to. So yes, I do understand why Edwards is so eager to imagine that someone decades younger than him, can approach a debate with a more academic foundation, as opposed to merely parroting arguments which are hundreds of years old. What is touching however, is his prayer for me:

we pray for Ijaz to be spiritually reborn and come to the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ like millions of other Muslims have.

It is my wish to express to Edwards a sincere thank you for his prayer. I’d like to inform him though, that because I have come to the knowledge of the Gospel of Christ, it is for that precise reason that I and those millions of other Muslims – knowingly and openly reject his Graeco-Roman Syncretic Jewish faith. He went on to pose a question to me:

Note about this debate: to this day Ijaz has never given an answer to the question I asked him in the Q&A part towards the end. That question was does he know of any earlier source for the life, and teachings of Jesus and his disciples from the first century that predates the NT Bible?

At this point, I’m gladly willing to entertain his question and respond to it. His question presumes that the New Testament Gospels (can’t be Pastorials or Epistles since they don’t recall the life of Christ) are first century documents. This however is wrong, the New Testament Gospels are empirically speaking, wholly second century. The oldest extant MS is that of P52 which is from 125 CE and is not radio-carbon dated, it is paleologically dated and it is because of this very reason that it can date anywhere from 125 CE to the latter period of the second century. Of course, I do not expect a first year seminary pupil to know the ins and outs of textual critic debates on paleological and philological dating disputes. It is therefore without a doubt, that I can safely respond to his question by saying that there are no currently known extant sources about Jesus’ life and teachings within the first century. He goes on to state:

I asked that because the bases of my argument was the New Testament accounts of Jesus are the earliest most attested sources on his life and doctrine from his own followers.

I do believe he meant “basis” and not bases, it should also go without saying that the basis of his argument is a presumption, an assumption. In order for his argument to be foundationally sound, he needs to first prove that these assumptions are valid. We know for a fact that the Gospel accounts are not the earliest sources on his life – the informal oral Jesus tradition is. We also know that they are not from his own followers, but from later authors. Again, his argument reads as if he’s opened up an Evangelical booklet positing century old assumptions and presenting them to be indisputable facts – the evidence completely disagrees. He continues:

Why would be discard it for the Qurans account of Jesus that came 600 plus years after the fact? If you take Ijaz’s argument in this debate and apply it to the Quran and hadith we wouldn’t accept what the Quran says about Jesus.

Given that the only complete extant MSS of the Gospels are during the 4th and 5th centuries, through the 4 great Uncial codices, if time is a factor, then the argument of time also gives us a reason to reject the testimony of the extant vorlage Gospel texts. I can even be a bit menacing and state that the New Testament of today was published only recently, an eclectic account based on conjectural emendation by Biblical societies – see the NA 28 and UBS 4, both from the 21st century and the likes of which are non-existent in any MS tradition from the time of the Qur’aan or before it. Given what I’ve stated , my argument doesn’t affect the accounts about Christ in the Muslim scripture and hadeeth collections.

In closing, it’s been one year later and despite Edwards attending a seminary – he’s still unable to discuss the topic of Jesus’ historicity in the Gospels in an educated and academic manner. Sure, his Evangelical reasoning may impress the feeble minded individuals he surrounds himself with, but here in the real world – his inability to grow out of that intellectually stunting mold is quite distasteful and most certainly worrying.

and God knows best.

 

5
Apr

Evangelical Hegemony on Religious Dialogue

Christian Evangelicals in an attempt to discredit the dialogue between two scholars, namely Dr. Ally and Dr. Crossan have been enforcing some very odd, if not extreme arguments against the speakers. In their vain attempts, they have used the example of Ahmadi/ Qadiani opportunist turned Evangelical Ultra Conservative Christian speaker, Nabeel Qureishi. Their argument is presented as such:

  • Dr. Crossan has heretical beliefs according to Evangelicals.
  • Nabeel is to Islam, what Dr. Crossan is to Christianity.

However, this is an appeal to the fallacy of false equivocation. The decision to have Dr. Crossan share a stage with Dr. Ally was not due to Dr. Crossan’s beliefs, but due to his scholastic credentials – which far outweighs that of his detractors. The comparison with Nabeel is a bit simple minded, if not juvenile. Nabeel was not qualified in any Islamic science, not one. He was not a Mufti, Mawlana, Qadhi, Mufasir, Muhadith, he was qualified in not a single Islamic field of study. His authority to speak on Islam as given to him by the Evangelical community is merely due to a title of, “ex-Muslim” and not due to his lack of Islamic scholastic credentials. Whereas with Dr. Crossan, his list of well attested and erudite scholastic credentials is significant. This is possibly the first time that Dr. Ally will be on stage with a Christian scholar with such a grand background of scholarly qualification, study and research. Therefore, while the Evangelicals are running around screaming bloody murder, basing their Ministerial authority on titles and lack of study, we – the Muslim community have our arms wide open in accepting dialogue with those whose credentials stand first and beliefs after.

I was a bit appalled though, to find one Christian colleague of mine, defending the above logic, by claiming that Nabeel – despite his heretical beliefs was still more qualified to speak on Islam than Dr. Crossan is on Christianity because Nabeel affirmed the 6 articles of faith and the 5 pillars of Islam. This only goes to demonstrate the weak understanding of Islam that both the Ahmadis/ Qadianis have along with the Evangelical community. Before we even get to the articles of faith and the pillars of Islam, the first criteria of belief is Tawheed and then the Khatm Nubuwwat of Muhammad (peace be upon him). Since Ahmadis deny the latter, they therefore do not qualify to be labelled as Muslims according to orthodox beliefs. Even if we examine the articles of faith – included in it is the belief in the Prophets and the belief that Muhammad (peace be upon him) is the last Prophet – something Ahmadis/ Qadianis vehemently deny. What is a bit ironic is that the young apologist who claimed such a defense originated from Nabeel’s previous correspondences with him, concerning his “orthodoxy” in Islam, demonstrated through such an argument that Nabeel was firmly ignorant on what the 6 articles of faith are, or what they entailed.

In another twist of events, it seems as if the Christian colleague of mines decided to label Dr. Crossan as a de-facto atheist. So not only has the Evangelical community decided to give authority to Nabeel because of a label he once wore with no scholarly credentials behind him (in regards to Islam), they’ve taken away authority from one educated scholar not due to his credentials but due to a title they’ve typecasted him into. To me, that is not only a double standard and self defeating – it is quite unfortunate to see that this is the level with which the Evangelical Christian movement must stoop to, in order to prevent healthy and scholastic inter-faith dialogue. As our teachers have taught us, damnant non quod intelligunt – they condemn what they do not understand.

and God knows best.

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