A time to celebrate diversity

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“Our differences can bring us together to know one another.”

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I was very honored to receive an email inviting me to the University of Minnesota’s tenth annual Equity and Diversity Breakfast which will be held on Thursday, November 16, 2017, 7:45-9:45 AM, at the McNamara Alumni Center. The Breakfast will bring together the University community and external stakeholders—alumni, donors, community organizations, and corporate entities—to recognize the students, faculty, and staff doing the work, and to reaffirm the University’s commitment to equity and diversity.

Awards will be given to outstanding students and to an outstanding unit promoting equity and diversity.

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Become CPR Certified

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

When my daughter and her classmates became my instructors, I learned how to do CPR and received free lessons in humility.

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Monday, November 6th, 2017, I received a text message from my daughter reminding me of the CPR training today at her high school.  She is part of a program for First Responders which trains students in Opportunities in Emergency Care.

While I agreed to become CPR certified, she along with her classmates were getting their certification for becoming CPR instructors.

I actually forgot about the training but was glad I had no other plans to cancel.  The training was very informative.

We learned how to do chest compressions on an adult, child, and infant in case of a cardiac arrest.  We got to practice a few times, including how to use an AED, a medical device used to deliver shocks between cycles of chest compressions.  It was an informative and busy night.

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Allahu Akbar: We Love Life

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

Genuine faith sleeps under all that rubble. It helps us to focus and recognize that God is greater than what we see and hear and understand.

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Before anything else, I want to condemn the tragic loss of life in Manhattan. To the victims’ families, I would add:

It is with great sorrow and sympathy that we send our condolences to the families and loved ones connected to the tragic event in Manhattan. The shock of unexpected violence and death can bring about bewilderment and trauma, and it is difficult to make sense of let alone bear. We pray that God comforts their souls in this difficult time.

I also want to take time to discuss the phrase Allahu Akbar, which has been misused by those plotting murder, but also used by billions of Muslims throughout their daily lives. We begin each prayer with the phrase “Allahu Akbar.” But what does it mean, and how do we interpret these words in our lives?

I shared something about the phrase “Allahu Akbar” earlier this year. In light of recent events, I would like to share an updated version along with a video. You can see, in the video, the happiness that comes with the nonstop usage of “Allahu Akbar” at the discovery of a child found alive after a building collapse.

That’s because, Allahu Akbar, or “God is greater,” shows a great love of life.

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Sexual harassment – #CanYouHearEachOtherNow?

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

In the ladder of prejudice, we know things begin with talk that objectifies and dehumanizes the other.

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During the Presidential election, there has been a lot of talk about the tape in which US presidential candidate Donald Trump discussed grabbing women and violating their bodies. The views I share here, about sexual violence and harassment, are strictly mine. They are not a scholarly
or legal analysis in the light of Islam, but instead my personal reflections about what a story of Prophet Joseph, peace upon him, can tell us about life today.

The public dialogue about sexual violence against women seems to hit flash points of rage. We go for a while, quietly simmering, largely ignoring the topic. Then something happens, and we dump all the anger and angst out of our systems. While this may be cathartic, it’s not necessarily helpful. Instead, things stay much as they were until another flashpoint.

What these flashpoints lack is the nurturing or transformation that can lead us to a better understanding of ourselves or others. Each time, there’s a fire, an exchange of insults, and a declared winner.  Then we await the next crisis without fundamentally changing.

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In the footsteps of Al-Husayn

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn”
–Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings.

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A bomb went off in the capital of Somalia killing over 276 people and injuring 300.

People are understandably in total shock and grief as the tragedy is described as the worst massacre in the past 27 years.

The country was in a civil war since 1991.  No group has taken responsibility, but the government blames Al Shabab.

This tragedy touched us right here in Minnesota, as some Somali-Minnesotans were killed in the blast.  Locally, families are grieving the loss of Minnesotans.  One such person is Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, a Somali-Minnesotan who died in the recent blast in Somalia on Saturday, October 14, 2017, a few hours after he arrived at his hotel.

He died planning a better life for his family and motherland, but God had another plan. May God accept him as a martyr or witness in this holy month of Muharram.

The local Muslim community is raising funds for his family and funeral expenses.  If you would like to contribute, click here.

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An inspiration of hajj for mainstream America

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

Hajj is recognition of our shared mortality which reminds us of what we cannot refute, our humanity.

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How does one establish a sense of meaning in a fast-paced world driven by material results? In America, people seem like they are married to their jobs which makes it difficult to acquire a true sense of life or identity for that matter. It becomes quite difficult to stand out when society demands conformity through standardized assimilation. As America continues to wrestle with its deep polarities, it becomes challenging to explore an escape from the madness. This describes something much greater than a two-week vacation. Unbeknownst to many Americans, the Hajj pilgrimage takes place each year. For all able-bodied and financially capable Muslims, it stands as a mandatory religious obligation beckoning fulfillment. It represents a great coming together of the races each year best described as an epic festival of nations. For Hajj, people arrive by the millions far and wide by air, sea, and land.

Any Non-Muslim cannot help but to wonder: why do people leave their careers, families, and other details of life behind across a two-three week period as an act of high faith?

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Speaking truth to power is not about results

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

While fighting abuse, it’s important not to embrace the spirit of that abuser.

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In the Qur’an’s thirty-sixth sura, a man named Habib an-Najjar (Habib the Carpenter) appears. Habib an-Najjar was a very charitable man who was known to give half of his earnings to those in the community who needed help.

But Habib an-Najjar was not a wealthy man or one of the city’s notables. Instead, he was a very sick man who suffered from leprosy and lived at the outskirts of his city.

When we first hear about Habib an-Najjar, he arrives from the outskirts of town, running to come to the defense of the prophets. He does not arrive laureled as a hero. He’s neither powerful nor strong. And although he’s a kind man, he’s not acclaimed, talented, or famous.

Instead of being well-regarded for his charity, because of his altered appearance, people heaped mockery and ridicule on Habib an-Najjar, which was why he lived at the outskirts of town, which was where he was when two messengers arrived with word from the Divine. They were denied. A third messenger was sent to confirm that they were indeed sent to the town by God.

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A picture of diversity

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“Our differences can bring us together to know one another.”

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A few years back, I was working on a major project at the University of Minnesota.  At the same time, we had a new manager, Matt Nuttall, that started at our department.  Our first encounter was not the best, although he did go out of his way to help me get approval to go to Hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca.  At the time, vacations were denied due to the project.  I mention this because later on we resolved our differences and I have to say we learned about each other more, and I learned I made some wrong judgments and decisions.  Now, our relationship is one of mutual respect. He is also a male ally for the women in technology at the University of Minnesota.  We are both in the partnership and collaboration committee.

As we transitioned from the major project, our team grew in various ways and he was responsible for the hiring of new employees.  I was quite impressed how committed he was to diversity, not just in gender but also ability and ethnicity, etc.,

We had a discussion on diversity during our meetings and we had a discussion over the book, Weapons of Math Destruction, How Big Data Increases Inequality and Threatens Democracy.

He read the book and learned ways to improve diversity in hiring practices. In partnership with HR, he worked to push standards that promote diversity, not just in representation but also in inclusion.  The office of Information Technology HR is incredibly progressive and actively working with the whole department on diversity and inclusion.

Last week, we had a team lunch and a few of us went together to Wally’s in Dinkytown. It is a Middle Eastern restaurant and my favorite place to go around campus.  The team agreed.  We had a new employee at the time from Zimbabwe, how cool is that?  I can now say I know someone from Zimbabwe.  Although, there is another employee in another department from Zimbabwe, so actually, I now know two people from Zimbabwe.  How many people can say the same thing?

Below is a picture of our team.  I asked our team if I could share it and refer to it as a picture of diversity. While our differences have been used to tear us apart in the media, and at times we may face challenging moments, we can overcome those challenges and learn to mutually respect one another.  In this picture, one can see that our differences brought us together for lunch and work.  And we can come together to solve all sorts of problems.

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The person taking the picture is Eduardo Chavez Herrera who is from Mexico.  I caught him counting with his fingers once, and keep reminding him in a joking manner that I caught you.  Occasionally, we fight on which food is better Mexican or Middle Eastern. He was kind enough to agree to go to Wally’s, but then again, I gave everyone an ultimatum:  Wally’s or don’t talk to me until Judgment Day.  They realized talking to me was essential to get the work done and agreed to have lunch at Wally’s.

Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US.  She was the chair of the Interfaith Relations at Islamic Center of Minnesota.  She has completed training in restorative justice at the University’s Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking.  She was a 2008-2009 policy fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.  She is a public speaker and writer and lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?
If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

© Copyright 2005-2017.  Fedwa Wazwaz, All rights reserved.

Blessed Festival of Sacrifice

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

fedwaFriday, September 1, 2017, Muslims will mark Eid ul-Adha or Festival of Sacrifice.  Eid ul-Adha is one of the major Muslim holidays. It comes right after the fifth pillar of Islam called the Hajj or pilgrimage. The Hajj commemorates the life and trials of Prophet Abraham’s family, upon them peace and blessings. Once in a lifetime, every adult Muslim who has the physical and financial ability is required to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah, home of the Ka’bah, which Muslims believe was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael, upon them be peace.

The Hajj pilgrimage is an extremely communal event as over two million Muslims, men and women of varied ethnicities and nationalities, dressed in simple white clothing symbolizing the equality of all people, perform identical rituals.

Eid ul-Adha celebrations are similar to Eid ul-Fitr with the addition of sacrificing a lamb, goat or cow to commemorate Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son, Ishmael, who Muslims believe was miraculously replaced by a lamb, similar to the Biblical story.

However, on the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the pilgrims will continue and return to Mina. The Hajj is not complete as there are three days in devotion and prayer left.  Ramy al-Jamarat, throwing stones at stone pillars, a re-enactment of Prophet Abraham who threw stones at Satan when he was ordered by God to sacrifice his son and Satan tempted him to disobey God. The slaughter of a sheep after he was prepared to sacrifice his son in obedience to God’s command.  Finally, the pilgrims return to Mecca for a farewell circling of the Kabah or tawaf and re-enactment of Hajar running between two hills to find water for Ishmael or sa’i.

Jeewan Chanicka explained Abraham’s sacrifice in his Hajj reminders with the following words:

But it wasn’t his son that was slaughtered. It was his attachment. It was his attachment to anything that could compete with his love for God. And the beauty of such a sacrifice is this: Once you let go of your attachment, what you love is given back to you– in a purer, better form. So let us ask ourselves during these beautiful days of sacrifice, which attachments do we need to slaughter?

People share the meat of the animal with the poor and needy, relatives and friends.

The day begins with a special congregational prayer followed by a short sermon. People are dressed in their best clothing, and children traditionally receive new clothing as well as other gifts. Food, holiday congratulations, and festivities such as rides, balloons, and other fun activities for children follow the prayers. The holiday lasts for four days during which people usually visit or invite each other.

In conclusion, I want to share Rumi’s Eid al-Adha Poem.

BISMILLAH! (In the name of God!)

It’s a habit of yours to walk slowly.
You hold a grudge for years.
With such heaviness, how can you be modest?
With such attachments, do you expect to arrive anywhere?

Be wide as the air to learn a secret.
Right now you’re equal portions clay
and water, thick mud.

Abraham learned how the sun and moon and the stars all set.
He said, No longer will I try to assign partners for God.

You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave
till it gets to shore.

You need more help than you know.
You’re trying to live your life in open scaffolding.

Say Bismillah, In the name God,
As the priest does with knife when he offers an animal.

Bismillah your old self
to find your real name.
– Jalaluddin Rumi

I wish everyone in all places at all times a blessed Eid Mubarak. May God accept your good deeds and all your efforts during the blessed month of Dhul Hijjah (the name of the month in the Muslim lunar calendar).

Check the following calendar for prayer services and Eid Activities today and the coming days.

Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US.  She was the chair of the Interfaith Relations at Islamic Center of Minnesota.  She has completed training in restorative justice at the University’s Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking.  She was a 2008-2009 policy fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.  She lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

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If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

Give in charity

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“God is in the aide of His servant as long as His servant is in the aide of others…”  Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings.

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We can fall in despair at the news reaching us that people are hurting all over the world, or we can figure out how we can help.

I recall reading some words of wisdom by Dr. Ingrid Mattson regarding trials and tribulations:

“As Muslims we believe that human suffering is not always explainable or understandable. We do know that innocent people suffer all the time, from sickness and natural disaster, and that in such cases, we are required to do two things: First, pray and remember, as the Qur’an says that “to God we belong and to Him we return.” Second, we must help those who are suffering.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, reported in a Sacred Hadith [Prophetic Saying] that if we want to be close to God, we should visit the sick and feed the needy. On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will say, “O son of Adam, I fell ill and you did not visit me.” The person will say, “O Lord, how could I visit you when You are the Lord of the worlds?” He will say, “Did you not know that So-and-so fell ill and you did not visit him? If you had visited him, you would have found Me with him [the hadith continues.”

 

Likewise, the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said: “Allah is in the aide of His servant as long as His servant is in the aide of others…”

 

Instead of listing organizations or how you can give, I would prefer to leave it to you to research the best way you can give and motivate you to do so.

Start by asking questions and find out who has more rights upon you when giving.

Who else is impacted with your charity?  You don’t want to place yourself in debt when giving or leave people under your trust – without aid and support as well.

What organizations do you trust that you can reach out to?

What else could you do?

What else occurs to you?

Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US.  She was the chair for the Interfaith Relations at Islamic Center of Minnesota.  She has completed training in restorative justice at the University’s Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking.  She was a 2008-2009 policy fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.  She is a public speaker and writer and lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?
If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

© Copyright 2005-2017.  Fedwa Wazwaz, All rights reserved.

No path to the watering place remains; join BDS

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“He said: ‘Here is a she-camel: she has a right of watering, and ye have a right of watering, (severally) on a day appointed.’” (Qur’an 26:155)

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I enjoy the Qu’ran passage above, because it helps us know what to look for when we’re examining oppression.

There are many dangerous forms of oppression that come from physical, spiritual, mental, and emotional forms of abuse. At times, when we’re trying to resolve a conflict, we look only at who is committing the violence in the last five cases that stirred our interest.

As we know, numbers and statistics can be used to lie, and an underinformed mass or crowd can be used as a tool to excite and rationalize all sorts of violence and oppression against the violent other.

I have argued in the past that peace is defined by the presence of healthy boundaries. What do I mean by healthy boundaries? Healthy boundaries allow people a path to the watering place: to live, to grow, to build, to dream, and to nurture.

Do these boundaries exist in Gaza or in the Occupied Territories? Let us stop asking who is committing the violence and ask a more fundamental question: Do Palestinians have a right and a path to the watering place?

Let us first shine a light on Gaza and visit and share this page:  Gaza BlackOut

Below is a past article, edited slightly. The obstacles mentioned have not only continued, but the numbers of settlements and means to inhibit the growth of Palestinians has increased, including the threatening Palestinians with a ‘Shoah’ or Holocaust if they resist apartheid.

I share this piece to answer one question that I began this piece with – which is do Palestinians have a path to the watering place?

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Intellectual Immersion of Children

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

The truth is that people want to be heard without listening to each other.

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What is the best way to arouse permanent intellectual curiosities? There is no simple remedy. Ideas that support concepts are embraced through an individually driven learning style. We can practically assume that people learn on their own terms, but how do we provoke that great intellectual awakening? It ultimately begins in childhood. Our earliest memories are indeed the most impressionable to us. Children surrounded with books, globes, and maps of the world have a greater chance of early intellectual immersion. A world of total convenience has turned us into creatures of vanity. When something is easy and accessible, there is this underlying reticence to absorb its knowledge.

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Film Challenges Perception of Palestinians

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

Palestine: Why the Caged Dove Sings
Thursday, July 13th at 7 pm
Film Society of Minneapolis
St. Paul’s Screen #3 at St. Anthony Main Theatre

filmOfficially, the narrative around Palestinians is they want to destroy Israel and hate Jews, and if one searches hard enough, one finds some voices expressing such views.

However, the situation is not about feelings or views of people, but about boundaries and a justice denied.

Palestine: Why the Caged Dove Sings is set for a premiere screening today.  The film allows people on the ground to speak about their pains and everyday struggles.

Sabry Wazwaz is a Palestinian-American activist, who created the film in his travels back to Palestine in 2014.  He interviewed and documented the reality of Israeli occupation in candid easy going conversations with people on the ground.

Wazwaz was inspired by documentaries like Five Broken Cameras. He wanted US citizens to see what is really going on in Palestine and felt that he could use his camera as a way to expand understanding. The film includes powerful interviews and demonstrates how Zionism is not Judaism.

Wazwaz explains, “I wanted to show people, mainly the American people, the difference between Zionism and Judaism. Zionism is the blueprint behind Israel’s apartheid policies towards the Palestinian Arab Christian and Muslim populations. It is no different than apartheid in South Africa and segregation here in the U.S. It was wrong then and it is wrong now. No people should be living under different laws based on their religion, race, gender, etc. All people should be living under same laws and have equal rights.”

Admission is $10. Proceeds will support the Anti-War Committee.

Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US.  She was the chair for the Interfaith Relations at Islamic Center of Minnesota.  She has completed training in restorative justice at the University’s Center for Restorative Justice and Peacemaking.  She was a 2008-2009 policy fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute of Public Affairs.  She is a public speaker and writer and lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

WANT TO ADD YOUR VOICE?
If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

A case for light rail

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

Who wants to waste away idling in traffic after waiting through three traffic light cycles at a highway intersection?

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Out on the roads, Minnesota nice turns to Minnesota ice. Year after year, more people take to the roads in cars that consume finite resources leaving behind nothing but non-renewable waste. Little is done to investigate and expand alternatives to the car culture. In the Twin Cities, outside the core inner city area, it becomes quite the challenge to have life without the car. The suburbs are a case in point. They were made and inspired by and for the car culture. It should be no surprise why to most Americans, convenience is measured in miles as opposed to blocks. We are generally inclined to accept the car culture as an unavoidable fact of life. Car ownership is best defined as costly arriving at a great economic burden to the average American. This is especially true to those of us living strictly on borrowed credit or from paycheck-to-paycheck.

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Eid Mubarak or Blessed Festival of Fast Breaking

Blessed Eid

 

 

 

Eid Al-Fitr or Festival of Fast Breaking comes right after a pillar of Islam called the Sawm in the Holy month of Ramadan.  The day begins with a special congregational prayer followed by a short sermon.  People are dressed in their best clothing, and children traditionally receive new clothing as well as other gifts.  Food, holiday congratulations, and festivities such as rides, balloons, and other fun activities for children follow the prayers.  The holiday lasts for three days during which people usually visit or invite each other.

 

 

Eid Mubarak or Blessed Return!  May God, All-Mighty, and Majestic accept all of our good deeds and efforts during the month of Ramadan.  May God grant us His enabling grace to take the lessons and reflections with us throughout our lives so that we may benefit and receive benefit.  May God increase us to be more conscious of Him and grateful for all the blessings that are too numerous to count.

Check out the following Calendar for Eid events taking place around town.

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If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email engageminnesota@gmail.com.)

Why do we heal?

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

The possibility of healing creates a choice for each of us.

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I’d like to encourage us not only to value healing, but to look forward to healing. And in so doing, I’ll bring together the narratives of psychological healing and faith, which dovetail in important ways. In a lesson by a spiritual teacher who talks about the prophetic mirror, it comes very close to what Randi Kreger, the author of Stop Walking on Eggshells, writes about mirroring. Both can help us clean our internal mirrors so we can better reflect the light.

When I was first trying to heal myself—from my childhood in Jerusalem and Chicago—I was directed toward a white-male privileged projection of what strength is. But going there isn’t really true healing, not even for a privileged white male. The most important part of healing is to grapple with our vulnerability.

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Promoting the faculty of reason

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

Rage is an unhealthy agent for change because it fails to deliver ideas that make renewals, reformations, and renaissances possible.

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Youth reminds us of the long lost idealisms we once had. Too much reality will make one cynical which ruins visions that support a better world. Protesters gather in the streets by the millions worldwide knowing little about what they are protesting. Our time is consumed with obsessions drawn over shallow concepts of self. Support of a cause is supposed to provide vindication for a purposeful life. It is based on a theoretical assumption that things will come to pass because we are in immediate need of them. Few exercise any interest whatsoever in critical thinking in order to fully grasp the basis of a cause and what it entails.

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Security is a human right for all

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

Security is a two-way street. None of us can be secure at the expense of another’s insecurity.

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What is security and how do we find it?

A sense of security—in our families, our homes, and our communities—is a basic human need and a human right. None of us is ever completely safe from the unpredictable dangers of our world. At any moment, a storm might blow up, or another driver might lose control of their car. But we do need to feel reasonably protected in our relationships with others, both near and far. We need to feel that the other drivers of this world are staying in their lanes.

What is reasonable protection? Does our security mean building an enormous Humvee, or blocking other drivers from using the road? The concept of “security” can easily become distorted, driving us into an aggressive “security” that makes us progressively less secure.

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The value of the Little Free Library

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

A culture of ignorance is preserved through the refutation of knowledge, just as a culture of knowledge is preserved through the refutation of ignorance.

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What is the best way to counter ignorance in an Age of Insanity? Decades ago, whoever thought that bastions of information would be largely ignored and neglected by the masses? We are all too accustomed to googling our curiosities into thin air without grounding our inquiries in something substantial. This is indicative of a dystopian world that was predicted by Aldous Huxley about a century ago. His was a reality in which libraries would be teeming with books but few exercise any desire to read them. A world where books are viewed as decorative artifacts and not as resources for enlightenment.

Shortly after moving into the Longfellow neighborhood of south Minneapolis, I started to notice miniature library stands, known as “Little Free Libraries,” displayed on the front lawns of various houses. As a direct result, a trend was created and local businesses combined with community centers to begin adopting them. They are now commonplace and seem to have caught on in the suburbs. Whenever I encounter a free library stand, I cannot help wondering what it contains. It’s hit-or-miss. A pessimist could be inclined to dismiss the effort altogether by brushing them off as a repository of dime novels, nothing more.

Continue reading at Star Tribune..

Omar Alansari-Kreger, of Minneapolis, is a Muslim-American, a writer, and a social activist.

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Decline of the great American experiment

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

When vanity overtakes liberty, the concept of freedom becomes nothing more than a fairy tale.

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What if you woke up one day and realized that your nation and way of life were nothing but lies? Everyone seems oblivious to the obvious. We carry ourselves as drones mesmerized by promises that never bear long term fruit. In the United States, freedom is sold as an element interchangeable with our national identity. It is widely believed there is no other nation in the world that enjoys the same degree of freedom and liberty. The fact of the matter is that as a nation, the United States is based on a timeless idea. Naturally, we carry a great sense of hope in the maximization of our shared potential. The basis of which has evolved into the multicultural edifice of the nation. Definitively, what did the United States mean to our founding fathers? Did they imagine that three hundred years after the invention of the Great American Experiment it would become the world’s premier empire? Each generation is tasked to relearn and redefine the ideals of its past.

There is this assumption that history has a mind of its own and that in one way or another, it is bound to be repeated. Ironically, the United States has transformed into that same monolithic edifice its founding fathers sought to defeat.

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