Meet Nemeh Al-Sarraj

By Nemeh Al-Sarraj, Engage Minnesota

nemeh_sarraj-1
For six years, Nemeh Al-Sarraj struggled with university. “I was at North Hennepin,” in Minneapolis, Minnesota, she said. “And I kept changing my major every week. I picked almost every major possible.”

“My family was so annoyed.”

School was always a struggle for Al-Sarraj, who wasn’t properly diagnosed with Autism Spectrum Disorder (ASD) until she was nineteen. After that, she said, life began to grow a lot clearer, but she still had a lot to learn about herself and others. She also had to learn to come to grips with her diagnosis, and to “stop hiding the fact that I have a disability.”

There was a long struggle, and then “I took a year off. I transferred to Metro State and looked at all the degrees.”

It was at Metro State, Al-Sarraj said, when education finally clicked. “I took my first disability-awareness class. And loved it.”

Last fall, Al-Sarraj triumphed in her long struggle, graduating with a Bachelor’s of Human Science degree in Disability Studies. But even before she graduated, Al-Sarraj’s life had markedly changed. She had seen how much a diagnosis changed her life, and how she’d struggled before she’d gotten it. As a Palestinian-American, a Muslim, and a person with cognitive differences, she knew how much work there was to do in disability awareness. She wanted to contribute.

Al-Sarraj didn’t want to wait until she had her degree. Clearly, once she has a clear idea of what she wants, Al-Sarraj sets about getting it done. She has difficulties with communication, reading body language, and social situations. But, through this, her single-minded determination shines.

Read the rest of this entry

In wake of attack, activists working to reduce tensions in St. Cloud brace for ‘a long winter’

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

IbrahimHirsiIllo400
Each time a tragic or controversial incident strikes the Somali-American community in St. Cloud, Yusuf Haji is one of the first people to get to the scene.

Over the past several years, Haji has recounted numerous stories of high-profile events and boiling racial tensions through written and video postings for his Facebook audience of nearly 4,500 — making him one of the most visible activists in the city.

The latest episode came on the weekend after a knife attack turned a typical Saturday night at the Crossroads Center mall into chaos and confusion when a 20-year-old Somali-American, Dahir Adan, allegedly stabbed 10 people before he was fatally shot by Officer Jason Falconer of the Avon Police Department.

The incident began to unfold at the shopping mall at about 8 p.m. In less than an hour, Haji was on Facebook, posting images and videos of the center, speaking to witnesses about the incident that has shocked many in the Somali-American community.

Hours later, Haji appeared on a Facebook Live video with a woman named Natalie Ringsmuth to call for unity, and to discuss the possibility of retaliation against the Somali-American community, “It’s a very sad night for us here in St. Cloud,” Haji said in the video, which had “We’re praying for the victims … it’s going to be very shocking and a very sad night for all of us. It doesn’t look good for our community. It’s going to be really bad.”

The incident — which the FBI is investigating as a potential act of terrorism — delivered a major blow to Haji and Ringsmuth’s years-old effort to bring together the diverse residents of St. Cloud, a city that has seen a string of incidents hostile to its Somali-American community and other racial and religious minorities in recent years.

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Ibrahim Hirsi can be reached at ihirsi@minnpost.com.  Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.

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.)

Meet Zaynab Abdi

By Tea Rozman-Clark, Green Card Voices

Since arriving in the United States, Zaynab Abdi has set goals for herself. She wants to have the best future possible.

Zaynab was born in Aden, Yemen. She grew up in a large household with her extended family. Her mother immigrated to the United States through the Green Card Lottery when Zaynab was very young. After sixteen years, her mother was eligible to sponsor her for a visa, and Zaynab made plans to immigrate.

Before she could move, a revolution erupted in Yemen, disrupting her plans. She moved to Egypt with her sister. After two years, Zaynab’s visa arrived but not her sister’s; she would have to find another way. As another revolution began in Egypt, Zaynab went to Minnesota. It was difficult for Zaynab to adjust to life in the United States. Not only was she introduced to American culture, but she had to learn about her mother’s Somali culture as well. However, Zaynab was glad to be reunited with her mother.

Read the rest of this entry

What Happened When K’naan Came to Cedar?

By Ayaan Dahir, Engage Minnesota

What people fail to understand is that Somali youth have a right to discuss, question, organize, and protest.

 

As many of you know, on sunny Saturday afternoon, the West Bank Community Coalition held their annual block party. This year, musician K’naan Warsame would be in attendance. The event was set to take place in Cedar, a notable Somali community. K’naan was even scheduled to give a live performance.

His arrival in the Twin-Cities, which holds the largest amount of Somali diaspora worldwide, was met with concern. The Canadian rapper was promoting his new HBO drama series, which according to Rolling Stone, “will focus on Jihadi recruitment in the United States.” He is joined by the series executive producer Kathryn Bigelow.

Many are extremely concerned with the series potential portrayal of Somali folk, especially during the rise of hate crimes and surveillance. News of K’naan’s project comes on the eve of a historically unsuccessful initiative called Combating Violent Extremism(CVE). This program profiles Somali youth as “potential extremists” and uses institutions to surveil and monitor young kids. Nearly 50 Muslim organizations in the Twin-Cities issued the following statement in response: “It is our recommendation that the government stop investing in programs that will only stigmatize, divide, and marginalize our communities further.” The Somali community is largely against this program.

Read the rest of this entry

Minnesota Muslims to Mark End of Hajj with Prayers, Celebrations

By Jaylani Hussein, CAIR Minnesota

cairmnOn Monday, September 12, Minnesota Muslims will mark the end of the yearly pilgrimage to Mecca, or Hajj, with communal prayers and celebrations at locations around the state. The prayers and the holiday that follows are called Eid ul-Adha (EED-al-ODD-ha), or “festival of the sacrifice.”

Eid ul-Adha also commemorates the Prophet Abraham’s willingness to sacrifice his son Ishmael at God’s command. The holiday is celebrated with the prayers, small gifts for children, distribution of meat to the needy, and social gatherings. During this holiday, Muslims exchange the greeting “Eid Mubarak” or “blessed Eid.” Each year, some two million Muslims, including thousands of American Muslims, go on Hajj.

[NOTE: For actual pilgrims, the rites of Hajj continue for some time after the Eid prayers.]

WHEN: Monday, September 12th – The prayers are held in the morning. Many communities also hold day-long Eid festivals for families.

WHERE: The Eid prayers and festivals are held either in local mosques or in public facilities designed to accommodate large gatherings.

Minneapolis Convention Center, 1301 2nd Avenue S, Minneapolis, MN 55404
(Host – Abubakr Islamic Center)
TIME: 8:30 am and 9:30 am (two sessions)

St Paul River Center- Host Dawah Institute
175 W Kellogg Blvd, St Paul, MN 55102
7:30am

Northwest Islamic Community Center, (two sessions)
1st Session: 3300 Plymouth Blvd, Plymouth, MN.
TIME: 7:20am
2nd Session: Hilde Performance Center, 3500 Plymouth Blvd, Plymouth, MN
TIME: 8:30am

Islamic Center of Minnesota
6155 Earle Brown Drive, Minneapolis, MN 55430
TIME: 7:00am and 9:00am (two sessions)

Read the rest of this entry

Remember Salman Hamdani

By Talat Hamdani, StoryCorps

On the morning of September 11, 2001, emergency medical technician and Muslim-American Salman Hamdani died trying help his fellow New Yorkers at the World Trade Center. In the weeks that followed, while his family searched for their missing son, the police and press wrongfully linked Salman as being an accomplice in the attacks.

His mother, Talat Hamdani, came to StoryCorps to remember those first days after her son went missing. #NeverForget

Illustration by Matt Huynh

Ban the burkini ban: How the same decision that claims to liberate women actually oppresses them

By Hanadi ChehabeddineMinnPost

 hanadi-chehabeddine
In 2004 I was in France reporting on the Cannes Advertising Festival on behalf of ArabAd Magazine, not only as an Arab, but also as a Muslim woman and a veiled one. For a whole week I was following up on the Arab delegation, arranging interviews with winners and even scoring with the festival’s highest rank and advertising celebrities. I was very proud of myself and thought I deserved a day off before traveling back to Lebanon.

Nice, as the closest town to Cannes, was my leisure destination and I enjoyed wandering aimlessly at its charming Sunday market. The craft kiosks lining up next to farmers’ colorful produce and eclectic bags fascinated me. I looked forward to having breakfast at one of the local cafés. As I was entering the establishment, a long skinny waitress blocked my way and said in a snooty French accent: “Where are you going?” I said naively, “I want to have breakfast.” She said, “The restaurant is booked.” I looked around and saw people coming in and out freely. Clearly the restaurant was not booked. The waitress turned to me and huffed, “People like you have no place in this restaurant.”

Back in my hotel room, I cried my eyes out. I vowed that night never to be quieted again.

The animosity toward Muslims in France dates to long before recent terrorists attacks. The ban on “conspicuous religious symbols,” including headscarves in 2004 and the full-face covering in 2011, was the start. Its latest iteration bans the burkini, a swimwear designed to cover most of the body worn primarily by Muslim women. The religious obligation for women to cover their bodies stems from the concept of modesty that Muslim women believe in — in simple terms, converging the attention on women’s thoughts rather than their bodies and bodily assets. Objecting to the ban on the burkini should be the quest of every woman.

 

Continue reading at MinnPost

Hanadi Chehabeddine is an award-winning public speaker and writer. She recently received the Eden Prairie Human Rights award 2016 for her efforts to dismantle misconceptions about Islam and build bridges of unity. She is currently pursuing a master’s degree in International leadership at the University of St. Thomas. Before coming to the U.S., she was an award-winning creative and communication specialist working across different media.

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.)

Costs & Conflicts of Assimilation

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

Be one of us or one of them.

omar
Assimilation is a difficult thing to experience. Some choose to live insular lives which leaves very little room for external engagement. As a matter of principle, the ways of the old world are traditionally followed without question. The children of refugees find themselves in a very difficult position. There is this underlying belief suggesting that a way of life must be chosen. Either embrace the ways of the old world or become part of the new. That decision carries with it a weighty proposition. For a great deal of expatriated youths living across the United States, there is this feeling that a choice must be made between parents and their external surroundings. For example, parental refugees may choose to maintain minimal proficiency with the English language in addition to their newly acquired surroundings. Their children generally function as bridges which assist in overcoming barriers of language and culture. That eventually leads to a conflict of interest which materializes in a clash of ideas.

Youths experience a world that is fundamentally different from that of their elders. Such conflicts originate from cauldrons that brew oppositional antagonisms with old world traditions. An ongoing trend among refugees finds a need to keep assimilative forces at an arm’s length. The rationale behind that is supported by an analogy of fear.

Read the rest of this entry

Meet Reza Alizadeh

By Tea Rozman-Clark, Green Card Voices

pastpresent_reza
The Iranian Revolution brought about many social and political changes within the country. When Reza Alizadeh saw the revolutionaries’ many promises go unfulfilled, he saw no other option but to find refuge someplace else.

Prior to the revolution, Mr. Alizadeh enjoyed a happy and carefree life with his parents and siblings. At the age of thirteen, he witnessed the collapse of his government and, eventually, his society. He made plans to immigrate to the United States just as his brother had done years earlier.

Mr. Alizadeh’s journey out of Iran included enduring a rough bus ride, navigating security checkpoints, hiding in a swamp for several days, traversing down a rugged mountain path on horseback, and dodging heavy crossfire. To his relief, he arrived in Turkey unharmed and began the process of starting his new life. After a brief time in Italy, Reza was granted political asylum in the United States and rejoined his brother.

Read the rest of this entry

Trump’s attack on Somalis illustrates the harm he could do

By Jamal Abdulahi, Star Tribune

And Minnesota’s GOP leaders have a moral duty to speak out.

Abdulahi_Jamal_colCircle

Donald Trump, who plans to visit the Twin Cities on Friday, recently unleashed a hateful attack on Minnesota’s Somali community in a speech delivered to a large crowd in Portland, Maine. It was beyond the pale.

Trump’s attack inspired more attacks. A hateful message left on the Somali Museum of Minnesota’s voice mail is the latest example.

Unfortunately, state Republican Party leaders such as Chairman Keith Downey, House Speaker Kurt Daudt, and U.S. Reps Erik Paulsen and Tom Emmer not only remain silent but continue to support Trump for president.

The unabated support by the top state GOP brass is a moral scandal. To preach of outreach and a possible partnership with the community while tolerating Trump’s outrageous attack is tantamount to moral turpitude and could lead to catastrophe.

Partisan politics is far from pure. Party leaders often accommodate fringe elements in the spirit of building a big political tent. But Trump is not a fringe figure in a large political party. He is an unhinged and dangerous nominee who hijacked a major American political institution and uses the power and the prestige that came with it to attack vulnerable groups.

Continue reading at Star Tribune

Jamal Abdulahi of Rosemount, is a community organizer, blogger and essayist.

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.)

Does Our Opinion Matter?

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

Renewing the Freedom of Speech against an Unforgiving Status Quo

omar


We live in a nation that prides itself on the freedom of speech. Yet, we pay nothing but lip service to the first amendment. That fact of the matter is that if you are outside of the elite establishment, no one really cares about your opinion or what you have to say for the matter. The Plutocratic States of America is the giant elephant no one wants to recognize. Citizens are free to have opinions, but if they are unredeemable, what good are there? We might as well have no opinion whatsoever. Arguably, that can explain why apathy is the new cultural norm. Information surrounds us everywhere we look. In the “free world,” accessibility to information is no longer an issue. It has actually transformed into an open source of vanity. We hold naïve expectations about humanity which teases us with perfectionism.

There is this presumption that more information means more intelligence.

Read the rest of this entry

Meet Majra Mucic

By Tea Rozman-Clark, Green Card Voices

Majra Mucic.png
Majra Mucić never thought her childhood was out of the ordinary. Later, she realized not every child grew up waiting in line for food rations and hiding from air raids.

Ms. Mucić was born in Zenica, Bosnia in 1988—four years prior to the start of the Bosnian War. After the war, her family decided to immigrate and escape the economic and political tensions that remained. After an arduous screening process in a refugee camp, her family was paired with a host family in St. Louis Park, Minnesota.

Upon her arrival in 2001, Majra had a difficult time adjusting to the nuances of her new home. From the bus system to the grocery store, everything seemed so different. Life at school was just as tough; few children were willing to reach out to Majra. She eventually made friends over a mutual passion—sports.

Read the rest of this entry

Trumped into silence

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“Silence is the best way to answer a fool.”

fedwa wazwaz
After the Democratic National Convention (DNC, Donald Trump said the reason Ghazala Khan didn’t speak at the DNC is because she wasn’t allowed to. He played on stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed and voiceless.

Some women will respond through a twitter campaign to demonstrate that we don’t need anyone’s permission to speak.

Today, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (EDT), Monday, August 1, using the hashtag‪ #‎CanYouHearUsNow‬, some Muslim women will share a bit about who they are and how they speak out.

I respect these women’s right to express their outrage in this manner.  However, I disagree with this approach.  Why?  As a direct speaker, I have faced harsh criticism for my not speaking in a way that adheres to a stereotypical view of a Muslim woman by Muslims and non-Muslims, both men and women alike.  Hence, boxing women to speak in one way to appease a bigot or a group of bigots plays right into their game.  A show of false bravado is not necessary.  Rather, what is needed is an educational lesson on silence.

As someone who is a direct speaker, I heard a woman, Ghazala Khan’s message on stage very loud and clear.  A wise woman who stood dignified and respectfully – expressed her pain and suffering at Trump with her silence.  She was not silenced by her husband, but, too stunned by Trump’s stupidity to even respond.  She was genuine, open and authentic.  She was being herself, not putting on an act of false bravado like Trump has been doing since the Presidential campaign.

Read the rest of this entry

What Merits the Value of an Opinion?

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

omar
Philosophy began as an opinion. In a free society, we are taught that our ideas matter. A person is given every reason to have an opinion without actually understanding what it means to have one. History is taken from the irony of the human experience. We constantly find ourselves at a crossroads. What can bring good brings bad. It is in our nature to justify our shortcomings through pitfalls of circumstance. A question of intentionality prosecutes the reason for action. As humans, it is in our nature to pursue avenues of recognition. A life deprived of meaning is an alibi to depression.

Wherever we look, there is information. It is not possible to avoid it anymore. For that reason, ignorance is increasingly becoming a matter of choice. Time again, we choose ignorance over intelligence without asking ourselves why. A margin of human error implies that perfection is illusory. We foolishly look for philosophies of perfection. The slightest form of error is enough to destroy hope in a better tomorrow. It can therefore be argued that ideas are as fragile as they are frugal. We sparingly attribute faith to an idea in anticipation of inevitable disappointment. That is indicative of man’s selfish inner narrative.

Read the rest of this entry

Expressing our gratitude to the elderly

By Memoona Ghani, Engage Minnesota

MemonaJune 18th, 2016, Saturday was the Global Impact Day initiated by AlMaghrib Institute. Last year, in 2015, Global Impact Day provided an opportunity to Muslim volunteers to pay attention to the homeless fellows in the community, and that lead many volunteers doing projects for homeless on a regular basis. This year, 2016, Global Impact day (GID) was somewhat triggered by stories similar to these.

Bob was sitting by the window in his room, looking outside without any expression on his face. The window had a view of the street, and one could see people walking, running, cars going by, that roller skating and skateboarding kids and then the gardening experts tending to their plants and flowers. He would often go into this state where he would usually sit quietly and think about the past. Upon asking what he was thinking about, he didn’t answer at first but then started speaking in short sentences with pauses while still looking outside He said:

“Once I used to run.”

“In the morning and evening.”

“My wife would do gardening.”

“We would go for vacation to places.”

“Hiking for hours and hours.”

“I would drive to my friends.”

“I had a very nice car. I bought it after many years of working at my job.”

“I loved my work. I was very smart. People would ask my advice.”

“I used to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. I was good at building houses. People would love it.”

“Now I can’t make anyone happy.”

“When I stand, my feet feel like as if the flesh inside my feet is being ripped or some bone in my foot is stabbing the flesh in the foot.”

“My knees feel like as if trying to carry the whole body. My knees get heavy when I stand.”

“I had surgery for both eyes. Why can’t I see clearly?”

“Nobody needs my advice. They think I don’t know anything.”

Read the rest of this entry

Race relations and protest: Do something of impact with your white privilege

By Omar Alansari-KregerStar Tribune

omar
In this day and age, the idea of white privilege is many things. As far as Blacks Lives Matter is concerned, if you are white, you are guilty. Make no mistake about it: The U.S. is a nation of deep contradictions. We have a hard time wrestling with the legacy of the past. Despite the deinstitutionalization of state-sponsored racism, people of color — African-Americans in particular — remain marginalized. Needless to say, the people of white privilege have not been silent about this sordid state of affairs. It seems that some of the most vocal supporters of Black Lives Matter are whites burdened with white privilege.

Something needs to be done about this sorry state of reality. However, the problem begins with the same group of whites that proclaim to care so much about black lives. It is all too ironic. The people of white privilege arrive to protest in areas that are far removed from the places where the actual hardships are. There is nothing more hypocritical than white people emerging from newly gentrified areas by way of the car culture. How is that not associable as a double whammy of white privilege rolled into one hypocritical thing? What does the average person of white privilege have in common with African-Americans, in addition to all other people of color?

Continue reading at Star Tribune.

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

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 specially designed Eid (blessed holiday)

By Nemeh Sarraj, Engage Minnesota

nemeh
On Wednesday, June 29th Disability Awareness Project held it’s first ever fun day event for Muslim kids with disabilities and the Muslim community with a Minion theme.

The event went really well Alhamdullilah (Thanks to God). We expected only three kids to come up as Muslim families who have a loved one with a disability generally don’t like going out to events due to stigma reasons.

We had five kids with disabilities show up and fifteen “typical” kids. It was a blast.

Per parents request, some children were not included in the photo.

Screenshot

One mom who has two kids with autism stated that this was her kids Eid outing because it’s almost impossible for her kids to do anything on Eid because either there’s too many people or because other families “forget” to ask her to come. The organization has received requests to do more events and activities.

Nemeh Al-Sarraj is a graduate of Metropolitan State University. She completed an undergraduate degree in Bachelors of Human Services in Disability Studies. As someone who has lived with many different disabilities throughout her life, Nemeh has both academic and personal knowledge and understanding of what it means to have a disability and has spent the past nine years raising awareness about different disabilities like autism, throughout the community.  A strong champion of rights for Muslims with disabilities, her goals include educating the community about different disability topics and issues and helping Muslims with disabilities in the community feel welcomed and included.  In 2014, The Arc Greater Twin Cities has honored Nemeh Sarraj of Spring Lake Park with its “Changing Attitudes” Changemaker Award.

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.)

In the footsteps of Muhammad Ali

By Amaiya Zafar, Engage Minnesota

amaiya
Hey! My name is Amaiya Zafar, I am 16 years old, and I am an amateur boxer. I have been training for over two years, and I have a love for boxing that overpowers any hardships that come with the various sport.  My hero is Muhammad Ali and I hope to follow in his footsteps.

There is a rule for amateur boxers that states we must wear the boxing trunks/jersey uniform and nothing more; as a Muslimah, I cover my body to show self-respect and my faith in God. So this, and the fact that there are few girls my age and weight for me to fight is the main reasons I have yet to compete.

In the 2+ years, I’ve pursued boxing; I have faced a lot of adversity. While most support me on this journey, some have opinions that they are eager to share, telling me I should take up baking or sewing rather than taking on a “men’s sport.” Even after being told that I will not be allowed to compete in my Capsters sports hijab and under armor underneath my uniform, I have kept up my training. I train as if I have a fight every day. I work to keep myself at my very best and to keep God first. When the time comes, I will be ready to fight my hardest! I have the support from my coaches, teammates, and my family to keep me going.

Read the rest of this entry

Support a platform for Minnesotan Muslims

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“When we view ourselves as the protagonist of a story in which we are always right, we collect grievances about other people by noticing everything we do and noting the ‘injustices’ that are done to us.  All of this builds resentment within us and instigates conflict.”  –Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah 

fedwa wazwaz
A Somali MPR reporter is stopped at the courthouse where he’s been going every day.

A 6th grade Muslim schoolgirl in New York is called “ISIS,” put in headlock, and punched as middle-school boys tried to pull off her headscarf.

A fourteen-year-old boy who wants to show his clock to a teacher is treated as a terrorist.

My daughter is called a “terrorist” in school.

These are not isolated incidents, but part of an increasingly powerful narrative about Muslims. I get up early to read the news. When I do, I find Muslims all over the world, mainly in a negative light, often framed as a stereotype of violence and hatred.

In the last year, the voices of ISIS and their supporters have been saturating the internet—both because of their shocking acts and because of how well they fit with stereotypes of the “eternally violent” Muslim. One would think they are the majority of Muslims rather than a fringe minority.

All around the world, Muslims are working as journalists, attending school, inventing things—but extremists get the coverage and the mic. The picture is overwhelmed by them, and they seem like the majority.

Read the rest of this entry

Ramadan Mubarak (Blessed Ramadan)

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

 

“O who believe, fasting is decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you; perchance you will guard yourselves.”

“The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down, a guidance for the people, and clear verses of guidance and criterion.” (Quran: Chapter 2, 183)

The fourth pillar of Islam is Sawm or Fasting in the month of Ramadan. Fasting is also practiced in many other religions and is mentioned in the Torah and Bible as well as in Hindu scriptures. Observant Christians fast during Lent by giving up a particular food. Hindus fast on certain days of the week or on holidays, and for Jews, the most important day of fasting is on Yom Kippur, which lasts a little over a day.

Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic Calendar. Because Ramadan follows the lunar calendar, it rotates through the seasons, moving back around eleven days each year. Last year, Ramadan started on June 18th and this year, the Islamic Society of North America, declared Ramadan to begin on June 6th, 2016.

Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, abstaining from food and drink during this time. The aim of the fast is to weaken the physical desire or self and allow for the purification of the soul. It’s a process of spiritual purification and strengthening of willpower to carry us through the year. Muslims break their fast with dates and water followed by the evening prayer and dinner.

It is customary for families to attend the local mosque after breaking fast for special nightly prayers called taraweeh. The entire Qur’an, 114 chapters or 6,000 verses are recited by the end of Ramadan in a melodious recitation, called tajweed.

Read the rest of this entry

%d bloggers like this: