Category Archives: Fedwa Wazwaz

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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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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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.)

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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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.)

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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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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Beyond shame, violence, and terror

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

One form of social-control shaming has been the humiliation of Muslims in an attempt to get us to transform into something “more American,” more comfortable, and more familiar.

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Faith, as I’ve said before, is about accepting ourselves as humans and turning to God to help us grow, heal, and be nurtured. This isn’t possible if we feel ashamed of who we are, of our core identities.

Oppressors—who are often themselves suffering from unacknowledged shame—don’t fight us just physically, but also psychologically.

The path to faith and healing is the path to knowing yourself. The more you know yourself, the harder it is for you to be recruited against another person.

When we talk about shame, we often think of public reprimand.  Yet, that is the least destructive of shaming as you know who is doing the shaming and can respond. For example, President Donald Trump’s shaming is faced with strong responses by many groups.  The worst of shaming is the insidious and hidden type which leaves a person or group conflicted of their perception of reality and undermines one’s ability to respond.

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Guilt, remorse, and getting beyond the self-help placebo

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“O God! Grant us enough fear (of displeasing Thee) that it may serve as a barrier between us and our sins. . .and grant us enough faith that it may help us to face the misfortunes of this world easily.”
–Prayer of Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings.

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It’s important to distinguish between two very different emotional processes: guilt and remorse.

We sometimes think of the two as interchangeable, but in truth they are very different. Guilt is connected with control, obligation, and fear. When you’re feeling guilty, you’re being shamed and disempowered. At times, this shame can be personal, part of a private controlling force. But often, guilt is part of a broad societal shaming.

For instance, Muslims have been pressured, for the past sixteen years, to feel guilty for the horrific events of September 11, 2001, as well as other violent attacks. We’ve been put on the guilt-track, where we need to constantly excuse, explain, apologize, and apologize for a crime that took us by surprise as it did everybody else.

Indeed, this guilt denied American Muslims the space to grieve. We, too, needed to share with the rest of the community the process of loss. We, too, needed to work through our sorrow and fear.

Instead, we were roped by a feeling of guilt and shame, and a burden to prove that we were not guilty. But in this case, there is nothing we can do to prove we’re not guilty. Still, the president’s executive order evokes September 11 when suddenly revoking permanent residents’ access to their homes, jobs, and lives.

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Jesus in the Bible, Jesus in the Qu’ran

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

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Jesus appears differently in Christianity and in Islam. Yet between the two, Jesus is a point of connectivity: His teachings and his life story are important in both the Bible and the Qur’an.

For me, as a Muslim, the teachings of Jesus remind me of the central importance of vulnerability. Jesus was born into a marginalized community during the rule of the powerful, patriarchal Roman Empire. He had no father to protect him. And it wasn’t just the agents of the Roman Empire who opposed Jesus’s works. His own community was often against him. So Jesus faced many forces that wanted to silence him.

Against all these forces, we’re told, young Jesus had only his mother Mary to defend him.

Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, underlined the link between himself and Jesus: “Both in this world and in the Hereafter, I am the nearest of all the people to Jesus, the son of Mary, peace and blessings upon him. The prophets are paternal brothers; their mothers are different, but their religion is one.”

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What is—and isn’t—bravery?

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

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The David and Goliath story is used by people around the world as a structure and a storyline to help them understand their own actions. The story has a wide appeal: It’s empowering for any of us to see ourselves as a small, unlikely “David” figure fighting against a behemoth of a “Goliath.” After all, justice was on David’s side, while Goliath had brute force and worldly power. And David won.

This story has been adapted to the purposes of people across many political and religious spectra. Ultra-right-wing commentators have called themselves Davids against a Goliath entity of the mainstream media; ISIS fighters paint themselves as a David against the Goliath of the United States military might. There have been heroic David-figures as well. Nelson Mandela has been called a David against the South African apartheid regime’s Goliath. Or a small whistleblower standing up to corporate corruption might also be called a David.

It’s an easy story to fall back on. As important and appealing as it is, when read simply the story can blind us to criticism, allowing us to see ourselves as a tiny hero against powerful aggressors.

But what was David’s story, really?

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When is it time for forgiveness?

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

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When we see people oppressed, trampled on, violated, and their loved ones murdered, “forgiveness” is one of the first words that often comes to hand. There are thousands of memes and stories that urge people to forgive. Indeed, popular wisdom informs people that the anger they carry is only damaging to them. Offload it, we’re told, and everything will be fine.

Forgiveness can be a positive force, of that there’s no doubt. But we must distinguish between a harmful “instant forgiveness” and a helpful, spiritually satisfying “sustainable forgiveness.”

Real, sustainable forgiveness rarely comes quickly, and it cannot be forced, compelled, or coerced. A sustainable forgiveness certainly isn’t about quickly offloading anger, which often forces victims to deny their reality –putting them in the same position that they were in when they were first victimized.

Indeed, there are many steps on the path toward sustainable forgiveness. This kind of forgiveness doesn’t emerge straight away from victimization, and it certainly doesn’t ascribe to “forgive and forget!”

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Loyalty & cooperation are two-way streets

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

Most of your sins are because of your tongues.
–Prophet Muhammad, upon peace and blessings.

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There are frequent calls—from law-enforcement officials, from radio personalities, and from ordinary people—for Muslims in the United States to be “loyal.” It’s not new. The loyalty of many other groups has been questioned: Japanese, Catholics. But what does it mean to be a loyal citizen of the United States, and how can loyalty be fostered?

Loyalty doesn’t mean that you agree to every action taken by your country’s government. As a US citizen, I have some criticism of US foreign policy. But loyalty does mean that I will address this in the public square. I will raise my questions not to attack America, but in a way that will benefit the country. When you’re speaking up as a loyal citizen, you’re speaking openly—you’re not plotting and planning in the shadows.

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Trumped into silence

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

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

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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.

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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 

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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.

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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 6th and this year, Ramadan will begin on May 27.

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.

Those who are sick or unable to fast, such as elderly, pregnant or nursing women, travelers, and of course children, are exempt from fasting. However, they do participate in the spiritual part of Ramadan, rejuvenating their faith and growing closer to God through extra worship, feeding the poor, charity and other good deeds.

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Inflict the legal punishments on the poor and forgive the rich?

By Fedwa WazwazEngage Minnesota

The camel sees all of the other camel’s humps but never his own.
–Bedouin Proverb

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Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings, taught Muslims that a society should not “inflict the legal punishments on the poor and forgive the rich.” This is not just an Islamic teaching–it has also been a teaching of those noble Americans who have nurtured our country to a higher understanding of human dignity and value.

Yet, with ISIS, we seem again to be forgiving the rich and focusing the brunt of our punishments on the poor.

In a newly aired PBS “Frontline” documentary, titled “The Secret History of ISIS,” produced by Michael Kirk, Mike Wiser, and Jim Gilmore examines how ISIS or Daesh came to be.  The documentary discusses how the US contributed to the rise of ISIS through many mistakes, as well as lies, told to create a link between 9/11 and Saddam Hussein so that we could make a case for Iraq.

Experts, including CIA officials, discussed how mistakes, lies and exaggerations were told along the path to a U.S. war on Iraq, which in turn gave rise to ISIS, also known as ISIL or Daesh.

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Reflections on Healing

By Fedwa WazwazEngage Minnesota

I am not what happened to me, I am what I choose to become.
–Carl Jung.

 

fedwa
There are health nuts and healing nuts.  I guess you could say I am a healing nut as I was addicted to programs, workshops, courses, and books that have to do with healing and reconciliation.

Tuesday, May 17th, there is an event titled, Acknowledging our Brokenness – Reflections on the Impact of Trauma from the Individual to the Community.

The event will be held at the
Amherst H. Wilder Foundation

451 Lexington Pkwy N,
Saint Paul, Minnesota 55104

7 PM to 8:45 PM

The event is free and open to the public.

Being that this is mental health month, I would like to encourage people to attend the event.  When we do an activity in a group or support it as a community, it makes it easier for people afraid to seek help to reach finally out and ask for help.

The suffering that is a result of trauma – if not addressed can spill over and affect family members as well as the community and society as a whole.

While I advocate for people to seek programs that help them deal with past trauma, I want to emphasize at times we face a major dead end in the process.  I learned over the years an essential wisdom behind an Islamic phrase, which I used to recite without reflection.  It is an Arabic phrase, so be forewarned, and do not fear.

lahawla

Reading it from right to left, it is pronounced like this:

lā hawla wa lā quwwata illā bi Allāh.

It is often translated as there is no power or strength except through Allāh.

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