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What Makes a Good Judge?

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

And the Book (of Deeds) will be placed (before you); and thou wilt see the sinful in great terror because of what is (recorded) therein; they will say, “Ah! woe to us! what a Book is this! It leaves out nothing small or great, but takes account thereof!” They will find all that they did, placed before them: And not one will thy Lord treat with injustice. (Quran 18:49)

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There is a story attributed to Abu Hurairah, a seventh-century narrator of hadith. He told of a cleaner who lived during the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him.

It happened that the Prophet noticed this cleaner was suddenly missing from the mosque. When he was told the cleaner had died, the Prophet asked: “Why didn’t you inform me?” It seemed that the Prophet’s companions had found the matter trivial, but the Prophet went to the cleaner’s grave to offer prayers.

In this story, we learn about the attentions of the truly just—the sort of person who would be a good judge. The Prophet didn’t say: Was this person a high-achiever? Did they go to Yale? This person’s worth, for the Prophet, didn’t rest on having reached a particular station in life, nor having put together a stunning CV.

Although ways of measuring human worth have changed, much has stayed the same. It is important for us to remember that innocence and guilt are not built on a person’s place in the social hierarchy.

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A day, month, and a year of many blessings: Muharram Mubarak

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

A new year of growth inviting us to receive many blessings from God.

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Every day and moment is a blessing of life from God.

We completed the month of Dhul-Hijjah, which contained within it the greatest day of the month and year, ‘Arafah’. This day represents our return to God, a day of return, accountability, and brotherhood.

Yesterday was the Islamic New Year.
The first day of the sacred month of Muharram.

Muharram is the first month of the Islamic Hijri calendar, which follows the revolutions of the moon, hence the year is 11 days shorter than the Gregorian calendar.

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How do we take God as our Witness during Trials and Tribulations?

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

God! There is no deity but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names. (Qur’an 20:8)

fedwa wazwazThere are two names of God, often spoken together, that show the balance of our world. They are An Nafi and Ad Darr.

The name An Nafi means God is the one who helps and confers all advantages, who creates all that produces benefit for us, from our wealth to our charms to our intelligence. It is God who gives us moments of genuine and healthy laughter, and who comforts our souls.

The name Ad Darr means God is also the one who, in His wisdom, also allows adversity or distress. God does not set out to punish us. But He has given us free will, and He allows that things that hurt us to exist.

“He is the One who makes you laugh or cry.” Qur’an 53:44

These two names fit together, and together they show how benefit and harm are part of a cycle, like circling around the Ka’aba. These apparent opposites make us aware that every action is part of a larger balance, even when the whole pattern is not visible to us.

When we receive benefits, we should turn to God. And when harm falls to us, we should also turn to God. We may turn to other people in both cases as well—to be grateful or to seek help. But the prophets show us that the turning to God can give us a sense of empowerment. This way, we will never be humiliated by seeking help that doesn’t come.

We will always have God.

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Jamal Abdulahi runs for Congressional District 5

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

When two Somali-American Muslims compete for the same Congressional Seat, it is a measure of the healthy political growth of our community.

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Once upon a time, when a Muslim ran for office or Congress – they were up against a tornado of hatemongers, having to prove they are not tied to extremists and an opposing candidate who used their Muslim faith against them.

In Congressional District 5 (CD5), we have something new.  Minnesotans just love to lead in opening doors.  Congressman Keith Ellison who held this seat, left to run for Attorney General and a few candidates are running for CD5.

The excitement is we have two Somali-American Muslims competing with other candidates for this seat.

  • Jamal Abdulahi
  • Margaret Anderson Kelliher
  • Frank Nelson Drake
  • Ilhan Omar
  • Patricia Torres Ray

Wow!  This reminds me of when Norm Coleman and Paul Wellstone, both Jewish, ran for the same Senate Seat.  It is great to see more than one candidate running for the same seat.

Ilhan Omar, the nation’s first and only Somali-American lawmaker is running.

Jamal Abdulahi, a community activist, blogger, and the founder of Somali-American DFL Caucus officially launched his campaign to represent Minnesota’s 5th Congressional District as well.

Like many Somalis, Jamal’s story is a story of struggle, overcoming obstacles, working hard and giving back to the community he loves.

To learn more about Jamal Abdulahi’s campaign visit Jamal for Congress or join his Jamal for Congress Facebook Page.

Jamal shares that “on arriving in America, he took a Greyhound from California to Minnesota, worked minimum wage jobs to put himself through school and when he became eligible transferred to the University of Minnesota’s prestigious Institute of Technology and earned a degree in electrical engineering.

As committed DFL’er, Jamal has knocked on thousands of doors, chaired a committee charged with making recommendations on updating the DFL’s technology infrastructure and founded the Somali-American DFL Caucus which has taken as its mission to organize one of Minnesota’s most politically marginalized communities.

As a community advocate, Jamal has written extensively about the Somali community for mainstream publications and worked closely with legislators to draft legislation addressing gaps in mental health care, medical professionals trained overseas to be re-certified in Minnesota and a pilot program at Augsburg College to help inspire teachers of East African heritage to become licensed educators.

Jamal earned his M.B.A. while working full time and raising a family and developed his policy and leadership skills as a Policy Fellow at the University of Minnesota’s Humphrey Institute.

Jamal and his wife Sahra Ali are raising four daughters and continue to serve the community just as Jamal has done his entire adult life.”

Try to engage all candidates and invite them to Somali and Muslim get-togethers to encourage more Muslims and Somalis to participate and vote.  I think the best way to advance the conversation when a Muslim or Somali runs, is to have more than one candidate running for the same seat.  This will highlight the issues they want to address instead of focusing mainly on responding to bigotry and Islamophobia.

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.

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Why we shouldn’t normalize suicide

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“Given the very high rates of suicide, which continue to rise despite all the intelligence and expertise of mental-health professionals, we can interpret God’s words as teaching us that this particular door needs to be shut as a possible solution.”

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One of the reasons I’ve refrained from mentioning the suicides of famous people is that, by talking about them, we are in danger of normalizing suicide. When famous people—especially those known to be good people—commit suicide, this sends a message to those among us dealing with depression and distress: Suicide is an acceptable way to solve our problems.

 

Most faiths speak of painful punishments for people who take their own lives. At times, people misunderstand or misinterpret when God closes a door. Some are understandably confused by how a compassionate God could punish people who are in pain.

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