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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.

fedwa wazwaz
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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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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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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