Blog Archives

‘Nobody’s perfect’

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

Indeed, those who are in denial about their own specific imperfections are often obsessed with the imperfections of others.

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People often say: “Nobody’s perfect.” Many motivational speakers and life coaches are fond of the phrase. Even Adam, the first among us, wasn’t perfect. It’s undeniably true, and obsessing over perfection can be a harmful practice. But what sorts of things can we hide behind the phrase “nobody’s perfect?”

Imagine a child who is raised in a family where, every time he does something wrong, his parents make excuses: “He didn’t mean it,” “he’s a good boy,” “everyone makes mistakes.” Instead of the child facing the consequences of his actions, accepting responsibility, and repairing the harm, he avoids them because “he’s only human.”

This can result in a case like Brock Turner’s, where, even when he has been convicted of rape, his parents make excuses and help him evade responsibility. Here, the mantra that “I’m not perfect” becomes a way of refusing to deal with one’s crimes.

Indeed, those who are in denial about their own specific imperfections are often obsessed with the imperfections of others.

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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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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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