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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.

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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.

Read the rest of this entry

Reflecting on King’s Challenge to America

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

On December 14, 2012, late in the afternoon – I became aware of the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. It was painful to read the stories, emails and newsfeed as they poured over the tragedy. In times of crisis and pain like this, as a Muslim I immediately turn to prayer to gain strength and to reflect on the situation. In the evening, I joined an online prayer service on SeekersHub in Toronto.

The Toronto team was able to gather a large crowd at the Hub and online for our prayer for the victims and families of the murder in Connecticut. “The believer is pained by the pain of another,” said Shaykh Faraz Rabbani while leading the prayers for the affected families of Connecticut.

Read the rest of Fedwa’s article here.

Hearings on Islamic extremism set the worst example

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

Next month, the chair of the U.S. House Committee on Homeland Security plans to launch hearings on so-called domestic Islamic terrorism.

To justify the hearings, Rep. Peter King, R-New York, has made grossly irresponsible statements to right-wing broadcasters — claiming that 80 percent of U.S. mosques are extremist hotbeds and that Muslims aren’t cooperating with law enforcement.

Read Fedwa’s full article here.

Why Study Islam?

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota.

“Not to know is bad, not to wish to know is much worse.”
–Nigerian proverb.

A couple of years ago, I was in a training session in Edina.  The instructor, who was from Texas, went out of his way to be nice to me during the session.  Every now and then, he would pause as though he wanted to ask me a question that wasn’t training-related, but he would change his mind.
Read the rest of this entry

Help flood victims in Pakistan

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

I have been battling migraines and extremely tired to write much, so there is a backlog of articles that I will wrap up this next two weeks regarding Ramadan. We had quite a few events within the Twin Cities during Ramadan where Muslims struggled to reach out to the best of their ability to be a mercy and in the service of others. Read the rest of this entry

Jesus (pbuh) is also a revered prophet of Islam

By Fedwa Wazwaz

Jesus, son of Mary, peace and blessings upon them, is a revered religious figure and the bedrock of Christianity. He also is a venerated figure in Islam, the faith of some 1.5 billion Muslims worldwide.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace and blessings upon him, said: “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.”

Like Christians, Muslims believe in the virgin birth of Jesus, upon him be peace, and in his miracles. Jesus’ life and mission are mentioned in eleven chapters of the Qur’an. A few of the chapters are titled: Maryam (Mary the mother of Jesus); Imran (noble family of Jesus), and Ma’ida (the Last Supper). Jesus, upon him be peace, is glorified in the Qur’an and is referred to as “the Messiah,” “a Word of God,” and “a Sign of God.”
Read the rest of this entry

Critical Thinking in the Face of Propaganda

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

The elections this year turned ugly as presidential candidate Barack Obama was continuously portrayed as a Muslim, with a hidden negative inference that being Muslim means that Obama supports terrorism, and that being Muslim means bad and ugly.

While such attacks came mainly from the Republican party, the Democratic party did not show a strong backbone to repudiate these attacks.  Even Obama showed weakness in not fighting these attacks against Muslims and Islam by proclaiming he is not Muslim, he is a Christian.  He lacked the ability to affect a change in the pscyhe of Americans by challenging them to not define their Muslim neighbors by negative stereotypes.

To add to the wave of insults, in many US swing states an extremist group has mailed a copy of the movie Obsession to 28 million homes via mainstream newspapers, including the New York Times.   Read the rest of this entry

Eid Mubarak (Blessed Eid)

By Fedwa Wazwaz

EID MUBARAK (BLESSED EID)

EID MUBARAK (BLESSED EID)

Eid ul-Adha, or Festival of Sacrifice is one of the major Muslim holidays.  It comes right after a 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 ahs the physical and financial ability is required to make a pilgrimage to teh holy city of Makkah, home of the Ka’bah, which Muslims believe was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael.
The Hajj pilgrimage is an extremely communal event as over two million Muslims, men and women of varied ethniticies 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 sone, Ishmael, who Muslims believe was miraculously replaced by a lamb, similar to the Biblical story.  People share the meat of the sacrified 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.
We wish everyone in all places at all times a blessed Eid Mubarak. May Allah accept your good deeds and all your efforts during the blessed month of Dhul Hijjah. 
IT’S TIME FOR EID

Students Deserve Equal Religious Rights Under the Law

By Fedwa Wazwaz and Marcia Lynx Qualey, Engage Minnesota

Marcia Lynx Qualey

On April 9, we read Katherine Kersten’s column in the Star Tribune, and the e-mail exchange between Kersten and Asad Zaman, executive director of Tariq ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), and were compelled to respond.

I (Fedwa) have an eight-year-old daughter. I visited TIZA and decided not to enroll my daughter, choosing instead Al Amal School in Fridley. The primary reason is that I was convinced TIZA is not an Islamic School and does not teach Islamic Education to kids. I pay from my own pocket to put my daughter in Al Amal, the only Islamic school in the Twin Cities.

I (Marcia) have a four-year-old son, enrolled in a private Montessori school in St. Paul. While the school is housed adjacent to a Jewish temple—as TIZA is housed adjacent to a mosque—my son has learned nothing about Judaism by mere contact with the building. The school’s vacations are, as you might imagine, focused around Christian holidays.

Both of us work at the University of Minnesota, a public institution that receives taxpayer money. This school also closes on Christian holidays. Tests and school breaks are planned around Christian holidays to allow Christians time to celebrate. The floating holiday this year was on the Christian Good Friday, right before Christian Easter. There are “holiday parties” around Christmas Day—not, for instance, Ramadan.

However, the University of Minnesota presents itself as a secular university. Read the rest of this entry

Tag, You’re It

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

mirror_2.jpgI like to read books on self-help and psycho-therapy. Recently, I read a book called Stop Walking on Eggshells by Paul T. Mason and Randi Kreger. In the book, Kreger and Mason talk about projection as “denying one’s own unpleasant traits, behaviors, or feelings by attributing them (often in an accusing way) to someone else” and then attacking that person for those traits.

In their interview with psychotherapist Elyce M. Benham, projection is defined as “gazing at yourself in a hand-held mirror. When you think you look ugly, you turn the mirror around. Voila! Now the homely face in the mirror belongs to somebody else.” Mason and Kreger refer to this projection game as “Tag, You’re It.”

In the past weeks, there have been a series of attacks against Barack Obama based on statements made by his spiritual adviser, Jeremiah Wright.

As a Muslim who’s heard a deluge of inflammatory and racist language directed at my faith and my Arabic ethnicity by the leaders of the Republican Party and White Evangelical leaders, I can sympathize.

Wright is certainly not the only spiritual adviser who has made inflammatory remarks. Let me share a few from the other side of the mirror. Read the rest of this entry

Look Beyond Those Who Race Ahead and Cry

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

congress.jpgOn March 5th, House Resolution 951, which condemned Palestinians for rocket fire at Israel, passed in a vote of 404 to 1.

The lone voice of dissent was that of Congressman Ron Paul, who rose against the resolution, saying it was unfair and inflammatory in its condemnation only of Palestinian attacks. What was alarming was that all Minnesota Congresspeople voted in favor.

I want to openly and publicly ask these Minnesota Congresspeople some questions.
Read the rest of this entry

Prominent Muslim Scholar to Speak in MN: ‘Is Coexistence Feasible?’

Dr. Jamal Badawi Scheduled to Appear Feb. 20 at University of St. Thomas

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

ATTEND IT
Presentation:
Dr. Jamal Badawi:
“Is Coexistence Feasible? An Islamic Response.”
7 p.m. Weds., Feb. 20
O’Shaughnessy Educational Center Auditorium
University of St. Thomas,
2115 Summit Ave., St. Paul, MN

Although Muslims in the United States and around the world have repeatedly condemned terrorism and extremism, Muslims stand falsely accused by nationally known commentators and influential religious leaders of remaining silent.

The Islamic Resource Group (IRG), an educational outreach organization, has done more than 1,900 presentations reaching more than 65,000 Minnesotans in face-to-face interaction. The number one question people want IRG speakers to answer is: What does Islam say about terrorism? Sadly, we are forced to prove that we condemned terrorism. This is a situation no other faith community faces where it is held responsible for the actions of a few over what we have neither control nor influence.

Photo of Dr. Jamal Badawi from St. Mary's University, Halifax

On Wednesday, Feb. 20, prominent Muslim scholar Dr. Jamal Badawi (pictured at right) is scheduled to discuss coexistence in Islam. The alleged failure to condemn terrorism will be one among several subjects addressed in his speech. Dr. Badawi, in town by invitation of the IRG and University of St. Thomas, will give a presentation titled “Is Coexistence Feasible? An Islamic Response.”

The constant repetition of the alleged failure to condemn terrorism has pushed our voices behind an intellectual apartheid wall; hence, nothing we say is heard.

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Don’t define Muslim societies by their flaws

Fair criticism means looking beyond the faults and failings

By Fedwa Wazwaz

On October 22, The Minnesota Daily published my commentary “Islamo-Fascism a very racist concept.” On October 23 and 24, a couple of letters to the editor responded to my artcle. A common thread in the letters was the right to criticize Islam. Do people have a right to criticize Islam?

Let me begin by quoting a couple of lines of Islamic poetry:

“The eye of Love to every flaw is blind,

While the eye of hatred reveals all flaws.”

Read the rest of this entry

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