Blog Archives

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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Reflections on Healing

By Fedwa WazwazEngage Minnesota

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


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.


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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Owning Our Racial Bias: A Multicultural Interfaith Dialogue Seeking Reconciliation and Healing

By  Engage Minnesota

Church of the Epiphany Episcopal Church in partnership with St.Paul Interfaith Network, and the Islamic Center of Minnesota invited those eager to understand racial bias in new ways to both a panel of west metro youth for their experiences with racial bias AND a panel of experienced voices, followed by dialogue among all participants. This event examined realities about racial bias, with the goal of challenging participants to move toward racial reconciliation and healing.

The evening included a meal and small group discussion of the topic.

The event was held on Sunday, September 27, 2015 from 4:00-7:00 PM at the Church of the Epiphany, 4900 Nathan Lane N, Plymouth, MN 55442.

Special thanks for all those who participated in planning for this event.

The Event Convenor – Kim Olstad and taped by John Risken.

There were two panels: youth and adult.

Participants of the Youth Panel:
o Ifeyinwa Ikegwuani, senior, Osseo High School
o Maryam Wazwaz, sophomore, Spring Lake Park High School
o Tyler Story, senior, Wayzata High School
o Alex Sigmundik, creator of RezCycle, graduate of Blake School

o Moderator, Brooke Story, Senior Director, Integration, Medtronic


Adult Panel
o Mike Hotz, associate pastor of care and outreach, Sanctuary Covenant Church in North Minneapolis
o Austin Ihiekwe, recently retired engineer with 3M who came to the US from Nigeria in 1964
o Dorthey Ikeguani, hospice nurse and nursing instructor at North Hennepin Community College, born and raised in Arkansas.
o Christine McCleave, enrolled member from Turtle Mountain Band of Ojibwe in North Dakota and currently working in the non-profit sector at Indian Land Tenure Foundation
o Fedwa Wazwaz, speaker and writer on interfaith relations, Islam, and Palestine.

o Moderator, Chuma Ikeguani, Vision Realty


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Listening to God – Toward Healing and Reconciliation

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

The first duty of love is to listen.
–Paul Tillich

fedwaThere is a narration on the Prophet’s cousin, Imam Ali ibn Abu Talib, who was fighting an enemy with his sword ready to deal the final blow, then the enemy spit in his face. Ali refused to continue the battle as the fight became personally motivated.

We learn from this incident – that whether in battle or in discussion, when conflicts or a fight becomes poisoned with personal angst – the wisest thing to do is to ground oneself and remove the personal angst. Until the personal angst is removed, then the discussion can continue.

There are many roads in the valley of impotence in the face of adversity, and many lead to loss and perpetual suffering. At times, we find ourselves at a junction where many voices are giving us advice, however, all these voices lead us astray. There is the road of guidance which is a steep road, but first we must acknowledge that we do not know and seek guidance.

At times, voices that validate our pain and suffering seek to manipulate one in their most vulnerable state when a person is hurting and unaware. Whereas voices of guidance seek to center and ground you so you can see the roads ahead and choose the road to travel with wisdom and reflection. It is for this reason that God guides us to show patience in times of adversity, so we can reflect and follow the road of guidance and not one of the seductive roads of validation or conformity.

I like to emphasize listening, but not to validate the one speaking but if our aim is to guide another or receive guidance, then we must find where we are emotionally, mentally, spiritually on the map before we can guide each other appropriately. Giving people advice based on conjecture, false assumptions or projections of our own internal issues can lead to many misunderstandings and name-calling.

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