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An inspiration of hajj for mainstream America

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

Hajj is recognition of our shared mortality which reminds us of what we cannot refute, our humanity.

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How does one establish a sense of meaning in a fast-paced world driven by material results? In America, people seem like they are married to their jobs which makes it difficult to acquire a true sense of life or identity for that matter. It becomes quite difficult to stand out when society demands conformity through standardized assimilation. As America continues to wrestle with its deep polarities, it becomes challenging to explore an escape from the madness. This describes something much greater than a two-week vacation. Unbeknownst to many Americans, the Hajj pilgrimage takes place each year. For all able-bodied and financially capable Muslims, it stands as a mandatory religious obligation beckoning fulfillment. It represents a great coming together of the races each year best described as an epic festival of nations. For Hajj, people arrive by the millions far and wide by air, sea, and land.

Any Non-Muslim cannot help but to wonder: why do people leave their careers, families, and other details of life behind across a two-three week period as an act of high faith?

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Interfaith Panelists Recognize and Accept Differences

Five University Groups Discuss How They Can Work Together to Improve Humanity’s Future

By Heba Abdel-Karim and Lolla Mohammed Nur, Engage Minnesota

“Imagine a world where people from different religious backgrounds come together to create understanding and respect by serving their communities.” – Interfaith Youth Core (www.ifyc.org)

Lolla Mohammed Nur Heba Abdel Karim

On April 9, the Hillel Jewish Center, in union with the University of Minnesota’s Muslim Student Association, hosted and organized an interfaith discussion that brought together people of different faiths. The topic of the event was “humanity’s future,” and representatives of a number of different faiths spoke about how they see humanity progressing, and how our differences, as well as similarities, can better the community.

A little over a hundred people entered the room, determined to try something different: to go beyond their normal routine, talk to others of various faiths, and get to know them. Unsurprisingly, that’s what made the event—believed to be the first of its kind at the U—such a success. Attendees left politics aside and peacefully interacted with one another. In the end, they saw how similar, yet diverse and unique, we all were.

“I think that what group representatives, members, and the audience all liked the most was the atmosphere: nobody was on the defensive, nobody was being hostile, no group was being labeled with negative stereotypes,” comments EngageMN writer Lolla Mohammed Nur, pictured above to the left of Heba Abdel-Karim.

“The positive atmosphere was almost contagious!” says Mohammed Nur. “Some asked very insightful and sincere questions, and it was obvious that all audience members were there to genuinely learn about different faiths and beliefs. Everybody was there to help promote the message of religious tolerance and awareness.” Read the rest of this entry

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