Blog Archives

Lessons on power and oppression from Moses 6

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

God! There is no deity but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names. Has the story of Moses reached thee? (Qur’an 20:8-9)

Sometimes, it takes time before God’s justice will manifest. Oppressors are sometimes given many chances for repentance and transformation.  Some receive, while others reject and grow in delusion.

I was trying to decide which article by scholars on trauma to share, but the reading is quite long and difficult to follow.  However, I found this article on psychotherapy which is a very easy reading that can help you follow my analysis in this piece.  Try to read it before continuing with the rest of this reflection piece.

God opened a door of repentance, and, in the case of the magicians, they saw the truth and told Pharaoh:

So the magicians were thrown down to prostration: they said, “We believe in the Lord of Aaron and Moses”.

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Encountering the Other: Conversation with An Israeli Woman

By Dorit Miles, Engage Minnesota

IMG_0448It all began with my telling myself, an Israeli born, that if the Palestinian physician, Dr. Abuelaish can write the book,” I Shall Not Hate”, after losing three daughters in the conflict, I can make an effort to know more about the Palestinian people, in the spirit of peace.

That was several years ago. In January of this year, I joined a group of 22 travelers on an Interfaith trip to Israel and Palestine, led by Rabbi Amy Eilberg, of Minneapolis. Our guides were a Muslim Palestinian and a Jewish Israeli. The emphasis was on dialogue, multi religious perspectives and an in depth look at the Israelis’ and Palestinians’ lives and their conflict with each other. The trip had an enormous effect on me.

Upon returning to Minneapolis I started talking in my community about this experience.

On a recent presentation, five members of our group shared our impressions in a gathering in a bookstore with an audience of about forty people.

It was the first time I addressed a mainly Pro Palestinian audience. I was scared and thought to myself while my co presenters were talking about the evils of the Israeli occupation, “what have I gotten myself into?”.

But, I am passionate about meeting ‘the other’ and am very concerned about the growing hate today, everywhere, not just the Middle East. So I talked.

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Lessons on power and oppression from Moses 5

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage MN

God! There is no deity but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names. Has the story of Moses reached thee? (Qur’an 20:8-9)

Oppression works in many ways. One way is by convincing people that they’re bad: that they’re thugs, savages, or terrorists. A people can be controlled psychologically when an oppressor makes them feel as though they can’t overcome a mistake that they’ve made or defines them by their worst moment. This is also true if an oppressor defines the “other” by the worst actions of the fringe amongst them.

An oppressor thus doesn’t allow people to grow. To oppress another, you have to dehumanize them in your eyes first and then, later, in the eyes of others, then in their own eyes.  An oppressor takes the worst act and the worst moment and keeps people hostage to that act or moment.

Sometimes, we react to this by trying to show only our best moments. This creates a cycle of showing good Muslim, bad Muslim, good Muslim, bad Muslim, and doesn’t advance the discussion.  A case in point is 9/11 or the Paris attacks, where many in the Muslim community reacted to being demonized by working to prove that Muslims are model citizens.  

Even though it doesn’t seem so, it’s counter-productive for Muslim-Americans to present everything that Muslims do as good. It feeds into the psychological construct of oppression by not allowing Muslims to admit error and grow. We cannot “prove” that Muslims are perfect, because there are also bad and ugly aspects of Muslim communities like everywhere else. Our argument should be, we are human and then turn the mirror around and say, like you.

Craig Hicks, who assassinated three young people in Chapel Hill, counted himself an atheist, but this hardly proves all atheists would act in this way. But it does tell Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins, two atheists who are also prominent bigots, that you and your group are human, too.

But we can’t just condemn Dawkins and others. We also need to give opportunities for growth and repentance, because God is a perpetual forgiver.   

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A Successful Interfaith Gathering at Brooklyn Park

By Engage Minnesota


On January 28th, Brooklyn Park Mayor Lunde and community faith leaders came together at the Community Engagement Gathering.

More than 100 community members and staff attended this first time event. There was a panel of speakers representing all three mosques in the Brooklyns as well as a Christian church and a Christian counseling center. Next, youth from Ja’afari Islamic Center presented on “Islam 101”. Finally, attendees participated in conversations at their table around the question, “What can we do as a community to make sure all community members feel safe and welcome?”

The overarching theme was the following: We have more similarities than differences; by acknowledging the uniqueness of our individual faiths and cultural communities, being open to learn from one another, engaging in honest dialogue, building positive relationships in our neighborhoods, and celebrating our rich diversity, we create a welcoming and safe environment for people of all faiths.

The efforts will continue at the individual, family, organizational and community-wide levels.  This month’s Community Engagement Gathering will include a presentation by Oromo community members on their unique culture. Thursday, February 25, 5:45 – 7:30 p.m.

Please RSVP to Josie Shardlow, Community Engagement Coordinator, 763-493-8388


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A holiday letter from Muslim leaders in Minnesota

By Multiple authors, Star Tribune

Two faiths, one hope — for peace

To our Christian brothers and sisters:

Out of our shared love for the Messiah, Jesus, Son of Mary, Peace Be Upon Him, we greet you with peace and joy during your celebration of his life.

The Bible refers to him as the Messiah and describes the annunciation, his miraculous birth and his numerous miracles.

The Qur’an refers to him as the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary. It teaches about his miraculous birth and how his mother Mary was honored above all the worlds. Muslims are instructed to invoke peace upon him whenever his name is mentioned.

The Qur’an narrates the story of the angel who visited Mary, saying “O Mary, indeed God has chosen you and purified you and chosen you above the women of all the worlds.” (Qur’an 3:42)

The angel said, “O Mary, indeed God gives you good news of a word from Him, whose name will be the Messiah, Jesus, son of Mary. He will be honored in this world and the Hereafter and he will be among those closest to God. He will speak to the people in the cradle and in maturity and he will be of the righteous.” (Qur’an 3:44-45)

Continue reading at Star Tribune…


This article was submitted by Imam Asad Zaman, Muslim American Society of Minnesota; Dr. Odeh Muhawesh, Imam Hussain Islamic Center; ShaykhaTamara Gray, Rabata/Daybreak Bookstore; Dr. Tamim Saidi, Masjid Al Kareem; Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota; Dr. Shah Khan, Islamic Center of Minnesota; Dr. Onder Uluyol, Islamic Resource Group; Zafar Siddiqui, Al Amal School; Imam Sharif Mohamed, Islamic Civic Society of America — Masjid Dar Al-Hijrah, and Owais Bayunus, Islamic Center of Minnesota.


If you like this piece, share it on social media. We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites. We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email