By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
God! There is no deity but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names. (Qur’an 20:8)
The name An Nafi means God is the one who helps and confers all advantages, who creates all that produces benefit for us, from our wealth to our charms to our intelligence. It is God who gives us moments of genuine and healthy laughter, and who comforts our souls.
The name Ad Darr means God is also the one who, in His wisdom, also allows adversity or distress. God does not set out to punish us. But He has given us free will, and He allows that things that hurt us to exist.
“He is the One who makes you laugh or cry.” Qur’an 53:44
These two names fit together, and together they show how benefit and harm are part of a cycle, like circling around the Ka’aba. These apparent opposites make us aware that every action is part of a larger balance, even when the whole pattern is not visible to us.
When we receive benefits, we should turn to God. And when harm falls to us, we should also turn to God. We may turn to other people in both cases as well—to be grateful or to seek help. But the prophets show us that the turning to God can give us a sense of empowerment. This way, we will never be humiliated by seeking help that doesn’t come.
We will always have God.
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.
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.
By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
Tuesday, August 21, 2018, Muslims will mark Eid ul-Adha or Festival of Sacrifice. Eid ul-Adha is one of the major Muslim holidays. It comes right after the fifth 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 has the physical and financial ability is required to make a pilgrimage to the holy city of Makkah, home of the Ka’bah, which Muslims believe was built by Abraham and his son Ishmael, upon them be peace.
The Hajj pilgrimage is an extremely communal event as over two million Muslims, men and women of varied ethnicities and nationalities, dressed in simple white clothing symbolizing the equality of all people, perform identical rituals.
Throughout the day – people make chants or sing takbeerat – praising God Most High and Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings. You can listen to it in the following video:
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 son, Ishmael, who Muslims believe was miraculously replaced by a lamb, similar to the Biblical story.
However, on the 10th day of Dhul-Hijjah, the pilgrims will continue and return to Mina. The Hajj is not complete as there are three days in devotion and prayer left. Ramy al-Jamarat, throwing stones at stone pillars, a re-enactment of Prophet Abraham who threw stones at Satan when he was ordered by God to sacrifice his son and Satan tempted him to disobey God. The slaughter of a sheep after he was prepared to sacrifice his son in obedience to God’s command. Finally, the pilgrims return to Mecca for a farewell circling of the Kabah or tawaf and re-enactment of Hajar running between two hills to find water for Ishmael or sa’i.
Jeewan Chanicka explained Abraham’s sacrifice in his Hajj reminders with the following words:
But it wasn’t his son that was slaughtered. It was his attachment. It was his attachment to anything that could compete with his love for God. And the beauty of such a sacrifice is this: Once you let go of your attachment, what you love is given back to you– in a purer, better form. So let us ask ourselves during these beautiful days of sacrifice, which attachments do we need to slaughter?
People share the meat of the 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.
In conclusion, I want to share Rumi’s Eid al-Adha Poem.
BISMILLAH! (In the name of God!)
It’s a habit of yours to walk slowly.
You hold a grudge for years.
With such heaviness, how can you be modest?
With such attachments, do you expect to arrive anywhere?
Be wide as the air to learn a secret.
Right now you’re equal portions clay
and water, thick mud.
Abraham learned how the sun and moon and the stars all set.
He said, No longer will I try to assign partners for God.
You are so weak. Give up to grace.
The ocean takes care of each wave
till it gets to shore.
You need more help than you know.
You’re trying to live your life in open scaffolding.
Say Bismillah, In the name God,
As the priest does with knife when he offers an animal.
Bismillah your old self
to find your real name.
– Jalaluddin Rumi
I wish everyone in all places at all times a blessed Eid Mubarak. May God accept your good deeds and all your efforts during the blessed month of Dhul Hijjah (the name of the month in the Muslim lunar calendar).
Check the following calendar for prayer services and Eid Activities today and the coming days.
Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US. She was the chair of 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 lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.
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By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota
“When we view ourselves as the protagonist of a story in which we are always right, we collect grievances about other people by noticing everything we do and noting the ‘injustices’ that are done to us. All of this builds resentment within us and instigates conflict.” –Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah
A Somali MPR reporter is stopped at the courthouse where he’s been going every day.
A 6th grade Muslim schoolgirl in New York is called “ISIS,” put in headlock, and punched as middle-school boys tried to pull off her headscarf.
A fourteen-year-old boy who wants to show his clock to a teacher is treated as a terrorist.
My daughter is called a “terrorist” in school.
These are not isolated incidents, but part of an increasingly powerful narrative about Muslims. I get up early to read the news. When I do, I find Muslims all over the world, mainly in a negative light, often framed as a stereotype of violence and hatred.
In the last year, the voices of ISIS and their supporters have been saturating the internet—both because of their shocking acts and because of how well they fit with stereotypes of the “eternally violent” Muslim. One would think they are the majority of Muslims rather than a fringe minority.
All around the world, Muslims are working as journalists, attending school, inventing things—but extremists get the coverage and the mic. The picture is overwhelmed by them, and they seem like the majority.
By Memoona Ghani, Engage Minnesota
It is a general sentiment among people (Muslims and Non-Muslims) that Islam has no room for having fun. It is not true. Islam does allow having Halal (permissible) fun, but within some boundaries. There is no free pass to all things. And taking a step back and looking at the bigger picture shows that it all leads to good morals and ethics which leads us to become better people. Why do we worry about having fun anyways? The fact is we need a way to keep our minds and bodies healthy, a way to come alleviate the stress and a way to improve relationships.
The topic of Chilin is very important to kids, teenagers and young adults. I always wonder how does this particular category fit within the boundaries of religion or does such a boundary exist?
I recently attended a seminar on the rulings of having fun in Islam held by AlMaghrib institute. I know the name of the seminar might sound kind of heavy but yes there are rulings of Chilin in Islam, that some practicing Muslims adhere to. Instead of sharing my thoughts, I decided to chat with a teenager and listen to her thoughts after the lecture.
Sidra Islam attended different seminars offered by AlMaghrib, despite being in school and having studies and many activities. Here is her experience from the class, Fiqh of Chilin. The term Fiqh means Islamic judisprudence or rulings.