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Allahu Akbar: We Love Life

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.

fedwa wazwaz
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.

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Blessed Festival of Sacrifice

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

fedwaFriday, September 1, 2017, 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.

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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Conversation with Sidra on Islam and Chilin

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.



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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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Paris: An American Muslim Speaks Out

By Hanadi ChehabHuffington Post

2fa6e8272adb40f5a760010a1dfaca38-32cfbac964244421809fa3c83df2dde5-24I was struck by the words of one of the Paris-attack survivors. As she was on the ground, under the body of another victim, covered with blood, she thought to herself “just play dead.” How easy it is to say these words and how horrific it is to live through those moments.

How alive she must have been to consciously play dead and how dead were the hearts that, with all consciousness, intended to kill that day as many civilians as possible.

“Allahu Akbar” cried the attackers before reloading their machine guns and sending another set of souls home. “Allahu Akbar,” an expression so dear to a Muslim, vandalized by a group of inhumane beings that have mistaken their own desires for a divine plan.

“Allahu Akbar” indeed, God is greater as justice shall be served and heinous acts like these will never go unpunished. God is greater indeed as these killers got what they deserved. God is greater indeed as the world is uniting against evil. God is greater indeed as Muslims will have to rise from dormancy to speak about their religion. God is greater indeed because the countries that helped create ISIS are suffering from it. God is greater because He is, irrespective of whether we admit it or not.

Continue reading at Huffington Post

Hanadi Chehab is a writer and blogger currently living in Minnesota, with her family of three children. Previously published on MinnPost and 
Before coming to the US Hanadi was a communication specialist working across different media platforms. She was a creative editor, previous TV presenter and program manager, jury member for various award shows in the Middle East, and reporter of the Cannes Advertising Festival. At the beginning of her career as a copywriter, Hanadi was awarded the Gold award for Cannes Young Lions on behalf of United Arab Emirates.


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