Blog Archives

Guilt, remorse, and getting beyond the self-help placebo

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“O God! Grant us enough fear (of displeasing Thee) that it may serve as a barrier between us and our sins. . .and grant us enough faith that it may help us to face the misfortunes of this world easily.”
–Prayer of Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings.

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It’s important to distinguish between two very different emotional processes: guilt and remorse.

We sometimes think of the two as interchangeable, but in truth they are very different. Guilt is connected with control, obligation, and fear. When you’re feeling guilty, you’re being shamed and disempowered. At times, this shame can be personal, part of a private controlling force. But often, guilt is part of a broad societal shaming.

For instance, Muslims have been pressured, for the past sixteen years, to feel guilty for the horrific events of September 11, 2001, as well as other violent attacks. We’ve been put on the guilt-track, where we need to constantly excuse, explain, apologize, and apologize for a crime that took us by surprise as it did everybody else.

Indeed, this guilt denied American Muslims the space to grieve. We, too, needed to share with the rest of the community the process of loss. We, too, needed to work through our sorrow and fear.

Instead, we were roped by a feeling of guilt and shame, and a burden to prove that we were not guilty. But in this case, there is nothing we can do to prove we’re not guilty. Still, the president’s executive order evokes September 11 when suddenly revoking permanent residents’ access to their homes, jobs, and lives.

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The African-American Women Behind the Heroes

By Jimmy Jones, Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR)

Yet neither of these men could have soared to the heights that they did without the passionate, persistent, consistent, and competent help of women who just happened to be African-American.

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For African-Americans, the annual time period between Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday on January 15th and the end of February is bittersweet. This is because we hear quite a bit about Dr. King’s legacy and the importance of Black History for about six weeks, only to be shunted aside again on March 1st of every year.

Nevertheless, we rightly remember Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as a genuine American hero. So was recently departed astronaut and senator John Glenn, the first American in space.

Yet neither of these men could have soared to the heights that they did without the passionate, persistent, consistent, and competent help of women who just happened to be African-American.

In John Glenn’s case, the full story of these women was finally told in the book “Hidden Figures,” written by Margot Lee Shetterly and released as a Hollywood film with the same title.

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Meet Ruhel Islam

By Tea Rozman-Clark, Green Card Voices

The best way to respond to extreme vetting, a term presidential candidate Donald Trump refers to in the debates is to amplify the voices of Muslim immigrants in their own words.

Upon the request of his sister, who was moving to the U.S. with her American-businessman husband, and due to the hostile political climate of his home country, Mr. Islam left Bangladesh for the U.S. in 1996.

The fourth of seven children, he moved from his rural, childhood village of Sylhet to a larger urban area in pursuit of a college degree in commerce and accounting. Upon the completion of his degree and while still in Bangladesh, he started a farm – growing it from just two chickens to over two thousand.

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Support a platform for Muslims

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 

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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.

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Countering Islamophobia

By Karen Schraufnagel, Engage Minnesota

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On Tuesday, May 3rd activists from across the Twin Cities will gather at Cedar Commons to figure out how to work together to challenge Islamophobia – irrational fear and hatred of Muslims – and programs that are institutionalizing Islamophobia in our community. East African immigrants, mainly young Somalis, are being targeted and labeled “terrorists” for demonstrating any sort of connection to their religion, concern for fellow Muslims, or interest in US policies towards the region of the world their families come from. This is unacceptable!

Minnesotans Against Islamophobia formed several months ago in response to a national call to challenge the violent rhetoric spewing from political candidates during this election cycle and the broader threat beneath the surface of this rhetoric. We have held a very successful protest and a few town hall meetings. This is a good start! But the time is now to broaden the movement, so we are calling together representatives of religious, social justice and social service organizations (as well as unaffiliated committed individuals) to create a strategy for responding to these ongoing threats over the long haul.

To find more details, and RSVP (required!), please check out the Facebook event page.

An injury to one is an injury to all! Stop Islamophobia! Defend the Muslim Community!
Karen Schraufnagel is a local activist for social, environmental and economic justice, who helped to create Minnesotans Against Islamophobia in January (2016). Karen is a Jewish, anti-Zionist who has been active in Palestine solidarity work for more than a decade. She is the organizer for the Twin Cities branch of Socialist Action and a part-time Pilates trainer. Karen lives in Minneapolis with her husband, dog, and cat.

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