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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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Intellectual Immersion of Children

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

The truth is that people want to be heard without listening to each other.

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What is the best way to arouse permanent intellectual curiosities? There is no simple remedy. Ideas that support concepts are embraced through an individually driven learning style. We can practically assume that people learn on their own terms, but how do we provoke that great intellectual awakening? It ultimately begins in childhood. Our earliest memories are indeed the most impressionable to us. Children surrounded with books, globes, and maps of the world have a greater chance of early intellectual immersion. A world of total convenience has turned us into creatures of vanity. When something is easy and accessible, there is this underlying reticence to absorb its knowledge.

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The value of the Little Free Library

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

A culture of ignorance is preserved through the refutation of knowledge, just as a culture of knowledge is preserved through the refutation of ignorance.

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What is the best way to counter ignorance in an Age of Insanity? Decades ago, whoever thought that bastions of information would be largely ignored and neglected by the masses? We are all too accustomed to googling our curiosities into thin air without grounding our inquiries in something substantial. This is indicative of a dystopian world that was predicted by Aldous Huxley about a century ago. His was a reality in which libraries would be teeming with books but few exercise any desire to read them. A world where books are viewed as decorative artifacts and not as resources for enlightenment.

Shortly after moving into the Longfellow neighborhood of south Minneapolis, I started to notice miniature library stands, known as “Little Free Libraries,” displayed on the front lawns of various houses. As a direct result, a trend was created and local businesses combined with community centers to begin adopting them. They are now commonplace and seem to have caught on in the suburbs. Whenever I encounter a free library stand, I cannot help wondering what it contains. It’s hit-or-miss. A pessimist could be inclined to dismiss the effort altogether by brushing them off as a repository of dime novels, nothing more.

Continue reading at Star Tribune..

Omar Alansari-Kreger, of Minneapolis, is a Muslim-American, a writer, and a social activist.

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