Blog Archives

America’s Malala

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

I should not be expected to have allegiance/pledge support to a foreign country in order to serve my country in Congress or serve on committee. The people of the 5th elected me to serve their interest. I am sure we agree on that!
–Rep. Ilhan Omar, Fifth District, Minnesota

ilhan omarLeading Democrats in the US House of Representatives have said that, on Wednesday, they plan to put forward a resolution condemning Rep. Ilhan Omar. Although the text of the resolution is still unavailable, most assume it will call out Omar’s outspoken human-rights activism as anti-Semitic. In its secrecy and power, the resolution feels something like the fatwas some extremists issue against anyone who wants to challenge them to start a conversation.

Rep. Omar may have chosen her words poorly when questioning AIPAC. She apologized for that. However, her words did not warrant this overwhelming response. She did not—as she should not—use the stereotype about “Jewish money,” as some right-wing US politicians do when they bring up George Soros. She criticized AIPAC, which is a very powerful lobby group that boasts of its tremendous influence.

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The Resolute Prophets and Dealing with Rejection

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“The wise man does not argue or seek to overcome with stratagem rather he propagates his wisdom. If it is accepted he praises Allah and if it is rejected he praises Allah.” –Al-Hasan al-Basree

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Rejection can take many forms. It can be directed at a person, a failure to recognize and accept an individual’s being or ideas. Or it can be collective: a rejection of a whole faith, ethnicity, culture, identity, or community.

All of us will experience some rejection in our lives, whether fair or not. How did the prophets deal with it?

The five resolute prophets—Jesus, Muhammad, Abraham, Moses, and Noah; peace upon them—all experienced tremendous rejection.

Noah, for instance, was asked to call people to God solely by talking with them. The Qur’an tells us that, after 950 years of telling people about God, Noah found only 80 people who listened. Yet he persevered in the face of constant rejection, calmly, with only minimal results to show for all his efforts.

Other resolute prophets persevered in the face of humiliation, disgrace, and physical attacks. Throughout this, they continued to believe and to endure with hope.

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What Makes a Good Judge?

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

And the Book (of Deeds) will be placed (before you); and thou wilt see the sinful in great terror because of what is (recorded) therein; they will say, “Ah! woe to us! what a Book is this! It leaves out nothing small or great, but takes account thereof!” They will find all that they did, placed before them: And not one will thy Lord treat with injustice. (Quran 18:49)

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There is a story attributed to Abu Hurairah, a seventh-century narrator of hadith. He told of a cleaner who lived during the time of the Prophet, peace and blessings upon him.

It happened that the Prophet noticed this cleaner was suddenly missing from the mosque. When he was told the cleaner had died, the Prophet asked: “Why didn’t you inform me?” It seemed that the Prophet’s companions had found the matter trivial, but the Prophet went to the cleaner’s grave to offer prayers.

In this story, we learn about the attentions of the truly just—the sort of person who would be a good judge. The Prophet didn’t say: Was this person a high-achiever? Did they go to Yale? This person’s worth, for the Prophet, didn’t rest on having reached a particular station in life, nor having put together a stunning CV.

Although ways of measuring human worth have changed, much has stayed the same. It is important for us to remember that innocence and guilt are not built on a person’s place in the social hierarchy.

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Why we shouldn’t normalize suicide

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“Given the very high rates of suicide, which continue to rise despite all the intelligence and expertise of mental-health professionals, we can interpret God’s words as teaching us that this particular door needs to be shut as a possible solution.”

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One of the reasons I’ve refrained from mentioning the suicides of famous people is that, by talking about them, we are in danger of normalizing suicide. When famous people—especially those known to be good people—commit suicide, this sends a message to those among us dealing with depression and distress: Suicide is an acceptable way to solve our problems.

 

Most faiths speak of painful punishments for people who take their own lives. At times, people misunderstand or misinterpret when God closes a door. Some are understandably confused by how a compassionate God could punish people who are in pain.

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Learning from charlatans

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

Imam Ibn Hazm has noted, those who cross the line when offering advice and help become a “seeker of submission and possession,” are wrongdoers and not advisers.

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Sometimes, you meet people with knowledge. These people both expand your horizons and strengthen your faith in God. Sometimes, you meet charlatans. At first, they seem to offer you sincere advice and assistance, and yet it turns out to be toxic.

How can we tell the difference, and what can we learn from charlatans?

Sometimes God puts you in the path of charlatans. This isn’t so they can teach you wisdom, but so you can learn gratitude and humility from those who—like Satan and Pharaoh—try to pressure you into pledging your allegiance to them instead of God.  They will encourage you not to give money to ‘XYZ’ to encourage you to give money to them.

Knowledge and wisdom are a form of power. However, when they are misapplied, as by charlatans, they can do serious damage. It’s important to learn from charlatans what not to do.

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