What’s Troubling About Charter School Debate: The Hate

By Marcia Lynx Qualey, Engage Minnesota The Minnesota Department of Education has issued a report clearing Tarek ibn Ziyad Academy of the major allegations leveled against it and requesting that the school address smaller areas of concern. The May 19 report states that the school’s core business—curriculum—is nonreligious, in full compliance with all Minnesota statutes. The Department of Education’s areas of concern related to how the school structures its voluntary Friday prayers as well as the timing of after-school busing. In a statement, Tarek school officials said that they take these concerns “very seriously” and will be getting together with Read More …

Taking Heart: Visit a Mosque, Share a Meal

By Marcia Lynx Qualey, Engage Minnesota From a Taking Heart picnic, summer 2007. Gail Anderson isn’t asking you to make a new best friend. “I think if next Wednesday night, we get a number of Christians to walk into a mosque— that’ve never been in a mosque before—then I think we’ve done something,” said Anderson, unity and relationships organizer with the Minnesota Council of Churches. Anderson helps head up the interfaith project “Taking Heart,” which brings Muslim and non-Muslim neighbors together over good meals and good conversation. The next event, set for May 14 at Masjid Ummat Muhammad, was designed Read More …

My Time in a Madrassa

By Marcia Lynx Qualey, Engage Minnesota Several years ago, I would have told you confidently—if haltingly—that I worked in a madrassa. Ana bashtaghal fi madrassa, I would’ve said. I worked there as a mudarissa, a teacher. Madrassa and mudarissa were two of the first words to drop into my growing Arabic vocabulary. After all, I’d traveled all the way to Cairo, Egypt to take a job teaching pre-K at an international school. The words were useful. For me, the word madrassa was almost empty of connotations, like escuela or école. When I first learned them, the words had no layers: Read More …

Students Deserve Equal Religious Rights Under the Law

By Fedwa Wazwaz and Marcia Lynx Qualey, Engage Minnesota On April 9, we read Katherine Kersten’s column in the Star Tribune, and the e-mail exchange between Kersten and Asad Zaman, executive director of Tariq ibn Ziyad Academy (TIZA), and were compelled to respond. I (Fedwa) have an eight-year-old daughter. I visited TIZA and decided not to enroll my daughter, choosing instead Al Amal School in Fridley. The primary reason is that I was convinced TIZA is not an Islamic School and does not teach Islamic Education to kids. I pay from my own pocket to put my daughter in Al Read More …

Basimah Hasan: Changing Images Every Friday at 4

Talk-Show Host Aims to Correct Distorted Picture of Muslims and Islam By Marcia Lynx Qualey, Engage Minnesota It was 1998 when Basimah Hasan left her hometown of Chicago for Minneapolis. In the Twin Cities, she attended nursing school and began her career at North Memorial Hospital. She says that there is a “big difference” between the Minneapolis and Chicago Muslim communities. TV Show: “Islamic View” Airtime: 4 p.m. Fridays Time-Warner cable Ch. 16 “[There are] more Muslims in Chicago, and they’re more active. Here, everyone seems to be in their own ethnic groups. You don’t see a lot of activities Read More …