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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.

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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Meet Salman Kirmani

By Salman Kirmani, Green Card Voices


“Even if people did not know where I was from, they respected who I was; they respected I was different. Their respect was a very endearing thing for me and defined that this is the community I want to live in. This is the community I want my kids to grow up in.”

As a medical student. Dr. Kirmani was loyal to his community in Pakistan. And although his training led him to Minnesota, he believed he would return to assist and comfort the elders in his community back home.

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Unity, an Unfortunate Deficit of Minnesota Muslims

By Omar Alansari-Kreger, Engage Minnesota

Great efforts have been made and initiatives launched, but how successful have such undertakings been in marshaling a greater Muslim identity across the Twin Cities?

We all have day jobs. It is a fact of life. In order to survive, one must work to sustain a living. We sacrifice a great deal for our day jobs. A great proportion of our true identity is misplaced only to be frozen on the sidelines. As a professional that specializes in caring for the elderly and developmentally challenged, there is one crucial fact of life I take home each day: the best things in life are free. Sundays are special to people that grew up under the Judeo-Christian tradition. They share a great reverence for their communities. In their company, I have noticed a unique willingness to share the burden of the communal blunt when faced with hardships.

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Meet Reza Alizadeh

By Tea Rozman-Clark, Green Card Voices

The Iranian Revolution brought about many social and political changes within the country. When Reza Alizadeh saw the revolutionaries’ many promises go unfulfilled, he saw no other option but to find refuge someplace else.

Prior to the revolution, Mr. Alizadeh enjoyed a happy and carefree life with his parents and siblings. At the age of thirteen, he witnessed the collapse of his government and, eventually, his society. He made plans to immigrate to the United States just as his brother had done years earlier.

Mr. Alizadeh’s journey out of Iran included enduring a rough bus ride, navigating security checkpoints, hiding in a swamp for several days, traversing down a rugged mountain path on horseback, and dodging heavy crossfire. To his relief, he arrived in Turkey unharmed and began the process of starting his new life. After a brief time in Italy, Reza was granted political asylum in the United States and rejoined his brother.

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Expressing our gratitude to the elderly

By Memoona Ghani, Engage Minnesota

MemonaJune 18th, 2016, Saturday was the Global Impact Day initiated by AlMaghrib Institute. Last year, in 2015, Global Impact Day provided an opportunity to Muslim volunteers to pay attention to the homeless fellows in the community, and that lead many volunteers doing projects for homeless on a regular basis. This year, 2016, Global Impact day (GID) was somewhat triggered by stories similar to these.

Bob was sitting by the window in his room, looking outside without any expression on his face. The window had a view of the street, and one could see people walking, running, cars going by, that roller skating and skateboarding kids and then the gardening experts tending to their plants and flowers. He would often go into this state where he would usually sit quietly and think about the past. Upon asking what he was thinking about, he didn’t answer at first but then started speaking in short sentences with pauses while still looking outside He said:

“Once I used to run.”

“In the morning and evening.”

“My wife would do gardening.”

“We would go for vacation to places.”

“Hiking for hours and hours.”

“I would drive to my friends.”

“I had a very nice car. I bought it after many years of working at my job.”

“I loved my work. I was very smart. People would ask my advice.”

“I used to volunteer with Habitat for Humanity. I was good at building houses. People would love it.”

“Now I can’t make anyone happy.”

“When I stand, my feet feel like as if the flesh inside my feet is being ripped or some bone in my foot is stabbing the flesh in the foot.”

“My knees feel like as if trying to carry the whole body. My knees get heavy when I stand.”

“I had surgery for both eyes. Why can’t I see clearly?”

“Nobody needs my advice. They think I don’t know anything.”

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