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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.

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.

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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A case for light rail

By Omar Alansari-Kreger

Who wants to waste away idling in traffic after waiting through three traffic light cycles at a highway intersection?

Out on the roads, Minnesota nice turns to Minnesota ice. Year after year, more people take to the roads in cars that consume finite resources leaving behind nothing but non-renewable waste. Little is done to investigate and expand alternatives to the car culture. In the Twin Cities, outside the core inner city area, it becomes quite the challenge to have life without the car. The suburbs are a case in point. They were made and inspired by and for the car culture. It should be no surprise why to most Americans, convenience is measured in miles as opposed to blocks. We are generally inclined to accept the car culture as an unavoidable fact of life. Car ownership is best defined as costly arriving at a great economic burden to the average American. This is especially true to those of us living strictly on borrowed credit or from paycheck-to-paycheck.

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A personal story of surviving war in Somalia

By Saciido Shaie, Engage Minnesota

As a young girl full of hope, I lost that hope the day I left my country of birth, Somalia. I want to share how I came to the US and left Somalia without my choice.

I remember leaving my home not looking back, not knowing what was going on. The only thing I knew was that something awful was happening and that people were dying, yet I didn’t know why. I was very scared, confused and did not know what to do.

As my family and I left with my aunt’s car, my eyes were glued to the window.  I watched the people on the street.  I saw injured people crying for help on the sidewalk, yet no one was helping, everyone was running. But one thing that I can’t ever forget was, as I was watching people on the sidewalk, running, carrying backpacks, and carrying their babies on their back, walking without shoes, there was a child maybe one-year-old sucking his dead mother’s breast. This made me cry for many days. I remember looking at the baby, and telling my mother to stop the car so that I can help the baby. I remember how devastated and shocked I felt. I still remember the red shirt he was wearing.

You see, it is not easy to forget such incident, how can I when I still see the sand and the dust all over his little face and the tears and the horror on his face. How can I forget the cry and the scene as if I am rewinding an old horror movie? But make no mistake, as it was, and still is a reality of my past that hunts me down up until now. I wish someone heard me when I called my mother asking her to stop the car and didn’t.

“Mom, please stop the car,” I keep repeating the same cry, and I thought maybe my mother didn’t hear me at all. Then again, I said, “mom, the baby, please let’s help him.”

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Experiencing my first caucus

By Nausheena Hussain, Engage Minnesota
Nausheena 3
The last time you heard from me, I was going on and on about why we need to caucus and “Calling All Muslims – CAUCUS #SUPERTUESDAY!”
Well the Muslim community showed up! Last night, was quite an incredible experience. Many of us were confused. What’s our precinct? What room should I go to? What is this line for?
It was chaos! From parking to resolutions, everything was new to me. I literally parked at the opposite party’s parking lot and walked across the street to my Senate District caucus. (I wasn’t the only one).
I found my precinct room, was amazed by the number of people who showed up, and realized this is where it starts. Tonight, we’re influencing the party’s nomination. We’re also going to consider resolutions that will influence the party’s platform. Never before did I feel more civically engaged as I did on #supertuesday.
I casted my ballot for my choice for presidential candidate, was nominated and elected Vice Chair of my precinct and stepped up to be a delegate.  Throughout the evening, state senators, representatives, city officials, and candidates running for various positions came in and spoke to us.
For once, I felt like I was seen and heard.

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