Blog Archives

Ghuroor, Muslim Women, and Shutting Down Grief

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

Now is a moment when people can respond like the Muslims of New Zealand, and allow everyone to grieve these losses together, as this was a terror attack against all our fellow human beings. Or else it’s a chance to treat all Muslims worldwide as guilty, and to hold us all responsible for these horrific killings.

fedwa

When most people talk about American Muslims and the chilling events that took place in New York City, Washington, D.C., and in planes above the US on September 11, 2001, they’re looking at it through one lens: Did American Muslims condemn those attacks? Or did they not condemn the attacks?

Most recently, public figures posed this question in a different way about Rep. Ilhan Omar: is she reverent enough about what happened on 9/11, or is she insufficiently reverent?

For anyone who has met Rep. Omar, the ways in which she is being portrayed in the US media—as an angry, attacking firebrand—must be surprising. I have met Rep. Ilhan Omar several times. She is a petite woman and a calm public speaker who is not at all intimidating. She is good-natured, always smiling, dignified, and approachable. She frequently talks about how she thanks God that she came to the US, and that she recognizes the opportunities it has opened up for herself and her children. She has worked diligently within the system in order to improve things for Americans.

And yet public discourse has repeatedly looked down on Rep. Omar, who because of her hijab is the most visibly Muslim woman in the US Congress. It has painted her as an angry, hateful outsider who is attacking America.

But staying silent isn’t an option either. Ghazala Khan—the mother of US Army Captain Humayan Khan, who was killed in 2004 in the Iraq War—is another visibly Muslim woman who took the public stage at the 2016 Democratic National Convention. Ghazala, who was a mother, a community volunteer, and worked in a fabric store, was derided by Donald Trump as a silent Muslim woman, unable to speak, oppressed and in need of liberation.
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Hijab is Not About Oppression or Seduction, It’s About Trust

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

Living Islam vs. Using Islam Against Others

Living Islam means living, modeling, guiding, teaching, and counseling with loving care and concern. It is a life of trust, struggle, and noble effort. Using Islam often takes the form of holier-than-thou judgmentalism that is used to oppress and keep others in line. It often shows its ugly side through allegations that others are not “Islamic” or “obedient” enough. In actuality, the obedience that is demanded is not obedience as a result of taqwa, that is obedience to Allah, but rather obedience to the tyrant and his own fear-based self. When Islam becomes objectified in such a manner, the state of inner unity (that leads to outer unity, i.e. peace and where ‘it’, i.e. Islam, is ‘used’ to achieve an objective other than its divinely inherent goal of bringing peace and goodness to people’s lives.”

–Steven Krauss

Hijab, which in its essence means “to conceal,” is usually associated with Muslim women. Although other faith traditions promote modest dress, and Muslim men are also asked to dress modestly, most of the noise around this world is directed at Muslim women.

There are two unhealthy views around women wearing hijab. First, that a woman who wears hijab is always oppressed. Second, that women must wear hijab because they are necessarily seductresses, and men cannot follow their own consciences unless women are covered.

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Trumped into silence

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“Silence is the best way to answer a fool.”

fedwa wazwaz
After the Democratic National Convention (DNC, Donald Trump said the reason Ghazala Khan didn’t speak at the DNC is because she wasn’t allowed to. He played on stereotypes of Muslim women as oppressed and voiceless.

Some women will respond through a twitter campaign to demonstrate that we don’t need anyone’s permission to speak.

Today, between 10 a.m. and 1 p.m. (EDT), Monday, August 1, using the hashtag‪ #‎CanYouHearUsNow‬, some Muslim women will share a bit about who they are and how they speak out.

I respect these women’s right to express their outrage in this manner.  However, I disagree with this approach.  Why?  As a direct speaker, I have faced harsh criticism for my not speaking in a way that adheres to a stereotypical view of a Muslim woman by Muslims and non-Muslims, both men and women alike.  Hence, boxing women to speak in one way to appease a bigot or a group of bigots plays right into their game.  A show of false bravado is not necessary.  Rather, what is needed is an educational lesson on silence.

As someone who is a direct speaker, I heard a woman, Ghazala Khan’s message on stage very loud and clear.  A wise woman who stood dignified and respectfully – expressed her pain and suffering at Trump with her silence.  She was not silenced by her husband, but, too stunned by Trump’s stupidity to even respond.  She was genuine, open and authentic.  She was being herself, not putting on an act of false bravado like Trump has been doing since the Presidential campaign.

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To a great teacher of mine

By Hani Hamdan, Engage Minnesota

In my mind, Dr. Kifah Barrishi is not just a teacher. She practically taught me most of what I know about endodontics (root canal therapy). Every time I perform a root canal, I’m remembering quotes that she had said in her lectures as I’m working. She is my “mother” in endodontics. Read the rest of this entry

KFAI airs ‘Meeting Minnesota Muslims’

KFAI FM and the University of Minnesota’s Institute for Global Studies are presenting a special series of stories on Muslims in Minnesota. The stories aim to illuminate the lives of Minnesota’s Muslims and provide listeners greater understanding of the state’s wide variety of Muslim residents. The installments include Faith in Hip Hop, One Strike And You’re Out, Wearing Faith On Their Sleeves, Empowered Muslim Women, In Search of the Minnesota Muslim, Muslim Immigrants Learn English, Music and Sufi Islam in the Twin Cities, and Muslim Burial Traditions.

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