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Give in charity

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“God is in the aide of His servant as long as His servant is in the aide of others…”  Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings.

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We can fall in despair at the news reaching us that people are hurting all over the world, or we can figure out how we can help.

I recall reading some words of wisdom by Dr. Ingrid Mattson regarding trials and tribulations:

“As Muslims we believe that human suffering is not always explainable or understandable. We do know that innocent people suffer all the time, from sickness and natural disaster, and that in such cases, we are required to do two things: First, pray and remember, as the Qur’an says that “to God we belong and to Him we return.” Second, we must help those who are suffering.

The Prophet Muhammad, peace be upon him, reported in a Sacred Hadith [Prophetic Saying] that if we want to be close to God, we should visit the sick and feed the needy. On the Day of Resurrection, Allah will say, “O son of Adam, I fell ill and you did not visit me.” The person will say, “O Lord, how could I visit you when You are the Lord of the worlds?” He will say, “Did you not know that So-and-so fell ill and you did not visit him? If you had visited him, you would have found Me with him [the hadith continues.”

 

Likewise, the Prophet (peace and blessings upon him) said: “Allah is in the aide of His servant as long as His servant is in the aide of others…”

 

Instead of listing organizations or how you can give, I would prefer to leave it to you to research the best way you can give and motivate you to do so.

Start by asking questions and find out who has more rights upon you when giving.

Who else is impacted with your charity?  You don’t want to place yourself in debt when giving or leave people under your trust – without aid and support as well.

What organizations do you trust that you can reach out to?

What else could you do?

What else occurs to you?

Fedwa Wazwaz is a Palestinian-American born in Jerusalem, Palestine and raised in the US.  She is a public speaker and writer and lives in Brooklyn Park, Minnesota.

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Security is a human right for all

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

Security is a two-way street. None of us can be secure at the expense of another’s insecurity.

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What is security and how do we find it?

A sense of security—in our families, our homes, and our communities—is a basic human need and a human right. None of us is ever completely safe from the unpredictable dangers of our world. At any moment, a storm might blow up, or another driver might lose control of their car. But we do need to feel reasonably protected in our relationships with others, both near and far. We need to feel that the other drivers of this world are staying in their lanes.

What is reasonable protection? Does our security mean building an enormous Humvee, or blocking other drivers from using the road? The concept of “security” can easily become distorted, driving us into an aggressive “security” that makes us progressively less secure.

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Support a platform for Muslims

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“When we view ourselves as the protagonist of a story in which we are always right, we collect grievances about other people by noticing everything we do and noting the ‘injustices’ that are done to us.  All of this builds resentment within us and instigates conflict.”  –Dr. Umar Faruq Abd-Allah 

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A Somali MPR reporter is stopped at the courthouse where he’s been going every day.

A 6th grade Muslim schoolgirl in New York is called “ISIS,” put in headlock, and punched as middle-school boys tried to pull off her headscarf.

A fourteen-year-old boy who wants to show his clock to a teacher is treated as a terrorist.

My daughter is called a “terrorist” in school.

These are not isolated incidents, but part of an increasingly powerful narrative about Muslims. I get up early to read the news. When I do, I find Muslims all over the world, mainly in a negative light, often framed as a stereotype of violence and hatred.

In the last year, the voices of ISIS and their supporters have been saturating the internet—both because of their shocking acts and because of how well they fit with stereotypes of the “eternally violent” Muslim. One would think they are the majority of Muslims rather than a fringe minority.

All around the world, Muslims are working as journalists, attending school, inventing things—but extremists get the coverage and the mic. The picture is overwhelmed by them, and they seem like the majority.

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Ramadan Mubarak (Blessed Ramadan)

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

 

Ramadan is expected to begin on May 6th, give or take a day.  Some helpful information was shared on the FaceBook site.  Check it out.  Ramadan Mubarak in Advance!

“O who believe, fasting is decreed for you as it was decreed for those before you; perchance you will guard yourselves.”

“The month of Ramadan is the month in which the Quran was sent down, a guidance for the people, and clear verses of guidance and criterion.” (Quran: Chapter 2, 183)

The fourth pillar of Islam is Sawm or Fasting in the month of Ramadan. Fasting is also practiced in many other religions and is mentioned in the Torah and Bible as well as in Hindu scriptures. Observant Christians fast during Lent by giving up a particular food. Hindus fast on certain days of the week or on holidays, and for Jews, the most important day of fasting is on Yom Kippur, which lasts a little over a day.

Ramadan is the 9th month in the Islamic Calendar. Because Ramadan follows the lunar calendar, it rotates through the seasons, moving back around eleven days each year. Last year, Ramadan started on May 16th and this year, Ramadan will begin on May 6.

Muslims fast from dawn to sunset, abstaining from food and drink during this time. The aim of the fast is to weaken the physical desire or self and allow for the purification of the soul. It’s a process of spiritual purification and strengthening of willpower to carry us through the year. Muslims break their fast with dates and water followed by the evening prayer and dinner.

Those who are sick or unable to fast, such as elderly, pregnant or nursing women, travelers, and of course children, are exempt from fasting. However, they do participate in the spiritual part of Ramadan, rejuvenating their faith and growing closer to God through extra worship, feeding the poor, charity and other good deeds.

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Lessons on power and oppression from Moses 5

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage MN

God! There is no deity but He! To Him belong the most Beautiful Names. Has the story of Moses reached thee? (Qur’an 20:8-9)

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Oppression works in many ways. One way is by convincing people that they’re bad: that they’re thugs, savages, or terrorists. A people can be controlled psychologically when an oppressor makes them feel as though they can’t overcome a mistake that they’ve made or defines them by their worst moment. This is also true if an oppressor defines the “other” by the worst actions of the fringe amongst them.

An oppressor thus doesn’t allow people to grow. To oppress another, you have to dehumanize them in your eyes first and then, later, in the eyes of others, then in their own eyes.  An oppressor takes the worst act and the worst moment and keeps people hostage to that act or moment.

Sometimes, we react to this by trying to show only our best moments. This creates a cycle of showing good Muslim, bad Muslim, good Muslim, bad Muslim, and doesn’t advance the discussion.  A case in point is 9/11 or the Paris attacks, where many in the Muslim community reacted to being demonized by working to prove that Muslims are model citizens.  

Even though it doesn’t seem so, it’s counter-productive for Muslim-Americans to present everything that Muslims do as good. It feeds into the psychological construct of oppression by not allowing Muslims to admit error and grow. We cannot “prove” that Muslims are perfect, because there are also bad and ugly aspects of Muslim communities like everywhere else. Our argument should be, we are human and then turn the mirror around and say, like you.

Craig Hicks, who assassinated three young people in Chapel Hill, counted himself an atheist, but this hardly proves all atheists would act in this way. But it does tell Bill Maher and Richard Dawkins, two atheists who are also prominent bigots, that you and your group are human, too.

But we can’t just condemn Dawkins and others. We also need to give opportunities for growth and repentance, because God is a perpetual forgiver.   

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