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In the footsteps of Al-Husayn

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

“Husayn is from me and I am from Husayn”
–Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings.

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As I listen to the stories of survivors, one struggles on how to comfort people in shock and trauma after such events.  One is left wondering how people can comprehend such acts of violence appear of benefit to anyone.  I feel the best we can do is comfort the grieving families and offer charity to those in need.

I cannot offer much in political expertise on the situation, and I am not an expert on Somali-affairs.

I do feel it helps for us to share the stories of our righteous leaders, those identified by name by Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings.

The tenth day of Muharram is the day of Ashura, a day where Moses, upon him peace, and his people were saved from the Pharaoh.

There are times when we do need to stand up to abuse of power, but these historical events teach us how it is done – and pave the way for those who perceive they are marginalized in the political process or any power-sharing.

During the Exodus, Moses and Aaron, upon them peace, with the Israelites fled from the Pharaoh and witnessed his crushing defeat with his soldiers.  The other is the courageous stand of Imam al-Husayn, the grandson of Prophet Muhammad, upon him peace and blessings, against the tyrannical Yazid, the ruler at the time.

Before Gandhi or Martin Luther King, al-Husayn led a non-violent revolution against political and religious tyranny.

Imam al-Husayn did not sacrifice innocent civilians for a political cause or power sharing. He fought with valor and courage and sacrificed his life and that of his own family for the elevation of truth. He refused to compromise his values and faith and refused to accept the new ruler.

He stood up for the elevation of truth, not seeking power.  Truth does not shine in a climate of civil unrest and chaos.

He was willing to sacrifice and indeed he did sacrifice his life and that of his family for what he believed in.

How was this sacrifice done?

There were no calls for the killing of his political opponents.  He did not need to kill or silence those in power.  Rather he promoted the truth, by calling for reform and dialogue as truth has an argument and that argument rests on a solid foundation.  Truth seeks a platform to be heard.

As Moses, upon him peace, said to the Pharaoh, the meeting is on the “Day of Festival” where people are all present and the Sun is at its zenith.  Truth seeks clarity and a platform.  Al-Husayn continued to call for a dialogue even during the battle where his own children and companions were killed. He never called for the killing or armed combat against the ruler or his soldiers, much less the killing of civilians to send a political message.

He engaged in civil disobedience and called for dialogue, not combat.   He did not ask for people from the outside to come and bomb his homeland and remove the tyrannical ruler, neither did Moses, upon him peace.

Al-Husayn did not terrorize or kill civilians to gain power.

He had truth on his side, and he presented that truth openly and transparently before the tyrannical ruler.  Likewise, with Moses, upon him peace.

Although he was killed along with family members and companions, his message won and was elevated over all the tyranny of Yazid and his soldiers.

He sacrificed his life to elevate the truth and the truth was elevated in the hearts and minds of Muslims after his death to this very day.

We need to remind each other of these stories so youth who are misled into groups that call for chaos and upheaval take heed and immediately leave such groups or demand an end to terror for a political cause.  Chaos and terror do not elevate the truth but bury it along with the deaths of many civilians.

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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A personal story of surviving war in Somalia

By Saciido Shaie, Engage Minnesota

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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.”

Read the rest of this entry

St. Cloud man’s hope renewed after visit to Somalia

By Ibrahim Hirsi, St. Cloud Times

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For more than two decades, Ahmed Abdi has observed what seems like a race between major news organizations to tell a single narrative of his native Somalia: The story of death and destruction.

Abdi, who has lived in St. Cloud since 2003, returned this summer to the East African nation he escaped in 1991 after the brutal civil war that left his homeland in anarchy and chaos for more than 20 years.

The images Abdi saw during a two-month visit to various regions in Somalia weren’t those of terrorism, piracy or drought — stories that at times have blanketed America’s major newspapers and TV news segments.

Instead, he saw Somalia rising from the ashes of a prolonged civil war.

“There are new buildings erected everywhere in Somalia,” said Abdi, who returned to St. Cloud in August. “Some of the new buildings are worth $2 million.”

Abdi also met with hundreds of Somalis returning from Europe, Canada and the United States. Some came to visit; others to help rebuild their country, Abdi added.

Some of those he met included entrepreneurs from Minnesota, doctors from Europe as well as educators and developers from Canada and other parts of the world — all of them wanting to help rebuild Somalia, which suffered in the hands of warlords and extremist groups for many years.

Continue reading at St. Cloud Times

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Press release condemning the horrific suicide bombing in Mogadishu

In the Name of Allah, the Most Beneficent, the Most Merciful

Islamic League of Somali Scholars in America
504 Cedar Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55454

Minneapolis, MN – October 4, 2011

PRESS RELEASE CONDEMNING THE HORRIFIC SUICIDE BOMBING IN MOGADISHU

The Islamic League of Somali Scholars in America strongly condemns the horrific suicide bombing that claimed many innocent lives in Mogadishu.

Abu Hurayra (May Allah be pleased with him) narrated that the Messenger of Allah (peace and blessings be upon him) said, “Every Muslim is forbidden from transgressing against the blood, property, and honor of another Muslim.” (Related by Muslim and Ahmed).

1. We extend our condolences to the families of those who lost their brothers/sisters, children, parents, and relatives in this senseless attack in Mogadishu.

– May Allah grant His Mercy to those who were killed.
– May Allah grant swift healing to those injured in the blast.

2. This criminal act goes against the teachings of Islam and all human norms.

3. We also declare that anyone who blows himself up or commits suicide may earn Hellfire in the following three ways:

– Taking his own life
– Killing an innocent life that has not committed any wrongdoing
– Justifying the spilling of an inviolable blood

4. We call on the Somali people to extend urgent assistance to the people affected by this heinous act

Our success comes from Allah,
And peace be upon you,
Sheikh Abdirahman Sharif Mohamed,
President, Islamic League of Somali Scholars in America
 Email: shabraahin@yahoo.com; Telephone: (612) 558-5389