Blog Archives

Allahu Akbar: We Love Life

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

Genuine faith sleeps under all that rubble. It helps us to focus and recognize that God is greater than what we see and hear and understand.

fedwa wazwaz
Before anything else, I want to condemn the tragic loss of life in Manhattan. To the victims’ families, I would add:

It is with great sorrow and sympathy that we send our condolences to the families and loved ones connected to the tragic event in Manhattan. The shock of unexpected violence and death can bring about bewilderment and trauma, and it is difficult to make sense of let alone bear. We pray that God comforts their souls in this difficult time.

I also want to take time to discuss the phrase Allahu Akbar, which has been misused by those plotting murder, but also used by billions of Muslims throughout their daily lives. We begin each prayer with the phrase “Allahu Akbar.” But what does it mean, and how do we interpret these words in our lives?

I shared something about the phrase “Allahu Akbar” earlier this year. In light of recent events, I would like to share an updated version along with a video. You can see, in the video, the happiness that comes with the nonstop usage of “Allahu Akbar” at the discovery of a child found alive after a building collapse.

That’s because, Allahu Akbar, or “God is greater,” shows a great love of life.

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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.

fedwa wazwaz


A bomb went off in the capital of Somalia killing over 276 people and injuring 300.

People are understandably in total shock and grief as the tragedy is described as the worst massacre in the past 27 years.

The country was in a civil war since 1991.  No group has taken responsibility, but the government blames Al Shabab.

This tragedy touched us right here in Minnesota, as some Somali-Minnesotans were killed in the blast.  Locally, families are grieving the loss of Minnesotans.  One such person is Ahmed AbdiKarin Eyow, a Somali-Minnesotan who died in the recent blast in Somalia on Saturday, October 14, 2017, a few hours after he arrived at his hotel.

He died planning a better life for his family and motherland, but God had another plan. May God accept him as a martyr or witness in this holy month of Muharram.

The local Muslim community is raising funds for his family and funeral expenses.  If you would like to contribute, click here.

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Why a Minnesota cop spent a year in Somalia training Mogadishu police

By Ibrahim Hirsi, MinnPost

IbrahimHirsiIllo400Waheid Siraach sees it this way: Terrorism problems should be dealt with overseas to keep radicalization and recruitment in Minnesota at bay.

That conviction led the Metro Transit detective sergeant to take a yearlong leave of absence from his job in order to train Somali police forces in the capital Mogadishu — and to promote public safety in his native country.

“I believe that if Somalia is not safe, nowhere is actually safe,” said Siraach, who in 2013 became the first Somali-American sergeant anywhere in the United States. “What happens over there can come to us and assault us here. So, if we can take care of the problems there, we don’t have to deal with it over here.”

Somalia has seen more than two decades of violence and anarchy that gave way to streams of local and foreign fighters of al Shabaab, an al Qaeda linked group who controlled parts of the war-ravaged East African country.

Eight years ago, al Shabaab lured more than 20 Somali-Americans from Minnesota, getting them to fight against the fragile Somali government, guarded by troops from the African Union. This then-unprecedented recruitment shocked the Somali community here and sparked an alarm in the U.S. intelligence agencies.

Continue reading at MinnPost

Ibrahim Hirsi reports on immigrant communities, social issues, marginalized groups and people who work on making a difference in the lives of others. A graduate from the University of Minnesota, he interned for Newsday and has written for multiple publications in Minnesota.

Follow Ibrahim Hirsi on Twitter: @IHirsi.


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Somalis are resilient Americans, not terrorists

By Abdirashid Ahmed, Pioneer Press

As part of my daily routine, I read the local daily news clips every morning. I often find more than one article about the Somali community in Minnesota. Though some articles are positive, many frame the community negatively.

For example, on Monday, July 13, 2015, there were two articles about the community: one, titled “Minnesota’s Somali-Americans urge new treatment for would-be terrorists,” appeared in the Pioneer Press, and “Study: African immigrants’ economic impact untapped in Minnesota” appeared on ABC Eyewitness News Channel 5.

Surprisingly, the article with the term “terrorist” attracted the attention of many fellow Minnesotans, many of whom chose to post negative, un-American, unpatriotic, and clearly racist comments. One commenter asserted, “The only way to deradicalize (Somalis) is to not let them in here.” Another commenter stated, “Send them all back to the craphole from which they originated in Africa. These people are completely alien to Western Society and don’t belong here. They are a violent threat shoved into our midst by those whom (sic) would destroy us all.” And another commenter wrote, “Somalis have learned how to game the system and take advantage of the lefty dim wits in Minneapolis. These guys are no different than any street gang members. Do the crime, do the time.” Unfortunately, I didn’t notice any reasonable comments in response to this article. I have been reading, reviewing, and tracking these negative posts for some time and feel it’s my moral obligation to intervene positively.

Continue reading at

Abdirashid S. Ahmed of Maplewood currently works for the City of Minneapolis as its East African community specialist. A public policy analyst, he has previously worked with public assistance programs in Ramsey, Hennepin and Dakota Counties. He has also worked with Metropolitan Council and Lutheran Social Services. He has a master’s degree in public policy from the Humphrey School of Public Affairs at the University of Minnesota and an undergraduate degree in human services administration from Metropolitan State University.

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If you like this piece, share it on social media.  We invite you to join us in this project on our social media sites.  We welcome your voice to the Comment section below — or consider writing a commentary, podcast or photo story. (For more information, email

Points to consider before being suspicious of the next random Muslim you meet

By Hani Hamdan, Engage Minnesota

You’ve probably seen a Muslim in a public place at some point in time. Given the rising anti-Muslim sentiment in the US, you probably went through the brief discomfort associated with the questions: “Is it wrong to feel suspicious about this guy?” and “How do I know he/she isn’t plotting something?”

Right wing pundits wish to make you believe that you’re being forced under the pressure of illogical “political correctness” to treat Muslims with equality. I’m here to tell you that you can put all notions of political correctness aside and simply look at the facts:

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Terrorism Has No Religion

By Hajra Zaid, 9th grader at Century High School in Rochester, MN

I remember in 8th grade, my school hosted an inspirational speaker, Calvin Terrell. His presentation had a lot to do with racism, discrimination and the grotesque realities of today regarding these things. There was one point in the presentation when he would flash words onto a screen and we students would have to say the first race that we associated with that word. The list went on, and the reactions of the students were highly stereotypical. Then came the last word, “terrorist.” I remember bracing myself for the worst; students around me stared yelling not only races, but religions, people and countries. After hearing them repeatedly saying Islam, Muslims, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq, and so on, I became mortified. People need to know what Islam really is, not what the media and stereotypes spell it out to be. Islam is drowning in the misconceptions placed upon it, and it is being distrusted and hated for what it is not.  There is no teaching in Islam that condones hate and violence against non-Muslims; in fact, all of the teachings prohibit aggression and injustice towards not only other human beings, but also every creation of God. Read the rest of this entry

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


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:; Telephone: (612) 558-5389

My 9/11 experience

By Rihab Naheel

I rarely think of 9/11. I know that almost every one has been affected by this day in one way or another. It was 10 years ago and yet it feels like yesterday. I had to remember that day against my will the other day, long before the actual date came, while teaching a grammar lesson. Yes, this day creeps up in unexpected places, unexpected times.   Read the rest of this entry

Countering Islamophobia on the Tenth Anniversary of September 11 Attacks

By Asma Adam

If asked whether Muslim-Americans should be treated fairly, most Americans would answer “yes.” However, America has had its struggles with racism, bigotry, prejudice, and discrimination in its history and it seems that Muslim-Americans are now on the receiving end of these hateful reactions. Since the attacks of September 11, 2001 by Al-Qaeda terrorists, Muslim-Americans have had to deal with mistrust, fear, discrimination, and greater scrutiny. For instance, Muslim-Americans experience traveling restrictions, extra airport searches, denial of immigration cases, and deportations. Just because some Muslims commit horrific atrocities in the name of Islam does not mean that all Muslims are responsible for such actions. There needs to be a more fair way of viewing current issues. There must be a balance between security concerns and protecting civil rights. Read the rest of this entry

Minnesotans Standing Together on 9/11/2011

By David
A few months ago, I awoke one morning with the sudden awareness that this September would mark the tenth anniversary of the 9/11 attacks. On the heels of that awareness came the realization that the inevitable heavy media attention surrounding this anniversary would likely be the occasion for further inflaming anti-Muslim sentiment. And that concerned me greatly. Read the rest of this entry

Islamophobes’ authoritarian contemptuous attitude toward the American public

By Hani Hamdan, Engage Minnesota

Much of the industry of Islamophobia these days seems to operate based on a perceived existential threat to the American identity – the threat that somehow Americans may become “Islamicized” en masse and be brainwashed by Muslims either into converting to Islam or adopting Islamic viewpoints. The rhetoric of bigots like Robert Spencer and David Horowitz warns America from being nobbled into somehow becoming a Muslim nation.

Regardless of the hilarity of such a claim, there is something else about it that should be deeply insulting to Americans: It presumes that Americans are stupid. Read the rest of this entry

American pundits’ anti-Muslim hate speech predictably ends up costing lives

By Hani Hamdan, Engage Minnesota

This is not to say that Islamophobia has not already cost a barrage of human lives. In addition to direct hate crimes committed against Muslims and Muslim-looking individuals in the US and Europe, hate speech against Muslims or at least the broad criticism of Muslims’ way of life is to blame, in my opinion, for the general public’s inaction toward the thousands of lost lives deemed “collateral damage” during the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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Islamophobia Driven by Guroor, not Fear of Terrorism

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

I love to follow the teachings of Habib Ali, a phenomenal teacher on Islamic spirituality.  In a beautiful lesson, he once said that the more guroor a person has, the more harm comes out of this person.
What is guroor?
While reading my Facebook news feed, I ran across a blog by a Facebook friend, Sincere teacher transform hearts.
Read the rest of Fedwa’s Star Tribune post here.

Organisation of The Islamic Conference condemns the killing of UN Staff members during protests in Mazar-i- Sharif

“The Secretary General of the Organization of the Islamic Conference Prof Dr. Ihsanoglu today joined the international community in condemning the loss of innocent lives during protests in Mazar-i- Sharif (Afghanistan) against the burning of the Holy Quran in the US last month. The Secretary General expressed particular condemnation at the killing of UN Staff Members during the incident. He emphasized the importance of ensuring security for the staff and personnel of International Organizations who put their lives at risk in implementing the mandates entrusted by the International community in the interest of global peace, security and stability. In a letter addressed to the UN Secretary General Ban Ki Moon, Professor Ihsanoglu extended condolences to the bereaved families of the UN Staff killed in the incident.

Recalling his warning against unforeseen and volatile consequences of the outrageous and irresponsible act of burning the Holy Quran, Prof. Ihsanoglu reiterated OIC’s position on a normative approach to deal with the acts of discrimination and incitement to violence on religious grounds – through concerted efforts by the international community- with a view to avoiding recurrence of incidents caused by inflamed religious sentiments.”

The Muslim Public Affairs Council Condemns Senseless Killing of U.N. Workers in Afghanistan

(Washington, DC – 4/1/11)—The Muslim Public Affairs Council today condemned the killing of at least 12 people, including seven United Nations workers, in Afghanistan by protesters as “barbaric, atrocious and senseless.” This afternoon, MPAC will hold press conferences in Washington, DC and Los Angeles to respond to today’s events.

Read the rest of The American Muslim’s article here.

To learn about Islam, why not ask a Muslim?

by Hani Hamdan, Engage Minnesota

Quite refreshing were new hearings led by Sen. Dick Durbin, D-Ill., on protecting the civil rights of American Muslims, especially after a slew of anti-Muslim events within the past year or so. Those culminated in a House committee’s hearings on the “radicalization of American Muslims” a couple of weeks ago.

As glad as I am about Durbin’s hearings, I have to maintain that the way to gain the best understanding of Muslims in the United States starts not by listening to politicians or pundits, left or right, but by shutting them off.

Read te rest of Hani’s article here.

Reflections on a senior center

By Abdullahi Guled
Before I walked into the senior center, I did not know what to expect. I never really interacted with the elderly much. I never got the chance to see my grandparents and most of the old people I encountered were usually my dad’s acquaintances. I would let my dad do the talking in those situations because I never felt like I had to interact with them. The visit to the senior center was different because I was expected to have conversations with elderly people I had never met before.
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In Times of Anger

By Fedwa Wazwaz, Engage Minnesota

As we reflect on the life of Martin Luther King Jr., it is beneficial for us to see the whole person and not just one moment of his life where he gave the “I have a dream speech.”  King was angry at the sufferings that African Americans were enduring.  He was not passive, a dreamer or in denial of what was happening around him.  People who are in denial of what they are experiencing cannot solve their problems, but resort to escapism solutions like drugs and alcohol.

Read the rest of Fedwa’s article here. Also read the Part II article  here.

Egypt’s Muslims express solidarity by acting as “human shields” for Coptic Churches

We thought it is important to show examples of solidarity and tolerance in a time when contention and division are celebrated by the media. In case you missed it, here are a few links:

CAIR Welcomes Top Muslim Leader’s Hajj Sermon Against Terror


CAIR Welcomes Top Muslim Leader’s Hajj Sermon Against Terror
Saudi religious leader tells pilgrims that Islam prohibits terror and extremism

(WASHINGTON, D.C., 11/15/10) –- The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR) today welcomed an anti-terror statement by Saudi Arabia’s top religious leader made in a sermon at the peak of the Hajj, the most important event on Islam’s spiritual calendar. Read the rest of this entry

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