James 2:15-16
Suppose a brother of a sister is without clothes and daily food. If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it?”

In discovering the power of community, we can find renewal, love and strength. When the care and compassion of community is real and genuine, we also find our needs met.
As we enter a new phase of the pandemic, pay attention to how community and collective government shows up. Also pay attention to the few people and politicians who try to place wedges in our communities. Questions to ask: Is the focus on responding to the needs of people through offering healthcare and resources for things like food and shelter? Or is the focus on shutting some people out based on things like immigration status, income, skin color or imprisonment? Is the number one concern the health and safety of everyone? Or is it about churning a profit for the richest 1% while putting lives at risk by extracting and exploiting the work and labor of everyday people?

While we continue this time of physical distancing (but socially connecting), let us also remember that words like “Stay well” or “Stay healthy” must be genuine of love and care by being matched with our intention to collectively make that happen with things like universal healthcare and paid time to care. Otherwise, they are empty and anemic. As our scripture above reminds us of words without action, “what good is it?”

Qu’ran Reflection 2:185
“The month of Ramadan (is the month) in which the Qur’an has been sent down as guidance for mankind containing clear signs which lead (to the straight road) and distinguishing (the truth from falsehood).”

The Month of Ramadan is the holy month during which the Quran was first revealed to the Prophet Muhammad (PBUH). It is the ninth month of the lunar Islamic calendar. This year, Ramadan begins today Friday April 24 and it will continue until May 23. Muslims are required to fast during this month. This entails avoiding all  food and drink between dawn and sunset each day during the month, which lasts usually 29 or 30 days…

For Muslims around the globe, this year with the COVID-19 will be a particularly trying time as they will be observing the holy month of Ramadan under lockdown. So in this month, caring for others and connecting with them will be an essential form of worship to get through this difficult time.

As people of faith, we must recommit ourselves to the upliftment of all human beings and remember the social obligations of the society in which we live in. We are living during a time when income disparities, impacting communities of color, is considered the worst in the last hundred years, with large sections of society, denied affordable housing, food, healthcare, and job opportunities. During this COVID-19 crisis, many things broken in our system have been exposed and those who are vulnerable or weak in society are once again left behind or left out. So, in this Ramadan, we must work hard to live out the social justice principles in both the Quran and the tradition of prophet Muhammad – peace be upon him.

Read full reflection here.

Amid Pandemic, Clergy Calls on Minn. Legislature to Lead with Them on Voting Rights Protections, Expansion

Thursday, nearly 100 clergy from across the state, representing several denominations of the Christian, Jewish and Muslim faiths, virtually gathered for a press conference to stress the moral imperative for Minnesota’s legislature to make the bold, decisive move of a statewide Vote-by-Mail program while allowing for polling places to safely remain open and accepting the federal funding to invest in Minnesota’s strong democracy.
This meeting preceded the submission of a 300+ clergy person letter to the state’s legislative leadership in the House, Senate and Governor’s office. It included our three lifesaving and popular solutions to the potential upcoming voting crisis for Minnesotans in November. The legislature has both the means and funding readily available to both avoid catastrophe and advance the robust multiracial democracy that is promised to voters. But the window to make the safest and healthiest decision for our families is fast closing. The legislature must move now.
“As clergy in the Black community, I recognize voting as a bare bones of active citizenship in our society and we’ve fought, bled and died to ensure we protect it,” said Rev. Dr. Chavez Russell of Greater Friendship Baptist Church. “The Coronavirus has greatly impacted the African-American community which highlights the inequities that already existed and we need more opportunities to vote now more than ever.”
“We are committed to making sure that Muslim Minnesotans and everyone who has the right to vote is able to vote,” said Ahmed Anshur, Imam with the Muslim Coalition of ISAIAH. “Therefore, we should be making participation in democracy easier, not harder. No one should have to choose between their health and their right to vote.”
“Let us be clear,” said Father Dale Korogi, Priest at Church of the Ascension in North Minneapolis, one of the most politically neglected urban neighborhoods in the state, where he serves a large Latino and African American population. “It’s the most vulnerable and those marginalized in our democracy who will be silenced should the fall elections proceed as if we were living in another time and reality.”

Voter Rights Protection emergency meeting

Wednesday, April 29; 6:00 – 7:00 PM
We will ground ourselves in the political drama that threatens the existence of a fair and safe election process. We will then acquire the tools and strategy necessary to build a mandate that will release the funds for vote by mail system.

Tell the Senate to lead on Paid Family & Medical Leave for Minnesotans

Now more than ever we see that all Minnesotans, no matter what we look like or where we come from, need access to Paid Family & Medical Leave. Minnesotans need a comprehensive, equitable system that allows them to care for themselves and their loved ones when they are sick.

However, the MN Senate Commerce Committee is trying to move a bill this Tuesday to have private insurance companies sell Minnesotans time to care for our families. This bill (SF4352) does nothing to provide a single Minnesotan with Paid Family & Medical Leave. It simply allows private insurance companies to sell an additional product.
At the “Take Action” box below, you can easily submit testimony to tell the Senate that they need to instead pass a comprehensive, state-wide, publicly-administered Paid Family and Medical Leave Program that puts us and our families first, not private insurance companies.

Families freed: Jail de-populated by 40%! We can decarcerate our prisons too

Most Minnesotans believe that every human being, no matter their race or income, is deserving of dignity and redemption. Yet, in Minnesota, we have laws that criminalize and incarcerate high numbers of people, including Black and Native people, for choices made out of poverty or mental health illness.
Too often, our prison system punishes people, not giving them opportunities for reconciliation, redemption, or rehabilitation. Even now in a pandemic, people are being given death sentences because of a few people making decisions about who and who isn’t worthy of health and safety.
But we know that when we work together across race and region, we can move our legislators to make just laws grounded in healthy communities of redeemed people, not punishment. Right now, we can safely release people to be at home, with their families, so that they can stay safe and our communities can stay healthy.
We’ve already decreased Hennepin County jails population by 40%! If we can lower incarceration for the purpose of public safety and health for our incarcerated loved ones and selves in jails, we should do it for those in prisons as well.
We know the voices of imprisoned people are often silenced. Together we can speak up and speak loudly. Thank you for lending your voice – for those in minimum security and EVERYONE who should be released TODAY from technical violators to ICE detainees to those who qualify for work release.

Take Action on Statewide Rental/Mortgage Assistance

On Wednesday, a House committee approved $100 million for rental and mortgage assistance. We are grateful for the leadership of the House and Rep. Alice Hausman (66A) who authored the bill on this issue. The Senate committee met to discuss this issue on Wednesday. Unfortunately, Senate Republicans are still only pushing for $30 million and their timeline is unclear. We want to celebrate good public leadership that advances bold solutions to the crises Minnesotans are facing. We are continuing to push for $100 million instead of $30 million so more Minnesotans facing financial hardship can remain in their homes.
ACTION NEEDED BY TUE 4/28: Please use this helpful quick guide to keep fighting for rental and mortgage assistance: https://bit.ly/MNrentassist

Over 700 Attend Muslim Day at the Capitol

The Muslim Day at the Capital was well attended with over 200 people in the virtual zoom meeting and 500 watching live on Facebook. We had an opportunity to hear from Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman, Senate Minority Leader Susan Kent, Attorney General Keith Ellison, Governor Tim Walz and Lt Governor Peggy Flanagan. We then broke into different virtual rooms that covered areas across the state to have more intimate conversations with our elected officials.
“The virtual Muslim day at the Capitol was POWERFUL. To see our community come together and experience agency and to lead through these challenging times is what keeps me hopeful about our future,” stated Khalid Omar, organizer with the Muslim Coalition of ISAIAH.

Rochester Area Parents and Childcare Providers meet with Sen. Carla Nelson

From a Facebook post by ISAIAH’s Kids Count on Us organizer Lydia Boerboom
“What a powerful way to build community and power tonight! Some of our Kids Count On Us and ISAIAH parents and providers from Rochester were able to meet with Senator Carla Nelson tonight and have an honest, vulnerable conversation with her about childcare in her district. Our leaders shared their stories about the childcare crisis we were in before COVID-19, and how their community is leading through this pandemic.
Physical distancing is necessary right now but, more importantly, so is social connection! I’m proud of our childcare providers, parents and teachers across the state for continuing to join their voices together and refuse to compromise anything to make powerful changes for our future. Way to go, Rochester!”

ISAIAH Clergy COVID-19 Response Weekly Call

Now, like never before, we need our faith leaders equipped and connected, so that we can faithfully and quickly lead in response to the growing needs of Minnesotans.
Because of the increased need for community support, good information and public leadership, the clergy team of ISAIAH has decided to hold a weekly Covid-19 response call on Thursdays from noon-1pm. All clergy, ministers, imams and religious institution leaders are encouraged to join us in these weekly virtual calls of connection and action.

ISAIAH 101 Orientation

Various dates and times
Are you new to ISAIAH? Curious about what we do AND how we do it? Want to understand how you could play a powerful role in our mission to advance a multi-racial democracy and caring economy in ISAIAH? Join us for a 45-minute call with a 15-minute optional Q&A. We will dig into the kind of questions and topics that can’t be covered well on a website. Please know that technical questions about ISAIAH (the history of ISAIAH, our staff, standard questions one asks about nonprofits) will not be addressed here. You can check out the ISAIAH website for those details and more at https://isaiahmn.org! We look forward to having a powerful and meaningful experience with all of you on this call.