AK Voices: Al-Hajj Frederick H Minshall

Al-Hajj Frederick H Minshall is a US Navy veteran with a degree in fisheries biology who has lived in Alaska since 2004. He is an Ithna-Ashari ("Twelver") Shi'a Muslim whose chief hobby is overindulging his four grandchildren. "Al-Hajj" (Arabic root "Hijr"—"journey") means "the Pilgrim," and is a traditional title for one who has made pilgrimage to Mecca.

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Greetings, and a Request for Prayer, from Dutch Harbor

I had to think about this for a while. If mere human words actually count for anything in the context of our existence, I want these words to count.

There are a lot of Japanese workers employed in western Alaska fisheries, particularly here in Dutch Harbor. Many of those currently working here come from towns on Japan’s northeast coast that were hardest hit by the earthquake and tsunami two days ago. Some watched in fishing vessel galleys televised news broadcasts of their homes being washed away.

Yesterday I stood nearby listening to an older gentleman who worked as a fish master aboard a factory trawler frantically speaking via satellite phone to his employer in Japan. I only know four or five words of Japanese, but I didn’t need more than that to hear—and feel—the anguish, desperation and barely-restrained TERROR in his voice as he frantically sought information—ANY information—concerning his family. His voice cut through superficial differences of language, belief, opinions and perceptions of “identity” to a fundamental of our shared humanity—ultimately, who we are and what we do only has meaning in terms of those whom we love.

I thought of my own children and grandchildren, some of whom live overseas. They are my reason for continued life on this earth. When I got back to my hotel room that evening I called them, just for the reassurance of hearing their voices.

And I fervently pray to Allah Sub’hanahu wa Ta’aala—Absolute Lord, Creator and Sustainer of the Universe—that those from northeastern Japan who are working here in Dutch Harbor soon get to hear their loved ones’ voices as well. Ya’Allahumma ‘aamiin!

Further, I ask all participants in this forum to pray for this as well. Pray to Yahuwa, the Sentient First Cause, Jesus, Buddha, I don’t care what Name you use. I don’t care whether you normally pray. With all your hearts, do so now.

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