Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Literature on Pashtunwali, the Pashtun Society, and Honor

Not sure how much of this is academic stuff, but I imagine all of it is worth considering when we study Pashtunwali/Pukhtunwali, commonly defined as "the honor code of the Pashtuns," or "the tribal code of the Pashtuns."

"Doing Pashto: Pashtunwali as the Ideal Honourable Behaviour and Tribal Life among the Pashtuns" (through the Afghan Analysts Network) by Lutz Rzehak

"Gendering Pukhtunwali" by
Amineh Ahmed (in The News International 2000)

"Pashtunwali's Relevance as a Tool for Solving the Afghan Crisis" by Craig Cordell Naumann
(NOTE: I have this article available in PDF, but I don't know how to upload it to this blog. Contact me at if you're interested in reading it.)

Pashtunwali (through

Pukhtu: The Pukhtun Code of Life by Sultan-i-Rome

The Way of the Pashtun: Pashtunwali (PDF) by Major Richard Tod Strickland
(NOTE: For critical response to a couple of the ideas in this article, including that of the Three Zs (Zar, Zan, and Zamin = gold, women, and land - respectively), please click here.)

While I'm at it, let me also go ahead and share here my bibliography on the topic of Honor, Women, and the Pashtun Society (sorry for the inconsistencies in the format. This has not been formalized yet; it will be once I actually start working on my thesis).

Pashtun Nationalism Online - Part II: Bibliography

In the last post, I talked briefly about the phenomenon of Pashtun nationalism online and why I'm studying it now. Here, I'm going to compile a list of Pashtun Nationalist blogs and/or discussion forums with discussions on Pashtun nationalism. My observation has been that all of the Pashtun forums have been run and dominated by nationalists, and there's little to no tolerance of anti-nationalist sentiments. I'm sure/hope that I am wrong, but everyone's welcome to correct me if there experiences have been different.

Note that this is not a comprehensive bibliography; it is under construction and will be for a long, long time, I imagine. You are welcome to share whatever else you know of.

Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Pashtun Nationalism Online - Part I: Introduction

As I've mentioned before, I'm taking a class on identity, and, of course, we have term papers (midterm and final)  to write for the class, as in most classes. I figured I could choose one of my two favorite topics: Islamic feminism and Pashtun nationalism (or anything Pashtun-related, especially gender-wise). There's a whole lot I could do on Pashtun and gender, but I figured I had more data to write on Pashtun nationalism--as it is viewed and presented online (discussion forums, social networks, and blogs). When I discussed this idea with my professor, he thought it was extremely important that I write both my midterm and final papers on this, especially since "everyone" does or wants to do something gender-related these days but no one's even aware of what the Pashtun culture is like online. And considering my own experiences online, I gathered it would be definitely worth it.

Saturday, September 24, 2011

Mecca for the Rich: Islam's Holiest Site Turning into "Vegas"

This is honestly the worst news I've heard in a long, long time. I'm hurt. Both as a practicing Muslim and as a student of Islamic Studies. This is so tragic. They have to have no respect to be doing something like this - no respect for the religion, for the billion plus people who practice that religion, for the Prophet (peace be upon him), for his family, for HISTORY.

Rest in peace, Mecca, rest in peace.

Can you see the Ka'ba? ... Oh, there it is! I see it. (P.S. Click to enlarge.)

Why Blog?

I need to remove some of the "pages" (or tabs or whatever) from the top of my blog to replace them with more important pages (like job opportunities and calls for papers/submissions, etc.), so I'm gonna go ahead and paste some here to still retain a copy of them. 'Cause I spend hours on these long write-ups, k?

In case it's not obvious already, I love, love, lurrrrve blogging!

This was actually written as a response to Metis' questions on why Muslim feminists blog - or something like that.

What I blog about
Pretty much about anything and everything. No, really, I do. But almost all of what I have to say tends to be controversial, and I'm not someone who enjoys being around the kinda folks who go "you're going to hell." Yes, I am aware of that, and thank God my God didn't put you in charge of hell and heaven! We'd all be screwed then, yes? Believe it: Some of my friends are threatened for being my friends.

Yeah, but mostly, I blog about women/gender, Pashtuns, and Islam because I'm a woman/female, a Pashtun, and a Muslim -- in exactly that order.

Why I blog
In response to a question about why I, a Metis' Blog reader, blog, I said:

I started blogging in 2006, first on Yahoo! 360 where I joined a really exciting Muslim community. I’d never intended to be a blogger and didn’t even know what it was, but I’m known for being talkative and close to bursting because of the millions of ideas always running through my head. A teacher recently told me in response to my frustrations about how difficult it is to have these ideas and to be learning so much and no one who’s willing to listen or no one who understands, “Looks like someone needs to write a novel!” And, so, since then, I’ve started a novel called Smothered.

But, anyway, when 360 broke (shut) down, so did I. I didn’t blog for a couple of years and was always feeling like I was gonna burst. No, really, I still sometimes feel that way because in real life, almost no one gets it, or almost no one’s interested in hearing what I’m learning (about Islam, about women’s rights, about the Quran, about humanity, about the world). So I decided that I need to blog for real and have been doing so non-stop for about two years now.

But, really, I blog because I need to blog; it’s often the only thing that calms my frustrated nerves, and is the best way for me to share my knowledge. Besides this “venting,” of course, it’s also to understand my own self and to allow myself to grow and learn.

I have formed such an amazing network through blogging. I’ve met so many amazing and intelligent people–some I agree with, some I disagree with, some who hate what I write but still read me and some whose posts I hate but still read them and respond because we all need each other’s support, and each of us could use just one more ear. Ultimately, it’s not about how much we agree or disagree with each other; it’s about what we learn from each other, how well we can grow with each other, and how much we can empower each other.

Through blogging, we empower each other (and ourselves), and that’s exactly what my own blogging has done to me. I have developed so much confidence and strength--mostly because I feel like I’m far more well-versed in my fields than I was, say, a year or two ago--that I feel like nothing and no can harm me or bring me down anymore. As far as how it’s helped me as a *Muslim woman*, I have re-discovered myself--and I continue doing so. I have discovered my rights mostly through blogging. Initially, it was people’s “radical feminist” blogs, which really offended me until 2 years ago or so, that drove me to study Islam more deeply. If I didn’t blog, or if I hadn’t started blogging yet, I am sure that I’d have taken a much longer time to discover these same rights. What a waste of several years that would’ve been for me, no?

Why blogging should matter
Blogging connects people in a way, in a “live” way, that no other form of media has done before. I mean, look at us–if it hadn’t been for blogging, would I really have come across any of the folks I've met so far? I may have; perhaps I may have read their books and written a review and published it on my website or something, and they might have come across it. But what would’ve been the chances of their responding to it instantly and then my writing back instantly, and so on? This is extremely important in communication, especially since we get to clear up misunderstandings very quickly and conveniently. The reason I think it’s extremely important that we hear and understand each other, that others hear and understand us, is that that’s one of the fastest ways towards progression. Sure, we can learn all that we do and don’t have to share it with others (because learning shouldn’t be for others; it should first be for ourselves), but when it comes to things like human rights or religions or law, there’s no point in just learning or studying them. We actually need to act upon them, and one way to do that is by sharing with others what we know and discover, and making sure they understand us well so we can form a support group, a healthy community and discuss possible ways to effect positive change.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

On Racism and the Issue of Identity

So, I wanna talk about something that’s really been bugging me lately.

When I was in Jordan, we were playing a game in class one day that involved drawing what one student was saying (he/she was looking at a picture, describing it, and the rest of us were drawing it). Then this one student’s turn came whose picture had some Japanese kids being educated in a classroom. The student mentioned that there are Japanese kids in the image next to a pile of books in a classroom or something. Now, my drawing included a couple of Japanese characters – Japanese specifically in terms of their facial looks (particularly their eyes). As soon as that student saw it, he said, “Oh my God! That is so racist!” And I said, “What? How’s this racist? You said the kids were Japanese, and this is how Japanese people often look like, no?”

Later, I mentioned it to another student from the class, telling her what I’d drawn, and she was like, “OH MY GOD! That is SO racist!! I can’t believe you did that!”

Wednesday, September 21, 2011

How the Birthday Went!

So, I have a class in a few minutes, but since it’s like totally unlikely that I’ll actually get anything done during these minutes, I decided to write a blog post. I’m not sure what I’mna write on, but considering the amount of topics I’ve had in mind since the last 2-3 years—okay, okay, since the last month—I should write on one of them.

I could, of course, talk about the greatness of the professor I’m TAing for (Noor, remember?), who just asked me to work with her on her book during Winter Break, but I won’t stuff you with how much I love her and all right now. I’ll instead tell you about the girls I mentioned in one of the previous posts where I said that this group of friends is so diverse yet so united and all – but mainly so I can tell you about how my birthday went :D The special day was on Sunday, September 18th.

Monday, September 19, 2011

Women's Rights: What Can You Do?

I'm copying the post below from a blogger called Azad Pashtun. I found it both well-written and important to share it on my blog. Enjoy!
My purpose in writing this entry is to spread awareness. I want more education and freedom for women because they are basic human needs. I want Pashtun women, actually all women, to play the vital role in development of humanity that I know they can play. We are losing all the talent of women to an unnecessarily rigid attitude. Once we see the benefits of treating women more nicely, we would not want to turn back. Here I have tried to list some ways better treatment of women can be achieved. 

Talk to men
Talk to men in your life. Ask them questions. Lead conversations to a point where they question their assumptions about women. Give them examples of the exploitation of women. Highlight how they are not allowed certain freedoms. Try to get them to put themselves in the shoes of women.

Saturday, September 17, 2011

On Child Labor

I wrote this around June 2009, so I beg your pardon for any silly mistakes or errors or whatever. And I'm not going to re-read it now just to see what it's like. But I was cleaning my Flash Drive and just saw this in the "My Writings" folder. And I was like, "Whaaaaaaaaa?! Where was this? I should put this on my blog." Heck, I had written so much stuff and saved it on my flash drive, but over 80% of it has disappeared now because my flash drive got a virus that left much of my PDF and Word documents empty :( Epic sadness. Khair, thankfully, this long one was one of the 5 or 6 that got saved.
Child labor is a disparaging phenomenon all over the third-world. Although it has been a silent matter for an excruciatingly long period of time now, it is starting to gain some attention from the media as well as the society where it is practiced. Our potential future teachers, doctors, lawyers, business owners, and other professionals are being denied the right to learn to read and write; many are instead forced to wake up early in the morning and push wheelbarrows filled with bricks and cement around new homes and buildings while their privileged neighboring children walk to school. In most cases, these children belong to poor families and have no access to education; if they were not put to labor, they would be roaming around the streets just like many of the children who neither work nor attend schools. Although child labor may have a couple of benefits to offer the society, it has far more drawbacks and is not worth it. It ultimately results in hindering our progression and development as a nation and is therefore crucial for discussions that can help us plot solutions and alternatives for the cause.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Inspiring Feminist Quotes

I'm always looking for them -- you know, inspiring, thought-provoking feminist quotes. Please feel free to share whichever are your favorites; I have two websites, both of which have/need a quote (and a thought-provoking picture) at the top on every page, so I'll be grateful if you can share some! Since the two websites are of different categories (one's more academic and tends to student needs and guidance, and the other's more feminism-oriented), I'd appreciate academic quotes as well - you know, things on the importance of education, learning, etc. Here are some of the feminism-related ones, and I'll share the academic ones another time, ka khairee. Enjoy!

~ No written law has ever been more binding than unwritten custom supported by popular opinion.
- Carrie Chapman Catt

~ "The physical vulnerabilities of a woman can be traced to that most important of human accomplishments, the absorption of her strength in carrying, nursing, and rearing children. I have always known that this one fact doomed females to a subordinate status in all societies. Instead of attaining honor for being the producer of life, we are penalized!"

- From Princess Sultana's Daughters

~ "In using terms like patriarchy, hermeneutics, and sexual/textual, I do not wish to misrepresent the Qurn as a feminist text; rather, the use of such terminology shows my own intellectual disposition and biases."
- Asma Barlas in "Believing Women" in Islam: Unreading Patriarchal Interpretations of the Quran (University of Texas Press, 2002), p. 19.

~ What is Islamic feminism? Let me offer a concise definition: it is a feminist discourse and practice articulated within an Islamic paradigm. Islamic feminism, which derives its understanding and mandate from the Qur'an, seeks rights and justice for women, and for men, in the totality of their existence.
- Barbara Stowasser

Sunday, September 11, 2011

First Year Classes and the New Life

Dear all,
Just an update on my new life here.'Hamdulillah, all's well, and I'm adjusting quite well and quite fast to the new environment. I can't stand the heat and humidity here, but I suppose that's no issue. The people are awesome, my classes are just the best, my professors and mentors and colleagues are superb, and I've made some wonderful friends already. I'll tell you about my group of friends in another post ('cause I really need to tell y'all about them! It's such a diverse and united group. See, this is what unity is all about - not being the same, not believing the same things the same way, not practicing the same things the same way, but embracing each other's differences and not deciding who's going to hell or heaven, who's more or less pious, and so on). So you get the point, yeah? They're fabulous people, and I'm blessed to have met them!

Sunday, September 4, 2011

Feminist Response to Beyonce's "[Girls] Run the World"

Definitely worth watching. I'm often critical of singers like Beyonce and Shakira, especially their dance moves while claiming to be fighting for women's rights/liberation, and the speaker in this video says pretty much much of what I'd say. Only, this one is a specific case of the song "Run the World (Girls)." If you haven't watched or heard the song yet, do so so you see what this girl is criticizing and why. But other than that, the song isn't worth a watch or a listen at all -- like most of Beyonce's songs.

Sure, Beyonce and other singers don't always write their own lyrics (it is, however, more common for singers to write their own lyrics in the west than it is in the east), but they do represent the "most important" part of the song: they play them; they perform them; they sing them! Their roles are thus more prominent than the roles of, say, the musicians, the music/song directors, and everyone else who has a role, minor or major, in completing the song.

Thursday, September 1, 2011

A List of Pashtun Women Bloggers

**Edit (Sept 17, 2011): Seeking more Pashtun women bloggers, whether from Afghanistan or Pakistan. As long as they identify themselves as Pashtuns, they can be added to the list. Thank you for your help.**

So, as y'all know, I'm very much into women's matters. I'm also into research, so whenever I come across something that's different or controversial, I totally (mentally) jot down every idea that comes to me about that matter, especially if it concerns gender relations or Islam. Around November 2010, I read an email from this one listserv I'm on that deals with Muslim women's leadership, and the email was what I've posted here. I thought about contributing to it, but it didn't happen - super unfortunately! Khair, inshaAllah, I'll contribute something to a future collection on a similar topic. And had I contributed, it would have had to do everything with Pashtun women (since they're over 99% Muslim anyway, so it'd still fall under the Muslim women category). And ever since, I've been very observant of Pashtun females' online interactions. That call for chapters got me thinking on Pashtun women's online activities -- Pashtun women from both Afghanistan and Pakistan. While this idea is solely mine, I'm sharing it here in public only 'cause I feel like some of the information might be good for other people to know, people who're interested in research on Pashtun women.

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