Saturday, December 29, 2012

The New Delhi Gang Rape: Not a "Tragedy of Indian Women"!

On December 16, 2012, a 23-year-old female Indian student was traveling on a bus in India's capital, New Delhi, with a male companion and was attacked by six men who took turns to rape her. As if that wasn't enough, "They also beat the couple and inserted an iron rod into her body resulting in severe organ damage. Both of them were then stripped and thrown off the [moving] bus, according to police." Among the rapists-now-killers? A fruit seller, a bus driver, and a gym instructor. The young woman, whose name has not been revealed, although some are calling her Amanat (not her real name), was suffering from severe organ failure as a result of the rape when she passed away a few hours ago in a hospital in Singapore where she was taken for treatment. By the time she was admitted in to the Singapore hospital, she had already had a heart attack, her lungs and abdomen were infected badly, and she had received a brain injury.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Jimmy Carter on Women's Position in Religious Teachings

The quote below is just too true. All interpreters of all religions have traditionally and universally been men, and they have the power to interpret religious teachings "about" women in either a positive or a negative way. They have always chosen the negative way, a way that subjugates women, demeans women, sees them as inferior creatures who are too weak intellectually and physically to enjoy an exalted status in society.

Monday, December 24, 2012

Book Review: Azfar Moin's "The Millennial Sovereign"

For those of us who think it would be utterly impossible for any Muslim ruler, king, emperor, etc. to claim that he is the messiah or that his rule/kingship is otherwise divine, this book called The Millennial Sovereign: Sacred Kingship and Sainthood in Islam by Azfar Moin is a really eye-opening read. And for those Muslims among us who are constantly told that  astrology is haraam (forbidden, unacceptable, a sinful practice) or even belief in astrological signs is haraam, this might be a useful read as well. Not saying it makes it any less or more haraam than what the haraam police constantly tells us, but it just makes you think a little before you make claims.

I liked this book :) It was a fun and informative read.

Sunday, December 16, 2012

South Asian Marriage Manuals: Men Telling Women What to Do

I've been reading some marriage manuals from (Muslim) South Asia lately, and I've been updating my Facebook buddies--the females--about the task to remind them of their obligations as potential wives and as women. I'll share one status message and the comments that the girls posted in response to it. Really great conversations, so. Maybe once I'm totally free and stuff, I can write an actual blog post about these marriage manuals and how problematic (and disturbing and offensive, to both women and men!) they are. Or maybe not. 

First, let me introduce these marriage manuals and make a disclaimer that these are not necessarily grounded in Islam.

Saturday, December 15, 2012

Violence - from Connecticut to Peshawar

What's the world coming to? What's happening around us, and how much longer are we expected to tolerate it? Is it really enough to just say "RIP" and "My heart goes out to the victims and their families" anymore? Is it really enough to just pray, cry, pray some more, and pray for more safety and peace in the world?

27 people got killed yesterday (Friday, Dec. 14th), 20 of them children and 7 staff members, at a mass shooting in an elementary school in Connecticut (USA). The killer committed suicide afterwards.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

On the World's Smothering Silence over the Murder of Anisa, the 10th-grader from Kapisa, Afghanistan

As the Urdu poet Habib Jalib says in his "Mein ne uss se ye kaha" ("so I said this to him"), jin ko tha zabaa pe naaz chup hai voh zaba daraaz ("those eloquent with pride (poets) are silent today!").

What an apt verse for today! 

See, another Malala has been attacked--and unfortunately killed--and no one is talking about it. Her name is Anisa. She was in 10th grade, an activist for women's rights and education, and volunteered at a polio vaccine clinic run by the Ministry for Public Health. Here, an importan reminder might help explain the Taliban's motives for killing her: besides Anisa's fight for girl's education and her activism, she clearly recognized the need for polio vaccines in her region; the Taliban, however, believe, due to rumors about the vaccine, that "It'll make the children sterile; it contains the AIDS virus; the vaccinators are really CIA agents." It is believed that Anisa was was 16 years old. She had survived an attack on her life the day before, but the cowards attacked her again, shooting her several times in the stomach. The young activist school-girl did not survive, and this time, unfortunately, the enemies of humanity, of peace, of love, of justice won. Only humans with disturbingly musty souls must feel like they achieved something big for having killed this child. 

Thursday, December 6, 2012

On Harassment - Part I

A few weeks ago in my Sexuality and Islam class, we discussed harassment. The rich and lively discussion was a response to an article we'd read, in which the authors made a lot of interesting but problematic conclusions in their study about harassment, clothing, make-up, and so on. The study focused on the harassment of females in public spaces, such as markets and educational institutions (Shiraz University) in Iran.

 First, let's define harassment. It is:
- being yelled out to, winked at, whistled at, teased, stared at by someone--stranger, acquaintance, anyone at all--in a way you don't feel comfortable with.
- being touched (especially inappropriately) without your permission or consent, or in a way you don't feel comfortable

Harassment can be physical, sexual, verbal. None of them are acceptable, no one should ever have to experience any of it, and no one should ever partake in it.

Of course, not everyone who harasses people are males and not all those who get harassed are females; but because generally, women get more harassed than men and by men, I'll discuss this. Please know that I do not believe that all men are capable of harassment, and I do not think all women are victims of harassment.

Tuesday, December 4, 2012

Pashtun Marriages in the West - Part 4b: Misconceptions(b)

Continuing the discussion Misconceptions about Pashtun women raised in the West (the following are all Pashtun females' thoughts/experiences/observations, verbatim, on said misconceptions--in 2 cases, some personal information was removed so as to ensure that the identity of the speaker is not disclosed. Specifically, misconceptions or just impressions on the marriageable Pashtun girl who's raised in the West):

Sunday, December 2, 2012

Muslims' Beliefs on Relationships and Intimacy

Dear people,

Below, I'm pasting an email from a student who needs some respondents for her survey on Muslims' views on relationships and intimacy ("intimacy" = "sex" but I prefer to use "intimacy" in this email; the original email sent by the researcher is pasted below. And don't worry - this doesn't mean such relations outside of marriage, so please don't make any assumptions about the study or the person conducting it). Anyone interested in participating--entirely confidentially--should be between the ages of 18 and 35 and must be a resident or citizen of the U.S. or Canada.

Thank you for your support! Feel free to share it with others who you think might be interested in responding as well. The student has given her consent in sharing this as widely as possible.

Friday, November 30, 2012

Question about Traveling throughout India, Pakistan, Afghanistan

I just got this question, and I don't know the answer to it. I'll appreciate any responses to it.
One source says I can't travel through pakistan. I will check other sources, but what do you know? Im charting a route from india through pakistan to afghanistan, if not there then pakistan to oman across gulf of oman. I can fly if I have to but would prefer to travel across land. Any thoughts? Peace
Any suggestions, references, ideas will be greatly appreciated and forwarded to the questioner.


Wednesday, November 28, 2012

Rest in Peace ...

I just found out that the husband of a Pashtun woman I know (in the U.S.) has been killed by some robbers at his store (at 11am - but the killers apparently escaped, and from what I understand, no effort is being made to find them. I'm gonna wait a while before declaring this racial discrimination). I didn't know him or had ever met him, but I've met his wife and think very positively of her - but I'm still in shock, devastated myself. I keep thinking that if I feel this way, what must the family be going through? It makes me shudder thinking that death certainly can attack anyone at any time! One minute all's well and a person is alive and loved by everyone around them; the next minute, they're gone and everyone's crying over them. And to think of all the people we take for granted, those special people we forget to say "I love you" and "thank you" to when we should .... Inna lillahi wa inna ilaihi raaji'oon (to God we belong to and to Him we return). May he rest in peace, and may his family and other loved ones be blessed with patience to deal with this unbearable loss, aameen. Prayers, well wishes for the family are requested.

Wednesday, November 21, 2012

An Incomplete List of Books, Films on Pakistan History

When reading history--rather, anything at all--we should remember to read as many different versions as possible so as to get a bigger picture of the topic. Particularly when learning about the history of the formation of a state, we should be critical of everything we read and question the motives, the objectives and the agenda of the text. There are always at least two sides to every issue, and, without necessarily accepting or rejecting one or the other, we should at least familiarize ourselves with whatever is there so that our opinion is more informed.

I also suggest that we read more than one genre of historical writing to broaden our understanding of any particular historical event or phenomenon. These would include--besides books/textbooks--novels, movies/films, comics, letters, and so on. Each provides what the other may not, and they all can complement each other to give us a fuller, more closer to accurate depiction of the reality of something we're interested in learning about.

Below, I share a list of books and films on the history of Pakistan, and I ask that if there's any book/film out there that you think should be included in the list, please feel free to share it with us.


Tuesday, November 20, 2012

Lessons from MESA 2012: On Using Accessible Language

I was fortunate to attend MESA 2012 these last few days, and the so-many things that I learned from it, along with my overall experience and impression of the conference, are I think very much worth sharing on my blog.

Monday, November 19, 2012

Why Malala? Some Answers

Originally published on A Safe World for Women.

Since the discussion on "why Malala?" isn't coming to an end any time soon, I figured it's worth addressing. If you or someone you know can't figure out why Malala has become an international heroine, a beloved of everyone around the world, "just because" she was shot by the Taliban while all these thousands of innocent children get killed--not just shot--on a daily basis in war-torn areas haunted by the U.S. army (the colonialists), then what I'm writing below is especially for you.

Self-harm among Pashtun Women from KPK?

Dear readers,
I've a good friend who has sent me the following requests that I'm not well-read in enough to suggest anything to her, so I decided to share it here in case there's someone out there who might be able to help. Feel free to reply either below this post OR send an email to

So... I want to write about the prevalence of self-harm (due to various reasons) amongst Pashtun women in Khyber Pakhtunkhwa [KPK] amidst the current conditions and all the conflicts going on.... If you have any resources about where I might be able to find this information, please let me know.

S. =)
Any suggestions/recommendations will be greatly appreciated!

Thanks! :)

P.S. For self-harm on Afghan women in response to the war, please click here. It therefore makes sense that one would wonder how self-harm works in other war-torn areas as well.

Saturday, November 17, 2012

Photos (Messages) of Israel's Attacks on Palestine, November 2012

If what Israel is doing to Palestinians isn't terrorism, then I don't know what is. The politicization of death--murder--is unacceptable. It's no longer funny that we support some terrorism (i.e., when we fund it ourselves!) but not all. It's remarkable that children--CHILDREN, for God's sake, not terrorists!!!--are being killed, and the media makes it seem as if Israel is killing only terrorists! I was just reading some random headlines ... shaking my head the entire time, to almost each one. No, ignorants - Israel isn't fighting terrorists; it's killing innocent people who are victims of Israel's terrorism! 

As humans, as one human race, we need to accept responsibility for these war crimes and, at the very least, to speak against it. But yesterday, I overheard two students at my university talking about this. One was standing against Israel's war on Palestinians and the other was completely for it. His reason? "Look, I'm not saying Israel is entirely innocent, but neither is Palestine. We gotta get rid of the terrorists." I felt too numb, as much as I was dying to intervene and comment as well.

Terrorists? Really? In just the last couple of days, Israel has murdered over 221 Palestinians (all civilians!); 3 Israelis have been killed as well. And the 3 Israelis who've been killed are NOT civilians.

I'm compiling some photos I find powerful that I hope teach us all something. Again, if this isn't terrorism, I don't know what is. I understand that some of these images might be "graphic," but what else can a person due but to appeal to your sense of humanity. I'll add more as I come across them. Feel free to share your own ones if you'd like.

Gaza on fire. November 2012. Atatcked by Israel.

A beautiful and important reminder. Not all Jews are anti-love!

One of the many fathers who lost an infant (terrorist much?)

A reminder of our moral responsibility. What are YOU doing?

No, seriously.

SubhanAllah! Yes!

(Posted 1 day ago according to Google Images)
(Posted 1 day ago, according to Google Images)
God be with you, Gaza - humans are too afraid to speak the truth.
Smoke rises from Gaza 

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Israel Bombs Palestine--again. November 14, 2012

Sorry in advance about the font, readers. I'm not sure what's going on.

Today, Wednesday, November 14, 2012, Israel attacked Gaza--and the attack is still going on as I write this. What happened was, "Israeli air craft carried out more than 70 air strikes killing 11 Palestinians, among them two children and one woman. In addition, 100 others were wounded among them at least 15 children and 18 women, according to medics." In fact, it's been going on since November 8, almost a week ago. How do Israel and the U.S. media "justify" it? "Palestine attacked first," they tell us. (Sounds like something kids say, no? "She started it! .... He started it!" Clearly, not all of us grow up.) 

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

On the Lack of Pukhtun Women's Leadership - Part 2: the obstacles

A version of this article was originally published at Safe World for Women. Also at (in alphabetical order):

Recently on this blog, we discussed the lack of Pashtun (Pukhtun) women's leadership here, where folks from Twitter and Facebook offered some ideas on why there's this desperate lack of Pukhtun women leaders.  There, I stated that I believe the main obstacle to Pukhtun women's leadership is peghor, or "taunting" - the fear that people will talk and taunt a family for allowing its women to leave the confines of their homes. Here, I elaborate.

Please note that this was written weeks before the attack on Malala, and that's why she is not mentioned anywhere in it. That requires an article on its own, since it's a pity that there is a group among us that sees someone as young as Malala a threat to our religion and culture! So more on her another time, although I've talked about the attack on her here (Young Malala Yusufzai Shot), here (Praying for Malala), and here (How Not to Talk about Malala). 

Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Pashtun Marriages in the West - Part 4a: Misconceptions about Pashtun Women Raised in the West

This is part 4 of the Pashtun Marriages in the West series that began several months ago but have been neglected due to a lack of time (and because it's a bit overwhelming, since there's really so much to say about it!). The series addresses some possible causes to the problem of marriage among Western Pashtuns or among the Pashtun Diaspora. I believe--and many Pashtuns agree with me on this--that one of the major causes of the problems is the misconceptions that Pashtuns, whether in the West or "back home," have about Pashtun females who are raised in the West. Here, I'm going to quote some Pashtun females, some of whom live in the West and others in Pakistan/Afghanistan, whose main point is that, yes, there are some many unfair and incorrect ideas about Pashtun girls/women of the West out there, and something needs to be done to dispel these myths.

Sunday, November 11, 2012

Pashtuns and Blogging - Part 3: what to blog about?

Part 3 on Pashtuns and blogging.

The question being asked currently, after "challenges to Pashtun bloggers," is: what should Pashtun bloggers blog about? My response is as follows.

Let's rephrase the question so as to avoid telling people what to do or what to blog about (but I'll discuss below why there might be merit in "telling" Pukhtuns what to blog about, considering the facts that we have the world's eyes on us and that we've to be very careful about what we write for the public). Remember that one of the purposes of blogging is for the blogger to feel free enough to write about what she/he wants to write about; others can only make suggestions if/when the blogger seeks them or might benefit from them. Otherwise, it's inappropriate to give the author the impression that she/he isn't writing about important subjects just because the subjects they're writing about may not be of personal importance to us as their readers.

Friday, November 9, 2012

Malala in Context: Mullah Fazlullah and the Taliban in Swat - Part I

Below, I share an English version of Nazrana's series on Swat, the history of the Taliban in Swat, and Malala's rise in the region. It is an effort to situate Malala in a certain historical, political, and social context that appears to be ignored in much of the discourse surrounding Malala currently. Pashtuns, particularly those who were in Swat between 2005-2009, are encouraged to read and follow the series critically and offer any insight that may be useful in our ensuring that the history is as (close to) correct as possible.

This is Part I.

Monday, November 5, 2012

The Dream I Had about Maryam (Mary), Mother of Jesus

In a blog post from about a year ago, titled "Maryam, Mother of Jesus (r.), and Patience," I mentioned that my favorite Qur'anic figure is Maryam (may God be pleased with her), a reason for which is a dream I had about her when I was a kid.  And I promised my readers to share this dream in a separate blog post because it's a special and significant dream and deserves space of its own. So here, I am, finally fulfilling that promise, y'all! (Request: Please refrain from sharing any attempts at interpreting this dream. Thanks!)

Sunday, November 4, 2012

Pashtuns and Blogging - Part 2: the challenges

Previously, we've discussed why Pashtuns need to blog more, and we came up with at lest 5 major reasons (besides the more common reasons like: it's fun, it feels great to write down your feelings and thoughts and all, writing/blogging is a great medicine for the soul, etc.). So, here, we'll talk about what kinds of challenges are faced by Pashtuns during their blogging experience. I am not aware of all of them, so feel free to add more.

Saturday, November 3, 2012

Pashtuns and Blogging: Part 1 - 5 reasons why Pashtuns need to blog

VOA (Voice of America), Pashto, Deewa Radio recently started a series on blogging among Pashtuns, discussing reasons for why we should blog, what kinds of challenges bloggers face, what we think they should write about, what they write about, etc. And so this blog post is both to thank VOA for starting such an important program, especially considering how wide their audience is, and to encourage other Pashtuns to start blogging if they do not already. In this part, I'll only discuss some of the reasons why Pashtuns need to blog and why we need more Pashtun bloggers.

Monday, October 29, 2012

Saudi Arabia and the Destruction of Mecca and Medina

Lately, people have been tweeting and Facebooking about news articles with titles like "Medina: Saudi takes a bulldozer to Islam's history" and "Mecca for the Rich: Islam's holiest site turning into Vegas." To put it simply, Saudi Arabia is destroying Mecca and Medina for its selfish gains with absolutely no regards to Islam, Muslims, and, most importantly, the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) and his family. I'll try to give a brief history of Mecca and Medina as holy sites and then explain Saudi Arabia's role and position among Muslims and why what they're doing to Mecca and Medina is dangerous, problematic, and absolutely hypocritical.

Wednesday, October 24, 2012

The Republican Guide to Rape: the so-many different categories of rape!

This is quite disturbing. Apparently, there are so many more different categories of rape than just "legitimate" and "non-legitimate" rapes out there. Following are just a few, I'm sure; I expect a few more from future conversations with more (Republican) politicians. If you're so shocked that you don't believe any of them, or you doubt that any human can possibly utter such comments, Google them up. Fortunately, few people take rape issues lightly, and many have made a huge deal out of anything insensitive (hah! to put it mildly!) that politicians say about rape.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Another Fantasy Fulfilled - a (love) poem

Yay! I managed to write a love poem after months! #success

Another Fantasy Fulfilled

A cloud of warm breath
In His every touch
O' forbidden passions!
Wrapped in His whispers of love
In a decade of unfulfilled desires
Now becoming insatiable needs
In unreachable grasps
He becomes me, I become Him
We become One
Resistance is no longer a virtue
This love is now sacred
What else could cause this glow
But relishing in forbidden pleasures
Ahh - We're freed from the forbidden!
Songs of love and passion
Whispered by each breath of Yours
Thrills of passion
Carving themselves on Us with every touch
And I dance to Him, slowly, slowly
As I sway my hips like this
He watches with a lustful gaze
Filling his eyes with forbidden desires
Like a gushing of the wild, wild sea
A rustling of autumn leaves
And the whistling of of the tender wind
As We recline in carpets of lush grass
And the rain pours on
Another fantasy fulfilled!
With another touch, another embrace in the rain!
Let the dove swim in the cool Spring breeze
All's well with the world again!
The heavens are calm again!
We are One again!

~ qrratugai

Monday, October 15, 2012

Dear Madonna, your strip tease for Malala was really uncool.

In a concert a couple of days ago, the American singer Madonna briefly talked to her audience about the Pashtun heroine Malala Yusufzai. She has the name MALALA tattooed on her lower back. But she gave a strip tease to a cheering crowd before her speech. She says:
In Pakistan, a 14-year-old girl was shot in the neck for writing a blog about the importance of being educated as a female. She was shot on her school bus because she wrote a blog about how passionate she was about going to school. She is in a hospital right now. Let's all pray she's gonna make it. [pause] Her name is Malala. And this is for all the girls around the world who deserve to have a voice.
And so here's a response to Madonna.

Tuesday, October 9, 2012

Young Malala Yusufzai Shot: praying for her safe recovery

My Facebook feed and my Twitter wall are both filled with news report about Malala Yusufzai's attack, and, really, sometimes nothing is worse than waking up to such tragic news. According to news reports, she was shot by a group of Pakistani extremist and violent organization known as the Tehreek-e-Taliban Pakistan (TTP) today, Tuesday, October 9th 2012 as she left school with friends. The "reason" of her shooting was apparently that she is "a secularly-minded lady"--and the shooters intend to re-attack her if she survives this almost lethal shooting.She was hit in the head, but the bullets missed her brain, and the doctors say that she has a chance of recovery. I ask friends of peace and humanity to please pray for her safe and quick recovery because her loss, may God forbid it, will be a major loss for the whole world, not just for her race, the Pashtuns.

Monday, October 8, 2012

Sexualization of Young Women, Part 2: Dil Raj, Pashtun women, and Universal Gender-Related Double Standards

I promised I'd continue my discussion on the sexualization of (young) women, which I started here, defining the term "sexualization" or to "sexualize" someone and what is wrong with it.

Saturday, October 6, 2012

"Love InshAllah" so far! Part I

I finally-- finally!-- got my hands on the "controversial" book called Love InshAllah: The Secret Love Lives of American Muslim Women.

Since I don't get the time to sit down and read it all the way through (though it's the kind of book that once you start it, you can't get yourself to put it down), I'm reading just a couple of stories a night before sleeping. I knew before I started the book that I'd love it, enjoy it immensely, and recommend it to others, so feel free to think I'm just being biased because I support the mere idea of "telling your story," sharing narratives that normalize you and humanize you, experiences that are shared by everyone else around you but that, because of constant shitty talks like, "Dude, move on!" you're scared of talking about your story because to still talk about it is apparently to show that you've broken apart, that you cannot move on, that you're weak, and so on.

On the contrary, each of the story in this edited volume presents the female Muslim American writer as a strong woman who has not let her heartbreaks break her; in fact, they have empowered her. I'm very much enjoying the conclusion paragraph(s) of each story, because sometimes the writer says something you might not expert her to say. There are no regrets, even though some of the stories are so heartbreaking that you wonder how these girls and women mustered the courage to share such intimate stories in public.

Sunday, September 30, 2012

Discussion Questions for "Gender & Sexuality in Islam" Course - Week 3

For a previous set of questions for the same class, please click here.

Readings for the following questions are: "Yoesuf: An Islamic Idea with Dutch Quality" by Omar Nahas, and "'Yes, But Suppose Everyone Turned Gay?": The Structure of Attitudes toward Gay and Lesbian Rights among Islamic Youth in Belgium" by Marc Hooghe, Yves Dejaeghere, Ellen Claes, and Ellen Quintelier

Now, the Questions.

Monday, September 24, 2012

The Islamophobic, anti-Palestinian ad - the problems with it

The ad that is to appear in NY subways starting Monday, Sept. 24th
I condemned this ad, which is to appear in NY subways this Monday but has already been displayed in SF and other major cities at least since August 2012, on my Facebook page, and someone asked me what was racist about it or why it needed to be criticized in the first place. In case anyone else out there has a similar question, this is what I think.

I don't think that's worthy of a response, but I'll go ahead and reply anyway.
You see, every ad has a message, and to think this ad's message is just a pro-Israel stand is to choose to conveniently ignore the actual message. If this were merely a pro-Israel ad, there'd hardly be an issue--and we come across those kinds of messages all around us. This ad takes its message to a deeper level, one that sends the message that one side of this war (a human group) is the savage, the other side (also a human group) civilized. I'd deem this racist regardless of which groups the ad was referring to, be it that the Israeli side were the one being declared the savage and the Palestinian the civilized.

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Discussion Questions for a Gender/Sexuality & Islam course - week 2

       So I'm TAing (and sometimes teaching) this class on Islam & Sexuality, which means a ton of fascinating and enlightening material. Sometimes controversial, too--but that's okay since, remember: I love controversy.

The course is assigned under an umbrella of several "controversial" courses offered by our university, with the objective of teaching students how to hold debates, how to listen to and acknowledge a different perspective without necessarily adopting it. It's a beautiful and engaging class, with intelligent and enthusiastic students who seem to be enjoying it as much as I am. It's one of those classes where you can bet your exotic eyes that you'll never hear silence!

Monday, September 17, 2012

How #MuslimRage became a Twitter Trend: a lesson for Newsweek and other news publications

Earlier this morning, Newsweek made a terrible mistake: "The magazine’s newest controversial cover, blaring the headline “Muslim Rage,” has readers in an uproar and social media in a tizzy," LA Times says. The idea is very clear, at least to me and many other Muslims and many non-Muslims: This is what Muslim rage looks like. Look what they did in response to that shallow 'film' that looks like a 1st-grade skit--only, probably even the 1st graders would have done a better job.

What's worse, the magazine features Ayan Hirsi Ali, an ex-Muslim female who has unfortunately become an authority on everything "Islam & Women" or "Muslim women" in Western media; her book The Caged Virgin, which I must remember to write a review of one of these days, is a lamely written book in which she basically argues that Islam inherently oppresses women and that no intelligent woman, no woman with a brain should be a Muslim. To "help" the women who are Muslim despite having a brain that they know how to use quite well, she offers some bits and pieces of advice on how to leave Islam--rather, on how to "survive" Islam. She's no academic and no scholar, so I cannot expect her to write anything about Islam and/or Muslim women in which she acknowledges the diverse experiences of Muslims as well as the multiple interpreations of the topic of "women's rights/roles in Islam." But it's a pity she's deemed a hero in the West just because of her views on Islam and women. Of  course, this is not to dismiss her own experiences with Muslims and/or Islam, and I think they're just as valuable as any other Muslim's experiences--but that's my point: her experiences are no more valuable than any other person; yet, she's valorized in and by the West to an extent I really cannot understand.

Sunday, September 16, 2012

"Islamic" Rulings on Muslim lesbians' Interactions with Other Muslim Women

A Google Image (not mine)
I've often wondered what the Islamic injunctions are on lesbian Muslims' interactions with other (Muslim) women. When around female homosexuals, can heterosexual Muslim females show their hair and other body parts that're allowed to be seen by other women? What exactly is their legal status in Islamic thought? I know they're not "supposed to exist," so, to my knowledge as of now, no discussion of female homosexuality exists in early/medieval scholarship, but what about today? Would they be treated as "males" (God, this sounds so wrong to say! But I promise I have a point. Just read on. Thankz.), since they, like heterosexual males, can be attracted to females, or are they still treated as females? But speaking of attraction ... actually, turns out, Islamic scholarship allows people to be attracted to or to desire someone of the same sex--just don't act upon that desire. We'll talk about this in another blog entry, though. For now, dear qrratu, please just stick to this issue of homosexuality among Muslims and how they are to "behave" around others, especially of members of the same sex and/or gender.

According to the Islamic rules on gender interaction, women are required to cover only from navel to knee when around other women. Men have to cover from navel to knee wherever they are, whether around women or men. But the idea behind the women's ruling is that they may have to nurse a child in the company of other women, so to forbid them from showing their chests, too, would cause them unease in such situations. They therefore do not have to cover their chest even when not breastfeeding.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Voice-dubbing in the anti-Muhammad/anti-Islam film, "Innocence of Muslims"

I finally forced myself to go ahead and watch that pathetic "film," Innocence of Muslims. The anti-Muhammad, anti-Islam, anti-Muslim crap. I certainly think it's an insult to films to consider this a film. It is so horrible! The performance, the plot, the structure--everything about it is hideous. I cannot believe anyone has been taking this thing seriously enough to even kill people over it! I'm so surprised it's even regarded as a film!

Monday, September 10, 2012

On Pukhtun Females' Participation in the Larger Society

On Sunday, September 2nd 2012 (just a week ago), in northern Virginia, close to Washington, DC, there was a Pashto/Pashtun conference, hosted by the Pashtun American Cultural Association (PACA). I wanted to attend it but was unable to due to certain circumstances. Now I wish I had left everything behind and gone and spoken at this event just because one of the only two female Pukhtuns who spoke there is a friend of mine who has now been receiving all sorts of abusive messages/emails for standing up in front of an almost all-male crowd and giving a voice to Pukhtun women! Her speech has become an Internet sensation; in it, she questioned the absence and the participation of females in the event. She  made some other really important and intelligent comments as well, things that we must not expect a Pukhtun girl to say, apparently. She has been receiving constant attacks, insults, taney, etc. from Pukhtun males (and one female so far, she says), who have been telling her that she basically has no right to speak about Pukhtun women's issues! They tell her she doesn't understand the issues of Pukhtun women, and I don't understand why? She was born and raised in Swat! She completed her education in the UK and is currently living in Washington, D.C. Her Pukhto is perfect (both written and spoken). She is a lawyer by training, very well-educated, very opinionated, very cultured. This girl is Nazrana.

On the Youtube video and the FB ones, people are talking about her clothing. She is dressed in modest pants and shirt. Hold on a second there - how dare we talk about HER clothing when most of the males who attended and spoke at this event were also wearing pants and shirt? If all the attendees were wearing traditional kamis-partug (shalwar-kameez), I'd understand if people expect her to do the same, but otherwise, you fail!!

To all those who are attacking her and her husband just because she appeared and spoke brilliantly in public:
You know what your problem is, Pukhtano sarro? It is that you lack the intellect to be able to sit down with a well-educated woman to address the issues facing our society. So you instead talk of what she's wearing. (It's just like when, during the Olympics, black women were talking about how "Gabby Douglas needs a nice hair-do," completely ignoring her achievement as an accomplished gymnast!) Address her comments. Address her critique of our society, of our practices, of the double standards in our society. Why're you ignoring her message, the content of her speech, and highlighting only what she was or was not wearing? You're pathetic.

Another of your problems is that you are a beghairata (coward) piece of shit who is SO insecure, SO weak, SO dumb that you are afraid to see a woman advance in front of your eyes; you find her a threat to our society because the thought of you falling behind a *woman* is an insult to your manhood. You're pathetic.

One of the best, most important, most beautiful things she said--at the very beginning--was that when she was in Manchester (UK), with a strong Pukhtun community, she'd be invited by the Pukhtun males there to attend their jirga (council) meetings. She'd attend, see that she was the only female there, and they'd praise her for being the only female there and say, "Kaash [we wish], there were more Pukhtun ladies like you!" So she'd respond to them, "Oh yeah? Then where are your wives? Your daughters, sisters, mothers? Why aren't they here?"  She also discussed the need for Pukhtun females to speak for their own selves, instead of being spoken FOR. Really, we can think for ourselves! We can represent ourselves quite well. Pukhtun women don't need representatives, especially when they are men from their own families--because they don't want their women to be spoken about, so they'll never bring them up in public! It is an insult to a man's honor to have his wife/sister be mentioned in public.

And perhaps that's why people are also attacking her husband. Seriously? Could you GET any cheaper than that? You're pathetic.

And then responses to her speech include cowardly things like: "No, we don't want our women to be like you." Wait a minute - are you kidding me? Who the hell put you in charge to decide what we Pukhtun women want and what we don't want? You have no right to be speaking for us! We can and we will speak for ourselves.

Regarding her comment about how those males would not bring along their own daughters/wives/sisters/mothers to these gatherings but expect OTHER Pukhtun girls/women to attend: aaaahhh - this double standard! This backwardness!
This is how it works: our men want other women (Pukhtun women!) to attend these events and to become public leaders and to help improve the conditions of our women, but they don't want their own women (wives, sisters, daughters) to appear in public at all. De ta beghairati wayi! This is cowardice. But, folks, it's nothing new! Where were you when me and a ton of other Pukhtun girls were talking about this non-stop on Twitter just about a month or so ago? And I've written about it on my blog before as well -- on what exactly Pukhtun men mean when they say, "We respect our women!" Here's the link. Nazrana only reminded us of this hypocrisy of us. It's a fact. It's a reality. And the fact that you attacked her for it PROVES it: you know it's true, and you're so ashamed of yourself, you're so regretful that God ever blew breath into that filthy, musty soul of yours that you would rather attack the person who tells you of your flaw rather than to try to correct yourself. Yes, you're just pathetic.

In a Puhktun society, this may be justified--although it should never be justified no matter what: every woman, every human should be respected as her/his own person and should enjoy the right to wear whatever makes them feel most comfortable. If in the Pashtun society, a woman feels more comfortable covering her whole body, so be it; if outside of it, she feels the same way, so be it. But each woman is different, and especially in the West, we have the right, the opportunity, and the freedom to wear what *we* want. When we live in the West, it makes no sense for us to be denied positions of leadership or just the space to speak for ourselves at all. To those who kept saying she should instead work for women inside Pakistan/Afghanistan: No, she doesn't have to be Pakistan or Afghanistan to make a difference. We women in the west have very, very serious problems as well, and we all do what we can to help each other and to bring awareness of our problems. One of our main problems? Even in a society where we CAN participate in the larger society, our husbands are not willing to let us out of our houses while they themselves enjoy events like these! Pukhtuns need to urge their wives and sister and daughters and other female family members to speak like this, to think like this, to challenge societal norms that are hurting them and hence the rest of society.

I'm not saying we (Pukhtun women in the West) matter more than those back home; on the contrary, I think we have so many rights and privileges here that would delight my heart to see granted also to my sisters there. But my point is that while we're living here, why not do what we can to help improve our conditions here as well? Again, in the Western context, where the woman's participation in the larger society is all around us and doesn't have any serious obstacles, why should Pukhtun women feel left behind? Here, we have the resources, the space to advance--why not utilize them all?

I worry for the future of Pukhtun women, especially those in the West. Even in the West, having lived here for years and decades, we are denied positions of leadership? Exactly on what grounds?

The fact that there were very few females who attended this event speaks for itself. Yet, it was full of males. Why? Why is it okay for my brother and my father and my son to attend these things, but I, an equally significant member of their household and of this society we all share together, am not tolerated at this same event?
Why could all the male members of my family attend this event, but I, a female, cannot or am discouraged (if not outright forbidden!) from attending as well? If they attend for the social aspect of it--to meet with other Puhktuns in the community--why can't I go for the same reason? Why can't I also go to enjoy myself? Why is there no space for me? Who's going to create the space for me to attend these things so I can be heard? I'm sick of being invisible! it is no honor, Pukhtun men, to keep your women behind the veil 24'7; if your honor depends on whether or not she is seen or heard in public, you have no honor to begin with.

And especially to all those Pukhtun men who came to this event and support women's voice and women's leadership and all: where the hell were/are your women? Why didn't you bring along your wife/sister/daughter/mother, too? Charity begins at home. We can't keep on expecting "other women" (the ones who you don't hesitate to label "sluts"!) to be of service to "our women." When it comes to serving your own nation and people, there's no such thing as "mine" and "yours"; everyone, each of us--both the men and the women--belong to the nation. We live in a world now where women have made it the moon; we can no longer afford to prevent our women from achieving their dreams and goals, especially those that are going to help our nation and people.

What do we learn from all of this, from the abuses that Nazrana continues to receive from Puhktuns? What can I, a Pukhtun female who hopes to be a serious, active participant of the Pukhtun society in the U.S., learn from this? This: "Qrratugai, don't ever, ever appear in public, don't ever, ever speak in public because your own people, the "mighty" Pukhtuns, continuously strive to do everything in their power to insult you, to insult your father's and your husband's and your brother's honor, to accuse you of being a slut just because you attended a Pukhtun gathering and spoke up in it." Am I likely to let this be an obstacle? No. But it's very distressing to know that this is precisely why we do this to each other: we can't tolerate to see even our own people doing something big for the world; it just angers us, it makes us jealous, it makes us wish we were in their place--and since we're not in their place, why not just insult them? Why not just send them and their husbands abusive emails and messages?

You, all of you Pukhtun men, are just as unsafe in our society as we women are as long as you see our education, our leadership, our advancement as a threat to OUR society! As long as women are denied the right to lead, to think, to speak, our men have NO right and NO reason to call themselves gharati (brave). And our men, too, are thus not safe in such a society. How can you see yourself as safe when you are possibly among the most insecure men on earth?

As for the few Pukhtun men who were brave enough to bring along their wives/daughters/sisters and to the ones who have no problem watching a Pukhtun woman, a woman of their race and nation, be able to speak up and discuss some serious, real issues: BRAVO! Now that's real ghairati! You're secure and having another man acknowledge the fact that your wife/daughter/mother/sister is a living human being is no insult to your honor. You are so secure that the ignorant remarks of other Pukhtun males about the fact that your wife/mother/sister/daughter exists and can walk and talk (and God forbid, THINK!) doesn't offend you, doesn't insult you; it's just a waste of their breath and has no effect on you or your masculinity or your manhood or your honor. Now, that's real honor there. We need more men like you. Thank your for living. The qrratugai wishes you and your family many, many blessings and much happiness and peace. Aameen.

Now, kindly, someone, please translate this whole blog post to Pukhto so that those who desperately need to be reminded of all this can access it as well. Thankz.

Sunday, September 9, 2012

The Phenomenon of the "satanic verses" in Islamic History

Back in 1988, when Salman Rushdie published his novel The Satanic Verses, he earned the wrath of most Muslims worldwide, and Imam Khomeini of Iran, the leader of the Iranian Revolution and an authority for Shi' Muslims, issued a death fatwa against Rushdie as a result. Rushdie eventually apologized to Muslims and apparently reverted to Islam (he was born and raised a Muslim but left Islam later on). 

Most Muslims have not read this book. Most non-Muslims who have read this book wanted to read it mostly to see what the hell the controversy was about, but -- oh here's a shocker -- they didn't get it. They didn't get what the fuss was about. Why? Because they lacked even the most rudimentary knowledge about Islam, the Qur'an, the Prophet, Muslims, and Islamic history. They didn't know the characters that Rushdie was playing with. They didn't know the real names of the characters and not the caricatures that Rushdie creates for his novel. (I'll write about the book, the plot, the characters in a separate blog post when I'm finished with the book.) So they just didn't get it. As for the Muslims, most believe (are told) that the book is an attack on Islam.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Todd Akin and Rape: Dear Mr. Akin, I want you to imagine ...

In a recent interview on rape and abortion, Representative Todd Akin of Missouri, who's the Republic candidate for the Missouri State race, said:
First of all, from what I understand from doctors, (pregnancy from rape) is really rare. If it’s a legitimate rape, the female body has ways to try to shut that whole thing down.

"Thing"? What "thing" is he talking about? And how dare he! And what exactly is "legitimate" rape? Is there really such a thing as an illegitimate rape? Does he not know that, as President Obama responded, "rape is rape"? Someone forcibly entering another person, violating their body, attacking their dignity, destroying their life, ruining their sense of confidence, ripping them of their right and freedom to say NO? Naa, it's just a "thing" we're talking about here, and who'd know better than Akin himself how a rape victim can shut the whoooole thing down! Oh, wait a minute - he's never been raped. Heck, he doesn't even know what rape is! Because, obviously, some people do have a right to violate another person's body. I wonder who those people are and when they can have that right. Perhaps a husband forcing himself on a wife? Perhaps an individual abusing his position of authority to force himself on an individual with a lower position? I don't know--I can't imagine when rape can ever be okay. I can't imagine who wouldn't let go once they're told "NO"; I can't imagine who doesn't know that NO really actually does mean NO. You're not wanted inside someone, don't go in, you unwelcomed dirty piece of shit. And, surprise surprise--most rapists are people that the victim knows very well, like a boyfriend, husband, father, uncle, etc. Yes, you read that correct - a husband can rape his wife, and that happens whenever he forces himself on her, like when she's unwilling, uncomfortable, maybe not ready. And so on!!!!

You, Todd Akin, are destroying the life of the mother of the unborn child of rape in order to save the life of that unborn child of rape.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

Why the lack of Pukhtun Women's Leadership - Part I

I've been asking Pukhtuns on Twitter and Facebook what they think are some of the major obstacles to Pukhtun women's leadership--i.e., why is there a lack of leadership among Pukhtun women? Why are they threatened and, in some cases (re: Farida Afridi, Malalai Kakar), killed? Why is our society (both men AND women) intimidated by a woman's voice, a woman's leadership, a woman's presence? Why do we feel the need to make the woman feel invisible?

I have my own thoughts on this (peghor (basically, people's talks and taunts, intended solely to offend someone's honor), shame, honor, lack of confidence--I don't think education has much to do with it), which can be accessed via SafeWorldForWomen. But until then, these are some of the responses I've received. More are still welcomed and appreciated!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Pashtun Personality of the Week: Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, the Non-Violent Soldier of Islam

Update (November 5, 2014)

Dear readers,

Thank you for visiting! I've moved this blog post on Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan (also known as Bacha Khan or Badshah Khan) to my new blog over at Wordpress. Please click here to access it.


Monday, August 13, 2012

Hiroshima Tragedy's 67th Anniversary: "Dad, which terrorist group did THAT?"

I think this picture is so telling it deserves its own post. Talk about double standards, hypocrisy, injustice ...  I'll write on the the tragedy of Hiroshima/Nagasaki soon, but for now ... let us just pause to think about this. Go, America. Go. I wonder how the father was able to muster the courage to tell his child, "Son ... that would be America...." with his head hanging in shame, I imagine? ... My heart goes out to all those who have been destroyed in the name of politics (U.S. destroying innocent peoples of other countries), in the name of religion (the case with Muslim, Christian, Jewish, Buddhist, Hindu, and other religious violence), white chauvinism (colonialism! The wiping out of entire religions and cultures and races, such as the natives of the Americas and Australia and the enslavement of almost entire races, such as many in Africa), and so many other forms of terrorism and injustices it breaks one's heart to realize what kind of a world we live in ...

Peace to us all, anyway.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

When Zakir Naik Said Every Muslim Should be a Terrorist

Zakir Naik once said in one of his lectures to a thousands-of-people audience, "If he [Osama bin Laden] is terrorizing the terrorist, if he's terrorizing America, the biggest terrorist, I'm with him. Every Muslim should  be a terrorist! The thing is that if he's terrorizing the terrorist, then he's following Islam." The video I'm citing here is not complete, but it still gives you an idea of what he's talking about and what he's trying to answer: a question on whether Osama bin Laden's terroristic activities are Islamic and acceptable or not, and whether Naik agrees with them (I presume? I forget what the original question was; heard it years ago and totally not willing to go through it again). I'm not going to go into the politics of terrorism, Bin Laden, and U.S. former (good) relations with Bin Laden, but I want to talk about something else here: Naik's ludicrousness in saying that "every Muslim should be a terrorist."

Monday, August 6, 2012

Child Sexual Abuse - Part I: how my Quran teacher sexually abused girls

Dear readers,

Thank you for visiting! I have moved this post on child sexual abuse to my new blog over at wordpress. Please click below to access it. Thank you!

How my Qur’an Teacher Sexually Abused Girls

Monday, July 30, 2012

A Follow-up on Farida Afridi's Loss: via A Safe World for Women

I'd like to share some important follow-up messages regarding Farida Afridi, who was killed just a couple of weeks ago on July 6th 2012. May she rest in peace, and may her legacy live on forever. Aameen.

I have noticed that Farida Afridi got what appears to be the most support from A Safe World for Women, a field partner of SAWERA, the organization that Farida Afridi co-founded and sacrificed her life for. According to their website,
The Safeworld International Foundation is an independent non-governmental organisation which works with grassroots organisations and promotes the rights of women and children.
Their support and their admiration for Farida Afridi (and for women like Afridi) puts me to shame. As a Pashtun woman, if not just as a Pashtun, I should be making sure that Farida Afridi's murder is not forgotten, that she gets justice, that our future leaders like her don't face the same fate, but while I'm sitting in my comfortable home worrying about things that really are too trivial compared to this, there are people across the world for me who are still thinking about Farida Afridi. They are still writing about it, raising funds for the organization and other organizations with similar goals towards peace and justice for all but especially women and children, and they're still trying so hard to get endorsements from established organizations worldwide so that the voice against Farida Afridi's murder as well as the threat to other human rights defenders will be taken more seriously.

Friday, July 27, 2012

Lyrics and English Translation of Da Loyo Loyo Qudratuno Rabba

This is one of my most favorite Pashto songs ever. This is the kind of music, the kind of poetry I like and live for. I like sincerity. I like truth. I like intimate conversations with God. I like the openness of the poet/speaker with her/his God.
ده لویو لویو قدرتونو ربہ
یوتمنا ده اوریدے شے که نہ
O' dear Lord of great bounties!
Can you spare a moment to hear a wish of mine?

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

On the Sexualization and Objectification of Young Women

Some time ago, I went googling for "cute Pashtun girls" pictures and, whaddaya know, I come across these sickening sites that totally sexuality and dehumanize Pashtun women--and all other women.

I was looking for "cute" pictures of little Pashtun girls (prepubescent) who were NOT being displayed as "attractive, hot Pashtun beauties" because I find that very demeaning to women. (Warning: I would very gladly castrate any man who looks at my daughter or any other young girl in front of me with a lustful gaze.) I wanted and still want pictures of innocent, cute little Pashtun girls to put as my display pictures on Twitter and Facebook. I actively watch the American police/crime TV show Law and Order-SVU (which features all sorts of crimes committed against girls and women, including underage girls), and yet, I am foolish enough to falsely believe that a little girl cannot be sexualized, that she cannot be put on a display so as to satisfy a pervert's sexual urges. I should've known better than to expect to find pictures, really, of cute little Pashtun/Afghan girls! So disappointed in humanity. All over again.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

The Colorado Mass Shooting - Terrorism Much?

I will never understand murder. Why do people kill? Heck, why do people harm other people, whether physically or emotionally or psychologically? It just doesn't make sense to me!

And what's worse is when someone kills a mass of people! And I really hate simplifying this because I know that murder is a very complicated thing--hatred is a very complicated thing. And I'm so sorry for anyone who bears this much hatred in their hearts and minds. How do they live? Perhaps this is why they kill - they feel like it's the only way to let it out. I'm even sorrier for that kind of people.

Friday, July 20, 2012

Pashtun Marriages in the West--Part III: visa marriages

In an earlier post on the problem of marriage among Pashtuns in the West, I wrote, "Pashtun girls from the West having to marry men back home so that the men can come to the West! Western Pashtun girls being used and abused as entries to the West ...."
if a Pashtun girl refuses the proposal or marriage to a cousin/someone back home who's never been to the West, her family and relatives will accuse her of being selfish: "You know very well that life is hell for men there. They can't find a job, they can't get good education, they can't do ANYTHING. You HAVE to marry this guy if you care at all about the honor of this family or of your roots and people. Shame on you if you don't." This is how we're emotionally blackmailed.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Pashtun Personality of the Week: Malalai of Maiwand

Dear readers,
This post (on one of the most legendary women in Afghan history - Malalai of Maiwand) has been transferred over to my new blog. Please click below to access it.

Pashtun Personality of the Week: Malalai of Maiwand, the Heroine of the Second Anglo-Afghan War


Sunday, July 15, 2012

Pashtun Marriages in the West -- Part II: on "imported" brides & the issue of incompatibility

In a recent post on the problem of marriage among Pashtuns in the West, I discussed a couple of the problems that Pashtuns in the West face when the time to marry comes. I pointed out that most Pashtun families take their sons back home to marry Pashtun girls from their village/nearby community who they believe would be the archetypal "good" Muslim and Pukhtana--e.g., submissive to her in-laws and husband, isn't "too" educated or well-educated, doesn't think about working, and so on. She is much less of a threat to the family, many believe, than the average Pashtun girl raised in the West. But for their own daughters, these same families want good Pashtun men who are well-educated in the West and who have excellent/great/respectable jobs. So I concluded:
What they don’t seem or want to realize is that just as they want their sons, our brothers, to marry barely educated young girls who are in their late teens or early twenties at the latest, most other Pashtun mothers want the same thing for their sons, too. Where does that leave us Pashtun girls? It’s not like anyone’s going to let us marry a non-Pashtun man! But what else are we supposed to do if there are no single Pashtun men around who are compatible for us, or if they can’t marry us because their mothers want them to marry younger girls from back home?
That, I think, is the problem of marriage among the Pashtun diaspora--being compelled (pressured, forced, having no other choice because of a lack of "availability of Pashtuns raised in the West, etc.) to marry someone culturally, mentally, personally, intellectually incompatible who's "imported" (and I hate this word) from back home. 
 Having identified that as the basic problem, I continue my discussion here, one point at a time! (Promise!)

Wednesday, July 11, 2012

The Woman's Inherent Power: why society subjugates her

I have decided that the world is intimidated by women (yeah, yeah, not like we didn’t know that already). But I finally see why!

Firstly, we (women) have the power to create what is called fitnah, or social chaos, which men apparently are incapable of causing by themselves. That’s why we have to cover up, especially our heads, because when we don’t, men apparently fall in love with us, and hell is let loose – i.e., families are torn apart, hearts are broken, men go to hell, etc., etc. When we’re covered, all is apparently well in the world. So women are obviously powerful enough to destroy the world. This is negative power.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

On Pashtun Women's Activism: RIP, Farida Afridi!

Farida Afridi, a Pashtun human and women's rights leader and activist in Khyber Pashtunkhwa (Pakistan), was killed last Friday, July 6th 2012. It hurts to say out loud, "Another Pukhtana killed because of her work." How is one not to feel angry knowing that our society has yet to figure out how to utilize women's voice and skills because, for the past several millennia, few if any societies viewed women as anything more than child-bearing sex machines? 

Farida Afridi
She was the 25-year-old founder of a women-led organization, SAWERA, the Society for Appraisal and Women Empowerment in Rural Areas; according to their website, their vision is: "To develop a just society based on equality, indiscrimination, honor and dignity, peace and security for all and where individual are respected without status, tribe, ethnicity or religion." While the organization works to empower women, it hasn't limited its efforts and activism to women alone and is in fact working for the betterment of our society as a whole. It has given equal focus to the youth as well.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Pashtun Marriages in the West – Part I: The Problem(s)

Continuing the series on marriage among Pashtuns in the West. 

*Disclaimer: The topic of this post is marriage among Pashtuns raised in the West with those who are raised back home (Afghanistan/Pakistan/Pukhtunkhwa). Please note that I'm not talking about those marriages that take place between two partners (one from the West, one from back home) who choose the marriage knowing well in advance that they were both willing to reconcile their major differences because they love each other. Some of these couples, I know them personally, are happily engaged (a couple of them are married as well), and I hope that this post will not be offensive to you! No :) I hope and pray very sincerely that you live lifetimes of happiness, love, and peace with each other and that you are blessed in every way possible!

Just thought I should make that clear since I fear some might misunderstand my point and observations. I'm also speaking *generally*, not taking any individual cases into consideration. If you've an exceptional case, please do share it with us--anonymously so, if you'd prefer.

The main problem that leads to much frustration among young Pashtun women and men is that our parents raise us (boys and girls) here in the west, educating us here, allowing us to be exposed to different lifestyles and a different culture, new ways of thinking and seeing things – but when we’re “of age” to marry, they take us to Pakistan/Afghanistan to get married. Their intentions are, of course, positive, and I’ll discuss those momentarily as well. But for now, I want to explain why this leads to problems and troubles for the couples involved in the marriage. 

Monday, July 2, 2012

Does the Qur'an Speak Directly to Women?: The Qur'an's Audience as Essentially Male

Last year, I blogged on the issue of the Quran’s “audience,” which I argued was males only, women are never directly addressed in there, women are only talked “about” never “to,” and when a guideline/message is being given to women, men are asked to convey it to them. 

So for the past several months, I’ve been trying to find some Muslim scholars who address this issue, and someone recommended Farid Esack in a discussion on a different topic, and so I decided to read him. I was so, SO delighted and relieved to see that he brings up this problem of audience (he argues that the Qur’an’s “essential audience is male”), although he only mentions it and doesn’t discuss what all it actually means, or what it could mean for Muslim female readers of the Qur’an.

Even Umm Salama, the Prophet's inquisitive wife, asked him once, "How come the Qur'an never talks to women?" And in response, according to the Islamic tradition, 33:35 was revealed, which says that "Women who believe and men who believe, women who are pious and men who are pious, ... women who are patient and men who are patient, for them is great reward." But even this verse doesn't actually speak to women; it talks about them like it talks about men. The other verses, all on gender/sexuality/marriage issues,  talk about women to men with men as the medium. "Approach YOUR wives ...," "Don't marry ...; marry ..."; "Treat your wives with ..."; "your wives are your ...," "when you divorce your wives, ...," and so on. 

Just clarifying that that's what I mean when I say it doesn't talk TO women but talks ABOUT them. Big difference. Other times, the Qur'an will start off talking about/to all people (or so we're told), but then change its audience to men alone. Examples are below. So why should we think that even the beginning of those verses are for all people?

Friday, June 29, 2012

Swat Experience 2011: my pics are gone!!!!

I have been going through the photos I took in Swat (summer 2011 trip), and I realize I still haven't discussed so much of what I'd promised my readers I would! [[Wait, WAIT!!! I've lost most of my pictures!! They were somehow deleted from my hard drive, and I even installed Pandora Recovery in a futile effort to recover them, but I've been successful in recovering only a few! It's SO heartbreaking because I took thousands of pics of virtually everything and anything that came my way--including the first bowl I drank water in, cow dung, our chickens and other animals, a mother wiping the nose of her baby son with her chador/chadar/sazar/hijab, something called "nazar panra" that my aunts had to do on me when I got sick  there because they were worried that someone must have given their niece the evil eye, a little "dolai" that my uncles and grandpa made for me when I was ill because they didn't want the flies and other bugs to bother me ... and other random but totally awesome things like this! The only pics that are left are the ones I've already posted on this blog and the ones I've posted on Youtube. Fortunately, all of the videos I made there are still on my PC. Just not the pics. You've no idea how frustrating and horrible it feels, okay!!!!

Ahhhh!!! They're gone now, dunya!! ALL GONE!!!! Lemme just saw a few more things and then I'll go cry a few buckets of tears and then some more.

So I wanted to tell y'all that I was supposed to have written on my experience in Swat. People keep asking me, and I keep having to repeat the same things... though I often find myself unsure about how exactly I felt there. I'll explain that in another post ('cause I just got depressed all over again remembering that I've lost all my pictures). But I really do need to write all those thoughts before I forget them all. There's a lott good and a lotta bad, and I need to remind myself of both every once in a while.

Among the topics I need to write on are:
  •  the Taliban stories that my cousins told me (imagine: they'd go to school daily, seeing beheaded humans hanging to the poles near their schools, prisons, etc.... I cringe thinking about what this means for these kids' future! They have to be the strongest people I know to have survived it all)
  • the pardah/purdah system in Swat, girls and skin-color problems (this is unfortunately common all over South Asian and much of the Middle East, but I've a few stories and personal experiences I'd like to share with my blog readers)
  • personal relationships among the people of Swat (fear not: I won't disclose any information that shouldn't be disclosed! Just wanna give a general idea to my readers about how people interact with each other there, both positively and negatively)
  • the class/caste system in Swat
  • how customs have changed in the last 10-12 years
  • my general observations and conclusions about the society there
And since I'm a bit nostalgic this summer, I'll also share some memories of Swat! Na, wait - I've shared most of my Swat memories in another post: Part I; Part II. But there's still a lotta things I forgot to include in those memories that I feel like I need to write on, so.

All right. See y'all soon with these topics. And please, PRETTY PLEASE pray for a miracle for me to get my pictures back!!! I don't care if you don't believe in miracles normally; believe in them now! I will cry! I Will Cry So Hard If I Don't Get Those Pictures Back!!! SAVE MEEEEEEEEE!!!

~ the Qrratu

Sunday, June 24, 2012

Pashtun Personality of the Week: Khushal Khan Khattak, the Pashtun Warrior-Poet

As I had promised in a previous entry, each Sunday, I will introduce my readers to a new Pashtun personality. I'm starting with the famous ones, and if you've any suggestions for the upcoming week, feel free to let me know. Remember: their gender, time, talents, beliefs, etc. don't matter; all that matters is that they have contribute to Pashtun society and culture in some way, however small or big.

Also, I don't claim to be saying everything about these people; in fact, I'm going to try to keep these entries very short--just enough to give the readers a brief idea of who these people are and why they matter. But if I neglect to mention something very important about them, please feel free to let me know.

Khushal Khan Khattak (also known as Khushal Baba) (1613-1689)
Khushal Khan was born in 1613 to the Khattak tribe of the Pashtuns in Akora, located in modern-day Nowshera in Khyber Pashtunkhwa. He is often remembered for his bravery, skilled poetry (written in Pashto and Persian), and leadership, as he was a warrior, poet, and a tribal chief. He had 57 sons and a few daughters, but most of his sons proved to be his enemies and betrayed him every chance they got, as will be narrated below

Thursday, June 21, 2012

International Pashto Day - June 21st

Dear world,

June 21st has officially been declared International Pashto Day. As most of y'all know, I'm a native Pashtun, born and raised (for 12 years) in Swat, Pakistan, and so my native language is Pashto. FYI: Pashto = Pukhto = Pushto = Pakhto. It's the same term for the same language in different dialects, just like Pashtun = Pukhtun = Pakhtun = Pushtun = Pakhtoon etc. In Pashto, however, it's written in only one way:  Pashto =پښتو
Pashtun/Pukhtun = پښتون  
I explained this dialectical difference in an earlier post titled "The sh/kh difference in Pashto."

Don't want to make this another long post, but I just wanted to inform everyone that June 21st is International Pashto Day, so, especially if you're Pashtun, try to speak in Pashto as much as possible for at least this whole day :) 

Also!!! I've come up with another great idea (I know, I know - I'm full of ideas but totally empty of actions. You'll live with it): Each week, I'll write about a great Pashtun leader (or not leader, just someone ordinary who's done something extraordinary for the Pashtun people). Time to make this blog more informative, eh - but don't get too excited: my opinions aren't going anywhere. I'll still insert them in my blog wherever I think they may contribute to a discussion.

k, starting this Sunday, inshaAllah, I'll begin my series of Important Pashtuns You Should Know about. Feel free to recommend a list. They can be political leaders (Malalai of Maiwand, Bacha Khan (Ghaffar Khan), etc.), poets/philosophers (Ghani Baba, Nazo Ana, Ajmal Baba), singers/musicians (Sardar Ali Takkar, Naghma); they can be from today or from yesterday--or from tomorrow (i.e., young/emerging leaders).

Totally looking forward to starting this, da khaira!  

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