Saturday, December 28, 2013

So Veena Malik Marries a Pukhtun Man & Pukhtuns Go Berserk.

 The hottest totally pointless news emerging from Pakistan these days is Veena Malik's marriage to some Pashtun businessman named Asad Khattak. Pukhtuns on the internet have gone berserk, many of them ashamed of the Pukhtun who dared to marry a woman much of Pakistan has unanimously declared a "slut" (because she's a bold woman, you see - she once even stood up to a mullah! Don't you just love it when a female celebrity understands patriarchy and can counter it with intelligent remarks? Of course, though, she's far from perfect, like all of us: I've seen videos of hers participating as a judge in modeling shows in which she mocks the way women who are less light-skinned than herself look ... just because they're not light-skinned. She still buys into the whole "my skin color is whiter than yours, and so I'm better than you! In your dark-skinned face!" business, so no respect for her from me in that department.)

Thursday, December 26, 2013

I envy people who believe in a loving, merciful God.

I got the idea for the below post from a friend who's going through a rough time in her life right now and who, too, was raised being taught only about a mean, judgmental god to whom she finds it hard to turn in times of need.

Sure, all except one of the 114 chapters of the Qur'an begins with the phrase "In the name of God, the most merciful, most beneficent," but that's not the same God I grew up being forced to believe in. But I envy anyone who does believe in that God. I need a loving God. I'm sick and tired of the mean one. And I'm sick and tired of anyone who talks to me about the mean one. Go to hell - you know who you are, you so-called "god-fearing" hypocrites and meanies.

This is what happens when the first things we teach our kids are about what sins not to commit or what's sinful and what's not or don't do this and don't do that. Or that "God is watching you." Or "God will punish you." Screw you and that god of yours. No one ever taught me that God was actually very loving and merciful.  

Saturday, December 21, 2013

On Homosexuality and Islam - again.

A (Muslim) friend on Facebook posted an article called "Meet America's First Openly Gay Imam." Almost all of the responses, as we can probably imagine, were repulsive, homophobic, disturbing, and ignorant. And very arrogant, I must add. But I'm so, SO happy that this article exists, that homosexual Muslims and Imams exist, and that it's publicly being discussed at last. I'll share my thoughts below on the topic, mostly in responses to the homophobia in the comments to my friend's original post. Some of the comments said, of course (because this is a common thing we hear from a lot of people, whether Muslims or non-Muslims), that homosexuality is a disease and needs to be cured and that we need to help gay people. Dot Dot Dot. And then most of the other comments were further about the whole "I don't have a problem with gay people, but to publicize it and promote it ..." stuff that our ears and minds hurt to hear so much around us all the time when we find ourselves in a world that is oh so miserably being wasted with all sorts of oppression. One of these sorts of oppression is the suppression of views and practices and sexualities and identities we cannot personally relate to and that we have very little understanding, if any understanding at all, of.

Anyway, here goes something that may or may not be worth a share. Peace to all!

Saturday, November 23, 2013

On Mainstream Muslims' Refusal to Learn about the Violence against Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan

A couple of weeks ago, the Ahmadi association at my university sponsored a talk by an Ahmadi scholar who was to come talk about the persecution of Ahmadis and other minorities in Pakistan. The cover designed for the talk mentioned nothing about whether Ahmadis are Muslim or not (I think it's stupidity, ignorance, and evil on the part of whoever denies them their right to declare themselves Muslims!), and it was definitely not about--and was not advertised to be about--Ahmadis' response to mainstream Muslims' claim that Ahamdis are not Muslims and therefore deserve to be killed, as is happening in Pakistan every. single. day. I cannot stress enough that the cover and the talk were simply about the persecution of Ahmadis in Pakistan. It was intended to be, and it indeed was, about the violence committed against Ahmadis on a daily basis in Pakistan, mostly by terrorists but the government, too, has its role in the persecution.

So when an officer from the Ahmadi organization contacted the community/campus mosque Facebook page and requested that the talk be shared on the page so more people become aware of it, the mosque rejected it. Twice. The second time, the mosque's administration responded to the officer with something that I don't know if I'm allowed to paste here but will paraphrase.  (I know because the officer posted about it on his Facebook.) So the mosque goes something like: We can't share this on our page because there's concern among students and parents that there's an Ahmadi on the MSA board; just like you don't consider us (Sunni) Muslims, we don't consider y'all Muslims.

Friday, November 8, 2013

On the Beauty of Music - and on being in an Arabic choir, yayy!!

I love music. I love all kinds of music. Eastern music in general, though, rocks my world! (Not at all a fan of English--American, British--music or poetry, and what attracts me to eastern music, besides the killer sound of the instruments, is the depth of the poetry.) I listen to a Pashto song and go crazy thinking about how deep that stuff is. Even plain old Bollywood songs are often so deep you're like where did these writers come from. I can't make up my mind over whether I love Pashto music more than Urdu or Hindi or Persian or Arabic or Turkish.

Monday, October 28, 2013

On the Movie "I don't know how she does it" - working mothers and all

I recently watched the movie "I Don't Know How She Does It" with Sarah Jessica Parker, who I still prefer to call Carrie from her "Sex and the City" series.

The story is about a working mother who has to travel for work once a month, initially, and then almost once every week. We get to hear what everyone else, especially her co-workers, think of her, and how they evaluate her working style, her motherhood, her wifehood, and so on. For the most part, everyone except a close friend of hers, is very judgmental and very harsh on the way she raises her children and the little time she has to spend with her husband and family. At one point, her close friend says something that resonates withing me: She says something like, "When a woman has to announce she needs time off from work to be with a sick child, she takes a risk, a risk of losing her whole job. A man announces the same thing, all's well - people think he's a hero, a wonderful, loving father. And everyone judges her, judges her unfairly, wrongly, accusing her of being a bad mother, etc. When a man has to do it, no one worries at all."

On What Happens When Afghan, Muslim Homosexuals Come Out

A good friend informed me earlier that Nemat Sadat, former professor at the American University of Afghanistan (AUAF), has recently "come out" and that the kinds of things people are saying on his Facebook page are really disturbing, discouraging, and mean. I take harassment and abuse of homosexuals and other sexual/gendered minorities very seriously; I take it very personally--it personally hurts me. It disturbs me. So I immediately set out to write to him in support. I asked him if he'd okay with my sharing the letter on my blog, and he said, yes, he's okay with that. He is such a good person! How can we anything but love and respect another human of such character? We're pitiful. 

Sunday, October 27, 2013

When People Say "She Wanted It": The Difference Between Rape and Sex

In Law & Order SVU, in one of my favorite episodes,  Detective Elliot Stabler (character played by Christopher Meloni; he's no longer on the show, though, unfortunately) is questioning a  suspect in a rape case, and the suspect goes, "What? I have a girlfriend. I don't need to rape anyone! Why would I rape anyone?" And Stablers' response? "Rape isn't the same thing as sex."

So I'm writing this post to talk about the difference between "rape" and "sex" and about the too disturbingly common claim that "she wanted it" or "she was asking for it" (where "it" = rape, unfortunately, but people constantly confuse it with sex!).

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Monday, September 23, 2013

Arabic Conference Call for Papers - "Jil Jadid" 2014

Call for papers for Arabic graduate students and recent graduates.

Call for Papers: 4th Annual Jil Jadid Conference @ UT-Austin  
Dates: February 21-22, 2014
Location: The University of Texas at Austin
Abstract Deadline: November 15, 2013
Topic: Arabic Literature and Linguistics
Contact: Thomas Leddy-Cecere,

The Department of and Center for Middle Eastern Studies at the University of Texas at Austin are happy to announce the 4th Annual Jil Jadid Conference in Arabic Literature and Linguistics, a graduate student conference to be held at the University of Texas at Austin, February 21-22, 2014.
Jil Jadid is a graduate student conference that aims to provide a forum for young scholars spread across a variety of disciplines to come together, share ideas and research, and discuss the future of their respective fields as they move forward in their careers and come to represent the eponymous new generation of scholars engaging with the Arabic-speaking world and its cultures.  For the past three Februaries, graduate students from a wide range of universities, both domestic and international, have assembled in Austin to set the tone for Arabic studies in the twenty-first century. The ongoing positive feedback we have received from these past conferences prompts us to once again assemble with the same goal, uniting students from area studies, linguistics, comparative literature and other departments in order to facilitate a productive and interdisciplinary exchange of new ideas.
Fostering fruitful, engaging, and innovative dialogue remains our topmost priority. The conference will feature keynote speeches in both Arabic linguistics and literature, as well as a professional development panel offered by University of Texas faculty.  In addition to individual presentations, the conference will highlight explicit opportunities for participants to discuss their collective vision for the development of their fields. More details will be announced as the conference dates approach.
The 2014 Jil Jadid Conference is sponsored by the University of Texas at Austin's Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Center for Middle Eastern Studies, Department of Linguistics, Program in Comparative Literature, Department of History, and the Graduate School.

All papers treating topics in Arabic literature (both classical and modern) and Arabic linguistics (of all subfields, including applied linguistics) will gladly be considered, in either English or Arabic (with the request that an English summary be prepared for any papers to be presented in Arabic).  In addition to original research, we also encourage state of the field papers that provide a focused overview of specific subfields of Arabic studies and propose new avenues of research in that area.
Papers to be presented at other conferences are more than welcome, as we wish to provide a forum for students to further develop and refine their research.

Unfortunately, this year we will not be able to accommodate virtual presentations via video-chat. We will instead be providing a live online stream of the conference proceedings that will allow those who are not physically able to attend the conference to follow along and contribute by leaving comments and feedback.
Applicants may submit abstracts of no more than a single, standardly formatted page (not including references).
Abstracts may be submitted online at: .
The deadline for abstracts is November 15, 2013. Abstracts should not include identifying information; you must, however, indicate the highest degree you have obtained and your current position (e.g. "M.A., Graduate Student," "Ph.D., Assistant Professor," etc.).  Only submissions from current or recent graduate students will be considered.

Conference Fees and Funding:
Jil Jadid requires no fees of presenters and/or attendees.
Graduate students whose abstracts are accepted will be eligible to apply for a limited number of partial travel grants to defray the costs of attending the Jil Jadid conference. Lodging with local graduate students will be made available when possible.

Wednesday, September 18, 2013

Access Amazon from My Blog ... So I Can Get Paid ... Um.

Dear readers,

Pre-Post: I really hope this doesn't come off as selfish or attention-seeking. I don't mean to sound that way. Don't at all feel obligated to fulfill my request, but it'd be nice if you do :)

So. Some months ago--whoa, a year ago!--I became what's called an Amazon Associate, which means that if I "promote" an Amazon product on my blog and if you access by clicking a link to Amazon from my blog (like this: And the Mountains Echoed) and actually buy something from Amazon, I get a small portion of the money you pay. I know you're prolly thinking, "WHAT!! Why should you get anything from something I buy?! No way!" But it's really not what you think. You see, you don't have to pay anything extra at all. You just buy whatever you intended or would like to buy, but instead of accessing amazon through Google or directly at, I ask that you access it from my blog. 
Amazon sees that as my attempt at promoting whatever it is that you bought ... or promoting

I've tried to make it easier for y'all to access Amazon from my blog, such as by posting links to Amazon wherever I thought would be useful or relevant (such as when talking about a book or a topic I recommend reading more about), and the left side of the home ( features some books and other Amazon products that you can click on to get to Amazon. You don't necessarily have to buy the thing you clicked on, but as long as you get to Amazon by a click from my blog, Amazon tracks it. No, I don't get your secret or private or ANY other information. I don't even get to know who bought what, just of what was bought for what price and how much I'm making. I'll never be able to link your shopping to you and go "haaaaa haaaa - Amina bought a chair last week."

Example: You feel like shopping at or have a specific book or product in mind that you're going to buy. You ask yourself how you can be of benefit to a fellow human being today and go, "Ahhhh!! Qrratugai!! YES! I'll go be of benefit to her today!" So you come to my blog, and click on ANY link on my blog that'll take you to Say you end up landing on this specific post. Just click this link: And the Mountains Echoed (whaaaaat - It's the least controversial book I could come up with, k? Surely, you don't want me to link up to a book on feminism or Islamic feminism or women's rights and stuff - that's obviously too controversial. I mean, c'mon, we're saying women are people here; of course that's open to debate, you know?). So there, you just accessed Amazon through my blog and whatever you buy after that click, I benefit from it as well. I mean, I get paid a little bit :) Thank you! May you be given much, much more in return. Remember: you're not charged extra for this; it's just that qrratugai here gets something out of it because Amazon thinks that I just convinced you to shop there .... For me as an Amazon associate, it's honestly just a fun way for a graduate student to make a little money, and I'd be grateful if y'all can cooperate. Thanks :) But it's totally okay if you don't want to do this and are thinking, "What the hell. No way. Go away." We're still cool.

All right, that's all. As always, I've lots to blog about but will get on it as soon as this weekend is over and I'm a little less busy than I've been lately.

Thanks for reading!

Tuesday, September 10, 2013

It is Her Skills, Not the Burka, that Empower the Burka Avenger.

This was written over a month ago when the first episode of the show aired. Apologies for posting it so late.

For the last few weeks or so, Pakistan has been in the news for its latest good deed: the Burka Avenger, an animated children's series featuring a female savior of women's rights, peace, and justice in a village in Pakistan. Jiya, the protagonist, is a school teacher whose mission is to fight multiple  forms of evil facing Pakistan, including obstacles to women's education. She completes her mission through her skills in Takht Kabaddi, a fictitious form of martial art that requires the use of pens and books. Each of the show's thirteen episodes, Haroon, the show's pop-star producer, tells CNN, "covers a different issue affecting Pakistan, including discrimination, child labor, sectarian violence, electricity shortages and protecting the environment," besides the on-going battle for girls' education. While the show has so far received majority-positive feedback, its opponents' main issue is with the superhero's costume: a burka, which she wears strictly to conceal her identity when on a mission; opponents suggest that the show is sending the message that "you can only get power when you don a symbol of oppression [the burka]." What is missing in this sort of criticism is the reality that it is not the burka that empowers the Burka Avenger--it is her skills as a fighter for social justice that empower her. The burka's purpose has little to no religious meaning in this series and serves more as a disguise for the protagonist.

Sunday, September 8, 2013

Call for Contributions on "Choosing Mothering? The Gendering of Agency"

Verbatim from the source. All of the below.

The Women’s Studies International Forum has issued a call for papers on a special issue journal entitled “Choosing mothering? The gendering of agency”. The details below are copied from their website :

womens studies international forumThe aim of this Special Issue is to provide an international forum within which to pose and debate issues that arise in relation to agency and choice surrounding maternity.

In the current neo-liberal context in which ‘choice’ is offered to women as a panacea for differential access to power, the aim of this Special Issue is to examine the ways in which women position themselves and are positioned by others, in relation to motherhood. Manuscripts are invited that discuss ways in which women engage with choices ‘offered’ to them and how the status of ‘mother’ is implicated in these. Submissions may include discussions about the constitution of agency in relation to choices about issues such as entering (or not entering) motherhood, being a mother, practicing and performing motherhood in different arenas and accounting for different approaches to mothering.

We invite contributions from those working with a feminist perspective in a range of disciplines. We are interested in submissions that address ontological, epistemological and practical issues around agency and choice-making for women including, but not limited to, the following questions and topics:
  • How is women’s agency in maternal choice-making constituted within and across different cultural, social and interpersonal contexts?
  • How are understandings of (non)maternity implicated in the negotiation of agency for women?
  • Is choice-making without consideration of maternal status attainable?
  • What challenges do conceptualisations of mothering pose for theorisations of agency in designing and conducting feminist research?
As well as traditional formats, submission in non-conventional writing styles and as art or images are encouraged.
To be considered for this special issue, submissions must fit the requirements for submission of the journal.

Please follow guidelines to submit manuscripts for review by 30 November 2013.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Advice to Pukhtun men on how to treat women on social Media

By Nazrana Yusufzai, from her blog:  Advice to Pukhtun men on how to treat women- you know all these awara women on social media


Brother, try to look smart, handsome, make sure your degree don’t come out of the closet- keep your learning-proof brain away of such infections.

Make sure you tell every woman every second of your life how much you respect a woman; this will bring you many women friends in your life. Never feel inferior to women, the feelings of male dominance that you carry from your parents’ village Pateykhan kaley is your honour and dignity.  Feeling equal to woman should not be an option- that is like shaving your chest hairs with piecing knife.

Try being super active on social media, stalk each and every independent, well-educated, strong-willed Pashtun girl, sometimes talking to two or three friends in the same tone as that of a lover. It works to be more popular among the whole group.

Make sure your sister doesn’t use twitter. She belongs to a respectful family. All women on Facebook are just, you know, kharabi khazi [sluts].

The main goal is to criticize women for whatever they do and say and for whatever they don’t say or do. If she talks, tell her she’s too talkative and needs to shut up. If she doesn’t talk, tell her she’s submissive and quiet and needs to speak up for herself.  And don’t forget, when she does finally stand up for herself, tell her she has an attitude and is a bitch. Remind her that all she needs in life is a husband to bring her back to her Pukhtun senses. Keep your life goal in mind, which is to make every strong-willed and educated Pukhtun woman’s life on social media hell. Pukhtun women don’t belong on social media and they should keep this in mind, you know.

 You should be arrogant and have a higher ego than Mount Everest, not a problem if you cant handle it when you lose your argument. Scream like crazy and tell her she has forgotten her roots.
Flirt with them any chance you get but do not marry her! I repeat brothers: DO NOT MARRY HER! Where is your pukhtuniyat if you are going to marry such bitches who speak up on social media? They insult you and me each time they open their mouth in the name of intelligence. It’s not intelligence my brothers, it is a dishonour to us all!

Never forget to share the sexist jokes around. Mock them as much as possible but remember to do it with some humour so that people think you’re just playing around. Believe me brothers, they are so stupid they think you’re just playing around just because you told them you are! Women are stupid and ignorant and should always be reminded that they are inferior to us. Today’s women think they are better than us! It helps when you quote God even if you’ve to lie. We’ve a lesson to teach these awara khazi and it’s our god-given right to put them in their rightful natural place. 

If you forget these pointers the next time you’re on social media, just be sure to obey the main rule: social media belongs to us, men, it is not a place for women. What Pukhtun women need to understand is that this is for their own good; we are only trying to protect them. To keep them away, make fun of them, tease them, harass them, stalk them, fight with them, criticize them. If you find this to be your weakness, just remember my brothers: would you want your sister, your precious honour and property, to be on social media speaking for herself? That’s a slap in our honorable faces! Nowhere in Pukhtun history has this ever happened before and it is our responsibility to make sure it stays like this. Our traditions are at stake here, brothers. Fight them bitches and whores on social media if you have any ghairat!

God save us all from such whores.

             By a clean-shaved Mullah

Call for Proposals (Music Conference): Go! Music and Mobility 2014 Pop Conference in Seattle

A music conference!

Call for Papers: Go! Music and Mobility

2014 Pop ConferenceApril 24–27, 2014, EMP Museum [Seattle, Washington]

Deadline for 300-2ord proposal submissions: November 15, 2013. 

We turn to music to put the world in motion. Music on mobile phones, music over the airways, communication by talking drums: these sounds have accompanied the voluntary and involuntary movement of people, alleviated work and pulsated leisure, animated borderlands and virtual spaces with patterns that root and are made material. As rites of charivari and Pink Floyd songs demonstrate, when music stops conveying mobility we bang on pots and walls.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Call for Papers: Issues of Gender within the Horror Genre

A call for papers on issues of gender in the horror genre! 
Those interested in submitting a paper should email the title, an abstract or completed work, as well as a brief (70-100 words) bio, to the address listed below. Please format the essay in Word, version 2002 or later. The deadline for submissions is November 15th 2013. Suggested word length is between 2000-5000 words. Compensation will be offered to accepted submissions. [Note from me, Orbala: I think the email address to which submissions should be sent is But I'll confirm and get back to y'all asap.]

Call for Papers: Issues of Gender within the Horror Genre 

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Call for Proposals (Conference): Gender, Bodies, and Technology

Another conference--this one gender-oriented--for anyone interested.

Proposals are invited for the third biannual interdisciplinary conference:
"Gender, Bodies & Technology: Performing the Human," May 1-3, 2014
The Inn at Virginia Tech, Blacksburg, Virginia

Sponsored by the Women's and Gender Studies Program at Virginia Tech
Proposal Deadline: October 1, 2013
Gender, Bodies, & Technology is an initiative within Women’s and Gender Studies at Virginia Tech that aims to creatively and intellectually explore the multiple, proliferating, and gendered dimensions of technologized bodies and embodied technologies. Through our initiative and biannual conference, we seek to demonstrate, theorize, and perform the discursive and material nodes around which gender, bodies, and technology both cohere and fracture: how, for example, do the specter and reality of transvaginal ultrasounds index a historically specific female body? What is the relationship between expanded combat roles for female soldiers and the U.S. military’s escalating use of “unmanned” drone warcraft? How should we interpret airport body scanners and restroom architecture that threaten and displace transgender persons? 

We invite proposals from scholars in the humanities, social and natural sciences, feminist science studies, visual and performing arts, life sciences, and STEM fields for papers, panels, workshops, new media, art, and performance pieces that explore the intersections of gender, bodies & technology in contexts ranging from classrooms to the military, and from health care to the media.
Our confirmed keynote speakers include:
  • Dr. Jennifer Robertson, Professor of Anthropology at the University of Michigan
  • Micha Cardenas, performance artist and media theorist based at the University of Southern California
  • Dr. Shaowen Bardzell, Assistant Professor of Informatics at Indiana University
We invite papers, workshops, and panel proposals that address the Gender/Bodies/Technology interface. Though not limited to the following, topics and themes might include:
  • Gender and the technologies of institutions; the reconfiguration of public and private spheres
  • Disability and technologies of expression/representation; enabling and constricting roles of technology
  • The intersectional dimensions of online and digital space; visibility and invisibility issues
  • Feminist appropriations of technology; technology as liberating vs. reifying social force
  • GLBT and queer media
  • Technology and evolution – post- and trans-humanism; bio-cultural change and the gendered dimensions of human plasticity
  • Gender, bodies, and artificial intelligence
  • Gendered technologies of the self; bodies and gender as objects of technological intervention
  • Technological aspects of reproduction and personhood; maternal capacity; neo-eugenics
  • Social and other new media and their relationship to gendered bodies; social media and sexual violence
  • Genetic and other biological imaginaries made available by biotechnology; gender and nanotechnology
  • The GBT configuration in popular media
  • Avatars, augmented and virtual realities, and the promise of genderless bodies
  • Gender as code; gender, bodies, and computation
  • New feminist materialisms; the technological materiality of gender
  • Technological failures; technophobia and gender
  • The (bio)technology of transgender, intersex, and other forms of gender variance
  • Race, ability, class and the politics of visibility in virtual bodies
  • Gender and digital literacy; the gendered natures of technicity, technophilia, and expertise
  • Neuroscience, genomics, and the production of sexual difference
  • Performance, new media and other creative expressions: engaging/enacting/destabilizing conventions of embodiment and technology
  • Gendered innovations in technological design: gendered objects and design
  • Technological production and control of classed, racialized, aged, disabled and gendered bodies
  • New media, digital representation and virtual gendered environments
  • How technology links (embodied) individuals and enacts (gendered) worlds
  • Technologically-mediated warfare, gender, and combat
  • Gender and the “non-human”; robots, animals and environmental expressions of gendered worlds
  • Technologies of development and sustainability; eco- and environmental feminism
  • Activism, participatory decision-making and issues of technological citizenship
Our conference theme, “Performing the Human,” is an invitation for embodied creative and intellectual effort. We are committed to complementing traditional paper presentations from the social sciences, STEM, and humanities fields with scholarship and performance from the creative arts. We encourage innovative uses of technology and creative session formats and we welcome early contact by email if space and/or technology requirements might present logistical challenges.
Proposals will be reviewed and notification of the outcome will be made by November 15, 2013.
For more information or questions please contact:
Christine Labuski/GBT Coordinator and Conference Co-Director
Women's and Gender Studies Program
Department of Sociology
Virginia Tech
McBryde Hall (0137)
Blacksburg, VA, 24061 USA

The link to this call as well as to the proposal submission form is:

Monday, September 2, 2013

Call for Papers: Hashtag Publics (edited collection)

I've been going through my listservs to see which conferences I might be interested in attending or presenting at, and I just came across this really cool and relevant one (they're all relevant, though, of course). It's called Hashtag Publics and is about the whole business of hastagging and their relevance to particular, say, phenomena or news, including movements and protests and whatnot.

As the last line below states, interested participants are requested to send a 750-word abstract, collection of keywords, and a 150-word bio to the editor, Dr. Nathan Rambukkana (, by 1 Nov. 2013. Drafts will be due June 1st 2014,  and final versions by December 1st  2014.

Here's the complete call for papers.

Monday, August 12, 2013

From a Traveler-Reader: On Pashtuns, Homosexuality, Gender, and Marriage in the Pashtun Society

I don't check my blog email as frequently as I need to so I can respond to my blog readers more speedily, so I apologize to anyone I haven't yet responded to or who thinks I'm very slow at responding. I tend to be, and I'm very sorry about that :) Especially lately, what with all the traveling and then coming home and more traveling and then family events, so I've been a little busy. I'm going to try to be better to my readers, so bear with me, all, please. Thanks!

Below is an email I received from a reader who has some great insight into the Pashtun culture and society--and Pashtuns themselves--and, with his consent, I'm going to share much of it here. P., as we'll call him, is a "gora," as he says in the first line (lol), which means a white person. He is an Australian male who's traveled throughout Pashtunkhwa and FATA (the majority-Pashtun northwestern province of Pakistan and the tribal areas of the country) and wrote to me share his experiences, observations and some of the conversations that he had with Pashtun men there.

Thursday, August 8, 2013

On the Lack of Respect for Women in the Mosque (esp on Eid)

If you're not on my Facebook, you're missing out on this and the great responses it generated. I'm so blessed and lucky to have many intelligent friends, all of whose knowledge I'm grateful for.  

The following isn't intended as an article on the issue, or even as one of my regular blog posts; it's my Facebook status.

Eid mubarak to everyone!

So it's Eid, and I hate to have to say this on a special day, but ... I feel so, so incredibly insulted each time I go to the mosque for Eid prayer (well, any day but especially for Eid). It's the usual - the space for women & children is so little, so bad that I can't get myself to worship my Creator without feeling intense anger and resentment. I think the men should one day switch places with us to feel what it's like being a Muslim woman. And then they complain when the women talk during the sermon. I know that's rude and all, but honestly, what do you expect when we're praying on floors without rugs, are right by the entrance so people come and go, theres not enough space for us at all, and have our kids with us? It's the same problem each damn year, and all emails sent to the board about it are ignored. I quit with mosques. We suck. And we claim "ohhh women have sooooo much respect in our society." Respect my foot.

Sunday, August 4, 2013

Why I am an Islamic Feminist

I wrote this recently for an amazing website I recently came across called Feminism and Religion. Per their guidelines, I can share only the first two paragraphs of the article and provide a link to the original piece for the rest of it.

A question we get asked all the time as Islamic feminist--and especially a response to those who believe that Islam and feminism are an impossible oxymoron. Obviously, I disagree. Not that I need to defend my identity as an Islamic feminist, but I do believe it can help inform those interested in learning about Islam and feminist from an Islamic feminist herself as opposed to from the perspective of anti-feminists' or non-feminists'.

Friday, August 2, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 15: The Spain Trip

Sup, y'all!
So my last blog post was on my trip to Tangier, where we'd gone particularly to travel over to Spain for a day or two. Here's the remainder of that trip with suggestions of what to and not to do when you're in Morocco and want to take a ferry to Spain.

It took about 3 mins in a taxi to get to the port, where we had to go to this other place to show our passports and something else (like, I don't remember) and were finally told to go to the actual port--seriously, finally!--where we had to again show passports and tickets and all. It was half annoying. Khair, we finally--no, really, FINALLy--made it to the actual ferry. Now, as much as we'd rushed and were told to hurry up because we might miss it, the freaking ferry didn't leave till like 45 minutes later than scheduled! That was really annoying. But it's okay because that meant more time for photos and stuff in the stunning sight of the sea :)

So here.

Tuesday, July 23, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 14: Tangier Trip

So. My last weekend was spent in Tangier and Spain. Here are the details--but I'll talk about only Tangier in this post, k? Talking about Spain, too, will take a looong time and will make this too long a read for y'all.

Wednesday, July 17, 2013

Morocco Journals - Part 13: Women Denied Access to Al-Qarawiyyin, the oldest university in the world

Have you ever tried to enter a university and were told, "No, that's for men only; women are forbidden here"? I have. At a university I've been wanting to visit ever since I learned about its history. The university is called al-Qarawiyyin (also sometimes called "al-Karaouine"), is located in Fez, Morocco, and was founded by a woman named Fatima al-Fihri in 859 C.E. 

Tuesday, July 16, 2013

Morocco Journals - Part 12: Good Moments in Morocco

Okay, so my previous blog entry upset a lot of people, and many think I'm miserable in Morocco and have nowhere good to stay and stuff. Laaaa, folks, laaa! (Means "No" in Arabic.)

I decided to go ahead and stay in the Riad after all; it's not the ideal place for someone who wants to have opportunities to speak Arabic 24'7 (because our cook and guard don't seem interested at all in speaking with us #BIGsadface), but it's so close to the center, it's pretty clean around, there's fast internet (EVEN ON MY PHONE!!!), and it's pretty comfortable. There's no big reason not to stay here. The food issue, it turns out we can ask the cook to cook whatever we want him to cook, provided we ask him several hours before iftar time or when we're scheduled to eat. Like today, I asked him for shi'riyya, which is like vermicelli but cooked in a really awesome way that's so delicious and is one of my favorite foods here, but he said we're eating hareer today (it's traditional Moroccan soup. NOT my thing at all) and we'll just eat shi'riyya tomorrow. Sure, that works, too.

 But anyway, so let's just talk about Morocco and lemme assure you all that I'm not miserable here, hah. I mean, sure, I have my moments, and I think the program I'm studying at is terrible, but that doesn't mean I'm overall not appreciating my experience here. Despite the negative things, it was definitely worth spending a summer here. I'd always wanted to go to Morocco, and I intend to return next year as well. Next year, though, inshaAllah, I'll go to either Merakesh or Rabat ... or Tanga. Not sure yet, but we'll see when the time nears.

So something good that happened yesterday amidst our leaving the host family and all: I told our cook that I'll be fasting and we designated a time I'd eat suhoor at. Come that time, I'm about to eat, and I'm like, "What about you? Aren't you gonna eat?" He goes, "No, no, I already ate." I go, "But ... eat with me. There's more blessings if we eat together. It's Ramadhan!" I swear, man, his face lit up and I saw eyes in his light! He got SO happy! He was like, "Alllaaaahhh!!! Marhaba, marhaba" and shook my hand again and again and placed his hand on his chest, and said, "Okay, from tomorrow, we eat together, ok?" And THEN--keep in mind he doesn't know my name all this time and isn't all interested in anyone who lives here or what we do or what our names are--he goes "What's your name?" And I tell him. He later then showed me a pic of his family, too. It was sweet. :)

A couple of my hotel mates and I decided he just gets frustrated with us due to the language barrier, although he's fully fluent in fus'ha (formal Arabic, which only educated Arabs know and has little in common with colloquial Arabic) so it won't be a problem to talk with him... well, most times, anyway.  I also think he must miss his family, since they're not here with him and I've no idea where they are and how often he visits them, and probably just wants to feel at home here and have someone to interact with him. Then again, some of the hotel mates tell me he doesn't seem interested in interacting with anyone at all.

Also, yesterday, after I'd been transferred to the riad and I wanted to go back to the center, I got totally lost. WHAT! All the streets in this neighborhood look alike, I swear, and I had no idea where the heck I was going, so I took a left where I should've taken a right and eventually ended up in a sooq (open bazaar) and I kept telling myself I was gonna find my way eventually. Well, I finally decided to ask for help. Asked these completely random guys (most often, all you see is men in some places just hanging out; the women are usually, but not necessarily always, there for "a specific purpose." This is Meknes, a relatively conservative city, very different from Rabat and the rest of Morocco.). So this guy be like, "Okay, you're a bit too far off from where you want to be, so I'll just go ahead and walk you there." That's not usually unsafe to do, and there's a lot of people around in that neighborhood so I wasn't uncomfortable with the suggestion. I wouldn't have been able to keep up with the directions, so I was like all right, let's do this. 

On our way, which turned out to be so much longer than I'd realized, he starts talking, half the time speaking English (rarely do you come across someone who knows English in Meknes; I now appreciate this, since that pushes you to speak more Arabic, and I had to ask this guy to please talk to me in Arabic instead). Our conversations, dominated by him because I disagreed with too much of what he was saying, and there was no way in hell I was going to tell this guy that I'm totally supportive of, for example, homosexual marriages, practicing a religion you feel comfortable practicing without having it shoved down your throat, democracy, and so on. He asked where I was from, and I'm tired of telling people I'm from America (plus, that also apparently means I'm filthy rich and have a tonnn of money to spare on anything anytime anywhere, so avoid when possible!), so I just said Pakistan. 

He got all excited and welcomed me a ton of times again and again (appreciated), and then he goes, "But you know, there's too much violence in Pakistan right now. I don't understand why people can't practice Islam properly and peacefully." He went on to tell me about how Islam is all about beauty, love, and peace, which I personally agree with, and then he goes, "I lived in England for a couple of years and America for some 5 years, and I hated it there. Sure, I enjoyed my life, and I had no values back then, since I was young, but I realized how much I love Morocco. This is my home. I can't find peace anywhere else and pretend somewhere else is my home, you know? THIS is peace for me, THIS is love for me. THIS is who I am." I said, "Yes, indeed" (pretty much the only thing I said the entire time). Then he goes, "I mean, look at America - it wants to spread its own mistaken ideas of democracy across the world" (this part, I agree with but not what's coming next) "demanding that men marry men, women marry women, people get drunk in public and stuff" (I'm like DUDE, that's not what America wants at all and it's definitely not what it demands; heck, in its own country, homosexual marriages are illegal in most of the states! But, of course, qrratugai was NOT going to tell him this #smile). I just nodded my head and, again, said, "Yes, indeed, for shame." He asked me what I think about his ideas, and I said, "Oh, yes, I totally agree with you. You're right about it all." Eventually--and I don't remember how--I mentioned I was living in America, and he goes, "Ohhhh, so think about it. You miss Pakistan, right? Of course you miss Pakistan. That's where you heart belongs." I'm thinking, oh hell no, my heart really does not belong in Pakistan, but I simply said, "Well, I prefer America, and I'm actually very happy there. My parents, however, miss Pakistan and prefer Pakistan to America for the most part." He was so shocked that *I* preferred America :D

Anyway, that was a fun convo. He was a very nice guy, I don't know him and I don't know his name and I don't know who he is, but I pray God grant him a beautiful, long, and healthy life. It was very kind of him to help me when I needed it. It's okay if our ideas differ - he was still a good person and he still wants peace in this world. Anyone working towards peace is a good person in my world. His way of working towards peace was describing Islam to me in peaceful ways, dismissing the violent practices of militant and other extremist Muslims as not the real face of Islam, and being helpful to another fellow human being.

Peace be on this world!

Previous Morocco Journals

Monday, July 15, 2013

Morocco Journals - Part 11: Sad Moments in Morocco

So ... there've been some awkward but terribly sad and painful moments lately. I won't reveal all of them, but basically, due to some circumstances, my roommate and I had to be removed from our host family house (well, we basically chose to leave due to certain stuff), and now we're at a location that, for me, is almost worse than before, but for roommie, it's still better. This place is called a riad, which refers to a traditional Moroccan house/living space that has a courtyard (the word literally means "courtyard," actually). Read more about it here.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Intro to Ramadhan - Ramadhan Mubarak!

So it's finally Ramadhan--and I'm going to be spending half of it in Morocco, inshaAllah. 

Ramadhan here started today (Wednesday, July 10th); in some places, it started on Tuesday. For those who might not know, lemme just give some basics of Ramadhan.

Sunday, July 7, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 10: The Food!

So, Moroccan foodzz ...  I don't know the names of most of the food below; I forget them the moment I'm told. Except for the common ones and those shared with South Asians, like paraata (which Moroccans call "milwi"), pakorrey ("ma'qooda" in Arabic... but I don't think I've a pic of that here. Or maybe I do. Let's see.)

Friday, July 5, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 9: Transportation in Morocco - the buses

I promised some while ago that I'll talk about how the bus system works works in Morocco--and what a typical bus-ride consists of. Well, here I go.
The first few weeks, I used a bus daily, but I've lately started taking the taxi. A taxi ride from home to the center is about 10 dirham, which is a little more than a U.S. dollar. Buses are 3 dirhams (or 3.5 on the bigger ones) per person no matter where you go, which is less than half a U.S. dollar.  There are two types of taxis here: the small taxis and the large ones. The small ones can carry 3 passengers max very comfortably, the larger ones 6 max (2 people sit in the passenger's seat)--very uncomfortably. It's not uncommon for taxi drivers, if you're a female sitting in the front seat, to deliberately touch you inappropriately as much as they'd like making it seem like an accident because cars here are manual, not automatic.

A bus ride is typically quite adventurous: the driver doesn't always close the doors, people can stand right in the doorway all they want, a passenger may freely sit (close to) in front of the driver by the dashboard (is that what that area is called?), there doesn't seem to be a limit of how many passengers can ride, making it a painful experience to have to leave a crowded bus. There's no room on the bus usually, except during certain times (like before 8:15am), and you stand up and you've to touch those cords that are full of everyone's germs... and the seats are usually torn and stuff, so you sit on one and you fall into the ground. And there are holes on the bus, so.
There are positive things about it, of course, including the fact that the buses are almost always on time (I think a new one comes every 15 mins or so) and the bus system is very organized. That they're very cheap (I feel like it's cheap for Moroccans generally, too, but I'm possibly wrong) is another good thing about them. Lemme talk a little more about my observations and then show you the pics.

Friday, June 28, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 8: On Moroccan Weddings!

So, the Moroccan wedding I attended last weekend . . .

Ben Smim! Beautiful, no?
The wedding took place in Ben Smim, a very, very poor village near Ifrane. (As you'll read below, Moroccan weddings traditionally begin around 9pm and end around 7am.) We visited a few houses there because they were all relatives of our host family, and we had to drink tea and eat paraatas (which Moroccans call "Milwi") in each of the houses! The houses were small, closed, no windows, tiny bathrooms and kitchens. I didn’t see any of the bedrooms, but there were curtains (no doors) to rooms and I imagined they were bedrooms. I felt like I could survive in them, since I’ve seen a LOT of poverty as a Pashtun from Swat; I lived in a neighborhood with a disturbing contrast between the poor and rich in Swat, with some of my neighbors having tiny houses with a tiny courtyard and no bedrooms but only some place with a roof, while others lived in ... well, let’s just say a little more luxuriously.

Wednesday, June 26, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 7: The Trip to Ifrane!

So, as some of my readers might know from my Twitter and/or Facebook, I attended a Moroccan wedding in Ifrane, Morocco this weekend (the best wedding I've ever attended!). Well, it wasn't exactly in Ifrane, but somewhere near it. But on our way to the wedding, we stopped by Ifrane, which is considered The Switzerland of Africa. It truly is, folks, it truly is! It has these lush green plants and trees all over, beautiful waterfalls, and when it snows there in winter, it's even more stunning. (I saw pics from the locals.) Read below for the details of our trip to Ifrane, and wait a short while (maybe a day?) to read about Moroccan weddings and the town.

Friday, June 21, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 6: When I Cried in Public ...

So, I had a terrible, terrible day some two days ago, and I ended up crying on the street. The response from Moroccans walking and driving by was ... sweet :) Here's what happened.

Thursday, June 20, 2013

Introducing the Parruney: The Pashtun Woman’s Body, Pashtun Men, and Harassment

Many people erroneously believe that the parruney, a long veil traditionally worn by Pashtun women that covers the face as well as the entire body, can keep a woman from being harassed or otherwise molested. This is untrue because men continue to gawk at women, whistle at them, follow them, and even attempt to touch them despite what the women wear. In fact, the purpose of the parruney is far from that of protecting the woman: it is there solely to protect the honor of the men of the woman’s family as well as to ensure that the female is never identified by the public. 

Sunday, June 16, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 5: General Thoughts on Morocco - the Good and the Bad

Just some general thoughts on my life in Morocco:

In case you haven’t heard from Twitter, I love it here :) There are very few things I am having a hard time tolerating, and it’s mostly gender-related stuff. Tell you about that in a minute. For now, other stuff!

My host family’s really, really nice. They’re giving a great impression of Moroccans, and I’m falling more and more in love with Moroccans every day because of my family’s generosity, kindness, and just overall attitude towards me and my roommate. They make us feel completely at home and remind us over and over that this is our home and that we can make here whatever we want, do whatever we want, etc. They’re open-minded, not judgmental (basically, they’re accepting of whatever of my religious views that they’ve heard so far #wink. That’s a huge deal, if you know me even a little, hah!). I don’t (like to) cover my hair all the time, and they haven’t pressured me in any way at all or told me that it’s an obligation or anything like that.

Saturday, June 15, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 4: Eating Snails

So, last week, host momma H., American roommate L., host sister N., and I went out to take a look around the city, window shopping and trying to remember where what is so that when we start our shopping, we'd know where to go. We saw lots of cool stuff and people, and all except me did something cool to: they ate snails. 

Note: In some parts of the Muslim world and in certain schools of Islamic law (e.g., Hanafi) snails are considered haraam or forbidden to eat, so if you're the type of Muslim who likes to declare everything haraam, continue reading at your own risk. Otherwise, please view on, folks!

It's a common thing here to eat snails, which I didn't know about so I was shocked (I know - I need to travel more often), but it wasn't anything new for my roommie who has eaten snails before in the U.S., too. 3-year-old N. (my little host sister) loooooves snails, too :D

Also, snails are very healthy for you. For example, they "provide a hefty dose of protein, little carbohydrate and some fat. Snails also serve as an excellent source of iron and other essential minerals, such as potassium and phosphorus." Google "how are snails healthy?" or click here for more reasons.

But when I was asked to try it, I was like noooo. I really couldn't! I've never done it before, and I hate snails in general so I was like, na, I can't do it. But they had me try the snail soup, which, too, is very health for you, and me being me took only one sip and the entire week was then tasting and smelling snails in anything I was eating. So never doing that again. And to think I kept seeing cars of snails-sellers everywhere I went after that...

Now on to some photos!

P.S. Other Morocco Journals

Part 1: Introduction: Arriving in Morocco
2: A Day at a Women-Only Hammam (Public Bath)
3: The Classes / Daily Schedule
5: General Thoughts on Morocco: The Good and the Bad
6: When I Cried in Public

Sunday, June 9, 2013

Morocco Journal - Part 3: The Classes

So,  some of you must've figured out if not heard from me directly that I'm in Morocco for studying Arabic. People be like, "Moroccan Arabic is so different from the rest, how can you study Arabic there?" Silly you, spoken Arabic is different all over (my favorite is the Shami dialect, which I've carried with me all the way to Morocco, too, and some people think that's my native dialect. YAYY!! :D Progress so far! Well, yes, there's quite a difference between spoken Arabic anywhere (darijah) and formal Arabic, (Fus'ha, or Modern Standard Arabic (MSA)). You can't go to an Arabic-speaking country knowing only formal Arabic and thinking that people will actually understand. Only those who are educated or have learned fus'ha will understand. In Jordan, if people would understand what we were saying, they'd nod and then teach us how to say that phrase or word or sentence in dialect so that people can actually understand what we want to say. Here, I got lucky that my host family knows fus'ha--and they even speak it with me :D Love it!

So, here's how my day in Morocco is like:

Saturday, June 8, 2013

Morocco Journal - 2: A Day at a Women-Only Hammaam, or Public Bath

Today, Saturday, June 8th 2013, I went to the hammam, a “public bath,” that’s for women only (there are men-only ones, too, but, needless to say, I haven’t been to those and don’t plan to, hah). They’ve been popular in the Greek, Turkish, and Arab cultures throughout history. I went to one in Jordan back in 2011, and that was a really, really good experience! It was more expensive, more sophisticated, much cleaner—the one I went to today wasn’t like that, but that’s because we didn’t go to the expensive one.  If I go to any hamaam in Morocco in the future, it’ll be to the more expensive ones. (P.S. I’ll be spelling this word inconsistently but it all means the same thing: hammam, hamaam, hamam. K?)

As in the Jordan hamaam, some of the women in this one were completely naked, others weren’t. There were females of all ages; the youngest one must have been around 2 years old, the oldest at least in her 70s. There were no males other than a little toddler who looked under 2 years old.

Lemme give you some little background on the hamaams.

Wednesday, June 5, 2013

Morocco Journey - Journal 1: Arriving in Morocco

Dear everyone,
I'm writing this from Morocco, where I have so far (in merely the last 3 days that I've been here) met some of the most wonderful, most kindest people on earth. Really, I don't think I can exaggerate their generosity and hospitality. But before I give the many examples of this, let's go back to how I got here and what all has happened so far.

Thursday, May 30, 2013

Ghani Khan, God, and the Mullah: The Mullah as an Ideology in Ghani Khan’s Poetry

Ghani Khan (1914-1996) was a Pashto poet, philosopher, politician, thinker, and artist. He is best known, however, for his poetry, which, with its immense power and wisdom, leaves us much to contemplate and discuss. While his poetry extends beyond his criticism of the mullah, a term that refers to a religious teacher often from the clergy, those familiar with Ghani’s poetry are much acquainted with the poet’s relationship with the mullah. In fact, one of the marks of Ghani’s poetry is his criticism of the mullah, his reference to the mullah’s hypocrisy, ignorance, and shallowness. What tends to be overlooked in the discussion on Ghani and the mullah, however, is a focus on the socio-religious milieu in which Ghani’s poetry emerges as a critical engagement with the mullah.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Pakistani Lesbian Couple Marries in the UK

I'm very happy to share this news as widely as possible! I wish the couple a lifetime of much peace, security, and love! They need it no less or more than anyone else does. As one of my most favorite quotes of all times reads, "Life is difficult as it is, and so when a person can find someone who can help them live this life as comfortably as possible for them, I'm all for it, regardless of their religion, gender, race, color, background, etc."

Indeed, a life companion need not be someone the society approves of so long as you can imagine yourself happily spending as much of your life with as possible.

Peace be upon us all!

P.S. As usual, I'd caution against reading the comments under the link of the article (provided below); they might have the power to disturb you and ruin your day if you let them.

Now ... the article is as pasted below.

Monday, May 20, 2013

My American Cousins - Part I

The short story below is intended to address some of the misconceptions that Pashtuns specifically (and Muslims/South Asians generally) have about Pashtuns/Muslims living in the West or about Westerners in general. It'll be based primarily on my own experiences, especially during my visit to Swat, Pakistan, in 2011, and the way that everyone received me and my family and imagined us all to be before they met us again.

“Hurry up, everyone, get ready! My son and daughter-in-law finally fulfilled my wish and agreed to bring their children from America to visit us. God knows how much they must have changed,” Grandma said with teary eyes, her head shaking in pity for having lost her favorite son and his children to the infidel West. Sitting on the char-pai, a bed of sorts, designed just for her, with built-in foam and cushions and everything, she was motioning to everyone, assigning tasks to each idle person her sixty-five-year-old eyes could spot in the house. She often cried for my uncle’s being in America, saying that Zubaida, a teacher whom she visits weekly for women-only sermons in the neighborhood, had told her that God said He will not forgive any believer who goes to America. 

Sunday, May 12, 2013

Ghani Khan and Women - Part I

Pre-post: This was originally published on Qissa Khwani. I'm posting it here because Part Two is coming up in a couple of days, and I want to acquaint my readers with the discussion here as I write the second part.
Disclaimer: The following isn't intended as a serious analysis of Ghani's poetry overall. It's merely a humble interpretation of one line from one of Ghani's best poems.

Wednesday, May 1, 2013

Gender Differences in Health Issues

This semester, I took a class on gender and health, mostly to examine the role that gender plays in health policies and administration. So we had to write an essay in which we had to sort of discuss this. The essay is to (try to, ha!) answer these questions: What role does gender play in health policies, how policymakers address gender differences in health, are the health differences between women and men due to their biological make-up and/or are natural or are they more social--or both?
The book I'm citing (authors: Bird and Reiker) is Gender and Health: The Effects of Constrained Choices and Social Policies by Chloe Bird and Patricia Reiker, published 2008. It's one of the most important books I've ever read in my life, so I definitely recommend it to everyone.

You know how people like to attribute all our differences to our biology? Yeah, well, they're not quite right. Women are more likely to seek help than men are not because men are just naturally supposed to be independent, for example; social upbringing has everything to do with it. Men get certain diseases more than women do, also more so due to social standards than to their biologies, although we really can't know for sure all the time. But both nature and nurture are equally important, something we need to keep in mind when talking about gender and health.

If something's unclear, lemme knoooow.

Tuesday, April 30, 2013

"Pakistani or Pashtun?" The Frustrating Question of Identity

Apparently, the below article is very ... "controversial"... then again, I love controversy and enjoy raising it; it's sometimes the only way to get a discussion started.

It was originally published on Pashtun Women Viewpoint, of which I'm a team member and an editor, but a couple of readers misunderstood the whole point and thought it was *Pashtun Women Viewpoint's* attempt to divide Pashtuns (whereas this is written by me and nothing on the website there necessarily reflects the team's perspective), and so we had to remove it from there to stop the ignorant remarks. I decided that I want to continue this discussion on identity so am posting it here for interested readers' pleasure. I can handle "attacks" on myself but not on Pashtun Women Viewpoint, so stop being stupid, you small lot of people, and reply here instead of attacking the website! Geez, you know what one of our many problems is, folks? We can't handle disagreements and think anyone who disagrees with us is not from us, is a fake Pashtun, is trying to divide everyone. Oh the lies you tell yourselves...

Anyway, bismillah. Here it goes!

"Pakistani or Pashtun?" The Frustrating Question of Identity

One of the most frustrating questions that the Pashtuns of Afghanistan and those of Pakistan who believe in the independence of Pashtuns from Pakistan pose to Pakistani Pashtuns is: “Do you consider yourself Pakistani or Afghan?” (Sometimes also, “Are you Pashtun or Pakistani?” as though one can’t be both.) The questioner’s understanding is that the person’s answer will determine how “real” a Pashtun she/he is: if the answer is, “I am Afghan,” the person is indeed a real Pashtun; if otherwise, they must prepare themselves for a circular, exasperating, and never-ending debate that is initiated often solely so that the questioner can inform them of how brainwashed and less informed they are of their origin and history.

Thursday, April 25, 2013

Muslim Women Marrying Non-Muslim Men

If you're not on my Facebook, you're missing out on this, so I'll share it here :)

Talk about the need for re-evaluating classical/medieval rules on whom Muslim women can and can't marry:
In Canada, over 40% Muslim women marry non-Muslim men, half of whom never convert to Islam (Muslim Women in America: The Challenge of Islamic Identity Today by Yvonne Haddad, p. 86)--and why should they have to, right? When women's insight, experiences, and voices are completely ignored in the development of law or of a certain guideline *about them*, what you get is rules that eventually harm them and disempower them... until they can't take it anymore and have to "rebel." From a practical point of view, the situation in the West especially, where Muslims are a minority, is such that interfaith marriages become sort of a necessity to increase the pool of men available to Muslim women. An Imam in Scotland has issued a fatwa forbidding the Muslim men there from going "back home" to bring wives to Scotland and instead marry available women in the community there. Imam Feisal Abdul Rauf, the Ground Zero Mosque imam in New York, has officially allowed Muslim women to marry Christian/Jewish men because that's the "lesser evil" between letting themmarry non-Muslims and having them leave Islam to do the marriage (in his book Moving the Mountain: Beyond Ground Zero to a New Vision of Islam in America, p.131. Too many Muslim women across the West are looking to get married but cannot find compatible available Muslim men to marry. Fascinating stuff, no? So, yeah, this is a huge discussion and so many factors are involved in it, but I'm so, SO happy to learn that the number of Muslim women marry non-Muslim men is increasing. (We need similar research on women in other Western countries, too; not cool that we don't know approximately how many in the U.S. intermarry!) We tend to forget that one of the methods of interpreting Islam is actually existing realities, situations, and context generally of a society, thus allowing Muslims to replaced rules/guidelines that need to be replaced. 

Gosh, I feel so accomplished when I write out something that's on my mind for too long.

Peace to all!

Friday, April 19, 2013

Privileging American Victims of Bombing: "To Boston with Love, from Afghanistan/Iraq"

NO to these kinds of images!!
 I'm not really sure how I feel about all these images I'm seeing of Afghans and Iraqis (and others who themselves are victims of American terrorism and/or American policies abroad) holding signs of "To Boston, from Afghanistan" or "To Boston, from Iraq." Not only because most Americans have absolutely NO idea what these people themselves suffer from--and most don't even seem to care or want to find out--but also because it's another pitiful way of privileging America and everything Americans, including its victims. I understand that death is always politicized, but that is so unfair. And, so, all you folks sharing pics of Afghan victims with signs like "From Kabul to Boston with Love," posters held by little smiling children or burqa-clad women, STOP IT, DAMNIT!! Those people holding those signs probably have no idea what the signs read in the first place. What's the message there? "We're sorry for Boston"? I'm terribly sorry for Boston. My heart goes out to any and all people who were emotionally, physically, psychologically, or otherwise affected by the bombing in Boston--but I feel this and so much more also for the thousands of people killed monthly throughout much of the world outside America, people whose murder (or victimhood) does nothing to us outside of their small towns or countries or regions. We should stand up for justice no matter where and for whom. Let's be fair and treat all of them equally; no, we're no more important as Americans than the thousands and millions being killed (most because of our own political games on their lands!), so, no, our loss isn't more important. Live with it. While these images may be perceived as a moment of compassion and humanity from non-American victims, sort of saying, "Hey, we're in this boat of victims of bombing/terrorism together! We're with you!" and maybe also intended to make Americans be ashamed of themselves for not giving a damn about other people's lives and sufferings, I strongly believe this is just done to privilege Americans and American life. I highly, highly doubt most people who view these images are going to feel any shame at all; to them, it's going to be more like, "Ohhh, we're so important, and everyone knows it. We deserve so much sympathy, and good to see we're getting that from ALL OVER THE WORLD." That's so how it seems to me...

Saturday, April 6, 2013

Love InshaAllah for Men: Muslim Men on Love and Relationships - Call for Stories

Below, I'm pasting the call for papers for the second round of Love InshaAllah, which is this fantastic project about which I wrote a few months ago. The first round was on American Muslim women's experiences with love and relationships; it's published. This time, the editors are seeking Muslim men's experiences. 

I urge any and every American Muslim male to send them their story or stories if you've got something to share. Pen names are acceptable. For details, please visit their website to read the Call for Papers. They are currently seeking more diversity, preferably GBTQs and men from South Asia, Central Asia, Arab, and Latino origins as well. Please share your story, using a pen name if you must.

Deadline: May 6, 2013.

Wednesday, April 3, 2013

Daily Musings - On Stress, Thesis, Morocco Trip, Daughterly Love, ... and stuff

Yesterday, a friend mentioned that she's started playing the sitar as a means of easing her mind during this stressful time of the semester. She and I are both working on our theses right now, and that's sometimes the only thing we talk about these days. Our entire Spring Break was spent working on them, and the weather has been so beautiful lately that it feels like we're missing out on too much. InshaAllah, we're going to celebrate this Saturday!!!! This semester has been the busiest so far, almost painful.

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