Sunday, January 26, 2014

Lila Abu-Lughod's "Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?"

Because I loved this article - and because I think the link between "Muslim women" and the 911 tragedy is absolutely ridiculous and stupid.

The below are some random thoughts on the article as I was reading it. I recommend reading the whole article; it's short anyway. Now there's a book with the same title by the same author, too.

"Do Muslim Women Really Need Saving?" (the article) by Lila Abu-Lughod 

Ethics Forum: Septemeber 11 and the Ethnographic Responsibility

Friday, January 24, 2014

The 4th Annual UCSB Islamic Studies Graduate Student Conference: Call for Papers

They've extended the deadline to January 31st. Per the email being circulated, feel free to share the following with anyone interested.

Abstract Deadline: January 31st, 2014
Conference: April 4–6, 2014   |   University of California, Santa Barba

We would like to announce that the submission deadline for paper proposals for the 4th UCSB Islamic Studies Graduate Student Conference has been extended to January 31st, 2014. We would greatly appreciate if you could circulate this email around your department. 

This year's conference, titled (Un)Civil Society: Past and Present, will address the various historical and contemporary manifestations of civil society and political/social unrest in the Middle East and wider Islamic World. We invite the submission of any paper proposals that address civil society and political unrest in the Middle East and wider Islamic World, widely conceived, in both historical and contemporary societies. Proposals from a variety of disciplines are welcomed!

Submission Guidelines: To have your paper considered, please submit a paper proposal/abstract (maximum 300 words) and a two-page Curriculum Vitae by January 31st, 2014. Email proposals to Travel assistance may be available for needy applicants on a limited basis.
For more information, see below:

(Un)Civil Society: Past and Present
The 4th Annual UCSB Islamic Studies Graduate Student Conference

April 4th–6th, 2014
University of California, Santa Barbara

Call For Papers

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Friday, January 17, 2014

Malala Yousafzai's Version of "Ka da zalmo na pura na shwa...": On Sexism in Pashto Poetry and Peghor

I was talking to a Pashtun friend yesterday about sexist and gendered verses/lines in Pashto poetry, even if well-intentioned. Examples include Ghani Khan's "waak ye che da bal wee da dey nar na zanana kha da." [Rough tanslation: "Even a woman is better than a man who allows himself to be subjugated!" I've discussed this in details here.] Really offensive and like what the hell, even though I'm a crazy fan of Ghani's and his philosophies. Then there's this Pashto song that goes like "Pukhtano pasai inqilab rawaly, da garmo veno sor selab rawaly, Ka dase na v mekhaki wachawai da jinako ghunde bangri wachawai." [Rough translation:  O' Pashtuns [but talking specifically to men alone, clearly], wake up and start a revolution; if you can't do that, then go home and put on some bangles and jewelry like girls."] :|  I KNOW, RIGHT!!!

So this friend of mine understood my concern and critique and gave me some good news.

Thursday, January 9, 2014

My Poem "Weeping at Ghani's Grave" Re-done with music and Ghani Khan's photos and stuff

A creative and talented reader of my blog made a really nice presentation of my poem "Weeping at Ghani's Grave". It's really beautifully done, and with his permission, I'm sharing it here. I'm especially crazy about the background music. I hope you all enjoy it as much as I have been!

Saturday, January 4, 2014

If I Had Married Young

Many Muslims tell us that we should marry early—and early usually means late teens and, at the latest, early 20s. Mid- to late-20s is “too old” and by then, we’ve reached the level of spinsterhood. And no one wants to marry a spinster, right? So here are some reasons why I am so, so glad that I didn't marry young and didn't listen to anyone who was telling me to marry--and completely ignore people who think that girls above the age of 18 are "too old" to be marrying now.

Note: None of this is to suggest that I condemn other people's choices to marry young, though I know that in many cases, they're not the individuals' own choices but they end up getting married young out of pressure from parents/family or are blackmailed in some way or another due to certain religious and cultural beliefs. I wish everyone well, especially those who have been or are in such situations.

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

Female Empowerment on the Rise in Disney Movies at LAST! :)

Dear readers,

First off, I'd like to wish you, your family and friends and other loved ones, and everyone else out there--including myself--a wonderful, peaceful, safe, and beautiful new year. May 2014 bring with itself lots and lots of joys, love, and blessings for us all. And peace for this world. 

I had a terrible 2013, and I have been longing for 11:59pm December 31st to pass, and I'm delighted to announce that I was in a moment of extreme happiness, hope, and gratitude at exactly that time. I won't try to keep you guessing why, so let me tell you.

So I am currently visiting my sister to help her move to her new apartment (it's beautiful, and may she find much happiness and peace here - this year and always, aameen!). We decided that, yes, we've had a terrible year individually and collectively, but we (hopefully?) learned something from our experiences and will try really, really hard to be happier in future unexpected and depressing situations. So we decided to start off by watching a movie late at night. Last night, we watched "American Hustle," and we both hated it. Thought it was a dumb, pathetic, stupid, lame movie - not our type and an absolutely waste of our time. So don't watch it. But what we DID enjoy and had a great time watching and absolutely, absolutely loved was - - ta-daaaahhhh ... Disney's "Frozen"!!! OH MY GOD, you guys!!! It's such an adorable and beautiful movie! Since we hated yesterday's movie, we decided that Disney couldn't disappoint us in terms of its charactorial depictions (the cartoons are always so adorable! Their expressions rock!) So we went ahead with "Frozen." But my sister is at least as much a feminist--and hence anti-female representation in most Disney movies, other media, and most films worldwide--so we were like, meh, let's just enjoy ourselves anyway; at least we're guaranteed a laugh wit the characters' expressions and moves.

Turns out, "Frozen" is actually the best movie we've ever watched in a theater. The story is nice, the characters are hilarious, the movie is hilarious, and the female characters--OH EM GEE! Disney has pleasantly and so happily surprised us with how far it has come in terms of its female portrayal! 

Sure, there's a princess who dreams of finding "true love" the first day she gets out of her home (long story), and she's later told that she'll freeze to death (long story) and the only thing that can prevent that from happening is a touch of true love. She thinks it means a kiss from the man she "truly loves" and everyone else thinks that means that, too. And the audience is expected to think that, too. And we do. And then there's this really beautiful twist at the end that made me, a feminist who's rarely pleased with the movies she watches, SO happy! :) Plus, the girls are independent, strong-willed, can take care of themselves and don't need any princes in shining armors to save them from anyone or anything. And in this one funny scene, this guy tells this princess, "Well, I'd do it, but I have you with me and you don't know how to climb mountains, so" and before he can finish his sentence, the girl's already started climbing. He doesn't even know her and thinks that already and is shocked many times. Ahhh, there's always beauty in the dispelling of myths and assumptions, especially gendered ones! And lastly, "true love" finally means something beyond, far, far beyond simply loving and desiring a man!

So! Just to say - if you didn't think about watching "Frozen" before, consider it now! Disney sucked once upon a time, but it rocks now! 

The movie gave me hope. And I was smiling brightly with my sister at 11:59pm on December 31st, minutes after the movie had ended, happy, hopefully, thankful, and excited for the future ahead. I read our watching the movie as a sign that the next year is going to be full of joys and joys and love and peace and celebrations and happiness, inshaAllah.

May we all be blessed with a wonderful new year ahead, this year and every year. Aameen!

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