Is It Safe To Travel To The Muslim World?

When is it safe to travel to the Muslim world and where can I go are common questions. News of the Muslim world give the illusion that most Muslim countries are spiraling out of control with frenzied conflicts and/or the possibility of terrorist attacks. One commentator lists at least 20 different conflicts in which Muslims are involved which is a high number. But there is a greater truth: the … [Read more...]

Is America Safe Now That The Austin Bombing Suspect Is Dead?

  The Austin bombing suspect is dead, thanks to a tremendous law enforcement effort, but America is not yet safe from future attackers, serial killers, school shooters and other violent individuals.  The one important question that authorities did not answer is why.   Why did 23-year old Mark Conduit, a young white man from the peaceful town of Pflugerville, terrorize his home town and … [Read more...]

Who Is the Mystery Serial Bomber in Austin?

A serial bomber has gripped the city of Austin, Texas, the fourth time this month as the latest bomb blast injured two men in a residential area and has left residents on edge while law enforcement agencies are scrambling to identity the mystery bomber. Austin is my hometown city. It is where I spent my childhood and young adult life. It's a peaceful place known for music aficionados, pristine … [Read more...]

An Inside Look At A New Book Titled Snowfall in Kashmir

Kashmir is an active conflict. As I have written in my book and numerous articles, the place I call "Wonderland" is unsettling and unpredictable. The valley of death is also described as Paradise on earth. My first visit to Kashmir helped me see the conflict through the eyes of women and their men. The brief periods I spent in Kashmir tormented me for years to come. I never thought I would fall … [Read more...]

Ignorance of Islam Is Incomprehensible Today

Ignorance is not bliss. It is the hotbed of misunderstanding, misapprehension and mistakes. Recently, I presented a lecture on Islam at a Homeland Security Conference to emergency managers, law enforcement officers, and military men and women. Speaking about Islam as a religion of peace, mercy and understanding is a heavy responsibility, and each time I do so I grapple with the fear of … [Read more...]

What The Fatwa Is Going On: What Scholars Are Saying Against Extremists

Extremist ideologues have ignored hundreds of fatwas against violence, arbitrary killing, and senseless war. Instead, they honor fatwas to legalize their right to kill; their right to enslave innocent women; and their right to govern and take land with force. Undoubtedly, this is dangerous to the Muslim youth and damaging to Islamic scholarship.  To counter the extremists, moderate muftis have … [Read more...]

WTF: So What The Fatwa Is Going On?

Who has the right to issue a fatwa, an Islamic ruling, is an important question that is confused by born-again scholars and unlearned authority figures. Today, there are thousands, if not millions, of Muslim scholars issuing legal edicts on wide-ranging subjects. What’s troubling is that hardliners as well as violent extremists are rendering fatwas, many of which declare war or death on an … [Read more...]

The 5 Most Misunderstood Words with Islam And What They Mean

Nearly two decades after 9/11, words associated with Islam are often linked with terrorism. In August, at a homeland security conference, I delivered two talks on Islam to law enforcement agencies and defined the historical root of the top 5 words in the Muslim vocabulary that is still misunderstood, misplaced, and misused in the West. Even some Muslims don't know how to explain their faith to … [Read more...]

Why Muslim Girls Marry Older Men

Young Muslim girls continue to marry older men, sometimes twice their age, and this outdated cultural tradition lives on in select countries and communities. This ugly phenomenon is certainly not new. Though it seems out-of-place in the West and in Muslim countries that are progressive on paper only.  What I don't understand is why and how this custom continues to take place when there … [Read more...]

Life in Kashmir: Can You Imagine Living In A Place Without The Internet?

Most people I know would go crazy if they had to live in a place without full-time access to the Internet. But this is exactly what is happening in Indian-occupied Kashmir, where local residents--especially in the southern region--are constantly threatened with media blackout, Internet shutdowns, and curfews in the name of "national security." That's a buzz word for "chasing terrorists." Yes, … [Read more...]

How Many Innocent Civilians Are Killed By Drones Every Month?

More civilians are being killed by drones than ever before. Often, we don't see the faces or know the names of the dead. Neither do the drone operators. Which is why many have stopped caring about "the casualties of war." Because we have simply accepted that innocent people will die in war. Or agree that terrorists are to blame for hiding among civilian populations--as if innocent people should be … [Read more...]

The Violence in Myanmar And The Growing Silence Of Aung San Suu Kyi

Millions of Muslims have been forced out of their homes, and the world is still waiting for Aung San Suu Kyi to help end the military operations against Myanmar’s Rohingya minority. Among those who oppose Suu Kyi is Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the veteran South African Anglican leader and fellow recipient of the Nobel Peace Prize. But it’s not certain that even a reputed leader will have much impact … [Read more...]

September 11 Attacks, A Day of Remembrance And Lessons Learned

For many Americans, the evil attacks on September 11, 2001 was a day of unforgettable grief. On that day, I was at one of the largest U.S. military bases, and as the only Muslim female officer, I worked around the clock to help piece together the ugly events. There was grief at the shedding of innocents' blood in the attacks of September 11 and over the death of more innocents in the war that … [Read more...]

A Love Affair With Kashmir, The Forever Conflict

  I did not plan to fall in love with Kashmir, the forever conflict, or its people. When I visited Wonderland, I could not have predicted the profound effect it would have on the way I would see and understand a protracted conflict: the spoils of war; the senseless violence; the widows and families left behind; and the endless political quagmire.  Over the past year, since the release of … [Read more...]

5 Ways To Live Fearlessly In An Age of Terrorism

We live in unpredictable times and many people I've met are struck by anxiety and fear of not knowing when the next attack will take place, which is why I have given lectures on how to live fearlessly in an age of terrorism to general audiences. Fear is a terrible feeling. When we're scared, we can’t move forward and get stuck in that moment for a very long time. That’s what happens when you’re … [Read more...]