Invisible Martyrs With Farhana Qazi, a Conversation On Violent Extremism And Islam

Join Farhana Qazi for a conversation on violent extremism and Islam, the theme of her new book Invisible Martyrs at the International Spy Museum on September 27, 2018 in Washington, D.C. Hot Topic Series Why would a girl from Denver join ISIS, an extremist movement known for its mistreatment of women? Why would an Iraqi girl strap on a suicide vest? What does Islam say about violence? These … [Read more...]

Islam Is Feminism

Some Muslim women today are using the word Islam and feminism as two separate concepts and ideas when for many Muslim women, including myself, Islam is feminism. Islam has a long historical tradition of respecting and recognizing the talent and sacrifices of its women. For years, I have been teaching my students in the US military and at universities that men and women are equal in Islam--a … [Read more...]

A Prayer For The Victims of September 11th and All Terrorist Attacks

I remember the September 11th terrorist attacks clearly and before I can answer what I was doing, I offer a prayer for the victims, which include innocent American Muslims. That day is unforgettable, as it is for most Americans who were old enough to recall. As a young analyst in the U.S. Government, I happened to be on a military base when I watched the planes shatter glass and destroy thousands … [Read more...]

The Final Truth About 72 Virgins In Paradise

The myth of the 72 virgins in Paradise is a common theme for terrorist and violent extremist groups, and the final truth is anything but a myth. The reality is that there are no 72 virgins in Paradise. Numerous Islamic sources and my own interviews with religious figures across the Muslim and Western world confirm this truth. Here's why: Heaven in the Muslim faith does not include 72 wide-eyed … [Read more...]

Why Terrorism Is Still A Personal Choice For Girls and Women

Terrorism is a personal choice for most girls and women who join violent extremist groups. For years, I have been speaking and writing about the very personal reasons to explain why Muslim females enter the dark world of violence. The following is an excerpt from my new book, Invisible Martyrs, that addresses this subject: Terrorism is personal. Each woman’s story is unique. Local contexts, … [Read more...]

Book Review of Invisible Martyrs And Why Women Join Violent Groups

The first book review of Invisible Martyrs and why women join violent groups appeared in the Investigative Project on Terrorism. Reading a review of my book confirms what I have always known: as a global community, we are still grappling with Islam.  There is a wider debate on the role of religion in violent extremism and terrorism studies. Some have argued, including Graham's controversial … [Read more...]

Why Fighting Terrorism Is Not Just a War of Ideas

Fighting terrorism is more than a war of ideas and a battle of words. If we understand the message (read propaganda) of violent extremists, then logically speaking, we should be able to craft counter messages that defeat their weak ideological reasoning.  But is it that simple? Can we expect religious leaders, for example, to fight extremists with narratives alone? In a new opinion piece, … [Read more...]

Muslims Fighting For Understanding (And The Survival) Of Their Faith

For centuries, Muslims have been fighting for understanding and the survival of their faith. Numerous books on rebellion, revolution and resistance offer an intimate portrayal of an isolated people struggling to change and grow and connect. As I was growing up, I was fascinated by women in conflict. My mother told me stories of her war-time days in Pakistan when she joined the Army. And then in … [Read more...]

Travel to China: Inside A 700 Year Old Mosque in Xian City

In a recent travel to China, I visited the ancient city of Xian and discovered a 700 year old mosque layered with history and tradition. The entrance felt like a Zen garden with shades of green and Arabic letters of the Quran carved in stone and wood. As I walked quietly and slowly along the ancient stone, a gray-bearded man with small eyes and a kind face followed.  "I am the imam," he said, … [Read more...]

Violent Recruitment Online For Muslim Girls Continues

At speaking events, I’m often asked how one connects with religious extremists online and how violent recruitment takes place for Muslim girls. It’s simple. A girl begins by conducting a simple search for propaganda literature such as a film on YouTube. She clicks on the site and hits the “Like” button. Or perhaps she finds comments posted on Twitter, Facebook, and other social media sites that … [Read more...]

More Girls and Women Are Joining Violent Groups And Here’s Why

Violent extremists are masterminds at exploiting empathy and giving girls and women a false sense of hope. Over the past five years, an astonishing number of girls and women have joined violent groups. Statistically, the numbers are low and no more than fifty females have tried to join ISIS or offer ideological, material, and financial support. While the number may seem low, it is a sign that the … [Read more...]

What Does Islam Say About Mercy?

  One of the most meaningful messages I have received from Muslim scholars is the concept of God's mercy and His forgiveness. There are numerous words in Arabic for mercy, although two words that appear frequently in the Quran are: Ar-Rahman, Ar-Rahim, which mean "The Most Gracious" and "The Most Merciful." In my line of work, as a Muslim woman countering violent extremism, I explain that … [Read more...]

Why American Muslims Celebrate The Fourth of July

American Muslims celebrate the fourth of July for the most obvious reason: they, too, are grateful to be here. There are many reasons to celebrate this glorious holiday. As an American woman, I grew up here. I spent my childhood in Texas and then moved to Washington, DC for graduate school and government work. This is the number one reason former immigrants like myself honor the national holiday: … [Read more...]

Conflict in America: Children Separated From Their Families Sparks Ongoing Immigration Debate

  Stories of children separated from their families is heart-breaking enough in conflicts around the world, but this time, it's happening right here in America. And it gets worse. There is a plethora of first-hand reporting and interviews of the trauma and terrible incidents taking place in US-funded centers for immigrant children, such as forcing children to take drugs. See video … [Read more...]

The Forever War in Kashmir Is Marked By Shame And Trauma

The Kashmir conflict has become the forever war, a place where suffering is increasingly psychological and people marked by shame, fear, alienation, anguish, stress, trauma and unimaginable loneliness. It is here in "paradise on earth" that I discovered the most memorable women. I'm often amazed at how meeting one person at one time in one place can change you. In an earlier post, I wrote a … [Read more...]

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