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...]

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