9 Reasons Why American Muslim Women Should Celebrate This Fourth of July

  It's a gift to be an American Muslim woman and at least 9 reasons to celebrate this Fourth of July. Even when the politics are numbing and nasty. Even in an age of terrorism and rising attacks against Muslim women in America. Despite the ugliness, there is still greatness to be celebrated. Because let's be honest. In many Muslim countries, the freedoms that America offers Muslim … [Read more...]

Glorious Books of Summer That Take You Through To Labor Day

The must-read books of summer that will take you through to Labor Day will engage, educate and enlighten you. This summer, I've come across stories of heroic Muslim women, our America's founding fathers view of Islam, and a book on happiness. As I write this, I am on the beach with one or more books, jotting down notes, and circling clever phrases. In this selection, you will find books that … [Read more...]

A Special Eid Mubarak And How To Keep The Spirit of Ramadan Alive

The coming of Eid al-Fitr is a special time for Muslims everywhere, and although it means the end of Ramadan, the spirit of Ramadan can be kept alive by choosing to stay connected  to the Universe. After a month of soul-and-body cleansing rituals, Muslims are stronger. Spiritually. During the holy month, Muslims fasted, prayed more, and many gave more of their time and wealth to charity.  For … [Read more...]

3 Simple Rules On How To Be A Great Terrorism Analyst

A terrorism analyst is one of the most challenging careers and there is so much I had to learn. After years of experience, I learned a few key tips that helped me cope with stress and manage my time.    When I started, I knew that the life of a terrorism analyst is far from glamorous.  In the early part of my career in the U.S. Government, I had to prove that I could be a great … [Read more...]

3 Lessons Learned From Teaching The Military

Training the American armed forces was one of the most rewarding and enriching experiences. In the classroom, participants (i.e., soldiers) helped me understand war by sharing their experiences of serving in a Muslim country. Here's what they taught me: 3 things I learned again: War is not black and white. But shades of gray, and every other color in-between. Although there is a real enemy in … [Read more...]

A Message To The Army: You Just Can’t Kill Anyone

A month ago, there was a siege in a village. A contact, who will remain unnamed for security reasons, gave me a horrific account of the military madness that took place in the pristine valley of Kashmir.  They did it again. They shot four boys in our neighborhood. One was fifteen-years old. Oh God, I thought. He is too young to die. He belongs to someone. I could not (did not want to) … [Read more...]

The Right To Go To War: Part Three

As her daughter, I’m often amazed at how unwounded my mother is. She would readily admit that ‘war changes everything and everyone.” It changed the way women behaved. The way they planned their day, and how they interacted with one another, choosing carefully their messages and maxims with outsiders. War could leave deep wounds that would never heal, but somehow, it didn’t mark my mother. Or at … [Read more...]

The Right To Go To War: Part Two

Mama trained without wearing the hijab or burqa, the head-to-ankle cloth that hides the contours of a woman’s body. Refusing to cover her hair, Mama reminded me of American woman in jeans, a symbol of the sexual revolution in the 1960s. I remember thinking how bold and sanguine she was while growing up in a country that offered girls few choices. She valued her freedom and refused to be controlled … [Read more...]

The Right To Go To War: Part One

As an immigrant child, I learned about war at home. I listened to stories of countries born out of conflict; women taking up arms for national pride; and the speeches, songs, and scholarship created by women to fight their oppressors. Growing up in Texas, I learned about female fighters from Mama's war stories. As a child, I wanted to know why my mother chose to join the Army; why she rallied for … [Read more...]

Life In The New Cuba

 This summer, I picked up The Other Side of Paradise: Life in the New Cuba by Julia Cooke, who dispels every myth and misconception Americans have about Cuba--a forbidden country to many outsiders until renewed relations between Cuba and the United States. Sifting through the pages of Cooke's Cuba reminds me of my birthplace, Pakistan. Both countries are defined by cliches and … [Read more...]

Honoring the AFPAK Women For Speaking Up

It has been said that women are half of any society. In Afghanistan and Pakistan, women are the primary caretakers of their families. Women nurture their communities and countries. And yet, many women across the Islamic world, including Afghanistan and Pakistan, lag behind. Too often, they are isolated and insular. The common image of women in the AFPAK region is that they are abandoned and/or … [Read more...]

First Annual Narrative Strategies Conference

A team of scholars will share their experience and expertise this Friday, May 6th on a subject of great importance. Countering violent extremism (CVE) with sound solutions and strategies that actually work. Presently, there is a renewed focus on CVE and a robust discussion is taking place worldwide on what constitutes the right CVE policy and practice. I've been in several meetings in Washington, … [Read more...]

The Story of Mughli, A Mother Who Died Searching For Her Son

An enlarged black-and-white photo hangs in my home office. When I see her, I am reminded of why I write about women inc conflict. Many years ago, I had written a post about Mughli, a woman in Indian-held Kashmir who never stopped looking for her son. I write about women in war because women like Mughli deserve to be known. When a mother like Mughli loses a child, she no longer wants to live.Women … [Read more...]

Learn Something New: The Best Blogs On Islam

The list of blogs on Islam is endless. But there are a few I like because they challenge the norms within Islamic culture as well as stereotypes about Islam perpetuated in the West Best of all, these sites provide insightful information and are simply fun to read. 3 Out-of-the-Ordinary Muslim Blogs Muslim Matters - the site includes taboo subjects like sex and the Ummah, divorce, and intimacy … [Read more...]

One Mother Talks About Her Son, Islam And ISIS

  Last week, I met a woman who I will call Ivonne. We had a few things in common. We both had Muslim sons and wanted to protect them from falling into the terrorist trap. We both believe Islam is a religion of peace, compassion and mercy. Even though Ivonne is a devout Christian and goes to church regularly. "I had a Muslim girlfriend and she had the best character. She was always … [Read more...]