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...]

The Meaning of Religion and Why It Matters Today

Three days into the month of Ramadan, one of Islam's holiest months, and I'm reminded of the strength of faith. CNN seems to think so too with its new series on religion.  A month into the show, The Believers that takes a deeper look at the power of believing in a higher being and living for a greater purpose. Narrated by an internationally acclaimed writer and scholar on religions, Reza Aslan … [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...]

3 Simple Ways to Warn Children About Online Extremism

The Internet is familiar. And it's all too easy to search for the wrong person, group and idea. So how can Muslim parents talk to their children about extremist groups looking for young recruits? A mother of two teenagers, I warn my children, weekly and then monthly, about the dangers of extremists trolling the digital world. At the end of one of my talks, my eldest said, "I have a future here." … [Read more...]

Why Girls Join Violent Groups: An Update On My New Book

  The threat is real. We live in an unsafe world, haunted by criminals, gangs, serial killers, murderers, rapists, and religious extremists. The latter is relatively new and has troubled me for nearly 20 years. As an American Muslim woman, I've been asked over and over again "why" and "how" ordinary-looking Muslims join violent groups. The truth is that the majority of Muslims are kind, … [Read more...]

Honest Writing Is Daring: Why Write About Violence

The cliche is true. Study something you love to-death and in-depth. Over the years, many people have asked me, "Why do you study violent behavior?" or "Why conflict?" On a lecture tour in Muscat, Oman, I had to tell my audience that studying violence and violent behavior chose me. (By the way, Oman is a beautiful, peaceful Muslim country. You can read more about Oman in my next post.) What you … [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...]

Islam Is Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Part Three

Prophet Muhammad once said: "God will continue to assist the servant, so long as His servant helps others." This is civic involvement. A concept I learned from my parents, and then an American scholar known as Shaykh Hamza Yousef. On a recent lecture tour, I showed a video clip of Yousef explaining the need to return to the attribute of mercy. Yusuf talks about the need to learn the Prophetic … [Read more...]

Islam Is Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Part Two

Can Muslims take back Islam? The simple answer is yes. Thousands of Muslims across America are speaking up for the truths that are often buried in ignorance, hatred, and religious bias. Islam is a religion of peace, compassion and mercy. -- Khaled Abou el-Fadel, professor at UCLA (California), author of The Great TheftIn his written work, Al-Fadl describes the divided Muslim community and places … [Read more...]

Islam Is Countering Violent Extremism (CVE): Part One

Mer * cy (noun) : compassion or forgiveness shown toward another person.Ar-Rahman Ar-Rahim (Arabic, noun and verb) God's mercy on humankind.To show mercy is to live by one of God's highest and most noble attributes. I learned this concept as a child even though my secular-liberal parents did not couch it in religious terminology. Mercy just meant being kind to everyone, regardless of race, social … [Read more...]

A Special Keynote Address: The Path to Ijtihad or Critical Thinking

Last week, I was honored to present at The Homeland Security and Emergency Management Conference in New Mexico. Set in historic Albuquerque, the conference venue and the audience could not have been more perfect--hundreds of law enforcement officers, emergency managers, and government officials, all working together to keep our country safe. As a keynote speaker, I was invited to talk about … [Read more...]

The Pakistan I Thought I Knew: Part Four

There is an image that lingers on silent nights. The shifting patterns of house lights in play in Azad Kashmir, or Free Kashmir, situated in northern Pakistan in the city of Muzaffarabad. The suffocating closeness of that city to refugee camps and rain-glazed trees where leaves sagged toward another winter leave an indelible mark.The city is the strangest place I have ever visited. To many, it is … [Read more...]

The Pakistan I Thought I Knew: Part Two

The Pakistan I thought I knew is almost gone. As a child, I didn't see political chaos and military coups but cousins racing to the rooftop to fly and cut down kites in the clear blue sky of Lahore, my birth city. Of memories jumping in the rain because we could; boys and girls playing together on rooftops. An innocence lost as we grow older--and as I continue to visit--a country that … [Read more...]