Perspectives on Terrorism Book Review of Invisible Martyrs

Book reviews matter and I've been honored to receive the following reviews of my new book, Invisible Martyrs, from other scholars and kind-hearted readers. I'm honored to have this review from Joshua Sinai published in the "Counterterrorism Bookshelf" section of the Perspectives on Terrorism journal, Volume 12, Issue 5.  Farhana Qazi, Invisible Martyrs: Inside the Secret World of Female … [Read more...]

A Must Read Book By A Young Girl From Pakistan Who Gives Voice To Honor Killings

I Should Have Honor is a must read book by a young girl, Khalida Brohi, from rural Pakistan who gives voice to honor killings. So often, honor killings in Pakistan and in other Islamic countries take place in the name of male pride and/or religious fervor. It's wrong. It's wicked. And it's still widely practiced.  See her short video clip for a powerful message - We should all have honor, says … [Read more...]

A New Film on Rape in Burma Highlights Crimes Committed Against Women

A new film on rape and sexual violence in Burma highlights crimes committed against women. The film, "Mother, Daugher, Sister" is a gripping and hauntingly real documentary of stories of women who have witnessed rape or have been raped by the Burmese military and authorities. Director Jeanne Hallacy, who is a compassionate and strong-willed woman, presents the film to audiences around the country, … [Read more...]

Why Women Choose Violent Action

Women choose violent action for a plethora of reasons, including religion, respect from their community or peers, revenge, retribution from past or current sins, and the right to change prolonged (armed) conflict. This not only applies to radical / violent Muslim women and girls, but to women everywhere.  In numerous studies and books, including the release of my latest book Invisible Martyrs: … [Read more...]

Stories With Heroic Imagination and The Meaning of Memoir

I spent an entire afternoon at the library and discovered the humanity and warmth of stories written as a memoir with heroic imagination. This kind of narrative--the use of a hero or heroine--is one of the oldest and most compelling methods of holding someone's attention: everyone wants to be told a story in narrative form.  For years, I focused on the stories of people living in conflict and … [Read more...]

On Masked Men, Hijackings, And Nightmares

It was the same dream for years: sitting with a travel magazine on an international flight when masked men take over the plane in a hijacking that seemed oh-so-1980s. The nightmare had consumed me throughout my days in the U.S. government.   In my dreams, men with dark eyes wore black masks and wielded sharp weapons. They spoke a language I vaguely understood and made plans to strike a … [Read more...]

A Conversation With Farhana Qazi and Wajahat Ali, One of CNN’s Most Influential Muslims, At Bus Boys & Poets Bookstore

  Award-winning journalist and playwright Wajahat Ali, and one of CNN's Most Influential Muslims, will join me at the Bus Boys & Poets Bookstore to discuss perceptions of Muslims in America, Islam, conflicts in the Muslim world, Islamophobia and much more. On October 1st, at 6:30 pm, Ali will openly discuss the most pressing issues of our time: perceptions and misperceptions of Islam, … [Read more...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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...]

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