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...]

The Opening to My New Book On Violent Extremism

  For those of you who missed it, the moderates and the murderers of Islam are exposed in my new next book.  Here's the opening:  For years, I dreamt of hijackings on airplanes. In my dreams, men with dark eyes wear raven-black masks and wield sharp weapons. They speak a language I vaguely understand and make plans to strike a passenger. At that moment, I rise from my seat to announce my … [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...]

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...]

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...]

5 Ways To Write About War And Women

Conflict has the potential to teach. In writing, there is always the drive to want to tell every war story. For the past twenty years, I’ve been traveling in and out of dangerous places, moving from one conflict to another, in search for the truth. Hoping to find that magical or mysterious story the world needs to know about a people barely surviving the trappings of war. Years of traveling … [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 Three

A frequent traveler to Pakistan, I had always known and seen different variations of Islam. Those who choose the Sunni (orthodox) way. Those who adopt the history and traditions of the Shia. Or the Sufi, known as mystics and/or New Age-ers, of Islam. Even among these three broad groups, there are add-on practices and born-again preachers in Pakistan, who have redefined Islam--a religion revealed … [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...]

Reclaiming the Right to Islam

Who represents Muslims in America? In 2010, I published an op-ed in The Washington Post to look at the question of faith. The truth is that no one represents American Muslims.We are too diverse, different, and determined to practice faith from our own unique personal and cultural lens.The fact is that Muslims in America are too decentralized. And that is a blessing, not a curse. After all, as I … [Read more...]

3 Things I Said On The Radio About Radicalization

The Spy Museum in Washington, DC is a true adventure. Through dark hallways, you'll find real and make-believe characters (read James Bond)--all of whom lived a mysterious and under cover life to protect this great nation. Given my work with the U.S. Government, I was invited to a radio interview to talk about faith and the myriad of threats we face today. "We don't often have a Muslim woman … [Read more...]

What I Have Learned From Public Speaking

Most books and on-line blogs on public speaking fail to address a central selling point to be effective and successful. Personality. Knowledge is not enough. A public speaker needs to shine on stage. Call it charisma. Most speakers I admire are informative, intriguing and inspiring. They give me knowledge I didn’t have and force me to consider an alternative viewpoint. Watching pubic … [Read more...]

Human Rights Challenges for Women in Indian-Held Kashmir

Raising awareness on women in conflict is one small way to inform and invest in a community that is grappling with unspeakable and unthinkable acts of violence. For over a decade, I have interviewed Kashmiri men and women--some in the valley and others from afar--to understand their struggles and sacrifices. To the Kashmiri people, including famed writer Basharat Peer, the conflict has become … [Read more...]

When Muslims Mock ISIS

It's ok to poke fun at terrorist groups. Last weekend, when Dakota Johnson starred as a young woman being escorted to ISIS fighters in a Saturday Night Live skit, she proved to her viewers that mocking the terrorists is the way to combat them. If you can’t and shouldn’t join them, then laugh out loud. The Muslim world has been doing it for decades in an effort to discredit, delegitimize, and … [Read more...]

It’s time we learn to respect border disputes

In my current class, I learned something powerful from a civil affairs officer in the U.S. Army.  Yesterday, we were talking about Kashmir, a valley that lies between India and Pakistan. These days, the world’s most beautiful place is in turmoil. Again. Just because youth activists chanted anti-India slogans in the town of Kishtwar in Indian-held Kashmir. Though more seriously, the region … [Read more...]

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