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...]

The Meaning of War Narratives and The Roles Men and Women Play in War

Every week, in my Gender Conflict & Security class at The George Washington University, I introduce new concepts and themes on war narratives and the different roles men and women play in war. It's a seemingly complex subject because war--and prolonged conflict--is always changing, which means that the women inside them are forced to adapt to new realities.  The reality of losing a missing … [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...]

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...]

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 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...]

Can We Engage Muslims To Counter Violent Extremism (CVE)?

Years ago, winning the 'hearts and minds' of Muslims worldwide was Washington's solution to disrupting and defeating terrorism. The 'hearts and minds' campaign was intended to do many things, which included motivating Muslims to 'take back Islam.' Some Muslims viewed the campaign with skepticism; others distrusted and denounced it. Today, the new terminology in the world community is CVE or … [Read more...]

The Women of Kashmir Survive the Spoils of War

For years, I lived Kashmir. I dreamt of the women featured in this book. For awhile, they were like family. I knew intimate details of their lives. Even though I was their American guest, they gave me more than stories to be recorded in a book. They gave me a slice of modern history--the untold histories of women, the survivors of a 60-year-plus conflict. The women of this book form a community … [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...]

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...]

Do No Harm

A migrant worker from the Philippines smiles at me. She is washing dishes in my sister's home in Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates, a wealthy Gulf country with pristine water and manmade islands. The servant is named Annie and looks to be about thirty-five years old. She is dressed in a plain button-down shirt and jeans, her thin black hair pulled back in a tie as she puts away one dish at a … [Read more...]

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