So Much To Be Thankful For As An American Muslim Woman: 5 Observations from Women in Conflict

There’s so much to be thankful for as an American Muslim woman. Over the past few days, I spent some time thinking about the hundreds of women who have shaped me, especially women in conflict and war. 

In earlier posts, I have written about women in protracted war; women in violent extremism featured in my new book; and the strong women in my life. When I look back at my research for the past 15 years or so, I realize that the women in my stories have humbled me in many ways. Even though these women may live in troubled times (e.g., an active war zone), many are grateful for what they have. 

Here’s what women of conflict have taught me:

  1. Be aware. As I said in my first book, war changes everything and everyone. The first step is awareness that there is a conflict.
  2. Be active. My own faith teaches me that awareness needs to be followed by action. When I see women of conflict protest, for example, or become political activists, they are doing something about their status quo. Bless the activists.
  3. Be together. In numbers, there is so more power and women in conflict have learned how to hold onto each other for comfort, counseling, and community support. They depend on each other and have a beautiful bond which is both admirable and inspirational. 
  4. Be strong. It goes without saying that the women of conflict who dare to rise up and speak up are brazen, bold and beautiful. Especially when men are absent (read arrested or killed), then women step up and take charge. Their courage is unforgettable.
  5. Be careful. Even as women rise up to despots and dictators, they know they have to be cautious. They are being watched (or spied on). I have known women who have gone into hiding and move from one place to another to escape detention. Women of conflict know that their survival sometimes requires constant movement. 

Meeting the women of war and observing their lives from afar enables me to appreciate their ability to survive, struggle, and sacrifice for a greater cause: faith, family, friendship, and more. 

To learn more about the women of Kashmir, you can download a free book here. 

To learn about women in violent extremism, you can read more here. 

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