Writing from Pakistan: Zubeida Mustafa

“A reporter must ignore critics and write the truth, Mustafa said. ‘Even if it is a tiny little drop in the ocean, you know you have made a contribution,’ she said. ‘So then you can have a clear conscience.’”- From an article on Zubeida Mustafa by the International Women’s Media Foundation The past couple of weeks have been difficult for Pakistan's newsrooms, particularly in terms of the law and order situation in the country.  In addition to the monotonous rhetoric leading up to the 2013 Pr … [Read more...]

Malala Yousufzai: A Story of Education, Drones, and Foreign Policy

On a recent grocery store run, my father and I overheard an interesting exchange between two male store attendants about Malala Yousufzai, the 14-year-old activist from Pakistan's northern Swat region who was targeted recently for her outspoken views on education.  While one of the attendants bemoaned her fate, his friend, a young Pathan, speaking with the tell-tale lyricism of Urdu in a Pashto accent, proceeded to comment on how many girls like Malala are being killed by drone attacks in South … [Read more...]

Pakistan’s Hina Rabbani Khar: Beyond the Birkin Bag

Of late, Pakistan's foreign minister, Hina Rabbani Khar, has become the unfortunate target of tabloid headlines here in the sub-continent (and beyond, I expect, as the story continues to go viral). According to an “expose” in the Weekly Blitz (a Bangladeshi tabloid), Pakistan's top diplomat is allegedly embroiled in a passionate affair with Bilawal Zardari Bhutto, the 24-year-old scion of the Bhutto dynasty.  His father is Pakistan's current President, Asif Ali Zardari, and his mother is slain, t … [Read more...]

Marriages in Pakistan: More than just a gamble

Recently, I’ve come across two articles on marriage, each published months apart in the New York Times.  The first is an introspective piece that advocates marriage within a Western setting, and the other addresses the apparent prevalence of free-will marriages in Pakistan.  While the first discusses a past romantic relationship and how the author eventually comes to regret not marrying her partner of seven years, the latter looks at how some Pakistani women are risking their lives and defying tr … [Read more...]

Muslims at Catholic Colleges: Aliens From Outer Space Are Thriving on Earth

The other day, I stumbled across a piece on the increasing number of Muslim students at Catholic colleges in the United States.  The New York Times article is the result of interviews with students and administrators at several American Catholic institutions.  Also accompanying the article was the usual array of pictures depicting Muslim women in colorful hijabs on campus, further underscoring the author's thesis of “thriving Muslims” at US colleges.  While I appreciate the author's attempt to hi … [Read more...]

Rebels By Accident: Telling Muslim Girls’ Stories in Young Adult Fiction

“I don’t think there’s ever been a time in my life when I wanted to pray. My mom always made me think that as Muslims, we should. But as soon as I stopped caring about what Mom thought, I stopped praying altogether. But today—right now—I really want to pray.” (Rebels by Accident, p. 150) Rebels by Accident introduces us to Mariam, a 15-year-old Arab-American teenager who finds herself in jail after police raid a party she had crashed with her best friend, Deanna.  Her horrified parents punish he … [Read more...]

Ramadan Confessions

"And the point is, to live everything. Live the questions now. Perhaps you will then gradually, without noticing it, live along some distant day into the answer."- Rainer Maria Rilke, Letters To a Young Poet, Letter Four (16 July 1903) My earlier post on Ramadan was a nostalgic look back to simpler times, when I was young and issues of spirituality and identity simmered on the back-burner…only to crop up again during my “quarter life crisis.” I always assumed I would experience Islam like ev … [Read more...]