Monthly Archives: February 2015

The Pakistani Hand in a Broken Afghanistan, and The Revival of Pan-Pashtun Identity

1947 and 1948 were horrible years for the self-determination of both Pashtuns and Palestinians. A Zionist regime has completely handicapped any right of Palestinian nationhood. The independence of Pashtuns (the largest Afghan ethnicity who call both Pakistan and Afghanistan their ancestral homeland) has been set back due to the inception of Pakistan. Status quo deems it sacrilegious to speak ill of the Israelis. This is similarly expressed among Afghans of all ethnicities in regards to Pakistanis, and among Pashtuns with Pakistani citizenship. I resent this. A sense of “Islamic brotherhood” between the two nations prevents any imposition of accountability on the Pakistanis. This is the exact political agenda of the Pakistani Inter-Services Intelligence (ISI), which I will explain further. But a common religion should have absolutely nothing to do with criticizing an unjust, destructive, and poisonous foreign policy.

I would argue that the Pakistani ISI has done more to cripple Afghanistan than any nation on the face of the earth, including the Western powers and the Soviets.

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While the West drops shells and artillery on the Afghans, it is Pakistan that perpetuates this defense policy, by not only spreading the Taliban cancer from within, but also erasing with an iron fist any sense of Pashtun nationalism. Divide and conquer to it’s greatest extent. It is virtually unknown amongst the international community that almost 30 million Pakistanis are ethnic Afghans, the largest group outside of Afghanistan. Around 12 million Pakistanis speak the Afghan language of Pashto. It is also unknown that Afghanistan, to this day, does not recognize the arbitrarily constructed border, called the Durand Line, which separates Pakistan and Afghanistan, that was signed in 1893 between Afghanistan’s Amir Rahman Khan and Britain’s Foreign Secretary for India, Sir Mortimer Durand. The line was intended to mark the “limit of their respective sphere of influence, so that for the future, there may be no difference of opinion on the subject.” (Should “any difference of detail” arise, the agreement stated, they were to be “settled in a friendly spirit.”) This border lies smack-dab in the middle of the Pashtuns, dividing them into Afghans and Pakistanis. However, as the Afghan government has unrecognized the border, so too have the unruly Pashtuns who live on it. The Pashtuns freely travel back and forth between the two nations, proving that bloodlines triumph borders.

What must be explored, is how severe the damage is to not only Afghans, but specifically Pashtuns, at the hands of Pakistani national policy. There is absolutely no way to tackle the Afghan problem unless we hold Pakistan accountable. Forget the status quo, forget your common faith. Because the ISI has forgotten it. They ruthlessly perpetuate the mass killing of Pashtuns and Afghans, completely unrecognizing our Islam. So to save ourselves, we must do the same.

The ISI has continued to meddle with Afghan security by backing terrorists, dating back to the 1970’s. As former President Hamid Karzai told an Indian news channel, terrorism was “nurtured” and “supported” in Pakistan, where the militants had their “ideological roots.” Why would Pakistan want to do this to their Muslim brethren? Two reasons:

  1. Creating a strong Pakistan against India
  2. Preparing for the looming withdrawal of international forces from the region, thus leaving Pakistan to deal with the Taliban

Since the United States waged a war against the Soviet Union, Pakistan has played a “double-game”, publicly “helping” the West while secretly securing its borders. In the 1980’s, Pakistan provided a base for the Mujahideen, who were used as proxy-fighters by the U.S. to defeat the Soviets. Pakistan found this to be a golden opportunity to cause chaos in Afghanistan. They supported Islamist groups within Afghanistan, as this pan-Islamism would quell any sort of Pashtun identity. (Remember when I said Islamic brotherhood prevents us from holding Pakistan accountable? Ya).The specific Pakistani agenda, and a genius one at that, was to crush Pashtun nationalist groups that wanted to create an independent Pashtun state from Pakistani and Afghan territory, our original homeland. These Pashtun political groups, as well as thousands of local supporters, had ambitions of redrawing the Durand Line and essentially “taking back that which is ours”. Thus, recognizing this threat Pashtun unity, Pakistan strategically stood behind the Hizb-i-Islami party of Mujahideen warlord, thug, and lifelong international criminal Gulbuddin Hekmatyar. His campaigns led to the deaths of around 50,000 civilians in Kabul alone. And they continued to back radical Islamists who most of the time, were uneducated, extremely orthodox in their views, and highly violent. There were tons of other credible, reformist, intelligent and liberal Afghans, including my great-uncle and former governor Taj Mohammad Wardak, who were eager to help in stabilizing Afghanistan. But no, Pakistan fed the terrorists instead.

How did Pakistan fund Hekmatyar? The U.S. had given extraordinary leverage to Pakistan in covert assistance to the Mujahideen through the CIA. By channelling CIA funds of around $2-3 billion to Pakistan, the ISI was able to provide covert assistance to the Mujahids, training over 80,000 of them. Hikmatyar and his minions spread like a plague within Afghanistan, thanks to Pakistan’s unabashed support.

As the Mujahids mounted a catastrophic civil war within Afghanistan, Pakistani policy shifted to create the Taliban. I say “create”, because Pakistani officials have stated they did just that:

In 1999, Benazir Bhutto’s Minister of Interior, Nasrullah Babar, who some call the “Taliban Architect” admitted it, pronouncing, “We created the Taliban”.

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Sustaining and manipulating the ongoing fighting was and still is done through:

-Soliciting funding for the Taliban

-Bankrolling Taliban operations

-Providing diplomatic support as the Talibans virtual emissaries abroad

-Arranging training for Taliban fighters

-Recruiting skilled and unskilled manpower to serve in Taliban armies

-Planning and directing offensives

-Providing and facilitating shipments of ammunition and fuel, and on several occasions apparently directly providing combat support

-Having a lax policy towards jihadists. Pakistani madrassas preaching jihadi narratives have soared from 900 in 1971 to 32,000 in 1988. The men at these schools have gone on to join the Taliban and al Qaeda.

-Persuading the Taliban to keep Osama bin Laden’s location a secret. The Taliban were prepared to hand him over, but numerous intelligence suggests the Pakistani ISI were instructing the Taliban to provide a safehouse for him, unbeknownst to the Talibs, to instigate the occupation of Afghanistan by the international coalition led by the U.S.

The highly paranoid idea that India will invade Pakistan through an alliance with the Afghans has pushed an aggressive agenda to weaken Afghanistan.

As Pakistani dictator Zia ul-Haq told one of his generals: “Afghanistan must be made to boil at the right temperature”.

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Pakistani ambition is to create an anarchic vacuum within Afghanistan, allowing Pakistan to control the territory. And their continued funding of terrorists is doing exactly that. This policy is known as “strategic depth”, perceived in the 1980’s by Pakistani Chief of Army Staff General Mirza Aslam Beg, working under Prime Minister Benazir Bhutto. Strategic depth prevents encirclement from India and Afghanistan, who have a long peaceful history and modern solidified alliances. Delhi and Kabul have loved each other for centuries, and the Pakistanis deplore this. Afghanistan is therefore controlled, and used as an instrument of geo-political security in the fight against India. Simply put, controlling Afghanistan will give Pakistan a safe-haven if an attack or occupation by India ever occurred (which is highly far-fetched). Furthermore, controlling Afghanistan will also give the Pakistanis a chance to form economic and cultural ties with Central Asia, who could also be used as allies against the Indians.

Which other country uses strategic depth? Israel, against the Palestinian population.

This continued policy of controlling Afghanistan, supporting terrorists, and manipulating the West, has no doubt contributed to the over 1 million Afghans killed in the Soviet War and 21,000 killed since Operation Enduring Freedom. Not to mention the massive refugee diaspora. Afghanistan has taken the title of the largest refugee-producing country in the world, for the past 32 years. And although Pakistan houses the largest refugee population, it continues to produce more due to its policies.

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Now, as NATO troops withdraw from Afghanistan and the Taliban are beginning talks with a new reformist President Ashraf Ghani, timing is highly important for not only Afghans, but Pashtuns specifically. I am calling for the Pashtuns of Pakistan to recognize that you are pawns in a greater fight, one that relies on the crippling of your people, regardless of Pakistani citizenship or Afghan. The Peshawar attacks, the suicide bombings, all which the Taliban claim responsibility, were allowed to happen because of the Pakistani ISI. How much longer will we allow Pakistani nationhood to get in the way of a unified Pashtun identity? How much longer will Afghanistan burn, while our Pashtun people die on both sides of the border? This border between us has singlehandedly led to the extremely high number of Pashtun casualties. Our right of self determination and self identity has been muddled because of Pakistan’s existence. Remember that we have been Pashtuns for 6,000 years, that we are the fiercest warriors on the planet. Remember that it was not Afghans alone who made us the Graveyard of Empires, but that it was the whole Pashtun diaspora, regardless of Afghan or Pakistani citizenry.

Patriotism and nationalism are extremely sensitive and private subjects. I understand Pakistan is home to my Pashtun brethren, specifically my generation and my parents generation, who may know nothing beyond Pakistan’s borders. But don’t you see what is happening? Divide & conquer in the most extreme form. I challenge you to stop viewing your identity through a politically-created lens. Approach it through culture, not colonialism. As Pashtuns, we must objectively look at what is the best for us, what is best for the security of Afghanistan and the Pashtun people. This is unified Pashtun nationalism. Recognizing a distinct Pashtun national identity that is blind to borders.

May I remind you that your grandparents were Afghan, and your great-grandparents, and all those who came before them, who believed in a unified Pakhtunkhwa. I challenge you then to view your identity through this personal lens, in your language, your food, your traditions and customs. Through our great Pashtun leaders who understood this need for a strong Pashtun identity, Khan Abdul Ghaffar Khan, Khan Abdul Wali Khan. Through the songs we sang and continue to sing. Through the poetry of our Khushal Baba, who said,

 “Pull out your sword and slay any one, that says Pashtun and Afghan are not one! Arabs know this and so do Romans: Afghans are Pashtuns, Pashtuns are Afghans.”

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Remember the land of your ancestors, and what it was before the borders of this modern state. Remember the melodic beating of our drums during our Attan. Our wars, our blood, that is one in the same. As our great leader Ahmad Shah Durrani stated so lovingly:

 By blood, we are immersed in love of you.


The youth lose their heads for your sake.


I come to you and my heart finds rest.


Away from you, grief clings to my heart like a snake.


I forget the throne of Delhi when I remember the mountain tops of my Pakhtunkhwa.


If I must choose between the world and you,
I shall not hesitate to claim your barren deserts as my own.

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When the Pashtuns of Pakistan have been awakened, when the Lion-Hearts of the East realize we have been pawns, only then can we combat Pakistani foreign policy that continues to rape our homeland.

 As the great Khan Abdul Wali Khan once stated, when a journalist questioned his loyalty and his first allegiance, to which his reply was, “I have been a Pashtun for six thousand years, a Muslim for thirteen hundred years, and a Pakistani for twenty-five.”

YAW PASHTUN. YAW AFGHAN.

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When Coexistence is Staged

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If you’ve ever posted this picture, sorry to say, but you’re basic. Two reasons.

1. This picture is staged. Yep, thats right. Sorry to burst your peace-loving, coexisting bubble y’all, but the iconic photo that makes us go “awwww”, that has been published, retweeted, and cited thousands – if not millions of times – is a FRAUD. American photojournalist Ricki Rosen admitted to recruiting two Jewish boys from Jerusalem as part of a “symbolic illustration” for Canadian publication in 1993:

“The magazine wanted a symbolic portrayal of the idea of a long road to peace,” Rosen told the Times of Israel. “[The photo editor] instructed me to find models and dress them up in order to convey this idea.”

Awkward. The only truth to the photo is that the boys are actually friends, from the neighborhood of Abu Tor in Jerusalem.

I’ve seen the picture countless times, but it was revived after Rihanna tweeted it. Eight minutes AFTER she had to delete her #FreePalestine post because she was barraged by Tweeters asking if she supported Hamas (oh God STFU). When she posted the new more politically-correct Tweet, it was retweeted 46,000 times. Yep, 46,000 new lies on Twitter. 46,000 false narratives of Israeli-Palestinian peace.

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2. Besides the authenticity of the picture, I have another issue with it. Posting it sends a message of love, unity, peace. But the Israeli-Palestinian conflict is not proportionate. It is not so easy to make this picture come to life (with an actual Palestinian in it). This photo dangerously undermines the situation on the ground. Sure, I get it, spread peace & love and kumbaya. Albeit cute, it completely takes away from the reality of the situation at hand, which is one of life and death. So although Instagramming it might get you “likes” and cute bubbly comments, it’s not realistic. There’s gotta be stages to this sh*t bruh, don’t jump the gun. Admittance is the first step towards rehabilitation, so lets at least RECOGNIZE that basic human rights in Palestine are non-existent. Lets at least RECOGNIZE the Nakba, and the Palestinian right to SOVEREIGNTY, and their right to RETURN.

The image falsely gives hope to a highly disproportionate situation. It makes us forget that this conflict is lopsided, with a far greater number of Palestinians suffering. Lets look at the numbers shall we?
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133 Israeli children and 2,060 Palestinian children killed since Sept. 2000

 

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1,195 Israelis killed and 9,826 Palestinians killed since Sept. 2000

 

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1,108 Israelis injured and 71,841 Palestinians injured since Sept. 2000

 

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U.S. Aid to Israel in 2013: $8.5 million per day

 

 

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262 Jewish-only settlements and outposts built on confiscated Palestinian land. Palestinians have no settlements on Israeli land.

 

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The Israeli unemployment rate: 5.8%., West Bank: 22.5%, Gaza: 41%.

 

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Israel has been targeted by  77 UN resolutions. Palestinians have been targeted by 1.

 

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6500 Palestinians are held prisoner by Israel. Many of these are children whose crime is throwing stones at IDF soldiers.

 

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28,000 Palestinian homes have been demolished by Israel since 1967. No Israeli homes have been demolished.

 

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Pretty staggering right? So before we start asking rhetorical questions like, “Why can’t we all just get along?!”, I’ll answer you: Because there is a military occupation. Because one side controls all the water, electricity, and UN Aid, and won’t give it to the other side. Stop holding hands and making out and pretending like there aren’t thousands of people suffering in Palestine every day. Let’s get the f*ck out of Lala-land, where political-correctness is the ambrosia to the douchebag Status-Quo Gods.

The atrocities of Nazi Germany and the unbearable pain of Jews during the Holocaust in the past has absolutely NOTHING to do with Palestinians today. So please, stop posting that picture. It’s an insult to the Palestinian plight of survival.

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Our Three Winners

Ya Allah, the amount of pain I’m feeling right now is immeasurable.

I didn’t know Deah, Yusor or Razan personally, but after seeing the noor on their faces and reading stories about them, ya Raab – I’m in love. Three sweet, generous, upstanding humans who lived their lives giving back to their communities – here in America and in the Middle East.

Now I don’t know if Craig Stephen Hicks shot them because of their religion. CAIR and other Muslim groups, including the victims parents have called for NC county to investigate this as a hate crime, and I stand firmly with them on this issue. Basically, I don’t know with 100% certainty that he’s racist. But I know DAMN WELL the media is.

The immense under-reporting of this atrocity is another testament to the how racist the Western Islamophobic media apparatus is.

If the shooter was MUSLIM and the victims were WHITE, I guarantee you this would have made headline news of every major news conglomerate. But it took a massive social media presence and hashtags like #OurThreeWinners, #MuslimLivesMatter, before the media gave it a nod of the head.

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I’ve always firmly believed that people are inherently good and honest. So if someone tells you they have a problem, they most likely do. The Muslim community has been YELLING, SCREAMING, PLEADING about the atrocious racist nature of the media. Why doesn’t anyone listen?

Let me give you an example. I go to the gym to relax and take care of my body. Tell me why there’s 5 TVs on, all on different news stations, and why the whole damn hour I’m on the treadmill, all I see is headlines about Islam. If it isn’t about terrorists, it’s a panel of “experts” asking, “Is Islam a violent religion? Does Islam promote killing?” YO, I’M SURE THERE’S OTHER MORE IMPORTANT NEWS Y’ALL CAN FOCUS ON. IT’S GETTING REALLY OLD. There’s a drug problem down my street. Theres homeless vets on my block. WE GOT MAD DOMESTIC ISSUES – WHY THE HARD-ON FOR MUSLIMS?

Might I add, I have read the Qur’an in Arabic and now in English, and I haven’t beheaded an infidel yet. GET OVER VILIFYING US.

Back to my point – the Islamophobic media apparatus. Every single day, millions of people tune in and drop out. Islamophobia is a disease and we’re all guinea pigs, being infected, spreading this virus that teaches it is “us versus them”. All we’re being sold is a picture of an “enemy” that looks like a Muslim, talks like a Muslim, practices Islam, is from “over there”, and wants to violently take away your freedom “over here”. Of course people are going to be Islamophobes! Of course the helpless sheep will begin to build anxiety, fear, confusion, and the targets of this unabashed bias will be – who? MUSLIMS!

My best friend Nargis Ahadi put it so eloquently, about this illness of Islamophobia:

“For the past day my news feed has been flooded with comments and images regarding those three innocent lives lost in Chapel Hill. Yes, there is no doubt that this is truly tragic and heartbreaking for not only the Muslim community but for anyone who has lost a loved one as a result of unlettered hate. But over and over again I am hearing the disappointment, anger, and irritation of many who are afraid this horrible act, like many others, will be attributed to mental illness. But what is this, if not mental illness? When the nation you live in constantly feeds you with distorted unchanging orientalist images of Muslims as the enemy, there is no doubt social anxiety, fear, and hate will be the result. This is unquestionably mental illness. And it is the worst of its kind. Islamophobia is a disease, a highly contagious, rapidly spreading and tragically fatal one that plagues the world we live in. Last year it claimed the lives of countless Palestinians. Last night it took those three beautiful souls in Chapel Hill. How many more lives will we lose before the world recognizes the need for a cure?”

We live in a society where there is a hierarchy of races. Trust and believe that Muslim lives are at the bottom of the totem pole, right next to black people and Hispanics. No one gives a sh*t about our lives when we’re the victims, only the perpetrators. I know for a damn fact that if the shooter had been Muslim and the victims had been white, there lives would have been held to a higher standard – journalistically and personally.Where’s the outrage? Where’s the vigils? Where’s the international condemnation? Where’s the blaming of whole communities? I don’t see anyone blaming all Atheists (as Craig Stephen Hicks claimed to be). I don’t see anyone demanding that all Atheist leaders come out and condemn the attacks or account for their whereabouts. But instead, after Deah, Razan and Yusor were killed in cold blood execution style with a bullet to the back of the head, the media put out a tutorial on how to find parking:

Like, IS THIS REAL LIFE??????? No mention of their names. A distasteful attempt on JUSTIFYING THEIR MURDERS. This is why we are SCREAMING, “MUSLIM LIVES MATTER. BLACK LIVES MATTER. LATINO LIVES MATTER. ANYONE-WHO-AINT-WHITE-F*CKING-MATTERS.”

Now listen, I love my white brothers and sisters. Technically, I’m white, Afghans are Caucasian. But I gotta keep it 100. We all know DAMN WELL there is severe underreporting of atrocities when they befall other races.

Man – when was the last time we saw a damn Black or Hispanic girl being kidnapped on the news? We saw JonBenet Ramsey, Elizabeth Smart, Lacy Peterson, Casey Anthony all day every day. We had updates of their trials and specials on 60 Minutes and damn Lifetime movies. Are you telling me that young black and Hispanic girls don’t get kidnapped and murdered either? That victims of child trafficking are just cute white girls with blonde hair and blue eyes???

I had 3 people tell me they didn’t know about the Chapel Hill shootings till they saw it on my FB page. My best friend told me she heard more about the measles that broke out in Disneyland. And all these people are non-Muslims, so they don’t have a paranoid bias that I might feel.

I don’t have a recipe for combatting Islamophobia. But I do know we can start from within. Deah, Razan, and Yusor were amazingly successful individuals who did so much for their communities in such a short amount of time. Deah led a campaign for dental care to children in Palestine and Syria. The three fed homeless people together for God’s sake. If we begin to change for the better within our community, no doubt there will be a ripple-effect. How can a radical-terrorist stereotype be attributed to us if we all become more like Our Three Winners? Let’s not even give a chance for the media to point fingers. It pisses me off that we even have to worry about petty sh*t like this, like “combatting stereotypes”, but this is the world we live in now. Bettering ourselves can begin to slowly take away the negativity surrounding Muslims.

I am praying that Deah and Yusor will celebrate their marriage together in Heaven. I am praying these three beautiful people are standing with Allah SWT. I pray for peace in the hearts of their parents and families. Ya Allah, I pray for a day when ALL people are paid homage to, when ALL lives are given equal and fair remembrance.

Inna Lilahi wa Inna Ilayhi Rajiun

الذين إذا أصابتهم مصيبة قالوا إنا لله وإنا إليه راجعون

Who, when disaster strikes them, say, “Indeed we belong to Allah, and indeed to Him we will return.”

 

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Accepting my Fathers Cancer

I think there’s two types of Afghan fathers.

There are those who are hands-on – who give their daughters advice and constantly make a presence in their lives. These types of dads are easy to talk to, not very intimidating, and make their relationships with their daughters pretty lax.

Then there are stern, stoic fathers. This is my father. My Aba (father) stands tall at 6’1, with soft grey-green eyes. He is the most handsome man I know. But for so many years, he was a stranger. The only conversation he had with me (about boys), as I entered the 9th grade of high school was:

“There will be boys. They will want to talk to you. Don’t speak to them. They’re wasting your time.”

This is how I came to have conversations with my father. Only when absolutely necessary.

As I grew older, I took the initiative to ask him more questions. I wanted to know about his family, his Bebe mother, his General father. I came to know them through stories I ripped from him – not because he wasn’t ready to share, but because I was so afraid to ask. My stoic father.

Then one day, as he was dropping me off to a Vegas trip, I told him that some peers were giving me sh*t for going to Sin City during the fasting period “Ramadan.”

My Aba looked at me and said,

“Don’t let those backwards Mullahs influence you. You are my daughter and I know what you do. Go have fun, go enjoy your youth and remember I support you.”

It was then, at 23 years of age, I decided I would never let my Aba be a stranger to me.

We have built a relationship since then. I try to be the son and daughter he has always wanted.

But coming to terms with his cancer has been a different story.

Afghans have a tendency to delay bad news. No, like REALLY, FOR AS LONG AS THEY CAN. My mother did not know her brother was dead for 2 months. And a cousin of mine JUST found out that her father had passed on  – 2 years ago in Afghanistan.

So I found out about my fathers cancer last. Did they think I couldn’t handle it? I’m not sure, but for Gods sake, my teenage nieces and nephews knew about it before I did. One day, I was joking that I’d live in my nephews basement since being a Political Science major got me nowhere. Two weeks after this joke, my father turned to me and said,

“My Mado, my dream is to see you lead your own classroom. You are the strongest girl I know. You have climbed mountains – do not joke that you will live off someone else.”

I looked at my father, perplexed as to why he was so serious.

“I have saratan (cancer). I am sick, and my dying wish is to see you as a teacher.”

And so the tears streamed down my cheeks. Afghans also have a tendency to exaggerate, so I asked over & over, “cancer? Are you sure?” But yes, it was cancer.

I promised my father then and there that I would make him proud. Failure is not an option for me. Because coming to terms with my fathers mortality has made me reevaluate mine. And knowing he, or I for any matter, can be gone any second has pushed me to strive, thrive, and survive.

My dearest friends…wake up every morning to the sound of laughter. Even if you are alone  –  this dunya (world) is temporary. But how beautiful is it? How lucky are we that we have been given the privilege to hear laughter – even if it is our own? Love yourselves and love strangers. Remember your ancestral homes – the songs of your people and the melodies of your ancestors. Life is so precious. Kiss your parents feet and soak in the sun.

My fathers cancer is eating away at him. I bear witness to his slowed stride and his troubled breath. But I cannot stop chasing my dream  – as should you all.

I beg you all – smile in mirrors and dance forever. Your time with God is coming soon.

 

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Taking Back the Shahada

I will not apologize for displaying the Shahada during political protests.

The Shahada is the Muslim declaration that “There is no God but God, and Muhammad is His Messenger”. It is the most important of the Five Pillars of Islam.

It is also the first phrase I ever heard. Upon birth, my father reached over to me, and whispered in my ears as my mother held me, as her mother held her, and as our family has done so for the past 1,000 years, reciting,

لا إله إلا الله محمد رسول الله

lā ʾilāha ʾillā-llāh, muḥammadun rasūlu-llāh

There is no god but God, Muhammad is the messenger of God

Many Muslims choose to wear this Shahada as a political statement – as a headband across their foreheads during rallies. It is also true that, terrorist groups have hijacked the Shahada and display it as well, for instance the black flag of ISIS, or totalitarian regimes like that of Saudi Arabia.

However, I will not put my Shahada away because of this.

During the pro-Palestinian protests in Los Angeles, we had the opposing pro-Zionist side telling us that we were terrorists for wearing “the Hamas flag”. The pro-Israeli Facebook account even posted a picture of my good friend holding her Shahada flag, and called her a “Hamas-supporting terrorist waving a hateful flag of death”.

I also had two white men from the pro-Palestinian side approach my friend & I, and asked us to take off the “Hamas symbol” because it “misconstrues the message of peace we are trying to send in this conflict.”

Nothing could be further from the truth. I wear the Shahada because it is intrinsically tied to my identity. For 1400 years, my family has been Muslim, and it is this religious identity that ties me to the majority of Palestinian people, and so, we wear the Shahada to display our solidarity as One Ummah. I wear it proudly, above my eyes, to declare that it is through the lens of this faith that I view this world and its politics, as I have experienced them as a Muslim woman.

The Star of David has been displayed on tanks that bulldoze homes and build illegal settlements in Palestine. As a symbol, it is very likely that it has stirred negative emotions in the hearts of Palestinians. However, I will not question the opposing pro-Zionist side on why they chose to adorn the Israeli flag. Because I will not undermine how they choose to wear their identity, and I cannot interrogate them and their affinity for a religious or political symbol.

The cross was proudly held by Spanish conquistadors who did not think twice in maiming, raping, and pillaging scores of Native Americans during the inception of the New World. Jews and Muslims were asked to convert or leave during the Spanish Inquisition, and it was the cross, paired together with a sword that adorned the Seal for the Tribunal in Spain. But I don’t go around asking everyone to take off their cross necklaces.

Do I have to add a disclaimer as I wear my religious identity? Must I state that I am against the killing of innocent civilians when I wear a Shahada on my head? Maybe. Maybe this is the world we live in now. But no, I will not remove it for your comfort. I will not take it off because you ask, or because of its association with a group who has made my religious practice difficult.

I am taking back the Shahada, from radical terrorist organizations, from the media who paints all Muslims with the same brush, and from individuals who will not accept me for who I am. I am owning this symbol, I am addressing its misappropriation, and I am unapologetically me.

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Doctor-Lawyer-Engineer

The three familiar words that sting every right-brained Brown Kids ears and makes their parents jump for joy. If my parents could create a superhero it would definitely be the Doctor-Lawyer-Engineer hybrid multi-millionaire Pulitzer Prize-winning professional who saved children, represented them in court, and created bionic limbs for them too.

Doctor-lawyer-engineer. In the midst of vomiting their dreams out on us, we lost ourselves. I remember elaborate birthday parties, my mother would have all the kids in my family pass a microphone and say what they wanted to be when they grew up. I always wanted to say a Spice Girl, but mom always popped in right before it was my turn to whisper, “doctor” in my ear. And that’s how I was trained, so vehemently believing this lie that was shoved down my throat. “I want to be a doctor”. Yeah f*cking right. I fainted anytime I donated blood. I became a vegetarian after dissecting a frog. I couldn’t hang in no medical setting. Still, my mom managed to ignore my teacher’s applauses for my reading and writing skills and instead asked why I had mediocre science and math skills. She put me in accelerated magnet courses and so, my self-esteem dwindled. I became so mute in my desires that when she enrolled me in a “Medical Careers” oriented high school I didn’t object – what was the point? And it’s not like I was the only one. I could identify a fellow miserable Brown Kid with a set of Doctor-Lawyer-Engineer parents from a mile away.

Somehow, I lost myself. In this highly collective Afghan culture, where our parents struggles’ and tribulations automatically mean self-sacrificing our artistic dreams. I sat in AP science courses day-dreaming of revolutions I read about in my AP history courses, but I couldn’t bring myself to tell my mother that I would not be a Doctor-Lawyer-Engineer. “BUT WHAT SHOULD I TELL PEOPLE WHEN THEY ASK WHAT YOU DO? FACEBOOK POST?”

And what about the other kids, who do so well as graphic designers, or teachers, or makeup artists, or composers – what happens to all these Brown Kids? Well, if the collective Brown Parents consortium doesn’t understand or have knowledge of your sector, then your job is basically meaningless. Because how can a Brown Parent explain what #MUA success is, or try & articulate how SEO-friendly your website is bro?

Ahhh.

I’m still far behind in my career goals, but I think they get the point now. Explaining what a “blog” is to my Brown parents is not in the picture yet, but I try every day, to make my desires known. I’m not really sure what may lie in the future for me, but I just wish they’d understand that throwing away their dreams does not mean I lack my own. I want them to know that there is something outside of Doctor-Lawyer-Engineer, (besides being an obedient house-wife) and I want my nieces and nephews to grow up in a culture where dissent and creativity, individualism and independence is celebrated, instead of glared over. So I am praying tonight, that all of our Brown parents see the results of our hard work, and get out of our ears with that medical field crap, or worrying about what “everyone else” will think.

As the saying goes, “Daaneta chup ko, Chai-eta shup ko”

“Shut ya mouf and drink ya chai”.

ASSALAM ALAYKUM.

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