Monthly Archives: June 2016

Loving Afghanistan

Loving Afghanistan is different than loving somewhere else.

We love a place that’s in shambles but was once buzzing with potential.

So we love memories but we also love Afghanistan for what it is now.

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I love you because you were once so ready to be your best self – but I love you now through the pain and destruction. I love you because I’ve never seen you but my heart knows. And I love you because I can’t be with you now but I promise I will one day.

I love you because you make my life complicated, but you also bring me clarity. I love you because you tell me stories that no mind could make up. I love you because Alexander loved you, Genghis Khan loved you, Akbar loved you….. Royalty chose to live and die in your dirt. I love you even when you confuse me… even when you hurt me.

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Your name is on the news everyday and most people don’t understand. They don’t understand how we can love a place that’s seen so much pain, so much blood. They believe you’re nothing but dirt and angry men; but I know you. I know you’re so much more.

I wish I could hold you in my arms and coo you to sleep. I wish I could keep you away from all the evil hearts that want to ruin you.

My heart is longing and this life is fleeting but when I dream of you it feels like forever.

I believe this is the collective love that will save you and I hope I’m alive to see you free.

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Happy Birthday

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It Is Time to Create A Safe Space for Afghan LGBTQ

Awkward moment when Afghans say they’re down with the LGBTQ community. Y’all werent last week. Now listen, I am NOT trying to knock anybody’s solidarity or their intentions. I actually know of a LOT of Afghans who INDIVIDUALLY and PRIVATELY support the LGBTQ community and are for same-sex marriage. Not super gung-ho supporting it, but in a “Ba Ma Chi?” (what is it to me?) fashion. But collectively coming together to make statements of solidarity like we are now? Outwardly telling our stories of gay solidarity? We realllllly rushing now to publish those statements aren’t we? Well we have a big problem and its been hiding in the closet for a long ass time. And that silence turns into violence. It’s time we recognize and love queer Afghans.

The evidence is now coming out that Omar Mateen may have been gay. This adds even more layers of nuances on top of his already speculated support of ISIS. But let’s just say, for the purposes of the message I’m trying to convey to my peoples, that he did this only because he was gay. Because he was gay, and in self-denial, and in so much pain and despair, knowing that he would be never accepted in our Afghan American community. That it may go as far as ex-communication. He woke up every morning knowing he could not live out his truth. He married two times and even had a son, while secretly going on Grindr and frequenting gay bars. He went as far as to ask another man out, and even then, was rejected. All while being from an extremely homophobic and patriarchal culture.

Our community has not yet created a safe space for queer Afghan folk. We’re all in solidarity and we’re all allies now – but before that we’ve been ignoring the excommunicated queer Afghan youth. The time is now. We have lowdown Afghan guys who partake in raqasa-watching or the disgusting practice of bacha-bazee and we call them “coonies“, but even these men are somehow given a pass. But nothing that is a safe, welcoming space for LGBTQ Afghans who are only seeking to live their truth. If this Afghan dude was so distraught over his sexuality that he felt the need to go to a damn club and kill a bunch of people that he may be lowkey jealous of because they had the freedom to live their truths – we have a big problem. If Mateen felt isolated enough to the point of this type of psychopathy? Now I’m not saying that every homosexual Afghan will go on a shooting rampage for being rejected by our community, but once is more than enough y’all.

I am sick of seeing quotes from the Qur’an condemning homosexuals. I am sick of hearing Afghan guys playfully call each other “coonies”. I am sick of knowing LGBTQ Afghans who do not show up to family events because they know no one will greet them. It is time to love people regardless of who they are.

I am checking myself here too. I have been a lifetime supporter of the LGBTQ community, from having gay BFF’s in high school to serving as president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at LAVC for one semester. But that is not enough. I purposefully had silenced my support of this community when I began to socialize more heavily with Afghans and Muslims. Not because I was ashamed, but because I did not want to deal with the potential backlash. I recognized my community is pretty homophobic and just decided I did not want to even engage in that conversation with a group that was not “ready” to talk about homophobia.

If there ever was a time, it is now. Queer Afghans are Afghan. The same way you and me fear for our lives outside of our home because of how we look, they fear for their lives inside and outside the home because of their orientation. And then on TOP of that, they fear for their lives because of their ancestry. Theirs oppression is nuanced, and hetero Afghans are privileged for avoiding this layered oppression.

Now I’m not saying if are 100% against homosexuality, for you to wake up and become an ally. But do we really have to go out of our way to make people feel bad? If your supposed religious beliefs lead you to believe all homosexuals are an abomination….do you have to shove it down everyone else’s throats?

I am extremely happy to see this conversation beginning in our community. It is time to unpack the hyper-masculinity in our culture, it is time to address the violence. It is time to make sure we are making each other feel safe instead of left out. We can’t ever afford to shut someone out again.

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Orlando Shooting

I woke up this morning to the news that an Afghan-American man committed the largest mass shooting on U.S. soil against the LGBTQ community of Florida. My heart broke imagining that innocent people believed they were having a fun Saturday night in a safe space that is inclusive of their community. Gay clubs serve as places where the LGBTQ can be themselves without judgement.

This happened both during Ramadan, a time when Muslims aim to become better humans, and during Pride, a time when the LGBTQ community can unapologetically be themselves and spread awareness about their community. Both the LGBTQ and Muslim communities suffer hate crimes all the time. This event will divide us, but it is up to all of us as human beings to make sure we stand in solidarity.

Growing up, I was extremely fond of the LGBTQ. My best friends in high school were gay men. I served as president of the Gay-Straight Alliance at Los Angeles Valley College for one semester, and then stepped down, realizing I was not qualified for the role, because I was completely in the dark about the multitude of social injustices the LGBTQ face. I am so distraught that a member of my Afghan-American community could do this to a people that are already treated like crap in every sector of society. I also have family members who are homosexual and my heart breaks that they believe they won’t be accepted by our community.

I am simultaneously afraid of how my community will be perceived when they are already seen as savage terrorists. When we are already stopped and frisked at the airport, when we already hesitate to say what our nationality and religion is.

It makes me sad that both the LGBTQ and the Muslim communities can never wake up, go outside, and unapologetically be themselves, and be accepted with open arms.

It’s even worse, that now a member of one group made it his prerogative to go and oppress the other.

When instead, both groups should be in solidarity with one another, to fight the common political and social structures in place that strip them of their civil liberties every freaking day.

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Ramadan Kareem

the incredible will power and patience i have witnessed time and time again during this month continues to amaze me. the most powerful Ramadan for me was walking alongside 3,000 pro-Palestine activists in the hot Los Angeles sun, protesting the violence in Gaza that summer 2014. it was one of the few times i felt extremely close to God and i still get chills thinking about it.

i come from a non-religious household but i still look forward to this month. for those participating, i am sending u love and light, and i pray that whatever qualms or worries in your heart disappear. i pray that love finds you as you walk down the street, i pray for endless happiness and laughter to fill your homes.

i’d like to ask forgiveness for anyone i have hurt. much love to all.

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Ali, The Greatest

seeing the overwhelming love and outpouring on my timeline about the passing of Muhammad Ali is bringing tears to my eyes. as Muslims, he embodied the resilience of our faith and served as a vehicle for understanding and compassion towards our religion. i think every little Afghan kid in America knew the name “Ali” in our households. he shed light on the plight of Afghans and visited our motherland.
all of our hearts are heavy. the Ummah is in pain, but “…Verily, when a calamity strikes the Believers, do they say ‘From God we came and to Him we shall return”.
he was a hero to all but he touched a Muslim’s heart in more ways than one. a social justice warrior for African Americans, Muslims, and all marginalized people across the globe.

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I don’t smoke, but I keep a match box in my pocket. When my heart slips towards a sin, I burn the matchstick & heat my palm with it, then say to myself, “Ali you can’t even bear this heat, how would you bear the unbearable heat of Hellfire?”

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I wish I didn’t have this on my back

My back is breaking

 

I carry the honor of my ancestors like a boulder on my back.

 

My back is breaking

 

Because if I love too much tonight, if I drink too much tomorrow, if I care too little today

 

What will my future children think of me, and

 

What will their friends make of their mother, and

 

Will they be ridiculed for being the child of a wretched woman or

 

Will my actions even really affect them, and

 

Why do I care if my uncle in Kabul judges me or

 

Why is my spine curving like a slope, a

 

Slippery slope that if I go down I might just ruin the legacy of my great grandfather

 

Or I may give room for people to slander our family name, and

 

I am so so so tired of carrying the honor of my tribe on my back

 

I want to throw away this label “woman” and run away because sometimes

 

I am not feminine or coy or modest and most times I am

 

Loud and obnoxious and I say too much and act like I care too little, and

 

That’s not what my Bibi would have wanted and

 

I wish I didn’t have this on my back

I wish I didn’t have this on my back

I wish I didn’t have this on my back.

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