Monthly Archives: July 2016

for my sisters who stay long after their hearts are broken

One day you will learn that their lies can’t hold you hostage anymore

One day you will be so fed up with empty promises


And when he promises you a sandcastle

you will know the wind can sweep it away


you will sit there with empty hands and a dull pain in your womb


you will look in a mirror and recognize a spark of hope


look deep into your eyes and dig out the little girl you were


before he came into your life


and buried you so deep in self-doubt and pain that you forgot how to laugh without sighing at the end.


I believe in your resilience. You put a phoenix to shame.


One day you will burn with a fire so deep. And you will blow their lies away.


Like a sandcastle in the wind.



for my sisters who stay long after their hearts are broken

Madinah Wardak Noorai

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No Honor in Killing: The Murder of Qandeel Baloch


The “honour” killing of Qandeel Baloch is weighing so extremely heavy on my heart.

Qandeel was a Pakistani social media star, first gaining fame on Pakistan Idol and then going on to becoming a feminist and activist, as well as posting racy and unorthodox pictures and messages on her Facebook and Instagram accounts.

In an extremely conservative culture, Qandeel made it her prerogative to live out loud, unapologetically.

Being born a woman in my culture is a punishment, we’re told to laugh quietly. To walk quietly. We’re told to refrain from dancing too much because we’re not supposed to appear happy.

In my culture, it is easy to become a female revolutionary. Simply making an independent decision or showing your shoulders makes you a radical feminist.

This varies from family to family, and I’ve been blessed to come from a liberal Afghan background. But Qandeel’s death reminds me that in my culture, a woman cannot even breathe too loud without someone sending her a death threat.

We come into this world as naked infants and right away we’re boxed in by labels. From such a young age we’re indoctrinated to see our bodies and our minds as haram, as things that need to be softer, almost invisible.

Qandeel was murdered by her own brother because she refused to be invisible.

Imagine how mind-f*cked her brother must have been to be able to place his hands over her nose and mouth and watch her asphyxiate. That he grew up alongside her, shared a womb with her. That he had memories with her as a child and that they loved the same mother and father….and still, this notion of misogyny and patriarchy is so strong in my culture that all those things meant nothing to him – and he killed her. Blood is supposed to be the strongest bond, but the mistreatment of women in Middle Eastern countries is proof that hyper-masculinity is what runs the world.

In the business world, we’re constantly told to push boundaries, take risks. When the means to an end is money and power, it’s ok to step out of the line and put yourself out there.

But not when you’re a woman and not when you’re business is your mind.

I am Qandeel. My powerful, outspoken female Muslim friends are Qandeel. We wake up everyday and decide that our minds are worth sharing. Our thoughts are worthy of being spread. That our bodies are ours to run and that we can take ownership for how we conduct our lives.

This is weighing so heavy on me because I myself so many times have been told to stop being myself. That as an Afghan woman and a Muslim woman, I must earn those titles by behaving a certain way. That it is impossible for me to taken ownership of my body and simultaneously call myself a Muslim or an Afghan. That even this blog is blasphemy, so much so that there have been times I wanted to rid of it altogether.

But society says no. Men says no. They take it upon themselves to tell us what to do and how to move.

Masculinity is so fragile that a woman’s sexual agency is the most-feared thing on the planet.

Right now, I feel like being born a woman in my culture is a punishment. I won’t defend these hyper-masculine Middle Eastern men. I can’t explain away my culture and try and sugar-coat the abuse of women in Muslim and Middle Eastern households. I can’t be complicit in this internalized notion of misogyny.

Qandeel is dead, but empowerment is not. The only way to bring about any “honor” is to avenge her death by living radically, and that is easy to do when you are a Muslim woman with half a brain.

“She was the most self-exposed person, and what was different about her is that she was from a poor background. She did all this on her own. She is much more than Kim Kardashian, she went against the norms of society – and went on do what she wanted, on her own terms.”

-Fasi Zaka

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Tavern of Ruin: A Journey through Space & Time with Afghan Musician Qais Essar


I love being able to take a trip through La-La Land without even leaving my room.

That’s what listening to Qais Essar’s newest album Tavern of Ruin felt like. A journey throughout space and time that felt nostalgic but also fresh. Parts of it felt bittersweet, moving me close to tears, (specifically the second track titled Flame Eterne) while others felt like dawn…that part of the day when the sunlight barely breaks through over the horizon and everything is soft. At some points I felt like I could be in Woodstock while others felt authentically Afghan – sounds that my ancestors made. If you’ve ever listened to Devendra Banhart, then listening to Tavern of Ruin will be very enjoyable.

That’s what I think is my favorite thing about Tavern of Ruin. Qais has mastered bringing Western and Eastern vibes together. But while it has a modern and contemporary feel, the rubab reminds me that I am listening to the magic of someone who is from home. The album is centered on Qais’ amazing talent of playing Afghanistan’s traditional instrument, but the insertion of Western music is an ode to Qais’ duality. Being Afghan-American has allowed Qais to bridge the gap between his worlds, making this album truly enjoyable for anyone.

I can imagine listening to this while meditating, driving down Pacific Coast Highway, or even plugging in my ear phones and letting it lullaby me to sleep….

Check out and purchase the album to experience the psychedelic journey I’m just coming off of at: bandcampiTunes, and Amazon, and check out the video for his track, Thaw.

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Dark Halls 

Before I break you

Before I hurt you

I need you to know how many
Dark halls I have been through

I need you to know how many spaces I crawled through
To get here today 

I need you to know I am barely breathing 

And any step from here on is one more than I thought it’d ever be 

So if I hurt you 

I need you to know 

I have already inherited your pain 
Just the pain of knowing me 
I am sorry
Artist: Zaheera

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For Aliem

For my dearest friend, Aliem

Your black body

Your black skin

Your black hands


I loved you in all your black glory

Since I was young and innocent


Life has changed for us since we were carefree


My ancestors and yours cry for our generations


Who duck and hide from the ones who vowed to protect them


Who adorn their bodies with war-paint every morning


Every time I see a black woman crying on TV

My instinct is to tell you I love you


This is because

Our friendship thrives on the pain of our people


I wish we had more to speak about

than another black body hitting the floor.


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I do not want daughters 

I do not want daughters.

My heart breaks when I stare deeply into the eyes of my baby niece. I imagine her brightness dulled and innocence stolen

By the hearts of men who are empty and cold

By systems that are ruthless and evil

By standards she won’t ever meet

God please do not give me daughters.

I can’t bear witness to my child’s tears when she feels she is not enough for them
When she feels stupid for her decisions

When she compares herself to the other broken girls competing for a man

My heart is already broken for the daughters we have not bore yet.

Their tired minds and their scarred wombs.

I do not want daughters.


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