Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Lost Identity?

United States of America, the land of hyphenated citizens, is like a safe house for many people around the world. It is certainly true for me. I wasn't born here but I have had many of my best experiences and opportunities here. I earned college degrees, chose my career (even changed it with no social limitation), worked as I wanted, made my own life choices (some didn't work well), broke old traditions without retribution etc. I can  go out of my house without fear of being raped and killed, can leave my house without a man accompanying me and dress as I preferr. I am safe from many life threatening phenomena that women face around the world. I have lived the best moments of my life here, in this land. But I can never venture too far from my afghan roots. I spent the crucial learning years of my life in Afghanistan. Most of my values and personal preferences are based on my upbringing in Afghan culture. Those values and standards were refined by the education I earned and the opportunities I encountered in the US. For the most part, it has been a conscious effort for personal growth and improvement. Overall, I am satisfied how far I have come in my life given my circumstances. There is always that feeling that I could have done better but I am learning to accept my limitations and appreciate my efforts. 
However, I often have the feeling of "lost identity". I am not a hardcore afghan neither I am considered a "true American". I don't think I fit in either of these cultures. I am too liberal for Afghan Muslims, too conservative for Americans. I sometimes catch myself doubting my preferences and explaining myself to others. I feel misunderstood and rejected from both of my cultures. I belong to two cultures not just one. The norm is to have one cultural affiliation, one pre-existing identity, one set of socially determined standards. It's like a pre packaged deal which I can't take. No I am not going through midlife crisis and I am far away from menopause. I haven't exhausted my opportunities and potentials and I am Not considering myself better than others. It's a modern case of identity crisis. We all need a sense of belonging, a group or cultural identity. I am trying to find mine. #lostidentity #culturalawareness #identitycrisis 

Saturday, October 4, 2014

Muslim Apology

Being Muslim is getting harder even in a liberal country like US. I blame it to the generalized ignorance that is gripping the land of the free. It was 5-6 years ago that I noticed ignorance was becoming the new trend. People were not smart, just smart mouthed. We started to over simplify theories, to summarize philosophies and lower standards and excuse continuous failure while accepting mediocre performances. At time, I didn't think much of the trend. I assumed it will die away with time. Obviously I was wrong. Ignorance became widespread between many layers of society and now it is the accepted norm. Just listen to some talk show hosts and news reporters and you will see what I mean. The content of their questions, the direction of their proposals and the background of their arguments are shockingly primitive and presumptive. You want to answer the question or argue the idea presented, but for immature debater like me, it gets confusing. Confusing because the question posed or the idea brought up for debate is inaccurate in the first place.
There are a lot of generalization and assumptions about Muslims and Islam. I believe there are two main reasons why Islam and Muslims are being perceived as terrorists overall. Islam has been politicized extensively for almost any purpose other than faith. The second one is non-Muslims fail to separate religion from cultural practices of different Islamic countries. It is a courtesy they fail to extend to Muslims all around the world. Current rise of Islamic extremists is a wave of terrorism that threatens not only non-Muslims,but Muslims, Islam and the humanity at its core. By no means, I want to minimize the devastating impact of jihadists, Islamic extremists, religious terrorists and enemies of mankind. The actions of these Islamic terrorists are unforgivable in any context. No faith, no injustice done by others, no suffering imposed on them by the developing world can justify their terrorism. To be honest, I don't believe these Muslim terrorists are actually Muslims. I don't want to rule out the theory that they are non-Muslims posing as Muslim extremists, just to defame Islam and promote hatred of Muslims and Islam. Another theory, with the higher probability, is that these people born to Muslim families, grew up as "Muslims" without any true knowledge of their religion. These people lived socially, financially and politically oppressed lives and thus became very revengeful in nature. Such vulnerable population is the most fertile ground for manipulation and misinformation. It doesn't take much effort on the part of the recruiter to gather an army of stubborn soldiers who wants to dedicate their death to some cause. In such case, what better cause than their Faith, especially when they are promised some form of security for themselves and their families. When they belong to a group, dedicated to a cause, they have an identity, their lives will have a purpose. They know they will die soon whether from hunger and disease or from a bullet. But somehow death from a bullet and for a cause is a dignified death. These people don't care about life and living. They want glorified death. You don't need to take my words for it, just use your critical thinking and find out when and where any terrorist group rose to power. Poor, uneducated communities have been home of many such terrorists groups. Look at Usama Bin Laden. He was an Arab but took refuse in Afghanistan where he was elected the leader of an army and "fought for Islam". Arab Emirates is a Muslim country, rich and well connected with the rich and powerful of the world. Why didn't he erect an army there?
To stay on track, I want to talk about the mix of religion and culture. Religions often come after a society has an established culture which isn't serving humanity. Religions are consulted to help improve cultural and societal practices to serve humanity better. Therefore, many different countries can be connected by the same religion but separate by their culture. Societies tend to modify their religion to accommodate for their cultural practices in order to stay within the known norms and practices. It is a way of them conserving their cultural identity. This is the beauty of religion, it is liquid to some extent that fits different practices yet maintain its promise to ethical and humane practices. Islam, and truly any religion, isn't a body of right and wrong practices but a philosophy, a series of decision making strategies to help man make the best possible choice in his circumstances. Religion, the true and reasonable format of it, helps man stay ethical and fair when making difficult and complicated decisions. So when criticizing actions, we need to target the person committing these actions and not the religion. The reason I am staying neutral by using the word "religion" instead of "Islam". Because any religion has extremists and crazies. It is not the religion that is extreme and crazy but people practicing it. Therefore, to minimize Islam to its extremists and lunatics is unfair to the faith and those practicing the faith in peaceful way that it was intended. To hold all Muslims responsible for the actions of the terrorist groups using the label of Islam is illogical. To stereotype all Muslims based on media propaganda and discriminate against them based on uneducated presumptions is another form of crazy and extremism. I, a Muslim, came to the US for all the securities that my religion wanted me to have but my country failed to honor. Now I am a US citizen, dedicated to this country. But my faith puts me on the other side of the fence from the rest of my fellow citizens. Now I am being perceived and treated differently. Now I have to explain myself and my ideology even when I haven't hurt anyone. People are upset that I am here, among them. I see my religion being tarnished openly, condemned publicly for promoting violence.
I want to say, I am not sorry I am a Muslim. I am not sorry I am here contributing to the welfare of this country. I am not sorry my faith is different than others. I don't want to apologize for Islamic Terrorists. I don't want to apologize on behalf of murderers wearing label of Islam. Instead, I am standing here, among all the rest of the US people, condemning violence and terrorism. I am questioning the real motive behind such extremist actions. I am hurt in a different way than many. I am hurt my faith is being blamed as if it is an acting body. I am sorry that I am being labeled or compared to some terrorists. My existence, my life experiences, my ideology, my achievements have been minimized to public perception of my Faith. Now, people hear my accent, ask my country of origin and change their attitude. I haven't experienced an open and harsh discrimination here yet. But I am afraid it might happen. We ran away from discrimination and persecution from our "Muslim country" only to face it here in the land of opportunity?
#muslimapology #islam #Iamsorry #racisim #life

Thursday, August 14, 2014

There and Here

Life in Afghanistan was simple in all ways. Relationships, needs, work, house chores, celebrations, endings and beginnings even sufferings and pains were all simple. I miss simple life.
As a child, you could play outside your house with friends and neighbors's kids, go to school, and help around the house. You didn't have many unnecessary facilities like smartphones, facebook and instagram to distract and confuse you. You would go to school in uniform and held accountable by your teachers and parents the same way for your behavior and academic accomplishments.
You would follow your education to college, be married (probably arranged), have kids, maybe have an easy government job, struggle to make ends meet and see your kids grow old. You wouldn't have many options regarding your work environment or accessories to facilitate your chores around the house. Your older siblings or your in laws would limit your choices and in return provide support, social, financial and etc. Eids, births, weddings, deaths and funerals were a community effort. Your sufferings were your basic human needs unmet, hungry stomach, naked feet in winter, lack of education, social abandonment etc. The biggest pain of that simple life is vulnerability to manipulation. That vulnerability is the root cause of instability in such societies, turning them into battle fields for "developed" societies. People are easy targets for extremists since they are simple minded and starved. Lack of education (formal and informal) for public allows their naive souls to be influenced by any group of thought that might strike a familiar cord with them.
Now let's look at the luxuries and welfare of the modern societies like that of USA. We have miles and miles of paved roads, supermarkets, drive through banks and fast food, phone lines and 24 hours TV channels just to name a few. The most comforting luxury is elevated state of security overall. Being a woman is not an inferiority factor. You aren't restricted to what you can do and be. There is abundance of almost everything, you just need to be able to pay for them. You have got technology at your fingertips, freedom of speech to voice your opinion and numerous laws and regulations to protect you. These are true luxuries of a developed country. With so many obstacles and suffering alleviated in modern life, one can focus achieving higher purpose in life. Earning a formal education, choosing your field of work, contributing to your own and your family's well being are some of the perks of life in the US.
One of the downfalls of a modern society is its individualism. There is less privacy and more seclusion, cyber crimes are real threats and protecting your identity and credit are like caging a ghost. Mental illness is on the rise, overall health of people is in jeopardy. There is no caste system but the social gap between poor, middle class and rich are continuously widening. Credit card loans, education loans. medical bills, mortgage and other forms of debt are overwhelming everybody, pushing them to work longer and harder. Sometimes life looks like a rat race. Relationships are strained and trust has become a luxury you can't afford on just any body. Physical torments have given way to psychological unrest in our lives. Worry is the thousand head snake that creeps on us often. Most often we in a war with ourselves and the rest of the time busy paying bills.
After living in the US, I can't imagine living anywhere else. But I can't help but wonder how my life would have been different have I lived somewhere else. Would I have had more peace of mind with less options in life?

Sunday, July 27, 2014

Life Happens

It is liberating to know that You are not the center of the universe. This means events of your life aren't scheduled around your desires and demands. So life happens. How do you live with that? You plan, you choose, you avoid and only a percentage of your life turns out as you want. To be honest, it is very liberating to know that you are not totally in charge of your life. It is Not all up to you.
What is your attitude toward life now? Do you see your life as a series of unfortunate events or

Tuesday, July 22, 2014

Life

Life is unfair and unpredictable. To say life is beautiful depends on your state of mind at the moment of confession. If you have been experiencing favorable situations recently, you will have a positive and hopeful outlook on life. However, calling life unfair and unpredictable is as objective as it gets. There are pleasure and pain in life. You can't avoid the pain nor can you increase your worldly pleasures, regardless of your intentions and efforts. The only way to live is to endure and rejoice the ups and downs of life and keep going. Keep going  for different reasons at different stages of your life. It's critical to find these reasons as they will keep you going. Again awareness is the key. Be aware that nothing lasts forever! 

Ladies check your PURSE!

How many women have neck and shoulder pain, headaches and preventable injuries related to their bags (handbag, shoulder bag, purses of diffe...