All you need is love

Unveiling Islam

shanzeh-web

This probably won’t come as a surprise if you’ve read any of my articles, but I am not a fan of organized religion. My own experience with religion has been negative. Most of my teenage years were spent trying to understand Islam and get closer to God, and I was
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Religion vs. science

Unveiling Islam

shanzeh-web

Over the years, I’ve tried to balance my personal values and beliefs with Islam, but I’ve been mostly unsuccessful. It’s hard enough to balance feminism and faith, but even if I ignore the fact that Islam can be quite sexist and homophobic, I am still left trying to reconcile religion
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The real jihad

Unveiling Islam

shanzeh-web

“Jihad” often conjures images of bearded men holding a gun in one hand and the Quran in another, ready to hijack a plane or blow up a building while crying, “Allahu Akbar” (“God is great”), and hoping to get their 72 virgins in paradise. Although people commonly associate jihad with
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Why I refuse to be silenced

Unveiling Islam

shanzeh-web

If I had to choose one thing that I love most about Berkeley, it would be its commitment to freedom of speech. Coming from a society that is extremely conservative and rigid, I don’t take this freedom for granted. In Pakistan, my views regarding religion were considered controversial and unorthodox.
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Sudden and expected loss: grandma and grandpa

Tuesday Mourning

Whom you lose in death is one thing. How you lose them is another. For symbolic loss and pet loss, my grief fixates on the individual and our relationships — dad, cat, father, companion, family. For expected loss and sudden loss, my grief fixates on circumstances and causes — natural,
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Freedom of, from and within religion

Unveiling Islam

Growing up in Pakistan, I was surrounded by Islam to such an extent that I didn’t feel like I had the freedom to actually choose it for myself: It was something I was expected to follow instead of something I chose to adopt. Islam permeated all aspects of my life.
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Muslim women don’t need rescuing

Unveiling Islam

As a Pakistani woman from a Muslim family, I find that people often preconceive how my life must be. Apart from the rather ignorant comments and questions that I’m used to —  “Oh, so you can actually speak English?” and “Do people in Pakistan still ride on camels?” — people
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Pet loss: remembering Chili Wong

Tuesday Mourning

“Dear Wong family, “Despite how quickly she got sick, I know you did everything you felt was right to give her a chance without causing her any suffering. I hope you take some comfort in all the wonderful, good memories you shared with her before her peaceful passing. “Yours truly,
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Whose Islam is it, anyway?

Unveiling Islam

Despite being one of the most prominent religions, Islam is still grossly misrepresented. The media often generalizes about Islam, portraying all Muslims as a single entity. And many of these generalizations focus on fundamentalism and terrorism, which don’t apply to most Muslims. But even after separating the extremist strains from
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God and gay rights

Unveiling Islam

When I woke up June 26, I discovered that the Supreme Court had legalized gay marriage in all 50 states. I could not have woken up to better news. Most of my friends were celebrating and supporting the Supreme Court’s decision, but I noticed that not everyone was happy. Some
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