Freedom of, from and within religion

Unveiling Islam

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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

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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

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“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

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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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Is religion compatible with feminism?

Unveiling Islam

In my experience with Islam, the hardest part for me was trying to reconcile my feminism with my faith. Growing up, I adhered to two seemingly contradictory beliefs: I was an outspoken feminist who wanted complete equality for everyone, and I was also a practicing Muslim. Over the years, these
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The hijab: oppressive or liberating?

Unveiling Islam

Picture a woman wearing a long, shapeless black cloak, her arms, legs and hair covered by dark cloth, with only the face — or sometimes just the eyes — visible. Does the word “oppressed” come to mind? That is a common assumption regarding Muslim women who choose to wear the
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Symbolic loss: dad, then father

Tuesday Mourning

I can’t tell you what kind of person my dad was. As a teenager, I’d count with tally marks the memories I still had of him. I remember Laker games and canned Budweisers, but not his voice or facial expressions. To find out what kind of person my dad was,
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Speaking Voldemort’s name

Unveiling Islam

Belief systems in many societies are regarded as unquestionable. Most people are too scared to question or criticize accepted norms — in some cases, just voicing disapproval is dangerous. When an entire society dogmatically follows one fixed set of beliefs, it’s hard to even form opinions that differ. How can
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No, Muslims are not terrorists

Unveiling Islam

“Please step out of the line. This is just a random check, ma’am,” said the TSA agent. I shrugged and followed the agent to a separate room, where she opened up and examined my luggage. Besides my family, the other people who had been randomly selected were either Arab or
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