My Nigerian Sisters

Over a month ago, 276 of my sisters were kidnapped in northern Nigeria. They were kidnapped by a group of savages who call themselves “Boko Haram.”

These beasts raided a boarding school in Nigeria where female high school students were housed so that they could get educated. These girls had to take off from school for a while prior to their abduction but had recently returned to take their final exams and finish their school year. They had taken off earlier due to the exact fears that came true on April 15: they feared they would be attacked by the extreme conservatives in northern Nigeria who are against girls getting educated.

On April 15, 204 these young, innocent girls were asleep at their boarding school when “dozens of heavily armed terrorists” opened fire inside their sleeping quarters. Boko Haram caused all sorts havoc… I am only imagining a scene from a terrible and grotesquely violent movie. They not only started shooting but also set fire to the school: complete destruction.

Amidst all the chaos, they managed to group the students together, threatened them, and “then herded several hundred terrified girls” into their “trucks, buses and vans” and “drove off and vanished.”

This is where the disturbing, saddening, and extremely painful story of my sisters starts.

They were girls the same age as my biological sisters who had similar dreams and aspirations as my own sisters. They were girls breaking down barriers, making their families proud. They were going to change their little towns, their country, their continent, and their world!

How tragic it is that 267 persons have just vanished off of the face of the Earth? How tragic it is that such an atrocity has occurred in our world today?

Boko Haram is a word in the Hausa language; it means, “Western education is a sin.” While I have no knowledge of the Hausa language, the word Haram is familiar to me as it is an Arabic word commonly used by Muslims. Haram means “forbidden” or “sin.” As a Muslim, all I can say is that Boko Haram is HARAM.

Reasons why members of Boko Haram are haram, and not Muslim:

  • They attacked innocent civilians
  • They attacked women and children
  • They attacked defenseless girls
  • They kidnapped 267 humans against their will
  • They are keeping hostage 267 girls
  • They plan to sell people as if they were property
  • They are forcing young girls into marriage
  • They have claimed to have forcibly converted the girls they abducted
  • The men in Boko Haram are currently with 267 females who are not their mothers, daughters, wives, or sisters; this makes residing with females who are not their relatives HARAM

I hope that God is taking good care of my Nigerian sisters. I wonder how they are able to sleep at nights; I wonder how their families are holding up. I hope God gives those 267 girls and their families the strength to get through this. I hope that United Nations and the United States take some legitimate, hardcore action against these savages who call themselves Muslims. I don’t think they are worthy of being called animals, for even animals are compassionate and civilized compared to these monsters. Yes, that’s what they are: monsters. And monsters go to Hell.


Reference: Nicholas Kristof’s Op-Ed piece in the New York Times on May 3, 2014 .


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Dear Shahid Afridi

Everyday a new video, photograph, quote, news piece, or meme circulates social media and becomes the “trending topic.” Recently, a video of Pakistani cricket star, Shahid Afridi, was made public and became the topic of discussion all over social media.

Shahid Afridi, whilst giving an interview on a Pakistani news media channel, made a comment about how the women of Peshawar, Pakistan (his home town) were better off cooking in the kitchen, instead of trying out for sports like women’s cricket. My first reaction: “He is such a jerk!” I was and am absolutely outraged that a man of his position would say something like that!

Shahid Afridi, sometimes known as “Lala” or “Boom Boom Afridi” is a an internationally renowned Pakistani cricketer. He has been playing cricket for Pakistan’s national team for over a decade and has been a favorite, especially amongst the youth, for his good looks and style of hitting 4’s and 6’s (4 point hits and 6 point hits) in a match…usually when the team is doing not-so-well. He comes in and makes the game look so easy, scores a bunch of points, restores peoples’ faith in their team and leads them to victory. Good for you Afridi, you make Pakistanis proud. You make Pakistani men, women, boys, and girls proud.

Shahid Afridi, a renowned international cricketer

I am writing this blog after being inspired by a post on a Pakistani news website, written by a Pakistani woman as a direct letter to Afridi. It is titled: “Why I Won’t Be Cheering For Shahid Afridi Anymore.” So, I need to vent out my feelings to Shahid Afridi and the world, therefore, I am doing the same thing–writing a letter to Afridi. (I hope that somehow, in someway, he reads it someday).


Dear Shahid Afridi,

You are the hero of Pakistan, the hero of cricket (the most popular sport in Pakistan). You bring joy to a nation that has a lot going on right now, a nation that is doing a lot of growing up right now. While I am very happy and proud that you help Pakistan win cricket matches, I think that you need to understand that with fame and heroism comes great responsibility. You become the face of the nation and you become the person young boys and girls look up to. You are the person the youth look up to. You are the new and current sensation.

Do you know how many young boys want to be a batsman or a bowler like you? Do you know how many boys want to have hair like yours? Do you know how many boys want to make their family and country proud like you do? Do you know how many boys want to be you?

Do you know what this means? This means that whatever you do, they will want to do. Whatever you encourage them to do and however you encourage them to think, they will want to do that and think in that way.

So, when you go on a TV channel for an interview and the anchor recounts, with extreme pride, that the girls of your hometown, Peshawar, are trying out for cricket and how everyone is so proud that women of Peshawar and Pakistan are entering the sports world (and that Pakistan is continuing to progress), you DO NOT snub him by declaring that “our women have good taste in their hands” and, thus, belong in and should remain in the kitchen.

Shahid Afridi, who are you to take the limelight away from the women of Peshawar and Pakistan? Who are YOU to declare that the women of Pakistan are better off in the kitchen of their homes? YOU, Shahid Afridi, have no right to speak of what a woman can and can not do. The women of Pakistan can decide themselves how they want to represent Pakistan. They can choose if they want to be a teacher, a doctor, a secretary, a politician, an engineer, an accountant, an entrepreneur, an actress, an author, an athlete, or stay home (and cook/clean/do the laundry, or do nothing at all).

Continue reading

Nusrat – the helper

Date: January 13, 2013

This one is about the domestic help at my grandparent’s house, Nusrat. She, like Maria, is one of many Pakistani women who work to support their families. But her story is slightly different. Nusrat, whose name means “the helper” is working hard to not only feed her kids but also educate them.

One day, I decided to follow Nusrat around the house as she worked on her chores. It was a sunny day and I was at home with my aunt. The power had gone out for one hour, as it does every two hours over there so the house was calm and quiet. I started by asking for her permission to write her story and take her photograph. She started smiling and said “Sure, why not!” (in Urdu, of course).

Nusrat has no idea when she was born, just that she was about 14 when she got married. She was born in Mardan, a town in the Khyber Pakhtunkhwa (KPK) province. She migrated to Karachi, Pakistan shortly after getting married. Karachi is a long way and a completely different setting from her hometown of Mardan, but Nusrat said that she enjoyed her time in the Sindhi port city. She said that the air in Karachi was a lot better and the lifestyle was faster paced. According to Nusrat, she had little to worry about in Karachi, she felt more relaxed there.

Nusrat identifies herself as a Pathan, someone from the KPK who speaks Pashto, but because she has spent a long time in Karachi and now Rawalpindi, she can speak Urdu very well. She has five children, four sons and one daughter:

  • Adil – son, 18 years old – works as a driver
  • Salman – son, 14 years old – works as a tailor
  • Nauman – son, 12 years old – student
  • Layba – daughter, 10 years old – student
  • Sameer – son, 8 years old – student

Next, I asked her questions I was most curious about but I was slightly nervous because of the sensitivity of the topic – women’s rights and status in Pakistan. So I started by testing the waters and asked, “Nusrat, do you do parda?”

Parda is an Urdu/Farsi word that literally means “curtain” but can be used to mean veil or a cover worn by a person. In Islam, men and women are both asked to cover their bodies. For women, the parda includes covering their head with a hijab, or headscarf; basically, only the face can be shown. While it is not required in the religion, some women cover their face revealing only their eyes (called niqab) or cover their entire face with a see-thru veil that allows them to see the outside but people cannot see them (called burqah).

The matter of parda is one that is religious, cultural, but also personal; therefore, it is much debated and highly sensitive.

“Mein parda karti hu (I stay in parda)….” Nusrat took a long pause to think and continued, “aur mujhay acha lagta hai (and I like it).”

I asked her if she chose to cover and how much she covers and she told me that she covers because her husband asked her to, otherwise she would not be allowed to work.

I hesitantly continued, “Would you cover if your husband did not ask you to?”

Nusrat said, with such certainty that I was surprised she didn’t wait to think this one through, “Yes, I would, because I feel safe and protected with my chador over my head.” Continue reading

B&W: No Filter Needed

Day 2: Visited my great aunt in an area called Adayala. This is a place where my great grandmother used to live as well and a place I used to visit often as a child. Ever since she passed away, the house was sold, and the family moved away. My great aunt (my mom’s aunt), however, continues to reside there and visiting her house brought back many memories.

Much has changed in Adayala in 10 years… what was once a posh suburban community is now nothing less than a hustling and bustling town. My great grandmother was very dear to me and held a special in my heart. It was shocking for me to see that what was her house has now turned into a commercial property where a clothing market now stands…. Strange isn’t it? House converted to a bazaar?

Anyhow, my great aunt brought out many old photographs of her self, her mother (my great grandma), father, my grandmother, mother, etc and what a collection it was! A picture is worth a thousand words but no words can explain that bunch of photos I got to browse through.

It was interesting to note how all the adults (well, more like elderly) were once so young and — hip! Also, the fashion trends of back in the day are back in trend today. Also, the women of Pakistan were so liberal and modern.
I was pleasantly surprised to see that women of back then were very independent and bold looking…. and those women grew up to become to strong mothers, grandmothers, and great grandmothers. They are empowered in their own way.

Here’s to the strong women, young and old, of Pakistan!




All photos shown were taken by me.  All photos are the property of