About Me

I am a Pakistani Muslim who advocates anti-racist, anti-colonial feminism. I often write anti-racist feminist critiques of media representations concerning Muslims, Arabs, Iranians, South Asians, and other communities of color, but also like to write poetry, short stories, and spiritual prose. I studied social psychology in undergrad and am also an independent filmmaker. I’ve always been inspired to implement spirituality into my efforts for social justice and believe in a politics of mutual accountability and interrelatedness.

In 2010, a chapter I wrote was published in a textbook entitled Teaching Against Islamophobia.  As described by the publishers, the book “contends that teachers must have the tools with which to combat unilateral politicization of Arabic and Muslim peoples. ‘Teaching Against Islamophobia’ creates a pedagogical space for educators to engage with necessary issues and knowledges regarding the alienation of Islamic culture, religion, knowledge, and peoples.”

ITRMcoverartn 2013, a short essay of mine was published in the zine “Totally Radical Muslims Volume 2: Karbala Fired Resistance Stories.” This volume is “inspired by the yearly traditions of muharram and the stories of Karbala which exemplify social justice; resistance to oppression; courage to change and strong solidarity.” The zine demonstrates the “strengths of our backs and the power of a determined heart.” It is available for purchase on their website.

9780312386566In 2014, another one of my chapters was published in the textbook, The Bedford Book of Genres: A Guide & Reader.

 

The oppressive interlocking systems of white supremacy, capitalism, heteropatriarchy, imperialism, colonialism and other manifestations of violence affect all of us in different ways (sometimes privileging us over others in more ways than one), but our struggles are interconnected. I believe all of us have the divine spark within that can give us the courage to decolonize and imagine a better world that ensures the liberation for all peoples, irrespective of race, gender, class, sexual orientation, religion, ability, etc. I believe in a unity that isn’t conformist, but rather appreciative and respectful of all human beings. Islam has always recognized human diversity as fact and a blessing. As the the Qur’an says:

“And among Allah’s signs is the creation of the heavens and the earth, and the diversity of your languages and colors. There truly are signs in this for those who know. […] O humankind, We have created you all out of a male and a female, and have made you into nations and tribes, so that you might come to know one another.” – Holy Qur’an 30:22; 49:13

I believe in connecting our spiritual teachings to the Love we express for our communities and others in social justice struggles. The 17th century Punjabi Sufi poet Bulleh Shah once wrote:

Parh parh ilm hazaar kitaaban
qaddi apnay aap nou parhiya naee
jaan jaan warhday mandir maseedi
qaddi mann apnay wich warhiya naee
aa-vain larda aye shaitan de naal bandeaa
qaddi nafss apnay naal lariya naee.

[Yes, you have read thousands of books,
but you have never tried to read your own self;
you rush in, into your Temples, into your Mosques,
but you have never tried to enter your own heart;
futile are all your battles with Satan,
for you have never tried to fight your own desires.]

This message of self-reflection, humility, and holding one’s self accountable captures the compassionate heart of Islam and reminds us that when we judge others or perceive ourselves as “more pious” or “superior,” we fall into arrogance, hypocrisy, and failure to see our own faults. I believe these lyrics are not just about spiritual purification, but also relevant to social justice struggles and how self-critique and accountability is needed so that we don’t reproduce oppressive forces in our own movements. It is respect and compassion for every human being that makes Bulleh Shah’s message so beautiful and Islamic.  There is a way to coexist, not just as human beings and created things, but also as mind, body, and spirit.

50 thoughts on “About Me

  1. Fatemeh June 20, 2009 / 6:28 am

    Wonderful new blog, cousin!😀

  2. Mast Qalander June 20, 2009 / 7:42 am

    Thank you, khaharam:)

  3. hoi polloi October 22, 2009 / 9:17 pm

    I enjoy your sentiments and I think I share them. Thank you for writing about peace in such an eloquent way.

  4. bilal November 24, 2009 / 9:21 am

    great blog!

  5. Mist December 4, 2009 / 9:18 pm

    I like what you wrote even the way you express about your thoughts,ideas and feeling.so I found myself easily follow your blog .may be because I found myself in your words pretty much.

    thank you for sharing this beauty:)

  6. Hanan December 18, 2009 / 2:13 pm

    loved your blog, i read a few posts and they gave me a lot to ponder on

  7. Yusra February 3, 2010 / 4:25 am

    :) Very nice world view. I’m just discovering/enjoying your blog.

  8. umersultan February 5, 2010 / 7:44 pm

    good blog brother. Keep up the good work

    Wassalam

  9. kübra May 17, 2010 / 11:47 am

    Salaams! So happy I’ve found your blog. Nice work! Wassalam:)

  10. hfm May 25, 2010 / 11:00 pm

    I love reading about the issues you deal with on your blog- great stuff😀

  11. Jahanzeb May 26, 2010 / 4:14 am

    Salaams. Just happened to come across your comments about Prince of Persia on Yahoo. Nice website…looking forward to reading more of what you have posted here.

    • Mast Qalander September 1, 2010 / 9:43 pm

      Thanks a lot, bro.:) I don’t often run into people sharing the same name!

  12. Nida June 1, 2010 / 4:43 pm

    I came across your comment on “Stop Telling Muslim Women How to Dress” and just wanted to let you know I appreciate how thoughtful your reply was. Peace be with you.

    • Mast Qalander September 1, 2010 / 9:42 pm

      And peace be with you.:) Thanks for reading!

  13. Safiyah June 9, 2010 / 4:25 pm

    Enjoyed reading your article on ‘Stop Telling Muslim Women How to Dress’. Very insightful and a fresh perspective. Thank you.

    • Mast Qalander September 1, 2010 / 9:42 pm

      Very kind of you, thank you for reading!:)

  14. sarra August 16, 2010 / 8:51 pm

    Salaams – I wasn’t sure if I commented on a guest article of yours elsewhere whether the response would get sent to you.

    Sometimes in Google you start out searching for something ordinary and end up reading something quite different. I was actually looking for some stock Urdu phrases when I found your article! (And also some of what I was looking for – which is good too!) This one: http://islamonmyside.com/wordpress/?p=421

    I’m short on words to say at the moment but just – thank you for your perspective. It’s also good (in a way) to hear about the Arabisation of Islam – that’s something I didn’t know about, or not in detail. It’s so so nice to spend time reading a whole article and come out of it feeling – wow. Time well spent.

    Sarra

    • Mast Qalander September 1, 2010 / 9:42 pm

      Salaam Sarra,

      Thank you for your comment. It’s great to know that people still come across my older posts. It means so much to hear you felt that way after reading my post. Thank you.:)

  15. Sufism World August 20, 2010 / 10:11 am

    I came across your blog by accident, an accident which has now made me a frequent visitor. Everyone is individual and everyone has their own way of explain things – I like your style of how you express your feelings.

    I myself have a similar blog as yours where I have the intention to share some of my experiences with my readers mostly relating to Spirituality and my constant battle between Religion and Worldly life.

    Keep up the good work and I hope to continue contributing.

    • Mast Qalander September 1, 2010 / 9:40 pm

      Thank you for your kind words! I would Love to visit your blog. Please feel free to visit often.:)

  16. Sara (cairo, lusaka, amsterdam) August 29, 2010 / 12:22 pm

    Your blog is seriously one of the most amazing blogs I’ve ever read. I came across your hijab post a few weeks ago which blew me away, but have only had time to come and read other posts now. All I can say is – wow. You sound like an amazing person, m’A:)

    • Mast Qalander September 1, 2010 / 9:39 pm

      Thank you so much for your appreciation, Sara! That really means a lot!:)

  17. RenKiss September 9, 2010 / 9:51 pm

    Hi Mast,

    I just wanted to say I love your blog and your poetry. I wish I could write poetry. 😦 But it’s really beautiful.

  18. Ellen Keim October 20, 2010 / 1:04 am

    I came across your blog in my search for info about gender discrimination in the mosque. I’m quite impressed with your eloquent writing, both in your posts and your poetry. I love that you know your own mind! I’m a new convert (just a year old) and I intend to come back often to learn from and be inspired by you. I’m also going to add your blog to my blog roll.

    Thank you for sharing yourself. May Allah bless you always.

    Ellen Keim

  19. Zia November 9, 2010 / 7:00 am

    Hi – my friend Raza Rumi posted your piece on his blog razarumi.com and that where i first came across your write-up on columbus. I really enjoyed your very insightful and informative article on the subject. It was such a gripping piece of writing that i couldnt help visiting your blog and then ended up reading your piece on 9/11. All i want to say is you made my day – i feel i found another place for worthwhile readings.
    Best
    Zia Hashmi
    Islamabad

  20. Kiki November 16, 2010 / 1:54 am

    Thanks to google to bring me to your blog – Stop Telling Women How to Dress. From there I kept on reading your writings. I enjoy your balanced writing style.

    Salaam,
    Kiki

  21. israfilmirza March 14, 2011 / 5:26 pm

    Yes the two can exist but only if we allow them to.

  22. Farah Hashim October 18, 2011 / 7:24 pm

    I just wanted to say that I like your blog and keep writing ^_^

  23. Eva December 21, 2011 / 4:44 am

    Resolution for 2012
    Read all your posts.

  24. nadianawaz19 August 4, 2012 / 3:59 pm

    Beautifully written.
    Stumbled upon your blog today and I think it’s one of the best blogs I’ve seen on word press so far. Your way of expressing yourself and answering comments as well as taking in criticism has left me truly amazed.
    Also the fact that you’re Pakistani just made my day.( I’m British and Pakistani and have been living in both countries-love comparing the two! ) There aren’t many intellectual young men out there who have the guts to say what you do.
    Keep it up! I’ll be back for sure,you can count on that!:)

    • Mast Qalander August 4, 2012 / 4:36 pm

      Thank you so much for your comment! I really appreciate it.:) Welcome to my blog and please feel free to visit again! I will definitely check your blog out, too!

  25. Nadia August 19, 2012 / 12:57 am

    I have nominated you for ‘The beautiful blogger award’. If you’re willing to play the game,check out the rules on my blog. If not, don’t feel any compulsion to follow through.
    Take care!:)

  26. Loquacious Kiana August 27, 2012 / 4:23 am

    I’d be interested to hear what problems you see with social psychology? I’m planning on applying to grad school in social psychology this fall, but I’d like to be aware of its possible problems!

  27. shammee November 25, 2012 / 7:38 pm

    You’ve Been Nominated
    Hi. I just nominated you for a Very Inspiring Blog Award. Not sure of the exact rules, who started it, or where to find the exact rules. I think you are supposed to nominate 15 other blogs when you accept (kind of like chain letter/pyramid type advertising) but I know I won’t be advertising that many). Anyway, it only serves to help promote your blog. For more info, check out the appropriate post at my site on :http://iiteeeestudents.wordpress.com/2012/11/25/very-inspiring-blog-nominations/

  28. Sania Sufi December 21, 2012 / 12:43 am

    Salaam Jahanzeb!

    I came across your blog about a year ago and I really enjoy reading it. I especially value your critique of race/gender issues, as well as your thoughts on spirituality! Keep on writing:)

    In solidarity,

    Sania

    • Mast Qalander December 21, 2012 / 6:25 pm

      Wa salaam Sania,

      Thank you for your words of support! Your comments are much appreciated. Thanks for reading!:)

  29. eva626 November 23, 2013 / 11:43 pm

    great blog and impressive…an independent film maker!! cool.

  30. lucyrowett November 29, 2013 / 4:20 pm

    Awesome blog! You are really inspiring! I love to hear and read debates on Islam in the modern world, and feminism too. Keep it up!!

  31. cayenna johnson December 1, 2013 / 11:41 am

    Hi- thanks for sharing all this. I don’t think i’ve ever seen such a complete articulation of understanding privilege especially in regards to gender, race, religion and the pervasive effects of colonialism. I struggle to articulate these things to fellow white americans and your blog will be a huge help as and I borrow from and reference your work.

    Thanks a million!

    • Mast Qalander December 1, 2013 / 3:19 pm

      Thanks so much for that wonderful comment! Thanks for reading!:)

  32. writerershad December 23, 2013 / 12:59 pm

    Dear Friend,
    Salam and Greetings.I am Ershad Mazumder, a divine poet from Bangladesh. I am really very happy to be here with you all.I got reference of this blog from Darvish(Ya Haqq).He is know to for more than ten years.We have another co-thinker. He is Mystic Saints.

  33. Rachid Elhidaoui October 27, 2014 / 3:02 am

    I feel lucky to have found your blog, I hope you are still writing ….mostly interested in the palestinian cause and I already learned a thing or two from your discussions with some pro-Israel commentators. thank you

    • Mast Qalander October 27, 2014 / 6:12 pm

      Thank you for your nice comment, Rachid. I am still writing and will try to update my blog more frequently!

  34. rosalindawijks March 3, 2015 / 2:45 pm

    Dear people,

    I’m a Dutch Muslim of Afro-Carribean descent (I’m a Creole/afro-surinamese from Suriname/Dutch Guyana) who studies law, studied Arabic and is into anything anti-racist and into Islamic Feminism. (And books, “world”- music and Oriental dance)

    I just stumbled onto this blog and think it’s amazing; I really stand in awe. It’s honest, detailed and VERY intelligently written. It reminds me a lot of Nahidas blog (the fatal feminist), Orbalas blog (Freedom from the Forbidden) and Sober Second Look.

    Keep up the good work!

    Salams and greatings from Holland.:-)

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