IS ANYONE HOME? POST 9/11 IDENTITY TRANSFORMATIONS OF AHMADI MUSLIM WOMEN By HINA SHAIKH A THESIS PRESENTED TO THE GRADUATE SCHOOL OF THE UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS UNIVERSITY OF FLORIDA 2015
2015 Hina Shaikh
To Ami, Nani, Sadia and Lubna Antie the first postcoloni al feminist scholars in my life
4 ACKNOWLEDGMENTS I would like to thank my family and Lauren for providing me support, strength, and, most importantly, reminding me that sunshine always exists bey Njambi, for always being the ultimate feminist voice inside my head and continuing to inspire and encourage me. I would like to thank my thesis chair, Anita Anantharam, whose resilient edits and unending support allowed me the ability to write about my community. Thank you to my committee members, Malini Johar Schueller and Lila Abu Lughod for inspiring my thinking, work, and helping me to create this project. I would like to thank Kendal Broad for expanding my world and mind through her courses and teaching. Last, I would like to thank my friends who have endured my endless conversations about thesis.
5 TABLE OF CONT ENTS page ACKNOWLEDGMENTS ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 4 ABSTRACT ................................ ................................ ................................ ................................ ..... 6 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION ................................ ................................ ................................ .................... 7 2 POLITICS OF BELONGING AS AHMADI MUSLIM AMERICAN WOM EN ................. 18 Belonging After 9/11 ................................ ................................ ................................ .............. 19 Belonging as Ahmadi Muslim Women ................................ ................................ .................. 28 3 CREATING HOMES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 35 Writing as an Ahmadi ................................ ................................ ................................ ............. 35 Disidentifications, Inhabitations, and Resistance ................................ ................................ ... 38 Rights, Liberties, and Freedoms ................................ ................................ ............................. 40 4 CONCLUSION ................................ ................................ ................................ ....................... 47 LIST OF REFERENCES ................................ ................................ ................................ ............... 51 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH ................................ ................................ ................................ ......... 55
6 Abstract of Thesis Presented to the Graduate School of the University of Florida in Partial Fulfillment of the Requirements for the Degree of Master of Arts IS ANYONE HOME? POST 9/11 IDENTITY TRANSFORMATIONS OF AHMADI MUSLIM WOMEN By Hina Shaikh May 2015 Chair: Anita Anantharam Major: This thesis examin es post 9/11 activism by Muslim women of the Ahmadiyya Community in the United States. The activism derives from editorials, letters to the editor, and opinion pieces published by Ahmadi women in print and online newspapers. In these writings I argue the Muslim women creatively navigate several political and discursive projects of b elonging after 9/11 through processes of disidentification and simultaneously create homes, futures, and possibilities for the South Asian Muslim women. I interview leaders from the Ahmadi Muslim women community in the United States to further interrogate how they see these narratives operating. I end with future possibilities of this research.
7 CHAPTER 1 INTRODUCTION started in conversations during dinner parties and sewing an d knitting circles. The Ahmadi Muslim women strategized all the different ways women could contrib ute to the expanding Ahmadiyya C feminist consciousness raising groups, the groups created a space to discuss religion and everyday gendered interactions as Ahmadi Muslim women who not only veil, but also work, attend school, and oftentimes continue to serve as caretakers for several gene rations at once (hooks 2000, 7). At the same time, the groups also challenged the inherent universality of the male Receiving support from the Caliph of the time, t he groups eventually led to the creation of a Alislam 2014). While the auxiliary is a subsidiary organization of the male counte rpart, which continues to have the final say in most decisions, the women created syllabi, meeting schedules, a centralized leadership system, all the while making all efforts to recognize that childcare and transportation would have to be a group effort i f women were to regularly attend meetings, events and community volunteer efforts. The existence of such resilient narratives and organizing efforts by Ahmadi Muslim women continued after 9/11 with the women supporting community wide campaigns in addition to serving as leaders in raising awareness of the campaigns through their editorials and community organizing efforts. The three campaigns, Muslims for Life, Muslims for Peace, and Muslims for Loyalty, have become a main focal point in not only how Ahmadi Muslims position
8 themselves within the United States, but also how Ahmadis differentiate themselves from other Muslim communities. Ahmadi women have become primary media contacts for the local, regional, and national community while simultaneously raising awareness of the campaigns through their tireless writings and activism in their communities. While such leadership roles alongside mandatory restrictions on veiling and h eightened surveillance of Ahmadi women to ensure limited social media use and compliance with increasingly narrow ways of celebrating holidays, weddings, or family gatherings. These identity transformations and consolidations cannot be separated from the c ontext of post 9/11 Islamophobia. After 9/11, I argue that Ahmadi Muslim women changed and transformed the ways in which they practiced their everyday identities as Ahmadi Muslim women in the United States. These changed identity practices are importantly mediated by how the women conceive of home, whether physically or nationally, and the political project of belonging, which examines how narratives of belonging operate alongside social, political, and cultural contexts within a nation. I argue that their changed identity practices also allowed for the emergence of activism in the form of editorials in online and print newspapers that created a space for the Ahmadi women uniquely to critique post 9/11 United States while simultaneously creating a future ho me for themselves. In what follows I will trace the paths that narratives of home, belonging, and nation have defined the discursive terrain upon which post 9/11 identity transformations and activism by the Ahmadi Muslim women are made possible. Home, bel onging, and n ation The physical homes in which the Ahmadi Muslim women generatively formed a space for dialogue and growth are very different from the homes Betty Friedan urged women to leave in 1963 through her iconic work, The Feminine Mystique
9 Friedan discover and create, go back home again, to look for "something more" in housework and rearing Simone De Beauvoir in her earlier work, The Second Sex which historicizes the universal subjugation of women to devalued private spheres in which they are unable to take part in political processes or income producing work (Beauvoir 2010). While providing invaluable insights, both authors failed to recognize the extent that such narratives were only possible for white middle and upper class women. Angela Davis in her 1981 work, Women, Race and Class provided such a history by intricately connecting Black slave narratives and continuing to trace how Black women in particular creatively constructed their everyday lives in ways that could not be easily categorized as either wholly within public or private spheres. A central component of her work is re ndering vi sible this comparative difference 1981, 5). Such differences importantly situated the physical and emotional discursive terrain of the home. Davis also continues onto describe how Black women used the home as a transformative space to educate children (1981). Additionally, she writes abou t white women such as those who took part in the Southern Women for the Prevention of Lynching in 1930, an association of en, just like the Black women who personally 195). In this case, home then become s a generative space for activism that
10 going project entailing a sense of hope While Davis complicates the easy distinction betwe en public as a masculinized space and private as associated with motherhood and rituals of domesticity, she also expands upon how the home can indeed be a transformative space for African American as well as white women. At the same time, Nira Yuval Davis complicates the very idea of home by showing how the politics of belonging constantly shift the ways in which bodies ca Davis 2011 ). She conceptualizes the politics of belonging as different from belonging because the politics of belon collectivity/ies which are themselves being constructed in these projects in very specific ways and in very specif Davis 2011 312). In other word s, the politics of belonging practiced by the white women in the anti lynching campaigns cannot be easily equated with the politics of belonging that mediate the women in the 1960s to whom the cult of domesticity and motherhood created specific boundaries of belonging. To Yuval Davis, belonging then becomes only meaningful in reference to the context in which it operates (2011) Yuval Davis provides the example of 9/11 to further clarify what she means by politics of belonging. She recognizes that, post 9/ cohesion of the political and cultural community, but also as potential terrorists, especially t he 151). Yet, she also recognizes that the bodies that belong to this ideol growing ethnic, cultural and religious tensions within as well as between societi (Yuval Davis 2011 151).
11 What these narratives of belonging and home al so show is that the totalized identity related to each other, communities, and the nation in different ways. In other words, the son conceptualizes as being a vital component of nationalism is mediated across not only differences between women but also mediated by constantly shifting social and political mores particularly within the geographical boundaries of a nation (1983). With the Ahmadi Muslim women, their homes are, on the one hand, the physical location in which they conduct their activism through writing editorials on their computers and accessing an entire network of support through websites and email groups Additionally, these homes serve as places that allow access to transnational flows of ideas, cultures, and narratives whether this is through the television, internet or through visits from family members and friends who live in Pakistan. These transnational flows cont inually situate the women in multiple political contexts, mirror the problems and needs of transnational feminist dialogues (Patil 2013). Inderpal Grewal and Ca ren Kaplan find making such connections between inherently to de Kaplan 1994, 7). The importance of such decentering for the activism enac ted by the Ahmadi Muslim women in my second chapter is that such activism is not seen as only possible because of their location in West or to Western technology. Instead, the women are seen in context of
12 other localities of women acting to address global concerns and processes that otherwise each location while also arguing for a linkage (Shohat 2005, 1271). This linkage is especially important for transnational feminist dialogue and activism as it avoids the neoliberal they explain as, for consumption within the global marketplace of ideas (we call this freemarket fem (Mohanty and Alexander 1997, xvi). The usefulness, then, of detailing the post 9/11 politics of belonging the Ahmadi Muslim women navigate as well as the activism they enact after 9/11 is that it shows how women are strategically and creatively usi ng whatever means they have at their disposal to create spaces and future homes for themselves and other racialized Muslim women. By explicitly connecting this activism to other localities of women who are interacting with global processes of neoliberal ca pitalism, imperialism, and colonialism, this not only other groups of women who combat such processes in effective and inspiring ways. While creating this link age to global activisms is essential, the politics of belonging that the Ahmadi Muslim women navigate in their activism is completely mediated by their relation to the nation. As recent scholarship on public Islam investigates, there is a unique connection between Islam and the public sphere of a nation. This scholarship shows the relationship between everyday public identity practices of religion and the constraints upon these identity practices by the discursive terrain in which these practices take place By writing editorials, letters to the
13 editor, and opinion pieces, this unique method of activism they enact to create a future home and simultaneously navigate politics of belonging as Ahmadi Muslim women in the United States creates new possibilities fo r reimagining not only the simplistic rendering of public/private by Friedan but also recent debates about public Islam ( G le 2002; Salvatore and Eick elman 2006 ). Central to the rise of public Islam is the transition from macropolitics such as the Iranian f the le 2002, 173). While anthropologist Dale Eickelman considers this a destabilizes central political mechanisms central to the massive organized resistance possible in Islamism (Eickelman 1998; Kepel 2002). Both of these accounts underplay the significance of public, elaborating alternative styles of political behavior and alternative norms of public In other words, they fail to highlight the extensive power dynamics at play in decentralized public Islam that interact with gendered h ierarchies and ultimately allow masculinized publics to emerge or navigate politics of belonging much more easily. These hierarchies, constraints, and suppressions are central to understanding the activism by Ahmadi Muslim women and how their activism to create a future home for themselves is enacted as part of a gendered counterpublic that uniquely connects multiple microp ractices in public Islam. Nil far G le contributes to the discussion on public Islam in a non Western secular context by focusing on this gendered dimension in the case of a Tu rkish Muslim woman, Merve Kavak i, who, a ament caused an uproar when she entered the p arliament wearing her headscarf (Gle 2002). G le also writes of public Islam as the
14 consumption patterns, learn market rule s, enter into secular time, get acquainted with values of individuation, professionalism, and consumerism, and refle le 2002, 174). Yet, her rendering of public Islam has a distinct gendered lens that is particularly salient to my discussion of Ahmadi women in that she recognizes the interaction of embodied cultural, religious, and gendered differences of Turkish women who wear headscarves and, s entrance into the public spher e (Gle 2002). G le explains that the issue was not the headscarf in and of le 2002, 181). This ambigu ous and confusing conflation, G le states, has to be viewed more than a n the secular le 2002, 186). This reimagining of the micropractice of her wearing a headscarf in parliament as a p erformance that challenges secular modernity is in herently gendered because, as G display the boundaries between private and public, licit and le 2002, 1 89). In other words, Kavaki navigates the politics of belonging in Turkey as a woman who tenuously straddles multiple dichotomies and enacts embodied performances of activism as a way to critique Turkish secular modernism as well as to claim her space as a Turkish Muslim woman who, while educated in the West, chooses to wear the headscarf as a member of Kavaki is not purposefully creating a performan ce, but rather her public self fashioning
15 as a modern Muslim woman who veils in Turkey is similarly mediated and constrained by power dynamics (Butler 1988 ) Yet, this recognition of inherent multiplicity of a Western educated, veiling, Turkish Muslim wom ular, and spatial le 2002, 182). This obviously public performance contrasts significantly from the counterpublic performances of activism the Ahmadi Muslim women engen der from locations that are not as public and yet still interact with the public. Generatively, the Ahmadi Muslim women provide a way of understanding how public Islam transforms in response not only to the mediated and constrained by the history and cultural or religious practices of a particular sect as well as the politics of belonging through which they negotiate their activism. As Ahmadi Muslim women in the West d o not have the ability or choice to easily return or create a home in what is, for many of them, the country of their birth, I use a differ ent articulation of performance I describe the process of inhabiting and performing norms in their editorials in m y s concept of disidentification. Muoz writes of disidentification as a means of understanding how performances by queers of color are implicated within social and political power structures. In his book, Disidentifica tions: Queers of Color and the Performance of Politics he writes of attending performances by queers of color who enact or rely upon otherwise problematic racial and oftentimes sexist stereotypes on stage (1999 ). Muoz points to the transformative possibi lity of such performances if viewed as performances of these contradictions have to be labeled and understood as political acts because these bodies recreate, refashion, and often contradict the very narratives they enact (Muoz
16 1999). minority subject practices in order to negotiate a phobic majoritarian public sphere that continuously el ides or punishes the existence of subjects who do not conform to the phantasm of S uch performances mirror the effect of the inhabitations of hyper activism in my second chapter. In other words, the Ahmadi Muslim women enact disidentificatory performances of politics as a way to between a fixed identity disposition and the socially encoded roles that are available for such 1999, 335 ). Muoz argues that such minoritarian subjects create generative performances of perhaps 1999, 272 ). Above all, Muoz underscores how disidentification is a complex process that involves assimilation, anti assimliation, identification, and misidentification. Indeed, I pose that the Ahmadi Muslim women are enacting or inhabiting versions of religious, national, and ethnic identities through the act of writing and inhabiting hyper American identities in ways that, by writing about them as Ahmadi Muslim women, reveal the inherent contradictio ns While the Ahmadi women are not performing in the same way that Muoz writes about queers of color, the women are enacting and practicing their identities in ways that are conscious public identity practices. By this I mean that many of the women follow writing guides published by the national headquarters that include exact sentences, themes, and facts about the Ahmadiyya community to include while others verbatim copy what other women write in different cities. While this is not how every Ahmadi woman writes her editorial, by 2014, an overwhelming
17 majority of them write in such a way that are not the type s of public perform ance articulated by Muoz but are nonetheless disidentificatory public identity practices In chapter 1 I expand upon the contexts A hmadi Muslim women in the United States have to navigate as they engender the activism in my second chapter. In other words, I detail how they negotiate politics of belonging in the United States as they navigate discourses of ing versus those who are saved as well as discourses defined by Clash of the Civilizations argument (Huntington 1993) I end this chapter with excerpted data from 14 interviews I con ducted with Ahmadi Muslim women who describe how their identities shifted and transformed after 9/11 as a result of the limited terrain the politics of belonging after 9/11 created. As Yuval Davis convincingly argues, such a context is necessary to underst and how their narratives of activism through their editorials take those p articular shapes and forms. In c hapter 2 I expand upon their narratives of activism that I argue they enact in order to create a future home for Ahmadi Muslim women as well as racial ized Muslim women in the United States. I use their writings in editorials, opinion pieces, and letters to the editor from 2005 2014 as their way of enacting activism after 9/11.
18 CHAPTER 2 POLITICS OF BELONGING AS AHMADI MUSLIM AMERICAN WOMEN For m any Ahmadi Muslim women, the politics of belonging in the United States begin not with 9/11 but with memories of political persecution in Pakistan, whether personal or community wide. As a community outlawed by the Pakistani constitution from congregating, everyday greeting, the only available option for many Ahmadi Muslims was to migrate to a country that allowed them to freely practice their religion. This inability to belong to the country in which Ahmadiyyat was founded as well as the rapid move many completed to the West continues to play a role in how the Ahmadi Muslim women are motivated to create a home in the United States because they have no other option. As Sam i Shafiq forcefully writes in her 2010 editorial: attacked and killed in Pakistan, my birth place because of my fait ). The pain with which Shafiq writes is ec hoed in the multiple editorials written in May 2010 after the attack on two Ahmadi mosques in Lahore, Pakistan, in which nearly a hundred always in the back of your ce 2010, 1). Others say it is finally an opportunity for the United States to step forward and deliver
19 nations do not allow the cold (Asad 2010, 1). These editorials powerfully showcase how the continued persecution of Ahmadi Muslims in Pakistan led the women to embrace the United States. Yet, their embracement of the United States carries with it a completely different set of problems to navigate, especially when belo nging to the United States in a post 9/11 context. Below, I summarize the different discursive terrains, focusing specifically on elucidating the power dynamics that curb, constrain, and limit the confines of their activist performance in my next chapter. In doing so, I limit my understanding of the politics of belonging to power dynamics that shifted, consolidated, or activism after 9/11. I separate these important terrains by beginning with how the national power dynamics with biopolitical racism shifted after 9/11. Then, I examine simplified cultural terrain I examine is t he individual transformations with racialization after 9/11 that the Ahmadi Muslim navigate. This is followed by a selection from interviews I conducted with 14 Ahmadi Muslim women who themselves create narratives describing how their processes of identifi cation shifted and transformed after 9/11. These terrains are especially important because they show the extent to which Ahmadi Muslim women creatively navigated narrow and limited discursive power structures with their activism in Chapter 2. Belonging Aft er 9/11 In mapping out the various discursive terrains that constrain and limit the confines of their activist performances in my next chapter, I begin with a general but crucial mapping of the biopolitical transformations after 9/11. Mark Kelly explains t his concept of bio
20 operates according to the logic of a biopolitical drive to defend the national population, justified by a stripped down state racism (Kelly 2004, 58). He explains that there are two technologies of power at work, one being more so phisticated: it deals with populations at the level of the This process of homogenization explains the need for the Ahmadi Muslim women to highlight their differences from other Muslim organizations. Kelly maintains that bio politics transformed after 9/11: September 11, however, constituted a new impetus for a biopolitical society to expand, to attack to defend to launch a war which is not primarily about the biopolitical colonization of new populations but rather simply abo ut the interests of the existing population in the first instance meaning the United states population. t ( 2004, 65) The division and post 9/11 discursive transfo rmation media tes how the women themselves are able to belong as Ahmadi Muslim women activists as it shows the extreme generalizations possible with post 9/11 biopolitical narratives While Kelly recognizes that the biopolitical state racism focused on forc es outside of the home population, proceedings such as that I detail further below on home that such a fear accompanies a fear of contagion. Therefore, the women become not only markers not worth fearing, regulating, or working against. This plays out in several different ways within hyper American identity in order to be considered a part of the United States. While narrowly to the point of obscuring and simultaneously adding complexity to In
21 this case, belonging becomes a conscious political act that requires significant work in order for Ahmadi Muslim women who veil to become a part of the public sphere. While Kelly explains the national power shifts quite well wi th his rearticulation of bio power and biopolitics, the actual response to this power dynamic has followed several different cultural narratives. In further explaining these cultural narratives, I show several means Muslim women in the West have used to na vigate the politics of belonging in the West. Two of the main ones I delineate below are the rhetoric of saved/saving Muslim women that have become quite useful for justifying US interventionist and imperialist policies in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan Indeed the now iconic radio address by then First Lady Laura Bush easily reformed the of our recent military gains in much of Afghanistan, women are no longer imprisoned in their The American Presidency Project 2015 ). While her address clearly out lines a cultural narrative used to justify US imperial policies, it worked alongside other cultural products consumed by the American the redeployment of ol One cultural product that has regenerated such tropes in a disturbing yet popular fashion is the bestselling literature playing upon our active Orientalist imaginations of the horrors these Muslim wom en face in their burqas, with their oppressive husbands, and even more isolating cultures. Lila Abu Lughod 2013, 84). As someone who has spent decades deconstructing and generatively examining the diffe Veiled Sentiments and
22 Lila Abu Lughod states that such pulp non fiction authorizes moral n and Lughod 2013, 81). The vapid consumption of these cultural products reveals the resiliency of such narratives within the American public as well as the reason why many of the editorials in my next section focus the takeaway from such writings. In other words, the women perform activisms deliberately to address the narratives put forth by such cultural produ cts. A nother consequence for such narratives is that they create a simplistic separation between unsaved/saved women in general that adds a different level of complexity to the overall y how Ahmadi Muslim As Obioma Nnaemeka illustrates, such a narrative has long provided support and justification for the idea that women in the West and, particularly America, are free (2005, 58) Nnaemeka examines a 19 90 episode of Inside Edition which began evasive look in his eyes and a dubious smile on his lips, he asked the viewers, specifically the tive geo po litical imaginations are to perceiving the presence or lack of rights, liberations, and freedoms In other words, we cannot imagine saving if we already do not have examples of saved American, Muslim and non Muslim women, serving as opposites. In this case
23 appeal in order to belong in the United States. Of course, such moral crusades are impossible if there are not well known examples of saved Muslim women, mo st of which conveniently travel from East to the West, instantly gaining access to rights, public attention, and simultaneously providing justification for US interventionist policies in their countries. While Ayaan Hirsi Ali has provided such an example w ith her activism and writings polemically arguing that she faced much cruelty being because of her Muslim upbringing in Somalia, a more recent and arguably less polarizing figure has emerged with Malala Yousafzai. ocate, Yousafzai is a particularly useful example not only because she is a popular example, but also because she shares several traits with the Ahmadi Muslim women in that both left Pakistan in order to avoid persecution, both have also become advocates f or religious freedom and education in Pakistan, and both continue to stay in the West while arguing for changes in Pakistan. The ways in which her activism for women and girls in Pakistan becomes co opted, then, shows an avenue for considering the Ahmadi M pathway leading to either complete disavowal of Pakistan or reformations in Pakistan that move it towards a liberal democracy. For example, her advocacy for education not only falls within har mful anti terr orism rhetoric that justifies U.S. interventionism but also falls within harmful women's rights rhetoric that justifies such expansion. justificatory cover for U S interventionism. Anti mpire 2004, 8). In addition to the anti terrorism rhetoric, Malala Yousafzai is also playing into the
24 hands of neoli berals who used women's rights as a springboard in invading Iraq and Afghanistan. Malala plays into this rhetoric by focusing extensively on women's rig hts to education and the factors preventing Pakistani women from achieving education In the neoliberal context in which she is performing her gender, such advocacy cannot be considered resistance without seeing it first implicated in a power structure. H er education al advocacy also has to be situated in the context that she practices a much less extreme ve westerners...[as]..an awkward black cloak that covers the whole body, including the face, and Homa Hoodfar states 1997, 9). Therefore, it is important to recognize the historical context in which Malala practices her gender and how such identity practices become remark ably simpler to manipulate if they fall within western understandings of liberating In other words, Malala is portrayed is not as extreme and therefo re automatically contrasts with the imaginary veil in most westerners minds, therefore, her activism for education rights is seen as coming from a Muslim woman who is different from other Muslim women. Simultaneously, the West is seen as even more of a l iberating, multicultural, and diverse environment because it even supports veiled women in receiving equal education. This narrative shows that, in order to navigate the politics of belonging, whether biopolitical or cultural, Ahmadi Muslim women have to c onstantly counteract narratives that automatically place them within imagina ry confines of oppressed E ven the act of counteracting such narratives can somehow play into the politics of consumption that voraciously situates Muslim women act ivists as tools of US Empire.
25 While the saved Muslim woman in the West narrative is far too easily coopted, it has been essential to situating Muslim women after 9/11 in the United States. While the imaginative fictions are predicated upon Orientalist and fantastical notions of Muslim women abroad, narratives of saved Muslim women provide a neat example of what ha ppens when we the Muslim women in the United States who have lived here for several generations have come t o occupy a uniq ue space in post 9/11 rhetoric. After 9/11, one space the saved Muslim women of the West have occupied in public policy debates and hearings is as informants elaborating upon the perceived problem of homegrown terrorism. In this case, Mu slim women shift from unrelentingly oppressed subjects American population. One example of this role as informant were the two testimonies of American Muslim wom America ( Committee on Homeland Security 2012). ns in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as providing personal anecdotes explaining the increasing problem Qanta Ahmed, a Muslim physician who treats 9/11 first respond rampant radicalization in Pakistan as well as within Muslim communiti es in the United States (2012).
26 Both of them speak of the ostracism they face within their American Muslim communities as they each take stands against extr emism. In a culture that eagerly consumes narratives about oppressed Muslim women, such personal anecdotes that make these women stand out as different not only from American Muslim communities, but also from the imaginary oppressed Muslim women abroad In existing within such a precarious position, the women become informants th rough whom we can define saved Muslim women. While the transnational representations of Malala and Ayaan Hirsi Ali focus upon the imagined homogeneity of entire non Western na tions as holistically oppressing women, the narratives put forth by these American Muslim women continue this homogenizing process but transpose it onto American Muslim communities. This transposing process is particularly important because in both cases, Malala and the American Muslim women, as they are directly related to post 9/11 military interventions or congressional hearings, thereby crucially showing how the politics of belonging for the Ahmadi Muslim women substantially involve engaging with these cultural discourses in order to dismantle them. While the nationwide and cultural discursive terrains shift and narrowly construe the post activism in my next chapter, another important level is the individual transformation through the processes of Islamophobia and racialization. Islamophobia and racialization are two processes activism in the United States. The Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at University of California at Berkeley aptly defines Islamophobia as : A contrived fear or prejudice fomented by the existing Eurocentric and Orientalist global power structure. It is directed at a per ceived or real Muslim threat through the maintenance and extension of existing disparities in economic, political, social and cultural relations, while rationalizing the necessity to deploy violence as a tool
27 to achieve "civilizational rehab" of the target communities (Muslim or otherwise) ( Center for Race and Gender 2015) Islamophobia is the larger structure defining the boundaries of Western knowledge production about the Muslim other. While both processes of Islamophobia and racialization require so me form of gross generalization in making judgments, Islamophobia draws upon an imaginary set of presumptions about the Non Western Muslim majority countries, practices, and cultures, whereas racialization particularly targets at the individual level. In oth er words, racialization is the process by which an individual, on the basis of physical features most often associated with Muslim bodies, is conflated with the populations, c ultures, and traditions of the n on We stern Muslim majority countries. Most import antly, this is regardless of whether or not that individual has lineage from such a country or even if he/she identifies as a Muslim. Racialization is an important part of Islamophobia that especially heightened the tangible effects of Islamophobia after 9/11 as it allowed the conflation between everyday Muslims and terrorists who use Islam as a justification for violence. This exp anding process of Islamophobia that supports logics of military intervention in the Middle East coincides with the simultaneous ly constricting process of racialization that allows for the identification of brown South Asian and Middle Eastern bod ies as terrorists. This process ome bodies are allowed enter and exist in space more easily than other bodies. Near the end of her piece, she provides an example of her being stopped at the airport: I arrive in New York, clutching my British passport. I hand it over. He looks at me, and are you adding, at my passport, no I arrived in New York. It is the question I get asked now, which seems to locate what is suspect not in my body, but as that which has been passed down the family line, almost like a bad inher a Pakistani
28 name, slows me down. It blocks my passage, even if only temporarily. I get stuck, and then move on. When I fly out of New York later that week, I am hel d up again. (Ahmed 2007, 162). Ahmed is caught in one of many expanding processes of Islamophobia in this case, a that connect her to the constricting process of racialization or, as she (Ahmed 2007, 163). As I detail further in my next chapter, t he Ahmadi Muslim women tenuously navigate this narrow process of racialization and, at times, inhabit and perform it c onsciously as a means to support military intervention and thereby Islamophob i a in what they see as a perpetually oppressive Pakistan. Belonging as Ahmadi Muslim Women Below, I detail a selection from my interviews with fourteen Ahmadi Muslim women in the United States. While I examined the harsh and narrow confines of belonging that the women have to inhabit and perform in order to argue their place within the United States and create the future home I argue their activism creates, I find it important to end this chapter with centering how the women themselves recognized the significant identity transformations that took place for them personally after 9/11. In providing excerpts from my interviews, I aim to show that the women recognized changes that mirr ored all the structural changes already delineated above and also had deeply personal experiences that grounded their activism. Additionally it is crucial that I show how the post 9/11 discursive shifts I outlined above actually curbed the Ahmadi Muslim w oftentimes resulted in a messy combination of multiple processes. A ll of the women recognized identity formations, whether individually or community wide, as proce sses that change an d develop in response to change such as 9/11. All of the women
29 additionally recognized that 9/11 had a change on them individually as well as community wide. One woman, Asma, lived in a city bordering Afghanistan and Pakistan and saw the first hand Pakistan where they could avoid bombing from US fighter jets and bullets from Taliban. Little did they know that Pakist 14 ). Asma goes onto describe how she e] was also angry on America for creating the monster known as Taliban and then for invading Afghanistan in which thousands of innocent women and Ahmadi Muslim women juggle d multiple shifting and transforming identities. 9/11 conflated and consolidated her identities as Muslim, Pakistani and e ventually American as different and other. In a way, such rapid change in response to relatively small amount of varying representatio n led to the ability of women to create and shape narratives and spaces that otherwise would be more difficult to create if not for the existence of these singular representations of Muslim women. led her to recognize the difficulty in belonging to either Pakistan or America but the presence of political persecution in Pakistan ultimately led to the decision to move to the United States and create a home in ways that she and other Ahmadi Muslim wom en were otherwise unable to in Pakistan. For many Ahmadi Muslim women, 9/11 led to them identifying resoundingly as Muslim American processes of racialization Anoth er woman, Yasmeen, recognizes that her self identification
30 transformed after 9/11 but additionally notes that she inhabited both, American and Muslim identities, with more pride: They [terrorists who attacked on 9/11] are not Muslims, they are just using the religion as an excuse to commit these atrocities. In turn I started strongly identifying myself as a Muslim, an Ahmadi Muslim, a proud American Ahmadi Muslim to show people around me what the true meaning of our religion is. I took on the Hijab and I j ust kept my head up (2014) This cohabitation of both identities crucially highlights how the Ahmadi Muslim women not only shaped their activism in ways that bridged the us/them or saved/saving dichotomies but that the Ahmadi women conceptualized their en tire identities as transforming in ways that this shows a different relationship to identifying than the others, but the differences between the women are not as important as recognizing that the transformations actually stayed consistently between either identifying more or less as Muslim, American, or Pakistani. In other words, the women continued to conceptualize their identity transformations within the realm of what they navigate as part of processes of racialization in the United States. Sana also recognizes an increased pride as well in her identities: 9/11 was a very tough part of our lives as Americans and Muslims. It raised numerous questions for me. Wh o I was? What are the actual teachings of Islam? How the teachings of Promised Messiah (pbuh) separated Ahmadiyya Community from main stream Islam. What are these differences? It helped me take more pride in my Identity and educate myself on the true teach ings of Islam and Ahmadiyyat. I feel very proud to be an Ahm adi Muslim. (2014) Different from Yasmeen above, Sana traces the path her identity transformation took after 9/11, which, for her, led her to reexamine what her religious identity meant in relati on to and against other Muslims. As she explains, her process led her to definitively understand how and why Ahmadiyyat is better all the while solidifying her identity as an Ahmadi in America. In providing this path, Sana shows how the identity transforma tion is not only about the Ahmadi
31 Muslim women or Ahmadiyyat in particular but also about specifically differentiating the Ahmadi Muslim women simultaneousl Laila, too, solidifies her identity, but perhaps takes it a step further than Sana and embraces all of her identities more In this case, the solidifying and consolidating process of post 9/11 Muslim identity transformation creates simultaneous pride in all identities, essentially connecting them and recognizing them as inseparable from one another : 9/11 helped me greatly in understanding the concept of identity and being a part of a community. After 9/11 took place and these several years later I am truly proud to be American and to live under a nation that lets you be who you are on a daily basis and it also helped me identify more with being a Pakistani and to learn to b e appreciative of heritage, ethnicity, and history especially in terms of where me and my family originated and grew. Lastly in these last few years 9/11 has brought me closer to my religion and encouraged me to fully embrace being proud of the thre e aspec ts that make up who I am. (2014) Another set of interviews highlighted the difficulty with which the Ahmadi Muslim women identified as Pakistani Muslims. While the first case shows the association of negative feelings with Pakistani and Muslim identities, the second shows how even that could be a process. As Uzma states: 9/11 changed me because I became much more aware of my identity than positively. I also found myself becomi ng more proud of my identity as a Muslim, feeling pride when Muslims did positive things and shame when something terrible was done by Muslims. I found myself identifying more as American and less as Pakistani, and associating more wi th my new home than wi th my old. (2014) Uzma not only recognizes and feels accountable for the conflation of actions by terrorists to her everyday life, but also identifies in order to lessen this conflation Similar to Uzma, Farah t in the lives of many Americans and in particular those who are Muslims regardless of whether they immigrated from a Muslim country or they
32 initially I became fearful of my safety as a Muslim and took off my hijab for a day, I began to realize that by being afraid I will be doing more harm to myself and my family. Thus, I became more proactive in expressing myself as a Muslim and did not fear (2014). In this case, the process of racialization led one Ahmadi woman unable to disconnect herself from public conflations of her identities whereas the second one recognized the harmful effects of the conflation and worked to counteract th em. At the same time, Naima underscores the contradictory, conflicting, and painful process rapidly changing and transforming processes of identification became after 9/11 and combines elements of both narratives but also shows how tities transformed within the politics of belonging as their embodied experiences with Islamophobia grew. Naima writes : After 9/11, my identity as an American grew, while my identity as a Muslim lessened. Let me explain I lived in NYC at the time of 9/11 and everyone immediately blamed Muslims for the attacks. I had friends who had lost family so s uch a thing versus the types of Muslims I had grown up with, and that I was. Thus, for a long time I found myself separating my identity from Muslims. At the same time however, my identity as an Ahmadi Muslim grew. When someone would ask if I was muslim, I would make sure to distinguish that I am an Ahmadi Muslim, a less radical, more peaceful practice of Islam. On the other hand, I noticed that my identity in the eyes of others changed in the exact opposite way. I was less American then before, and more Muslim. I felt that more people asked me where I was from and refused to accept my answer when I Islamophobia and discrimination myself that I started to accept my muslim identity country, a country you have called your home all your life it tends to rub off on you. I found myself feeling less welcomed in my identity as an American and turned more tow ards the only other identity I knew A Muslim. From a American Muslim, I b ecame a Ahmadi Muslim American. (2014)
33 several forces at once: racialization and the rapi d ass ociation of terrorist and o ther with skin color, nationality and ethnicity, and personal experiences with discrimination. Additionally, her narrative shows how personal and painful the movement between narratives of belonging becomes for Ahmadi Muslim wome n who are trying to create a home in post 9/11 America. All of these narratives so far show the extent to which the Ahmadi Muslim women completely transformed how they placed emphasis on their various identities. The variations between each narrative under score how essentially messy this process actually became on an individual level all the while tapping into the politics of belonging narratives that crucially situated them in ways that led to their much less messy activism. Naima and several of the other coincide with a disruption in how they understood racial formation in the United States as colorblind, multiracial, and diverse. Michael Omi and Howard Winant argue process by which racial ideological linkage between structure and representation (Omi and Winant 1994, 56). The racial ways in which both social structures and everyday experiences are racially organized, based e racialization of Muslims after 9/11 is undoubtedly a historical process but nonetheless became implicated in a racial project of ideologically justifying US imperial efforts of surveillance and wars at home and abroad. I am arguing that the South Asian w omen, whether as new immigrants or as first generation Americans, were initially implicated in the racial project of multiculturalism and assimilation
34 and now, after 9/11, are explaining in their interviews the process by which they reformulated their iden tities after experiencing a dissolution of their former racial ideologies. In other words, as the previous racial categories they inhabited were destroyed, they created and inhabited new racial categories that reflected a future home. As I show in my nex t chapter, the possibilities shapes, and boundaries of this future home is constrained by the narratives of activism enacted by the Ahmadi Muslim women. Since the women occupy such a precarious position as a part of a public or counterpublic sphere, they navigate this impossibility by inhabiting the very limiting narratives themselves and, thereby, working against them. These embodied disidentificatory performances show the ingenuity of oppressed persons in resiliently constructing pathways of not only cou nteracting harmful workings of power but also finding pathways to a future void from such oppressions.
35 CHAPTER 3 CREATING HOMES Ahmadi Muslim women, as seen through post 9/11 politics of belonging, are not given much complexity in te rms of representatio n and this shows the limitation of narratives available for Ahmadi Muslim women to act upon in order to act against US hegemony and simultaneously create a future home for themselves. The Ahmadi Muslim women's concerted writings provide a way of rendering visible these simplistic and totalizing narratives. At the same time, they also reveal the subversion of some narratives requires inhabitation of those very narratives. I describe the process of inhabiting norms in their editorials below through the paradi gm of disidentification as articulated by Jose Esteban Muoz (1999). I begin this chapter by situating the importance of writing by Ahmadi women to their religious identity, as writing and publishing have been central points of difference between Ahmadis a nd other Muslims. I argue that the writings are disidentifying with hegemonic narratives of the United States in order to create a future home for themselves I do this by highlighting how they engage with and place themselves within hyper American identit ies Writing as an Ahmadi has been a primary objective of the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam from its inception in 1889, publishing religious books, translations, and magazines in unprecedented volumes, making it wha t Yohanan Friedmann Iqbal Sevea, who writes about the emergence of transnational linkages facilitated by Muslim to disseminate Ahmadiyya teachings in print not only announced his place as the Promised Messiah through an isthihar (announcement) in a
36 newspaper; he also focused extensively on debating and encouraging his followers to debate with disbelievers through newspapers. Twenty six years before officially declaring himself the Promised Messiah, he even wagered 500 rupees to all the readers of e Muhammadi o n August 25 th 1872, after deciding that Islam provided the most emphasis upon truthfulness as a amount to one half or even one third of the quotations which he would bring forth from Muslim continued to engage with Hindus, Sikhs, other Muslims, and Christians in open debates, writing letters to editors as well as lett ers to particularly popular voices in each religion. It was the resiliency with which opponents responded to his editorials that led to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad writing and publishing the first book that would begin the Ahmadiyya Movement in Islam, e Ahma diyya (Dard 1948, 96). This intense focus upon print media as means of communicating about or arguing for religious identity soon led to Mirza Ghulam Ahmad to reconstruct the Islamic concept of jihad which generally means strive or s truggle in the cause of Allah (Alislam 2012). As Sevea it self consciously reinterpreted the Islamic idea of jihad 2002, 1). Ahmadis argue that this reformulation of jihad follows the second type of jihad Jihad e Kabir to others and their (Alislam 2012). While Muslims are most often associated with practicing a violent form of the third jihad Jihad e Asghar or the jihad of the defensive battle Ahmadis have starkly contrasted themselves from other Muslims in creating and follow ing a reformulated version of
37 jihad Below, Mirza Ghulam Ahmad provides his main and often cited argument within the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community that explains the basis for jihad of the pen : Think of the preparations that the opponents of Islam are now ma king. They are not lining up the armies. They are publishing magazi nes and books. We also should, therefore, pick up our pen and answer their attacks with magazines and books. It is not expedient that the prescription (treatment) and the sickness should be at variance. If the treatment does not conform with the sickness, the consequence is bound to be unprofitable and harmful (Ahmad, Mirza Ghulam n.d., 8:20) Muslim women writings in newspapers and magazines, until the mid 2000s with the creation of the Lajna Media Watch group. The group itself began as a rather informal means of collecting dis parate writings by Ahmadi Muslim women in the United States and has grown to coordinated efforts with writing guides and a structured leadership. Just as Mirza Ghulam Ahmad did, the Ahmadi women engage with community members and, many times, challenge them to respond with counterarguments. The women also have numerous writings simply explaining Islamic celebrations and practices, further fulfilling the second jihad in their practice of jihad of the pen. T here is great significance with Ahmadi Muslim women w riting in a cultural atmosphere in which, as I have mentioned, they are grossly simplified and totalized as oppressed Muslim women who imaginatively do not exist unless it is to re affirm our interests in saving women abroad or at home. Yet, it is necess ary to understand the discursive context that surrounds their writings for themselves in addition to how their writings operate in context of post 9/11 America. While most of these women definitely have cognizant and extremely painful memories of persecuti on in Pakistan, it is important to understand how those historical and contemporary memories of persecution, in addition to the unique history of Ahmadis with textual struggles, frame how these women approached activism in post 9/11 United States. The cont extualization
38 of their subject positions is necessary and relevant especially because it vitally situates how the women construct ideas of home and community. In particular, I delineate how they construct home, by inhabiting certain hegemonic narratives an d simultaneously disidentify with the idea of nation furthered by these hegemonic narratives. Disidentifications, Inhabitations, and Resistance The Ahmadi Muslim women are very aware of the discursive political context in which their writings operate. Naj ia Humayun begins her letter to the editor on March 11, 2012, as ever (Humayun 2012). Indeed, the Ahmadi Muslim women are aware of the vapid consumption of such narratives, especially when they speak of horrors Muslim women face in the Middle repressed an d deprived of their rights. The media portrays the stereotypical Muslim woman as The Ahmadi Muslim who participate in this print media campaign not only implicate themselves as Muslim women who vei l and simultaneously counteract harmful generalizations, they also purposefully join the conversation in a way that allows dialogue with members of their immediate communities. They challenge the everyday generalizations of Muslim women in the imaginations of local, regional, and national members of the American community by inhabiting messy American institutions and ideals such as patriotism, loyalty, freedom of religion and speech. I argue that, by inhabiting these hegemonic US narratives, they disidentif y and thereby reveal the difficulty with which Muslim women can exist. In showing and delineating the specifics of such a difficult space the women writing inhabit, I want to reiterate how their writings are not anti assimilationist or assimilationist, rat her they inhabit a liminal
39 disidentificatory space that precariously allows them to exist as at times as both or sometimes as either or neither. Indeed, the editorials become a public form of identity performance where the Ahmadi Muslim women are otherw ise limited by cultural and religious restrictions from appearing on any other media. In reading such performances as disidentification, it is also necessary read the editorials, letters to the editor, and opinion pieces in conjunction with one another not to de emphasize that there exist many contradictions between and among the opinions and writings in order to emphasize that such actions were from women largely influenced and motivated by their intersectional identities as Ahmadi Muslim women. Therefore, I believe such print efforts should be seen as a collective effort rather than disparate efforts as to misrecognize this as anything other than activism would harmfully limit our means of understanding the ways in which Ahmadi Muslim women pursue activism Thus, the editorials function as a primary means through which the Ahmadi Muslim women organize, perform, and sustain religious, national, cultural, and a ctivist identity performances. S uch performances are practiced by Ahmadi Muslim women who are also constructing a home for themselves after being forced to flee from Pakistan and the constant reminder how unwelcome they are as Ahmadis in Pakistan whether through death threats or targeted killings In constructing a home, they are more than resisting; i nstead, they inhabit various modalities of the such a designation fails to see the complexity of inhabited norms simultaneously interacting with the resilient notio n of Muslim women writing back to the United States. I wholeheartedly believe the Ahmadi Muslim women are creating spaces for future American Muslim women, Ahmadi or not, to exist and flourish. In what follows, I have organized my discussion of their
40 disid entificatory performances as a way to understand how they construct home and simultaneously disidentify with dominant and hegemonic practices and modalities of American identities. I will begin with how they simultaneously construct a home by juxtaposing t heir previous persecution with contemporary religious freedom in the United States all the while Rights, Liberties, and Freedoms In light of all the persecution and deeply felt displacement the Ahma di women have felt, the process of identifying with and placing themselves within American discourses of freedom, rights, and equality is a difficult process wrought with contradictions. In creating a future space for Muslim women to feel at home, the Ahma rights pushing forth neo conservative post 9/11 public and foreign policy, and reformulate the the socially enc oded predetermined roles that place them within the conflated confines of globally oppressed Muslim women. In politically and strategically challenging this ri ghts in the United States all the while showing the limitations of these ideologies. In her 1995 book, States of Injury intentioned contemporary political projects and theoretical postures inadvertently redraw the v these political projects is the efficacy of rights and identity based discourses. As she states, uality with legal recognition of injurious social stratifications is understandable, what such arguments do not query is whether forming identity discursively entrenches the injury identity Brown 1995, 21). In other words, the means through which much
41 rights and freedoms have been secured for identities is through addressing their, as she calls, abstrac categories, produce identities as reconstituted and reified as such because it provides the means by which these identities redress injuries. liberalism, the women reify the powerful position of the state. A t the same time, they show the contradictions present within the state and in its inability to already incorporate Ahmadi Mus lim women. On one level, their disidentificatory performances show the hypocrisy of equal rights, liberty, collaboration to extensively monitor Muslims in New York City. Yet, when Uzma Ahmad writes a straightforward simply showing hypocrisy, but actually coinhabit ing both identities despite contradictions (Ahmad 2006, 1). Indeed, the performative elements of their activism are rendered quite visible in seemingly simple declarations of being patriotic Muslims because of the very simplicity of this inhabitation of se emingly contradictory ide ntities. Similar to Merve Kavak display of the veil in Turkish parliament that caused an uproar in Turkey, Ahmad simply combines her Muslim identity with a hyper American identity performance that not only references her
42 disidentificatory performance is rendered coherent as a result of the painful experiences many liberties while residing in Pakistan come to identify quite clearly with the saved Muslim women discourses I outlined with shortcomings of an entire county. Yet, the complex subject positions these writers formulate reach further than sim ply ac ting as critics or as arguing assimilationist rhetoric. For example, w hen Uzma Ahmad states, ility, provide for the common defense, promote the general welfare, and secure the blessings of liberty for ourselves and our but also directly quotes the co nstitution as well as references the goals of the founding f athers. This article in and of itself is a disidentificatory performance, but since I argue that their editorials should be read as performances of activism, this should be read alongside other ed itorials that critique hegemonic understandings of Muslim women as oppressed or lacking rights. For example, it should be read alongside Islam that Khullat Munir writes in her 2006 editorial. Munir begins wi of honor killings as erasing the extensive amount of rights granted to women in Islam as well as inheritance, initiating divorce, a limony, child support, property ownership, etc. were given to women in America in the 20 th century, how can Islam be barbaric and backwards in its granting
43 of these same rights in the early 7 th 2006, 2). Munir goes onto directly critique t and elevated status in society, but provides for women in a way that is not wholly recognized by By read ing both of these pieces that were written two months apart from one another in 2006 as part and parcel of Ahmadi Muslim has to b e read alongside how Munir details that Ahmadi Muslim women have not been included in the In doing so, the disidentificatory performance of activism is rendered visible in showing how the women simultaneously inhabit a rather unquestioning loyalty and patriotism in one instance while at th e same time showing how this very inhabita tion destabilizes the loyalty. Nonetheless, in showing these contradictions, both women ultimately allow the creation of a home that recognizes Muslim wome n as more a part of the liberal rights based discourse rath er than the sensationalize Yet, it is not only articles apart or adjacent to one another that disidentify with the United States, the women also critique and embrace within the same article For example, i n Monsura Sirajee article she shows that the women, in addition to critiquing sensationalized discourses, the women also critique the United States in particular for Islamophobia. Sirajee writes in her December 20, 2007 piece: R eports of anti Muslim incidents in the natio n jumped 30% last year, according to the Council on American violence and discrimination were the most since CAIR began totaling incidents in 1995. Despite all the discrimination, m any Muslims are stil l patriotic. (2007, 1) becoming or embracing a patriotic identity. Her inclusion of the increasing rates of discrimination alongside this resolute patriotic stance is important i n that it once again shows the
44 contradictions inherent within claiming a patriotic identity for a racialized group that is otherwise experiencing unprecedented hikes in discrimination from national, state, and local governments. While the women could sus tain harsh critiques of western representations of women in Islam, instead, they focus extensively on claiming to be American Muslims and patriotic ones at that. Such arguments for loyalty that Uzma and Sirajee put forth are not only common to many of the editorials, but also a key component of how the Ahmadiyya Muslim Community in the United States campaigns to separate itself from other Muslims as the ultimate moder ate Muslim organization that requires its members to be loyal to the country in which they live. Part of this particular activism includes the women writing editorials advertising blood drives that are a part of th after the first national blood drive in 2011 (Ahmad 2011, 1). She writes not only of the go al of the campaign, but also the results of the campaign. In a way, the Ahmadi Muslim women became the means through which many communities learned of the campaigns, including the goals and outcomes of these campaigns. Other versions of these proclamatio ns of loyalty include women who argue that they as well as the Ahmadi Muslims in general are lo yal in hopes of securing potential and future mosque locations potential participants in blood drives, to advertise the efforts of local Lajna groups volunteeri ng in shelters an d, more generally, as a means to communicate as Muslims not even have to have a particular purpose. She writes an editorial on July 1, 2011, an d states : The United States is a quilt of its own kind. It is a kaleidoscope of colors, prints, and patterns all different, but sewn together by the thread that is pride for m ailbox with two American flags and some tape. Both flags in hand, I put them on our mailbox. Every time I drove in on our our driveway, those flags put a smile on my face. I smiled because I realized how proud I am to be an American citizen. (Humayun 2011, 1)
45 of our first president, we will all take pride in being Americans an d celebrating this Independence Day (Humayun 2011, 1) Yet, writing such as Humayun's are few and far between in comparison with writing that embraces and critiques American ideals all the while patriotically claiming themselves as Muslim Americans. As Wajeeha Choudhary writ es in an October 28, 2008 piece: As a patriotic and faithful American Musl im, I whole heartedly praise Mr. [Colin] political figures downsizing and insulting Islam as a religion of violence and terrorism. If these very political figures were to understand that Muslims, too, are law abiding and loy[al]...love and peace will overshadow the loo ming lies surrounding the faith. (Choudhary 2008, 1) Her declaration shows that the writings of loyalty are more than simply accepting and displaying t heir American Mu slim identities but rather by inhabiting both identities at once, she shows the contradictions present in being a loyal American Muslim. This loyalty then becomes a democracy but, at the same time, it shows and simultaneously allows the women to enter into a public space in which they can critique the impossibility of coinhabiting these identities. This impossibility underscores the importance of understanding these p erformances of activism as disidentificatory performances that use the limited roles available to them as American Muslim women and thereby create possibilities for different role formations. In other words, by claiming themselves patriotically as Muslim Americans, the women are better able to voice critiques. Saadia Faruqi maintains such a critique in her January 30, 2012 2012, 1). She begins by writing that when en by religious persecution to a new continent, drafted the d the religious and civil freedoms of every
46 to fear a n concludes that the Ahmadiyya C ommunity is following this American tradition of religious freedom by holding an u, Sikh and Jain not only aligns he rself and the Ahmadiyya C ommunity with the founding fathers or, rather, as gion, but also she argues that Americans do not follow this American principle. Instead of just showing contradictions between the founding principle of religious freedom in America and the actions of everyday Americans, she additionally creates a positiv e example of the Ahmadiyya Community following this patriotic principle. In addition to exclaiming their loyalty, the women also have numerous editorials simply explaining Ramadan, Eid ul Adha and Eid ul Fitr as well as why Muslims do not celebrate Ha lloween or Christmas. why the Ahmadi community believes this (Mang la 2007, 1). These articles are crucial to understanding that the disidentificatory performances of not only to critique and widen discourses on women in Islam but also to create spaces of general understanding about practices and bel iefs of Islam. Such writings importantly show that the women are not only reinhabiting their homes now as patriotic citizens but also creating, perhaps on a small scale, a public conversation on the basics of Islam. I argue that these conversations stem fr om the need to counteract harmful stereotypes of Islam and also cement a home for them in the future that is no t bound by harmful stereotypes.
47 CHAPTER 4 CONCLUSION In my previous two chapters, I argued that the Ahmadi Muslim women creatively navigate pos t 9/11 politics of belonging and disidentify with hegemonic US narratives in order to create a future for themselves and arguably other racialized Muslim women. Yet the question arises, what does this future home look like? Do the narratives the women inha bit in order to disidentify curb the types of bodies that in turn can inhabit this future home? My point in this conclusion is to render visible some possible outcomes and possible avenues for further research emanating from my discussion of the activism b y the Ahmadi Muslim women. In navigating the complex politics of belonging outlined in my first chapter, the women creatively perform activisms from their physical homes that create possibilities for future homes and less strict pathways of belonging to t he United States. Their performances of activism destabilize public/private divides as they act as a counterpublic in a traditionally gendered private sphere while simultaneously showing that they can perform modalities of modernity and traditionalism. Thi s performance, much like activist performance in my introduction, creates alternative possibilities of interacting with discourses of public Islam. As I showed in my lly as well as limitations of these discourses in encompassing their varied and complex everyday lives. The home they create, then, is one with increased possibility fo r identity performances for not only the Ahmadi women but also other racialized Muslim women who interact with the constricting processes of racialization and the expanding processes of Islamophobia. The significance of showing such complicated and dispar ate counterpublic identity performances is to reposition how we view gendered interactions with the public sphere, as well
48 as activisms aimed towards dismantling gender and racial hierarchies, and highlight how politics of belonging in the West for the Ahm adi Muslim women are mediated by their inability to belong in Pakistan. In placing the unique activism in terms of home and belonging in the United States, this also reveals further avenues of research that adds to a larger conversation on the limitations of embodied activisms by Ahmadi Muslim women as well as transnational feminist movements that mediate different discursive politics of belonging. In what follows, I would like to delineate several future possibilities of expanding this research beyond Paki stani Ahmadi Muslim women. First, while the references to memories of political persecution in the beginning of my chapter 1 exhibit the limitations placed on the discursive possibility of belonging in Pakistan, they also show the narratives that their em bodied activisms draw upon originate in Pakistan. As a community that also has a sizable South Asian population from Bangladesh, such memories of political persecution not only marginalize the uniqu e experiences of the Ahmadi women from Bangladesh but also dis in the bloody transition from Bangladesh as East Pakistan to Bangladesh. In this case, the further point of research would be to historicize this fissure and show the different pathwa ys of be longing possible for Ahmadi women from Bangladesh comparatively to the Pakistani Ahmadi women. Another future possibility is examining the other major racial group within the Ahmadiyya Community, African and African Americans, and how they fit within these embodied act ivisms. As with the Ahmadi women from Bangladesh the African American Ahmadi women run into similar problems with the Pakistani activism focusing particularly on the Pakistani history, cultural narratives, and everyday experiences. It would then be a generative
49 point of concern to consider the focus not only on the Pakistani history but also how that history creates particular pathways of navigating politics of belonging in a post 9/11 United States. In many ways, the avenues for further resea rch that I outline above include identities marginalized by the particular forms of activism performed by the Pakistani Ahmadi Muslim women in their editorials. Yet, these fissures in cross racial and ethnic identity politics are rendered even more visible by the identity transformations and shifted politics of belonging that I explained in chapter 1. In other words, while these marginalizations are important to examine further, it is equally important to understand that the possibility of eradicating these oppressions emerges because of the visible processes of identity consolidation and transformation motivating the Pakistani Ahmadi women to perform activisms. Additionally, in outlining the politics of belonging that the Pakistani Ahmadi women navigate to create their narratives of activism, this reveals the dominant narratives of belonging within this community and the points of commonality required to feel at home within this community. In elucidating otherwise indecipherable boundaries, the process of fo llowing how their identities shift and change becomes much sim pler, especially in the narrow politics of belonging after 9/11. Subsequently, politics of belonging becomes a useful frame for recreating home as well as the pathways to homes as imagined by particular communities, such as the Bangladeshi Ahmadi Muslim women and African/African American communities. This work then becomes a beginning point of understanding not only how Pakistani Ahmadi Muslim women dismantle, inhabit, and recreate certain wor kings of power but also provides a way to map narratives of belonging across women within a community. Such mappings crucially form a way to look at transnational feminist groups and movements that oftentimes also have to inhabit otherwise non liberatory n arratives or paradigms in order to reach
50 a specific policy or general recognition goal. In the case of the Ahmadi Muslim women, they inhabit these non liberatory narratives as a means to navigate politics of belonging but simultaneously reinscribe as well as reveal the harmful workings of power.
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55 BIOGRAPHICAL SKETCH Florida. She received her undergraduate degree at the Harriet L. Wilkes Honors College at Florida Atlantic Univer plans to continue her academic career in ethnic studies.