Torn Between Two Cultures: An Afghan-American Woman Speaks Out

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Maryam Qudrat Aseel is an Afghan-American woman born in the U.S. to first generation Afghan immigrants. In Torn Between Two Cultures she weaves her family's and her own personal stories into recent American and Afghan politics and history. Her book describes her upbringing in America as a woman in a modern Afghan family with traditional values. She explores how those values and her own desire to be "American" came into conflict and led to an identity crisis that was only resolved as she rediscovered her religious and cultural roots, became increasingly active in the Afghan and Muslim communities, and resolved to bridge the gap between her two cultures. As an Afghan-American woman, Maryam offers a unique perspective on East and West conflicts, and in this book and in her life she is working to bring about understanding and resolution. Torn Between Two Cultures is a paradigm for the larger problem of the growing gap of understanding between the Islamic world and the West.

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In “Torn Between Two Cultures” book the author Aseel discussed her personal stories explaining about American and Afghan Politics and history. She belongs to Muslim religion and she explains thoroughly how her life changed after the 9/11. Any Muslim can relate to this book because most of us do feel the gap of understanding that Americans have about Muslims. I really liked her book because she had some visual pictures of her and her family. She was the first generation of Afghan- American so, she talks about the topic from both perspectives. That way it’s easily readable and the reader feels like they know everyone that the author’s talking about in the book. This is one of the books that I will definitely read again. 

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Torn Between Two Cultures Book Review
Torn between two cultures by Maryam Qudrat tell the story of her cultural background in Afghanistan including the aspirations, dynamic life, ideologies, and
professional development of her and her family. Qudrat also described not only a history of violence, assassination, coup, international and civil wars in Afghanistan, but also a growing uncertainty among Afghans and American-Afghan living in the United States since September 11, 2000. As Qudrat pointed out “I am an Afghan-America woman, born in Los Angeles in 1974 to Afghan who immigrated before all hell broke loose in their homeland”. The whole idea to immigrate to America, as every other ethnic group could experience, is to look forward for a better future in one of the most powerful country in the word. However, after Quadrats’ parents immigrated to pursued a professional career and a better future, the civil war in Afghanistan stroke. Qudrat describes the insecurity and the civil war accounts in detail when she was visiting her extended family member in Afghanistan at her only 4 years old. Coincidently, Qudrat’s parent, along with her, went to Afghanistan, days before the civil was stroke. “In 1978, Afghan communist backed by the Soviet Union assassinated Daoud. Noor Taraki become president. Five months later, Taraki is assassinated and Hafizllah Amin assumes power”. Qudrat recalled those days by saying, “The nights were even scarier, as the sounds of attacks and the showering of bombs shook the entire house”. Those days, intended for a trip of leisure, turned out to be days of frustrations. Another important aspect to be recognized in her story is Qudrat’s cultural traditions. As an Afghan-America woman, she was raised with less restricted Muslim customs. Qudrat could decide how to manage her life, whom to marry to, etc. However her father expected Qudrat to wear loose clothing that disguises her female body shape. “He expected me to in a very conservative fashion, wearing dark, formal colors, and clothing that was very boyish with no-style what so ever”. Her first successfully experience reading the Quran at her short age was the reflection of an intensive effort of Qudrat’s grandmother. Another interesting fact about Qudrat experience is the conversation taken place with in her university with Hashimi, an invited Afghan speaker guest. Hashimi explained Qudrat about Taliban ideologies
To summarize Qudrat rich history was introduced at childhood modeled her integrity. Afghan Islamic traditions, Quran’s studies, wedding traditional practices, and ceremonies, have enriched Qudrat intellectually and morally. On the other hand, the constant stereotyping of the Islamic cultural tradition has given her a difficult life, not only in Afghanistan, but also in America. Not only Qudrat’s parent has suffered the impact of violence in their country of origin, but also the violence and fear has trespassed frontiers arriving to America. Islamic culture is mostly considered as a whole as an extreme Islamic group dominated terror because of their extreme terrorist acts. I personally did not know about some of the Taliban ideologies before September 11. I obviously has met many friends of Islamic origins, and enjoyed greatly their magical culture. Islamic women dresses seems like taken from a magical fairy tale history of princesses, and princes in magical kingdom.

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