Humaira Awais Shahid, Advocate for Women’s Rights in Pakistan and Beyond

Tuesday, March 25, 2014

Humaira Awais Shahid took on a job editing the “women’s section” of one of Pakistan’s leading Urdu newspapers in 2001, and she soon transformed it from celebrity gossip and fashion advice to an investigation of the true lives of Pakistani women. News of acid attacks on women, the trading of girls as currency in tribal disputes, and other abuses Shahid into an advocate for women’s rights. She tells how her commitment to women led her to a seat in the Provincial Assembly of the Punjab, where she fought to protect women, girls, and the poor. In her book Devotion and Defiance: My Journey in Love, Faith and Politics, she looks at how Islamic values and ethics might yet be a vehicle for progressive change in the developing world.


Humaira Awais Shahid

Comments [6]

Harish Kranti from 10 Forest Road Budd lake NJ

Heard Humeira's Tlk show on WNYC Newyork Radio,
was very Impressive about her Views & Social transformation of Women In the Indian SudContinent.
A visit to India & Bangla Desh is a must to engage in Dialogue with local Woman Activists, were the the Govt. of the countries should be involved to facilitate such Dialogues.

May. 23 2014 01:02 PM
asma from karachi

In her book “Devotion and Defiance,” Humaira A Shahid has portrayed herself as a firebrand who does not let any sexist remark go unnoticed and unchallenged. However, she is all praise for Pervez Musharaff who had commented (while he was ruling Pakistan) that women who want to emigrate to Canada falsely claim that they have been raped in order to get sympathy from immigration authorities. Humaira provides a detailed account of her discussion with Musharaff where they exchanged notes regarding the rape victim about whom Musharaff had made the sexist comment. Nevertheless she does not mention how she challenged his chauvinistic statement which had created an outrage among international activists. In fact, in her narrative she skillfully presents Musharaff as a progressive man fighting for women’s rights. Therefore, her biography is a lesson in how to advance your own interests while ignoring the rights of others, especially women. --Asma Siddiqi

Apr. 30 2014 03:32 PM

Spiritual within the human. This guest seemed to flourish due to the "oblique" line; her profundity might not have been as deep & full if otherwise.

Mar. 26 2014 05:10 AM
sb from Brooklyn

An inspiring and articulate guest.

This sentence: "To walk on the ground beneath which a piece of your heart is buried is the most humbling experience of your life."

Mar. 25 2014 02:22 PM
Carlos from Queens

Leonard Lopate once again does the most oblique interview possible with an otherwise very interesting guest.

He starts out the interview with Malala Yousakzai, which is not the only woman active in women's issues in Pakistan. Then he proceeds by following up to her very informed and inspired answers with completely insipid and unrelated questions, which on top of that were stereotypical as could be. What a waste. :(

Mar. 25 2014 01:28 PM
jgarbuz from Queens

From Wikipedia - Shahid

Etymology of the word "Shahid"

"The word "shahid" originates from the Qur'anic Arabic word meaning "witness", which is used in the context of "those who bear witness." Its application to Muslim martyrs originates from the context of the martyr having died in the way of Islam and, therefore, having become a "witness" to the "Shahada", i.e. "I bear witness that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is the Messenger of Allah."

The word 'shahid' in the Qur'an is used to denote "witness", not martyr. An example is verse 16:89 of the Qur'an:

وَيَوْمَ نَبْعَثُ فِي كُلِّ أُمَّةٍ شَهِيدًا عَلَيْهِم مِّنْ أَنفُسِهِمْ ۖ وَجِئْنَا بِكَ شَهِيدًا عَلَىٰ هَٰؤُلَاءِ ۚ وَنَزَّلْنَا عَلَيْكَ الْكِتَابَ تِبْيَانًا لِّكُلِّ شَيْءٍ وَهُدًى وَرَحْمَةً وَبُشْرَىٰ لِلْمُسْلِمِينَ

Translation: "And on the day when We will raise up in every nation a witness against them from among themselves, and We will bring you (Muhammad) as a witness against these (your people or the other witnesses); for We have revealed (sent down) to you a Book (Scripture) expounding all things clearly, and a guidance, and a mercy, and glad tidings for those who have Surrendered unto Allah (Muslims)." (Al-Qur'an 16:89)

In the Qur'an (verse 3:98), God calls Himself a 'Shahid':

قُلْ يَا أَهْلَ الْكِتَابِ لِمَ تَكْفُرُونَ بِآيَاتِ اللَّهِ وَاللَّهُ شَهِيدٌ عَلَىٰ مَا تَعْمَلُونَ

Translation: "Say: "O People of the Book, why do you reject the word of God when God is a witness to all that you do?" " (Al-Qur'an 3:98)[1]

The etymology of the word "shahid" suggests that it primarily means "witness" and the same word began to be used by Muslims as an honorific title for Muslim martyrs who died fighting in the way of Islam. Subsequently, and over a period of time, the same word was adopted by non-Muslims in the Middle East and South Asia such as Arab Christians and South Asian Hindus and Sikhs to denote their martyrs.

Interestingly, the English word "martyr" originates from the Greek word "martur", which also means "witness" in the Greek language. Therefore, in both the Arabic and Greek languages, the origin for the word "martyr" is "witness."

Mar. 25 2014 11:54 AM

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