Masood, Maliha 1972–

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Masood, Maliha 1972–


Born 1972, in Karachi, Pakistan; immigrated to the United States, 1984; married. Education: Graduate of the University of Washington; Tufts University, M.A.


Home—Kirkland, WA. E-mail—[email protected]


Worked as an information technology research analyst; International Crisis Group, Pakistan, specialist in conflict resolution. Founder of Diwaan: Dialogue on Islam (nonprofit).


Jack Straw award in creative nonfiction.


In the Middle of the East: A Muslim-American Woman's Odyssey from Cairo to Istanbul (memoir), Cune Press (Seattle, WA), 2005, published as Zaatar Days, Henna Nights: Adventures, Dreams, and Destinations across the Middle East, Seal Press (Emeryville, CA), 2006.

Author of the short play Three's Company, produced at the South Asian Theater Festival, NJ, 2007; co-writer of Nazrah: A Muslim Woman's Perspective, a documentary in which she also appears; work represented in anthologies, including The Veil: Women Writers on Its History, Lore and Politics; Voices of Resistance: Muslim Women on War, Faith and Sexuality; Waking Up American; and Bare Your Soul: A Thinking Girls's Guide to Spirituality; contributor to periodicals, including Asia Times and Al-Ahram Weekly.


Maliha Masood was born in Pakistan of Indian parents and immigrated to the United States with her family when she was a child. Seattle, Washington, became her new home. She attended the University of Washington and spent six years working as an information technology research analyst. Bored and feeling unfulfilled, she handed in her resignation and embarked on a trip to Europe and the Middle East. She bought a one-way trip to Paris, trekked through Europe for six months, then arrived in Cairo, Egypt, in September, 2000.

Zaatar Days, Henna Nights: Adventures, Dreams, and Destinations across the Middle East chronicles this period, during which Masood traveled through Egypt, Jordan, Syria, Lebanon, and Turkey, and comments on what it meant to be a female traveling alone. She began her journey at the height of Arab-Israeli tensions and returned to the United States ten days before the events of September 11, 2001.

Although her appearance helped her to blend in, her unfamiliarity with the various religious, geographic, and cultural groups into which she tried to assimilate sometimes prevented complete acceptance. Because of her lack of full understanding, she at one point gave the impression that she wanted to marry a man with one wife and was also suspected of being a spy.

In reviewing the memoir for the Perceptive Travel Web site, Anastasia M. Ashman wrote: "These aren't just travel hijinks. Masood's battle for self-knowledge promises to be life-long, and current affairs only compound it."



Masood, Maliha, Zaatar Days, Henna Nights: Adventures, Dreams, and Destinations across the Middle East, Seal Press (Emeryville, CA), 2006.


Library Journal, February 1, 2007, Elizabeth Connor, review of Zaatar Days, Henna Nights, p. 89.

Seattle Times, May 12, 2007, "Middle Eastern Travels Inspire a Book, a Life," interview.


Daily (University of Washington), (April 10, 2007), A.J. Yoon, "Memoirs of the Middle East," interview.

Jack Straw Productions, (September 30, 2007), "2005 Writers Forum: Maliha Masood with Curator John Mifsud," interview.

Levantine Cultural Centre Web site, (April 26, 2007), review of Zaatar Days, Henna Nights.

Maliha Masood Home Page, (September 30, 2007).

Perceptive Travel, (September 30, 2007), Anastasia M. Ashman, review of Zaatar Days, Henna Nights.