iReporter Naeem Muhsiny recently submitted these pictures he took of Afghan women in traditional Muslim garb outside the "Blue Mosque" in northern Afghanistan.
Muhsiny told iReport that he feels these photos represent the struggle between religious tradition and the modern world faced by many Afghans. "Religion controls every aspect of one's life under the banner of God and secularism frees one from fear and greed, the very theory found in all four major religions," he said.
"Religion divides people under different names and affiliations and secularism breaks those walls by recognizing one value and that is humanity."
Muhsiny was stationed in Afghanistan from January 2010 through August 2011 as the country manager for Afghanistan at the American Councils for International Education, an organization that provides educational programs for Afghan youth.
As summer peeks around the corner and warmer weather appears, children splash and play to cool off in the Tarnek River in the Zabul province located in southern Afghanistan.
Even with other transportation available, sometimes you have to walk. A man pushes his motorcycle and a boy leads a donkey through the Nawbahar District bazaar in the Zabul Province of Afghanistan.
Afghan National Army officers march through colored smoke during a graduation ceremony in Kabul.
Afghanistan's police and army are due to take control of security in the some areas from July and across Afghanistan by 2014.
From U.S. soldiers in gun turrets to a boy selling balloons on the streets of Kabul: Check out some of the scenes captured by CNN over the year in telling the Afghanistan story.
See more photos of Afghanistan in the Photo Spotlight
MORE PHOTO GALLERIES
• Navigating Kabul's crazy traffic
• Views from outside the wire
• Views from inside the machine
• Inside the game of buzkashi
President Barack Obama meets the national security team during a monthly meeting on Afghanistan and Pakistan in the Situation Room of the White House.
A long-awaited U.S. military analysis of the war in Afghanistan is expected later this week, a year after President Obama ordered additional U.S. troops to the country as part of a strategy that could bring some forces home as soon as July 2011. Officials have said the goal is to end combat operations in Afghanistan in 2014.
Along with the increase in U.S. troops, President Obama's COIN strategy called for a U.S. civilian "surge" to get Afghanistan ready for troops' withdrawal next year. Although there have been pockets of progress, what will it really take for the civilian surge to work long-term?
CNN’s Foreign Affairs Correspondent Jill Dougherty and CNN Senior State Department Producer Elise Labott recently embedded with U.S. Provincial Reconstruction Teams in Afghanistan, part of the Obama administration's civilian "surge." They saw first-hand the efforts on the ground and the pockets of progress as well as the challenges that remain.
Watch as CNN's Jill Dougherty sees the "civilian surge" up close.
In her analysis of what it will take for long-term success, Labott writes, "We saw so many little pockets of hope, each of them producing modest gains. But in and of themselves, these bright spots do not necessarily add up to a policy. The concern continues that the U.S. will fail to translate these gains into a path for Afghanistan to stand up on its own."
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U.S. Army Sgt. Ricardo E. Maya of Corozal, Puerto Rico, a squad leader with 4th Platoon, Company D, 1st Battalion, 327th Infantry Regiment, Task Force Bulldog, keeps watch as 120mm white phosphorus mortar rounds hit the nearby ridge line during a recent firrefight that lasted more than three hours.
Insurgents fired rocket-propelled grenades, heavy machine guns and small arms at the Shege East Afghan National Police Checkpoint in the eastern Kunar Province. International Security Assistance Forces and Afghan National Police responded in kind with small arms, heavy machine gun and mortar fire. Neither ISAF nor ANP personnel were injured during the attack.
A soldier with the 101st Airborne Division Alpha Battery 1-320th fires an AT-4 during a recent Taliban attack on the outskirts of the village of Jellawar in the Arghandab Valley.
The blast coming from the back of the the anti-tank weapon kicks up a cloud of dust and debris - including spent shell casings from other weapons.
A young Afghan boy and his sisters learn to make friendship bracelets from U.S. Air Force Capt. Mary Danner-Jones during a Girl Scout meeting in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Danner-Jones is a member of the Nangarhar Provincial Reconstruction team stationed at Forward Operating Base Finley Shields in Jalalabad, Afghanistan.
Afghanistan Crossroads is where CNN's reporting converges -- bringing you a diversity of voices, stunning images and video, global perspectives and the latest news from on the ground in Afghanistan and around the world.
- This blog was archived in October 2011.
From all parts of the world and spanning all ages, more than 2,500 U.S. and coalition troops have died in Afghanistan.
Explore the names, ages and faces of the fallen