Asra Nomani – Part One

This semester I had the privilege of meeting Asra Nomani. In my Media Ethics class, all students were required to attend a speech hosted by Asra Nomani. I had not heard of her, but she was a friend of someone I had heard of – Daniel Pearl. If you remember, Daniel Pearl was the American man that had been kidnapped and murdered during his visit to Pakistan. Daniel and his wife were staying with Asra when he was kidnapped.

Asra Nomani came to our college to speak to us about her life and her mission. She is rebelling against the gender discrimination that dominates her religion as a Muslim. Our professor indicated that because her beliefs are widely unacceptable among Muslims she is unpopular in some circles and has created some enemies. Because she has had several threats against her life, our professor was going to see that our college provided increased security on the night that she arrived.

Well alrighty then. Sounds great! Sign me up for that speech.

On the night of Asra Nomani’s speech, despite arriving 50 minutes early, it was difficult to find parking and I had to hike in a considerable distance in the rain to the auditorium. I observed a paid guard who did not see me approach because he had his back to me while he was texting. Once I reached him, he was startled and opened the door for me only to abruptly return to his previous preoccupation.

Once inside, I found a seat and settled in. It was prudent to arrive so early because it was already crowded and eventually each crevasse of the auditorium was filled in a “standing room only” fashion.

Asra was an amazing speaker. She spoke in a soft distinction that demanded silence from her audience because we did not wish to miss a word. She was as honest and pure as a summer rain. I sat mesmerized hanging on each word as she spoke of her friendship with Daniel Pearl, his tragic murder and the events of her life that has led her to be a passionate pioneer seeking gender equality in her Mosque and in all aspects of her Muslim religion.

As a Catholic, I have all I can do to practice my religion and provide a religious framework for my son. Unless I am on my own terms speaking to God in the comfort of my own environment, I see religion as a bit of an obligation. What fascinated me is that Asra Nomani was in love with her religion. It was this love that was a motivating factor for her to explore deeper and take out the gender segregation that was against the core of the Muslim beliefs. She spoke of her protests and her following with a sparkle in her eye because she believes that one day she will find a peaceful coexistence in prayer with all members of her mosque that will show love and acceptance without distinction for gender.

I admire Asra Nomani because she has a courage that awes me. At the conclusion of her speech she received lavish, sincere applause from most of the audience. It was a wonderful experience. At the conclusion of the speech she hosted question and answer session.

That is when the magic ended for me.

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6 Comments

Filed under adult education, No Adult Left Behind

6 responses to “Asra Nomani – Part One

  1. Melissa

    No!!!! I have to wait??? I’m a pretty patient person but this will be difficult. Again, you painted such a picture for me, I felt as though I was next to you. That is a wonderful gift without a doubt, but now that means I wake up and realize I was not by your side so I must wait for the next part…eargerly I’ll add. Of course I had heard of Daniel but never Asra. Looking forward to the continuation…

    • There is so much that I think and feel about this – it may evolve into three parts. Thank you for the compliments Melissa. So few people even comment on what I write, I often feel as though I am writing to you alone. So I sure am glad you enjoy it. 🙂

      Meeting with Asra was a great experience. It is my privilege to share it with you.

  2. Erin

    The Islamic culture is so deep in traditions and ideals, that our modern society often has difficulty appreciating it’s orgins and misunderstands, the Koran.

    In the end, we all believe in “OUR” Gods ability to deliver us from evil by living a virtuos life. How courageous Asra is to be the minority and stand up for her beliefs in times of misunderstanding!

    Never forget, everyone has a story and the strength within!

    • Erin, you really provide a good perspective. We certainly do misunderstand Islamic culture. I must say that I know alarmingly little about it myself. Which is quite sad. My undergrad degree is in education with a social studies concentration. Your comments make me realize that I should (and would like to) know more.

      Asra was so courageous. It is inspiring and scary all at once. I thought myself strong until I met her.

      I am glad to share the story with you. I will be interested in what you have to say as I continue.

  3. I reviewed Asra’s book here – I think you may find it interesting, as it is from a Muslim perspective:

    http://www.alhamdulilah.info/2010/03/asra-nomani-standing-alone-in-mecca.html

    Feel free to contact me if you have any comments or suggestions about this book review.

    • I would like to thank you very much for your response to my blog. It is terrific to have a variety of perspectives. Based on your review I see that there is much about Asra’s book that you take specific exception to. Please know that because of school demands I have not yet had the privledge to read either of the two books that I have purchased of Asra’s. Further, I find myself at a serious disadvantage because I know of so little of the Muslim faith. However, I did find your book review to be a comprehensive view from your perspective and that of which you believe represents the Muslim faith. I thank you for sharing. Your review has enhanced my curiousity of the faith even further. The reason I took the opportunity to write about Asra in my blog is simply because I am impressed with her. She is strong and desires to pray beside the men and women of her faith. I found her to have a very pleasant personality and a life filled with rich experiences. I feel as though my life is enhanced by having met her. Thank you for taking the time to visit my blog and respond and I hope to see your feedback again.

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