Asra Nomani – Part Two

When Asra Nomani finished her speech she allowed offered a question and answer session.  Angry members of the audience took this opportunity to voice their opposition against Asra and her mission.  At first I was annoyed because of the rude nature of their questioning and then all at once I became very afraid.  I remembered the distracted guard.  I heard noises that indicated that the main entrance was not the only point of entry and perhaps someone could have slipped in the side door that would have terrible intentions.  I tried to calm myself with the fact that I have an exceedingly active imagination and I was in no real danger.  I just did not feel safe. My gaze darted around the room in paranoia as I tried to distinguish if anyone among the sea of faces would be the person that would intend to make good on their death threat against Asra Nomani. 

I have wondered often what people are thinking of right before they are victim to violence or terrorism.  Are they at peace?  Do they have a sense of foreboding?  With death as a certainty in each of our lives we may imagine what will lead to that event.  Do the victims of an attack say “Oh, this is it.  This is how I am meant to go.”  Because I thought that.  I wondered if Asra Nomani had thoughts of her own running through her head each time she led a discussion. 

My professor was the host for the evening.  He diplomatically wrapped up the Q&A session when he felt that it was appropriate.  As people filed out and fished for their car keys with the intention to return to their lives I felt the apprehension lift from me.

The evening ended with the only harm being at the hands of my own imagination.  I bought both of her books and stayed behind to have her sign my copy.  She spoke to me as she signed my book.  She asked me about myself and learned quickly that I had a son a year younger than her own. 

She looked deep into my eyes and asked me what role I take to ensure that my son is not brought up to perpetuate gender inequality.

Good question.


Filed under adult education, No Adult Left Behind

10 responses to “Asra Nomani – Part Two

  1. Erin

    One would like to say that living in America was enough, but is not! Drew is apart of the most priveledged race in the world- male.. white.. and American!

    However my friend, with that stated, he is VERY fortunate enough to have a Mother who has not forsaken her dreams and continues to forge ahead, and that my dear, takes bravery that you may not hear enough about:)

  2. Erin, your comments fill me with pure joy. Thank you so much for your loving encouragement. You are absolutely right that Drew is among the most privledged race in the world. I love how new opportunities make me examine the world around me with a new perspective.

  3. Dierdre

    Wow… what a powerful experience you had, and what a great job you did articulating your impressions, how you felt and how you reacted to her question. I am very proud to call you friend!

    • Dierdre, thanks for the sweet note! I really enjoyed Asra. I thought it was a terrific experience. It was so foreign to me to think that she is not allowed to go into her mosque and pray next to a man. Can you imagine not being able to sit next to your husband or your son as you pray to God? When I go to church I love that my son and husband are right there. It bonds us together. I am glad that there are strong women like Asra who fight for all women.

  4. John

    Did you get a chance to read the book review I commented about on part 1? Basically it looks at Asra’s portrayal of Islam, thus there is some opposition (not to her ideas of supporting and empowering women, but that she is mis-representing the ideas of Islam).

    Here in the link again, just in case:

    All the best.

    • Hello John. I did get your previous link and responded as well. Thank you for providing your perspective. I invite you to give us more. John, for me the experience with Asra was about how she wished to pray along side of the men in her mosque. How she did not wish to be separated. I strongly share that belief that she should be allowed to do just that. I admire her conviction that she has to try to positively affect change in her mosque. I did not yet read either of her books, nor am I educated in the Muslim faith therefore I cannot be a good judge of how Islam is represented in her book. I see that you feel strongly about the perspective of her writing. Since I cannot yet intelligently converse with you on that matter, I am interested in knowing how you feel about her advocacy of women’s rights in the mosque.

  5. Bev

    To sit through such an interesting lecture with the fear that violence might break out during the Q & A section, is only proof of how very much this world has change. It never would have enter your mind 10 – 20 years ago. So sad. Change is long over due for the sake of Drew and all the others. Love your blogs.

    • You are absolutely right. It was the most bizarre experience – to be frightened for my safety in the middle of a college auditorium. The world is changing – you are so right. Seeing acts of terrorism on TV somehow makes us think that it is so far from us. What I find disturbingly interesting is that so much violence and terrorism does come from religious differences. Isn’t it interesting that something that is supposed to make us all better human beings can create such destruction and fear as well?

  6. John

    Sorry, I missed the first one.

    I supposed it depends on how we are looking at the situation at hand. If are looking from a religious perspective, there are reasons why men and women pray separately (under one roof). One could have a quick look at the manner in which Muslims pray to have an idea why that might be the case (without going into details at this point). This is not uncommon in Christian and Jewish historical practice as well … however, we’ll move along for now.

    From the perspective of allowing for a person to express their opinion, certainly Asra is welcome to share hers. What is important to distinguish it to understand if these ideas are from her opinion or from the religion, as they can easily be mixed.

    All the best.

  7. Thank you again for your response. This matter has me intrigued. I was fortunate enough that you found me and I am hopeful that you will provide me with your perspective. You had mentioned that there are religious reasons for the separtation As I have stated before I haven’t enough knowledge about the Muslim faith to understand it. Your knowledge is deep. Perhaps you could impart your perspective here as I would be interested in knowing both sides of this matter. Thank you again for your active participation in this dialogue. I look with interest each day to see if you have responded.

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