Posted: March 4, 2008
Updated: March 11, 2008 - Post News Story
The Difficult Dialogues Project at Mount Holyoke College will host distinguished author, journalist, and teacher Asra Q. Nomani, who will give a talk titled "Women, Freedom, and Faith in Islam" on Monday, March 10, at 7 pm in the New York Room in Mary Woolley Hall. She is currently a visiting scholar of the practice of journalism at Georgetown University, where she heads the Pearl Project, a faculty-student journalistic investigation into the abduction and murder of Daniel Pearl.
In 1988, at the age of 23, Nomani was hired as a staff reporter in the Chicago bureau of the Wall Street Journal. During her 15-year career at the WSJ, she also worked in the San Francisco, Washington, and New York bureaus. After September 11, 2001, while on leave from the WSJ, Nomani became a correspondent for Salonmagazine, working from Karachi, Pakistan. She was hosting Daniel Pearl at her home when he was kidnapped and murdered in 2002.
Nomani is a writer-activist dedicated to reclaiming women's rights and principles of tolerance in the Muslim world. In 2003, she challenged rules at her mosque in Morgantown, West Virginia, that required women to enter through a back door and pray in a secluded balcony. She was put on trial at her mosque to be banished. On March 1, 2005, she posted "99 Precepts for Opening Hearts, Minds and Doors in the Muslim World" on the doors of the Morgantown mosque; she was the lead organizer of the woman-led Muslim prayer in New York City on March 18, 2005, and the New York Timeswrote about her "Rosa Parks-style activism."
In September 2006, Nomani cofounded with other Muslim women Muslims for Peace, an organization dedicated to standing for peace. In October 2006, she received a reporting fellowship from the South Asian Journalists Association to report on a Muslim woman activist building a mosque for women in India.
Nomani is the author of two books. In 2000, she wrote Tantrika: Traveling the Road of Divine Love, a journey into the corners of her identity as a Muslim, an Indian, and an American. After her work in Karachi, she wrote her memoir Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam. She has also written on issues related to Islam for the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine, American Prospect, Slate, and Sojourners magazine. Her work has appeared in such magazines as Cosmo, Sports Illustrated for Women, Runner's World, and People. She has provided commentary on CNN, NPR, BBC, Nightline, and Al-Jazeera, among others.
The Difficult Dialogues Project is a national initiative that began in the aftermath of September 11, 2001. Its main purpose is to foster dialogue and understanding across religious differences. The Difficult Dialogues Project aims to build bridges of greater tolerance and respect within and between religious and faith communities. Nomani's visit is funded through a grant from the Ford Foundation and the Thomas Jefferson Center for Free Speech and Inquiry. Additional support comes from the Eliot House, the MCCL (Multicultural Community and College Life), and the Office of the President.
The lecture is free and open to the public.