Author to discuss role of women in Islamic faith

October 27, 2009 | Events, UToday
By Jeffrey Romagni



In order to fill the Islamic obligation known as hajj, each year more than two million Muslim men and women from all over the world travel to the city of Mecca, the holiest meeting site of the Islamic religion, to demonstrate religious harmony and their submission to Allah.

webstanding-alone-pb-11Faced with a new life as a single mother, Asra Nomani, author and then Wall Street Journal correspondent, made the dangerous journey from America to the Middle East in efforts to investigate and rediscover her religion.

Inspired by her personal pilgrimage, Nomani returned to America to confront religious sexism and intolerance and to fight for the rights of modern Muslim women.

Nomani will discuss and sign her book, Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam, Thursday, Oct. 29, from 7 to 9 p.m. in The University of Toledo Law Center Auditorium on Main Campus.

In her book, Nomani explains that many religious freedoms enjoyed centuries ago have been replaced today by the conservative brand of Islam, which labels Muslim women as veiled and isolated from the world. Through personal narrative, Nomani compares the modern-day lives of Muslim women to the lives of those living centuries ago to show the changing face of women in Islam.

A graduate of West Virginia University and American University, Nomani serves as
a visiting journalism scholar at Georgetown University, where she leads the Pearl Project, a faculty-student investigation into the 2002 murder of her close friend and journalist, Daniel Pearl.

“As a child of West Virginia, I have looked to Toledo as a shining beacon in the American-Muslim community,” Nomani said. “For years, I have heard the stories of the courageous citizens of Toledo, who have been leaders and pioneers for an expression of Islam that is tolerant and just.”

A reception, including refreshments, will be held in the Law Center Auditorium from 5:30 to 6:30 p.m. preceding the lecture.

This free, public event is sponsored by the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women, the UT Program in Religious Studies, and the departments of Philosophy and Women’s and Gender Studies, and is part of the President’s Lecture Series on Diversity.

“The Eberly Center is extremely pleased to be a part of the effort to bring Asra Nomani to UT,” said Charlene Gilbert, director of the Eberly Center for Women. “She is a strong voice encouraging an important dialogue about the role of women in the Islamic faith. History has shown that one of the first steps on the road to change in any community is dialogue.”

For more information, contact the Catharine S. Eberly Center for Women at 419.530.8570.