Mimi Jimmy Women in World Religion Page 1 of 2 International Woman’s Day – Asra Nomani March 8, 2006 Asra Nomani

and the Muslim Women’s Freedom Tour came to Green River Community College on International Woman’s day. Asra Nomani is a strong and courageous woman and the strength of her soul shines brightly. Her adventure began when she had been assigned to a newspaper article with the Wall Street Journal which eventually brought her to Pakistan. She was to write a news article on the deepest secrets of Tantra. Her son is the one who grounds and centers her while giving her the courage to overcome fear and to take action. Her journey was a struggle to confront and over come injustice, violence and hatred in the Muslim world. While Nomani was young, she loved learning the Koran but things changed when she entered puberty and the separation began. During a family potluck dinner, Nomani and the woman visited together but separated from the men. The only time she entered into the men’s area was to tell her father he was talking to loud. She says that women today do not enjoy the privileges of the great woman, Mohammad’s first wife. Men are the ones who interpret religion and make the laws. A woman’s voice is not to be heard in the mosque. When women do go to the mosque to pray; they go in the back door and sit in a secluded balcony and stare at a wall, away from the men. She looks back at the birth of Islam and the peoples of Islam have fallen short on the principles and the progressive rights. Islam has slipped backwards with the practice of inequity and intolerance of woman. Even with the status quos and segregation of Muslim people; events in her life have led her to where she is today.

Mimi Jimmy Women in World Religion Page 2 of 2 Nomani talks about the events of the kidnapping of her friend Daniel Pearl, the birth of her illegitimate son, and her trip to Mecca. She remembers the photos of Danny with a gun to his head and the wailing of his pregnant wife. Nomani became pregnant and her boyfriend fled. While she realized she couldn’t run from Islam because it was her identity; the community judged her and her unborn child as illegitimate. She came to accept the notion of bringing a child into the world with her parents’ acceptance, kindness and compassion. When her son, Shibli, was born she felt the divine. She felt the hope possible of touching heaven in her son’s beauty and innocence. She went to find her answers in Islam and journeyed to Mecca to walk in the footsteps of Hagar and son, Ishmael. Nomani had been searching for the divine love and found it in herself by the ways of her son and her journeys. Today she tells people that resist social change and would rather postpone it but we all face this in our lives. When we take that first step to make changes in our lives and society; we have to be prepared for tactics of intimidations. Within two decades, Nomani believes her and sisters of Islam will start a new reality that will continue to mobilize. Asra Nomani was scheduled to speak at 7:30pm and gave me the motivation and life back into reaching my goals. I had gone home to take a nap and it was so hard to crawl out from beneath the blankets to come back to the college on a windy night. Hearing Nomani speak and meeting her was an inspiration to my own life. She signed my books with a note that will continue to motivate me in the future. “May you know your legacy will live on for generations.” Nomoni has such a strong willful presence with great words. While I know the path I walk; Asra Nomani had put the purpose back into my footsteps.