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In October 2003, Asra Nomani took a stand for the right of women to walk through the front door and pray in the main hall of her mosque in Morgantown, W.V. Her efforts are the subject of a PBS documentary, The Mosque in Morgantown, by director Brittany Huckabee. To view clips and read more about the debate and the documentary, go to: www.TheMosqueInMorgantown.com.

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Sojourners: 'The Islamic Reformation has begun'


January 2006
'The Islamic Reformation Has Begun'
Reza Aslan, a Tehran-born Muslim, joined his high school's Young Life group to become a Christian, then got kicked out. Now he's one of the top spokespersons for progressive Islam in America.

by Asra Q. Nomani

A decade ago, author Reza Aslan had a dinner conversation that helped set him on a path that makes him one of the hottest new voices on Islam. At the table, a man argued “Muslims are violent and irrational. They’re all terrorists.” His dinner companion? His father, an Iranian émigré who blamed not only the clerics of Iran’s Islamic revolution for turning his country upside down, but Islam itself.
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Posted on December 23, 2005

Washington Post: A Gender Jihad for Islam's Future

Washington Post, Outlook Section

A Gender Jihad For Islam's Future
By Asra Q. Nomani
Sunday, November 6, 2005

BARCELONA -- Several months ago, when a group of Spanish Muslims approached city officials here about sponsoring a conference on Islamic feminism, one responded, "Isn't that an oxymoron?" That's what many people believe. To conservative Muslims, the phrase is an insult to Islam. But to many moderate Muslims -- and I count myself among them -- an Islamic feminist movement fits with the religion's early teachings and offers one of our best hopes for countering extremism. Indeed, those of us who have joined the movement since it emerged in the 1990s have come to understand that Islam needs to go back to its progressive 7th-century roots if it is to move forward into the 21st century.

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Posted on November 06, 2005

Slate: Hijab Chic -- How retailers are marketing to fashion-conscious Muslim women

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Posted on October 27, 2005

Washington Post: The Woman Who Went to the Front of the Mosque

The Washington Post
Sunday, June 5, 2005
The Woman Who Went To the Front of the Mosque
Feminist Faces Ostracism -- or Worse -- for Praying Among Men

By Teresa Wiltz, Washington Post Staff Writer

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. It was two days after she appeared on "Nightline" talking about her fight to change her mosque that the death threats began. The first call came on her cell phone. The caller left a message, in Urdu: "If you want to stay alive, keep your mouth shut." Otherwise, he said, he would "slaughter" her, halal style, saying a prayer as he slid a knife across her throat. If she didn't shut up, he'd slaughter her mother and her father, too. Think before you speak, he said. I know where you live. I know where your parents live.

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Posted on June 05, 2005

Daily News: My answered prayer

Daily News
March 20, 2005
My answered prayer

Friday, March 18, 2005, will be remembered as the day when about 130 Muslim women and men stood shoulder-to-shoulder behind a woman on Manhattan's upper West Side and took their faith back from the extremists who had tried to define Islam on Sept. 11, 2001.
I was proud to be in the front row.

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Posted on March 20, 2005

American Prospect Magazine: Pulpit Bullies

American Prospect Magazine
March 2005
Pulpit Bullies

You might think the doings in one small-town mosque don't amount to much. You would be very wrong.
By Asra Nomani

"And we have raised, from among them, leaders ... "
-- Koran, al-Sajdah, "The Prostration," 32:24

Just before midnight one Friday last December, an Egyptian American professor of electrical engineering at West Virginia University, clad in a track suit and red-and-white checkered scarf, stepped through the green steel doors of our mosque in Morgantown, West Virginia. With a spring in his step, he took a breath of the cool night air and smiled widely as he triumphantly waved to a Muslim man by the door. Down the street, in front of the Friendship Motel, a crew for a PBS documentary quietly rolled its cameras on the gesture.

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Posted on March 01, 2005

Sojourners:Struggle for the Soul of Islam

A historic reform movement is taking shape in the Muslim world.
By Asra Q. Nomani

My father helped build a new mosque in my hometown, Morgantown, West Virginia. On the night of its inauguration in 2003, I went to the mosque's front door carrying my young son. I wore the same flowing white head covering that I had worn when I made my pilgrimage to Mecca. I had experienced full and unfettered access to the holy mosque in Mecca. I was an active and vocal participant in mixed-gender study sessions. I was fully equal.

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Posted on March 01, 2005

Salon: Who really killed Danny Pearl?

Salon.com: Oct. 22, 2003

The mastermind behind 9/11 is the killer, U.S. officials believe. But what will that tell us about the role others played -- such as Pakistan?

By Asra Q. Nomani

Last Thursday, a senior White House official called Mariane Pearl and Paul Steiger, the managing editor of the Wall Street Journal, to report a new, key development in the investigation into the death of Mariane's husband, Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. "We have now established enough links and credible evidence to think that Khalid Sheikh Mohammed" -- the mastermind behind the 9/11 attacks -- "was involved in your husband's murder," the official told Mariane.

"What do you mean 'involved'?" Mariane asked.

"We think he committed the actual murder."

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Posted on February 25, 2005

Exiting Afghanistan, still with stuffing

The Dominion Post: December 30, 2001
By Asra Nomani

Merve and Blink enjoy a few moments of peace before being yelled at by Afghans with big guns.

My love Safiyyah!

This time, I stole the laptop from Merve and Blink.

I'm writing to you myself because those little guys are whining like I make you and Samir when I keep you doing your homework past your bedtime: "We're too tired to write anymore!" The little guys have been at it a long time, writing to you and the beautiful children of Morgantown.

It was so lovely to hear from you, Safiyyah dear. I can hear your voice in your words. That is what writing is all about (even if Dada is doing the typing). Write as you speak. You are so beautiful, Safiyyah. I think about you as my light out in the world.

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Posted on February 25, 2005

Wise Father Bestows a Legacy of Facing Challenges

The Dominion Post, Morgantown, West Virginia: May 15, 2002
By Asra Q. Nomani

My father drove us into Morgantown in 1975 in a green Rambler station wagon on the old U.S. 40 that winds through the Appalachian Mountains of western Maryland and southwestern Pennsylania.

We were part of the immigrant diaspora from India's "brain drain," finding homes on university campuses such as WVU.

Ten years old, I had to leave my Dutch rabbit Buffy Nibbles in Piscataway, N.J., when we moved into the faculty apartments on the Evansdale campus long before the tracks of the PRT "People Mover" ran above them. They didn't allow pets there.

My father, a Ph.D. graduate from Rutgers University, had started a WVU academic career from which he nobly retires this semester as a professor of human nutrition in the division of family and consumer sciences in the Davis College of Agriculture, Forestry and Consumer Sciences.

Thousands of students have crossed through his classroom door to be armed with the critical knowledge of food that makes them better nurses, dieticians, nutrition specialists, scientists and professionals from Pittsburgh, to Beirut, Lebanon.

My father is Mohammad Zafar Alam Nomani, "Dr. Nomani," to his students. He is "Zaf" to his friends and colleagues who will fete him tonight at a retirement celebration hosted by his department chairwoman Jan Yeager. I wish to at least attend through the testimony I can give from my unique perspective -- as a lifelong student of my father, the teacher who helped me pronounce vitamin B12's scientific name, cyanocobalamin, for a seventh-grade class presentation.

"Cyanocobalamin. Cyanocobalamin. Cyanocobalamin," I repeated after my father until I got it right on my own.

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Posted on February 25, 2005

Time Magazine: Shaking Up Islam In America

Time Magazine
September 13, 2004

Posted on September 14, 2004

New York Times: Hate at the Local Mosque

New York Times, Op/Ed
Hate at the Local Mosque

May 6, 2004

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. - Not long ago in my little mosque around the corner from a McDonald's, a student from the university here delivered a sermon. To love the Prophet Muhammad, he said, "is to hate those who hate him." He railed against man-made doctrines that replace Islamic law, and excoriated the "enemies of Islam" who deny strict adherence to Sunnah, or the ways of Muhammad. While he wasn't espousing violence, his words echoed the extremist vocabulary of Wahhabism, used by some followers to breed militant attitudes.

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Posted on May 06, 2004

WashingtonPost.com: In Islam, Where Do Women Belong?

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Posted on January 05, 2004

Washington Post: Going Where I Know I Belong

The Washington Post, December 28, 2003, Outlook
Rebel in the Mosque
Going Where I Know I Belong

By Asra Q. Nomani

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- On the 11th day of the recent Muslim holy month of Ramadan, in a pre-dawn lit by the moon, my mother, my niece and I walked through the front doors of our local mosque with my father, my nephew and my infant son. My stomach churning, we ascended to a hall to pray together.

Islamic teaching forbids men and women praying directly next to each other in mosques. But most American mosques have gone well beyond that simple prohibition by importing largely from Arab culture a system of separate accommodations that provides women with wholly unequal services for prayer and education. And yet, excluding women ignores the rights the prophet Muhammad gave them in the 7th century and represents "innovations" that emerged after the prophet died. I had been wrestling with these injustices for some time when I finally decided to take a stand.

I had no intention of praying right next to the men, who were seated at the front of the cavernous hall. I just wanted a place in the main prayer space. As my mother, my niece and I sat about 20 feet behind the men, a loud voice broke the quiet. "Sister, please! Please leave!" one of the mosque's elders yelled at me.

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Posted on December 28, 2003

Washington Post: For Mother's Sake: She Shouldn't be Stoned. None of us Should

Washington Post, Outlook Section
June 1, 2003

For Mothers' Sake
She Shouldn't Be Stoned to Death. None of Us Should

By Asra Q. Nomani

MORGANTOWN, W.Va. -- Every morning, like mothers everywhere, I playfully nuzzle my infant son, Shibli, drawing a smile from him. He is my joy, but to some, he is more than that. Shibli is proof that I, an unmarried Muslim woman, am guilty of zina, or "illegal sex," just as Wasila, a toddler in Nigeria, is evidence against her mother, Amina Lawal, a divorced woman charged with adultery.

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