Founder of Muslims for Peace
Asra Q. Nomani is a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal and the author of the critically-acclaimed Standing alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam, a book dedicated to reclaiming women’s rights in Islam. Asra asserts, “Islam needs to go back to its progressive seventh century roots if it is to move forward into the twenty first century.” In Standing Alone, she wrote an Islamic Bill of Rights for women in mosques which include the right of women to be imams or prayer leaders and stand in the front rows of mosques shoulder with men. Asra also wrote an Islamic Bill of Rights for women in the bedroom which include the right of women to choose their own partners irrespective of religion and to be free from criminalization or punishment for consensual adult sexual decisions. Asra has written for the Washington Post, The New York Times, Slate and Time magazine on Islam. She covered the war in Afghanistan for Salon and her work has appeared in such magazines as Cosmo, Sports Illustrated for Women, Runner’s World and People. She is also the author of Tantrika: Traveling the Road of Divine Love about finding reconciliation with her identity as an American Muslim woman. In 2005, she was a visiting scholar at the Center for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and in 2006 she was a Poynter fellow at Yale University and the recipient of a 2006 Reporting Fellowship with the South Asian Journalists Association. Born in Mumbai, into a conservative but modern Muslim family, Asra came to the United States at the age of four. She currently lives in Morgantown, West Virginia with her son Shilbi. It is there she has become a writer-activist dedicated to reclaiming women’s rights and principles of tolerance in the Muslim world. She challenged rules at her mosque in Morgantown that required women enter through a back door and pray in a secluded balcony. She is presently on trial at her mosque to be banished. Asra is the founder and creator of the Muslim Women’s Freedom Tour. On March 1, 2005, she posted on the doors of her mosque in Morgantown “99 Precepts for Opening Hearts, Minds and Doors in the Muslim World.” She was the lead organizer of the woman-led Muslim prayer in New York City on March 18, 2005. She is a volunteer at the Rape and Domestic Violence Shelter in Morgantown, WV and she is committed to seeing hearts, minds and doors open in the Muslim world as a part of a wider vision for world peace. She has said, “the gender jihad is part of a peace jihad, a struggle for peace in the Muslim world as part of a wider vision for world.” In late 2006, with three other Muslim mothers, she became a founder of Muslims for Peace, a new organization dedicated to holding a Muslim march for peace in 2007 and standing up for peace and tolerance.