More About the Author
Asra Q. Nomani, a former reporter for the Wall Street Journal for 15 years, is a leading writer, thinker and public speaker on issues related to Islam, women's rights and religious extremism. Born in Bombay, India, and raised in Morgantown, West Virginia, she is a courageous voice of reason and honesty, bridging gaps between the Muslim world and the West.
Nomani, 44, is the author of "Standing Alone: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam," challenging extremist interpretations of Islam in the Muslim community. Her community work advocating for women's rights and tolerance was featured in the PBS documentary, "The Mosque in Morgantown."
Nomani teaches journalism at Georgetown University, where she is co-director of the Pearl Project, a faculty-student investigation into the murder of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. Through this work, she is identifying issues of Islamic extremism in Pakistan that led to the rise of militancy in the country.
In 1988, at the age of 23, Nomani joined the staff of the Wall Street Journal as a reporter. In 2000, Nomani went on book leave to write "Tantrika: Traveling the Road of Divine Love," a journey into the corners of her identity as a Muslim, an Indian and an American. After September 11, 2001, while on leave from the Wall Street Journal, Nomani became a correspondent for Salon magazine, reporting in Pakistan. She earned an Online Journalists Award for feature reporting for her dispatches.
Nomani was inspired by tragedy and hope following the kidnapping and murder of her friend Daniel Pearl in 2002 in Karachi, Pakistan, where Pearl was staying at Nomani's home when he was kidnapped. Nomani was actively involved in the investigation to find Pearl. She is featured as a character in the movie, "A Mighty Heart," starring actress Angelina Jolie.
Nomani returned to her home in Morgantown, where she wrote "Standing Alone." She has written on issues related to Islam for the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine, American Prospect, Slate and Sojourners magazine on Islam. In an effort to reach diverse audiences, Nomani has published her work in magazines including Marie Claire, Cosmopolitan, Sports Illustrated for Women, Runner's World and People. She has provided commentary on CNN, NPR, BBC, Nightline and Al-Jazeera, among others.
In Morgantown, Nomani became a writer-activist dedicated to reclaiming women's rights and principles of tolerance in the Muslim world. In 2003, Nomani challenged rules at her mosque in Morgantown that required women enter through a back door and pray in a secluded balcony. She was put on trial at her mosque to be banished. The New York Times wrote about her "Rosa Parks-style activism." 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.
In 2005, Nomani was a visiting scholar at the Center for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University and a Poynter Fellow at Yale University.
In October 2006, she received a reporting fellowship from the South Asian Journalists Association to report on a Muslim woman activist building a women's mosque in India.
Nomani has been recognized widely for her work. In 2008, the Interfaith Alliance awarded her the Walter Cronkite Faith and Freedom Award. That year, the Association for Education in Journalism and Mass Communication awarded her and her co-professor at the Pearl Project its Best Practices in Teaching award. In 2007, the Association of University Women named her a recipient of its Women of Distinction award.
Nomani earned her bachelor's degree in liberal sciences from West Virginia University in 1986. In Washington, D.C., she received a master's degree in international communications from American University's School of International Service in 1990. She lives in the Washington, D.C., area.