By Ray HananiaMuslim activist and author Asra Nomani
Author and Muslim feminist rights voice Asra Nomani discusses the fight to confront growing extremism in the Muslim and the Arab World, and the more important battle to strengthen the voices of moderate.
Nomani, the author of several books on her life as a Muslim woman, talks about the need to understand how extremists work and why moderates need to come together to achieve healing and freedom.
Nomani was the guest on the weekly Arab radio program “Talk of the Town” Radio on 1450 AM Chicago and online at www.YahalaVoice.com on Friday Feb. 6, 2015. (The show is broadcast live each week at 4:05 PM Chicago CST time). She talks about how she was inspired by her mother who wore a niqab (full face covering) but was later encouraged to unveil by her mother and by her father’s openminded view on the cause of women’s rights.
“When I would see great inequities like the segregation of women in parties and the refusal of mosque leaders to allow women int he mosques and I believed this isn’t right,” Nomani said. “This is what I inherited, this ancestry of critical thinking. … My parents had my back and they always do.”
Nomani agrees that women face discrimination throughout the world, not just in the Arab and Muslim World. But as Arabs and Muslims, that is our battle to fight. But she says she doesn’t believe Arabs and Muslims “have a monopoly on discrimination issues.”
“We come from collective societies where the collective of a society or the community trumps individual rights. For example, my mom and dad didn’t marry who they wanted to marry,” Nomani notes. “Because the individual is less important. … In collective society the individual will be lower than individuals in the West. The hallmark of collective societies is honor and shame. … women carry the honor of a family and community and they have that burden on their shoulders.”
The argument for feminism, Nomani says, is an argument of individual rights.
Nomani discusses her friendship with murdered Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, the real battle between moderates and extremists rather than Israelis/Jews and Arabs/Palestinians, and also ways we can strengthen the moderate Arab and Muslim voices in American and in the Middle East.
For more information on Asra Nomani visit her website at www.AsraNomani.com.
You can listen to the full 55 minute radio podcast either by using the audio player here, or by clicking here to go to the podcast link: