Standing Alone in Mecca is a journey of hope that the author takes by doing a pilgrimage to Mecca. She begins by getting permission to take the trip, and then is. Standing Alone in Mecca: an American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam: A. Nomani. Donald R. Ingram. University of Wisconsin‐. Standing Alone in Mecca book. Read 67 reviews from the world's largest community for readers. As President Bush is preparing to invade Iraq, Wall Street .
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A journalist and unwed Muslim mother makes a pilgrimage to Mecca and reflects on the changing status of women in the Muslim religion and the impact of the. Mecca is Islam's most sacred city and strictly off limits to non-Muslims. On a journey perilous enough for any American reporter, Nomani is determined to take . Standing Alone and millions of other books are available for site site. Learn more .. “Asra Nomani's Standing Alone in Mecca is the ideal introduction to.
And her investigation into the roots and branches of Wahhabist ideology reveals frightening connections between extremist imams in Saudi Arabia and energetic young leaders in mosques in the US. Nomani and her new movement for equality among Muslims are trying to redefine Islam as an egalitarian and welcoming religion. Her heartfelt beliefs are inspiring, even if the language of empowerment she uses to detail her story lacks freshness.
It is with language, as a memoirist, that Nomani is amateurish. She's much better with the head than the heart. But how many times can an author use the phrase "I realized" to begin a sentence about some obvious observation?
At one point she accuses her mother of not telling her that Allah is a forgiving God. Nomani had simply forgotten. Had Nomani never thought about theology before her hajj?
Standing Alone in Mecca is worth reading, if frustrating at times. We see that inequalities and frustrations within the hajj happen because of entrenched systems and inertia, and that the growth of fundamentalism within American Islam comes from driven ideologues who aim to entrench their way of thinking in the mosques and communities they control. Asra Nomani looked for reassurances about who she was.
American first or Muslim? One or other it couldn't be both for a long time. What was her identity? Her parents couldn't provide it because they were not in her shoes, she panicked, she rebelled, she withdrew and became afraid, there are countless others like her.
Countless others that deem Islam's breaking point in the world or at home was defined in the latter period of Nothing else in the world to do with Islam existed before this one date in the history of humanity. But these Muslims and others in North America and Europe should ask Muslims of Palestine, Sudan, Rwanda, of the Pacific part of the world if anything dramatic altered for them on this mind searing date? Yes many innocent lives were lost needlessly on this date, but more so to AIDS, to the massacre to Rwanda, the deaths is Kosovo, I don't seek to play the numbers game, these are human lives.
But to constantly use this date as a stigma to say the world had changed. For countless lives in the world things didn't and have not changed. Poverty, sickness and death to millions of children still happen everyday as they have for countless generations needlessly. Women, in some aspects of Muslim households as with other faiths or non faiths are treated as second class citizens, a certain date in didn't alter this one way or another.
As a whole this book is well written, well worth a read regardless of the reader's faith or not having a faith. We must do what Asra Nomani lightly touches on. We must learn about each other, ourselves for a better understanding of the world and who and what makes up this world.
You don't have to be an academic or have intense training to be a scholar of the world and what lies within it. Nov 18, Kristina rated it liked it Shelves: She spent most of her life as a Muslim, but now considers herself an atheist.
She is still a practicing Muslim and this book is very spiritual in nature. I read both books to get a different perspective on the same growing problem: My goal in reading these books is to answer a question for myself: I found that the most irritating—she seemed surprised that the baby would get hungry!
In her view, they committed suicide via terrorism.
This view has since been disproven but it continues to be a false view of Islamic terrorists. They are often well-educated and wealthy.
What do they all have in common? Hirsi Ali would say they are following the guidelines of the prophet Muhammad. During the pilgrimage, Nomani discusses the early life of Muhammad and his first wife, Khadijah, and describes how much power and independence women had at that time. She uses this as proof that at the time of Muhammad, Islam is a woman-friendly religion.
However as she later specifies , this is pre-Islam. Also, she says that many of the more misogynist practices of Islam are carryovers from pre-Islamic tribal culture.
So was pre-Islam woman friendly or not? During the pilgrimage, they went to Muzdalifah, a place where you throw stones at a symbolic image of the devil: Samir in his white, my father in his white, the two of them separated by two generations but united in purpose: Her sentimental description of her father and nephew gathering rocks for a stoning really creeped me out, even if it was for a symbolic ritual.
The last one hundred pages or so of the book are a welcome change from all the mommy touchy-feely, sentimental navel-gazing. This is the story I wanted to read: This is the best part of the book. Islam supports equal treatment of women.
While reading, kept thinking: Later, Nomani echoes my thought when she too realizes that misogynists use religion—any religion—to deny women their equal place in society alongside men.
Islamic misogynists have many reasons why women cannot enter the mosque, cannot pray with men, must keep their head covered or in some cases, their whole bodies , why they cannot drive, why they cannot walk alone, why they cannot be educated and all of these reasons supposedly come back to the need to keep women pure, to protect them, to show humility before Allah, etc.
How familiar does this sound? It goes back to religion and keeping women from owning their own bodies. Exactly, Nomani. So is my question, posed earlier in this review, answered by either of these two books? Not definitively. Both women approached the issue differently. She sees it as a problem of interpretation, and she is not alone in this. Many scholars she spoke with said that the more radical and hateful interpretations come from Saudi Arabian clerics.
When tracking the hate speech back to its source, Nomani discovered Sheikh al-Ghazzawi. He argued against the theological arguments used by al-Qaeda leader al-Zarqawi to behead prisoners: Is it located within one of the hadiths accepted as being part of Islam? Both Hirsi Ali and Nomani discuss the cognitive dissonance that American Muslims must feel when trying to practice their religion yet live in a society that seems to contradict its teachings. This type of ideological terrorism cannot be fought solely by guns and bomb-dropping drones.
Moderate Muslims like Nomani who speak out against the hate being preached in their mosques must be supported by their communities and the American government. For anyone at all interested in the subject of Islam, both of these books are recommended, although Nomani comes with the caveat that the first three-quarters of the book are rather tedious and annoying, but the last pages or so make up for it.
View all 11 comments. Which I didn't even need to read one page to know that.
There are certainly a lot of interesting things here, and I enjoyed what I learned, especially about the roots of Islam and how it's changed. The issue is that while this is technically well-written the author is a journalist and knows her grammar , it's not very absorbing.
It's repetitive, and reads like an article rather than a book. Half of these 88 pages could have been trimmed out without losing anything essential.
Mar 20, Peacegal rated it it was ok Shelves: Standing Alone in Mecca became an utter chore. The author draws upon her own experience going on a pilgrimage to Mecca and enduring prejudice in various areas for having a child out of wedlock.
Non-parents, beware: A spiritual umbilical cord connects all women through the timeless universality of motherhood. Facepalm Ah yes. There it is.
Part of the hajj , or spiritual journey, undertaken by pilgrims to Mecca involves the sacrifice of an animal, usually a lamb. We simple pay a fee to our travel agency to sacrifice lambs for our family and are told that the meat will go to pilgrims and the poor. A major theme of this book is family bonds; it is worth noting that every one of these sheep, as well as all of the other billions of animals slaughtered for food, are also mothers, fathers, children, and friends.
No legitimate zoo is going to farm out big cats in this way, and sure enough, a quick Google search revealed photos taken by zoo patrons of the facility.
We see two bears described by the photographer as constantly pacing in a barren, concrete-floored enclosure and a chimpanzee in a concrete-and-steel-bar enclosure that resembles a prison cell.
At one point, the text reads: Samir stared at the soldier. He thought to himself, He has a gun. It was not a scene he normally saw in West Virginia. Samir was scared.
I was born and raised in West Virginia. And while the scene of a military road block would indeed be an unusual sight, guns are most certainly not.
There are probably more guns than people! View 1 comment. Jul 02, Nabeela rated it it was amazing Shelves: I didn't know what to expect when I picked this up, but I really enjoyed it.
It is a candid point of view of the things many American Muslim women might wonder about but not have the courage to ask or question.
Seeking to understand within one's faith isn't always the same as questioning ones faith though sometimes it may feel that way. In the author's case there were doubts about her faith which lead her down a path of self discover and actualizing her relationship with God. It is a book about I didn't know what to expect when I picked this up, but I really enjoyed it.
It is a book about how there isn't one version or one universal interpretation of Islam and how the Muslim community continues to spiral down a path of judgment and intolerance among Muslims and non-Muslims alike. I learned the depth of "Hadith Fishing" which means I can find two hadith to support my interpretation and combat your one hadith which supports your interpretation I can't express my gratitude for having this book written.
This is a manifesto of women's rights in Islam. It is a book that questions and speaks to me as an American, and as the wife of an Islamic follower. This is a really engrossing, and at times very intimidating, story of the female psyche in Islam. One woman's journey and the forces that supported her to bring more rights to women in mosques and for the right to practice Islam alongside men. It is about her travels to Mecca and her experie I can't express my gratitude for having this book written.
It is about her travels to Mecca and her experience at the Hajj. It is a very dense book, with a lot of ideas and analysis to unpack. I will certainly be reading this several times over so I can better appreciate and understand her position.
It took me a long time to get into her book. I found my own copy in a used bookstore. I wish more knew or have heard about Nomani. Jul 01, Lisa rated it liked it.
Interesting images of the author on her hajj with baby in carrier. However, the narrative was slow going. Dec 04, Katrina rated it really liked it Recommends it for: Muslims, feminists. This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here. The book chronicles Nomani's coming to terms with Islam and her own identity through a series of major events over a period of 3 years: My only complaint is with one aspect of her writing style: I was surprised at, and find hard to believe, her ignorance of some basic facts about Islam.
I think she may have done this deliberately so her readers could learn alongside her, but I would have preferred her to speak with some authority. Her descriptions of hajj are detailed and honest.
I could imagine myself in her shoes, trying to tow the line with all the Saudi-imposed rules on hajj even when they conflict with my own beliefs about islam. I was really moved by her fight for an equal prayer space for women in her mosque and her bravery in speaking up at the Islamic Society of North America convention, in the media, etc. Her book is a great introduction to their work for those who haven't already read them. She is a model for how we might all fight for our rights as women within Islam, and a voice of tolerance and open-mindedness.
A must-read! This is a revolutionary book which sets a small path yet significant toward a peaceful living and better understanding among all humans. Because the ones who teach and spread hatred, violence and intolerance are actually the ones who should be called the X-Generation, the ones who misinterpreted and bended the tea A must-read! I would be very interested in a publication that explores how much the author's campaign for womens' equal rights in mosques has progressed since she wrote this one.
As someone who resorts to exit as a first option, I find it very hard to understand, or develop empathy with people who resort to voice. It is a little baffling to me that women would campaign to be allowed into mosques, instead of just giving up on the mosque or religion as a whole. But this book brought me a little closer to 1. But this book brought me a little closer to sympathy or empathy with that course of action, even though I am still not sure if I agree with it.
The death threats described are horrifying. But one reason this book also is a little irritating is that as an autobiography and this is autobiography far more than serious research or advocacy , it is a little too preening. Mar 31, Lisa rated it it was amazing Shelves: This is a great book for anyone interested in learning about some of the struggles progressive Muslims face in shaping how Islam will be expressed in the United States.
Some of the writing was repetitive and a little choppy, but that was the least of my concerns--Nomani's story was so powerful that it kept things interesting, even when points were repeated. And besides that, the points that she repeated are extremely important: Her story of going on the hajj, or pilgrimage to Mecca, was fascinating.
Her experiences taking action for women's equality after returning from hajj are equally compelling. Highly recommended. Dec 14, P rated it did not like it. May 03, Marilyn Chilcote rated it it was amazing Shelves: Praise be to Allah! I gave this four stars for the writing, but definitely five stars for the content. I'm so grateful for An invitation into Islam. This is Islamic liberation theology. I can't recommend it more highly.
I am ready for my Shahadah,statement of faith, assuming as I do, multiple memberships— all in this kindom of God. Oct 14, Sarah rated it really liked it. This is a great read if you are ready to hear about one woman's personal struggle with her religion. The tone isn't an "enlightened" one but it is an honest book not some behind the burqa, thousand splendid suns or other opportunist "I am an oppressed Muslim woman" book. There are some insightful descriptions of Hajj and Mecca as well.
Jul 03, Beth rated it really liked it.
An independent woman, a journalist, an unmarried single mother, and a Muslim, Standing Alone in Mecca is Nomani's journey to integrate these disparate parts of herself in a way that allows her to become her fullest and most authentic self within her faith, not despite it. Her journey, though, is not merely a spiritual one, but the spiritual is reflected in th "The challenge for each of us," Asra Nomani writes, "is to discern our personal faith from the doctrines others try to impose on us" Her journey, though, is not merely a spiritual one, but the spiritual is reflected in the physical world as Nomani joins the hajj, the Muslim pilgrimage to Mecca and Medina.
Standing Alone in Mecca is an intimate autobiography, a matrilineal history of Islam, and a spiritual reflection told in an unflinching voice by an author who acknowledges both her strengths and her weaknesses equally. Indeed, even as she chronicles her crusade for the rights of women within Islam, Nomani positions herself as a pilgrim, not a savior, and she unfailingly credits those whose insights and guidance have made her journey possible.
Nomani's chronicle of her quest to find a place for herself within religion in which the Divine has been hijacked by cultural forces of patriarchy and control reminded my very much of my own search for a woman-affirming faith within the Christianity of my childhood, though perhaps she has found herself and her faith more effectively than I ever have.
An interesting and thought-provoking read, I would recommend to anyone who is seeking a deeper understanding of Islam, particularly within the use, or who searches for a way to be a feminist woman within a deeply patriarchal social, cultural, and religious framework, Dec 01, Sabahat Iqbal rated it did not like it.
Don't forget to get the Recommended Readings! Oct 06, Alex Shrugged rated it liked it Shelves: Asra Nomani does a good job of it too. Her writing is easy to read. The typography is inconsistent but that is a technical point and more a criticism of the publisher than anyone else. My wife met the author recently and picked up the book. I read it. It reminded me a lot of Blu Greenberg's book "On Women and "Standing Alone in Mecca" is an autobiography of a Muslim, raised in the United States who has a child out of wedlock and travels to Saudi Arabia with her baby for the hajj to find herself.
A View from Tradition" where it is not only autobiographical but teaching what one's religion says about a woman's role and how it got all mucked up by men I think Blu makes a better case than Asra but that might be because Blu has a larger background in the technical aspects of Judaism than Asra has about Islam. For example, it seems clear that Asra does not understand what "Fear of G-d" means Yirat Hashem. The problem is with English which does not have a corresponding word for "yirat".
Most translators use the word "fear" but that is misleading. It is more like awe You are NOT afraid they will hit you.
See what I mean? I presume Arabic has the same problem in translating into English Hebrew and Arabic share many language roots. I don't think she understands the nuances there either, but she doesn't dwell upon it. She mentions it and moves on. Her view of Pakistan matches my own but her view is more authoritative born of experiencing Pakistan.
Mine is just from reading about Pakistan. And because I've read about Pakistan, when she makes veiled criticisms of Pakistan, I know what she is talking about.
I think her thrust to get women's rights recognized in American mosques is a good one. Where I think she is incorrect are minor points anyway Of course I'm not a Muslim.
Muslims will have to figure this out on their own, but Asra's main points are good ones and well founded. I hope she makes it work.
From a Jewish perspective I can see how some Jewish women could draw a parallel with how women are treated in Orthodox Judaism. I can see some parallels but a solution is not parallel. Where Asra finds clear precedence in Islamic religious texts, none are so clear in Jewish texts.
They do exist, however and can be found in Blu Greenberg's book mentioned above. You can read the book yourselves to see if they are compelling. For example: I have no problem creating equal spaces in the synagogue for women. During study sessions, women should be included as equals. Although I think that men and women should be separated during prayer, the floor seating ought to be equal.
I think men should lead the prayers, but if women wish to start their own prayer group, I have no problem with that being led by women. I have good technical, legal reasons for thinking this is all OK which I won't mention here. I'm not just saying this to kiss someone's backside.
STANDING ALONE IN MECCA: An American Woman's Pilgrimage into the Heart of Islam
I remember speaking to a board member of a Conservative synagogue, asking that they put up a mechitza a separation between men and women in prayer. She asked me scornfully, "If we put up a mechitza in the back of the synagogue, would you stand behind it?
I replied, sincerely, "I would. I don't want people to think negatively of her. Even if she agreed with me and wanted to do this, I doubt it would have happened.
She was just one board member, but I did ask and I was sincere. I would have stood at the back of the synagogue and prayed.
Sep 20, Sandy rated it really liked it Shelves: In the preface and first chapter, I connected with her - a woman my own age - and her stated quest: Asra Nomani immigrated from India to a college town in eastern U.
She was raised Muslim, and as many thoughtful young people do, she felt frustrated at times with her religion and questioned its limits and traditions. Nomani became a successful journalist and traveled extensively throughout the world. But her most meaningful journey is with her family to Mecca and Medina in Saudi Arabia to experience hajj, the Islamic holy pilgrimage, possibly the largest gathering of humanity in the world.
I am grateful that I can know so intimately what the hajj could be like from her detailed and heartfelt account.I wanted to raise my hand, but even though I had been a successful staff reporter for one of the most powerful newspapers in the world for over a decade, I could barely muster the courage to ask questions at press conferences. Also, she says that many of the more misogynist practices of Islam are carryovers from pre-Islamic tribal culture.
Standing Alone in Mecca: an American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam: A. Nomani
In her view, they committed suicide via terrorism. This way ahadith support the views of Nomani and rejects those who say that women's presence in a mosque is a fitnah or Islam does not allow women to lead the prayer. This is even more surprising given the fact that apart from being a methodological focus for the entire discipline, the everyday, especially the repercussions of power in the daily lives of women, have been a key theme of analysis and critique in feminist anthropology and in anthropological studies of the Middle East.
They are often well-educated and wealthy. Earlier Wadud published a landmark book Qur'an and Woman. Nomani reiterates frequently that it is the silent moderate majority in Islam that is allowin I connected with Asra Nomani in her search for spirituality through the exploration of several religions and practices that she describes in this book.
But this argument begs a follow-on question: Does Islam or Mecca restrict women to enter the mosque or lead a prayer? It is a book about I didn't know what to expect when I picked this up, but I really enjoyed it.
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