After September 11th, it seems there were only two kinds of Muslims portrayed in the media. One was the “crazy extremist Muslim” and the other was the Muslim apologist who felt Islam needs to be reformed and plays up to the stereotypes the mainstream media portrays about Muslims. Asra Nomani fits the latter.
An example of this is when, in the film, Nomani states that domestics violence is a major problem in the community. This plays up to the stereotype that Muslim men treat their wives badly. What is this based on? Where’s her proof that Muslim men in America are beating their wives at a greater clip than men of other religions or no religion. There is no evidence whatsoever. Brittany Huckabee, the director, does nothing to challenge Nomani’s assertion. I wonder if a Muslim director would have.
Nomani is a person who has been published in many different leading newspapers and interviewed on popular news shows. Now she is being featured in this documentary. Does anyone think she would get that extensive publicity had she challenged stereotypes about Muslims, as opposed to reinforcing them? She is being used by a media that is hostile to us and our society.
I have read many articles about Nomani and by her. Most Muslims are not upset by what she stands for. They are upset as to how she went about it. If she thinks there are issues in the Muslim community, shouldn’t she have written about it in Islamic publications? That would make sense. Instead, she calls CNN and writes about her cause in non-Muslim newspapers. She should have understood that this would have led to a hostile response. If it is a Muslim problem, why involve outsiders? It’s our community. Let us talk about it and decide for ourselves what is right or not right without outside interference. Change should come from within and not feel like it is being imposed by non-Muslims.
Also, I feel many people don’t like Nomani because she is trying to reform Islam when she has no crediblity within the community. This is a person who, I guess during her tantric sex phase, had a child out of wedlock. She wasn’t living the Muslim lifestyle when she was doing this. If you are going to preach a religion, a person should at least try to live a lifestyle acceptable to that religion. It’s sort of like Bristol Palin teaching abstinence.
I wonder if that experience is at the heart of Nomani’s struggle. Is this whole feminist Muslim thing a way of getting back at the man who knocked her up and left her? What she needs to understand is that, if he was half a Muslim man, he would have done the honorable act of marrying her. In Islam, it is a man’s duty to take care of his family. It is not a choice.
As far as the documentary goes, it was well done. I was expecting a hatchet job of the Morgantown Muslim community. Instead, I felt I got a fair portrayal of the situation. I came away thinking the same thing that many Muslims before have expressed about Nomani. I have nothing against her cause. It’s the person.
Suhail Qureshi is a hijack survivor and a Muslim living in Houston, TX. His first book, In the Name of Democracy, tentatively scheduled for release in December 2009, tells the true story of his family’s ordeal on PIA Flight PK326.