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Standing Alone in Mecca

An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam

by Asra Nomani

Harper Collins,
Review by Shakira Hussein
16 February 2009Shakira Hussein is a writer and researcher, focusing on issues of Islam, gender and South Asia. She is currently completing her PhD on encounters between Muslim and Western women at the Australian National University. She is the editor of the multifaith webzine Shalom Pax Salam.

Book Description: Nomani, a journalist and single mother, determines to go on the hajj along with her infant son. She is following in the four-thousand-year-old footsteps of another single mother, Hajar (known in the West as Hagar), the original pilgrim to Mecca and mother of the Islamic nation. Each day of her hajj evokes for Nomani the history of a different Muslim matriarch: Eve, from whom she learns about sin and redemption; Hajar, the single mother abandoned in the desert who teaches her about courage; Khadijah, the first benefactor of Islam and trailblazer for a Muslim woman's right to self-determination; and Aisha, the favorite wife of the Prophet Muhammad and Islam's first female theologian. Inspired by these heroic Muslim women, Nomani returns to America to confront the sexism and intolerance in her local mosque and to fight for the rights of modern Muslim women who are tired of standing alone against the repressive rules and regulations imposed by reactionary fundamentalists.

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