Standing Alone in Mecca by Asra Nomani
An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam

No critic rating

Waiting for minimum critic reviews

See 3 Critic Reviews



As President Bush is preparing to invade Iraq, Wall Street Journal correspondent Asra Nomani embarks on a dangerous journey from Middle America to the Middle East to join more than two million fellow Muslims on the hajj, the pilgrimage to Mecca required of all Muslims once in their lifetime. 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 along her infant son, Shibli -- living proof that she, an unmarried Muslim woman, is guilty of zina, or "illegal sex." If she is found out, the puritanical Islamic law of the Wahabbis in Saudi Arabia may mete out terrifying punishment. But Nomani discovers she is not alone. 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.

Nomani shows how many of the freedoms enjoyed centuries ago have been erased by the conservative brand of Islam practiced today, giving the West a false image of Muslim women as veiled and isolated from the world. Standing Alone in Mecca is a personal narrative, relating the modern-day lives of the author and other Muslim women to the lives of those who came before, bringing the changing face of women in Islam into focus through the unique lens of the hajj. Interweaving reportage, political analysis, cultural history, and spiritual travelogue, this is a modern woman's jihad, offering for Westerners a never-before-seen look inside the heart of Islam and the emerging role of Muslim women.


About Asra Nomani

See more books from this Author
Asra Q. Nomani is a former Wall Street Journal correspondent, has also written for the Washington Post, New York Times, and Time magazine on Islam, and has covered the war in Afghanistan for She has spoken about women’s rights in Islam on CNN, PBS, NPR, and the BBC. A Muslim born in India, Nomani was raised in the foothills of West Virginia, and currently lives in Morgantown with her son, Shibli.
Published February 15, 2005 by HarperOne. 320 pages
Genres: Biographies & Memoirs, Religion & Spirituality. Non-fiction

Unrated Critic Reviews for Standing Alone in Mecca

Publishers Weekly

See more reviews from this publication

A former Wall Street Journal reporter, Nomani has invented her own nonfiction genre: gender-sensitive Muslim travel writing.

Jan 17 2005 | Read Full Review of Standing Alone in Mecca: An A...

Story Circle Book Reviews

The subtitle, "An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam," of this book by Asra Nomani, an Indian Muslim born in the United States, is the heart of this memoir.

Oct 18 2006 | Read Full Review of Standing Alone in Mecca: An A...

Single mother and journalist Nomani takes readers from he

May 01 2014 | Read Full Review of Standing Alone in Mecca: An A...

Reader Rating for Standing Alone in Mecca

An aggregated and normalized score based on 46 user ratings from iDreamBooks & iTunes

Rate this book!

Add Review