Asra Quratulain Nomani (born 1965) is a journalist and teaches journalism at Georgetown University and is co-director of the Pearl Project, a faculty-student, investigative-reporting project into the kidnapping and murder of her former colleague, Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl. The project was published by the Center for Public Integrity.
Nomani is the author of two books, Standing Alone in Mecca: An American Woman's Struggle for the Soul of Islam and Tantrika: Traveling the Road of Divine Love. She is also the author of numerous articles, including "Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Bedroom", the "Islamic Bill of Rights for Women in the Mosque", and "99 Precepts for Opening Hearts, Minds and Doors in the Muslim World".
Nomani's story is surveyed in the documentary, The Mosque in Morgantown, aired nationwide on PBS as part of the series America at a Crossroads.
Nomani was born in Bombay (now Mumbai), India. When she was four years old, she moved to the United States with her older brother to join their parents in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Her father, Zafar Nomani, was earning a Ph.D. at Rutgers University. When Nomani was ten her family moved to Morgantown, West Virginia, where her father became an assistant professor of nutrition. Her father (cited as M.Z.A. Nomani) published studies on the health effects of Ramadan fasting, and also helped organize mosques in both New Jersey and West Virginia. In her books Tantrika and Standing Alone in Mecca, Nomani states that she descended from Indian Muslim scholar Mawlana Shibli Nomani, who is known for writing a biography of Muhammad. Nomani received her B.A. in Liberal Studies from West Virginia University in 1986 and M.A. from American University in International Communications in 1990.
Nomani is a former Wall Street Journal correspondent and has written for The Washington Post, The New York Times, Slate, The American Prospect, and Time. She was a correspondent for Salon.com in Pakistan after 9/11, and her work appears in numerous other publications, including People, Sports Illustrated for Women, Cosmopolitan, and Women's Health. She has delivered commentary on National Public Radio.
She was a visiting scholar at the Center for Investigative Journalism at Brandeis University. She was a Poynter Fellow at Yale University.
Nomani is the founder and creator of the Muslim Women's Freedom Tour. She has also defied literalist interpretations of Islam that segregate women from men in prayers at mosques, and was a lead organizer of the woman-led Muslim prayer in New York City on March 18, 2005, which has been described as "the first mixed-gender prayer on record led by a Muslim woman in 1,400 years." Various mixed-gender prayers have been led privately by a Muslim woman, including a 1997 funeral prayer led by a South African Muslim feminist Shamima Shaikh. Nomani has said the prayer was the first publicly led Friday prayer in modern-day history.
In 2015 a group of Muslim activists, politicians, and writers issued a Declaration of Reform which, among other things, supports women's rights and states in part, "We support equal rights for women, including equal rights to inheritance, witness, work, mobility, personal law, education, and employment. Men and women have equal rights in mosques, boards, leadership and all spheres of society. We reject sexism and misogyny." The Declaration also announced the founding of the Muslim Reform Movement organization to work against the beliefs of Middle Eastern terror groups. In 2015 Nomani and others placed the Declaration on the door of the Islamic Center of Washington.