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Great Onelers in History and Real Time: Combo Edition November 27, 2010

Posted by Onely in Great Onelies in History, Great Onelies in Real Time, Profiles.
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Welcome to the latest installment in our Great Onelers series, where we profile outstanding single people who refused to be marginalized or stereotyped. This special super-bonus ultimate combo post features two women who lived over a thousand years apart. It’s a long post, starting with our present-day Great Oneler. If you’re curious about the historical Oneler, skip to the end.

Our Great Oneler in Real Time is Asra Q. Nomani. You may remember her from Bella DePaulo’s Living Single post, Deleting a Friend to Spotlight a Spouse. Nomani, a good friend of Wall Street Journal reporter Daniel Pearl, was intimately involved in the fallout from his disappearance and eventual beheading. She and his wife were the last two people to see Pearl alive and free. After his disappearance, she held vigil with his wife and was even asked to help track down his dental records. As described in DePaulo’s post, filmmakers deleted her existence from the movie about Pearl, but we here at Onely know more than Hollywood. Nomani is a Great Oneler.

I recently read her 2005 book Standing Alone: An American Woman’s Struggle for the Soul of Islam. Nomani was raised in the U.S. by Muslim parents who immigrated from India. She recounts her struggle to reconcile the true tenets of her religion with the sexism and singlism often perpetrated in the Islamic world, by people who twist those tenets.

In search of answers, Nomani goes on Hajj to Mecca. For anyone not familiar with the logistics of this religious pilgrimage, as I wasn’t, it’s a fascinating look into the culture, rituals, and economics surrounding this time-and-body-intensive trip. But what interested us here at Onely were Nomani’s thoughts, interspersed through the story, on what it was like to partake in this Islamic tour de force as a single woman, with her son Shibi just out of infancy.

You see, while she was working as a journalist in Pakistan, she became pregnant by her Pakistani boyfriend. He freaked and left her alone to deal with her growing belly, the disappearance of her close friend Danny, and the fear that the authorities might come down on her if they found out that she had (GASP) gotten pregnant out of wedlock.  (And the filmmakers took her *out* of their movie??!) (more…)

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