Asra Nomani ditched the guy she loved and wed a man she hardly knew. What went on behind closed doors would change her life.
By Asra Nomani
On the night of my wedding, I sat stiffly on a red velvet sofa in the main hall of the Margala Motel in the city of Islamabad in Pakistan, a picture-perfect image of a traditional South Asian bride. With an embroidered chiffon scarf over my hair and a cascade of shiny 24-karat gold necklaces around my neck, I kept my kohl-rimmed eyes cast downward, following the instructions of my hovering aunts. I caught a glimpse of my face, caked with makeup, reflected in my bangles. I didn’t know the woman who stared back at me. I thought, What am I doing here?
The journey had begun when I was a little girl, growing up in a Muslim family in the city of Hyderabad in southern India. There’s a photo of me as a toddler, my sullen face peeking out from layers of bridal finery—part of a tradition that sets Muslim girls on the path to marriage. When I was 4, I boarded a TWA flight headed for America, where my family and I would start a new life while my dad pursued his Ph.D. I went to school in Morgantown, WV, and did modern things like run cross-country, but lived by traditional Islamic rules regarding love and marriage. I believed I had to marry a Muslim—better yet, a man with South Asian roots.
To me, abiding by the dictates of my culture and religion meant finding a love that would be halal, or legal, according to Islamic law. As a girl, I had learned to live by the hudood, or sacred boundaries, of traditional Muslim society: I never dated, and I never went to the junior high school dances. My senior year at Morgantown High, standing by my red locker, I politely refused the class president when he invited me to the prom. “I can’t,” was all I could say. And I couldn’t. It would be haram—unlawful.
Eventually, I crossed the sacred boundaries by falling in love with a student at West Virginia University, where I was an undergraduate. He was a clean-cut Special Forces National Guardsman with a can of Skoal in the back pocket of his Levi’s. A Catholic of Polish ancestry, he wasn’t the man I was supposed to love. The day we consummated our relationship, I cried, having surrendered my virginity before my wedding night. When my mother found out about the guy, she gave me a command: “Stop.”
I didn’t, of course. We continued to go out for four years. Then, during graduate school in Washington, D.C., I dated a blond surfer from California and celebrated Christmas with his family. A year later, I found myself in Chicago, smitten with a Lutheran from Iowa. One spring Saturday afternoon, I sat on a bench in Lincoln Park with him after almost three years together. “I love you,” he said. “I want to marry you.” He should have been Mr. Right. I loved him deeply. But I looked away.
It was a defining moment—my desires doing battle with the cultural expectations surrounding me. I repeated the mantra I had internalized: “I can’t.” He protested, saying he would learn my native language of Urdu and even convert to Islam. I shook my head, “No. I can’t.” I broke his heart, and my own.
Not long afterward, I received a call from a guy I’d known at grad school. He was Pakistani and Muslim, but living in America, fully assimilated into the culture. My heart leapt. We talked and flirted deep into the night. By morning, I was punch-drunk happy at the prospect of a love that wouldn’t be forbidden.
On Valentine’s Day in 1992, we met for dinner. An employee of The World Bank, he was a former cross-country runner, just like me, with two cats—again, just like me. A week later, we got engaged. After a month, I moved into his high-rise apartment in Chevy Chase, MD. My parents weren’t thrilled that we were living together before marriage, but at least he was a Muslim.
NEXT PAGE: Nine months later, I boarded a flight to our wedding in his hometown.
Nine months later, I boarded a Pakistan International Airlines flight to our wedding in his hometown. Sure, I had doubts, but I felt I was finally meeting the expectations that my religion, my culture, and my family had for me.
The day of our wedding, I sat in a chair at the Mee Lee Beauty Parlour in Islamabad, run by a Chinese immigrant, Mrs. Lee Chu Liu. “Now we wax your arms and bleach your face,” the hairdresser told me. I passed. That night, my husband and I were married, although I didn’t stand beside him to say my vows; we were wed in separate rooms, per tradition. Some 300 guests came, most of them strangers to me.
As my wedding flowed into my honey-moon in Paris and the first few weeks of marriage, some issues I’d ignored throughout our brief romance started to haunt me. My husband, charming with friends by day, would simply shut down at night. We would have rather passionless, perfunctory sex, and then he’d roll over, turn his back to me, and fall asleep. I had naively thought this would change over time. It didn’t.
When I would try to gently talk with him about it, he’d cut me off. He had been raised in a family where it’s just not the sort of thing you discuss. To avoid the growing tensions, I started working late at my newspaper job instead of hurrying home to see him. Our conversations became increasingly disconnected. I began crying myself to sleep.
Within three months, I’d had enough. Depressed, I retreated to my parents’ home to regain my equilibrium. I feared their wrath—after all, they’d had an arranged marriage and made it work—but they saw the gloom on my face, and understood. My father said, “We want to save you, not the marriage.”
After a couple of weeks, I returned to meet my husband at a Houlihan’s restaurant. When I began to talk with him about our problems, he literally bolted, jumping over the steel railing of the outdoor patio where we’d been sitting.
His father is the one who ended the relationship. He called me one day to announce, “It’s over.” Later at my office, I got a piece of mail, which my husband had signed with the three words “Talaq, talaq, talaq,” meaning “I divorce you, I divorce you, I divorce you.” According to traditional interpretation, a Muslim man has to simply utter this word three times to divorce his wife.
Then I realized—I had loved with prejudice, basing my affections not on inner compatibility, but on external markers like race, religion, ethnicity. Over the years, as I grew to become an activist in the Muslim world, I understood that one of the most fundamental ways Islamic legal traditions control women is through love, with a ban on marrying men who aren’t Muslim. Today, thankfully, some women and clerics are challenging the practice. To me, that’s a good thing for the Muslim world, because I believe a society’s ability to accept marriages that cross racial and religious lines is a direct expression of its tolerance.
This year, my convictions were put to the test. I had met a wonderful man in Washington, D.C., where I now live. A U.S. Army officer specializing in Islam and South Asia, he knew the religion better than many born into the faith—but he wasn’t Muslim. He had traveled along the Ganges River in India and through the Khyber Pass in Pakistan—but he was born and bred in Tennessee. Could I love him? Marry him? He gave me red roses, love letters, scarves in pink (my favorite color). One night, he played me “When Love Is New” by Dolly Parton and Emmy Rossum. The bluegrass music hit a chord with the West Virginia girl in me.
On Valentine’s Day, we climbed over the boulders leading to Sky Rock, one of the highest peaks in my hometown of Morgantown. Then he knelt down in front of me and, gazing up into my eyes, said, “I love you. Will you be one with me?” I smiled and spoke from my heart: “Yes.” And snowflakes fell like confetti from the sky.
Asra Nomani is the author of Tantrika and Standing Alone in Mecca. She has written for The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, and The Washington Post.
For more on Asra Nomani’s battle for women’s rights in mosques, go to themosqueinmorgantown.com. To listen to Nomani win a debate on the right of Muslim women to choose whom they marry, go to thedohadebates.com.
Find this article at: http://www.marieclaire.com/muslim-wedding\
41 thoughts on “My Big Fat Muslim Wedding – Asra Nomani”
Have you seen this commentary on Asra’s book?
Interested to hear your thoughts.
I have seen and read so many foolish things before but this sound as the most foolish and silly thing to me.
May ALLAH guide her and other Muslims to the right path. Amin
This article is a reflection of our times. It’s critical that we have constructive dialogue around this issue, especially, when so many beautiful, god-fearing Muslim women in their late 20’s and 30’s are still single. Ms. Nomani’s experiences remind me of my own. Growing up, I was pursued by non-Muslim men but chose not to accept their interest. While in college and graduate school, I really hoped to meet the one – just a decent Muslim guy but it didn’t happen for me. I went unnoticed. I went to the MSA dinners and ISNA conventions and recently tried an online matrimonial website but to no avail. Unlike most Pakistani families, my extended family is a melting pot of faiths and races. We have welcomed a Hindu, an Agnostic and a Catholic. It’s not easy to admit this but I am now at that point where I am beginning to wonder whether or not I’ll meet a Muslim brother who fancies me especially now as I approach 30. It’s my hope (iA) to bring home a Muslim to meet my parents, but I am no longer certain that this will be the case as the odds of finding one diminish with time. I ask that my Muslim brothers not judge Ms. Nomani for her decisions as only Allah (swt) knows how much we struggle internally with these choices.
My sister Alicat,
I feel for you and my prayers and heart with you. But trying to defend people like Asra in any way doesn’t soothe the beautiful Islamic tradtion. This is a woman who proudly announces to the whole world that she surrended her virginity before marriage and to make it worse to a non-muslim who she later didn’t marry. What justification does she has for that? Blaming it on Islam or the Sub-continient culture? We should learn to keep Islam away from our failed cultures.
As for you, it is ALLAH’s wish for you to get married in this sinful world then so be it and if not, then your best hopes from HIM should be paradise. Remember, everything from ALLAH is the best. Be patient my sister as marriage is not the key to paradise. You will get that which is best for you insha ALLAH. Do not despair.
Muslim men are absolutely terrible in bed. Do you really want to live the rest of your life without experiencing an orgasm?
Oh for heaven’s sake. Can she not write one piece in which she does not misstate an Islamic tradition? I read only because I try to sympathize … and every time I try I am confronted with her most basic lack of comprehension of that which she sets about vocally attempting to ‘reform.’ It’s really quite maddening.
You have written this peice to blame your fathers culture and their religion. You are the one to be blamed for being such a whore.
Here is a reply from Ejaz Haider.
Is this an ‘Asra come back article’ or something to jazz it up after the Daniel Pearl incident exposure?
One of the most stupid things i have ever read (i actually read Ejaz’s response).
One question i have is, did you recommend Viagra to your ex-husband before leaving him? I think Viagra could have saved the marraige the way i am reading your article. Unless it’s the hugging part that you wanted, in which case i would assume your husband would have loved to hang on to you even if you tried to go the bathroom after sex.
This is ridiculous and self deprecating.
Asara Nomani has agian written another stupid article to gain sympathies from its western readers. quite pathetic.
I’m a close friend of one of your cousins and what I am about to say is not their opinion, but entirely my own. One’s sex life is a private matter and should not be discussed publicly. These are intimate matters and I highly doubt those you made reference to who did the deed with you would consent to your publicizing such things. I understand that you have no problem sharing these things with the whole wide world, but next time that you decide to publicize such vulgar details, please consider the impact that it would have on thoseyou mention in your article and your family’s isaat as we all know that the Islamic culture tends to be conservative. You could have easily gotten your point across without reference to your sex life or any other such vulgar details. In everything we do, we must think before we speak or in this case write.
I agree with amit above. Another riduculous article. Asra says she tried to grow up following the islamic culture. Maybe she thinks losing one’s virgninty to a non-muslim who is not married to her is islamically allowed! Get your priorities right Asra…and can I just say everything happens for a reason. We didnt want to hear all your intimate details anyway.
Well I hope you found your ‘true love’ now.
It seems to me that Ms. Nomani wants to blame religion for all her decisions that didn’t work for her. Perhaps, she wants to seize the opportunity to gain her two minutes of fame in this post 911 times.
According to her article, she dated and had sex with non-Muslim white guys but when the time came to marry, she chose a Pakistani Muslim guy. That just tells me she is a hypocrite. How is it religion’s fault? Islam is very clear in this. That is, no dating and having sex before marriage whether it’s Muslim, Non-Muslim, brown, white, black or yellow. So, when she was having pre-marital sex, she wasn’t being very religious then why suddenly religion beacame such an issue when it was time to get married? When the Iowa guy who loved her and vice versa, told her that he is willing to convert, she still decided not to marry him. Again, it was her decision because according to Islamic rules that marriage would have been legal. But she went on to meet a Muslim Pakistani, her decision. Dated him briefly and got engaged to him, her decision again. Moved in with him before getting married, that too her decision. At that point she should have gotten a pretty good idea of how her sex life is going to be, but she still went ahead and married the guy, yet again, her decision! After doing everything un-Islamic (except the marrying part), however, when the marriage failed, it was Islam’s fault and oh, she was so wronged!!! Come again????? What a moron!
And another thing, if she doesn’t agree with the religion, she doesn’t have to be a part of it. Nobody is forcing her to be a Muslim. Why insist on calling herself Muslim and then try to enforce changes? This is it. Take it or leave it, your decision. And please, have the decency to take responsibilty for your actions.
It’s good to see people who’re not fooled by Asra Nomani’s lies. The woman is NOT a member of the Muslim community but a manipulative Zionist media whore trying to make a living off Islamophobia.
Get it straight, having a soft spot for biryani and baklava doesn’t make you a Muslim.
People, who are we to judge others,we have no right. There is a saying in south africa it goes like this: ” Sweep infront of your own door before sweeping your neighbours”, it means worry about your own family and what they are doing right and wrong before worrying about other people and their problems and what they did wrong or right. We do not know what it was like to grow up in her household with her parents, i do not agree with what she did but i will not judge her as Allah is the only judge of all mankind.
i agree with ash’s comment. she had a chance to marry a non-muslim willing to convert and said no; then she LIVEd with the muslim before marriage and still married him out of her own decision. she is just using islam to gain attention to her writings, but these decisions she’s made were her own and not about islam. she should just write about her personal story , but take responsibility for her decisions and leave islam out of it
Strange… she has had illegimate relationships that worked out just fine for her but when she entered a legimate relationship, no matter what faith you follow in a marriage you have to sacrifce your personal preferences, passionate sex, romantic dinners to build YOUR family. You were not a pure woman ( virgin) yet you ask for normal relations, you are the embodiment of what we desis call ” ABCD”.
Free women from Islamic barbarism.
Asra disappoints as usual. To the idiot above “danceswithpumas,” the West sucks. You are a cancer on the world. Your disgusting excuse of a “culture” brings nothing but lies, sickness, death and destruction.
I pity western woman and those stupid enough to fall for the lies.
DancesWithPumas is an Islam hating bigot, come on over to stupidpumas.com to find out more about the racist, Islam hating , Obama is a Muslim, batshit crazy birther/puma organization.
Oh come on, give this lady a break! You have no right to judge her or her “Muslim-ness” based on her past relationships. She had premarital sex…that’s not exactly earth-shattering, and many Muslim women have engaged in (gasp) the same actions. I agree that it was ultimately HER decision to marry the Pakistani man..however, her marriage is not representative of Muslim relationships! I’m a happily married Muslim woman, also from India. My husband and I are educated and open-minded people, and we openly discuss our sex life and our respective concerns. Ms. Nomani is forgetting that lingerie and sex toys are very popular in Muslim countries, and that Muslim couples engage in healthy, enjoyable, and passionate sex within the confines of marriage! I’m glad things worked out for her in the end and I wish her the best!
Unfortunately Asra Nomani IS not ‘SELF HATING’ she just hates all of
her fellow Muslims(and us Americans) because she sees them as inferior
to herself.After all the state of Israel itself has had her as a guest
in their Islam and semite hating country.And it is obvious that Asra
with her Washington,D.C. and Georgetown University and Wall Street
Journal and probable CIA connections is no ordinary Muslim but one who
puts her services to the aid of Israelis who murder real semites and
the U.S.regime that does the same in Iraq and Afghanistan long after
it has been common knowledge that Iraqis and Afghan peasants had
nothing whatsoever to do with 9/11.As you can read from Asra’s reply
to me at the bottom she is silent regarding Richard Reid ‘the
bomber’s’ visit to Israel(the only Muslim I know of besides herself
who was given VIP treatment to enter and leasve Israel on thei own
terms),and his connections with the Israeli airport ‘security’ company
ICTS International and El Al that faciltated his trip to Israel from
Schiphol Airport Amsterdam pre 9/11 and then allowed him to board
American Airlines from De Gualle Airport France to the U.S.with his
alledged shoe bomb a short time after 911 just as they allowed the
Nigerian Islamic ‘crotch bomber’ to do on flight 253 from Amstersdam
to Detriot this last Christmas 2009.
Daniel Pearl’s supposed friend,Asra Nomani, who thinks she’s Miss
Islam USA is covering up (not investigating!),the death of her
Daniel Pearl and as far as I can tell so is Daniel Pearl’s
daddy.Neither Asra Nomani nor Judea Pearl really want Pearl’s 8 year
old son to know the truth because that would expose Israelis of ICTS
International that ‘guarded’ Logan Airport Boston and Newark Airport
on 9/11 and who shortly later allowed Richard Reid the shoebomber to
board American Airlines from DeGualle Airport Paris France with his
‘shoe bomb’ and of course more recently the Nigerian ‘crotch bomber’
to board flight 253 at the Dutch anti-Islamic politician Geert
Wilder’s Schiphol Airport in Amsterdam on Christmas 2009.
Judea Pearl and Islamic Tantric Yogi,(Asra Nomani), are part of the
cover up of Pearl’s death and Judea Pearl dirties his son’s name as
well by not coming clean about Richard Reid’s trip to Israel pre 9/11
that was aided by both Israel and ICTS International that allowed him
to fly from Amsterdam to Israel supposedly to visit his friends at
If Jude Pearl were sincere in wanting to expose all involved in the
death of his son regardless of where it leads or Asra Nomani were
sincere in her desire to fight for women’s rights in Islamic countries
both would have my sympathy.But it appears Nomani is only concerned
about herself and the right wing nuts,murderers and money launderers
and terrorists she protects such as U.S. government CIA connected Fox
News Middle East ‘expert’ Mansoor Ijaz whose contacts in Pakistan led
to Daniel Pearl’s death in the first place.And obviously Judea Pearl
wants to ignore the fact Richard Reid the ’shoe bomber’ was allowed to
enter Israel on El Al pre 9/11 and ICTS International’s Israeli spooks
later allowed him to board at De Gualle Airport,Paris,France to fly
American Airlines to the U.S. with his ‘shoe bomb’.
– Tony Ryals
Below Asra Nomani’s reply to my queries on the thedailybesast re
Daniel Pearl,Richard Reid and ICTS International proves Asra Nomani is
purposefully silent re the Israeli ICTS International’s involvement
with and roe in allowing Richard Reid ‘the shoe bomber’ to board at De
Gualle for the U.S.shortly after 9/11/01 even though she knows
Daniel Pearl’s main explained reason for traveling to Pakistan in the
first place was to
investigate Richard Reid’s past trips there.:
Honestly, I don’t really get where you’re coming from. But, sadly, I
never visited Israel with Danny. I went after Danny’s murder with my
family, after we had completed the hajj in Saudi Arabia. I had a gun
pointed to my head as I walked through the checkpoint to get into the
Dome of the Rock, where I wish all people could pray.
It’s easy to level conspiracy theories upon others. But I would gently
suggest that the truth is far often much more boring. Right now, my
highest priority is figuring out how to get my son weighed in for the
“ankle biter” divison of tackle football and still get to Kings
Dominion with a friend on Sunday. Boring.
I’m not part of some grand conspiracy. I agree Mansur Ijaz is an
interesting character. One day, I will pick up the phone to do a
reported profile on him.
Until then, thanks for writing, Asra
1:40 am, Sep 9, 2010
Asra Nomani is a smart, pretty, and accomplished woman, so OF COURSE many men would be interested in her (despite their religion/background/etc.) I’ve met many desis/Muslims/other 1st and 2nd gen women who have had similar experiences. One of my childhood friends and her parents looked for several yrs for a religious desi man to marry, but nothing came of it. Then she met a white Christian guy online who turned out to be very interested in her culture/religion. He’s cute, smart, and comes from a nice/successful family. Also, he’s converting to Islam (as her parents want) and they will marry soon.
I wonder how many of you criticizing her for her private life and calling her a ‘whore’ with such abandon, would be doing the same if the genders had been reversed. If it was a South Asian American muslim man who freely admitted to sleeping with white women and having a child out of wedlock. Somehow I don’t think the comments towards him would be as judgmental. Little wonder so many young muslims women are abandoning the faith which they weren’t too keen on to begin with..
I had a similar problem with my ex-husband. Muslim men think their wives bodies exist solely for their satisfaction and have no regard for her satisfaction. I suspect that they also have deep insecurity and power and control issues – intimacy (emotionally involved reciprocal sex) equalizes the relationship and muslim men only feel comfortable with a power imbalance. I will never again date a muslim men. Sexually, muslim men are a waste of time!
Sis Asra and all, One thing i can tell you all, fear from Allah and donot overthrogh the guidelines of devineness. Now its time to beg Allah’s mercy that is rahmah if u r a true believer than beg now .. Agarchey k samandar k jhag barabar kion na ho gunah dhul jayengey inshaAllah.. Allah hum sub ko naiek hidayath ata farma amee may Allah guide the ummah ameen
Fatima, please don’t lump ALL Muslim men into one catagory. I’m sorry that you’ve had negative experiences. At the end of the day, MOST of the single women (that I know) I know what a nice, accomplished, Bangladeshi, Muslim guy. It’s tough to find one, believe me!
Asra Nomani is a charlatan. You uninformed idiots who continue to support this Zionist media whore ignore her attacks on the Muslim community, from supporting racial profiling, Bush’s wars to the burning of the Qur’an and attacks on hijabi Muslim women by the France. She’s been at it for 10 years now promoting herself at the expense of a community she does NOT belong to.
Spoken like a true brainwashed femeNazi idiot latching on the colonial narrative of “evil Muslim men and their possessive sexuality.” You must have slept with a lot of Muslim guys to come to your far reaching conclusions eh?
Go find yourself a nice white man with a prescription for viagra to satisfy your carnal cravings. American Born Confused Desis deserve nothing less.
Well it is all about intentions and faith.
Get them right and you will get it right
I believe it in.
So going to prom was wrong, and having pre-marital sex was ok?
This is so childish… really… She is a writer?? Who publishes these books??
OMG, I can’t believe how judgmental MOST of these comments are on this post! GROW UP, people! We Muslims don’t all have the same values, OK? Jeez, no wonder Muslim kids/teens are SO confused/conflicted! (I know- used to be a teacher in NYC.) Part of being an adult is to realize that life ain’t black & white.
what nonsense?? I think she wants exactly what we all are doing commenting on her . She wants something to listen against her . She needs definitely psychological treatement for masochism.
And what is the relation between Islam and her story?? I am sure all religions are against pre marital sex, so what special about Islam?? I personally know some athiest parents who discourage their children to have sex before marriage, this is something about social ethics. If she wants to marry non muslim or having multiple affairs for her own pleasure who is stopping her. Religions have a fix stance, if you do not agree , ok go ahead. why you are becoming a victim or masochist??
This blog should publish something atleast based on common sense.
Trying to cash on Islam…..If she is really a believer in Islam, then she should have greater faith (Imaan). Doesn’t she know that after sleeping with several boys, she had already destroyed her life. getting married after sleeping with so many boys means that you will never get along with married life and with one man. This is the reason that hadees and Quran talks about chastitity and morals. If you dont follow it , then its your lose.
I think, Asra you are a follower of ‘Salman rushdie’ from the very first,,and follower of ‘ISLAM’!! Youre born in muslim family but you didnt act as a muslim,never! Born in muslim families is not only the criteria to be a muslim! Alas!..you were at wrong the side and you are at wrong side! Its a time to realise your fault and time to apologise(Tauba & Istaghfaar)! May ALLAH mercy upon you!
It is interesting that I stumbled into this space serendipitously. I do not necessarily share Asra’s values or judgments. Having said that, I respect her right to express her opinion and live her life the way the she sees fit. It is her life and it is her experience. Most of the negative comments have come from Muslim males who feel violated and cannot stand the woman’s guts. It is high time Muslims realize that no religion, no prophet, no edict is universal or timeless. But for reformers and mavericks, this world would be stagnant and stuck in beliefs and faiths from aeons ago. Let’s grow up, instead of calling names, and inventing conspiracies. Polite disagreement can be expressed without being disagreeable.
Every one have right to live their own life in the way they want. Do what makes you happy and satisfied, but being in limits and following norms written in ISLAM.
She has written the article in a way that shows how she is a victim of cultural norms, which in reality is the case with many women but I’m not sure if Asra falls in that category. She herself decides to marry a guy from Islamabad and at her wedding, she asks herself ‘What am I doing here?’ Is she really being fair to the guy? She should’ve known before falsely committing to a decently educated World Bank employee who was misled into believing that she will be his wife forever.
But here’s the catch: she moved into his ‘high-rise apartment in Chevy Chase, MD’ and they were ‘living together before marriage’. Throughout this time, sex was great and all of a sudden, after marriage he ‘would shut down at night’. I don’t think so ! Perhaps her mind was still with that ‘blond surfer from California’. Margalla Motel (where they got married) is a decent upper middle class resort and Mee Lee Beauty Parlour is among the most high end spots in the country for rich brides-to-be. So she knew what she wanted but may be the guy didn’t. I’m not blaming either of them – just saying that we haven’t heard his side of the story. Please read the way she has described how her marriage ended – it’s hard to believe.
Moving on to the beginning of the article, I can totally understand why she feels she should only commit to a Muslim guy from South Asia. That’s where cultural and social pressures begin to kick in. From the article I can’t tell what the environment at her home was like growing up but sounds like an educated family that believes in ‘abiding by the dictates of culture and religion’. Looks like she’s been a pretty independent girl all her life who has made decisions for herself.
BTW, the girl in the picture before the article is not Asra Noomani. But she has astutely placed it to gain sympathy of the reader before one even begins to read her story.