Hasan presents lecture, visits classes

Author Asma Hasan presented a lecture titled “Why I Am a Muslim” Wednesday, October 25 in Whitley Auditorium. The program was sponsored by the Liberal Arts Forum and the Truitt Center for Religious and Spiritual Life.

Hasan is the author of “Why I Am a Muslim” and “American Muslims: The New Generation.” Hasan has also published several fictional short stories in several youth literary publications, including Merlyn’s Pen and The Susquehanna Review. One of her short stories was published in the book “Taking Off: Coming of Age Stories,” which was nominated by the American Library Association as a Best Book for Young Adults and selected by the New York Public Library for its list of Books for the Teen Age.

Earlier Wednesday, Hasan spoke to students in a religion course titled Islam in America. She told the class that they “represent the new thinking about Islam in America. Pretty soon, the torch is going to be passed to others in your age group and younger, and they’re going to lead the discussion about Islam.”

Hasan said American culture has been a positive influence on Islam in many ways. Women are much more likely to attend mosque in America, she believes, because American culture sees religion as a family activity. She also believes that American society allows moderate groups to flourish. “These groups are often a good counterbalance to extremist groups that are well-funded,” Hasan said. “Moderate groups are often marginalized in traditional Muslim countries.”

Hasan said her writing and speaking career began to grow after the terrorist attacks of 9/11. “People were asking a lot more questions and the editors and producers who once wouldn’t return my calls were now calling me,” Hasan said. “It’s a real testament to the American people that they wanted to learn more about Islam. It wasn’t that people jumped to conclusions and only wanted to know things like, ‘why is Islam violent,’ they really wanted to know and understand the Islamic point of view.”

Hasan has been a columnist for The Pueblo Chieftain, The Denver Post, and The Pakistan Link newspapers. Her op-eds have been published in The New York Times, The San Francisco Chronicle, Beliefnet.com, and The Dallas Morning News. She is a frequent guest on the Fox News Channel, particularly Hannity & Colmes, From the Heartland with John Kasich, and The O’Reilly Factor. She has also appeared on Faith Under Fire and The Dennis Miller Show. Hasan has also been featured on Fresh Air with Terry Gross; Morning Edition and Weekend Edition on National Public Radio; CNN; CNN International; C-SPAN; and Politically Incorrect with Bill Maher on ABC. Hasan appeared in the 2002 History Channel documentary “Inside Islam.”

The daughter of Pakistani immigrants, Hasan is a Chicago native and considers herself a “Muslim Feminist Cowgirl,” reflecting her upbringing in Colorado.

Hasan graduated from the New York University School of Law in 2001. She is a 1997 graduate of Wellesley College and a Durant Scholar.