What happened to Islamic reform? Why have al Qaeda and Boko Haram become the faces of contemporary Islam? Why has the Arab Spring devolved into a battle over sharia law? Continuing her personal journey from a deeply religious Islamic upbringing to a post at Harvard and American citizenship, the New York Times best-selling author of Infidel and Nomad crafts a powerful call for an Islamic reformation as the only way to end the current wave of global violence and repression of women.
Today, millions of Muslims are wrapped in a rigid orthodoxy whereby women are denied education, girls as young as nine can be forced into legal marriages, and men are told that their futures lie not in building better, more just societies but in jihad against the infidel. Hopes for a wave of liberalization after the Arab Spring have been replaced by new authoritarianism and efforts to impose sharia law. Twitter, YouTube, and other social media have become aggressive platforms to promote a harsh brand of Islamic fundamentalism, making the clash between secular and Islamic society one of the most important challenges of our time.
And yet, contrary to conventional wisdom in the West, Ayaan Hirsi Ali believes that ordinary Muslims throughout the world want wholesale change. Courageously engaging fundamentalists on their own turf - religion itself - she boldly calls for a Muslim reformation, identifying five key amendments to Islamic doctrine that must be made in order to break from seventh-century traditions and fully engage with the 21st century. Interweaving her personal journey, historical parallels, and powerful examples from contemporary Islamic societies and cultures, Heretic will forever change the debate over Islam and its future.
©2015 Ayaan Hirsi Ali (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers
Three quarters of the people in Pakistan favor the death penalty for leaving Islam. In Iraq or Bangladesh it is only about 42 percent of the population. Instead of merely socially ostracizing or imprisoning the original thinker – all distasteful reprisals to the western mind that prizes freedom of ideas … millions of people believe this person should be killed.
Where is the outcry against such an intolerable idea? Paradoxically a sizable contingent of western liberals are following Ben Affleck’s lead in shouting “gross and racist” when anybody wonders aloud about Islam and how it is practiced. Islam is a peaceful religion we are told. Not necessarily true. That is why you must read Ayaan’s Hirsi Ali’s most recent book, Heretic.
This is not a book by an Islamophobe. Ayaan grew up with the Islamic religion and although she had a questioning nature, her religious indoctrination had her at one time seeing the justice in demands for the death of the heretical Salman Rushdie. She understands a certain mindset from the inside. Escaping an arranged marriage and observing the lifestyles of the good people of Holland moved her in another direction. This could not have happened as easily if she had remained immersed in the male dominated stridently religious culture of her homeland.
For Western liberals, this should be an eye opening book. Western liberals have got into the convoluted reasoning that when a horrendous murder is committed and the perpetrator does a shout out to god during the execution, discussing the religious motivation is off limits. Ayaan informs us - If a large group of people believe that the Qur’an should be literally accepted as the word of god and those words glorify the slaying of someone who is not a Muslim and also the execution of someone who questions some of that intolerant wording in the sacred text – we have a problem. The problem is an accepted body of ideas that warrants discussion.
This is a hopeful book as Ayaan sees the awakening of an Islamic reformation in response to life in the modern world. She identifies five key tenets of Islam that are at odds with a free society. She tells us there are already Muslims in the past and present who have questioned these core ideas and some have even been executed for this. We should not be encouraging the power structures that have been set up in some communities which enact ruthless responses to those attempting this reformation. The western world should be encouraging modern Islamic thinkers who challenge the subjugation of women or the glorification of religious warriors who get a ticket to a male dominated paradise. The western world should not be encouraging any Islamic groups who shout discrimination while privately believing in ideas that restrict civil rights.
This is not a tome filled with hate speech. It is an impassioned response to a primitive 8th century version of a religion that needs to enter the twenty first century
Excellent book and reflective of a life seeking truth.
No longer can we be silent.
Nazi Germany's had a silent majority that allowed the atrocities of that regime. Silence and doing nothing is not the answers.
All in the world need this book.
Education is power. This woman is powerful and a blessing to us.
The message of this book is essential for all of our politicians and liberals. Anyone that wants to understand why the Muslim religion is growing and how they continue to attract so many angry willing and educated participants will walk away with those questions answered. Our "tolerance" is working against us.
The author herself is the narrator of the book, I listened to it in just two days because I couldn't stop. Makes me want to research more about the subject and I will definitely buy more of her books.
She has lived through the worst that the Islamist thugs dish out and yet many who claim to value freedom ignore her and denigrate her experience. She makes a good case for a way forward and deserves to be heard.
The author clearly spells out the case for violent teachings that exist in Islam and why it must be addressed to bring about a change in violent jihad and reform the faith of Muslims around the world.
The writing and story was so moving and persuading that I could not stop listening. I got this book as a joke, but nothing was funny about it. It was a very enlightening to see in the mind of Islam. Enlightening and scary. The upshot is that we, liberals, need to reassess the way we handle criticism of Islam.
The author has raised issues that I could not articulate but certainly agree with and support her position. Well done
Once one gets used to her accent, one can't help but admire the courage, strength, and intelligence of this remarkable woman. We'll worth all time and expense put into this book.
A voice of reason on a subject that is more frequently monopolized by extremists on both sides. The author succeeds where other commentators like Robert Spencer fall short.
The proposition of this book is nothing less than a workable (and inevitable) solution to the threat posed by the unreformed Islamic faith.
"Everybody needs to hear this"
Stunningly relevant and eye-opening. This should be required reading for every politician, journalist, teacher, and thinking person the world over. Her bravery and ability to articulate and navigate very controversial and difficult concepts should be applauded and the world should heed her call.
"Those in power need to listen"
This needs saying. Again and again until those in power listen and take heed instead of repeating the "religion of peace" mantra and hoping it goes away
"A masterpiece of informative literature."
I thought I had an open mind on Islam before listening to this book, but I was soon overwhelmed by my own misinterpretations. Ayaan Hirsi Ali offers a whole new take on political correctness and how western liberals are involuntarily failing the muslim world by undermining the essential link between violence and the Holy texts of the Quran. My heart goes out to Muslim dissidents like Ayaan Hirsi Ali who put their life on the line to help others under religious oppression. A must read for anyone who welcomes having their mind split open.
"Everyone Must Read This"
I loved listening to the author, herself, read her own book.
It is a simple and complex message at once.
She is like a school teacher, giving a lesson, repeating lest you missed something, returning again. It was memorable and important. For the good of us all, we need to read this and learn from it.
Not sure enjoyable is the word I would use... More horrifying and eye opening in equal measure. Not all books are there to be enjoyed, some are there to educate, to question, to make you think. To make you uncomfortable.
"The classic Western response to relativist arguments was offered by Sir Charles Napier, who in 1842 was appointed commander of the British forces in India. When local religious authorities complained against the banning of sati, explaining that it was the Hindu custom to burn alive the wife of a man who had died, Napier replied: 'My nation also has a custom. When men burn women alive we hang them, and confiscate all their property.... Let us all act according to national customs.'"
Her voice. It's always worth hearing a book like this from the authors own mouth.
In a world... Where the rights of women are ignored if they aren't white and western, one woman stands up for universal human rights, and people who call themselves liberals try to silence her...Basically the world we are living in right now, apparently.
Happy New Year!
"A powerful message that we should all heed"
Narrated passionately and clearly by the author. an incredibly powerful and timely argument against the violence that is prevalent throughout Islamic doctrine.
"Highly Recommended - Insightful and honest"
Yes - there is a lot to unpick here an many lessons to be learned
the end of faith - well worth reading as a companion piece to Sam Harris's work
Not a "scene", but the detailed backstory of the authors past were emotional and illuminating
No- time is best taken to step back and reflect
an excellent and highly recommended read / listen.
"I loved it"
Great Ayaan Arsi Ali once again criricises Islam and names the problem. Athough I would rather Ayaan did that from an Atheist's perspective, it is still a great book that provides insight into what is happening to our world in the West and beyond.
This women is amazing. Her words could not be more relevant in this period of time.
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