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April 25, 2007


Ayaan Hirsi Ali – ISBN - 9780743289689

By any standard this is a marvelous book: a well written autobiography of one of the leading Islamic writers of the present; a Somali Muslim who escaped an arranged marriage by immigrating to Holland, lived and studied there for a decade and became a member of parliament before being forced to leave the country. She is now in New York at The American Enterprise Institute where she lives under constant death threats. She will not be dissuaded from exposing Islam to the world for what it is. This is a riveting read and ought to be studied by everyone . . . without exception.

Lots you ought to know about Islam—and a lot that some of you would rather not know—is here. She reviews its persecution of women, its bizarre fixation on sex, its pre-medieval philosophy, its vicious history and its current irrelevance to modernity . . . except as a threat to civilization. Not culture! Civilization!

She explores her gradually unfolding understanding of, and her incremental distancing from, the prescriptions of the Koran, indicating that those who consider Islam to be a “Religion of Peace” are ignoring what their holy book says in plain Arabic which is little understood by the masses—even the literate amongst them.

In studying the Koran “we didn’t understand more than the bare gist of it. Apparently, understanding wasn’t the point.” Those who practice Islam as a compassionate, rational religion have altered it to suit their needs or their personal philosophy. They are not following the specific dictates of the Koran. Frighteningly, the masses are being gradually infused with and frightened into what is referred to as “Radical Islam,” which is funded largely by Saudi Arabian money.

“The Koran lists Hell’s torments in vivid detail . . . [which] details overpower you, ensuring that you will obey . . . [even as a child] I could never comprehend the downright unfairness of the rules, especially for women. How could a just God—a God so just that almost every page of the Koran praises His fairness—desire that women be treated so unfairly? . . . Why, if God was merciful, did he demand that His creatures be hanged in public? If He was compassionate, why did unbelievers have to go to hell? If Allah was almighty and powerful, why didn’t He just make believers out of the unbelievers and have them all go to Paradise?”

Included, as well, are her initial—and ultimately more judgmental—impressions of the West. In Holland she initially lived with a number of other Somali immigrants. There she observed that the infidels somehow managed to have a country better led, better run, and, overall, provided a far superior place to live. Their system was more consistent and honest, gave more people more happiness than that in which the Somalis had been raised. A Somali friend commented that the “whole country is filthy.” In point of fact none of them had ever lived in a place so clean. It was just that the Dutch philosophy was incongruent with Islam . . . and therefore was rejected by those who had come to Holland to escape. Go figure !? (And ya better understand what’s behind this! Listen up!)

Unlike adherents to Islam, “People in Holland agree that violence is bad . . . and . . . teach their children to channel aggression and resolve disputes verbally.” Western culture is simply superior to Islamic culture! She offers the caveat, however, that Holland’s respect for Islam isn’t working. Being tolerant for the sake of consensus is empty because there is no cooperation on the part of Muslims.

She did comment upon the peculiar attitudes of her Dutch friends. When Ayaan was finally granted citizenship she had a party to celebrate. “I told everyone I’m Dutch!” No one reacted except to study her “strangely”--not because she was black, but because “being Dutch meant absolutely nothing to these people.” Nobody was proud of being Dutch.”

On her arrival in California she was shocked by her ludicrous preconceptions of America. “I was expecting rednecks and fat people, with lots of guns, very aggressive police, and overt racism—a caricature of a caricature. In reality, of course, I saw people living perfectly well-ordered lives, jogging and drinking coffee.”

Liberation of Muslims, and especially the women, must be preceded by liberation of the mind from this rigid, dogmatic obedience to Allah’s dictates. While Allah is constantly referred to as “the most compassionate, the most merciful,” He also says that he has given us a will of our own. If so, how could He mind a little debate? To accept subordination and abuse because Allah willed it is self-hatred. Compassion, tolerance and freedom are not the characteristics of Islam, whatever the (mis)representation. “I look at . . . real cultures and see that it simply isn’t so.” She also explains that people in the West do not examine the religions or cultures of minorities for fear of being called racist. Values matter! Amongst the premier ones is honesty.

As for Muslim’s adaptivity . . . “People who never sat on chairs before can learn to drive cars . . . they master skills quickly. Muslims don’t have to take six hundred years to go through a reformation in the way they think about equality and individual rights.

The film Submission (over which Van Gogh was murdered) was said to be too aggressive. “Tell me, how much more painful is it to be [this culture and] these women, trapped in that cage?”

About the only negative comment I have on this book is that the author seems to view everything with very prismatic vision. As a child she was rigidly Islamic. Now having reached enlightenment she is rigidly atheistic. She still has some need to grow, but she has come a long way in less than two decades, and exhibits a survivor’s flexibility. She is impacting the discussion on Islam, and will continue to do so. It is impossible not to hear. Just pray that we also listen carefully and do something about it.

Posted by respeto at April 25, 2007 4:39 PM