Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Infidel begins with the murder of filmmaker Theo van Gogh.  Stabbed to his chest is a five page letter addressed to Ayaan Hirsi Ali.  In her page turning memoir, Ayaan takes the reader on a geographical and religious journey through her past, detailing her life from the girl she used to be to the woman she has matured to today.

Ayaan grew up with an eccentric grandmother, an erratic mother and she is the eldest of three siblings.  Her father drifts in and out of her life as the family moves from Somalia to Saudi Arabia, to Ethiopia and then to Kenya.  Ayaan details the traditional life of a Somalian Muslim woman from her earliest memory.  Ayaan has created a engaging memoir that takes you in the house and heart of a Muslim woman and her radical change that leads her to deny Islam's control of her life and become an Infidel.  

Ayaan escapes an arranged marriage in Germany and seeks asylum in the Netherlands.  She changes her name and lies to gain Dutch Citizenship.  She undergoes a cultural shock and a personal transformation as she figures out that she has been tricked by religion into complacency.
Ayaan attends college, earns her political science degree and runs for political office. 

Infidel is amazingly powerful book written by an extremely courageous woman.   I read this book aloud to my World History class and all of us were enthralled from the very first page.  We learned about Somalian history and why there are so many Somalian immigrants in our community.  We learned and had great conversations about the final days of Said Barre regime, female genital mutilation, the dangerous plight of refugees and refugee camps, arranged marriage, unstable countries, honor killings, the Muslim Brotherhood, child abuse and so much more.

Infidel states, that of the three monotheistic religions only Islam has not been through a reformation and that for women, a reformation is essential for human rights.  Women suffer through arranged and forced marriages as young as 9 years old as well as honor killings by husbands and brothers.  If a woman is caught bringing shame to her family or committing adultery she will be killed by the male members of her family and no one prosecutes the men because it is their god given right.  Ayaan Hirsi Ali called for a change in Islam and is a crusader for Muslim women and their human rights.
If you have not read Infidel yet, I suggest you get a copy and start reading now.  This is one of the most important books of the decade and is extremely timely as governments must find a way to incorporate new religious doctrines into their democratic societies and maintain human rights for all.