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Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Mogadishu, Somalia, was raised Muslim, and spent her childhood and young adulthood in Africa and Saudi Arabia. In 1992, Hirsi Ali came to the Netherlands as a refugee. She earned her college degree in political science and worked for the Dutch Labor party. She denounced Islam after the September 11 terrorist attacks and now serves as a Dutch parliamentarian, fighting for the rights of Muslim women in Europe, the enlightenment of Islam, and security in the West.
Autobiographies often suffer from late-life authorship--a time when the fires are damped and the events foreshortened by time. This one--by a woman still in her thirties--is an exception to nearly every rule of the genre. Not least for its electrifying readability: it consumed every free moment of the two days it took to finish it. Putting it down was simply not an option.
This book will grab your imagination like no other, transplant you into a world you have probably never known, and introduce you to the intimate world of a muslim family swept by circumstance all over Africa, Arabia, and Europe. The complex interaction of tribes, clans, cultures, extended families and nations (and their consequences) isn't dryly analyzed, it is woven into a personal drama with the momentum of a locomotive. The love of family rides perilously over the jarring railbed of refugee life, of ancient and modern Islamic conflicts, all of it recounted with real compassion in beautifully clear English. This multilingual immigrant needs no ghostwriter.
Unlike the collection of editorial essays which comprised "The Caged Virgin", "Infidel" is a consistently focused narrative of a spectacularly eventful life launched almost inadvertantly into an unparalleled adventure in moral courage. But there's far more here than a clash-of-cultures story well told. There is no targeted rush toward a predestined liberation. The revelatory discovery of western freedoms comes late in the book and gathers like a slow-motion sunrise. Only in the final chapters does she defect from Muslim culture, graduate from the University of Leiden, become a Dutch legislator, a target of Islamic terrorists, and an incendiary revolutionary for Muslim womens' rights.Read more ›
Every now and then, something truly remarkable is written. This book falls into that category. I have read very few books which hit me as hard as this book did.
This is a remarkable woman. She has crossed an impassable divide, and has been able to reach the other side--after considerable suffering, work, and tears. Her journey has not yet ended. I would imagine much more awaits her. She seems to be fated to say what many do not wish to hear.
How well does anyone in the west understand Islam, and all the things it does to people? Do we really understand female genital mutilation, beaten women, arranged marriages, the compuslive need to hide the feminine, and the complete loss of individual freedom? Americans still don't have a clue. This book makes a very real effort to explain a few things. It is painful, but important reading.
One can read the various books on Islam--with great value. This book makes it personal, and painful. It is time the west came to its senses, and faced reality. It is not "one world," all cultures are not equal in value, and the individual matters much more than the collective living in darkness.
On a more mundane level, the book is well-written, gripping, heart wrenching, powerful, painful, touching, and impossible to put down. Read it, and you, too, will feel its remarkable value--and message.
I wish this wonderful woman well . She has done so very much to open our eyes.
"Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a must-read book by a heroine of world historical importance.
Years from now, maybe even centuries from now, her depth and integrity, and the depth and integrity of others like her, will still be having a positive impact on the world.
Please don't misunderstand this book. "Infidel" is NOT a right-wing tract or a left-wing tract; it is not a feminist pamphlet or an apologia for the West. "Infidel" is NOT an attack on Muslims.
"Infidel" is a beautifully written work of art. If you were living on another planet, where there were no Muslims, no Westerners, no 9-11, you would still want to read this book for its profound human depth and its literary value.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali takes the particular -- her own extraordinary life lived in Africa, Saudia Arabia, Europe and North America, lived as a hyper- devout Muslim and lived as a new atheist -- and, with the clarity of an electron microscope, depicting every detail, she creates a work of universal resonance.
Have you ever been afraid to defy convention? Have you ever suffered to learn that your family's and people's traditions were not as benign as you had been taught to believe? Have you ever witnessed injustice and not known what to do? Have you ever wanted to be a hero or a heroine?
If so, then you will see yourself in this book, even given its exotic details.
Its exotic details include a heartbreaking scene that describes how madrassah -- Koran school -- pupils brutalized a girl they dubbed "kintirleey," that is, a girl whose private female anatomy had not yet been mutilated, as per Muslim-African custom.
This scene is written in the most simple of language. You could read it with the television on in the background.Read more ›
This is a fantastic description of life in Islam. Ayaan Hirsi Ali explains in very honestly what she has had to deal with in her life. As an ex muslim myself, she is a brave example for the rest of us women struggling with the threats and violence of Islam. This is a must read book for those who do not have the time or patience to study Islam and Islamic culture. It should be mandatory reading for High School Students in the west. Anyone who has to risk their lives to tell the truth is revolutionary. These days the truth is a revoluntionary act and Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a pioneer and my hero.