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Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now Hardcover – March 24, 2015
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Praise for Infidel: “Brave, inspiring, and beautifully written…Narrated in clear, vigorous prose, it traces the author’s geographical journey from Mogadishu to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and her desperate flight to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage.” (The New York Times)
“Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of Europe’s most controversial political figures and a target for terrorists. A notably enigmatic personality whose fierce criticisms of Islam have made her a darling of...conservatives...and...popular with leftists...Soft-spoken but passionate.” (Boston Globe)
“Crammed with harrowing details, Hirsi Ali’s account is a significant contribution to our times.” (Kirkus (starred review))
“A powerful, compelling read…Put simply, this woman is a heroine.” (The Christian Science Monitor)
“A charismatic figure...of arresting and hypnotizing beauty...[who writes] with quite astonishing humor and restraint.” (Christopher Hitchens)
“The five areas for Islamic reform highlighted by Ayaan in this book require deep consideration by my fellow Muslims…I thank Ayaan for having the resilience and determination to help in continuing this ongoing conversation.” (Maajid Nawaz, Co-founder and Chair of Quilliam, counter-extremism think-tank)
“She is absolutely right to raise difficult issues that must be addressed worldwide, especially by Muslims...I hope that this book will help to stimulate vital discussions for the future of Islam, and in fact for the future of humanity.” (Sheikh Dr. Usama Hasan, imam and Islamic scholar)
“Audacious? Quixotic? Visionary? Necessary? All of the above. This an urgent, complicated, risky subject, and Hirsi Ali, valiant, indomitable, and controversial, offers a potent indictment, idealistic blueprint, and galvanizing appeal to both conscience and reason.” (Donna Seaman, Booklist)
“Whatever one may think of her solutions, Hirsi Ali should be commended for her unblinking determination to address the problem.” (Andrew Anthony, The Guardian)
“A book full of compassion.” (Paul Steenhuis, NRC Handelsblad)
“Surprisingly constructive…[Hirsi Ali] goes to work with much reasonability and significant knowledge of the subject matter” (Carel Peeters, Vrij Nederland)
“We ignore her quill to our shame and peril.” (Katherine Ernst, City Journal)
“Hirsi Ali offers a fine example for the braver souls among us.” (Michael Totten, Commentary)
From the Back Cover
Is Islam A Religion of Peace?
In what is sure to be her most controversial book to date, Ayaan Hirsi Ali makes a powerful case that a religious Reformation is the only way to end the terrorism, sectarian warfare, and repression of women and minorities that each year claim thousands of lives throughout the Muslim world. With bracing candor, the brilliant, charismatic, and uncompromising author of the bestselling Infidel and Nomad argues that it is foolish to insist, as our leaders habitually do, that the violent acts of Islamic extremists can be divorced from the religious doctrine that inspires them. Instead we must confront the fact that they are driven by a political ideology embedded in Islam itself.
Today, Hirsi Ali argues, the world's 1.6 billion Muslims can be divided into a minority of extremists, a majority of observant but peaceable Muslims, and a few dissidents who risk their lives by questioning their own religion. But there is only one Islam, and as Hirsi Ali shows, there is no denying that some of its key teachings—not least the duty to wage holy war—inspire violence not just in the Muslim world but in the West as well.
For centuries it has seemed that Islam is immune to historical change. But Hirsi Ali is surprisingly optimistic. She has come to believe that a Muslim "Reformation"—a revision of Islamic doctrine aimed at reconciling the religion with modernity—is at hand, and may even already have begun.
Partly in response to the barbaric atrocities of Islamic State and Boko Haram, Muslims around the world have at last begun to speak out for religious reform. Meanwhile, events in the West, such as the shocking Charlie Hebdo massacre, have forced Western liberals to recognize that political Islam poses a mortal threat to free speech. Yet neither Muslim reformers nor Western liberals have so far been able to articulate a coherent program for a Muslim Reformation.
This is where Heretic comes in. Boldly challenging centuries of theological orthodoxy, Ayaan Hirsi Ali proposes five key amendments to Islamic doctrine that Muslims must make if they are to bring their religion out of the seventh century and into the twenty-first. She also calls upon the Western world to end its appeasement of radical Islamists—and to drop the bogus argument that those who stand up to them are guilty of "Islamophobia." It is the Muslim reformers who need our backing, she argues, not the opponents of free speech.
Interweaving her own experiences, historical analogies, and powerful examples from contemporary Muslim societies and cultures, Heretic is not so much a call to arms as a passionate plea for peaceful change and a new era of global tolerance. As jihadists kill thousands, from Nigeria to Syria to Pakistan, this book offers an answer to what is fast becoming the world's number one problem.
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Top Customer Reviews
The murderers that she discusses as elements in Islamic State (IS), Boko Haram, Al Qaeda, Al-Shabaab, the Taliban, suicide bombers and other militant groups are psychopaths. That these killers really believe that they are following the dictates of Allah is not questioned here. The Qur’an (as spelled in the book) and the Hadith have provided them with the only rationalization they need to pour out the hatred pounded into them daily from early childhood. Hatred for anything that deviates from their religious teachings begins in the home.
The author writes, “The totalitarian regimes of the twentieth century had to work quite hard to persuade family members to denounce one another to the authorities. The power of the Muslim system is that the authorities do not need to be involved. Social control begins at home.” (Page 154)
Hirsi Ali states that she is not extraordinary. That is probably the only misstatement in the book. Her writings and personal appearances reveal an uncommon courage in challenging a dangerous religion that has threatened her with murder and repeatedly perpetrated atrocities that clearly demonstrate that they mean what they say. She has spoken out with admirable courage that makes Western apologists for Islam look like the wimps that they are.
Unilateral tolerance is dangerous. The author points out many times that murderous intolerance lies at the very heart of Islam. It is built into the very fabric of the religion.
She asserts that militant Islam cannot be stopped with U.S. drone strikes. The foundation tenets of the religion must brought into question and reformed. She lists what she calls "five theses" (pages 74 and 235):
1. the status of the Qur’an as the last and immutable word of God and the infallibility of Muhammad as the last divinely inspired messenger;
2. Islam’s emphasis on the afterlife over the here-and-now;
3. the claims of sharia to be a comprehensive system of law governing both the spiritual and temporal realms;
4. the obligation on ordinary Muslims to command right and forbid wrong;
5. the concept of jihad, or holy war.
Hirsi Ali divides Muslims into three groups that she calls Mecca Muslims (peaceful and law-abiding), Medina (militant) Muslims, and dissidents. She condemns the Medina group as the perpetrators of the ongoing atrocities that she describes in horrifying detail. She then expresses hope that the last group can stir people to bring about the changes desperately needed to bring Islam into the twenty-first century.
The author’s optimism that Islam can be reformed, although an admirable and most welcome outcome, is also most unlikely. Sharia (religious law approved by a majority of Muslims - page 139), seeks to rule the world and drag mankind back to the seventh century.
Islam, as she has portrayed it, finds a parallel in current Christian fundamentalism and Christian sadistic intolerance of centuries past. Virulent intolerance, stemming from whatever religious or political set of beliefs, is a psychologically defensive posture motivated by fear that questioning the smallest tenet of the faith throws open the entire doctrine to debate and threatens to collapse the whole belief structure. I question that backward, fatalistic, authoritarian and violent Islam could survive that exposure. It would cease to be Islam, the very word a cognate of submission.
Michael Atkins, PhD
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