Infidel

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Overview

One of today’s most admired and controversial political figures, Ayaan Hirsi Ali burst into international headlines following the murder of Theo van Gogh by an Islamist who threatened that she would be next. She made headlines again when she was stripped of her citizenship and resigned from the Dutch Parliament.

Infidel shows the coming of age of this distinguished political superstar and champion of free speech as well as the development of her beliefs, iron will, and ...

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Infidel

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Overview

One of today’s most admired and controversial political figures, Ayaan Hirsi Ali burst into international headlines following the murder of Theo van Gogh by an Islamist who threatened that she would be next. She made headlines again when she was stripped of her citizenship and resigned from the Dutch Parliament.

Infidel shows the coming of age of this distinguished political superstar and champion of free speech as well as the development of her beliefs, iron will, and extraordinary determination to fight injustice. Raised in a strict Muslim family, Hirsi Ali survived civil war, female mutilation, brutal beatings, adolescence as a devout believer during the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and life in four troubled, unstable countries ruled largely by despots. She escaped from a forced marriage and sought asylum in the Netherlands, where she earned a college degree in political science, tried to help her tragically depressed sister adjust to the West, and fought for the rights of Muslim women and the reform of Islam as a member of Parliament. Under constant threat, demonized by reactionary Islamists and politicians, disowned by her father, and expelled from family and clan, she refuses to be silenced.

Ultimately a celebration of triumph over adversity, Hirsi Ali’s story tells how a bright little girl evolves out of dutiful obedience to become an outspoken, pioneering freedom fighter. As Western governments struggle to balance democratic ideals with religious pressures, no other book could be more timely or more significant.

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Editorial Reviews

From Barnes & Noble
Somali-born author Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of the most controversial women on earth. For years, she has been forced to live in hiding; her life has been threatened numerous times; an anti-Koran script that she wrote provoked the assassination of filmmaker Theo Van Gogh; and a dispute over her citizenship indirectly brought down the Dutch government. This memoir about her family's travails living under strict fundamentalist Islamic precepts tracks the evolution of a world-changing radical feminist.
From the Publisher
"A brave and elegant figure...an honest woman...No one who reads her [memoirs] will doubt the self-questioning and the rigorous honesty of her mind. Perhaps, as in Voltaire's short story 'L'Ingénu,' it is that too much honesty is sometimes unpalatable, even if it is couched in civil terms...She has an open mind that has released itself from the old straitjacketed frame of reference of Right and Left, she is instinctively, deeply antiauthoritarian and she is unlikely to stick to straight ideological lines. She will go on asking difficult questions."
— Isabella Thomas, The Observer

"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."
The Boston Globe

"Too potent a social critic to be tolerated any longer [in her home country]...an unflinching advocate of women's rights and an unflinching critic of Islamic extremism."
The New York Times

"A charismatic figure...of arresting and hypnotizing beauty...[who writes] with quite astonishing humor and restraint."
— Christopher Hitchens

William Grimes
The circuitous, violence-filled path that led Ms. Hirsi Ali from Somalia to the Netherlands is the subject of Infidel, her brave, inspiring and beautifully written memoir. 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.
&3151; The New York Times
Anne Applebaum
Infidel is a unique book, Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a unique writer, and both deserve to go far.
— The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
Readers with an eye on European politics will recognize Ali as the Somali-born member of the Dutch parliament who faced death threats after collaborating on a film about domestic violence against Muslim women with controversial director Theo van Gogh (who was himself assassinated). Even before then, her attacks on Islamic culture as "brutal, bigoted, [and] fixated on controlling women" had generated much controversy. In this suspenseful account of her life and her internal struggle with her Muslim faith, she discusses how these views were shaped by her experiences amid the political chaos of Somalia and other African nations, where she was subjected to genital mutilation and later forced into an unwanted marriage. While in transit to her husband in Canada, she decided to seek asylum in the Netherlands, where she marveled at the polite policemen and government bureaucrats. Ali is up-front about having lied about her background in order to obtain her citizenship, which led to further controversy in early 2006, when an immigration official sought to deport her and triggered the collapse of the Dutch coalition government. Apart from feelings of guilt over van Gogh's death, her voice is forceful and unbowed-like Irshad Manji, she delivers a powerful feminist critique of Islam informed by a genuine understanding of the religion. 8-page photo insert. (Feb.) Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal

Hirsi Ali (The Caged Virgin) first came to the world's attention with the gunning down of filmmaker Theo van Gogh in Amsterdam by a Muslim extremist. A note pinned to van Gogh threatened Hirsi Ali's life for collaborating with him on Submission, a short film criticizing Muslims for wife beating and forced marriages. In this memoir, the Somalian-born author tells of her journey to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, undergoing genital mutilation, being schooled by strict Muslim teachers, and finally facing shame from her family and clan for turning against Islam. In her early twenties, she sought asylum in the Netherlands after escaping an arranged marriage. In Holland, the cleanliness, order, and freedom amazed her; she couldn't believe that a government could help its people and was not feared. As she adjusted to her new home, learning Dutch, attending university, acquiring citizenship, and eventually working as a translator for social services, she spoke out publicly, criticizing the Muslim treatment of women. She was elected to serve in parliament, where her controversial views brought death threats and an attempt to rescind her Dutch citizenship. During her brief tenure, she warned that radical Islam is often incompatible with modernity and democracy and that its enslavement of women presents a serious threat. A clearly written and fascinating account of exceptional courage, this book is essential for all libraries. Hirsi Ali reads her own words in clear, slightly accented English; strongly recommended.
—Nancy R. Ives

Kirkus Reviews
Somali-born Dutch parliamentarian Hirsi Ali, now in hiding from Muslim militants angered by her outspoken views on Islam's enslavement of women (The Caged Virgin, 2005), offers a forthright, densely detailed memoir of growing up harshly amid revolution and religious restraint. "A woman alone is like a piece of sheep fat in the sun," Hirsi Ali's grandmother warned her frequently when she was a child absorbing the rigorous tenants of Islam in Mogadishu. Hirsi Ali, along with her younger sister, Haweya, and older brother, Mahad, were the children of a political dissenter of the Somalian government of Siad Barre, and frequently moved to safer places. Although their parents did not approve of circumcision, their absences allowed the strict peasant grandmother to arrange for the cutting of the three-Haweya, especially, was "never the same afterward." Their pious mother insisted on an education in the Qur'an, and their move to Saudia Arabia, without the protection of their father, proved disastrous: The mother was largely isolated, the children sent to sadistic religious schools. In Ethiopia, among the "unbelievers," they were treated more kindly, and in Nairobi, Kenya, the children attended British and Muslim schools. Here, Hirsi Ali began to read in English and have contact with Western ideas, especially about love. Recalcitrant and argumentative, she was given a fractured skull by her mother's ma'alim, or religious teacher. Amid civil war, a more conservative strain of Islam moved in, and Hirsi Ali was a convert, wearing full hidjab and practicing submission. She gained a secretarial degree and briefly indulged in a secret, short-lived marriage to her handsome cousin (the only way they couldsleep together). Reluctantly, to appease her father, she agreed to an arranged marriage, then bolted to Holland to beg for asylum-her lies about her background caught up with her later when she ran for Dutch office. Crammed with harrowing details, Hirsi Ali's account is a significant contribution to our times. Agent: Susanna Lea/Susanna Lea Associates
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780743289696
  • Publisher: Atria Books
  • Publication date: 4/1/2008
  • Edition description: Reprint
  • Pages: 384
  • Sales rank: 58,379
  • Product dimensions: 8.36 (w) x 5.58 (h) x 0.92 (d)

Meet the Author

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.

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Read an Excerpt

Introduction

One November morning in 2004, Theo van Gogh got up to go to work at his film production company in Amsterdam. He took out his old black bicycle and headed down a main road. Waiting in a doorway was a Moroccan man with a handgun and two butcher knives.

As Theo cycled down the Linnaeusstraat, Muhammad Bouyeri approached. He pulled out his gun and shot Theo several times. Theo fell off his bike and lurched across the road, then collapsed. Bouyeri followed. Theo begged, "Can't we talk about this?" but Bouyeri shot him four more times. Then he took out one of his butcher knives and sawed into Theo's throat. With the other knife, he stabbed a five-page letter onto Theo's chest.

The letter was addressed to me.

Two months before, Theo and I had made a short film together. We called it Submission, Part 1. I intended one day to make Part 2. (Theo warned me that he would work on Part 2 only if I accepted some humor in it!) Part 1 was about defiance — about Muslim women who shift from total submission to God to a dialogue with their deity. They pray, but instead of casting down their eyes, these women look up, at Allah, with the words of the Quran tattooed on their skin. They tell Him honestly that if submission to Him brings them so much misery, and He remains silent, they may stop submitting.

There is the woman who is flogged for committing adultery; another who is given in marriage to a man she loathes; another who is beaten by her husband on a regular basis; and another who is shunned by her father when he learns that his brother raped her. Each abuse is justified by the perpetrators in the name of God, citing the Quran verses now written on the bodies of the women. These women stand for hundreds of thousands of Muslim women around the world.

Theo and I knew it was a dangerous film to make. But Theo was a valiant man — he was a warrior, however unlikely that might seem. He was also very Dutch, and no nation in the world is more deeply attached to freedom of expression than the Dutch. The suggestion that he remove his name from the film's credits for security reasons made Theo angry. He told me once, "If I can't put my name on my own film, in Holland, then Holland isn't Holland any more, and I am not me."

People ask me if I have some kind of death wish, to keep saying the things I do. The answer is no: I would like to keep living. However, some things must be said, and there are times when silence becomes an accomplice to injustice.

This is the story of my life. It is a subjective record of my own personal memories, as close to accurate as I can make them; my relationship with the rest of my family has been so fractured that I cannot now refresh these recollections by asking them for help. It is the story of what I have experienced, what I've seen, and why I think the way I do. I've come to see that it is useful, and maybe even important, to tell this story. I want to make a few things clear, set a certain number of records straight, and also tell people about another kind of world and what it's really like.

I was born in Somalia. I grew up in Somalia, in Saudi Arabia, in Ethiopia, and in Kenya. I came to Europe in 1992, when I was twenty-two, and became a member of Parliament in Holland. I made a movie with Theo, and now I live with bodyguards and armored cars. In April 2006 a Dutch court ordered that I leave my safe-home that I was renting from the State. The judge concluded that my neighbors had a right to argue that they felt unsafe because of my presence in the building. I had already decided to move to the United States before the debate surrounding my Dutch citizenship erupted.

This book is dedicated to my family, and also to the millions and millions of Muslim women who have had to submit.

Copyright © 2007 by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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Table of Contents

Contents

Introduction

Part I: My Childhood

Chapter 1: Bloodlines

Chapter 2: Under the Talal Tree

Chapter 3: Playing Tag in Allah's Palace

Chapter 4: Weeping Orphans and Widowed Wives

Chapter 5: Secret Rendezvous, Sex, and the Scent of Sukumawik

Chapter 6: Doubt and Defiance

Chapter 7: Disillusion and Deceit

Chapter 8: Refugees

Chapter 9: Abeh

Part II: My Freedom

Chapter 10: Running Away

Chapter 11: A Trial by the Elders

Chapter 12: Haweya

Chapter 13: Leiden

Chapter 14: Leaving God

Chapter 15: Threats

Chapter 16: Politics

Chapter 17: The Murder of Theo

Epilogue: The Letter of the Law

Acknowledgments

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Introduction

Discussion Questions

1. Hirsi Ali tells us that this book is "the story of what I have experienced, what I have seen, and why I think the way I do" (page xii). Which experiences does she highlight as being integral to forming her current views on Islam?

2. "No eyes silently accused me of being a whore. No lecherous men called me to bed with them. No Brotherhood members threatened me with hellfire. I felt safe; I could follow my curiosity" (page 185). This passage refers to Hirsi Ali's initial impression of walking the streets in Germany. What other significant differences between the West and Islamic Africa did she observe during her first days in Europe? Upon arriving in Holland, what were her initial impressions of the Dutch people and the Dutch government? Did these change significantly as she lived there

3. How did Hirsi Ali's immigration experience and integration into Dutch society differ from those of other Somalians?

4. Discuss the differences that Hirsi Ali noticed between raising children in Muslim countries and raising children in the West. In particular, what did she notice about Johanna's parenting? How were Muslim parents different from Dutch parents in their instructions to their children on the playground? (see page 245).

5. In Hirsi Ali's words, "a Muslim girl does not make her own decisions or seek control. She is trained to be docile. If you are a Muslim girl, you disappear, until there is almost no you inside you" (page 94). How do the three generations of women in Hirsi Ali's family differ in their willingness to "submit" to this doctrine?

6. As seen through Hirsi Ali's eyes, what factors contributed to Haweya's death? How mightmembers of her family describe events differently?

7. Although Hirsi Ali mostly refrains from criticizing her father, she publishes the personal letter he wrote her upon her divorce. Why do you think she included this letter? Were you surprised by any other intimate details of her life that she revealed in the book?

8. The events of September 11th caused Hirsi Ali to reread sections of the Quran and to evaluate the role of violence in Islam. Consequently, her interpretation of September 11th differs from those around her. What doe she conclude? Do you agree with her analysis?

9. On page 295, Hirsi Ali lists the three goals she wished to accomplish by joining Parliament. By the book's end has she accomplished all three? How did her views of the Dutch government change over time?

10. Examine Hirsi Ali's relationship with her brother. How did Mahad's and Abeh's reactions to her political work differ?

11. Throughout her political career, Hirsi Ali has made several bold statements challenging the Muslim world. In your opinion, were these declarations worth the risk?

12. Has this book changed the way you view Islam? According to Hirsi Ali, is Islam compatible with Western values and culture? Do you agree with her?

Enhancing Your Book Club

1. Visit the website for the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, the Washington D.C. think tank that Hirsi Ali joined upon leaving Holland. Take a look at the articles that Hirsi Ali has posted, and bring one to share. The website is located at www.aei.org.

2. Go to www.youtube.com to watch a version of Theo van Gogh and Hirsi Ali's film, Submission: Part One.

3. Research the Quran before your group meeting and choose a passage to examine together.

4. Take a look on the web for Hirsi Ali's most recent statements about freedom of speech, women's rights, or religion in schools. (For example, in April 2006 she publicly stated her support of the Danish cartoonists' rights to publish images of Muhammad.) Bring in a copy of any interviews you find and share with your group.

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.

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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1. Hirsi Ali tells us that this book is "the story of what I have experienced, what I have seen, and why I think the way I do" (page xii). Which experiences does she highlight as being integral to forming her current views on Islam?

2. "No eyes silently accused me of being a whore. No lecherous men called me to bed with them. No Brotherhood members threatened me with hellfire. I felt safe; I could follow my curiosity" (page 185). This passage refers to Hirsi Ali's initial impression of walking the streets in Germany. What other significant differences between the West and Islamic Africa did she observe during her first days in Europe? Upon arriving in Holland, what were her initial impressions of the Dutch people and the Dutch government? Did these change significantly as she lived there

3. How did Hirsi Ali's immigration experience and integration into Dutch society differ from those of other Somalians?

4. Discuss the differences that Hirsi Ali noticed between raising children in Muslim countries and raising children in the West. In particular, what did she notice about Johanna's parenting? How were Muslim parents different from Dutch parents in their instructions to their children on the playground? (see page 245).

5. In Hirsi Ali's words, "a Muslim girl does not make her own decisions or seek control. She is trained to be docile. If you are a Muslim girl, you disappear, until there is almost no you inside you" (page 94). How do the three generations of women in Hirsi Ali's family differ in their willingness to "submit" to this doctrine?

6. As seen through Hirsi Ali's eyes, what factors contributed to Haweya's death? How might members of her family describe events differently?

7. Although Hirsi Ali mostly refrains from criticizing her father, she publishes the personal letter he wrote her upon her divorce. Why do you think she included this letter? Were you surprised by any other intimate details of her life that she revealed in the book?

8. The events of September 11th caused Hirsi Ali to reread sections of the Quran and to evaluate the role of violence in Islam. Consequently, her interpretation of September 11th differs from those around her. What doe she conclude? Do you agree with her analysis?

9. On page 295, Hirsi Ali lists the three goals she wished to accomplish by joining Parliament. By the book's end has she accomplished all three? How did her views of the Dutch government change over time?

10. Examine Hirsi Ali's relationship with her brother. How did Mahad's and Abeh's reactions to her political work differ?

11. Throughout her political career, Hirsi Ali has made several bold statements challenging the Muslim world. In your opinion, were these declarations worth the risk?

12. Has this book changed the way you view Islam? According to Hirsi Ali, is Islam compatible with Western values and culture? Do you agree with her?

Enhancing Your Book Club

1. Visit the website for the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, the Washington D.C. think tank that Hirsi Ali joined upon leaving Holland. Take a look at the articles that Hirsi Ali has posted, and bring one to share. The website is located at www.aei.org.

2. Go to www.youtube.com to watch a version of Theo van Gogh and Hirsi Ali's film, Submission: Part One.

3. Research the Quran before your group meeting and choose a passage to examine together.

4. Take a look on the web for Hirsi Ali's most recent statements about freedom of speech, women's rights, or religion in schools. (For example, in April 2006 she publicly stated her support of the Danish cartoonists' rights to publish images of Muhammad.) Bring in a copy of any interviews you find and share with your group.

Read More Show Less

Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4
( 206 )
Rating Distribution

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(122)

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(41)

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(16)

2 Star

(8)

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(19)

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See All Sort by: Showing 1 – 20 of 206 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted April 14, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    The Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali-A Must Read

    For an autobiography this book is amazingly readable. I could not put it down even though I knew how it ended. Ali writes beautifully and gives such stark descriptions of life as a woman in a third world Muslim family.

    Most important was the insight she gave into her transformation from a faithful Islam believer to an agnostic. Her explanations of her early instruction in Islam, all the prohibitions, her beginning doubts, (ie men didn't crash cars in Holland by being distracted by women in modern dress) her eventual rejection of Islam help to make the current political climate clearer.

    I am not certain I can agree with her conclusion not to trust any Muslim, but I can understand that with her life threatened why she must feel that way.

    I constantly had to remind myself that she is just 42. She is so strong, courageous and has accomplished so much.

    17 out of 19 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Posted October 10, 2009

    A Must Read for all those who are seeking answers to the great questions of our times.

    The author puts to rest the false impression that Islam stands for peaceful solutuions in solving the differences of the world's religions; that it is a religion that stands for toleration. She stands up for women's rights denied in the world in which she had been born and from which she had escaped. Forced marriages of young girls to older men, female genital mutilation, second class citizenship for women in the Muslim world: battles against these abuses are the ones she has chosen to fight, perilous to her life.

    8 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

    Was this review helpful? Yes  No   Report this review
  • Anonymous

    Posted August 10, 2008

    Fight for Freedom

    Infidel is a book that focuses on not hatred or spite, but rather the differences that exist and the need for citizens of the world to recognize the role of Islam in modern culture. No other book has ever dared to cross the extremes of the political and religious realms . Ayaan Hirsi Ali defiantly challenges the traditions of Islam and their beliefs towards Western culture. She exposes the harsh realities of female mutilation and numerous other discriminations that preside within the Muslim community. Infidel brought the reader into a world of alienation, civil war, and family values. Ayaan Hirsi Ali manages to survive the death and violence that constantly traps her in Africa through an arranged marriage of which she flees from and seeks refuge in Holland. This book inspires both passion and sympathy. The tales Ali tells are sadly true, and are in dire need to be addressed. Ali provides readers with intimate information about the ways of Islam in Africa, and then tells about her own spiritual journey to realization. An excellent choice of reading that undoubtedly reveals a conflict between Muslim prejudices and Western ideals, this autobiography is bluntly horrifying and absolutely necessary to read for further understanding of today's religious and political clashes.

    8 out of 11 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted July 31, 2008

    A Must Read!

    If one text has succeeded in challenging the complacency of the West, indeed of supposedly enlightened people the world over, to the rising threat of fundamentalist Islam, it is Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. From her perspective as a woman who has survived the treacherous grip of Islam over both her body and her mind, Ayaan counters the oft repeated proclamation that Islam is 'a religion of peace.' Narrating her own intimidating journey through oppression and hatred in Islamic Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and the rapidly growing Muslim enclaves of Kenya and Europe, Ali rehashes in masterful and often touching prose her harrowing trials and the series of cruel acts perpetrated against her in the name of the religion she herself so desperately clung to. Young Ayaan survives her mother's descent into insanity, her abusive male relatives, female circumcision, and constant religious and tribal warfare by dreaming of the life she can only read about in Western novels. She is finally forced to choose between her dreams and the harsh reality of life as a subservient Muslim woman when her father promises her hand in marriage to an aging Somali expatriate who has come to seek a proper traditional wife in Kenya. Her choice is flight, but reaching her imagined paradise in liberal Western Europe she discovers that Islam has arrived ahead of her, bringing with it so much of the terror she had naively hoped to have left behind. After a soul wrenching self-examination, Ayaan cuts the final cords to the religion and culture of her birth, to become a one woman crusade against the oppression perpetrated by Islam, and innocently defended by the 'accepting' European Left. For anyone who is left unsatisfied by the all-encompassing doctrine of cultural relativism, Ali is a breath of fresh literary air. When we unquestioningly 'accept' Muslim culture, are we also accepting the horrific abuse of Muslim wives and daughters? What of religious and ethnic minorities suffering throughout the Muslim dominated Arab world and East Africa? Ayaan convincingly argues that in our zeal to be inoffensive, we have allowed for a level of intolerance and violent hatred that would not be tolerated in any other religion. It is time, Ali is telling us, to force an enlightenment in the Muslim world, to bring it up to the same standards by which we judge the Christian West. Quill says: Infidel is a must read!

    8 out of 12 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted June 24, 2008

    From a Muslim Prespective

    When i read the book i did understand some of her arguments and her anger is justified but she is blaming the religion instead of society ,culture and tradition. The Koran doesn't state anywhere to have a female circumcised but it is simply a cultural thing in some countries.My mother had never heard of circumcision of a women and was disgusted by it. Although i do understand her when it comes to freedom for Muslim women i myself a young Muslim woman found that i argued her beliefs.

    8 out of 22 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 4, 2008

    Not Typical

    I have just put to rest Ayaan Hirsi Ali's book, Infidel. I would implore any reader of this book to search for the truth of Islam thru sources other than biographies such as this. So much she has experinced is fascinating, yet when reading about 'her Islam' is was full of cultural traditions and NOT the faith itself. As an American woman who converted to Islam 16 years ago I can testify to that. As the Quran states, 'READ!'

    7 out of 21 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 30, 2007

    Specious and fallacious

    Here's the deal if you wish to become a bestselling author and undertake public catharsis - go Ali's way. Denounce your faith and find a scapegoat for your suffering. You will get noticed by the bign guns. Never mind if your content is illogical and specious. Never mind if a dysfunctional and unnatural childhood has marred your life write it all up in reams and get published. Look at one of her opening paragraphs 'There is the woman who is flogged for committing adultery another who is given in marriage to a man she loathes another who is beaten by her husband on a regular basis and another who is shunned by her father when he learns that his brother raped her...' This account could be from anywhere around the world. Ali gives a horrifying, global problem a very narrow perspective and thus does a disservice to her sisters. Her myopic view of religion and culture have shaped her subsequent chapters. Ali who has had a difficult and painful childhood blames its all on her religion. She could have mentioned how average women fight this problem in the backdrop of civil wars, penury, drought and bloodshed given readers some food for thought Her book implies all women in the east are are humiliated, insulted and tortured. This is not a coming- of- age- book but a I- want-to-blame-someone-for- this autobiography that jars even non muslim sensibilities. Unfortunately this will start a trend other floundering writers will go Ali's way.

    7 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted January 18, 2012

    Graphic Must-Read

    Infidel starts low and slow, with sometimes graphic depictions of Ms. Hirsi Ali's childhood, and blossoms into the best coming-of-age story I've ever read. This memoir is well thought out and written, witty, biting, and condescending of self; written with flair and humbleness. You're taken on a journey of her life so far, and at the end, I was dumbfounded right along with her about how far a person can come. Definitely recommended, definitely a must-read.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 5, 2009

    One of the BEST memoirs you'll ever read

    After I finished this book I felt like buying a copy for everyone in this country. A must read to understand Islam, which, when left to rule a country is permeated by cruelness, torture, and a total and complete rape of freedom. A must read for the politically correct among us who think every religion is equal and expouses truth, but fail to see the implimentation on humanity that proves otherwise.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted July 30, 2009

    NEGATIVE BOOK

    I feel that she has suffered so much in a Country that has done her wrong so she says. She states that female mutilation is from her religion and I decided to ask and do research and I found out that this only happens in Africa to African women. I feel that she is pointing the blame on the religion when she should be blaming the culture that she grew up in. You see the Koran is written in arabic and africans do not speak arabic they speak there own languege and has it translated to them (by men of course) and they are seeing and reading it from a mans point of view. I was born in an arabic muslim country with 30% Christians and as a Cristian myself I am able to read the Koran and it is very similer to the Bible but it all depends on who is translating it and how its perceived. No it does not say circumcise your daughters and beat them. It says teach them. I think Ali is pointing her fingers in the wrong direction. I also take offence in the fact that she wants to stop religious schools since she thinks it is wrong. Well I think it is wrong that she doesnt beleive in GOD and is now an athiest and she has the nerve to fight what teachings parents want for their kids.

    6 out of 27 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted October 21, 2007

    Simply Outstanding

    This is the best book I have read in the last five years - perhaps longer. Not only is it insightful and educational about the world of Islam and the treatment of women, but it teaches those of us who are products of Western culture, that it is necessary to question any religion that practices extremism and oppression.

    6 out of 9 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted May 8, 2007

    A reviewer

    This book is an autobiography of the brave and controversial Ayaan Hirsi Ali. The account starts with her strict upbringing by her grandmother who lived as a nomad. She gives us insight into the Somalian social hierarchy, and the world through the eyes of a Muslim child. The beginning of the book actually makes the reader sympathize with Muslims and gives one an understanding of why societies embrace Islam how the it affects the dynamics of personal relationships in these societies. The latter part of the book shows her exposure to Western society and it's ideals, and how this prompted her to question what she had considered an absolute truth. This book is not an Islam-bashing book by an apostate, but rather an account of how a member of the voiceless side of a religious culture defied her fears of the afterlife through reflection and perseverance. While western authors who are critical of Islam will be discredited for not knowing the 'true Islam', I am sure Ms. Hirsi Ali will receive the same treatment as an apostate.

    6 out of 8 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted December 27, 2008

    Not what I was hoping for at all

    I'd heard so much about this woman, but nothing about her life story. I was hoping for something a little more.. groundbreaking. This sounds more like the spotlight seeking writings of her predecessors that just have bitterness over their raising. Granted she had a tough life, but not everyone with a tough life needs to write a book about it.

    5 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted March 20, 2012

    Islam Truth?! Accurate..

    I have read several reviews left by those who are most likely Muslims and the Muslims who are leaving the reviews are most likely American Muslims. I have read some of the Quran before and it contradicts itself. I know how it is in Muslim countries and they claim that everything they do, killing their wife or daughter for disobedience, or blowing up an orthodox church, they claim all that in the name of the Quran and in the name of Allah. Do not tell me that Islam is all love. I have experienced several times how they treat others when it comes to religion. I know a girl personally who converted from that religion. I am NOT sying that all Muslims are hating extremists, but look at the mid-east and tell me that a vast majority aren't. This book gives an accurate truth of Islam.

    4 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted January 4, 2011

    Wish people would read the book in ENTIRETY!

    To the Anonymous reviewer who stated "She states that female mutilation is from her religion and I decided to ask and do research and I found out that this only happens in Africa to African women"
    I just finished reading this book, just hours ago. I NEVER once read ANYWHERE in her book anything blaming her relegion for excision. She clearly stated NUMEROUS times that it is NOT done widely done by Muslims, but is an African culture practice.
    I have read many reviews stating the same complaint. Obviously these readers DID NOT read the book in entirety. Or just took what they wanted from it.
    Her stories are very true. Anyone who has actually read the Quran completely knows that Islam is not a religion of peace. The passeages she quotes about killing non-believers, and beating your wives are completely accurate.
    Not all Muslims are like this, not all Muslims follow the Quran word for word and do exactly what it says. Just the same with Christians and the Bible.

    4 out of 5 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 17, 2010

    more from this reviewer

    I Also Recommend:

    A great biography of an African woman who was freed not only by her choices, but by literature.

    This book is simply exquisite. Ali deals quite effectively with her impression of many ideals and reveals her perspective on Islam, from first hand experience. It is not so much a revelation of Islam as it is a coming of age of a girl into adulthood.
    The way she shows her mother, who must obey her husband and eventually how she has to take out the stress that is heaped on her. It shows that Ali could have grown into something else entirely, but it was her dreams and also, her exposure to literature that actually put ideas into her head. A must read book, that also shows the importance of education to women who suffer under the pressures of extreme societies.
    The book contains a lot of different elements and my particular favorite was her escape from Germany. It was brief, well written, and exciting. This book is a must have for any book clubs since it covers so many issues. Many of which are still current. Female circumcision, literacy, Islam, immigration, racism, welfare states, and many others. Promote it and read it. I love this book.

    4 out of 6 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted April 8, 2009

    I Also Recommend:

    dont read this book

    it's completely biased

    4 out of 23 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted November 13, 2008

    An Iraqi-American Muslim review!

    Never, never confuse between cultural and religious teachings. Simply the word "Islam" means "to surrender, and it call to worship the one and only God and live in peace. I respect some of her opinions concerning women's rights and that children shouldn't be beaten, this is true, but this is actually related to the traditions and culture of the places she live in, I lived there and that gives me the privilege of judging. She is educated and she must know better, but alas, money can screw people's minds!

    4 out of 20 people found this review helpful.

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 15, 2007

    Resonates beyond Islam

    Provocative and thoughtful. A young woman's life under the spectre of religious fervor is narrated with eloquence. The bigger lesson is that fundamentalism, irrespective of religious hue, curtails individual freedoms. Christianity too is awash with similar examples.

    4 out of 7 people found this review helpful.

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  • Posted October 19, 2011

    Every woman in the 'free world' should read this book.

    I learned more about Islam from the inside point of view of this writer than from all the books I have read on comparative religions, Islam/Christianity/Judaism, what the Koran really says, etc. It was sobering and thought-provoking to read of the precariousness of life in some East African countries. We read and see news stories of masses of people driven into exile but one person's experience is a more powerful barometer of the suffering involved and the effect on one's future life. If you are interested in cultures, religions, politics and human experience beyond your own, you will enjoy this book. And if you need some good news about the human spirit, here it is.

    3 out of 4 people found this review helpful.

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