Wednesday, November 30, 2011


By Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Ali was born in Somalia, the child of Muslim parents. She lived in her home country, as well as Saudi Arabia, Kenya, Holland and now the United States. Once a devout follower of Islam, Ali has renounced her faith and become an outspoken critic of both the religion and its lack of free speech. She is a proponent of helping women born in this misogynistic culture and set of beliefs. She became internationally well-known when her film's director, Theo Van Gogh, was murdered by followers of Islam in the streets of Amsterdam in broad daylight. Click to watch her film, Submission Part 1, but be warned that it is quite disturbing. Ali was named one of the most influential people in the world in 2005. She continues to speak out against Islam and for women caught in the culture of that religion. This book is her story. 

I was greatly disturbed throughout this book. This is not a tale for the faint-hearted to read. The life that women born into the Muslim faith is atrocious. They are all led to believe that God or Allah wants them to submit – to their families, their husbands, and their faith. This quite often means being victims of abuse. Ali herself was constantly abused as a child and saw first hand the results of abuse in other women around her.

What really got to me, though, was her reactions after September 11, 2001. She was living in Holland at the time and came to realize that the attacks were not made by just some radical group of Islamic terrorists. She heard Ben Laden's messages and, because she knows the Quran in Arabic, was able to hear that his words were direct quotes from the Islamic scripture. She says that these beliefs of killing all unbelievers are right out of their scripture. The idea of a peaceful Muslim religion is just peace for those within the faith. And even within the faith, submission is required for everyone, particularly women.

I was saddened by her choice to become an atheist but I can understand why. After living in her culture and with such a faith, she could only completely reject such an understanding of God. She now lives in constant threat from Muslims around the world.

What did this have to do with my faith? Ali constantly brings up the idea of submission – submission to one's mother, father, brother, husband and, of course, Allah. She is equally disturbed that no one is allowed to question this submission. In my own Christian faith, there is the idea of submission but not for punishment (as Ali clearly shows what happens in a Muslim household) nor as a sign of being a second-class citizen (as all Muslim women are considered second-class if that). I myself believe that I must follow God's will rather than my own. And certainly suffering can be a part of that submission. But no where in the scriptures do I find that women must submit to a man's violence and ill use because that is God's will. Even Paul who talked about women's rolls in the household balanced that with the understanding that in God's eyes there is equality between male and female. And even in other parts of scripture, the man is to treat and love his wife as Christ loves the church. Certainly reading Infidel really made me think hard about Christian ideas of submission.

I would recommend this book for those who are curious about the Muslim religion and wish to know more from someone who grew up in that faith.

Happy Reading!



  1. Hi Amelia, our mutual friend Keith Parker recommended your blog post. Very interesting and insightful. Thank you for sharing the fruits of your reading with us. This made me want to check into this book and its author.

  2. Hi Morgan! Well, I must say this review has gotten more responses than some of my previous reviews. A hot topic, I suppose. What I liked is to hear from someone from within the Islamic faith rather than the Western or Christian viewpoint of Islam. I certainly could have said more. This would be a great book for a book discussion group, actually.

  3. Hey Amelia! I read this book last year - really disturbing. Thanks for posting the link to her film. Lynn