Why Islam Needs A Reformation NowBook - 2015
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.
From the critics
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This phenomenon of “Christophobia (as opposed to the far more widely discussed “Islamophobia” receives remarkably little coverage in the Western media. Part of this reticence may be due to fear of provoking additional violence. But part is clearly due to the very effective efforts by lobbying groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and Council on American-Islamic Relations [CAIR]. Over the past decade, these and similar groups have been remarkable successful in persuading journalists and editors in the West to think or each and every example of perceived anti-Muslim discrimination as an expression of a deep-rooted Islamophobia. This, of course, extends with an Orwellian illogic to coverage of Muslim violence against Christians. Yet any fair-minded comparison of recent events leads to the conclusion that the scale and severity of Islamophobia pales in comparison with the Christophobia evident in Muslim-majority nations from end of the globe to the other.p 192
In Islamic history, the land controlled by Islam is referred to as dar al-Islam (the abode of Islam). The land controlled by non-Muslims is dar al-Harb (the abode of War). Historically, after being conquered by Muslims, groups deemed People of the Book, including Jews, Christians, and Zoroastrians, were required to pay a special tax, the jizya, as a mark of their” humiliation. If they did so, they were allowed to keep their religion (9:29). Yet, there was always a strain of “eliminationism” in Islam, too. The Prophet himself promised to “expel the Jews and Christians from the Arabian Peninsula and…not leave any but Muslims….The Qur’an warns Muslims: “take not the Jews and the Christians for your friends and protectors.”…
Modern Islamists go further. In some countries, governments and their agents openly sponsor anti-Christian violence, burning churches and imprisoning observant Christians. p 191
Beyond the ways it restricts women’s rights and legitimizes violence against them, sharia does something more. Because of the very foundation of sharia in the dictates of the Qur’an and the hadith, there is no vocabulary in Islam that can be used to emancipate women. All the words for female rights and basic female freedoms are invariably Western. If you fight for access to education or the right to vote or the right to drive or the right not to be beaten or stoned, the vocabulary you have to use in making that argument is Western because Islamic texts and the Arabic language simply do not have the words for these types of rights and opportunities. By contrast, when women face opposition to their emancipation, those words and that vocabulary are exclusively Islamic. P 150-1
The golden age of Islamic science and philosophy, which pre-dated the European Enlightenment, lies a thousand years in the past. While many Muslim nations have benefited from advances in science and economics, while they now have their gleaming skyscrapers and infrastructure, the philosophical revolution that grew out of the Protestant Reformation has largely passed them by. Instead, much of the Muslim world, both inside Muslim-majority nations and in the West, lives half in and half out of modernity. Islam is content to use the West’s technological products – there is even an app that will remind you when to say your five daily prayers – but resists the underlying values that produced them. (This, of course, helps explain the notorious lack of scientific and technological innovation that characterizes the entire Muslim world.) p 59
After 9/11, I began to re-examine the world I had grown up in. I began to reflect that all over the world – in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Kenya, and even inside the Muslim immigrant community in Holland – Islam represented a barrier to progress, especially (but not only) for women. Besides, expressing my doubts about Islam meant that I had no spiritual home: in Islam you are either a believer or disbeliever. There is no cognitive room to be an agnostic. My family and some of my Muslim friends and acquaintances gave me that stark choice: you are either one of us, in which case you quit voicing your thoughts on Islam, or you are one of the infidels and you get out. And ultimately that was what I could not stay in the religion of my father, my mother, my brother, my sister, and my grandmother. P 47
We must no longer accept limitations on criticism of Islam. We must reject the notion that only Muslims can speak about Islam, and that any critical examination of Islam is inherently “racist”. Instead of contorting Western intellectual traditions so as not to offend our Muslim fellow citizens, we need to defend the Muslim dissidents who are risking their lives to promote the human rights we take for granted; equality for women, tolerance of all religions and orientations, our hard-won freedom of speech and thought.
...Multiculturalism should not mean that we tolerate another culture’s intolerance. If we do in fact support diversity, women’s rights, and gay rights, then we cannot in good conscience give Islam a free pass on the grounds of multicultural sensitivity. And we need to say unambiguously to Muslims living in the West: If you want to live in our societies, to share in their material benefits, then you need to accept that our freedoms are not optional. P 28
….[m]y views on Islam are based on my knowledge and experience of being a Muslim, of living in Muslim societies – including Mecca itself, the very center of Islamic belief – and on my years of study of Islam as a practitioner, student, and teacher. The real explanation is clear. It is because they cannot actually refute what I am saying. And I am not alone. Shortly after the attack on Charlie Hebdo, Asra Nomani, a Muslim reformer, spoke out against what she calls the “honor brigade” – an organized international cabal hell-bent on silencing debate on Islam.
The shameful thing is that this campaign is effective in the West. Western liberals now seem to collude against critical thought and debate. I never cease to be amazed by the fact that non-Muslims who consider themselves liberals – including feminists and advocates of gay rights – are so readily persuaded by these crass means to take the Islamists’ side against Muslim and non-Muslim critics.
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