Erin's Reviews > Infidel

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
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's review
Sep 27, 08

bookshelves: non-fiction, favorite-authors, best-book-this-year, autobiography
Recommended to Erin by: carrie
Read in September, 2008

I really enjoyed this book and feel that Ayaan's story transcends faith, political views or ethnicity. I gave her book 5 stars because, for an autobiography, she's got one hell of a story & very few residual chips on her shoulder.

While I can see how people perceive that her book is critical of Islam - Ayaan was also a very devout Muslim for most of her life and I felt she presented a balanced & fair view toward the religion. Many of her qualms with Islam were around the discrepancy of rights between men and women. Although her book focused on the plight of women I am sure that the men and boys raised in that culture have more than their fair share of tragic stories, too.

What seemed to get Ayaan in the most trouble (why the price was put on her head by Muslim leaders) was her eventual rejection of the Quran in its literal sense. At the time she was questioning her faith based on some of the passages in the Quran, I truly believe that she wouldn't have rejected the faith entirely if there would have been other options for her. There are forms of Christianity that take the Bible literally and others which don't. Many consider the Bible to be "relative" in that it's contents were constrained by the knowledge of the times it was written. I truly think Ayaan would have remained Muslim if that religion had allowed for a more liberal interpretation of the Quran because she stated many times that she loved many parts of Islam - the concepts of peace, charity, generosity, etc.

I read other reviews of this book where people felt that Ayaan was overly-critical of "all things Somalian". However, having seen first-hand the results of FGM, ethnic cleansing, civil war, genocide, extreme poverty, non-consensual marriage, and goverment corruption - I think Ayaan had to cover that side of Somalia just to tell her own life story.

In then end, Ayaan was able to give a voice to everyday Somali men and women who showed incredible bravery, generosity, kinship, forgiveness and humanity despite incredible hardships - people whose voice, quite frankly, needs to be heard right now.


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