Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Infidel” as Want to Read:
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating
Open Preview


4.15  ·  Rating details ·  88,357 ratings  ·  6,578 reviews
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 politica
Hardcover, 353 pages
Published February 1st 2007 by Free Press (first published 2006)
More Details... Edit Details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Infidel, please sign up.
Popular Answered Questions
Andrew Breslin I think I will invent a word "Andyphobia" And anyone who dares criticize me or my ideas will henceforth be labeled an Andyphobe.

Throughout history, th…more
I think I will invent a word "Andyphobia" And anyone who dares criticize me or my ideas will henceforth be labeled an Andyphobe.

Throughout history, there have been many people who have espoused various ideologies. Some of those people have claimed that their espoused ideology is not their own, but rather comes from GOD, but that does not excuse that ideology from criticism nor make such criticism any kind of 'phobia' or 'ism.' It is not one shred less appropriate to criticize these individuals and their ideas. Not one shred.

I used to be a Catholic. Now I'm not. I think it's bullshit and has been responsible for enormous oppression through the centuries, and I say so loudly all the time. Does that make me a Catholicaphobe? Does anyone suggest there is anything wrong with that?

There was a time, a few centuries ago, where I could be imprisoned, whipped or killed for renouncing my faith in the Catholic Church. But not any more. I can talk as much as I want about how glad I am that I no longer believe in all that nonsense, and not only won't I be killed, hardly anybody will even notice.

Former Muslims, like Ali are 'apostates.' Simply deciding that you no longer believe in Islam and no longer want to practice it makes one an apostate. You don't have to write books about it. Why don't you hazard a guess as to the prescribed penalty for apostasy in Islam is, today, in 2015? Name all the Muslim-majority countries where apostasy is considered okay, a personal choice and a personal right, and then name all the countries where it is punishable by imprisonment or death.

Ali is a courageous individual who has the courage to speak up against oppression and injustice even at the risk of her own life.(less)
Ayam Ahmed well, I haven't read the book but I'm like Ayaan and also my name is Ayaan and I'm from Somalia, I think only the name of the book is reminding me the…morewell, I haven't read the book but I'm like Ayaan and also my name is Ayaan and I'm from Somalia, I think only the name of the book is reminding me the way I live in right now, and how everyone thinks about us. and also the fact that I cant tell my mom that I'm Christian. So wish me luck.(less)

Community Reviews

Showing 1-30
Average rating 4.15  · 
Rating details
 ·  88,357 ratings  ·  6,578 reviews

More filters
Sort order
Start your review of Infidel
Petra's mechanic says her car isn't worth fixing
Update Ayaan Hirsi Ali: Victim of an honor killing, Brandeis-style Cancel culture. This is not a new link, but I've only just found it. It's worth reading the article, it's really shocking.

I was watching the BBC's 'Muslim Beauty Pageant and Me' hosted by and starring Dina Torkia, an English Muslim who wears hijab, not the black stuff but pretty fabrics. I thought this is going to be good. Balance. I'm going to see that Ayaan Hirsi Ali is feverishly hysterical and that what sh
May 23, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Any woman born as a Muslim who has the courage to write a book openly critical of Islam has my respect.

A woman who has the brass to title that same book Infidel has my rapt attention.

Infidel by Ayann Hasli Ali is shocking, brutally honest, and captivating. This woman’s courage and resilience are a testimony to the human spirit. The letters and phone calls between her and her father are painfully real and troubling, especially when read in the context of the harshness and violence of the cultur
Mar 20, 2008 rated it did not like it
MARCH 25, 2015
Immensely disliked this book and tired of all the comments so I took down my review. Moving on!
Oct 06, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone, really
"Infidel" is the personal story of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali woman who, after a loveless childhood (to put it very mildly), came to Holland at the age of 20 claiming refugee status to escape an arranged and forced marriage, and to assert her independence. She was accepted, found her way around, studied political science, became a citizen, fell away from Islam, and became a member of Parliament. In 2004 she and Theo van Gogh made the short film "Submission Part 1", which resulted in Theo's gettin ...more
May 28, 2012 rated it it was amazing
I'm kind of shell-shocked. The squishy Liberal views that have, up to now, dominated my concepts about immigration, multiculturalism, integration, Islam, the burqa, and a live-and-let-live philosophy, have all been shaken and stirred beyond recognition.

Hirsi Ali is an extraordinary woman, to have survived and risen above her incredibly dysfunctional upbringing. Dysfunctional in part because her family was rife with superstition, anger, and violence - largely because her mother was a volatile an
Mar 16, 2009 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography
Last week, I heard a colleague ranting about Islam and women's rights. He was reading this book and espousing Hirsi Ali's views. The next day, I lent him my copy of the Quran so that he'd have some background on the basic text of the religion he was trashing. I tend to find that all of the major religious tomes are ridiculous, hopelessly outdated, and that it's not a flaw in religion but a fault of those interpreting fundamental texts in fundamentalist ways when religion becomes less a spiritual ...more
Tanja Berg
Sep 10, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: biography-memoir
This would have been a four star rating, but I'm upping it to five because this book has significantly altered my world view. I've been one of those western liberals, thinking that Islam is mostly about peace and that the violence of it stems only from the fanatics. I'm revising that stance now and am wondering how I could ever have been so blind.

Here in Norway, where I live, everyone is ever so willing to adapt to immigrants. We change our school traditions so that we do not offend people who h
Amanda R
Jun 11, 2007 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: everyone
I feel like my imagination isn't big enough to even begin to comprehend what life is like growing up in Somalia, Kenya, and Saudi Arabia - as a female Muslim with an absent father and an abusive mother. Even though Ayaan does a good job covering her youth and describing her life to those who have no frame of reference for that kind of life, it still is hard to imagine. It goes without saying that those of us born and raised in the United States have been so amply blessed; its almost beyond compr ...more
Jun 06, 2008 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: nonfiction, africa
If I ever decide to make a list of the most important books I’ve read “Infidel” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali would surely find its place on it.

First time I’ve heard about Miss Hirsi Ali it was after murder of Theo Van Gogh because of his film “Submission-part one” which he made in collaboration with Hirsi Ali. Theo has been shoot and slaughtered in the middle of the day and the letter for Hirsi Ali (in which assassin is promising the same to her) was staked with knife in Theo’s chest. It was really a huge
Nandakishore Mridula
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an extremely polarising figure. She has been hailed as an icon of women's emancipation and derided as a self-hating Islamophobe. Ayaan is an outright critic of Islam: not its manifestations across the world, but the religious philosophy itself. According to her, Islam is a medieval religion built on violence and misogyny and has no place in the modern world, and it is high time Muslims accepted it.

This book is her autobiography from her birth to the point of time when she had
Aug 28, 2007 rated it liked it
Recommends it for: thos who enjoy autobiographies.
This masquerades as pure autobiography of the daughter of an iconic Somali revolutionary, who was absent for most of her life and left her, her brother, and her sister to be cared for by a heavy handed grandmother and an abusive mother. If I were rating the review as an autobiography, I would give it an additional star. As an autobiography, it does not let you down, although it does drag a little slower towards the end.

When reading this book, however, you quickly realize that there is somewhat o
Mikey B.
A Remarkable Transition

What a transition this individual has gone through! This autobiography describes the Somalian author's early life in Mogadishu, Saudi Arabia, and Nairobi, Kenya. Most of it is repressive. She was beaten routinely by her grandmother and mother. She had to do household chores while her older brother went out with his friends. She was also genitally excised (clitoris and labia removed) - the sole purpose being to inhibit sexual enjoyment. It is another way to inhibit a woman
Oct 05, 2007 rated it liked it
Some of the reviews on GoodReads for Infidel have accused Ayaan Hirsi Ali of using the platform of autobiography to expound her political views and have suggested that any American reading this book may not pick up on a perceived subtlety of doing so (whereas, one suspects, in Holland this is quite obvious). My response to this is: of course she has. Any autobiography worth reading has to be more than a simple cataloging of life’s events; otherwise it would simply be a journal. Imagine reading B ...more
Dec 31, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: memoirs
Just finished Infidel. I leave the memoir with mixed feelings.

On the one hand, I appreciate the strides that the author has made in life, considering the huge obstacles she has overcome. Additionally, I admire her outspokenness concerning women's issues. I left the book feeling an even greater resolve to support organizations and charities that are working to level the gender playing field. It causes me to reflect on my own personal practices and belief systems that work against equity (of any
Jan 10, 2016 rated it it was amazing
A truly fascinating and inspiring autobiography of a true human rights activist and a truly courageous fighter who has survived the victimization of Islamists and their despicable leftwing backers, for speaking the truth and standing up against evil and abuse of women.

The author talks of her childhood and youth in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya,and of the narrow minded bigotry of the Muslim world today.
She recounts the horrors of genital mutilation in Somalia, the racial prejudice in
Deena Hypothesis
Feb 14, 2010 rated it did not like it
This is a great article on why I dislike this book, and Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I'm going to just copy and paste some excerpts outlining her biases.

"Now, I’m no fan of religion – of any kind. But Hirsi Ali’s simultaneous condemnation of Islam and obvious admiration of Christianity was disturbing. As with any religion or ideology, it’s how it’s practised that impacts on people’s lives and on society.

Many of Hirsi Ali’s criticisms of Islam could be applied to funda
Darryl Greer
Nov 25, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali-born Dutch-American activist, feminist, author, scholar and former politician, named by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She is a former Muslim who rejected her faith, became an atheist and has been a vocal critic of Islam. In 2004, she collaborated on a short film with Theo van Gogh, entitled Submission which depicted the oppression of women under fundamentalist Islamic law. The controversial film led to death threats and ...more
Sep 06, 2015 rated it it was amazing
A few months ago, I read “Murder in Amsterdam”, about the murder of Van Gogh’s great-grand-nephew, Theo, back in 2004. Theo Van Gogh and Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somalian refugee had recently produced a short documentary about the treatment of women in Islam. He was killed first and she was meant to be next. She has been under continuous death threats since that time.

Infidel is an amazing book, the first one I’ve read by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. I definitely plan on reading more. I cannot say that it’s a boo
Debbie "DJ"
This book opened my eyes to the Muslim world and completely changed my views. It is remarkable what one woman can do to affect change. I cannot recommend highly enough, especially for women.
Apr 14, 2010 rated it it was ok
I found that her view of Islam was extremely negative and she sounded more bitter then she exclaimed. The situations that she faced in a closed society where women's rights are pretty much non-existent I felt somewhat tainted Her opinions and descriptions about Islam..... They were quite biased and one sided and at most times I felt more resentment then honesty which is quite sad, she brought though some very good points about mutilation and the rights of women in such societies. But got distrac ...more
Oct 15, 2018 rated it liked it
This is a fascinating autobiography describing a Muslim childhood and upbringing in Somalia, Kenya and Saudi Arabia. Ali has had a fascinating life and one of the strengths of this book is her descriptions of her childhood. The book goes on to cover Ali’s avoidance of an arranged marriage and her move to Holland, her gradual learning of the language and customs. She went into Dutch politics and later became well known for her collaboration with Theo Gogh to highlight the situation of Muslim wome ...more
Peggy Sue
Jan 23, 2008 rated it it was amazing
This book is a must read for all people trying to understand the Muslim attitude and outlook. Hirsi Asaan Ali is a courageous woman who has given us a peek into her mind on what a Muslim thinks. I quote so you can see how powerful she is.

"We Muslims had been taught to define life on earth as a passage, a test that precedes real life in the Hereafter. In that test, everyone should ideally live in a manner resembling, as closely as possible, the followers of the Prophet. Didn’t this inhibit invest
Nov 18, 2011 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2012, non-fiction
I first saw Ayaan Hirsi Ali on Real Time with Bill Maher a year or two ago and quickly placed her book on my to-read list. It was weird because I tried several times to order the book and it kept getting cancelled from several different vendors. Eerie. Especially when you consider that Hirsi Ali is such a controversial figure who lives her life with bodyguards under the threat of death to this day.

It’s a fascinating story. A young girl from a fundamentalist Muslim family in war-torn Somalia, Sau
Feb 17, 2008 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: biography, Africa, Saudia Arabia, Islam. War, religious freedom, Womens rights
oh gosh.. only 30 pages into this book and I'm not sure I can read it..
Female castration/ mutilation - this isn't in the dark ages.. this happens in mid 1970 and still happens today!!

This is an incredible biography of a girl who was born in a country torn apart by war, in a continent mostly known for what goes wrong rather than right. Measured by the standards of Somalia and Africa she states she is privileged to be alive and thriving.
She states; "Where I grew up, death is a constant visitor.
howl of minerva
May 05, 2015 rated it it was amazing
An extraordinary woman. Her criticism of Islam and of sociocultural practice in Islamic countries is for the most part measured and reasonable, though only her most extreme utterances get airtime. She clearly states that female genital mutilation (FGM) is not an Islamic practice but a north African cultural one.

The extreme patriarchy, honour killings etc. she criticises are similarly not Islamic per se, though they are often justified and perpetuated in the name of Islam. The rosy spectacle rel
Mike (the Paladin)
I'm not putting this on any shelf except for Biography and history. The subject matter may touch on other topics but i don't want to mislead nor put anyone off. This book is informative, insightful, sad, frightening (even horrifying). I would say that this book is not to be missed.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a young woman who was reared in a strict Islamic family and country. This is the story of her journey through loss, pain danger, growth, development and it's still going on.

I'm not going to say much
Sleepless Dreamer
This book might be one of the best biographies I've ever read. 

Infidel is the story of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Somali born, by the age of 20, Hirsi Ali had lived in Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. Following her father's attempts to force her into a marriage with a stranger, she seeks asylum in the Netherlands where she gets elected to parliament, angers a lot of Muslims with her opinions, and loses her Dutch citizenship.
At its core, this book is many things. It's a religious reckoning following a f
A powerful and thought provoking memoir, ‘Infidel’ by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, is a book that anyone studying religion and Middle Eastern politics should read. It begins with a murder and ends with a murder. Born in Somalia and raised primarily by her mother and grandmother, Ali experiences her growing up years in Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya and Saudia Arabia. Even though her father is mostly absent, he casts a long shadow, and Ali frequently seeks his approval. The prayers that Ali remembers from childhoo ...more
Jan 25, 2010 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Buffs of autobiography, history, comparative religion, skeptics, feminism, & everybody else
Shelves: biography, history
Infidel is an amazing book, on many levels. It’s an amazing story, work of historical analysis, political philosophy, and dissection of Islam as viewed through the autobiography of a remarkable woman (Ayaan Hirsi Ali/Magan) who will not fail to point out that among Muslim women, she is singularly fortunate. Just look at what she has done through the power of logos: mastered languages (she is fluent in Somali, Arabic, Swahili, English, and Dutch), logistics (she has negotiated her way from the po ...more
Jul 14, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: non-fiction, somalia
This book shook me deeply. I have always been interesting in women's rights but this was the first non-fiction I read about the women struggles in a Muslim country. Here is where I read about female genitalia mutilation which is one of the cruelest punishments for being a women that I know. I cannot believe this exists. More about this barbaric procedure on WHO website: ...more
« previous 1 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 next »
topics  posts  views  last activity   
Fantastic Books &...: June's Book Announcement 1 10 Jun 09, 2018 11:01AM  

Readers also enjoyed

  • Work Smart Now: How to Jump-Start Productivity, Empower Employees, and Achieve More
  • Where Women Are Kings
  • Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission to Promote Peace ... One School at a Time
  • Tatăl celuilalt copil
  • Leap of Faith: Memoirs of an Unexpected Life
  • The Girl Who Escaped ISIS: This Is My Story
  • Cel care mă așteaptă
  • A Long Way Gone: Memoirs of a Boy Soldier
  • Blind Pony: As True A Story As I Can Tell
  • Tooth for Tooth (Talion #2)
  • Cruel and Usual Punishment: The Terrifying Global Implications of Islamic Law
  • Of the Flame, Poems - Volume 15
  • The Audacity of Hope: Thoughts on Reclaiming the American Dream
  • Reading Lolita in Tehran: A Memoir in Books
  • Radical: My Journey out of Islamist Extremism
  • Burned Alive
  • Het vergeten volk: het verhaal van de Jezidi's over de laatste genocide
  • Arsă cu acid
See similar books…
See top shelves…
Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Somali: Ayaan Xirsi Cali; born Ayaan Hirsi Magan 13 November 1969) is a Dutch feminist, writer, and politician. She is the estranged daughter of the Somali scholar, politician, and revolutionary opposition leader Hirsi Magan Isse. She is a prominent critic of Islam, and her screenplay for Theo Van Gogh's movie Submission led to death threats. Since van Gogh's murder by a Muslim in ...more

News & Interviews

Juneteenth, observed on June 19th each year, is an American holiday commemorating the day in 1865 when the last enslaved people in Galveston,...
12 likes · 1 comments
“The only position that leaves me with no cognitive dissonance is atheism. It is not a creed. Death is certain, replacing both the siren-song of Paradise and the dread of Hell. Life on this earth, with all its mystery and beauty and pain, is then to be lived far more intensely: we stumble and get up, we are sad, confident, insecure, feel loneliness and joy and love. There is nothing more; but I want nothing more.” 725 likes
“As a woman you are better off in life earning your own money. You couldn't prevent your husband from leaving you or taking another wife, but you could have some of your dignity if you didn't have to beg him for financial support.” 278 likes
More quotes…