Infidel, a Book by Muslim
Dissident Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Her transformation from what she
terms, "the world of faith to the world of reason"
An award-winning humanitarian and courageous freedom fighter,
Ayaan Hirsi Ali stands as one of the most influential and outspoken
political figures of our time. Yet, she is also demonized by
conservative Muslims worldwide, including members of her own
clan and family, for speaking out against the injustices of
the Islamic faith. Determined to voice the truth in Infidel
(Free Press; February 6, 2007; $26.00), her remarkable and unflinchingly
honest memoir, Hirsi Ali recounts her transformation from what
she terms, "the world of faith to the world of reason,"
a change she believes is vital for the most troubled regions
of the world.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali in her book's cover.
Hirsi Ali made
international headlines in 2004 following the shocking murder
of Theo van Gogh (with whom she made the controversial short
film, Submission), by a young Muslim radical. The murderer pinned
a note to van Gogh’s body warning Hirsi Ali that she would
be next, which has compelled her to live under twenty-four-hour
police protection ever since. Refusing to be silenced, however,
she continues to speak out with her powerful and timely message
of equality and religious reform. Already a bestseller in Europe,
Infidel details the formation of Hirsi Ali's insights on Islamic
reform, and introduces a path to realizing a fundamental shift
of values in modern Muslim society. Tracing not just her personal
history but also the history of the militant Islamic movement
throughout Africa and the Middle East, Infidel charts the influences
and beliefs that have defined the past thirty years, including
the rise of the powerful, Saudi-financed Muslim Brotherhood.
The daughter of a leading political opponent to the Somalian
dictator, Hirsi Ali grew up in exile with her devout Muslim
family, moving from Somalia to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and finally
Kenya to escape persecution. She was forced by her traditional
grandmother to endure female genital mutilation, in spite of
her father's opposition to the procedure. As her homeland slid
into a brutal and unforgiving civil war, which were the destructive
effects of clan rule, she became more devoutly committed to
Islam, attempting to find meaning in her suffering. In Infidel,
Hirsi Ali recounts a disturbing history of rampant abuse and
deep-seated intellectual and spiritual deprivation that led
to her first acts of defiance against cultural rules--from a
secret marriage to her cousin that jeopardized her family honor
to her bold decision to disregard long-held customs in order
to attend secretarial school and work outside the home.
Refusing to accept the limiting standards of her faith any longer,
Hirsi Ali fled Somalia to escape an arranged marriage, and obtained
political asylum in the Netherlands. While earning her masters
in political science she learned of a world she never knew existed,
and began to question the very seed of her Islamic roots. She
was elected to the Dutch parliament, and dared to challenge
the fraudulent version of equality in the rigid laws of her
religion and within Dutch society. Against searing criticism
and rejection, Hirsi Ali spoke out against the oppression of
Islamic women, the lack of individual rights, and what she considered
archaic values that only sustained the poverty and tyranny of
Muslims within her homeland and abroad.
Hirsi Ali is a living embodiment of the political and religious
turmoil that continues to devastate our world today. Through
her personal transformation, she offers a deep understanding
of her culture and a promising message of resilience and renewal.
As she writes, "We in the West would be wrong to prolong
the pain of [a transition to the modern world] unnecessarily,
by elevating cultures full of bigotry and hatred toward women
to the stature of respectable alternative ways of life."
Fearless in her passion for equality and reform, Hirsi Ali has
dedicated her life to advancing the rights of Muslim women around
Infidel is a profound, authentic, and inspiring memoir that
lays bare the essential struggles between religion, faith, and
freedom that define our turbulent times. It is a brave and urgent
call for awakening, and a confident portrayal of one woman's
Ayaan Hirsi Ali was named one of Time magazine's 100 Most Influential
People of 2005, one of the Glamour Heroes of 2005, and Reader's
Digest's European of the Year. She has also received numerous
human rights awards. Hirsi Ali currently lives in the United
States, where she is a resident fellow of the Washington-based
American Enterprise Institute.