Review by Kam Williams
Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Harper Collins Publishers
“Ayaan Hirsi Ali argues that... Islamic extremists... are driven by a political ideology embedded in Islam... She 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...
Hirsi Ali shows there is no denying that some of Islam's key teachings--not least the duty to wage holy war--inspire violence not just in the Muslim world but in the West as well. [She] believes that a Muslim Reformation--a revision of Islamic doctrine aimed at reconciling the religion with modernity--is [necessary] to bring the religion out of the 7th Century and into the 21st.”
-- Excerpted from the Bookjacket
Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Somali native who settled in Holland where she was eventually elected to the Dutch Parliament. Disenchanted with the state of Islam, she wrote the script for Submission, a movie chronicling the religion's misogyny and culture of violence against women.
Instead of stimulating a healthy debate of the issue, the picture's release only enraged radical Islamists who issued a fatwa leading to the 2004 assassination of the film's director, Theo Van Gogh. A mullah also issued a fatwa against Ayaan, marking her as deserving death for participating in the blasphemous project.
Over the intervening years, jihadists the world over have become even more emboldened, evidenced by beheading of Christians just for being Christian and murdering cartoonists for making fun of the prophet Muhammad. To her credit, the fearless Ayaan has remained an outspoken critic of a primitive faith seemingly stuck in the Middle Ages which has failed to keep up with the times.
In Heretic, she asserts that "Islam is not a religion of peace," before calling for some "fundamental alterations" to its core concepts. She fervently believes that a modernization of its tenets is necessary to avert the holy war with the West looming over the horizon.
Ayaan specifically indicts President Obama for repeatedly downplaying the ISIS threat while promoting Islam as a "peaceful religion." She vehemently disagrees and says his denial has only served to embolden the terrorists determined to hijack the religion.
However, according to the author, it is not Obama's job alone to turn the tide. "The fundamental problem," she insists, is the deafening silence of "the majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims."
The solution? Ayaan proposes five amendments to the religion, starting with reexamining belief in the Quran as the immutable word of God. She also wants her fellow Muslims to drop their obsession with the afterlife which makes them so easy to recruit as suicide bombers. And she calls for a rejection of Sharia law, a code she claims keeps Muslims stuck in the 7th Century.
It's anybody's guess whether these controversial suggestions will be received as a viable blueprint for a kindlier, friendlier Islam or as the polarizing ravings of a disaffected turncoat. Regardless, at least Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a breath of fresh air as a brave, moderate Muslim with the gumption to kickstart a conversation most would prefer to avoid at all costs.
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