After last week’s post on the Tahrir Square revolution, Ayaan Hirsi Ali gets down to business in this book. Since most of the Islamic world’s governments are controlled by Islamic precepts, she tells us where the pressure points are in bringing that part of the world into modernity.
Heretic – Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
We here in the west have for a long time been as insulated culturally as we now believe those from northern Africa and the Middle East have been. All cultures built roughly on regional religions, Christianity, Judaism, Islam to name the largest, seem to thrive on exclusivity, i.e., ours is the real deal, yours is inferior if not wrongheaded and dangerous. These cultural biases can’t change through external forces; they must change internally, much as Christianity changed through Luther’s Reformation and the subsequent Enlightenment. Now, says Ayaan Hirsi Ali, it’s Islam’s turn.
One of the most provoking ideas Ali puts forth in this book is that by the Qur’anic scripture the sort of evolution Christianity has gone through is considered by Muslims to be apostasy, i.e., all social and spiritual practices must always return to those at the time of Muhammad. Clearly this would set the stage, if Islam were to conquer the world, for Islam to then feed violently upon itself in seeking religious and cultural purity. Ali has left that faith, but she apparently cares enough about it to be at the forefront of a group of reformers demanding that Islam evolve, find its truths and precepts in the context of the modern world. Toward that end, she puts forth five theses that she believes will diminish the violence innate to Islam.
This book is one I consider highly valuable to all religions, as well as to secular society. Ali, in order to see her former religion in the clearest light possible, has become a religious scholar in order to push her ideas forward, and I view her scholarship as crystal clear. This, then, is a book that sheds new light on Islam – its good and its bad, and Ali, in this reader’s view, is one thinker people of all persuasions should read.
My rating: 18 of 20 stars