Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
In her first book Infidel Hirsi Ali described her journey from a forced marriage in Africa to a new life and freedom in Holland. Hirsi Ali learned Dutch, attended college and was eventually elected to the Dutch Parliament. Gradually she moved away from her Muslim faith and began to question its teaching about women’s place.
After writing the screen play for Submission, a documentary highly critical of the treatment of women in traditional Islamic societies, she received death threats. The director, Theo Van Gogh, was assassinated. A feminist, activist and writer now living in the United States, Alaan Hirsi Ali speaks up boldly against Islam and its treatment of women.
She is not afraid to speak out against Islam and the Quran. As she travels and speaks around America, she was shocked to find that American liberals and students spoke up for Islam in spite of its teachings on women. While Europeans are more aware of the many instances where families punish or even murder women who trespass the boundaries of faith and custom, Americans were unbelieving or unaware.
“Whenever I spoke, American listeners gasped in indignant surprise at the very concepts of child marriage, honor killing, and female excision. Rarely, if ever, did it occur to these audiences that many women and girls suffer precisely these kinds of oppression in houses and apartment buildings all over the United States.” ( Alaan Hirsi Ali )
Certainly I didn’t think about female genital mutilation being carried out on little girls in the United States, but Hirsi Ali is adamant that it is carried out in Somali, Mali or Sudanese immigrant communities in the U.S. I recalled the case I’d recently read about of Muslim parents in Britain who smothered their 17-year-old daughter to death for disgracing the family. I do not doubt that much of what Hirsi Ali says is true. Mostly, I am impressed that she has the guts to speak out about it so openly in an age when such criticism against Islam could cost one their life.
I found this book even more engrossing than her first. I felt we need to be more educated on this topic which we tend to think only involves women in Africa and the Middle East. She brings home to us that it is a human rights issue that matters to all women and is closer to home than we want to believe!
I was amazed that she had the courage to write what she did and even for Simon and Schuster for publishing it. After all, several deaths were caused by a newspaper cartoon that portrayed the prophet in a disrespectful way. A fatwa was issued against writer Salman Rushdie and the Japanese man who translated his book was actually assassinated. Hirsi Ali pulls no punches when she criticizes the abuses and oppression of women in Islamic society. I thought more people need to know what she is telling us.
Alaan Hirsi Ali herself needs bodyguards wherever she goes! I was truly impressed with her insistence on telling it like it is. She says that too many liberals and the media fail to speak out or write about honor killings as they are reluctant to disparage other cultures and religions. While it is true we must respect other cultures and ideas, human rights concerns must take precedence.
When people become afraid to say certain things and especially to write them, then free speech crumbles. Hirsi Ali is particularly critical of feminists in the West who hesitate to make statements against Islamic oppression of women.
Hirsi Ali is hoping for enlightenment to come to Muslims. ” The Muslim mind needs to be opened. Above all, the uncritical Muslim attitude toward the Quran urgently needs to change.” She points out many scriptures that condone the beating of women. Instead of making a more palpable translation, she feels it must become acceptable to discuss and challenge the teachings of the Quran.
This book is an eyeopener and should be read by more Americans!