I finished reading the book Infidel
by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
. It was recommended to me by Echo and after hearing about it, I had to place it on the "must read" list. Ali is an atheist who offers a detailed look into the life of a women growing up as a Muslim. Unlike fellow atheist writers such as Sam Harris and Richard Dawkins, Ali doesn't see the need for religion to disappear completely, but she does share the view that fundamentalist religion is dangerous and repressive. It is clear from her book that many women are subjugated with the use of Islam, and such subjugation is compliant with the religious teachings. Ali also points out something often expressed by Pat Condell
—the idea of being so political correctness is leading to intolerance. She openly criticizes the teachings in the Qur'an and speaks contrary to those who say the Islam is a religion of peace (people such as George W. Bush). Being a critic has made people speak critically of her. You can condom acts of terror, violence, and repression, but it's taboo to condom the religion used for it's justification.
In all I felt the book did well. The autobiographical format makes Ali's book a very strong argument. It's hard to argue with someone who has experienced the situation first hand. Her point is made. Unlike Bill Maher with Religulous
, Ali doesn't end the book a warning of self-destruction induced by religious fanaticism—she ends with her real-life situation of being in hiding for expressing her views. The reality is, Theo Van Gogh
is dead, killed for making a film (Submission: Part I
) with Ali that was critical of Islam's treatment of women. It's hard to imagin a more real threat.
As with almost all my book, I "read" this via audiobook. I started the reading on the drive to Iowa. The reader is none other then the author, Ayaan Ali. She has a somewhat British accent, but her English is flawless so it's easy to understand. English is just one of six languages she speaks. I was engaged pretty much throughout the book. I found it a little unease to listen to her experiences with female circumcision when she was 5 years old. I have a soft spot for kids, and this story resulted in anguish and anger—how anyone could inflect such acts on a little kid and be convinced it was for good seems something only valid to the extremely religious and the insane.
One thing the book really did for me was display culture gap. Ali lived in several countries as a child before moving to Europe. She had to adapt to several new situations throughout her life. What I think was crucial to this was her education. She continued to seek out knowledge every place she went. And perhaps that is what I find the key to overcoming many of the problem caused by religion, and by the world in general: knowledge. Noam Chomsky once stated something to the effect that he believed the average person, when informed of the truth, makes the right decisions. I think so too.
Pictured is the first loaf of bread I made here in Cedar Rapids. You can't see it much in the picture, but when I pulled it out of the oven I saw right away the loaf had a smiley face.