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Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Infidel (original 2007; edition 2008)

by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

MembersReviewsPopularityAverage ratingMentions
3,1291441,798 (4.22)191
Authors:Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Info:Free Press (2008), Edition: 1st ptg thus, Paperback, 384 pages
Collections:Reviewed, Read but unowned
Tags:non-fiction, 2012-around-the-world, biography, memoir, autobiography, current affairs, politics, Islam, Religion, feminism, Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Holland, Netherlands, Africa, Muslims, Saudi Arabia

Work details

Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (2007)

  1. 30
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» See also 191 mentions

English (135)  Dutch (4)  Danish (2)  French (1)  Hebrew (1)  Spanish (1)  All languages (144)
Showing 1-5 of 135 (next | show all)
There are a few books that are so significant to me that they changed the way I think about a subject. This is one. ( )
1 vote anitatally | Jan 29, 2015 |
I found this autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali totally fascinating. It amazed me how this woman proceeded as a child in Somalia from a family of devout Muslims to the atheist activist member of the Dutch parliament that she eventually became.

Her story takes us on travels through Somalia, Ethiopia, Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Germany, the Netherlands, and the United States. It shows us the progression of her change from a devout Muslim to an atheist. It lays bare the facts of Islam which bind it to religious beliefs from centuries ago making it almost a contradiction in the modern world and to human rights. Ironically, it also gave me more of an understanding of the way Islam is practiced in the modern world and why.

I was also astonished to learn of the large Muslim population in the Netherlands and what upheaval Ali's progressive agenda for women's rights gave to the Dutch parliament. Being the liberal country that the Netherlands is, what surprised me even more was that, by protecting immigrants' rights, that country was inadvertently giving free rein to abuse of women for such acts as infibulation, wife beating, forced marriages, forced body covering, and honor killing.

This is a brave book in the way that it exposed Ali to fear for her life due to those Muslims who intend to kill her for being an "infidel". She has dedicated her life to making this world a better place for all women. She also gives us food for thought as to how religion can work for us or against us as we incorporate it into our daily lives and to what extent we do that. ( )
1 vote SqueakyChu | Dec 8, 2014 |

I found this book a struggle. Not because it wasn't written clearly (and at times quite succinctly) but because the subject matter is so gruesome that I wanted not to go to bed, or to work, or to wash the dishes, or out for the night with its facts and ideas in my head.

Ali quotes a statistic at the end - 6,000 young girls are genitally excised every DAY around the world. Even after reading this entire book, understanding her history and what led her to repudiate her faith in Islam, that statistic still shocked me. And, trust me, you'll read worse than that earlier in the book. (So, you'll likely be shocked a lot.)

Her right-wing position took longer for me to come around to. She, more than any of us white Westerners, has good reason to believe what she believes. But how her stance contradicts, or at least counteracts, the history of Western civilization - in particular how hard it is for a European liberal society to agree to any form of suppression after Nazi Germany's realm - well, I can't see both sides. Or perhaps, I can see both sides and have no idea which side to be on.

I am, however, well persuaded by her writing, and if nothing else her words have opened my eyes to some things I knew nothing about, and many arguments I hadn't thought to have with myself. ( )
2 vote khage | Oct 19, 2014 |
Beluisterd op de hometrainer. Mooie beschrijving van haar jeugd en eerste jaren in Nederland. Vanaf haar 'politieke leven' bevat het verhaal eigenlijk geen nieuws meer. Veel bewondering en respect heb ik voor het meisje dat zich los wist te vechten. Heeft dat haar 'bestemming' bereikt, vraag ik me af. ( )
  marieke54 | Sep 13, 2014 |
This is a stunning memoir. Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes her early childhood in Somali. Displaced from her home at an early age because of her father's activism, she grew up in various countries: Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, Kenya. With each move she describes the differences in culture, the prejudices and struggles. I was surprised at the level of domestic violence and instability in her home, at the brutal description of female circumcision- although I had a general idea of that.There was a lot in this book that shook me up. A lot of the early portion of the book is about her upbringing, her family's dynamics, her curiosity about sexuality, her observations of women being oppressed, her exploration into different aspects of Islam and the beginning of her questioning. I learned so much about other cultures different from mine.

She left Kenya to avoid an arranged marriage, moved to Holland and managed to get asylum as a refugee. With a fabricated story and a changed name. She admitted many times to having lied to get into the country, and talks about the problems that caused her later on. As a new immigrant she worked hard to learn about Dutch culture, to learn the language, to study and find jobs- starting with factory work and eventually as a translator. Even when discouraged by other, she insisted on taking classes and exams until she got into a renowned University and pursued a political science degree. She really wanted to know why Holland was so clean, peaceful and well-run when her home country was in turmoil and full of violence. She was fascinated by how government functions, became a research assistant for a political party and then was voted into the Parliament herself, after only having lived in the country for a decade. I was impressed.

Working as a translator with Somalis who found themselves in all kinds of unpleasant and dire circumstances, she had learned how prevalent violence towards women was among the immigrant community. When she became involved in politics she was very outspoken against Islamic practices and for the rights of women. Also about how children were educated, how the Islamic community isolated itself and more. Her remarks were often inflammatory and very controversial, and her direct criticism of the Quran and the Prophet Muhammad caused an uproar. A filmmaker collaborated with her on a short film to make a statement about the mistreatment of Muslim women- using quotes from the Quran. It caused the death of the filmmaker and she had to go into hiding. There was a scandal about her status as a Dutch citizen and she left the country to live in the United States.

It is an awesome book. I was worried the politics and litany of names would make for difficult reading but in fact I found it pretty compelling all the way through. I was fascinated to read about another culture, another way of thinking, and particularly to see her intellectual awakening as she began to question her own religion and upbringing, eventually arriving at atheism. I greatly admire her ethics and drive to help others, even if her delivery method and statements often seemed deliberately offensive.

more at the Dogear Diary ( )
3 vote jeane | Jul 8, 2014 |
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Hirsi Ali, Ayaanprimary authorall editionsconfirmed
Hitchens, ChristopherForewordsecondary authorsome editionsconfirmed
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One November morning in 2004, Theo van Gogh got up to go to work at his film production company in Amsterdam.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0743289692, Paperback)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali captured the world’s attention with Infidel, her coming-of-age memoir, which spent thirty-one weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of today’s most admired and controversial political figures. She burst into international headlines following the murder of Theo van Gogh by an Islamist who threatened she would be next; and she made headlines again when she was stripped of her citizenship and forced to resign from the Dutch Parliament.

Infidel shows the coming of age of this elegant, distinguished—and sometimes reviled—political superstar and champion of free speech—the development of her beliefs, iron will, and extraordinary determination to fight injustice done in the name of religion. Raised in a strict Muslim family, Hirsi Ali survived civil war, female circumcision, brutal beatings, an adolescence as a devout believer, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and life in four countries under dictatorships. She escaped from a forced marriage and sought asylum in the Netherlands, where she fought for the rights of Muslim women and the reform of Islam, earning her the enmity of reactionary Islamists and craven politicians.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 30 Sep 2013 13:40:17 -0400)

(see all 2 descriptions)

Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her life story. An advocate for free speech and women's rights, Hirsi Ali lives under armed protection because of her outspoken criticism of the Islamic faith in which she was raised.

(summary from another edition)

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