In Infidel, Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes her execrable life as a devout Muslim girl in Somalia, Kenya and Saudi Arabia. She explains why she became an Infidel after experiencing freedom in the Netherlands. In Heretic, she seeks a reformation of Islam, with a focus on women’s rights but including tolerance and freedom of thought and speech for all. That will not happen soon, even though there are other current and former Muslims who want it and others who claim to want it.
From the first page of Heretic:
On ______, a group of ______ heavily armed, black-clad men burst into a ______ in ______, opening fire and killing a total of ______ people. The attackers were filmed shouting “Allahu akbar!”
Speaking at a press conference, President ______ said: “We condemn this criminal act by extremists. Their attempt to justify their violent acts in the name of a religion of peace will not, however, succeed. We also condemn with equal force those who would use this atrocity as a pretext for Islamophobic hate crimes.”
. . . .
Let me make my point in the simplest possible terms: Islam is not a religion of peace. For expressing the idea that Islamic violence is rooted not in social, economic, or political conditions— or even in theological error— but rather in the foundational texts of Islam itself, I have been denounced as a bigot and an “Islamophobe.” I have been silenced, shunned, and shamed. In effect, I have been deemed to be a heretic, not just by Muslims— for whom I am already an apostate— but by some Western liberals as well, whose multicultural sensibilities are offended by such “insensitive” pronouncements. [Emphasis added.]
Heretic explores differences between political Islam and Islam as a religion. Hirsi Ali tells of some horrors of Islam as currently practiced in Islamic states, officially pursuant to Sharia law but also unofficially and with little or no intervention by those states to prevent or ameliorate it. Here is an example of the latter type of political Islam:
Political Islam is rooted in and, I think, inseparable from, religious Islam as commanded by the Qu’ran, the Hadith and Sharia law. An article titled The Lure of Fantasy Islam disparages hopeful reformers such as Dr. M. Zuhdi Jasser, a self-described “devout Muslim,” as promoting “fantasy Islam” by obscuring the nature of Islam as it has developed over the centuries and as it now is.
Dr. Jasser advocates the separation of mosque and state. He
is the Founder and President of the American Islamic Forum for Democracy (AIFD) and is the author of A Battle for the Soul of Islam: An American Muslim Patriot’s Fight to Save His Faith (Simon & Schuster, June 2012). On March 20, 2012, Dr. Jasser was appointed by Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell (R-KY) to the United States Commission on International Religious Freedom (USCIRF) where he currently serves as a Commissioner.
That’s very good; but how can a “devout Muslim” call for the separation of mosque and state? He also appears to pretend that Islam today is something it is not: a peaceful, tolerant religion. Obama and organizations He supports do the same. He and they do not seek Islamic reformation but instead oppose it. Obama apparently believes that Islam is fine as it is. He is not stupid and must know what Islam is now and has long been.
Hirsi Ali does not pretend that today’s Islam is what it is not: she recognizes today’s Islam as a violent, intolerant and otherwise evil religion that seeks civilizational domination. She is the executive producer of, and appeared in, this Clarion Project Honor Diaries Video as well as others:
For producing the Honor Diaries videos, Hirsi Ali is deemed an “Islamophobe.” Although the suffix “phobia” in “Islamophobia” still invokes the notion of irrationality, that seems to have disappeared in current usage. Now, Islamophobia “(or anti-Muslim sentiment) is the prejudice against, hatred towards, or fear of the religion of Islam or Muslims” — regardless of the rationality of such prejudice, hatred or fear.
Along with the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), Azeezah Kanji — the featured speaker in the above video — has been very active in disparaging Honor Diaries. Like CAIR, she has ties to the Obama White House and was named a “Champion of Change” by the White House in 2011. What changes in Islam does Ms. Kanji champion? None, apparently, of those intrinsic to it.
Please see also my article titled Islam: Hate, Honor, Women’s Rights and Congress. Obama’s “Champion for Change” would most likely agree with the proponents of House Resolution 569 that “Islamophobia” is a hate crime.
What can we do to promote an Islamic reformation?
To a great extent, it’s up to the Muslims. However, Hirsi Ali suggests the following in Heretic:
There is probably no realistic chance that Muslims in countries such as Pakistan will agree to dispense with sharia. However, we in the West must insist that Muslims living in our societies abide by our rule of law. We must demand that Muslim citizens abjure sharia practices and punishments that conflict with fundamental human rights and Western legal codes. Moreover, under no circumstances should Western countries allow Muslims to form self-governing enclaves in which women and other supposedly second-class citizens can be treated in ways that belong in the seventh century. [Emphasis added.]
. . . .
It is no longer plausible to argue that organizations such as Boko Haram— or, for that matter, Islamic State— have nothing to do with Islam. It is no longer credible to define “extremism” as some disembodied threat, meting out death without any ideological foundation, a problem to be dealt with by purely military methods, preferably drone strikes. We need to tackle the root problem of the violence that is plaguing our world today, and that must be the doctrine of Islam itself. [Emphasis added.]
. . . .
[The] phenomenon of Christophobia (as opposed to the far more widely discussed “Islamophobia”) receives remarkably little coverage in the Western media. Part of this reticence may be due to fear of provoking additional violence. But part is clearly a result of the very effective efforts by lobbying groups such as the Organization of Islamic Cooperation and the Council on American-Islamic Relations. Over the past decade, these and similar groups have been remarkably successful in persuading journalists and editors in the West to think of each and every example of perceived anti-Muslim discrimination as an expression of a deep-rooted Islamophobia. [Emphasis added.]
What does Islam need to reform?
Islam . . . . needs a Voltaire. But I have come to believe it is in dire need of a John Locke as well. It was, after all, Locke who gave us the notion of a “natural right” to the fundamentals of “life, liberty, and property.” But less well known is Locke’s powerful case for religious toleration. And religious toleration, however long it took to be established in practice, is one of the greatest achievements of the Western world.
. . . .
Most Americans, and indeed most Europeans, would much rather ignore the fundamental conflict between Islam and their own worldview. This is partly because they generally assume that “religion,” however defined, is a force for good and that any set of religious beliefs should be considered acceptable in a tolerant society. . . . [Emphasis added.]
But that does not mean we should be blind to the potential consequences of accommodating beliefs that are openly hostile to Western laws, traditions, and values. For it is not simply a religion we have to deal with. It is a political religion many of whose fundamental tenets are irreconcilably inimical to our way of life. We need to insist that it is not we in the West who must accommodate ourselves to Muslim sensitivities; it is Muslims who must accommodate themselves to Western liberal ideals. [Emphasis added.]
Unfortunately, not everyone gets this.
In the fall of 2014, Bill Maher, host of the HBO show Real Time with Bill Maher, held a discussion about Islam that featured the best-selling author Sam Harris, the actor Ben Affleck, and the New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof. Harris and Maher raised the question of whether or not Western liberals were abandoning their principles by not confronting Islam about its treatment of women, promotion of jihad, and sharia-based punishments of stoning and death to apostates. To Affleck, this smacked of Islamophobia and he responded with an outburst of moralistic indignation. To applause from the audience, he heatedly accused Harris and Maher of being “gross” and “racist” and saying things no different from “saying ‘you’re a shifty Jew.’ ” Siding with Affleck, Kristof interjected that brave Muslims were risking their lives to promote human rights in the Muslim world. [Emphasis added.]
After the show, during a discussion in the greenroom, Sam Harris asked both Ben Affleck and Nick Kristof, “What do you think would happen if we had burned a copy of the Qur’an on tonight’s show?” Sam then answered his own question, “There would be riots in scores of countries. Embassies would fall. In response to our mistreating a book, millions of Muslims would take to the streets, and we would spend the rest of our lives fending off credible threats of murder. But when IS crucifies people, buries children alive, and rapes and tortures women by the thousands— all in the name of Islam— the response is a few small demonstrations in Europe and a hashtag [# NotInOurName].” [Emphasis added.]
Islam is apartheid and should be recognized as such.
Too often, when it comes to women’s rights (and human rights more generally) in the Muslim world, leading thinkers and opinion makers have, at best, gone dark. [Emphasis added.]
I cannot help contrasting this silence with the campaign to end apartheid, which united whites and blacks alike all over the world beginning in the 1960s. When the West finally stood up to the horrors of South African apartheid, it did so across a broad front. The campaign against apartheid reached down into classrooms and even sports stadiums; churches and synagogues stood united against it across the religious spectrum. South African sports teams were shunned, economic sanctions were imposed, and intense international pressure was brought to bear on the country to change its social and political system. American university students erected shantytowns on their campuses to symbolize their solidarity with those black South Africans confined to a life of degradation and impoverishment inside townships. [Emphasis added,]
Today, with radical Islam, we have a new and even more violent system of apartheid, where people are targeted not for their skin color but for their gender, their sexual orientation, their religion, or, among Muslims, the form of their personal faith. [Emphasis added.]
. . . . As I have repeatedly said, the connection between violence and Islam is too clear to be ignored. We do no favors to Muslims when we shut our eyes to this link, when we excuse rather than reflect. We need to ask: Is the concept of holy war compatible with our ideal of religious toleration? Should it be blasphemy— punishable by death— to question the applicability of certain seventh-century doctrines to our own era? Why, when I have made these arguments, have I received so little support and so much opprobrium from the very people in the West who call themselves feminists, who call themselves liberals? [Emphasis added.]
. . . .
A Unique Role for the West
Whenever I make the case for reform in the Muslim world, someone invariably says: “That is not our project— it is for Muslims only. We should stay out of it.” But I am not talking about the kind of military intervention that has got the West into so much trouble over the years. For years, we have spent trillions on waging wars against “terror” and “extremism” that would have been much better spent protecting Muslim dissidents and giving them the necessary platforms and resources to counter that vast network of Islamic centers, madrassas, and mosques which has been largely responsible for spreading the most noxious forms of Islamic fundamentalism. For years, we have treated the people financing that vast network— the Saudis, the Qataris, and the now repentant Emiratis— as our allies. In the midst of all our efforts at policing, surveillance, and even military action, we in the West have not bothered to develop an effective counternarrative because from the outset we have denied that Islamic extremism is in any way related to Islam. We persist in focusing on the violence and not on the ideas that give rise to it. [Emphasis added.]
Are you listening, President Obama? Not at all likely.
Why the Tide Is Turning
Three factors are combining today to enable real religious reform:
• The impact of new information technology in creating an unprecedented communication network across the Muslim world.
• The fundamental inability of Islamists to deliver when they come to power and the impact of Western norms on Muslim immigrants are creating a new and growing constituency for a Muslim Reformation.
• The emergence of a political constituency for religious reform emerging in key Middle Eastern states.
Together, I believe these three things will ultimately turn the tide against the Islamists, whose goal is, after all, a return to the time of the Prophet— a venture as foredoomed to failure as all attempts to reverse the direction of time’s arrow.
. . . .
In November 2014, an Egyptian doctor coined an Arabic hashtag that translates as “why we reject implementing sharia”; it was used five thousand times in the space of twenty-four hours, mostly by Saudis and Egyptians. In language that would have been unthinkable just a few years ago, a young Moroccan named Brother Rachid last year called out President Obama on YouTube for claiming that Islamic State was “not Islamic.”[Emphasis added.]
Here is the referenced video: Please listen. It’s powerful and compelling, albeit “Islamophobic.”
. . . .
I agree with Malala Yousafzai, the Nobel Peace Prize– winning Pakistani schoolgirl whom the Taliban tried to kill:
The extremists are afraid of books and pens. The power of education frightens them. They are afraid of women. The power of the voice of women frightens them. That is why they are blasting schools every day— because they were and they are afraid of change, afraid of the equality that we will bring to our society. They think that God is a tiny, little conservative being who would send girls to the hell just because of going to school.
Here, surely, is the authentic voice of a Muslim Reformation.
Updates, January 3, 2016
Islamic reformation will take a long time. Until there is an Islamic reformation, those who cry “Islamophobe!” — a made-up word intended to box people to keep them “politically correct” — will have won. So will those who despise our freedoms and want to “fundamentally transform” America.
Until we, and our “leaders,” stop damning “Islamophobes” and helping such organizations as CAIR, there will be no significant reformation. If and when we and our “leaders” also begin to take the other steps Hirsi Ali suggests, there may eventually be an Islamic reformation that will benefit us as well as Muslims.
Of perhaps more importance, and certainly more immediate importance — the Islamisation of America — now moving in the wrong direction — will slow and eventually cease.