Summary of Heretic

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  • Controversial
  • Overview
  • Engaging


Ayaan Hirsi Ali offers a controversial guidebook to the anomalies of Islam. The Somali-American scholar, based at Stanford, argues that casting Islam as a compassionate, peace-loving belief system with the self-identified Islamic State as just a fringe outbreak misses the mark. Instead, she finds that in a literal reading, the Quran – directly or indirectly – sanctions intolerance, resistance to social and religious innovation, death and violence. Hirsi Ali discusses her theory that Islam needs a movement analogous to the Protestant Reformation. She argues that Islam should abandon jihad and embrace reformation. Having been both accused of Islamophobia and lauded as a reformer and an intellectual, Hirsi Ali urges support for reform-minded Muslim leaders. While always strictly neutral in politics and religion, getAbstract thinks readers will be intrigued by Hirsi Ali’s call for change even if they may deem her prescriptions inadequate or too simple.

About the Author

Somali-American and fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution Ayaan Hirsi Ali is among Time magazine’s 100 Most Influential People in the World. She is a former member of the Dutch Parliament who fled to the US amid controversy fearing retaliation for her beliefs. An activist in the fight against female genital mutilation, she also wrote the documentary Submission and the books The Son Factory, The Caged Virgin, Infidel: My Life and Nomad: From Islam to America.



Risking of Islamophobia

Many world leaders cast Islam as a religion that is peaceful by nature but temporarily beset by extremists with no broad constituency. But from its Medina period onward, Islam wasn’t a religion of peace. The West shouldn’t regard Islamic violence as resulting from frustrated, unemployed young men, corrupt politicians, misguided clerics, dysfunctional families and a lack of civil – as opposed to religious – society. Instead, Islam’s violent characteristics emerge from its philosophy.

Now, if you made such statements in the Muslim world, you could risk denunciation as a heretic or apostate. You could even face torture or assassination at the hands of those who cite calls to violence in the Quran, which wields a strong, theocratic influence on Islam’s legal system, Sharia.

Western nations should not acquiesce to Muslims who insist that rogue clerics hijacked Islam and that the West should accommodate to Islamic values. The West must hold the Muslim world accountable and assert that Islam should adjust to the West. Modernizing reformers within Islam deserve Western support.

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