Book Review of Infidel, The Caged Virgin & Nomad by Ayaan Hirsi Ali

By the Gorgeous Palah Chingu

Obviously, I am a Muslim. However, I am not a devout one. I am what you can say a combination of modern-moderate Muslim (I embraced liberalism, openness and secularism). When I first read about Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s story, I am aroused by curiosity. What are the factors that drove her in denouncing her religion? What motivates her to be so bold and ferocious in the fight for her own value and belief? I admire her boldness. She does not let anything and anyone prevent her from speaking her own mind. Of course, when you did that, you tend to offend other people but that’s what freedom of speech is made of. You can agree to disagree. Everyone is entitled to their opinion. There is no right or wrong. There is just whether you believe or you are not, whether you with her or you are not. Even after I read her books, I still trust in one god. I still believe in my religion. If she chooses not to do so, it is her option. I don’t know why people made such a big deal out of this matter.

My Rating: 3.5/5
My Rating: 3.5/5

‘Infidels’ was the first book that she wrote. She told her tale sincerely. You can felt the emotion and the sentiment that she conveyed in it. Her tale on her upbringing, families, traditions, cultures is what I called the bundle of sad-depressed but heart moving-inspirational life in some sort of way. I hated it when people dismissed her whenever they heard about her being an apostate or non-believer. You have to know what her story was first before you judged her. She had her own reason to do so and I believe I am in no position to judge her. What happened is between her and god, and I insisted my stance remain that way. She ventured her childhood to teenage hood with resilient and bravery. She did become naughty girl and angered her mother and grandmother. When she met Sister Aziza; she suddenly felt the need to lay low, remain modest and try to be a pious Muslim woman. Through all this age phases, she did some experimenting here and there. I don’t blame her. We all have passed those phases in our life. There is one brief moment when her father decided to marry her off with some guy she barely knew, she decided to take control of her life. She ran away and applied a refugee status at Holland. Most of us probably accepted our fate and give up already but she took initiative and managed to escape. She’s got gut. She is in charge of her life, she furthers her study, and she worked her ass off and even managed to learn Dutch language fluently. Who does not admire a strong person like her? The she joined political party at Holland and become one of the loud and opinionated politicians at Holland.

My Rating 3/5
My Rating 3/5

‘The Caged Virgin: An emancipation of proclamation for women and Islam’ is the second book that written by her. My admiration towards her is simply escalated. She revealed 2 major problems that strangle Muslim women over the years which are genital mutilation and domestic violence. In the country like Somalia, Ethiopia and Sudan, the practice of genital mutilation is deem cultural and tradition of the society. This practice is not written anywhere in Quran or Sunnah. Yet, there are vast amount of people who still did it and invoking the act on the name of religion or culture. Ayaan herself is among the victim of Female Genital Mutilation (FGM). The right path to curb this practice is education which is sadly the people who lives in a country that practices this act had no access to. The victims of this cruel custom are none other than girls. Domestic Violence is so rampantly happened especially in the middle-east countries. I have credible facts for saying so. What Ayaan tried to do is telling those helpless girls who got beaten by their spouse on the daily basis to leave and get themselves out of the marriage before they lose their own life. She also talked about the murders of Van Gogh who directed the story of ‘submission’. It is the revenge form of religious extremists who I felt is incapable of thinking. We can do debate, discussion, forum and any other thing to resolve this kind of thing. It is sad to see whenever some person happened to insult Islam, we go to protest violently, we threat to kill people that involved in it and even to the extend we insulted that person back and somehow, we insisted that Islam is the peaceful religion. How freaking irony is that?

My Rating: 3/5
My Rating: 3/5

Last but not least, ‘Nomads’ is the continuation of 1st and 2nd book that she wrote. In this book, she wrote how she tried to amend her relationship with his father and mother and try to get them past the incident of her being atheist. Ayaan wrote how her father relentlessly talked her into converting back to Islam. Her mother also did not give up and insist on talking to Ayaan to return and repent. I kind of understood why Ayaan persistent and does not want to back off. It is a matter of faith. Ayaan already believe she made the right choice, thus no matter how many times they persuade or plead to her to reverse her decision, it will not happen. It is simple as that. I don’t want to point out whether she is right or wrong as I stated, it is matter of personal choice. As for personal choice is it is up to her to do what she thinks is right or wrong. Then she told the story of her revocation of Holland citizenship and how she managed to gain the America citizenship. She opened up her experience living in America which is to her much more surreal compared to Holland but in the same time she enjoyed it. She spoke about her brother, her sister and her grandmother. How the life in Somalia, Kenya and Arab Saudi changed her sibling’s behavior and took its toll on them.

Just so you know, What Ayaan wrote in all three books, some of it I can agree with and some of it I disagree. That’s how you learnt, isn’t it? Not everybody will agree with you and not everybody will condemn you. Ayaan insists that Islam encourage that husband can beats her wife. I disagree with her, because from what I have learned, there are 2 steps that need to be followed before that. “As to those women on whose part you fear disloyalty and ill-conduct, admonish them (first), (next), refuse to share their beds, (and last) beat them (lightly); but if they return to obedience, seek not against them means (of annoyance); for Allah is most High and Great (above you all)”. (Quran: An-Nisaa 34-35). Ayaan also insists that Man usually took control of his daughter’s life. That, she should marry whoever her father chose. That too is true but according to Prophet Muhammad (PBUH) in one of his saying: Khansa’ bint Khudham said, “My father married me off, and I was averse [to the marriage], and I was a virgin, so I complained of it to the Prophet (peace and blessings of Allah be upon him) who said, “Do not marry her if she is averse [to it].” That means the girl can refuse to marry that person if she doesn’t want to.

There are some other things that I disagree but I do not wish to write because I have to be careful on that particular topic. Knowing that I may not have adequate knowledge to comment on that, I decided to not discuss it. Overall, all of her book is good for critical thinking, I must say. You would sometime agree with her, you would sometime disagree and I think that’s how it should goes in the reading process.

My own collection of her books
My own collection of her books
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