For 13 years, former radical Islamist Ayaan Hirsi Ali has been arguing that the violent acts of Islamic groups, such as Al Qaeda, ISIS, Boko Haram, and El Shabab cannot be divorced from the religious ideals that inspire them.
They are not some fringe group or the product of poverty and discrimination. In fact, many of the recent recruits have been well educated in universities in the United States, Canada, and Europe and are the children of professionals including doctors, lawyers, and university professors.
They are driven by a political ideology embedded in Islam, she argues, and they are trying to establish a global caliphate—that is, a state that combines politics and Muslim faith, including Sharia law.
According to Ali, it is a violent faith that calls for death for apostasy, for adultery, for criticizing or questioning any aspect of the Koran. It demeans women. It exalts a “good death” above life, which is the opposite of other religions, including Christianity.
This book is an update on her previous views, adding that U.S. President Barack Obama is wrong to call the terrorists extremists because they are acting within the mainstream of the Muslim faith.
ISIS and others like it will not be defeated on the battlefield, says Ali. What’s required is an Islamic Reformation that brings Muslims into the mainstream of modern society, including respect for women, free speech, and peaceful coexistence with people of other faiths.
That Reformation must come from within the Muslim community, she insists. It would be futile for Christians or secular Americans and Europeans to argue from outside that Muslims need to change.
Ali is well known for previous books about her life in Somalia and the Netherlands, where she was elected to Parliament, and for the threats against her life for daring to criticize the more egregious aspects of Islam and violent acts by Muslims. This is another brave and thought-provoking book from an outstanding author. (Harper)