Another strong voice for an Islamic ReformationAyaan Hirsi Ali
(Patheos) – This time the voice is that of one of the bravest women in the world. She is Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a native Somali who was a member of the Dutch Parliament, and now lives in the United States. Her colleague and filmmaker Theo Van Gogh was assassinated in 2004 because he was exposing Islamist violence against innocents. To his chest was pinned a five-page letter addressed to Hirsi Ali, threatening that she would be next.
Hirsi Ali grew up as a Muslim in Somalia and became an atheist. She has spoken out loudly and articulately for women’s rights in the Muslim world and against jihadist Islam for some years. As a result, she still gets death threats.
Last year Brandeis University announced she would get an honorary degree for her work, and then under pressure from Muslims famously withdrew the award.
Now she has published a new book: Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now. Michael Totten’s review at Commentary includes the following:
1. “The majority of otherwise peaceful and law-abiding Muslims,” Hirsi Ali writes, “are unwilling to acknowledge, much less to repudiate, the theological warrant for intolerance and violence embedded in their own religious texts.”
2. She divides Muslims into three groups: the Mecca Muslims, who are peaceful, reflecting Muhammad’s years in that city; the Medina Muslims, who endorse attacks on all who disagree (ISIS, Hamas, Muslim Brotherhood); and the dissidents or Reforming Muslims who wish to modernize their faith but are often hunted down by the Medina Muslims while the Mecca Muslims watch passively.
3. Islam was different a millennium ago, when the Mu’tazila school encouraged openness and reasoned interpretation of problem texts. It thrived for 200 years in Baghdad. But traditionalists slammed the door shut on this school, and the door has been closed ever since.
4. A 2014 Pew Research Center poll surveying 14,000 Muslims worldwide showed that huge majorities almost everywhere fear the Medina Muslims–92 percent of Lebanese, 80 percent of Tunesians, and 75 percent of Egyptians.
5. Hirsi Ali says the problem is that the Mecca Muslims refuse to denounce violent jihad, even though they do not practice it themselves. She recommends we call their bluff about Islam being a religion of peace.