Finished October 26
Infidel: My Life by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
I've had this sitting on my shelf for a while, and finally chose it to read recently. Ayaan tells the story of her life from her birth to the time of this book's publication. Her story is open and unapologetic. She acknowledges her actions and her mindset at different points in her life.
Her story is a wonderful example of the power of education to enlighten. Ayaan was always eager to learn, from her early questions about Allah and the Quran, to her later appetite for history, philosophy, and political theory.
She was the oldest daughter of a second wife of a man powerful in his own clan and country, and was brought up with the knowledge and culture of clans at the center of her life. As she and her family moved around, the influence of religion in her life grew stronger, and her grandmother forced her and her younger sister to submit to one of the most heinous of cultural rites, female circumcision. Within her culture, this was seen as the correct way for females to be.
Because of her father's role in rebellion against the Somalian government, she and her family lived in a variety of countries, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya, as well as her native Somalia, and she was exposed to ways of life other than those of her family.
The insistence by her father to have her submit to an arranged marriage against her will, to a man she didn't know brought her to Europe, and her own independent spirit led her to seize the opportunity to escape her planned life for one of her own choosing.
Her life in the Netherlands brought her the education she so desired, and that caused her to examine the ideas that she had been taught and look at them with reason rather than faith. Once acts of Muslim terrorism and the increase in extremist Islam grew, she also found the voice to speak out against the way Islam treated women, and the way the word of the Quran was taken without any acknowledge of the world's progress in terms of knowledge and human rights.
Ayaan is a woman who has come a long way from her roots, a woman who has taken the opportunities that life has given her and grabbed them, and who speaks reasonably and openly about the injustices that she sees in the world.
This is a very enlightening autobiography.