This autobiography of a Muslim woman who fought against the many restrictions imposed upon her by her family and faith is an inspiring tale. It gives the listener a glimpse of what daily life is like for millions of people around the world and illustrates the strength and courage of one woman who was brave enough to strike out on her own.
The Main Body:
Ayaan Hirsi Ali begins her story in the introduction of the book by describing the shocking death of the Dutch filmmaker Theo van Gogh. As he was riding his bicycle down an Amsterdam street, a Moroccan man armed with two knives and a handgun attacked him. Van Gogh was shot several times, his throat was cut, and a five-page letter was stabbed into his chest by the murderer. The letter was addressed to Ayaan.
The author goes on to describe how she had completed a documentary film with Theo concerning the lives of women in Islamic cultures. The pair had plans to produce a second installment of the movie, and the director was killed because of the material that was covered and the truths that were revealed. yaan’s life was threatened, as well, but she did not choose to become silent. Instead, she hired bodyguards and wrote Infidel, which tells the story of her life.
As a child, Ayaan Hirsi Ali lived in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and Kenya. She studied the Quran, and tried her best to be a pure worshipper of Allah. As she matured, however, she began to chafe under the severe limitations her status as an unmarried female put upon her. She had the audacity to question some of the traditions and rules that other women in her family accepted blindly.
After a great deal of suffering and struggle, Ayaan was able to relocate to Holland and became a Member of Parliament there. She eventually moved to the United States where she is still a tireless advocate for the rights of women all over the world. Her story is one of incredible strength of will and perseverance, and is full of information many non-Muslim listeners have never heard.
Parts of Ayaan’s story are extremely difficult to listen to, including scenes of child abuse, domestic violence, and all kinds of mistreatment. But the subject matter is important and the tale is told in a clear-eyed way that asks for no sympathy, just understanding of a culture that is very unlike what most Westerners are familiar with.
The author chooses to narrate the book herself. Her unusual accent may be difficult for some listeners to understand at first. But I found myself adapting to it quite easily, and hearing the message of the book in Ayaan’s own words reinforced it even more clearly. The contents and narration combine to create a timely and fascinating story that is highly recommended for anyone who wants to understand more about the world we live in.