Tuesday, June 2, 2015

Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Islamic reform project

Books Hirsi Ali


Yes - Islam must repudiate Sharia and Jihad.  Neither is meant to advance civilization and never has.  Much more important though is that muslim society is understanding that the rule of law matters and it needs to be man made and modern.

So yes this book is now a ray of hope inspired by the Arab Spring which is a long way from been over..   That meat grinder is not over and will continue.  What it is doing is exhausting both Autocracy and Theocracy. The end game is still modernism with an Arab hue.

In the end. the Islamic scriptures will be reshaped and the poison drawn out.  i also think that it will be quicker than imagined..
Jonathan Kay: Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s decades-long — perhaps generations-long — Islamic reform project

| | Last Updated: May 14 4:53 PM ET

Tim Fraser for National PostAli’s new book argues for an Islamic reformation — one that repudiates the institution of shariah and the imperative to wage jihad
Ayaan Hirsi Ali isn’t one to wax sentimental about her mother. “She wanted us to live only according to ‘pure Islam,’ ” the famous Muslim apostate writes — “which to her meant no singing or dancing, no laughter or joy.”

I highlighted that line in my copy of Ali’s new book, Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now — not just because it’s a stinging thing for an author to say about her own mom, but because this single sentence neatly encapsulates everything the Somali-Dutch-American scholar hates about her childhood faith.

To Ali, the pathologies of Islamist societies aren’t just reflected in exhortations to jihadi violence and the excoriations of infidels. They also are manifest in the relentlessly dour, cloistered, stony-faced texture of day-to-day life.

Every punishment at school or at home seemed to be laced with threats of hellfire and pleas for death or destruction: may you suffer this disease or that, and may you burn in hell,” she writes. “When my mother spoke of ‘hellfire,’ she would point to the flaming brazier in our kitchen and tell me, ‘You think this fire is hot? Now think about hell, where the fire is far, far hotter and will devour you.’ ”

Since 9/11, Western intellectuals have put forward a variety of complex theories to explain the social backwardness and misogyny of the Muslim world. But by Ali’s account, a lot of it can be explained by the simple and relentless messaging that Muslims get as children: do right by Allah, or spend eternity roasting in his fire pits.
This is Ali’s third book. In Infidel (2006), she detailed her upbringing in East Africa and Saudi Arabia, and her flight to The Netherlands, where she became a politician and activist. In Nomad: From Islam To America (2010), she struck the pose of militant anti-Islamist culture warrior, arguing that her old religion is beyond redemption.

Now, five years later, she believes that there may in fact be signs of hope. She calls Heretic an “optimistic” book — notwithstanding the depressing catalogue of Islamic-inspired violence it contains. “Seven months after I published Nomad came the start of the Arab Spring,” she writes. “I watched four national governments fall — Egypt’s twice — and protests or uprisings occur in 14 other nations, and I thought simply: I was wrong. Ordinary Muslims are ready for change.”

Ali’s analysis begins with the idea that conventionally minded Muslims typically can be divided into two groups — “Mecca Muslims” and “Medina Muslims.” These names correspond to the ancient cities (now in Saudi Arabia) where the Prophet Muhammad first rose to prominence. The teachings attributed to Muhammad during his time in Mecca generally are more peaceful in tone. But years later, after he had fled to Medina and become a ruthless desert warlord, his teachings increasingly became streaked with themes of violence and forcible submission. One example is the infamous Sword verse from Sura 9, which exhorts, in part: “Fight and slay the Pagans wherever ye find them, and seize them, beleaguer them, and lie in wait for them in every stratagem [of war].”

Ali believes that Medina Muslims — who refer to Jews and Christians as “pigs and monkeys,” and applaud the mob-slaughter of children who accidentally deface the Koran — are largely immune to rational intellectual discourse. “They are not the intended audience for this book,” she writes. “They are the reason for writing it.”

Rather, her argument is aimed at Mecca Muslims, who pray five times a day, perform the Hajj, give zakat, fast during Ramadan, and preach the oneness of Allah, but who are opposed to the nihilistic violence that the Islamic State and similar groups perform in Allah’s name.

Ali is not the first author to call for a Muslim “reformation.” But her manifesto is unusually detailed, identifying a group of specific precepts that must be “repudiated and nullified” before Islam can become a humane faith. These include:

The conceptualization of Mohammed as a “semi-divine” superman;

The obsession with the delights and torments of life beyond the grave;

The encroachment of Islam into every aspect of human life through the institution of shariah; and

The imperative to wage jihad.

Certainly, no one can accuse Ali of thinking small: in the most violent and pathologized parts of the Islamic world (Pakistan, Afghanistan, Iraq and Syria, for instance), these precepts lie at the very heart of mainstream Muslim identity.

This week, when I got a chance to interview Ali in a Toronto hotel suite, one of my first questions focused on this laundry list. “Is this really doable?” I asked her. “In Christian terms, isn’t this the equivalent of saying ‘You can keep going to church. But I need you to forget about heaven, hell, the Father, the Son and the Holy Ghost’?”

I get a smile out of her with this (which is rare — even for a culture warrior, she is an unusually serious person). “When people listen to my prescriptions and say ‘Well, what would be left of Islam?’ 

I respond: What you have left is your ‘religion of peace’ — the rituals and prayers,” she tells me. “In the West, we have no problem with people getting together in mosques or churches. What we have a problem with is the violence and homophobia that shariah demands, the intolerance of other religions, the narrative of anti-Semitism.”

Ali has toned down her message somewhat in recent years. In 2007, she infamously called the Islamic faith “a destructive, nihilistic cult of death.” These days, she is careful to avoid that sort of sweeping statement. In my interview with her, she also is careful to distinguish herself from anti-immigrant firebrands such as the Netherlands’ Geert Wilders, who wants to ban the construction of mosques. “You just can’t do that in a liberal society,” she says.
Ali argues that any real Islamic reform campaign has to include a reconsideration of Muhammad’s untouchable status

It’s her material on Muhammad that Muslim readers (and not just the “Medina Muslims”) will find most controversial — and which helps explain why journalists in Toronto had to walk past no fewer than three separate security stations to interview Ali. Criticism of Muhammad is effectively a capital crime in many Muslim nations. The Organization of Islamic Cooperation has even called for a UN-enforced ban on such insults, denouncing them as “a threat to international peace and security and the sanctity of life.” Nevertheless, Ali argues that any real Islamic reform campaign has to include a reconsideration of Muhammad’s untouchable status.

“The things Muhammad did are being emulated by the Islamic State, al-Qaeda, al-Shabaab,” she tells me. “They’re following his example. So if we agree that Islam needs a reformation, then we have no choice except to talk about [the Prophet’s] moral behaviour. And what he did in Medina was simply inexcusable. He waged war. He personally beheaded people. He had endless numbers of concubines. He took war booty — including human beings, which he divided up. How can we not talk about that?”

After journalist Steven Sotloff was decapitated by ISIL in September 2014, Barack Obama assured Americans that “ISIL is not ‘Islamic.’ No religion condones the killing of innocents.” This kind of naïve aphorism drives Ali nuts.

“It simply will not do for Muslims to claim that their religion has been ‘hijacked’ by extremists,” she writes. “The killers of IS and Boko Haram cite the same religious texts that every other Muslim in the world considers sacrosanct.” The clear corollary to this is that reform will be impossible if “Mecca Muslims” don’t acknowledge that Mohammed was a flawed human being like the rest of us, and that many of the precepts in the holy book containing his prophecies are inhumane, obsolete and barbaric.

As Ali notes, the fundamental problem with Islam today is the same one that took root 14 centuries ago: Unlike Judaism and Christianity, which existed for many centuries as persecuted minority faiths, Islam always was conceived as a dominant, majoritarian creed. It not only encodes the rules governing man’s relationship with God, but also a blueprint for the ordering of a patriarchal, slave-trading, warmongering Bedouin superstate. Some Muslim societies have managed to escape this legacy (progressive Arab societies of the early and mid-20th century, for instance). But as today’s abundant Muslim bloodshed demonstrates, it is difficult to achieve stability in any 21st-century society where the currency of political legitimacy is measured in relation to the values of a seventh-century theocrat.

Ayaan Hisri Ali’s Islamic reform project may take decades, or even generations. But she does believe it eventually will be successful. “Humans learn by experience,” she tells me. “When you live in a country under a secular dictatorship, and people are saying that all your problems will be solved with Islamist ideology, well, you can fool people once. But then people see for themselves how that turns out — which is why the reform movement now is underway. Muslims are coming around to the idea that man-made laws are better for society than god-made laws. And that, to me, is huge.”

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