‘Islam rejected me’
For those unfamiliar with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, she is a Somalia-born intellectual, writer and former Dutch politician, now based in the United States.jaipur Updated: Jan 24, 2010 21:35 IST
For those unfamiliar with Ayaan Hirsi Ali, she is a Somalia-born intellectual, writer and former Dutch politician, now based in the United States. Born to a conservative Muslim family, Ali is a staunch critic of Islam. Her script for the controversial film Submission (made by the Dutch director Theo Van Gogh, for which he was brutally murdered by an Islamic fanatic in Amsterdam in 2004) continues to invite death threats from radical groups.
Ali spent her childhood reading Nancy Drew, Charles Dickens, and the Quran, all while praying five times a day. As a Muslim “these were the obvious things to do”. But in 1985 things began to change. Her Islamic Education teacher inspired students to bring about “an inner jihad”. “She gave me a moral compass… a sense of belonging here [in life], not hereafter,” said the 41-year-old, who was in the 2005 Time magazine list of the 100 most influential people in the world.
“If you oppose the Quran and the Prophet Mohammad, you are called a traitor,” said Ali, whose autobiography is aptly titled Infidel. She finds western culture “liberating” as it “doesn’t kill” its criticisers.
“It’s important to offset Islamic values against the West to see what parts [of Islam] are worth practising.”
So what’s the solution? “Is there a way we can have a discussion on Islam without offending Muslims? No.” Perhaps the only ‘advice’ she has for the religion she once followed is “to make Islam go through the same Enlightenment as other religions did”.
Despite her traumatic past and a threatened future, Ali still believes that if Muslims start questioning their moral framework, they will eventually wake up to the reality of Islam. “It’s the religion that rejected me.”