How often do you think of major changes in your beliefs over the past course of your life? It could be science or money or an ism…Take religion, for example. I started out being driven to church by a neighbor, then dropped off at church by my mother, then the whole family going together – except on quarterly communion days, which Mother skipped.
By 12, I’d joined a group of kids who went door-to-door giving Bible studies. There was much more to come. Over the next decade, or nearly two, I became increasingly religious…ever stricter in my practices. For example, I gave up chewing gum because it had no redeeming value, it took money from our pockets, and every time I wanted to chew gum, I was reminded of the God for whom I gave it up.
Such was the childhood and upbringing of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, author of Infidel, beginning in Somalia and carrying through to 20 or 22 in Nairobi. The difference was, she was surrounded by people encouraging her to become more religious. As I reached for an extremist peak, around age 20, most everyone I knew chided me to back off and live in a more realistic world. They said my purist inclinations were fantasies. Ayaan was told her higher than highest aspirations were required of her.
She was forced to marry an insipid man with the depth of interest in life and knowledge as a horned toad. I, on the other hand, prayed for a godly man to marry. En route to Canada to join with the man chosen for her by her father (after a 5-minute exchange in a mosque), she emigrated to Holland where she received refugee status, with only slight massaging of what she was really running from.
My mistake was praying for a “man.” He was godly…and handsome! That was not my destiny, but naïve as I was, I asked for the wrong solution to the burning in my loins and a desire for “family.”
Ayaan rose to a position in the Dutch Parliament. I, on the other hand, started businesses, the first of which succeeded mightily, and subsequent enterprises were so-so. (The current one will knock a home run, some day, then I’ll build a better one…something I like even more.)
Cutting to the chase, Ayaan ultimately renounced her Muslim faith, as I renounced my Christian one (bolt of lightning, anyone?). Neither of us is saying we gave up all that we believe or relinquished all of our practices. It just can no longer be said of us that we want to be “lumped together” with the most visible, evidently newsworthy, patrons of these religions: the extremists.
We’re both embarrassed by the same recognition: that “holy” people torture those they deem unholy, with no factual basis for the designation. In my tradition, the saying is “love the sinner, hate the sin.” Unfortunately, that translates to “remind the sinner, at each encounter, that you disapprove of this unholy behavior.” Hardly seems loving! (Never feels loving…)
If you’ve ever questioned your beliefs, changed your perspective, or just wondered whether all Islam is as extreme as the extremists who violated the United States, then click this link to my affiliation with Amazon to order and read Infidel.
I dare you!
I read this in two days. It is a “cannot put it down” account of a young woman’s journey from birthright to thoughtful contemplation and even criticism. You will be forever changed after reading Infidel