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In this profoundly affecting memoir from the internationally renowned author of The Caged Virgin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her astonishing life story, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, and Kenya, to her intellectual awakening and activism in the Netherlands, and her current life under armed guard in the West.

One of today's most admired and controversial political figures, Ayaan Hirsi Ali burst into international headlines following an Islamist's murder of her colleague, Theo van Gogh, with whom she made the movie Submission.

Infidel is the eagerly awaited story of the coming of age of this elegant, distinguished -- and sometimes reviled -- political superstar and champion of free speech. With a gimlet eye and measured, often ironic, voice, Hirsi Ali recounts the evolution of her beliefs, her ironclad will, and her extraordinary resolve to fight injustice done in the name of religion. Raised in a strict Muslim family and extended clan, Hirsi Ali survived civil war, female mutilation, brutal beatings, adolescence as a devout believer during the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and life in four troubled, unstable countries largely ruled by despots. In her early twenties, she escaped from a forced marriage and sought asylum in the Netherlands, where she earned a college degree in political science, tried to help her tragically depressed sister adjust to the West, and fought for the rights of Muslim immigrant women and the reform of Islam as a member of Parliament. Even though she is under constant threat -- demonized by reactionary Islamists and politicians, disowned by her father, and expelled from her family and clan -- she refuses to be silenced.

Ultimately a celebration of triumph over adversity, Hirsi Ali's story tells how a bright little girl evolved out of dutiful obedience to become an outspoken, pioneering freedom fighter. As Western governments struggle to balance democratic ideals with religious pressures, no story could be timelier or more significant.

Customer Reviews:

  • A Powerful Book That is Relevant To Our Troubled Times
    This book is a memoir about Ayaan Hirsi Ali's struggles with growing up in a strict Muslim home, and her gradual understanding of how her religion was abusive to the happiness and freedoms of women. Born in Somali, and eventually becoming a member of the Dutch parliament before moving to the United States, she tells a brutal and straight forward story of what it was like living as a girl and later a woman under the strict rules of the Muslim Religion. Despite death threats, she has not shied away from attacking the religion that she once believed so strongly in. This book is a powerful exposure of what the lives of women are like in a very restrictive and controlling religion, that places women in a subservient role. This extraordinary story has really made me stop and think, and re-evaluate my own current attitudes about Islam. Many Muslim women, even in so called free thinking countries, such as Holland, are still living under strict Islamic laws that not only allows, but even encourages men to beat their wives, order genital mutilation of their daughters, and sometimes to even kill these women. This book is so relevant to what is going on in the world today. It helped me to better understand why we are so hated, to see that the roots of this hate are based in the original doctrines of the Muslim Religion, to understand that women who choose to wear the vail are not necessarily doing it because this makes them happy, but because that the culture tells them that this is the way to be pure, and the way to eternal reward after death. I would highly recommend this book to anyone interested in women's rights, and the basic beliefs of people who literally follow the teachings of the Muslim Religion. I believe in tolerance for religious freedoms, but I found this book very disturbing, and it has caused me to rethink some of my previous attitudes. Free countries must guard against believing so strongly in religious tolerance that the cost of basic human rights is compromised. ...more info
  • Brilliant...a 5-star-plus masterpiece!
    I am certainly not one to gush over books. Authors are human, and write from their own biased perspectives. But every so often a book comes along that gives my own biased perspective a nice swift kick, and that definitely applies here. When it comes to religious beliefs and practices, I confess that I am one of those civilized types that gives every organized religion the benefit of the doubt. Or, I should say, I WAS one of those types until I read this amazing and thoroughly chilling tale. Ms. Ali, thank you for "opening a vein" and bleeding your story onto paper for us...I can only imagine what it has cost you. ...more info
  • Ayaan Hirsi Ali -- Brilliant, Beautiful and Brave
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali takes the reader on a journey. A journey of discovery from obscurity to fame, from the muslim brotherhood to atheism, from the backbreaking yokes of third world tribalism and feudalism to Western philosophy and the Enlightenment. Ms. Ali did not intend for this to happen. It all happened TO her, and she lays out her case for turning her back on her family, her cultural heritage and her religion in a brutally honest, often heart-wrenching manner. If the West has any doubts about what the leaders of the Islamic world are up to, they should be put to rest after reading this book. Islam is not a curious group of friendly, smiling, quaintly dressed members of the local mosque just down the block. It is an insidious disease that is slowly spreading throughout the world. Just as any dictatorial regime will maintain that its mission is peace and harmony with all men, Ms. Ali warns us not to be fooled by any faux ecumenism coming from muslim leaders. As she points out, the Koran is clear, Islam is man's only hope for salvation. And you shall either believe or be cut down by the sword of Islamic justice. Muslims do not wish to live peacefully side by side with members of other religions. Muslims cannot tolerate Western freedoms and values at all. The only coexistence muslims are interested in is the one where they are in charge. And it is the duty of every muslim to ensure the coming of this new Caliphate. Read Ms. Ali's book and learn the truth about the Islamic agenda from a woman who has traveled farther than most of us on her journey of discovery. Discover her passion, and discover the truth....more info
  • vulnerable and poignant
    This is one of the most compelling memoirs I've read in a long time. And it's a book that women, liberals and conservatives could all benefit from reading. Fantastic writing, modest and upfront with no pretension and nobody's politics but her own. And a brutally honest view into true Islam as the author experienced it firsthand....more info
  • Fascinating, gripping
    I will admit - before I read this book, I thought that Islam itself was a religion of peace, and that rabid/fundamentalist Muslims had only chosen to interpret the book as they chose, (just like fundamentalist Christians) but Ayaan is clear and crisp in her explanation of the religion she grew up and how she came to realize the truth. The fact that so many Muslims want her death is evidence enough of that fact.

    After reading this book, I went on the Internet to look for her film 'Submission'. It's a short film but with a powerful message. I thought it was beautifully done.

    For anyone - Christian, Muslim, atheist, this book is a fascinating and informative read. Ayaan's analysis and thoughts are clear and cutting, and the reason so many Muslims hate her is because she speaks the truth that fundamentalist Muslims have no desire to hear, much less admit. But it's also a powerful message about religion itself, and not just Islam....more info
  • Inspiring story from a very brave woman
    It takes a lot of courage to stand up against the views of your family, community, country, religion. Not many people would put their own lives in danger for the benefit of helping others. Ayaan's story is unique and her style very easy to read. It is very inspiring!...more info
  • Amazing story!
    This is an amazing story told in a compelling, interesting voice. I highly recommend it!...more info
  • In the name of religion
    I admire her courage and honesty about the Islamic faith. It is a trajedy that so many religions inflict so much harm on the innocent. The God I know loves us all and would never approve of such hate. He loves the person but abhors the abuse of religion to inflict harm on people. If you want more insight into the "radical" Islamics (jihads) who are set on harming us, the "infidels," I strongly recommend reading the book, The Blood of Lambs by Kamal Saleem. Both books will give you a lot to think about. ...more info
  • An important and interesting read
    "Infidel" by Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an important book not only because it chronicles the life experiences of a very interesting and courageous woman, but also because it provides the non-Muslim with an insider's view of Islam as it is practiced in the countries she grew up in. Her critique of the religion is clear-eyed and devoid of romanticism. She discusses frankly her own disillusionment with Islam, a disillusionment that seemed primarily to spring from its cruel and unjust treatment of women in general and her specifically. But she also takes aim at the dangers and challenges that Islam presents to western cultures as they accept larger and larger populations of Muslims who reject western values. She takes to task the apologists for Islam who fail to be concerned with the brutalization and subjugation of women, and who excuse the radicalism present in and encouraged by the theology. She recounts her life on the run from death threats for speaking out against Islam and the death of her friend Van Gogh.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali lived and suffered under Islam for the first 25 years of her life. She experienced the cruelty of Islamic practices toward women first-hand. She should know of what she speaks. So it behooves us to understand why she is more harshly critical of Islam than are most westerners and why she bemoans the fact that most westerners fail to understand and value the ideological foundations upon which their relatively peaceful and prosperous countries are built. The warnings this courageous woman raises in this well-written book are well worth reading and considering.
    ...more info
  • A must read!
    An amazing journey taken as you follow this young women's life. It puts our lives into a whole different perspective and also reveals a little spoken of insite into Islam's teachings. It confirms the need for educating women of all races and religions. It is amazing what one person can accomplish in the face of all manner of obstacles....more info
  • Should be Made into a Movie!!
    Wow, you can't put this book down!
    It reads like an action/suspense/thriller!
    Wow, I hope someone will turn this into a film soon.
    She is the Anne Frank of our generation.
    She walks us through her youth during the modern
    day holocaust that is the Muslim mistreatment of
    millions of women including little girls -- thousands
    who are mutilated daily. Unbelievable!...more info
  • An Infidel who educates us
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali's story is not a novel, even though we find the lives she describes to be unimaginable in the 21st century. We in the West need to read this shocking book to help us understand the intense devotion of millions of people to beliefs that are militantly hostile to our Western world view. This is the most courageous woman I have ever met....more info
  • This woman is so brave
    You'll be amazed by this remarkable woman's story and what it tells us about extreme Islam. It will leave you angry, scared and ready to roll up your sleeves.
    Before reading this, I didn't know that her partner in making the short film, Submission, was killed and that because of that she had to live under constant security. Submission film
    All I expected from this book was the story of a Muslim who left Islam. It was much more than that....more info
  • Inspiring story of a courageous woman
    A truly fascinating and inspiring autobiography of a true human rights activist and a truly courageous fighter who has survived the victimization of Islamists and their despicable leftwing backers, for speaking the truth and standing up against evil and abuse of women.

    The author talks of her childhood and youth in Somalia, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya,and of the narrow minded bigotry of the Muslim world today.
    She recounts the horrors of genital mutilation in Somalia, the racial prejudice in Saudi Arabia against non-Arabs (especially Africans), the complete hatred and Nazi-like brainwashing she witnessed in Saudi Arabia against the Jews (which takes place in most of the Islamic world: "In Saudi Arabia everything bad was the fault of the Jews. When the air conditioner broke, or suddenly the tap stopped running, the Saudi woman next door used to say the Jews did it. The children next door were taught to pray for the health of their parents and the destruction of the Jews. Later when we went to school, our teachers lamented at length all the evil things Jews had done and planned to do against Muslims...Sister Aziza told us about the Jews. She described them in such a way that I imagined them as physically monstrous: they had horns on their heads and noses so monstrous they stuck out like great beaks. Devil and djinns literally flew out of their heads to mislead Muslims and spread evil. Everything that went wrong was the fault of the Jews...The Jews controlled the world, and that was why we had to be pure, to resist this evil influence. Islam was under attack and we should step forward and fight the Jews, for only if all Jews were destroyed would peace come to Muslims".

    The author describes the slow opening up of her minds against Islamic bigotry and enslavement of the spirit. When she lived in Kenya, which was relatively free compared to Somalia, Saudi Arabia and the then Marxist Ethiopia, she recounts how discovering the school library and the books of Enid Blighton and Nancy Drew adventures of pluck and independence, tales of freedom and adventure, trust equality between boys and girls, opened up her mind to another world.

    And yet her battle was long, as she explains opening up and deconstructing a mental cage is a long process.

    Ayaan shockingly reveals the horrific fate of rape victims in Islam who are blamed for being raped and murdered or tortured.

    Finally the author migrated to the Netherlands and became a member of parliament for the Dutch Liberal Party a defender of human rights, and opponent of Islamic fanaticism.
    As a result she became a victim of death threats and had to live in hiding. Vilified by both Islamists and their leftist backers, who hypocritically claim to be pro-feminism and human rights but attack those who highlight abuses in Islam.

    Indeed the liberal Dutch politician, Pim Fortuyn, highlighted the danger of Islamic fundamentalism and uncontrolled immigration to the Netherlands and was murdered by a Dutch pro-Islamic leftwing radical. The international left today are helping the Islamists to plunge the world into darkness and need to be stopped.

    Ayaan's friend and colleague Theo Van Gogh was brutally murdered by a Muslim terrorist because of a documentary he was working on with Ayaan highlighting abuse of women in Islamic societies.

    Ayaan Hirsi Ali was eventually stripped of Dutch citizenship and went to live in the United States.
    She stresses that the central message of her book is that "We in the west would be wrong to prolong the pain of that transition (to a culture that respects women and human rights) unnecessary, be elevating cultures full of bigotry and hatred to the status of a respectable and alternative way of life."
    Let us support people like this and break the stranglehold of the Islamic/Leftist axis that threatens the very existence of the free world....more info
  • Amazing, brilliant, inspiring
    This is easily one of the greatest books I have ever read. Hirsi's personal story is incredible and awe-inspiring. The book is not only provocative and at times painful, but it is extremely insightful and compelling. Hirsi is a true hero, a beacon of light. This book is a gift to humanity. ...more info
  • great book
    Infidel by Ayaan Hirsi Ali was a great read. I was overwhelmed by her courage in moving out of a culture she had grown up in because it stifled her sense of self as a women and as an intellectual person who couldn't bear the restraints that her culture had put on her. To give up family and home and be any alien who had to get a whole new life together and then to shine in her choice, makes it a must read for any woman in that kind of situation. I was so impressed I want to read more of her works....more info
  • Still have some questions
    This was a very interesting read and I was intrigued by the author's life from childhood until her escape to the Nethelands and subsequent involvement in politics there. However, I question Ali's complete disavowel of Islam and wonder if she, instead, should be condemning the oppressive cultural behaviors of Muslim extremists instead of the religion as a whole. For this reason, I would have liked a more in depth analysis of the positions that, ultimately, led to her leaving the Parliment and the Netherlands. ...more info
  • Eye opening
    This book is amazing not only does it expose the horrible things that happens to women in the islamic faith it shines a light on the treatment and stereotypes of women worldwide. She does not write this book with ill intent or malice. The tone is never one of hatred. Her goal is not to teach you to loathe Islam but to understand the ridulousness of it all! And being a former christian there is ridiculousness there as well! Thankfully not as bad as in the Islamic faith! I will say I had nightmares after reading this book. I dreamed I was being attacked by an Imam or Ma'alim coming after me. I was very happy to wake up an American woman. This is an excellent read and I totally suggest it!...aside from the nightmares and just an FYI some of the scenes in this book are brutal!...more info
  • Thank God we live in America
    This book was interesting, and gave insigts into many areas; being a Muslim woman, being a wife of arrangewment, being a foreigner seeking asylum in another country, what a socialist country is like to live in. I felt the book was too wordy, in other words, too much detail to lots of long days, but was a great discussion book for my bookclub. Too bad she gave up any belief in God also. Worth reading. ...more info
  • Discover the definition of courage through the words, works, and thoughts of Ayaan Hirsi Ali
    Ayaan Hirsi Ali has, in less than forty years, managed to live the experiences found in ten life spans. This celebrated and controversial public figure has worn the hats of many a trade: that of author, politician, activist, translator, teacher, and secretary. Born in Somalia to a revolutionary-minded father and fierce-willed mother, Ali saw and lived through events most Westerners only dimly remember from ancient evening news stories.

    We travel along with her as she recalls the day of her circumcision--which occurred against her father's consent--and the subsequent weeks of pain as her body adjusted. We sit with her in Islamic-studies class, and watch as she initially attempts to imitate the teachings of the chaste Sister Aziza, before then succumbing to doubt. We read with gritted teeth--aware of future events yet powerless to prevent them--as she recounts the sense of pervasive fear on the streets on Mogadishu in the days before full-blown clan slaughter began. We shoulder past thousands of Somalis in an enormous refugee camp, hoping along with Ali that we catch a glimpse of a lost relative among the human morass. We adjust with her as her parents move from Somalia to Saudi Arabia to Ethiopia to Kenya, learning languages and new customs. We share her heartbreak as her family is washed away by a series of tragedies. We lose faith: in our religion, in belief of God, in the possibility of a love marriage, and in independence. Finally, we bear witness as she takes her life into her own hands for the first time, escaping into the Netherlands--out of the grasp of suffocating family, clan, and unwanted spouse, and into the pages of history.

    At face value, "Infidel" is a memoir of a captivating woman who defeated the bonds of female denigration and dehumanization to become one of the world's most outspoken advocates of equal rights for women. Her key target is her belief in the misogyny inherent in the Quran, and the causative effects thus seen: forced marriages, wife beatings which seem more recreational than correctional, the afore-mentioned female circumcision, and "honor killings." An honor killing is the practice by which family regains honor via the murder of a female relation, having first lost it because the woman--be it sister, mother, or daughter--had premarital, extramarital, homosexual, or another such "dishonorable" sexual encounter. This can occur regardless of circumstance, including in the setting of rape or incest. Ms. Ali argues that while most of the above injustices against women are not necessarily exclusive behaviors of Muslim men, they are consistent with Quranic teachings that women are little more the chattel. Therefore, she argues, it follows that radical Islamic tenants are, among other things, anti-woman at base.

    As we follow her into Europe, we see her beliefs change as she witnesses how a society primarily made up of non-Muslims is not the chaos she expected. Buses run on time, houses are immaculately clean, gardens are symmetric bits of paradise, and police officers are there to help, not to bribe. She is given asylum, a stipend, a job, housing--all much more than she had been taught she would receive at the hands of the "godless." She attends university, attains a degree in political science, becomes an outspoken critic of Islam, and is elected to the Dutch parliament. As one follows the book, however, one finds that not all immigrants seek naturalization and success as Ali did. The author makes the disturbing observation that many immigrants bring their old prejudices and traditions with them; thus, ever-expanding pockets of individuals who despise the very tenets of democracy--freedom of speech, freedom of religion, equality--are allowed to thrive within the auspices of the very nation that welcomes them. Ali notes that the grand irony is that the Netherlands' ideas of democracy are contributing to their own demise: misogynistic traditions regarding female clothing, discipline, and punishment are allowed to continue under the myopic principles of religious and cultural freedom. Fear of appearing racist has paralyzed Dutch society to such a degree that it in incapable of doing anything about the inherent hypocrisy: Dutch democracy is protecting the barbaric traditions of those who would like nothing else than to witness the death of the Netherlands' permissive government.

    Following these realizations, Ms. Ali decides to become an even more fierce advocate of equal rights and immigrant integration, so she join forces with the inflammatory Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh. Together they film "Submission," a short movie with the abuses suffered by several fictitious Muslim women as its focus. With that, the snowball which has been gathering mass for so many years finally starts its trek downhill, with deadly results. Gogh was brutally murdered in the streets of Amsterdam by Mohammed Bouyeri in 2004. Ali was quickly placed in protective custody following this tragedy. Enduring constant bodyguard protection, frequent moves designed to mask her true position, and the loss of her position in parliament by opportunistic and cowardly former friends, Ali has yet managed to continue her message: to be compatible with the modern age, Islam must change, or be changed.

    This glimpse into one woman's life is very good reading, indeed; however, some ideas are explored excessively, occasionally the bit of redundant rumination shines through, and one gets the impression that too much detail was lavished upon rather unimportant aspects of her childhood and early life in the Netherlands. Regardless, "Infidel" is fascinating reading as the memoir, literary magnum opus, and diary of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. To the average Western citizen, the hardships endured by this woman are simply unimaginable. That she has thrived, even triumphed, is unbelievable....more info
  • Book
    I NEVER received the book. Have contacted the provider and have heard nothing from them. NOT a good review....more info
  • There are a lot of Muslim feminist writers and Ayaan Ali is NOT one of them - total garbage.
    I didn't read all of this book because I didn't have to. I went in knowing her story was sketchy and it didn't take long for an internet search to show me I was correct.

    The author lies about everything. EVERYTHING! I'm shocked that she's gotten away with it - though in our Islamophobic world I guess it's easy for her to say "OH NO THOSE HATEFUL MUSLIMS WANT ME DEAD CAUSE THEY JUST HATE ME!"


    She started an international incident, accused her family of trying to force her into marrying an uncle (which by the way is against Islamic law - both an uncle marrying a niece and a forced marriage).

    She used the reputation that the Muslim world has in the West to set herself up in a cushy European country, where she was taken in by the government, who by the way supported her through school.

    AFTER she got into the Dutch government is when her little house of cards toppled.

    There was no uncle. There was no marriage. The Dutch government did an exhaustive search and it turned out that her entire story was a fabrication. She told the government she ran away from her family DURING her travels to meet her uncle - nope. Sorry, that was a lie as well.

    The fact is she lived in a 3rd world country, left her parents sick and worried about her, lied to the Dutch government, who eventually kicked her out of parliament rather unceremoniously because her fraud disgraced the Dutch government and made them look like fools.

    She's not a feminist, she's a narcissistic, whiny brat who is still trying - and it seems succeeding, which is astounding if you ask me - to play a victim even after the lies she has been spreading her entire adult life have come out.

    If you want a book about Islam and feminism, try "Living Islam Out Loud" by Saleema Abdul-Ghafur, or "Standing Alone" by Asra Nomani. Read anything by Amina Wadud. THOSE are courageous Muslim women, the author of this book is trying to follow in their footsteps - without actually walking.

    Leave Ayaan Ali alone in her fantasy world, don't let her lead you astray....more info