We're back from a week of camping, tired and with more than 10 loads of laundry to do, but we had a relaxing time, nonetheless. I had plenty of "down" time to do some more reading, since I have taken a break because of my sewing. One of the books I read was Infidel, the autobiography of Ayaan Hirsi Ali. My sister-in-law recommended it to me and although it isn't the most eloquently book I've ever read, I found it a worthy read.
Ayaan was born in Somalia, but spent most of her childhood moving between Kenya, Ethiopia, Saudi Arabia and back to Somalia because of the constant political unrest in each country. She was born into a devout Muslim family and chronicles in detail the horrific practices she witnessed and experienced at the hands of those who claim to follow the "peaceful" religion of Islam. Most disturbing was their practice of female circumcision, although I found myself equally disgusted by the overall mistreatment of women in that culture.
Ayaan eventually escapes her destiny of arranged marriage by stealing away to Holland where she lives in a refugee camp and experiences for the first time in her life, civilized society. She chronicles her amazement that city busses arrive on time, to the exact minute, how the government officials actually help her out without bribes and how the police actually protect her, instead of harrassing her. It is amazing to see our every-day life through her eyes. It was shameful for me to think about how much I take these things for granted.
Many parts of the book struck me, but I will dwell on just two. First of all, I was appalled at hearing the logic of blaming a woman for being raped, but Ayaan explains it simply: The Qua ran commands women to be modest and the definition of modesty has constantly been tweaked and redefined by whatever group is ruling. And so the women begin to wear the hidjab, which leaves little, if any, flesh showing. Women who do show their arms or necks are subjected to lewd comments and behavior from men on the street. They are groped and attacked and then blamed because men have no responsibility to control their behavior and sexual desire, and thus it becomes the woman's fault for arousing the man. Often, women who are raped or become pregnant out of wedlock would commit suicide for the family's honor. One such woman that Ayaan knew poured kerosene over her head and lit herself on fire in front of her family.
As shocking as that sounds, I couldn't help but think of our tendency in Christian circles to teach obedience to rules without heart change. The Muslim men in Ayaan's world never learn self-control or discernment, so they act out their natural heart's desire. How often have I known people who were raised with strict rules and had no heart change and when left to their own devices, go headlong into sin without any guilt because their desires were left to fester and grow on the inside, while they obeyed on the outside. As a parent, this scares me beyond belief. It makes me question what am I doing to speak to my children's hearts, and not just require rote obedience without heart change.
Islam's worship of Allah is all about submission, which is familiar territory for the Christian believer, but it falls short because their is no heart change and no help from Allah. He is to be feared and worshipped, but there is no mention of love or relationship with him. Life is simply trying to obey more than you disobey his commands and hope that earns you a place in paradise. There is no grace, mercy or atonement for a Muslim.
This was a difficult book to read. It was deep and depressing at times. I long to give the author the gospel. To give her some hope in a God who is loving and kind, and who extends favor to a thousand generations. Unfortunately, Ayaan now considers herself an atheist and sees as her life goal to expose Islam's terror against women and desire to rule the entire world. She is a loud and outspoken critic of Islam and Muslim culture, which has caused her to have to go into hiding to avoid the death threats she receives from her own people. She is cut completely off from her family and after serving for a time in Dutch Parliament, now lives in the U.S.
As difficult as this book was to read at times, I am grateful that I did. It gave me a better understanding of Islam's beliefs and greater compassion for those who live under it's rule. It also helped me grasp the political problems in third-world countries and renewed my thankfulness for the civil order we enjoy in America.
My sister-in-law commented that there is still hope that she becomes a believer. I agree. I pray that God will open her eyes to true faith in Him, that she will know forgiveness of sins now.