In the aftermath of every attack committed by Muslims in the name of Islam we are exhorted not to blame Islam itself, because it is “a religion of peace” that has been hijacked by people doing violence for their own reasons. Is this explanation accurate? Not according to author and activist Ayaan Hirsi Ali, and she would know: she was raised a practicing Muslim.
In this week’s video, she explains that the call to violent jihad is contained in the Qu’ran, and that violent acts in the name of Islam cannot be divorced from the religion itself. On what grounds does she make this claim? And what can be done about it? Watch the video here to find out.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Dutch: [aːˈjaːn ˈɦiːrsi ˈaːli] ( listen), born Ayaan Hirsi Magan, on 13 November 1969) is a Somali-born Dutch-American activist, author, and former Dutch politician. She is a leading opponent of female genital mutilation, and calls for a reformation of Islam. She is a feminist and atheist. Her latest book was released in 2015 and is called: Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now.
In 2003, Hirsi Ali was elected a member of the House of Representatives (the lower house of the Dutch parliament), representing the People's Party for Freedom and Democracy (VVD). A political crisis related to the validity of her Dutch citizenship led to her resignation from parliament, and indirectly to the fall of the second Balkenende cabinet in 2006.
Ayaan has been a vocal critic of Islam. In 2004, she collaborated on a short movie with Theo van Gogh, entitled Submission, the English rendering of the word "Islam", a film about the oppression of women under Islam. The documentary sparked controversy, which resulted in death threats against the two and the eventual assassination of Van Gogh later that year by Mohammed Bouyeri, a second-generation migrant from Morocco. In a 2007 interview, she described Islam as an "enemy" that needs to be defeated before peace can be achieved. But in her latest book Heretic (2015) she moderated her views of Islam and now calls for a reform of the religion by supporting reformist Muslims.
Islam cannot be reformed, it can, at best, become apostate. As long as Islam's sacred texts reflect the views and the life of Mohammed, Islam will always be extremely violent and obsessed with eliminating all who oppose Islam. Those who would make Islam into a genuine religion of peace would basically have to emasculate the Quran and other sacred texts. Touching the Quran would result in global hysteria. I cannot see that ever happening.
In 2005, Hirsi Ali was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world. She has also received several awards, including a free speech award from the Danish newspaper Jyllands-Posten, the Swedish Liberal Party's Democracy Prize, and the Moral Courage Award for commitment to conflict resolution, ethics, and world citizenship. Hirsi Ali has published two autobiographies: in 2006 and 2010.
Hirsi Ali emigrated to the United States, where she was a fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. She founded the women's rights organization the AHA Foundation. She became a naturalized U.S. citizen in 2013 and that year was made a fellow at the Kennedy Government School at Harvard University and a member of The Future of Diplomacy Project at the Belfer Center. She is married to Scottish historian and public commentator Niall Ferguson.