Review: Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now

Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I have seen a few TV interviews with Ayaan Hirsi Ali and find her to be an intelligent and articulate woman. It is quite easy to see why she is controversial with her opinions on Islam and its need for reform. To be upfront, my understanding of the Islamic faith is basic. I do not pretend to have knowledge or understand all of Islam's long history, subgroups, and intricacies.

Until September 11, 2001, Islam was just another religion to me. Something that I learned about in a textbook in World History class. However, after 9/11 and in the subsequent decade, Islam has stepped into the spotlight on the world stage and in the media with the rise of groups such as the Taliban, ISIS, and other terrorist organizations.

I fully believe that not every Muslim is a terrorist and that Islam is not alone in having extremists, but I also find it interesting that a proclaimed "religion of peace" is shrouded in violence, oppression, and has followers who are willing to carry out such atrocious acts in its name. Unlike many other world religions, Islam seems to have stayed in a time capsule, never experiencing the progressions and modernizations that others have and continue to have.

While I am by no means qualified nor do I know enough to decide whether Hirsi Ali is correct in her assertions, I do think she puts forth some thought provoking arguments for the reformation of Islam. For example, how can Muslims argue that Islam is a religion of peace when one of its central tenants is jihad, a holy war against infidels (any non-Muslim)? Countless acts of violence have been carried out in the name of jihad. Violence is correlated with reward in the afterlife. To call it a peaceful religion seems contradictory and irreconcilable without some change to Islam's core values and beliefs.

If you are looking for a book to help you better understand Islam, this isn't the book for you. If you are interested in learning about some of the modern challenges facing Islam, this book certainly contributes to that discussion. It's a discussion that I believe is worth having, especially if we have any chance of combating such an extreme ideology.

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