In Heretic: Why Islam Needs A Reformation Now. Bestselling author of Infidel and Nomad: From Islam to America, A Personal Journey Through the Clash of Civilizations, Ayaan Hirsi Ali, asks why the borders of Islam are so bloody. Interweaving her own experiences, historical analogies and powerful examples from contemporary Muslim societies and cultures, Heretic is not a call to arms, but a passionate plea for peaceful change and a new era of global toleration. With jihadists killing thousands from Nigeria to Syria to Pakistan, this book offers an answer to what has already become the world’s number one security issue. Ayaan Ali has received death threats as a result of writing this book. At least the threats are testament to the fact that words and ideas have power; and rather than the coercion and intimidation of fundamentalists or the tragic group think of the West, ideas need to be debated on open plains, people need to learn to think for themselves. Fundamentalists claim this controversial book is anti-Muslim; rather the author urges Muslims to return to the original beauties of their faith, to the first preachings of Mohammed, to a religion of peace, love, tolerance and compassion. But in these times of peril, in The Age of Terror, it is also vital that the terrible societies created by secular Western democracies, all of them in decay, take a good look at themselves and learn to value their own citizens, rather than discard them in the brutal cruelties of modern capitalism, globalisation, misguided laws and failed social policies. The Sharia is taking hold in the West precisely because it is vulnerable.
In an article adapted by from Heretic for The Wall Street Journal and published in News Corp newspapers around the world, Ali attests that at least 70% of all the fatalities in armed conflicts around the world last year were in wars involving Muslims. In 2013, there were nearly 12,000 terrorist attacks world-wide. The lion’s share were in Muslim-majority countries, and many of the others were carried out by Muslims. By far the most numerous victims of Muslim violence—including executions and lynchings not captured in these statistics—are Muslims themselves.
Ayaan Hirsi Ali writes:
“Not all of this violence is explicitly motivated by religion, but a great deal of it is. I believe that it is foolish to insist, as Western leaders habitually do, that the violent acts committed in the name of Islam can somehow be divorced from the religion itself. For more than a decade, my message has been simple: Islam is not a religion of peace.
“When I assert this, I do not mean that Islamic belief makes all Muslims violent. This is manifestly not the case: There are many millions of peaceful Muslims in the world. What I do say is that the call to violence and the justification for it are explicitly stated in the sacred texts of Islam. Moreover, this theologically sanctioned violence is there to be activated by any number of offenses, including but not limited to apostasy, adultery, blasphemy and even something as vague as threats to family honor or to the honor of Islam itself.
“It is not just al Qaeda and Islamic State that show the violent face of Islamic faith and practice. It is Pakistan, where any statement critical of the Prophet or Islam is labeled as blasphemy and punishable by death. It is Saudi Arabia, where churches and synagogues are outlawed and where beheadings are a legitimate form of punishment. It is Iran, where stoning is an acceptable punishment and homosexuals are hanged for their ‘crime.’
“I do not seek to inspire another war on terror or extremism—violence in the name of Islam cannot be ended by military means alone. Nor am I any sort of “Islamophobe.” At various times, I myself have been all three kinds of Muslim: a fundamentalist, a cocooned believer and a dissident. My journey has gone from Mecca to Medina to Manhattan.
“For me, there seemed no way to reconcile my faith with the freedoms I came to the West to embrace. I left the faith, despite the threat of the death penalty prescribed by Shariah for apostates. Future generations of Muslims deserve better, safer options. Muslims should be able to welcome modernity, not be forced to wall themselves off, or live in a state of cognitive dissonance, or lash out in violent rejection.
“But it is not only Muslims who would benefit from a reformation of Islam. We in the West have an enormous stake in how the struggle over Islam plays out. We cannot remain on the sidelines, as though the outcome has nothing to do with us. For if the Medina Muslims win and the hope for a Muslim Reformation dies, the rest of the world too will pay an enormous price—not only in blood spilled but also in freedom lost.”