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Publisher's Summary

What happened to Islamic reform? Why have al Qaeda and Boko Haram become the faces of contemporary Islam? Why has the Arab Spring devolved into a battle over sharia law? Continuing her personal journey from a deeply religious Islamic upbringing to a post at Harvard and American citizenship, the New York Times best-selling author of Infidel and Nomad crafts a powerful call for an Islamic reformation as the only way to end the current wave of global violence and repression of women.
Today, millions of Muslims are wrapped in a rigid orthodoxy whereby women are denied education, girls as young as nine can be forced into legal marriages, and men are told that their futures lie not in building better, more just societies but in jihad against the infidel. Hopes for a wave of liberalization after the Arab Spring have been replaced by new authoritarianism and efforts to impose sharia law. Twitter, YouTube, and other social media have become aggressive platforms to promote a harsh brand of Islamic fundamentalism, making the clash between secular and Islamic society one of the most important challenges of our time.
And yet, contrary to conventional wisdom in the West, Ayaan Hirsi Ali believes that ordinary Muslims throughout the world want wholesale change. Courageously engaging fundamentalists on their own turf - religion itself - she boldly calls for a Muslim reformation, identifying five key amendments to Islamic doctrine that must be made in order to break from seventh-century traditions and fully engage with the 21st century. Interweaving her personal journey, historical parallels, and powerful examples from contemporary Islamic societies and cultures, Heretic will forever change the debate over Islam and its future.
©2015 Ayaan Hirsi Ali (P)2015 HarperCollins Publishers
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By Russell on 04-14-15

And They Revoked Her Honorary University Degree!

Three quarters of the people in Pakistan favor the death penalty for leaving Islam. In Iraq or Bangladesh it is only about 42 percent of the population. Instead of merely socially ostracizing or imprisoning the original thinker – all distasteful reprisals to the western mind that prizes freedom of ideas … millions of people believe this person should be killed.

Where is the outcry against such an intolerable idea? Paradoxically a sizable contingent of western liberals are following Ben Affleck’s lead in shouting “gross and racist” when anybody wonders aloud about Islam and how it is practiced. Islam is a peaceful religion we are told. Not necessarily true. That is why you must read Ayaan’s Hirsi Ali’s most recent book, Heretic.

This is not a book by an Islamophobe. Ayaan grew up with the Islamic religion and although she had a questioning nature, her religious indoctrination had her at one time seeing the justice in demands for the death of the heretical Salman Rushdie. She understands a certain mindset from the inside. Escaping an arranged marriage and observing the lifestyles of the good people of Holland moved her in another direction. This could not have happened as easily if she had remained immersed in the male dominated stridently religious culture of her homeland.

For Western liberals, this should be an eye opening book. Western liberals have got into the convoluted reasoning that when a horrendous murder is committed and the perpetrator does a shout out to god during the execution, discussing the religious motivation is off limits. Ayaan informs us - If a large group of people believe that the Qur’an should be literally accepted as the word of god and those words glorify the slaying of someone who is not a Muslim and also the execution of someone who questions some of that intolerant wording in the sacred text – we have a problem. The problem is an accepted body of ideas that warrants discussion.

This is a hopeful book as Ayaan sees the awakening of an Islamic reformation in response to life in the modern world. She identifies five key tenets of Islam that are at odds with a free society. She tells us there are already Muslims in the past and present who have questioned these core ideas and some have even been executed for this. We should not be encouraging the power structures that have been set up in some communities which enact ruthless responses to those attempting this reformation. The western world should be encouraging modern Islamic thinkers who challenge the subjugation of women or the glorification of religious warriors who get a ticket to a male dominated paradise. The western world should not be encouraging any Islamic groups who shout discrimination while privately believing in ideas that restrict civil rights.

This is not a tome filled with hate speech. It is an impassioned response to a primitive 8th century version of a religion that needs to enter the twenty first century

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51 of 56 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By dianacobl on 04-05-15

Great book! Must read!

The author herself is the narrator of the book, I listened to it in just two days because I couldn't stop. Makes me want to research more about the subject and I will definitely buy more of her books.

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14 of 15 people found this review helpful

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
5 out of 5 stars
By S. Morley on 05-10-15


A voice of reason on a subject that is more frequently monopolized by extremists on both sides. The author succeeds where other commentators like Robert Spencer fall short.
The proposition of this book is nothing less than a workable (and inevitable) solution to the threat posed by the unreformed Islamic faith.

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10 of 10 people found this review helpful

5 out of 5 stars
By Lucy Abrahams on 11-22-15

Everybody needs to hear this

Stunningly relevant and eye-opening. This should be required reading for every politician, journalist, teacher, and thinking person the world over. Her bravery and ability to articulate and navigate very controversial and difficult concepts should be applauded and the world should heed her call.

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9 of 10 people found this review helpful

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