CHARLOTTE, N.C., March 26, 2015 – In advance of the release of her new book Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, Ayaan Hirsi Ali made news over the weekend in an essay for the Wall Street Journal adapted from her manuscript.
Ali provides a clear message in her writings, based on her own upbringing as a Muslim. Because she is an apostate to the Muslim world, the self-described Somalia-born Islamic dissident is surrounded by bodyguards wherever she goes to provide security from Muslim extremists.
As Ms. Ali said in her WSJ piece, “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.”
Ali adds two statistics that provide all the proof necessary to back up her claims: “at least 70 percent 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.”
Critical to Ali’s perspective is the fact that the problem is not with the majority of Muslims, but with the religion of Islam itself.
Ali says Muslims can be categorized into three groups; the extremists, whom she calls “Medina Muslims”; the “Mecca Muslims” who comprise the core group or so-called moderate Muslims; and the newest group, which contains the biggest threat to the extremists, the “dissidents.”
Though the “Medina Muslims” consist of only 3 percent of all Muslims in the world, that puts the total number of Islamists at about 48 million, and Ali believes the true figure is larger.
Speaking about the “dissidents,” of whom Ali considers herself a member, she says, “A few of us have been forced by experience to conclude that we could not continue to be believers; yet we remain deeply engaged in the debate about Islam’s future. The majority of dissidents are reforming believers—among them clerics who have come to realize that their religion must change if its followers are not to be condemned to an interminable cycle of political violence.”
Ali now sees the same ray of light that others have begun to notice in the wake of speeches by Egyptian President Abdel Fattah el-Sisi and a small, but growing, group of Islamic reformers. She understands that change must come from within and that it will not be easy, but she is optimistic about recent changes in attitude.
Unlike many of her predecessors, Ali provides a list of solutions that do not require military action.
“Islam is at a crossroads,” she writes. “Muslims need to make a conscious decision to confront, debate and ultimately reject the violent elements within their religion. To some extent—not least because of widespread revulsion at the atrocities of Islamic State, al Qaeda and the rest—this process has already begun.”
One of the great misunderstandings Christians have about Islam is the comparison of Jesus Christ and the prophet Muhammad. Muslims recognize Christ as a prophet. He is mentioned several times in the Koran. The confusion lies in the interpretation of the two men. In the Muslim world, Muhammad was merely a mortal conduit for the word of Allah. He was not divine, but then, neither was Christ. The controversy arises from the Christian concept of the Holy Trinity, which Muslims cannot accept because in their world there is only one God, Allah.
To that point Ali says, “Muhammad should not be seen as infallible, let alone as a source of divine writ. He should be seen as a historical figure who united the Arab tribes in a premodern context that cannot be replicated in the 21st century.”
It is this idea that stirs the emotions of many Muslims, including the “moderates,” but Ali is totally accurate in her assessment.
Speaking to Muslims and non-believers alike, Ayaan Hirsi Ali offers a preface to her list of solutions. “For the world at large, the only viable strategy for containing the threat posed by the Medina Muslims is to side with the dissidents and reformers and to help them to do two things: first, identify and repudiate those parts of Muhammad’s legacy that summon Muslims to intolerance and war, and second, persuade the great majority of believers—the Mecca Muslims—to accept this change.”
Perhaps we should begin at home and change our politically correct liberal attitudes by recognizing the truth.
Bob Taylor has been traveling the world for more than 30 years as a writer and award winning television producer focusing on international events, people and cultures around the globe.
Taylor is founder of The Magellan Travel Club (www.MagellanTravelClub.com)
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