Review: Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now

Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation NowHeretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now by Ayaan Hirsi Ali
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

There are a number of flaws to this book, flaws largely in terms of process and methodology (which have been sufficiently covered in other reviews as to not need to be repeated).

Having said that, however, the primary thesis put forward by Hirsi Ali is an important one: Islam is in need of a Reformation (or Renovation), and such a task is not something that is solely the province of those on the inside. The task of ‘promoting’ the Reformation is as much the task of the liberal West as it is of the adherents of Islam.

Hirsi Ali suggests five fundamental reformations that are needed in the understanding and practice of Islam in order for Islam to be seen not as a threat to the modern world but as one of the great religious traditions that can co-exist with others in the modern world. While recognising that such a task is herculean, Hirsi Ali posits that it is a task that is increasingly necessary if the religion of Islam is to be rescued from the fundamentalist Muslims (those Hirsi Ali refers to as the Medina Muslims).

An engaging writer – and very clearly a passionate writer – Hirsi Ali makes an important contribution to the public discourse surrounding the place of Islam in the modern world, and I would highly recommend this book to everyone who wishes to engage in an informed discussion on that subject.

From the back cover:

Is Islam really a religion of peace? Or does the political violence carried out in its name stem from something deep within the faith itself, from its foundational texts which celebrate death, from its refusal to countenance criticism and debate, from its insistence on submission and silence?

In this bold and confronting book, bestselling author Ayaan Hirsi Ali (Nomad, Infidel) argues that the muted criticism of political Islam from the West and from Muslims themselves is a betrayal of liberal principles. She calls for nothing less than a reformation which would rescue Islam from its current stagnant state and take it into the modern world. Outlining a template for change, she notes that the way forward must begin with an honest conversation about one of the most urgent threats to humanity today.

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