Book Review: Infidel

I found this book at a Goodwill a couple weeks ago, and couldn’t resist. It has been a long time since I have seriously thought about the Middle East, and I was excited to read a book by a woman who was raised Muslim.

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I was struck by how works-based Islam is. Ayaan describes it this way:

“You’re not supposed to argue with an imam. You are definitely not supposed to argue with the word of Allah. Islam is submission. You submit, on earth, in order to earn your place in Heaven.”

This past week, I have been reading about Jacob wrestling with God (Genesis 32:22-30). Jacob did not just blindly submit – he fought with God all night long, and would not let go until God blessed him! I think this is such a cool concept for Christians. The Lord does not just want blind obedience. He invites us to ask hard questions and challenge Him when we do not understand why He is allowing things to happen a certain way.

In contrast, Ayaan describes being taught the Quran in Arabic, a language she did not understand. The imams did not explain the Quran, they merely recited it. When she asked questions, she was told that Satan was speaking to her.

I also found her reaction to 9/11 fascinating. She spoke of the “[i]nfuriatingly stupid analysts” who gave numerous reasons for the attack. However, she recognized that “[t]his was about belief…Not frustration, poverty, colonialism, or Israel; it was about religious belief, a one-way ticket to Heaven.”

The saddest part to me was Ayaan’s seeming rejection of all religion. Living in the Dutch culture, she marveled that, “This man-made system of government was so much more stable, peaceful, prosperous, and happy than the supposedly God-devised systems I had been taught to respect.” I wanted so badly to be able to share with her the love and the freedom that we find in Christ.

I highly recommend this book for anyone who is interested in Muslim culture, or who believes that Islam is a religion of peace. Ayaan presents a detailed picture of what her life was like in a Muslim culture, and the stark contrast to life in a free country. One note of caution – there is a pretty detailed account of her excision, and several instances of violence within her family. But overall, this book was fantastic, and I will happily recommend it for years to come!

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