February 19, 2007

Ayaan Hirsi Ali protests a 'living document'.

I don't really get carried away by high sounding rhetoric, especially from people who have some strong and controversial agendas. However, in the case of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, even though hers is a controversial stance and her agenda unclear, but her words, and her articulation of them, cannot be called empty rhetoric, and it doesn't sound inflammatory either. It is this characteristic of Ayaan Hirsi Ali that made me listen to her recent interview on NPR which then lead me to wonder and ponder; the findings of which will not be penned in this post because they may be biased and that may generate controversies, of which we have too many to begin with. However, I urge anyone who is bipartisan, open minded, and believes in equal justice for all to listen to what Ms. Ali has to say; give a thought to what she's been through, to what she has done in the past, and to what she is currently working on, and then decide whether her stance is viable, valid or otherwise.

I had written about Ms Ali in an earlier post last year. She is a Somalian born woman who has lived in Kenya, Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia, and the Netherlands, and very recently was given political asylum in the USA. She is currently working for The American Enterprise Institute, a conservative think tank based in Washington DC. Ms Ali is often the center of many a heated debates and interviews, both within and outside of the USA.


Sanjay said...

I am familiar with her, but I do have to listen to her interview. Might have more thoughts about her once I do.

starry nights said...

I listened to her interview and would love to read her book.

Manas Shaikh said...


her eloquence struck me. one has to be beaware of her eloquence while listening to her. As you pointed out while talking about chomsky.

First and foremost, she seems to be oversimplifying. She says "the world was divided into Muslims and the enemies of Islam, and we have to take on the enemies..."

How many of the Muslims you know think this way?

I found it rather funny: When told that most women choose to wear the veil, the interviewr responded: "why do women believe in their own oppression?"

Reminds me of a story. A man, sure that he was dead, was taken to the psychiatrist. When the doc pricked his finger, and showed him that his blood is still flowing, he came "oh! I didn't know dead men have blood flowing!"

The analysis how the fundamentalists come to be seems to be correct. They project themselves as a viable alternative to a non-benefitial government. Even in India, that is how ASSU, a fundamentalist organisation took hold.

She said that "even though many of the muslims may dislike the 911, when bin Laden confronts you with the Qur'an and the Hadeeth Muslims admit that they are defying God!" I found this absolutely baseless. Lots of Muslims are trying to shout on top of their voice, to confront bin-Laden with quotes from the Qur'an and the Hadeeth!

And then when the presenter asks her: "are all the muslims who call us and tell that Al-Qaeda is perverted", she confronts "there is a verse in Qur'an "kill the unbelievers"

There is a verse that asks to kill "those who fight you". no verse in Qur'an asks to kill anyone unprovoked. If you doubt, go to my blog or, download the Qur'an and read it.

By the way, there lives a few millions of christians by descent in Arab from the times of Muhammad.

The most funny statement: "The Jews and the Christians have found a way to live with the present, to reconcile humanism with religion- well we see examples of humanism in and around Israel everyday.

Not to forget that she is being funded by the Neocons.

Manas Shaikh said...

The Economist writes...

Read as a modern coming-of-age story set in Africa, the book has a certain charm. Read as a key to the thinking of a woman who aspires to be the Muslim Voltaire, it is more problematic. The facts as Ms Hirsi Ali tells them here do not fit well either with some of the stories she has told in the past or with her tendency in her political writing to ascribe most of the troubles of the Muslim world to Islam.

Manas Shaikh said...

And the article goes on...

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is not the first person to use false pretences to try to find a better life in the West, nor will she be the last. But the muddy account given in this book of her so-called forced marriage becomes more troubling when one considers that Ms Hirsi Ali has built a career out of portraying herself as the lifelong victim of fanatical Muslims.

Id it is said...

Thanks for the link; it was entirely another perspective on Ms. Ali; quite the eye opener. However, the fact that the article in The Economist was anonymous bothered me somewhat.

Despite Ms. Ali's lack of credibility, it was one of her ideas that caught my attention: a text has a chronological reference and that does put limitations on the relevance of that text's contents. What was applicable and relevant some thousand years ago may not hold the same relevance and applicability today.

Change is the essence of life and if we counteract that, and anchor ourselves in the past then we are going against the natural order of things.

Manas Shaikh said...

Atttacking the core
The crux of her argument was: Islam is the source of all problems. Unless you take Islam out, nothing's going to work.

When she was reminded of A-Andaluz, she fell back to: now-a days it is only Muslims who are killing in the name of Religion (which is entirely baseless).

Suppose she was right, then the crux of her argument seems to fall apart: that Islam is voilent, incapable of tolerating others, because the rulers of Al-Andaluz or Ottomans were also inflenced by Islam!

So you see: the base she seems to stand upon is actually a projected one. It does not exist.

The fact still remains that she lacks credibility. She seems to believe in when in rome do as romans do in a very high pitch. She wore the full veil when in Islamic Brotherbood, she lied to get danish citizenship, and joined the conservatives there.

Wherever she goes, she falls in love with the conservatives, the extremists. Does that mean anything? I guess- yes.

Now let us focus on what she has to say:

Manas Shaikh said...

I have not read her book yet, but I think I can expect a lot of partiality in choosing events to report about.

Still, as I have not read it, I can't make a conclusive comment about it. About this interview, I can counter her.

sharique said...

Another taslima nasreen! Well the thing with her is that she is highly prejudiced against Islam for what happened to him in her childhood. Manas has presented his arguments perectly.

People generally take a part of Quranic verses and vilify Islam. A quran verse should be analysed in terms of its revelation or else it can be misinterpreted. Regarding it being old enough to be followed, well I haven't heard any rational anti-quranic rules logic. if there are then i would love to respond.

Anonymous said...

yea i would rather listen to the interview and then comment here.

missed you last post.. so that comment first

i guess since you have rated Hotel Rwanda above blood diamond in terms of its proximity to reality i would watch it.. blood diamond dissappointed me. I got the message but thats all the movie could do. So if seen as a medium whose motive was to educate abt the illegal trade blood diamond succeeded but as a movie it was loosely packed.

N. said...

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Klara said...

I kinda adore that Woman, Her Guts n her style...

Manas Shaikh said...

Where did you see the guts, klara? did she criticise Islamic Brotherhood sitting among them? Or after coming to the Europe?

If you want to talk about courage, talk about Shirin Ebadi.

Id it is said...

I understand that sentiment completely, but in the light of the enlightenment that I've gotten I think she's quite the hustler. She knows how to work the system in her favor, and there's no harm in that, but then you can't don the garb of a victim while doing that.

However, I must admit that her point about not making ancient religious texts into our sole guide books for leading our lives today did make some sense to me.