I’m reading Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s new book Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now, and I’m utterly struck by her description of Islam and how well it lines up with the totalitarian ambitions of the political Left, particularly feminism and social justice. Allow me to preface this by noting that this the first book by Ali I have read. I am aware of who she is, and I know her basic biography, and I am also aware that there is some pretty intense criticism of her, largely based on religious values, although not always. I don’t have to agree with everything she writes to agree with the general tenor of her argument.
And her argument is compelling.
I think Ali places far too much emphasis on how Islam harms women, and gives the impression that men are somehow privileged under the faith, and in some ways, men are – for example, they are only buried up to the waist in a rock pit when getting stoned, and if they can manage to free themselves, they are allowed to live. Women are buried up to the chest wearing long robes, so they pretty much can’t escape. So yeah. Male privilege? Let’s agree that the lives of both men and women suck fiercely under Islamic rule. If women have a rough go, gay men aren’t getting off any easier, and if straight men face a slightly less hellish existence, it’s still a hellish existence.
What Ali does get right is her assertion that Islam is not a religion of peace and ‘there is no denying that some of its key teachings—not least the duty to wage holy war—are incompatible with the values of a free society.’ Ali makes an argument for five key amendments to Islam to bring it from the 7th century into the 21st, but I fear she is far too optimistic in her assertion that reformation may already be underway. It’s not.
Here are her five reformations, and I heartily encourage readers to get the whole book. Ali isn’t perfect, and only appears to have compassion for gay men, but in terms of her global argument, she is worth reading:
- Muhammad’s infallible status has to be challenged, as does the literal interpretation of the Quran, especially the ultra-violent Medina passages
- The idea that real life only starts after death must be challenged, with the emphasis placed on the life we are living now
- Sharia law must be dismissed as incompatible with the values of a free society
- The practice of commanding right and forbidding wrong must be challenged and individual freedoms asserted as prime
- The imperative to wage jihad or holy war must be abandoned entirely
There is a lot of interesting stuff in this book. Ali’s ability to weave together Islam and compare and contrast it to the other two large monotheistic religions is noteworthy. Islam is often called a death cult, and I have always taken that to be a reference to the holy war aspect of it, but as Ali makes clear, it has more to do with the way Muslims understand the afterlife. Essentially, Muslims do not believe in free will. Everything is done as God wills it. The word ‘inshallah’ (god-willing) is used to express their fatalistic attitude. Whatever happens in this life happens because God has willed it to happen, and the real life of existing in Paradise only begins when you die.
And how do you get to Paradise?
Believe in Allah and his prophet Muhammad, pray 5 times a day, fast during Ramadan, provide charity and try to get to Mecca. As long as you do all those things, you will get to Paradise. Aside from the need to provide charity, these are all religious observances and not moral requirements.
Contrast that with the Christian concept of the afterlife, which is also considered a Paradise. How do you get to Paradise? You must behave in this life as if you are already in Paradise. Christians have Ten Commandments they are supposed to follow, although even these are not considered iron clad rules and certainly the commandments have no current influence over the secular laws of the land. Having been raised in a devoutly Christian family, I can still recite the commandments from memory, but my experience is not typical. I would guess that very few Christians can reel off all ten without pause. Precisely because they are guidance more than crippling bonds.
For Christians, you get to Paradise by being a good person in the here and now, and by seeking genuine forgiveness when you do wrong. With the sole exception of charity, Islam makes no such requirement of adherents. Whether you are a good person is irrelevant. Did you pray five times a day and fast? This is why Islam is called a death cult. Because adherents tend to value the afterlife more than this life. This is obviously critical to terrorism and jihad.
The practice of commanding right and forbidding wrong is central to Islam – essentially, it gives Muslims not only permission, but demands that Muslims police other Muslims, down to their most intimate, private actions. A devout Muslim who does not drink alcohol has religious permission to walk around slapping pints of beer out of other people’s hands, and that is exactly what they are doing! In the UK, Sweden, Belgium – they’re called Sharia Patrols, and the Muslim enforcers believe they have an absolute right to decide for other people, especially other Muslims, what they are allowed to drink or wear or think or do or say.
Gee, does that sound familiar?
There is another tyrannical, totalitarian ideology on the market that also believes in their right to command right and forbid wrong. The enforcers insist on their right to tell others how to sit, how to speak, when to speak, what words they are allowed to use, what to wear, what to eat, what movies to watch, what books to read, what games to play and which jobs they are permitted to work.
Feminists and Muslims both love to command right and forbid wrong. This is the central philosophy that unites them. Both feminists and Muslims want the right to police everyone, and to impose their totalitarian ideals on the entire population of the earth. Muslims wage jihad, feminists want to #KillAllMen. Islam and the Cult of the Vagina are both fundamentalist religious death cults.
Ali wants to see Islam reformed. She believes that the Arab Spring is the first ripple in a global sea change to undertake that reformation. Let’s hope she is correct. I don’t think she is. I see the trend moving in the other direction, quite frankly. Radical Islam will become the normal Islam. That is the change, and it will end in precisely the holy war Islam longs for. Unfortunately, the Islamic rejection of innovation and reform has also resulted in pretty much zero technological achievement for the past 5000 years, so Islam is gonna get its butt whipped back to the Stone Age. The 7th century will seem like a bloody dream. Good.
That’s exactly where unreformed Islam belongs.
Who, though, is calling for the complete reformation of feminism? What prominent feminist is not only critiquing feminism, but demanding that the central tenets be reformed so that the religion can be modernized and adapted to a free and liberal society?
Okay then, I’ll do it. Here are the five reformations that need to happen in order to modernize the Church of Fat Hairy Shrews.
- The feminist concept of patriarchy as a means to violently supress and control women must be challenged. Patriarchy did far more to protect women than burden them.
- The feminist conception of families and children as oppressive structures meant to control, contain and confine women must be challenged. Most women experience their greatness happiness as wives and mothers.
- The feminist belief that economic productivity is the only means by which human worth can be measured must be abandoned. Human worth can also be measured in terms of caregiving.
- The central feminist belief that masculinity is toxic must be eradicated. Without the masculine drive towards taking risks and surmounting odds, the human race would have died long ago.
- The central feminist belief that femininity is toxic must be eradicated. Without the feminine urge to nurture and nest, the human race would have died long ago.
I have about as much optimism over the reformation of feminism as I have about the reformation of Islam: it’s not going to happen. Our only choice is to simply eradicate the ideologies from our own soil. Neither Islam nor feminism must be allowed to colonize another inch of the West. Both must be dug out of the cultural landscape, and we must steadfastly resist their return.
Or, we could try an arranged marriage between them.
The interest seems to be there. Feminism appears to have the naiveté of a six year old child when it comes to Islam, and that’s rather poetic, isn’t it? Let feminism be a child bride to Islam.
They deserve one other.
Lots of love,