Infidel is such a powerful word, isn’t it? Resonating with self-righteousness and judgment, it quivers under it’s own weight, like a bowl of jello.
I just finished reading this book, by Ayaan Hirsi Ali, which I found mesmerizing, at least for the first two-thirds. In the last third the book became very political, and I found it less interesting. I put this book on my “To Read” list at the Festival of Faith and Writing last spring.
I was particularly interested in the author’s account of what it’s like to be indoctrinated in the Koran, with rote memorization and stress on submission. ?I could write a whole post on my own thoughts about the word submission, from my growing-up in the Christian Reformed denomination.
The author says things about Islam that an outsider would have no credibility to say. ?It made me reconsider some of my own views. ?As a student of world religion, I have been open to the idea that Jahweh and Allah are the same God, thinking that Jesus Christ is the most essential difference between Muslims and Christians. ?However, this book made me think that Allah is indeed a very different deity than Jahweh, the God that I worship. ?It is a disconcerting and yet liberating thought that I need to pursue with much more reading. My areas of ignorance are a problem, especially since they seem to grow, rather than shrink. ?I know so much less than I used to as my world gets bigger.
Another thing this book brought home, is that the Muslim faith is not monolithic. ?The author lived in different places and her experience of Islam differed greatly. ?Somalia and Saudi Arabia have radically different flavors of faith, which was eye-opening.
And I must at least mention this, since I am 100% Dutch in extraction (note the “Huizenga” as a maiden name): I had a particular interest in the author’s experiences seeking asylum in Holland. ?Actually, the warmth of her reception made me cry, I was that grateful for the Dutch blood running in my veins. I have always wondered if the Reformed Dutch folk, primarily farmers, who left Holland in the late 1800s and early 1900s, were indeed escaping a religiously tolerant attitude that was intolerable to them. ?Is it predictable, generationally, that I would find that same tolerance precious?