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Infidel Cover

ISBN13: 9780743289689
ISBN10: 0743289684
Condition: Standard
Dustjacket: Standard
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Reading Group Guide

Discussion Questions

1. Hirsi Ali tells us that this book is "the story of what I have experienced, what I have seen, and why I think the way I do" (page xii). Which experiences does she highlight as being integral to forming her current views on Islam?

2. "No eyes silently accused me of being a whore. No lecherous men called me to bed with them. No Brotherhood members threatened me with hellfire. I felt safe; I could follow my curiosity" (page 185). This passage refers to Hirsi Ali's initial impression of walking the streets in Germany. What other significant differences between the West and Islamic Africa did she observe during her first days in Europe? Upon arriving in Holland, what were her initial impressions of the Dutch people and the Dutch government? Did these change significantly as she lived there

3. How did Hirsi Ali's immigration experience and integration into Dutch society differ from those of other Somalians?

4. Discuss the differences that Hirsi Ali noticed between raising children in Muslim countries and raising children in the West. In particular, what did she notice about Johanna's parenting? How were Muslim parents different from Dutch parents in their instructions to their children on the playground? (see page 245).

5. In Hirsi Ali's words, "a Muslim girl does not make her own decisions or seek control. She is trained to be docile. If you are a Muslim girl, you disappear, until there is almost no you inside you" (page 94). How do the three generations of women in Hirsi Ali's family differ in their willingness to "submit" to this doctrine?

6. As seen through Hirsi Ali's eyes, what factors contributed to Haweya's death? How might members of her family describe events differently?

7. Although Hirsi Ali mostly refrains from criticizing her father, she publishes the personal letter he wrote her upon her divorce. Why do you think she included this letter? Were you surprised by any other intimate details of her life that she revealed in the book?

8. The events of September 11th caused Hirsi Ali to reread sections of the Quran and to evaluate the role of violence in Islam. Consequently, her interpretation of September 11th differs from those around her. What doe she conclude? Do you agree with her analysis?

9. On page 295, Hirsi Ali lists the three goals she wished to accomplish by joining Parliament. By the book's end has she accomplished all three? How did her views of the Dutch government change over time?

10. Examine Hirsi Ali's relationship with her brother. How did Mahad's and Abeh's reactions to her political work differ?

11. Throughout her political career, Hirsi Ali has made several bold statements challenging the Muslim world. In your opinion, were these declarations worth the risk?

12. Has this book changed the way you view Islam? According to Hirsi Ali, is Islam compatible with Western values and culture? Do you agree with her?

Enhancing Your Book Club

1. Visit the website for the American Enterprise Institute for Public Policy Research, the Washington D.C. think tank that Hirsi Ali joined upon leaving Holland. Take a look at the articles that Hirsi Ali has posted, and bring one to share. The website is located at

2. Go to to watch a version of Theo van Gogh and Hirsi Ali's film, Submission: Part One.

3. Research the Quran before your group meeting and choose a passage to examine together.

4. Take a look on the web for Hirsi Ali's most recent statements about freedom of speech, women's rights, or religion in schools. (For example, in April 2006 she publicly stated her support of the Danish cartoonists' rights to publish images of Muhammad.) Bring in a copy of any interviews you find and share with your group.

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Average customer rating based on 9 comments:

jazzmom636, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by jazzmom636)
This book changes your worldview. She describes life experiences that the Western reader would find abhorent, but from her viewpoint were the expected norm. A must read for women everywhere.
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itsmerunning, January 1, 2011 (view all comments by itsmerunning)
This was an amazing book. And sn amazing woman. I learned so much more than I expected. It has stayed with me, and I find myself thinking about it often. It is a biography of life in Somalia and other countries through the eyes of a little girl, and then follows her as she goes to a western country. She now lives in USA under guard. Loved it!!!!
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mbcoffee, January 10, 2010 (view all comments by mbcoffee)
This is a powerful memoir of an amazing woman. Such depth in her story and perspective. It's a must read!
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Product Details

Hirsi Ali, Ayaan
Free Press
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
General Biography
Muslims -- Netherlands.
Hirsi Ali, Ayaan
Publication Date:
February 2007
Grade Level:
9 x 6 in

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Related Subjects

Biography » Political
Biography » Women
History and Social Science » Africa » Somalia
History and Social Science » Feminist Studies » World Feminism
History and Social Science » Gender Studies » Womens Studies
History and Social Science » Politics » International Studies

Infidel Used Hardcover
0 stars - 0 reviews
$9.50 In Stock
Product details 353 pages Free Press - English 9780743289689 Reviews:
"Staff Pick" by ,

Ali's memoir Infidel reveals an extraordinary woman who survived a harrowing early life, fled to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage, and was elected to that country's Parliament before death threats landed her under 24-hour guard. Not every reader will agree with her political and religious positions, but her intelligence, resilience, and courage are inspiring. I was deeply moved by her response, near the end of the book, to questions of what it is like to live with death threats. She recites her many brushes with death, from the moment of her birth onward, and concludes, "Even with bodyguards and death threats I feel privileged to be alive and free." It is to her credit that she dedicated herself to bringing that freedom to other oppressed women.

"Review" by , "Ms. Hirsi Ali's struggles to gain a toehold in her new country, and her perceptions of the West, told through innocent eyes, put flesh and blood on an immigrant story repeated countless times throughout Western Europe."
"Review" by , "While often horrifying and heartbreaking, Infidel is an ultimately inspiring story of defiance, resilience and truth-seeking."
"Review" by , "[A]t its core, her story is about a crisis of faith, and her compelling account of her transfiguration offers a glint of hope that, like Christianity before it, Islam may be brought to its senses by legions of incensed apostates."
"Review" by , "[T]he book reads like a...coming-of-age novel — except that a Muslim girl from Mogadishu was never supposed to develop a sense of 'self' in the first place."
"Review" by , "A charismatic figure...of arresting and hypnotizing beauty...[who writes] with quite astonishing humor and restraint."
"Synopsis" by , In this profoundly affecting memoir from the internationally renowned author of The Caged Virgin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her life story, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia to her intellectual awakening in the Netherlands to her life under armed guard in the West.
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