Summer Reading Sale

Recently Viewed clear list

Original Essays | June 20, 2014

Lisa Howorth: IMG So Many Books, So Many Writers

I'm not a bookseller, but I'm married to one, and Square Books is a family. And we all know about families and how hard it is to disassociate... Continue »

Qualifying orders ship free.
List price: $17.00
Used Trade Paper
Ships in 1 to 3 days
Add to Wishlist
Qty Store Section
2 Beaverton Gender Studies- Womens Studies
2 Beaverton Politics- International Studies
2 Local Warehouse Africa- Somalia



Infidel Cover



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.

What Our Readers Are Saying

Add a comment for a chance to win!
Average customer rating based on 4 comments:

Alice Charkes, January 7, 2013 (view all comments by Alice Charkes)
I was fascinated to learn about this author's upbringing and the meaning of living as a devout Moslem. It was horrifying to see how lowly women are esteemed in that religion, and just as shocking to read about the author's passage to moral, religious, political, and intellectual freedom from childhood to adulthood. A must read!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
(1 of 1 readers found this comment helpful)
Christin, August 13, 2012 (view all comments by Christin)
Wow! Ayaan is an amazing lady! Her courage and determination is incredible. Reading her life story makes me so grateful to have been born when and where I was. It would be nice to think that I could have done the same as her, faced with the challenges she was, but in all honesty I think I would have crumbled. She has a lot of important things to say about very complex issues facing society today.

Highly recommended!
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
Judy Thorgeirsson, January 1, 2010 (view all comments by Judy Thorgeirsson)
I really enjoyed this book because it told of a young woman's struggle in the Islamic culture and her steadfastness to pursue her own ideas. It is a true story and shows how one woman survived and overcame the male dominated society of Islam.
Was this comment helpful? | Yes | No
View all 4 comments

Product Details

Hirsi Ali, Ayaan
Free Press
Foreword by:
Hitchens, Christopher
Hitchens, Christopher
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
General Biography
Personal Memoirs
Biography - General
niall ferguson; ayaan hirsi ali submission; ayaan hirsi ali biography; ayaan hirsi ali memoir; ayaan hirsi ali quotes; muslim; muslim dutch parliament; theo van gogh; christopher hitchens; caged virgin; american enterprise institute; anders breivik; ayaan
niall ferguson; ayaan hirsi ali submission; ayaan hirsi ali biography; ayaan hirsi ali memoir; ayaan hirsi ali quotes; muslim; muslim dutch parliament; theo van gogh; christopher hitchens; caged virgin; american enterprise institute; anders breivik; ayaan
Edition Description:
Trade Paperback
Publication Date:
Grade Level:
8.44 x 5.5 in 12.285 oz

Other books you might like

  1. The Best American Short Stories 2007
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  2. Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: A Year...
    Used Trade Paper $8.95
  3. Suite Francaise: A Novel
    Used Trade Paper $4.95
  4. Three Cups of Tea: One Man's Mission...
    Used Trade Paper $5.50
  5. The Guernsey Literary and Potato...
    Used Hardcover $3.95
  6. Aloft
    Used Hardcover $2.95

Related Subjects

Biography » General
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
History and Social Science » World History » Africa

Infidel Used Trade Paper
0 stars - 0 reviews
$7.95 In Stock
Product details 384 pages Free Press - English 9780743289696 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.

"Synopsis" by , Ayaan Hirsi Ali captured the world's attention with Infidel, her coming-of-age memoir, which spent thirty-one weeks on the New York Times bestseller list.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of today's most admired and controversial political figures. She burst into international headlines following the murder of Theo van Gogh by an Islamist who threatened she would be next; and she made headlines again when she was stripped of her citizenship and forced to resign from the Dutch Parliament.

Infidel shows the coming of age of this elegant, distinguished--and sometimes reviled--political superstar and champion of free speech--the development of her beliefs, iron will, and extraordinary determination to fight injustice done in the name of religion. Raised in a strict Muslim family, Hirsi Ali survived civil war, female circumcision, brutal beatings, an adolescence as a devout believer, the rise of the Muslim Brotherhood, and life in four countries under dictatorships. She escaped from a forced marriage and sought asylum in the Netherlands, where she fought for the rights of Muslim women and the reform of Islam, earning her the enmity of reactionary Islamists and craven politicians.

  • back to top
Follow us on...

Powell's City of Books is an independent bookstore in Portland, Oregon, that fills a whole city block with more than a million new, used, and out of print books. Shop those shelves — plus literally millions more books, DVDs, and gifts — here at