Infidel – Ayaan Hirsi Ali

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“However, some things must be said, and there are times when silence becomes an accomplice to injustice.”

“Most of all, I think it was the novels that saved me from submission.”

“It was as if my head had somehow divided in two. When in Sister Aziza’s world, I was devout, meek, and respectful of the many, many barriers that restricted me to a very narrow role. The rest of the time I read novels and lived in the world of my imagination, filled with daring. As a reader, I could put on someone else’s shoes and live through his adventures, borrow his individuality and make choices that I didn’t have at home.”

“Even when all women had been covered completely from head to toe, another line of thought was opened. For this was not enough. High heels tapped and could trigger in men the image of women’s legs; to avoid sin, women must wear flat shoes that make no noise. Next came perfume: using any kind of pleasant fragrance, even perfumed soap and shampoo, would distract the minds of men for Allah’s worship and cause them to fantasize about sinning. The safest way to cause no harm to anyone seemed to be to avoid contact with any man at all times and just stay in the houses. A man’s sinful erotic thoughts were always the fault of the woman who incited them.”

“The litter shutter at the back of my mind, where I pushed all my dissonant thoughts, snapped open after the 9/11 attacks, and it refused to close again. I found myself thinking that the Quran is not a holy document. It is a historical record, written by humans. It is one version of events, as perceived by the men who wrote it 150 years after the Prophet Muhammad died. And it is a very tribal and Arab version of events. It spreads a culture that is brutal, bigoted, fixated on controlling women, and harsh in war.”

“From now on I could step firmly on the ground that was under my feet and navigate based on my own reason and self-respect. My moral compass was within myself, not in the pages of a sacred book.”

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