In the present-day world, when, spurred by numerous acts of terrorism, Islamophobia has reached its bursting point and has clearly grown weaker, such stories as Infidel seem to be taken with a grain of salt. However, because of the tension in relationships between the Islamic and the Christian world, Infidel should be viewed as a means to sneak a peek at the true state of affairs within the Islamic realm and realize what deplorable state the Islamic women are in. Even though Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s infidel can be seen as a means to enhance Islamophobia, it cannot be denied that a novel offers a strong statement and can be used as a powerful tool for fighting for women’s right.
The story told in the novel is pretty simple, like the story of life of any Islamic woman is; born into the environment in which she is doomed to be inferior to a man, this is a trail of pain and humiliation. However, the novel is quite peculiar in that it tells a story of a rebel who did not want to partake in a crooked system and decided to take the matter in her own hands. Switching her locations from her native Somalia to Saudi Arabia, to Ethiopia and Kenya, and then moving to the Netherlands, Hirsi Ali describes her struggle for independency, which peaked at her being elected as a member of the Parliament. The novel also tells about Theo van Gogh’s attempt at making a feature film out of the novel, and his following murder. Ending at a cliffhanger, with Hirsi’s citizenship being questioned, the novel offers the readers to deal with a set of ethical and moral questions concerning clashes between religion, society norms and human rights.
There are a number of lessons to learn from Infidel, staring with the specifics of the Muslim culture to the issues that feminist movement faces when trying to provide women in foreign countries with their indefeasible rights. First and foremost, the novel bursts the bubbles of the humanists who claim that the traditions of every culture must be accepted without even being questioned, and it does so by offering detailed description of injustice that Muslim women face on a regular basis and, worse yet, which they have no rights to respond to. In addition to the background information about the issues that Muslim women have to deal with, the novel also provides the answers on how to handle these issues.
Although the steps that the author has taken in order to gain freedom and basic human rights can be viewed as very inconsiderate, seeing how the citizenship of Hirsi Ali remains questioned, it is still clear that taking measures to fight injustice is the only logical response in the given situation. Another important lesson that is worth mentioning concerns the gender issue in child upbringing. As the given story shows, even if raised in a certain way from the early childhood, any human being is striving intrinsically for keeping balance in relationships with the opposite gender.
With all these lessons in mind, Infidel is admittedly a very good book to draw inspiration from when handling childrearing issues, and the problem of gender in childrearing in particular. The given novel shows how important it is to raise children in the awareness of the fact that all people have intrinsic rights since their birth, disregarding of their gender, race, ethnicity, social status or any other specifics. Moreover, the book suggests that the cultural and social injustice has to be dealt with. No matter whether injustice was inflicted by the cultural specifics or any other outside factor, one must not turn a blind eye to it – on the contrary, injustice must be dealt with, the sooner, the less drastic the consequences are going to be.
In fact, at certain point Hirsi Ali clearly regrets not starting her rebellion earlier, thus, being able to resist the opponents’ attacks more efficiently and, perhaps, avoiding the accident in which her best friend and the man who helped her film an autobiographic movie, Theo Van Gogh: “Attending the demonstration would only increase the risks for me and others. I felt that I was already responsible for one death: I had done enough damage” (Hirsi 320). With that being said, it can be assumed that the novel also teaches the fact that every single step that people take has its effect and that one has to be fully responsible for every step that one makes. In terms of childrearing, the given issue is especially important, seeing how children are extremely susceptible to the effect of every single outside factor.
Therefore, it is clear that Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s literature endeavors are as impressive as her claims for Islamic women to have the right to be free. Allowing the reader to explore the depth of cultural and social injustice, Infidel provides an opportunity for feminists to both explore the specifics of the Islamic culture and find the avenues to address the challenges that Muslim women face in their traditional setting. An attempt to restore justice and draw people’s attention to the deplorable state of women in Islamic countries, Infidel can be considered a bomb dropped in the current mass media, yet this bomb had been dropped to shock the readers into paying attention to the actual problem. Hopefully, this feminist voice in the middle of chauvinist empire will be heard.
Hirsi Ali, Ayaan. Infidel. New York, NY: Simon and Schuster. 2007. Print.