Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now - Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Note Re Dec 13 Date

Ironically, our policy is to meet the second Wednesday of each month with adjustments for secular and religious holidays. Since Wed Dec 13th is the first full day of Hanukkah (aka Chanukah), our 11/11/2017 weekly e-mail asked for RSVP’s for Wed Dec 6th. However, none of our Jewish colleagues RSVP’d and we did not achieve our minimum quorum of six for Wed Dec 6th. But several responders said the Dec 6th date was a problem for them but they were reading “Heretic” anyway. The irony??? Our regular Wed Dec 13th date was fine with everyone. So Wed Dec 13th it is. [Posted Nov 18]

Note Re Venue Change

Usually we meet in the Salt Lake Library (210 East 400 South).

However, as explained above our Library reservation was for Dec 6th. So we needed a meeting place for Dec 13. The Salt Lake Library is usually crammed to the gills every December -- indeed, Thomas and Denise Chancellor were kind to host our December meeting 4 years ago and the venue for our meeting two years ago at the Red Lion was billed as "There Is Room At The Inn!!!"

So the Dec 13 meeting will be held at the Sandy UT home of Yours Truly because all of the 9 RSVP’s for Dec 13 either Skype from NYC or are skiers who live near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, except for two who graciously agreed to drive the 20 miles each way to/from Sandy UT.

HOWEVER, anyone who would like to attend but would be inconvenienced, is invited to Skype with us.

And anyone else who has not yet RSVP’d but would like to attend in person, will be provided driving instructions in response to her/his RSVP.

[Posted Nov 22]
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Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now - Ayaan Hirsi Ali

Post by johnkarls »

Originally posted by johnkarls » Fri Aug 18, 2017 1:14 pm – 293 views before being transplanted here.

8/24/2017 Editorial Comments --

Suggested For Extra Credit Is “A Different Kind Of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid From The Taliban In Plain Sight” by Maria Toorpakai and Katherine Holstein -- more details are contained below in a so-called “reply” to this posting.

(1) The September 2017 Bulletin for the Harvard Club of NYC, released today (Aug 24), listed among the zillions of scheduled events a presentation by Maria Toorpakai at the Club on Tues Evening Sep 12.

(2) BTW, the September Bulletin also listed a presentation on Thurs Evening Oct 5 by Heather MacDonald on “War on Cops” which is our focus book for 9/6/2017.

If any of the two dozen or so subscribers to our weekly newsletter who are based in NYC is able to attend either of these events, please do so and let us know what happened. [If you are not a member of the club, I can register you for either of these events.]

I propose that we read long-time NY Times Bestseller “Heretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Now” by Ayaan Hirsi Ali (originally published 3/24/2015 by HarperCollins – 288 pages). Available from -- for $9.66 paperback + shipping or $10.74 Kindle
From bookstores listed on for as little as $4.28 Hardcover + shipping
Salt Lake City Library – 4 of 4 copies currently available
Salt Lake City Library – 24 of 24 copies currently available

We studied Ayaan’s “Infidel: My Life” (Free Press - 2006, though not published in English until 2007) for our 6/11/2008 meeting 9 years ago.

Ayaan was born in 1969 in Somalia, a member of the Osman Mahamud subclan of the Darod clan who are born to rule. Her father was a prominent politician who, after being jailed by political opponents, moved with his family to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and, finally, Kenya.

However, in 1992 Ayaan escaped to The Netherlands, after genital mutilation etc., to avoid an arranged marriage.

In The Netherlands, famous Dutch filmmaker, Theo van Gogh, made a documentary film featuring Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her views that the supposed “liberal” policy of The Netherlands in permitting the free practice of religion in general, and Islam in particular, was in fact as NON-liberal as Islam itself, particularly with regard to Islam’s treatment of women.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali had been elected to the Dutch Parliament based solely on these views. About the time she stood for Parliament, her book “Infidel” mentions that Pim Fortuyn, another newcomer to Dutch politics, stood for Parliament even though he and a group of non-political friends had just formed an ad hoc new party based solely on these views.

And that Pim Fortuyn was assassinated two weeks before the election in which the new “party” that he had headed, emerged to form the new Dutch government. Pim Fortuyn had been attacked verbally before his assassination for being “racist” – a difficult charge to level against Ayaan Hirsi Ali since she was a Muslim born in Somalia and raised in four Muslim cultures -- Somalia and Saudi Arabia which are 100% Muslim per, and Ethiopia and Kenya which are 33.9% and 11.2% Muslim per

In 2004, Theo van Gogh himself was assassinated by a Muslim fanatic who stabbed to van Gogh’s chest a letter addressed to Ayaan that said, in effect: “You’re Next!!!”

Because she was viewed as an Islamic Apostate by Muslim opponents who, per Islamic Law, were therefore required to assassinate her (though she claimed repeatedly in “Infidel” that she was NOT an apostate), Ayaan fled to the U.S. where she entered the equivalent of the witness-protection program.

However, it soon became clear that she had become a member of the faculty of Harvard’s Kennedy School of Government where she has continued to write extensively about Islam.

Some of the interesting things we learned while (though not necessarily from) studying Infidel???

(A) Whether the U.S. Supreme Court would permit “Honor Killings” on U.S. soil as “the free exercise of religion” is doubtful (though it WOULD be a “question of first impression”) since the Supreme Court, for example, has NOT permitted Mormons to engage in polygamy.

(B) Islam itself permits polygamy so long as males do NOT have more than FOUR wives.

(C) Barack Obama Sr. had THREE wives in Kenya when he came to Hawaii and “married” President Obama’s mother. Interestingly enough, President Obama’s mother “divorced” Barack Obama Sr. when President Obama was 2 years old because she was planning to marry an Indonesian Muslim and move to Indonesia. UNDER AMERICAN LAW, the “divorce” was meaningless because, as Barack Obama Sr’s FOURTH “wife,” she was NOT married to him. HOWEVER UNDER ISLAMIC LAW, she was married to Barack Obama Sr. and if, WITHOUT divorcing him, she had moved to the world’s LARGEST Islamic country, she was in grave danger of being “stoned to death” as required by Islam for adultery.

(D) President Obama WAS MUSLIM UNDER ISLAMIC LAW which deems anyone born of a Muslim father to be Muslim. Accordingly, even though President Obama claimed to have always been a Christian, UNDER ISLAMIC LAW HE WAS AN APOSTATE. And Islamic Law requires every Muslim to assassinate Muslim apostates (indeed, this was why Ayaan Hirsi Ali had to flee to the U.S. following the assassination of Theo van Gogh).

THE FACT THAT PRESIDENT OBAMA WAS A MUSLIM APOSTATE UNDER ISLAMIC LAW and, therefore, had to be assassinated by every Muslim who had/has the opportunity to do so, is why President Obama was able, if memory serves, to visit ONLY TWO Muslim countries while he was in office -- an early trip to Egypt and a later trip to Indonesia.

The reason, of course, is that the U.S. Secret Service ordinarily relies heavily on local police/military to provide security in what might be viewed as an outer perimeter.

And in a Muslim country where virtually all of the local police/military are Muslim and, therefore, have/had a RELIGIOUS DUTY to assassinate President Obama, THE U.S. HAD TO PROVIDE OUTER-PERIMETER SECURITY WHICH PROVED TO BE VIRTUALLY IMPOSSIBLE.

AMAZON DESCRIPTION OF “HERETIC” (which usually parrots the inside fly leaf)

Continuing her journey from a deeply religious Islamic upbringing to a post at Harvard, the brilliant, charismatic and controversial New York Times and Globe and Mail #1 bestselling author of Infidel and Nomad makes a powerful plea for a Muslim Reformation as the only way to end the horrors of terrorism, sectarian warfare and the repression of women and minorities.

Today, she argues, the world’s 1.6 billion Muslims can be divided into a minority of extremists, a majority of observant but peaceable Muslims and a few dissidents who risk their lives by questioning their own religion. But there is only one Islam and, as Hirsi Ali shows, there is no denying that some of its key teachings—not least the duty to wage holy war—are incompatible with the values of a free society.

For centuries it has seemed as if Islam is immune to change. But Hirsi Ali has come to believe that a Muslim Reformation—a revision of Islamic doctrine aimed at reconciling the religion with modernity—is now at hand, and may even have begun. The Arab Spring may now seem like a political failure. But its challenge to traditional authority revealed a new readiness—not least by Muslim women—to think freely and to speak out.

Courageously challenging the jihadists, she identifies five key amendments to Islamic doctrine that Muslims have to make to bring their religion out of the seventh century and into the twenty-first. And she calls on the Western world to end its appeasement of the Islamists. “Islam is not a religion of peace,” she writes. It is the Muslim reformers who need our backing, not the opponents of free speech.

Interweaving her own experiences, historical analogies and powerful examples from contemporary Muslim societies and cultures, Heretic is not a call to arms, but a passionate plea for peaceful change and a new era of global toleration. In the wake of the Charlie Hebdo murders, with jihadists killing thousands from Nigeria to Syria to Pakistan, this book offers an answer to what is fast becoming the world’s number one problem.


Praise for "Infidel" 9 years ago --

“Brave, inspiring, and beautifully written…Narrated in clear, vigorous prose, it traces the author’s geographical journey from Mogadishu to Saudi Arabia, Ethiopia and Kenya, and her desperate flight to the Netherlands to escape an arranged marriage.” (The New York Times)

Praise for "Heretic" released last year --

“Ayaan Hirsi Ali is one of Europe’s most controversial political figures and a target for terrorists. A notably enigmatic personality whose fierce criticisms of Islam have made her a darling of...conservatives...and...popular with leftists...Soft-spoken but passionate.” (Boston Globe)

“Crammed with harrowing details, Hirsi Ali’s account is a significant contribution to our times.” (Kirkus (starred review))

“A powerful, compelling read…Put simply, this woman is a heroine.” (The Christian Science Monitor)

“A charismatic figure...of arresting and hypnotizing beauty...[who writes] with quite astonishing humor and restraint.” (Christopher Hitchens)

“The five areas for Islamic reform highlighted by Ayaan in this book require deep consideration by my fellow Muslims…I thank Ayaan for having the resilience and determination to help in continuing this ongoing conversation.” (Maajid Nawaz, Co-founder and Chair of Quilliam, counter-extremism think-tank)

“She is absolutely right to raise difficult issues that must be addressed worldwide, especially by Muslims...I hope that this book will help to stimulate vital discussions for the future of Islam, and in fact for the future of humanity.” (Sheikh Dr. Usama Hasan, imam and Islamic scholar)

“Audacious? Quixotic? Visionary? Necessary? All of the above. This an urgent, complicated, risky subject, and Hirsi Ali, valiant, indomitable, and controversial, offers a potent indictment, idealistic blueprint, and galvanizing appeal to both conscience and reason.” (Donna Seaman, Booklist)

“Whatever one may think of her solutions, Hirsi Ali should be commended for her unblinking determination to address the problem.” (Andrew Anthony, The Guardian)

“A book full of compassion.” (Paul Steenhuis, NRC Handelsblad)

“Surprisingly constructive…[Hirsi Ali] goes to work with much reasonability and significant knowledge of the subject matter” (Carel Peeters, Vrij Nederland)

“We ignore her quill to our shame and peril.” (Katherine Ernst, City Journal)

“Hirsi Ali offers a fine example for the braver souls among us.” (Michael Totten, Commentary)

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Joined: Fri Jun 29, 2007 8:43 pm

A Different Kind Of Daughter by Maria Toorpakai

Post by johnkarls »

Originally posted by johnkarls » Thu Aug 24, 2017 1:28 pm

The September 2017 Bulletin for the Harvard Club of NYC, released today (Aug 24), contained the following listing for 9/12/2017 --

A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid From the Taliban in Plain Sight, with Maria Toorpakai
Tuesday 9/12/2017 at 5:30 pm – Squash Exhibition Match
Tuesday 9/12/2017 at 7:00 pm – Talk and Screening of “Girl Unbound” Trailer

As a young girl growing up in Waziristan, Pakistan, Maria Toorpakai burned her dresses, disguised herself as a boy, and defied the Taliban for several years to pursue her love of sports. She briefly competed as a boy in weightlifting under the name Genghis Khan. But when she discovered squash and started beating all the boys, life became more dangerous. With the risky, counter-cultural support of her amazing parents, Maria ultimately came out as a woman, became mentored by a former world champion, and went on to become Pakistan’s Number One female squash player. Maria will share the story of her long road and eventual triumph, pursuing the sport she loved, defying death threats and following her dream. Before the talk, Maria will challenge the Harvard Club’s best squash players to an exhibition match for those interested in watching. Her talk afterward will include a viewing of the trailer the award-winning 2016 documentary “Girl Unbound” giving a personal peek into Maria Toorpakai’s dramatic life. The book A Different Kind of Daughter: The Girl Who Hid from the Taliban in Plain Sight, will be available for a signing at the end of the program.

Caroline Benveniste, Co-Chair, Program Committee

Additional Information About Maria’s Book From --

Published 5/23/2016 by Twelve – 368 pages.

Hardcover - $14.99 + shipping or $13.99 Kindle.

Amazon Description

Amazon Best Book of the Month

"Maria Toorpakai is a true inspiration, a pioneer for millions of other women struggling to pave their own paths to autonomy, fulfillment, and genuine personhood." --Khaled Hosseini, author of The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, and And the Mountains Echoed

Maria Toorpakai hails from Pakistan's violently oppressive northwest tribal region, where the idea of women playing sports is considered haram-un-Islamic-forbidden-and girls rarely leave their homes. But she did, passing as a boy in order to play the sports she loved, thus becoming a lightning rod of freedom in her country's fierce battle over women's rights.

A DIFFERENT KIND OF DAUGHTER tell of Maria's harrowing journey to play the sport she knew was her destiny, first living as a boy and roaming the violent back alleys of the frontier city of Peshawar, rising to become the number one female squash player in Pakistan. For Maria, squash was more than liberation-it was salvation. But it was also a death sentence, thrusting her into the national spotlight and the crosshairs of the Taliban, who wanted Maria and her family dead. Maria knew her only chance of survival was to flee the country.

Enter Jonathon Power, the first North American to earn the title of top squash player in the world, and the only person to heed Maria's plea for help. Recognizing her determination and talent, Jonathon invited Maria to train and compete internationally in Canada. After years of living on the run from the Taliban, Maria packed up and left the only place she had ever known to move halfway across the globe and pursue her dream. Now Maria is well on the way to becoming a world champion as she continues to be a voice for oppressed women everywhere.

Author Bios Per Amazon

Maria Toorpakai is a professional squash player, currently ranked as Pakistan's top female player and 48th in the world. As a child growing up in a highly conservative tribal area of Pakistan where girls' involvement in sport was forbidden by the local Islamic culture, Toorpakai trained and competed as a boy in Peshawar. Toorpakai currently resides and trains in Toronto, Canada, under former professional squash player Jonathon Power. Toorpakai is the sister of Ayesha Gulalai, who is a Member of the National Assembly representing Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf on a reserved seat for women.

Katharine Holstein has lived throughout Europe and North America. Working with actors, personalities and producers, she creates original material for both print and screen. Her writing has sold around the world.

Editorial Review Snippets Per Amazon

"Armed with a squash racket and enormous will, Maria Toorpakai has risen from the turmoil of tribal life in Pakistan to become not only a world class athlete, but a true inspiration, a pioneer for millions of other women struggling to pave their own paths to autonomy, fulfillment, and genuine personhood."―Khaled Hosseini, New York Times bestselling author of The Kite Runner, A Thousand Splendid Suns, And the Mountains Echoed

"An intimate look into the lives of women in one of the most hostile places on earth that the eyes of foreigners rarely see. Maria, through courage, defiance, and a supportive family, managed to beat the odds and survive the kind of prejudice and persecution that kills or destroys many other women in the region. A testimony to the resilience of the human spirit."―Marina Nemat, author of Prisoner of Teheran

A "powerful memoir... The harrowing details of her story include human rights abuses and shameful treatment of women, and Toorpakai's personal account gets to the truth of the matter in a uniquely powerful way."―Publishers Weekly (starred review)

"A vivid personal account of a courageous young woman standing up to one of the world's most oppressive theocracies."―Kirkus Reviews

"This astonishing and inspirational memoir chronicles more than Maria's life; it also relates the story of her parents, an incredible couple, who, despite the odds, fought for the betterment and education of themselves, their children, and the Pakistani people."―Library Journal

"With clarity and captivating sincerity, Toorpakai illuminates the struggles of living under the threat of violence simply because she dreamed of becoming her own champion."―Booklist

"A DIFFERENT KIND OF DAUGHTER is a sports memoir for people who don't care about sports...vivid and engaging, [it] unfolds in one dramatic scene after another...Vividly written and consistently engaging."―The Columbus Dispatch

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