Heretic: Why Islam needs a reformation now

  • Abdullah Mekki


Heretic: Why Islam needs a reformation now. By Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Harper, 2015, Pp. 272, ISBN: 978-0-06233393-3.

Reviewer: Abdullah Mekki, Department of English Language and Literature, International Islamic University Malaysia. E-mail:

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, in 2004, became famous for Submission, a video that satiated many people’s hunger for sex and sacrilege.Time, in 2005, included her in its list of 100 Most Influential People. Zembla, in 2006, aired its exposé of her life story. With her credibility shaken, she left Netherlands for America. Her book Infidel, published in 2007, became an International Bestseller. In the book, she didn’t know the difference betweenthe Quran and Hadith (2008, p. 50).She had difficulty in thinking beyond the absurd; for instance, she said, “In Islam becoming an individual is not a necessary development; many people, especially women, never develop a clear individual will” (p. 94). Breivik cited her in his manifesto, then, in 2011, he massacred seventy seven people. Brandeis University, in 2014, cancelled plans to give her an honorary degree, after it became aware of her anti-Islamic slurs. This year, her bookHeretic: Why Islam Needs a Reformation Nowwas published.

“[M]y views on Islam,” Hirsi Ali writes, “are based on my knowledge and experience of being a Muslim, of living in Muslim societies—including Mecca itself, the very centre of Islamic belief—and on my years of study of Islam as a practitioner, student, and teacher” (2015: 8). She later says that “Allah’s imperatives for the faithful are not exhortations . . . or a covenant . . . or even a wider moral code” (p. 92).She tells us, with all seriousness, that computers contradict Islam (p. 16).

Her main message is this: I (Hirsi Ali) am a reformer of Islam. Muslims, when hearing this, laugh. A reformer of Islam must respectthe Quran and Muhammad. A reformer must know the reality Muslims live in, and the problems they face. If a reformer is missing any one of these conditions, he or she will not get the support of the majority of Muslims. That is, the reformer will not be able to democratically reform Islam. (Some people have tried to coercively reform Islam, only to find, to their horror, that Muslim conviction grewstronger as the coercion got harsher.)

How to Cite
Mekki, A. (2018). Heretic: Why Islam needs a reformation now. International Journal of Islamic Thoughts (IJITs), 5(2). Retrieved from
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