In this interview, Johann Hari points to Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s conflicting positions on the essense and future of Islam.
“Revolutionary Ayaan believes the religion cannot be reformed or changed, only defeated. The millions upon millions of Muslims who are not violent – “the wonderful decent law-abiding people” – simply do not really follow Islam. They ignore it, or they live uncomfortably with the explosive “cognitive dissonance” of simultaneously supporting human decency and the demands of Islam. She lists the awkward truths about the Prophet Mohammed. “All Muslims believe in following his example, but many of the things he did are crimes. When he was in his fifties he had sex with a nine-year old girl. By our standards he was a pervert. He ordered the killing of Jews and homosexuals and apostates, and the beating of women.” That is why, she therefore concludes, “The War on Terror is a war on Islam” and “Islam is the new fascism.”
“But there then there is Reformist Ayaan. She says the opposite: internal reform within Islam is possible and necessary. She insists, “It’s wrong to treat Muslims as if they will never find their John Stuart Mill. Christianity and Judaism show people can be very dogmatic and then open up. There is a minority [within Islam] like [reformists] Irshad Manji and Tawfiq Hamid who want to remain in the faith and reform it… Can you be a Muslim and respect the separation of church and state? I hope a large enough number of Muslims will agree you can, and they will find a way to keep the spiritual elements that comfort them and live in a secular society.”
As I have written on this subject before, Ali needs to follow her beliefs to their logical conclusions. While Ali repeatedly speaks of reforming Islam, her atheism and position on the religion render her call for reform hollow. If in its essence Islam is an illusionary system of beliefs that leads to tyranny and cruelty, then reforming Islam is a waste of time.