Should Muslim women renounce or redefine their faith?

I posted a while back about Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her new book, Nomad: From Islam to America. On the Ms. Magazine Blog this past Monday, Rafia Zakaria focuses on an interesting new development in Ali’s views of Islam and women. 

Ali, as you may recall, is Somali-born and a former Dutch parliamentarian who became a fellow at the American Enterprise Institute (AEI). She’s a feminist, a conservative, and an atheist. Further, she has stated she believes there is no hope for Muslim women unless they renounce their faith. Zakaria says Ali’s latest book, adds a new twist to this idea of renunciation:

So now, Ali is in America and finds herself in a political conundrum. She is a feminist (as announced by the title of a recent piece run by The New York Times Magazine) but she is at a conservative collective, The American Enterprise Institute, which rarely, if ever, supports feminist concerns. The result resonates with the kind of opportunism seen too often at political think tanks. Hirsi Ali no longer simply suggests that Muslim women renounce their faith completely, but rather that they should look to Christianity instead of Islam for a religious identity. This is because Christianity, unlike Islam, has a “reform” branch that would allow them to ask questions. Unlike earlier writings, in which Hirsi Ali seemed to renounce all faith as a stricture on women’s self-realization, the political environs of the American Enterprise Institute seem to have softened her stance toward at least one faith.

As Zakaria points out in the rest of her piece, there are well-educated modern Muslim women who are redefining their faith, but that’s different than renouncing it.



Zoe Romanowsky is writer, consultant, and coach. Her articles have appeared in "Catholic Digest," "Faith & Family," "National Catholic Register," "Our Sunday Visitor," "Urbanite," "Baltimore Eats," and Zo

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