Wandering towards the Enlightenment

All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost.

Nomad – synonym – wanderer.

She titled her book, “Nomad.”

For that was her ancestral origins — misleadingly put as “her genetics”  —  supposedly her “inheritance” and her culture.

But she was different.  Something deep inside was different.

She had always read books, from the beginning as a child.


The seeds of doubt.

She wants to write a book.  She wanted to write it before her two bestselling books, Infidel and Nomad, it’s tentative title is: A Shortcut to the Enlightenment.  — She, however, had taken the longer road, herself.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali, Mastermind Rational, is interested in exploring the results of the Enlightenment relative to the modern world and the medieval world, by writing a book.

Masterminds tend to be much more definite and self-confident than other Rationals, having usually developed a very strong will. Decisions come easily to them; in fact, they can hardly rest until they have things settled and decided. But before they decide anything, they must do the research. Masterminds are highly theoretical, but they insist on looking at all available data before they embrace an idea, and they are suspicious of any statement that is based on shoddy research, or that is not checked against reality. [Please Understand Me II]

‘The idea of taking some distance from yourself, of thinking in a systematic way about who you are and how the mind is built up…’  She wants to have an imaginative debate, in the form of a book, where Muhammad argues for his ideas with Karl Popper, Fredrich Hayek, and John Stuart Mill.

“I have moved from one civilization to another. In fact, according to Huntington’s definition of civilization, I have moved through three: the African, the Muslim and then I crossed over to the West.”

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born into a Majerteen family in Mogadishu, Somalia. Her father, Hirsi Magan Isse, was a prominent member of the Somali Salvation Democratic Front and a leading figure in the Somalian Revolution. Shortly after she was born, her father was imprisoned due to his opposition to Somalia’s Siad Barre government.

Hirsi Ali’s father had studied abroad and was opposed to female genital cutting, but while he was imprisoned, Hirsi Ali’s grandmother had the traditional procedure performed on five-year-old Hirsi Ali.

They settled in Nairobi, Kenya, where Hirsi Ali attended the English-language Muslim Girls’ Secondary School. By the time she reached her teens, Saudi-funded religious education was becoming more influential among Muslims in other countries, and a charismatic religious teacher who had been trained under this aegis joined Hirsi Ali’s school. She inspired the teenaged Ayaan, as well as some fellow students, to adopt the more rigorous Saudi Arabian interpretations of Islam, as opposed to the more relaxed versions then current in Somalia and Kenya. Hirsi Ali had been impressed by the Qur’an before she could even read, and had lived “by the Book, for the Book” throughout her childhood.

She sympathised with the Islamist Muslim Brotherhood, and wore a hijab together with her school uniform, which was unusual at the time but gradually became more common. She agreed with the fatwa against British writer Salman Rushdie that was declared in reaction to the publication of his controversial novel The Satanic Verses. After completing secondary school, she attended a secretarial course at Valley Secretarial College in Nairobi for one year. At this time, Hirsi Ali read English adventure stories such as the Nancy Drew series, containing modern heroine archetypes which overstepped the limits traditionally imposed by religion and society. [Wikipedia]

She apparently started to question what was in the Qur’an.  So by 1992, her perspective had and was changed.

Hirsi Ali states that in 1992 her father arranged to marry her to a distant cousin. She says that she objected to this both on general grounds (she states that she dreaded being forced to submit to a stranger, someone with “the Holy Book on his side” who could force himself on her sexually), and on specific objections to this particular cousin, saying that he was a “bigot” and an “idiot”.

It is not disputed that in 1992 she travelled from Kenya to visit her family in Düsseldorf and Bonn, Germany. It was planned that she would join her husband in Canada after obtaining a visa while in Germany. Members of her family have disputed the story of her forced marriage. According to Hirsi Ali, she spent her time in Germany frantically trying to devise a way to escape her unwanted marriage. Ultimately she decided that she would claim to want to visit a relative in the Netherlands, but once she had arrived, seek help from that relative and claim asylum. [Wikipedia]

Hirsi learned more about the West and the Enlightenment in her new home, Netherlands.

After being granted asylum she held various short-term jobs, ranging from cleaning to sorting post… She says that she had been an avid reader from childhood, and access to new books and ways of thought stretched her imagination and frightened her at the same time. … She states that she was impressed with how well Dutch society seemed to function and, in an effort to better understand how this system had developed, studied at Leiden University where she obtained a MSc degree in political science in 2000. [Wikipedia]

She began realized her religion was not a source of much good, but rather much more evil, especially the attitude towards women.  The treatment of women was badly outdated, rooted in the seventh century.  She became an atheist, reading The Atheist Manifesto.  9/11 attack was an event in helping her change of mind.  She eventually became political.

In 2003, aged 33, she became prominent in the parliamentary election campaign. Her message: the Dutch welfare state had overlooked abuse of Muslim women and girls, contributing to their isolation and oppression.  She won a seat in the Dutch Parliament.  She openly criticized Muhammad and Islam.

Hirsi Ali wrote the script and provided the voice-over for Submission, a film produced by Theo van Gogh, which criticised the treatment of women in Islamic society. Juxtaposed with passages from the Qur’an were scenes of actresses portraying Muslim women suffering abuse. The film also features an actress dressed in a semi-transparent burqa who has texts from the Qur’an written on her skin. The texts are among those often interpreted as justifying the subjugation of women. The film’s release sparked much furore, and Mohammed Bouyeri, a member of the Hofstad Group, murdered Van Gogh in an Amsterdam street on November 2, 2004. A letter pinned to Van Gogh’s body with a knife was primarily a death threat to Hirsi Ali.

Infidel.  Traitor.  How dare she.

“People accuse me of having interiorized a feeling of racial inferiority, so that I attack my own culture out of self-hatred, because I want to be white. This is a tiresome argument. Tell me, is freedom then only for white people? Is it self-love to adhere to my ancestors’ traditions and mutilate my daughters? To agree to be humiliated and powerless? To watch passively as my countrymen abuse women and slaughter each other in pointless disputes? When I came to a new culture, where I saw for the first time that human relations could be different, would it have been self-love to see that as a foreign cult, which Muslims are forbidden to practice?” …  “You do figure stuff out as a kid, as a teenager, young adult, you reach a point where you are not prepared to accept that as a life’s definition or principle, you seek a better way. An opening of minds and eyes.

Not being very safe in the Netherlands and having legal difficulties because of her hiding of her real identity when she applied for asylum in the Netherlands, she came to America, invited by the American Enterprise Institute, a Conservative think tank.  She has stayed, finding America the land of opportunity. In response to ongoing abuses of women’s rights, Ayaan Hirsi Ali and her supporters established the AHA Foundation in 2007 to help protect and defend the rights of women in the West from oppression justified by religion and culture.

Figuring out that there was no god, it was a process of power, the dependence on your reason…  — Ayaan Hirsi Ali

12 thoughts on “Wandering towards the Enlightenment”

  1. On my vote for Ayn Rand, I’ll mention that she’s my favorite among the four choices given.

  2. “She began realized her religion was not a source of much good, but rather much more evil, especially the attitude towards women. The treatment of women was badly outdated, rooted in the seventh century.”

    Uh the treatment of women is evil by virtue of being outdated? How is the one related to the other?

    1. Good question. Besides the obvious answer of modernity being “better” (e.g., Enlightenment), a deeper argument about the relation between evil and treatment of women as a handicap to the Muslim culture is treated extremely well (and articulated) in Ayaan book Nomad.

      To excerpt a bit of Ayaan’s words to give a teaser (so you might be interested in reading her book): “This ancient code of sexual morality is derived from tribal Arab culture. It dates from long before the Prophet… the desert towns of Mecca and Medina, whose distant tribes worshipped many different idols and gods — honor and shame were central ideas that governed lie between men and women. Islam cemented this into an everlasting rule.”

  3. Fine enough though I am not clear about modernity being presumed to be better; it is better in some ways and worse in others and in any case is not automatically better; assuming it to be better is way to easy. Furthermore it is way to easy for extremists to appeal to “the future” which in many contexts simply means “whoever looks like a good bet for winning the next political power struggle.” And a substantial and underestimated amount of what is credited to the enlightenment is in fact from morally neutral circumsances such as the commercial revolution starting in Late Medieval Italy which allowed us to be able to afford a lot of things which our ancestors couldn’t. Or the Atlantic Ocean which gave America enough security not to be forced to evolve a warrior caste as most societies do. Imagine by contrast how one deals with criminals in a society where modern investigatory techniques are unavailable and the funding of prisons impossible? Be that as it may, using new and old as stand ins for good and evil leads dangerously toward the habit of demonizing one group and lauding the other based on when they are born irrespective of it’s members.

    As for Ali’s point, yes I quite understand it and indeed understood it before. What disturbed me was the conflating of good and evil with past and future and the presumption that the future is good. We must not forget that if Islamicists win, by definition they will be the future.

  4. One point that James Bowman made in his work “Honor: A History” which was supported by Elizabeth and Tomas Cohen’s “Daily Life In Renaissance Italy”(do not despise Greenwood Press for publishing juveniles; they are very good history) was that much of Western history was affected by the tension between Honor and Christian teaching which overlapped but did not quite have a one to one comparison. For instance revenge is honorable, but not Christian. This tension, Bowman claims, evolved the ethical system we have today. By contrast that tension was unknown in other parts of the world.

    One example he gives is of a reporter in Iraq deliberately sitting as close to a female soldier as possible to “use their chauvinism against them”. He apparently had no idea that whatever the faults of the old order in the West the enemies idea of honor did not include noblesse oblige. Male chauvinism definitely did not include opening doors for ladies let alone refusing to fire.

    1. Clintong? 😉 Mistakes were made, but not by me!? (Aronson and Tavris) Hillary is an Coordinating Rational — I thought Fieldmarshal, but reconsidered to Mastermind. She has been reported to say she tested as an INTJ, I believe her now.

        1. … Because my short suit is Logistics, not having immediate access (it’s complicated) to Keirsey.com I haven’t bothered to fix that error (oh, there are other errors too, ;-( ) on the site, for it involves other individuals and we have more, seemly Strategic compelling things to waste our time on.

          Let Chaos storm, Let cloud shapes, swarm. I wait for form. — Robert Frost.

    1. I have been using computers for 45 years, and I have watched the web develop from it’s beginning. However, research has been what I do best. Web site design and maintenance I handed off to thehe company awhile back, and I haven’t kept up with all the details of things. My main interest is Formatics, and business has never been my main interest or responsibility. I can make and send my changes to Keirsey.com on the testing server, and have done so in the past, but I am busy with developing other stuff, such that niggling errors never seem to get enough of my attention. Yes, I am lazy — more interested in new stuff.

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