Book - 2007
Average Rating:
Rate this:
In this profoundly affecting memoir from the internationally renowned author of The Caged Virgin, Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells her life story, from her traditional Muslim childhood in Somalia to her intellectual awakening in the Netherlands to her life under armed guard in the West.
Publisher: New York : Free Press, c2007
ISBN: 9780743289689
Branch Call Number: 949.207 HIRSI ALI
Characteristics: xii, 353 p., [8] p. of plates : ill. ; 24 cm

Related Resources


From the critics

Community Activity


Add a Comment
Mar 21, 2020

Had a hard time getting into this one as it was too hard to read the print, small as it is. Turns out my retina was detaching and needing surgery! hah I stopped trying to read it when I was in Arizona in late Jan/2020. and put it aside

Sep 02, 2019

Great read. Such a strong woman. Courageous and well intended. Seeing beyond her immediate constraints 4 stars

May 29, 2019

Everyone should read this!

Apr 09, 2019

I'm reading this book right now. I only have 150 pages to go and I'm finding it totally engrossing. Gaining an understanding of the pov of the Somali Muslims is really invaluable. I worked with quite a few as an airport cab driver. I realize after reading the book, that not knowing the Somali culture really had me at a disadvantage. The writing is beautiful; so descriptive of what it's like to transition from one culture that is so different from Western culture.

Why aren't there more copies of this at my library???

The author fearlessly examines her upbringing and the values of the culture, values, and Islamic religion into which she was born and raised, contrasted with those of the Netherlands, where she became a refugee and a politician, before voluntary exile to the USA. This is the second of her four books (to date: 2017). IMHO, it is her best one. The photographs enhance this autobiography.

Mar 21, 2017

Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a brave woman who has gone through so much in her life that I can't even begin to comprehend the scope of it! She is one of my role models, and definitely a woman for all feminists to look up to!

Mar 11, 2017

I had never thought about I would have this strong urge to learn about my students' background and culture. When I looked back, I felt ignorant and stupid. INFIDEL gave me really deep insights on how a Somali woman has to live her whole life suffering in the mental cage and bearing all the inequalities in the name of submitting to God. And her journey of escaping the cage, even questioning and reasoning the existence of Islam and God, then refusing to be a believer of God, and exploring her potentials and truth rather than faith. Her struggles and fightings are inspirational. She is brave. She put her private thoughts in words for the world to see. She is again, inspirational.

Dec 02, 2016

An excellent, very moving book. She went through a lot and still bravely persevered to stick up for Muslim women. Very inspirational. 

Mar 07, 2016

I hated to put this book down to do the things I have to do around the house. A very clear and concise view of the problems we face in this world today with some very real solutions that need to be addressed to implement these changes.

Jan 01, 2016

I could not put this book down. I finished it all one night, it was so engrossing. I loved reading about Ayaan's life, her story is well written and we get a glimpse of what muslim life is like for a woman. She is a courageous woman who followed her own heart and would not be silenced even with threats to her life for telling the truth. I wish the political left in this country would read this book and understand that Islam is oppressive to women. This is not somebody commenting from the outside, here is someone who has lived that life and been witness to the violence towards muslim women from their men. Why do we keep being told Islam is a religion of peace and tolerance, when we have example after example that it is not?

View All Comments


Add a Quote
May 04, 2016

…I was invited to appear on a Dutch TV program about women in Islam. There were a number of short items on girls in the Netherlands who had escaped their parents’ abuse, and about girls who chose to walk about veiled even though they were living in Holland.

When I was asked for my opinion, I explained that Islam was like a mental cage. At first, when you open the door, the caged bird stays inside: it is frightened. It has internalized its imprisonment. It takes time for the bird to escape, even after someone has opened the doors to its cage. P 286

May 04, 2016

I listened to the news of riots that had erupted in Nigeria. A young woman journalist assigned to cover the Miss World competition there had written, “Muslims thought it was immoral to bring ninety-two women to Nigeria to ask them to revel in vanity. What would the Prophet Muhammad think?...He would probably have chosen a wife from one of them.”

More than two hundred people were killed in the riots that broke out. The office of her newspaper was burned down, and the reporter was forced to leave the country. ..[Then], instead of blaming the violence on the men who were burning down houses and murdering people,[a British woman who had organized the pageant] blamed the young reporter for making “unfortunate remarks.”

I was incensed by this excusing of fanaticism. That journalist...was right: the Prophet married most of his wives because they had caught his eye...

May 04, 2016

Johan handed me a photocopy of the letter. He didn’t tell me it had been stabbed into Theo’s chest by his killer, just gave me some pages written in Arabic and Dutch.

I read them. The letter was structured very precisely, like a fatwa, a religious verdict. It opened with "In the name of Allah Most Gracious Most Merciful", followed by a quote from the Prophet Muhammad, the swordsman. Then there was a summary of all the “acts of crime” I had committed against Islam. Then came a verse from the Quran, and a challenge from the writer on the basis of that verse, asking me if I was prepared to die for my convictions, as he, the letter writer, was. He went on to curse the United States, Europe, Holland, and me, and signed with the name “Sword of the Faith.”….Remkes told me the letter was found on Theo’s body, along with a poem of martyrdom….

May 04, 2016

The kind of thinking I saw in Saudi Arabia,.. is incompatible with human rights and liberal values. It preserves a feudal mindset based on tribal concepts of honor and shame. It rests on self-deception, hypocrisy, and double standards. It relies on the technological advances of the West while pretending to ignore their origin in Western thinking. This mind-set makes the transition to modernity very painful for all who practice Islam.

It is always difficult to make the transition to a modern world….It was difficult for me, too. I moved from the world of faith to the world of reason...Having made that journey, I know that one of the worlds is simply better than the other. Not because of its flashy gadgets, but fundamentally, because of its values.

The message of this book, that we in the West would be wrong to prolong the pain of that transition unnecessarily, by elevating cultures full of bigotry and hatred toward women to the stature of respectable alternative ways of life.

May 04, 2016

I first encountered the full strength of Islam as a young child in Saudi Arabia...the place where the Muslim religion is practiced in its purest form, and it is the origin of much of the fundamentalist vision that has, in my lifetime, spread far beyond its borders. In Saudi Arabia, every breath, every step we took was infused with concepts of purity or sinning, and with fear. Wishful thinking about the peaceful tolerance of Islam cannot interpret away this reality: hands are cut off, women still stoned and enslaved, just as the Prophet Muhammad decided centuries ago.

May 04, 2016

My central, motivating concern is that women in Islam are oppressed. That oppression of women causes Muslim women and Muslim men, too, to lag behind the West. It creates a culture that generates more backwardness with every generation. It would be better for everyone – for Muslims above all – if this situation could change.

When people say that the values of Islam are compassion, tolerance, and freedom, I look at the reality, at real cultures and governments, and I see that it simply isn’t so. People in the West swallow this sort of thing because they have learned not to examine the religions or cultures of minorities too critically, for fear of being called racist. It fascinates them that I am not afraid to do so. [p 349]

Apr 16, 2016



Add a Summary
Feb 08, 2019

Ayaan grew up in a very strict Muslim family and when she is forced into an arranged marriage she runs away to Holland, and begins to question her religion. She grows up with an abusive mother and distant father, and her brother and sister. There's a lot of "soul-searching" in this book that I find quite interesting. It really helped bring me into a culture I know nothing about, and help me understand what it is like where she lives. It was recommended to me by my mother, who I think actually saw the author speak once, she really likes this book.


Add Age Suitability

There are no ages for this title yet.


Add Notices

There are no notices for this title yet.

Explore Further

Browse by Call Number


Subject Headings


Find it at SAPL

To Top