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The Caged Virgin: A Muslim Woman's Cry for Reason [Paperback]

Ayaan Hirsi Ali
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)

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Book Description

5 Feb 2007
Raised a Muslim but increasingly outraged by her religion's hostility towards women, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has now become one of today's most talked-about, admired and controversial political figures because of her desire to free women from an oppressive Muslim culture. Her bestselling collection of essays, THE CAGED VIRGIN, now available in English for the first time, brings together some of her most passionate and compelling writing on a wide range of issues concerning Islam. Drawing on her own first-hand experience and cultural background, she assesses the role of women in Islam both in practice and in theory; the rights of the individual; fanaticism; and Western policies towards immigrant communities. Provocative and compelling in equal measure, THE CAGED VIRGIN is an important addition to the ongoing debate about the 'clash of civilizations' and marks the debut of a writer and activist destined to be one of the key international figures of the early twenty-first century.

Product details

  • Paperback: 208 pages
  • Publisher: Pocket Books; New edition edition (5 Feb 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1416526234
  • ISBN-13: 978-1416526230
  • Product Dimensions: 13 x 19.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (28 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 48,625 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description

About the Author

Ayaan Hirsi Ali was born in Somalia, was raised as a Muslim, and spent her childhood and young adulthood in Africa and Saudi Arabia. In 1992 Hirsi Ali went to the Netherlands as a refugee, escaping a forced marriage to a distant cousin she had never met. She denounced Islam after 9/11 and now works as a Dutch parliamentarian, fighting for the rights of Muslim women in Europe, the enlightenment of Islam, and for security in the West.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
41 of 47 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars So much for 'moderate' Islam 3 Oct 2009
It is rare for me to read a book in one go, even when time allows. This remarkable book proved an exception. Its structure is a little disjointed, but her message gets to the core of the problem with Islam, and in particular, the tragic problems it creates for women.

And what is the core problem that Ayaan Hirsi Ali identifies? It is not the corruption, by extremists and fundamentalists, of a noble religion of love and peace. We heard alot of that woolly talk after 9/11. The problem is with Mahomet himself. Even Mahomet would not be a problem were his teachings recognised for what they are. They are the notions of a 7th century man from a violent, tribal and male dominated society. His ideas, as far as we can gather them from the Koran and Hadiths, may have been a great improvement on what had preceded them. In the 21st century, indeed for several centuries now, adherence to his ideas has been a great hindrance, especially to women. It is centuries since Islam was in the vanguard of scientific and social progress. This author points out how the Islamic world is retarded by the very creed it holds so dear.

Ayaan Hirsi Ali describes the terrible results of the abuse of Muslim women in her adopted country of the Netherlands. Victims of female circumcision, marital violence and rape are certainly not confined to Islamic communities. The creed, however, fashioned by and for men, and frozen by its rigid adherence to obsolete texts, inevitably condones and encourages such abuse.

Although most of the case studies are Dutch, many of her warnings about the dangers of multiculturalism can be applied in the UK too. As her book went to press there was a misguided bill, in progress through Parliament, which would have outlawed expressions of religious hatred.
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14 of 16 people found the following review helpful
A fascinating insight into the lives of Muslim women from an intelligent woman campaigning for human rights for women who have none - an important read for western liberal society. Beautifully written.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone should read this 2 Feb 2013
By Amber
Format:Kindle Edition
I think this should be on the curriculum in schools and everyone else should read it. It is so shocking, moving and uplifting. I want to read it again already.
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50 of 61 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Everyone must read this book 22 July 2006
By Nicola
Ayaan Ali skillfully combines the poignant stories of muslim women's lives together with a compassionate and convincing exploration of the influences on those who are driven to treat women inhumanely. She weaves personal experiences and studies of politics, sociology and philosophy to create a book which encompasses both the individual and the wider picture.

She is clear and constructive in voicing her vision for the world and also how the reader, Muslim or non-Muslim can exert a positive influence.

The style is brisk and accessible to all.

I was left with admiration for this woman and a desire to support the freedoms and principles which we take for granted.
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22 of 27 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars No muzz-headedness here :-) 21 April 2007
By S Smyth
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
The title and cover of this book would lead one to expect a fairly hyperbolic read instead of the even-toned and thorough account of Islam, its failings to its contemporary adherents and its comparative failings in the face of western philosophies-of-faith: religion and multiculturalism, for instance. As with Ayaan Hirsi Ali's 'Infidel', much emphasis is placed on the west's wilful misunderstanding of Islam and its dominance over all aspects of a Muslim's life--especially women's.

It was cited that there are non-observant Muslims and Muslims of a reformist mind. A French women's group, for example. Whilst this is encouraging, it does beg the question: since one is not born a Muslim, would it not be simpler to encourage these Muslims to abandon Islam altogether. After all, Ayaan Hirsi Ali has successfully done so. Nothing reforms a philosophy-of-faith faster than a dwindling membership. This would only require western governments to properly defend those who have chosen to, as is their right in the west, from the Islamist hardliners who would threaten them with death.
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55 of 68 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The open society and its enemies 22 Jun 2007
In this perceptive work, Ayaan Hirsi Ali explores a major problem of our times with admirable fluency and erudition. In the preface she points out the similarity in attitude towards the Soviets by leftists then and Islamic culture now by the adherents of multiculturalism. Because of the victim culture, those intellectuals refuse to criticize oppressive practices as Muslims are perceived to be victims of the West. For the same reason, Israel is fiercely condemned because it belongs to the West while the Palestinians get a free pass. She considers this wrongheaded and racism in its purest form, the idea of the "other" that must be shielded at all costs.

She asks the advocates of the multicultural society to acquaint themselves with the suffering of women who are treated as chattels. The notion of "group rights" are detrimental to Muslim women, and without emancipation, the socially disadvantageous position of Muslims will persist. She laments the fact that Muslim women are not listened to and calls for self-examination in the culture. Hirsi Ali also deals with the clash of cultures in Europe and examines the triangles of power in the Muslim world itself: the triangle of the strong leader, the clergy and the army, and the triangle of apathy, fundamentalism and refugees/emigration.

The author provides a brief history of her early childhood in Somalia and her personal emancipation when she emigrated to the Netherlands and explains why she had to leave Holland for the USA. There is also an interview with prominent Canadian Muslim reformer Irshad Manji, a chapter on genital mutilation and 10 tips for Muslim women who wish to leave their oppressive circumstances. A full transcript of the documentary film Submission is included, the movie that led to the death of Theo van Gogh.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars persuasive and insightful
Well constructed and clearly thought out account of a courageous woman's struggle - a story that deserves to be widely told and heard
Published 2 days ago by Dr Ben
5.0 out of 5 stars A history of religious oppression to women, the writer ...
A history of religious oppression to women, the writer strongly argued that Islam oppress women in all ways of life.
Published 25 days ago by Sujan Chowdhury
1.0 out of 5 stars One Star
Published 1 month ago by Granny Mouse
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Really fascinating insight into this subject and such heavy issues as FGM. I found it very readable.
Published 1 month ago by Cara Cooper
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
If you want to understand Islam and the way Muslims think this book is an education.
Published 2 months ago by Vanessa A Smith
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
Scary but so true
Published 2 months ago by Kate
5.0 out of 5 stars A very brave woman
Writer addresses many aspects of Islamic treatment of women which she believes need to be addressed. I think she is right, particularly with regard to female genital mutilation. Read more
Published 3 months ago by buyerbeware
5.0 out of 5 stars my favourite book!
A real eye opener! Brilliant I have easily read this 3 times and still each time I pick it up I find something new.
Published 7 months ago by EMMA
5.0 out of 5 stars Good Book
Informative and very enlightening a good book to read if you are interested in this religion. So read it! phew
Published 10 months ago by Mrs Mary P H Musgrave
4.0 out of 5 stars An impassioned plea
Very passionate polemic about the cultural influences on women in Muslim culture. Some very interesting insights (e.g. Read more
Published 12 months ago by garygill
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