National Press Club

Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali calls for Muslim reformation

April 7, 2015 | By Yasmine El-Sabawi

Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks at the National Press Club on April 7, 2015

Ayaan Hirsi Ali speaks at the National Press Club on April 7, 2015

Photo/Image: Al Teich

Political upheaval and terrorist violence in the Middle East and Africa signals the need for “reformation” of the Islamic faith, Somali-born author and Islam critic Ayaan Hirsi Ali said Tuesday at a National Press Club Speakers Luncheon.

Ali, a former Muslim who once urged Muslims to abandon their faith, said she now believes such an "exodus from Islam" is no longer viable. Instead, her latest book, "Heretic," describes how the religion’s teachings promote warfare, sectarianism, and oppression, and outlines a five-point plan to amend Islam.

Muslims must change their attitudes toward the Quran and the sayings of the Prophet Mohammed, known as the Hadith, to recognize the Prophet Mohammed’s actions after he emigrated from Mecca to Medina in Saudi Arabia are “really problematic," she said.

To Muslims, the Prophet Mohammed is considered a walking embodiment of the holy book. The religion encourages adherents to emulate his attitude and actions.

While “there’s a lot to admire" about Mohammed during his time as a politician and leader in Medina, Ali said, “in 2015, if you want to apply Mohammed’s moral guidance, then you are going to end up with something called the Islamic State.”

Muslims should also change their priorities to invest more in life before death rather than focusing on life after death, Ali said.

Ali praised Egypt’s President Abdel Fattah El-Sisi for demanding an Islamic “revolution,” as well as the United Arab Emirates for designating the Muslim Brotherhood, the most popular opposition group across much of the Arab world, as a terrorist group.

The Obama Administration must make an effort to persuade Muslim to see alternatives to traditional Islam, she said, adding that she is frustrated with U.S. leaders reiterating they are "not at war with Islam."

Ali called on the Western world to side with the people who want to reform Islam.

“Groups we think are anomalies in Islam” such as Boko Haram, “are actually inherent," she said. “Islam as a creed [is] neither peaceful nor tolerant."