Oh my goodness, what a book. I was on the waiting list for forever for this book and I finally came up for it right before my Christmas break. I figured I would have plenty of time to read it while traveling, but not necessarily the book you want to read during holiday season.
This book was so educational and super depressing. Shane would have me update him on my 'sad book'. And it was incredibly sad in many different ways, but I've been thinking and discussing with Shane how best to describe the way I feel about the book and I hope I convey what I'm feeling, because it really touched me.
Shane has done a lot of studying about the relationships of the different countries in the middle east and I have also done some studying about Islam. I remember learning in Social Studies when I was what 14 and I have always been interested in learning more. It completely appalls me, the way that different cultures treat women. I just, I just can't understand how people can be so cruel. Shane told me about the female excision, which I knew a little about, and I'm glad that I learned more...no... glad isn't the right word; its just so so cruel. It just makes me so mad that women can be treated this way!!!! What I liked best was when Ayaan was talking to her friend - I don't remember the name, but she was a dutch christian. They were talking about excision (is that the right word) and her friend said, but why would you want to mutilate god's creation. He created you what authority do we have to change god's creation. (it was something to that effect and really this concept can be applied in different facets).
Reading about Ayaans childhood is so painful! I just want to swoop in and save everyone from this lifestyle. What impressed me most was Ayaans pursuit of understanding. There were some things she didn't understand, and a lot of things that frustrated her, but she continually sought to gain greater understanding and immerse herself into spirituality. She finally escaped her life of submission and I was so proud of her strength, and courage, and persevering attitude. She knew she could not be an ignorant meek woman to survive and hopefully make a difference for her country women.
What really saddened me was that she lost her faith all together. That she gave up her beliefs to live the ways of the world. She would justify all of her actions starting with the simplest thing as not wearing her headdress. Since she wasn't struck by a lightening bolt and the world continued to function she justified that it wasn't a big deal. This led to greater things like sleeping around and drinking wine. She wasn't ever struck down, so therefore god could not exist. She pulled a complete 180. She had held firm to her beliefs but was led down a slippery slope until she denied the existence of god. Out of all the horrible and sad things in the book, this really effected me.
Shane and I were discussing this and he understood me, so hopefully I can explain how I feel. Have you heard the analogy that when Christ was on the earth the gospel was whole like a glass dish. When he left the earth, the dish shattered to a million pieces. Different religions gathered up some of the pieces, meaning, that different religions have some truth to them. They just don't have the whole truth. I have always felt that there are many religions on the earth that teach true practices and people are better for them. I also believe that the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints hold the whole truth. Considering the church of Islam, Muslim beliefs, I think that as it started out, it possessed a lot of truth. It taught faith, abstinence (from alcohol, tea, coffee, drugs, sex..), the commandments. It began with a lot of true teachings, but it fell into hands that interpreted things differently. They don't have living inspired prophets and globally organized religion with only one interpretation. They were free to interpret what they will. Ayaan talked about it all the time, how the underlying themes of Islam was teachings of peace and mercy, but practices were corrupted. What was also hard was how it was essentially the mosaic law that is still being applied i.e. women are stoned for committing adultery. They don't have the constant enlightenment and inspiration that we are so blessed to have. Ayaan stressed how all the behaviors were backed by the Quran, that everything was in there. Like how it was okay for a woman to be beat by her husband because it said so in the Quran. But I feel that the true message was misinterpreted. There are passages that can be found in the old testament that convey pretty similar messages. This is so hard for me to explain! Basically, it saddened me to experience someone loosing their testimony. I realize that you know not all beliefs were good, but there are good teachings in Islam and its the people who practice them that have become corrupt. Her father didn't follow a majority of the loathsome practices that so many were guilty of - excision, beatings...I just think that the process of loosing your testimony is so accurately described in this book. We can look at the ways of the world for comfort rather than searching spiritually.
Okay, now that I have probably thoroughly confused anyone who reads this. I hope you try to understand. All of the hardships Ayaan endured through, but she couldn't fight the temptation of living the way of the world - and this hurt me more. It was so sad that she lost her entire testimony.
I hope this makes some kind of sense and someone gets something out of it. I do not feel that the practices she described in her childhood are in any way correct. But I believe that our father in heaven loves us and he wants us to live by his teachings. I am so thankful for my testimony in the true church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.