Nomad By Ayaan Hirsi Ali

books-nomad_1825This book is the sequel of Infidel, the author’s memoir. I reviewed it here. What I failed to discuss in my Infidel’s review was Ms Hirsi Ali’s families – Her father, mother, sisters and brother.

At the end of Infidel, the reader is left wondering, what happen to the family?  The answer to that question is found in Nomad.

The author is a powerful storyteller. Her talent resides in the way she compels you to read more of her story page after page.

About the author

Ayaan Hirsi Ali  is either loved or hated. With her there is no middle ground. Her champions are the west, since she glorifies their model and way of thinking. Her detractors are the Somalis and  the Muslims in general and a third group of persons I call the liberal thinkers.Like I said in my review of Infidel, as a young Muslim woman myself, who came to the west, I don’t identify with most of the things she said about women, Islam and black Africa. I am forced to conclude that, the Islam she talks about, is only present, in Somalia. Sometimes, when you read her arguments, you have this feeling that she is being too simplistic. It’s not about choosing between Islam and atheism. It is more complicated than that. Women are still facing enormous challenges everywhere, even in her beloved west.

Somalia, Tribe and Islam

Now the issue of tribes and clans is very unique to Somalia. Your belonging to a particular clan determine your identity and your place in society. For a country, that is trying to create a national identity, that is problematic to say the least.

As a general rule, I am always suspicious of people who are adamant or who insist on generalization. People live through different times and circumstances. As such, talks of women and Islam should always be nuanced and put into perspective. I was quite shock at the way she describes her family in the book, especially her mother and her grandmother. In fact, I was really disappointed. She sounded like a heartless woman. Maybe I am just too much of an African, but I found it rather sad.

Ms Ali argues that Islam is a backward religion that needs to be adapted to modern times like the bible. Because the Quran was kept intact, Islam did not disintegrate like Christianism did. On another chapter, she pointed out that because of the alienation of Islam, Somalia is a backward country. If Islam was the root of all of Somalia’s problems, countries like Saudi Arabia, Jordan, Egypt would not prosper. Countries like Senegal, Mali, The Gambia, and Guinea would be more like Somalia. They are all Muslim countries and they are all different.I am a moderate Muslim; I don’t wear the Hijab neither my mother nor my grand-mother did. All the girls of my extended family went to school and most of them are working. They choose their own husband and no one has been circumcised. In short, we did not have the same experience of Islam at all. Now that brings us to this idea of how many type of Islam exist?

I would argue that because of her bad experience, she wants us all to quit Islam and become atheist. Or rather, she wants the government of Canada to ban Islam altogether. That would be against the rights of the people, wouldn’t it? Her opinions are rather skewed most of time.I think the point that shock me the most was her insistence that Islam can’t exist in the west. What is the West exactly? Europe? The US? Being a Muslim in Europe is quite different from being a Muslim in Canada or in the US.

Now as I mention on my review of Infidel, some of the things she said are true. Particularly on the conditions of women in Somalia. I don’t think honor killing or Female Genital Mutilation were brought by Islam. A perfect example would be 18th century England, where women had no rights, was forced to marry and was under the responsibility of the man of their families. But I absolutely agree with her that honor killing, female genial mutilation,rape, forced marriage are all unacceptable… But again, I am from a Muslim country and honor killing does not exist in our society, female genital mutilation is not a widespread practice and rape is criminal under any circumstances.

Ms Ali discussed extensively on the fact that Somalis men have problems adapting to moderns societies. For instance she said :”…This is the tragedy of the tribal Muslim man, and especially the first-born son: the overblown expectations, the ruinous vanity, the unstable sense of self that relies on the oppression of one group of people – women – to maintain the other group’s self-image…”

I prefer this book to the first one. I feel like  in this book the harshness was toned down a little bit. And some points were discussed more in depth. I recommend you to read it. I would love to know what you think of it? Drop me a comment or email us at


  1. Excellent review. I really like the way you identify the differences within Islam and explain how you, and many others, are moderates, able to see the problems she names without condemning the whole religion. Those of us who are non-Muslim need to understand more about your position.

  2. Ndeye, it seems you have love hate relationship with this woman and her novels. I loved Infidel. I have not read this one yet. In any case, I have a strong admiration for the author.

  3. Hello Mary,
    That’s the problem with controversy, right? Noone can dismiss you as a lunatic but sometimes some of the things you said are just strange.
    About infidel, when I think about it, of all the stories of survival out there, this is not the most awful or the most extraordinary ( Did you read Leymah gbowee’s story).
    I admire here because she is bold but I wish she were compromising in her views. Whether she like or not, life is about compromise.

  4. Well done on clarifying Islam and the norms of a particular society, all the grievances Ms Ali has nothing to do with Islam, its a Somali culture or tradition, I know that cause I am from Somalia, I have no bad feeling towards her but I wonder what caused to think Islam was the cause of her problems? personal gain, lack of knowledge about Islam or simply confused, only her can tell us.

      1. I think that she failed to identify the difference b\w Islam and the culture of here orginal birth place, I got to know that Mr. Hirsi Ali -The father- is educated modern scholar, what I can understand from here personality that she is not telling the all real story all the time, so she cant face the Somali\Muslim society directly rather then directing hear speeches to pplz who may have a prior overview about those cultures shaped by western media.

  5. I have read both Infidel and Nomad. Since this thread is about Nomad, I will briefly say that I questioned the structure of the argument Ms. Ali was bringing to the table regarding the ill’s of Islam (for clarity I am not Muslim). Her assumption is that Islam is THE religion that degrades and persecutes women – but as Mohamed stated in his comments above, there is a difference between culture and religious impositions placed on a society. Ms. Ali presents in her book Nomad, the idea that Christianity is a much more accepting religion and should therefore be the aspiration of all to embrace. I beg to differ. Actually, when I was reading the book, I began to ask myself if Ms. Ali was in fact paid by the The Brookings Institute, a noted very conservative (if that is even the word) think tank in the U.S. I could go on about my conversations regarding this book with Muslim female friends who are very educated and activists for women’s rights globally, but I won’t. I will say that again, while the story highlighting her experiences are intriguing, it is her argument that positions other religions on a higher level than Islam which is unsubstantiated in my view.

    1. Exactly! That’s when i start asking myself questions . you oppose Islam, fine! We all have our issues but she should know that the grass is always greener on the other side. She really dissapoints me! Thank you for your comment!

Leave a Reply

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.

%d bloggers like this: