“The Imam’s Daughter” by Hannah Shah

Some of you know this about me already; if you do, please bear with me.  Growing up, I lived with violence within my home in Japan until I got married and left home at the age of 22.  Shortly thereafter, I came to the United States of America at the age of 23.  After arriving in the country of my childhood dreams, I lived in peace for the next 29 years – albeit with the unwanted cultural demons still intact in my head.  Over time, ever so gradually, the scars of violence subsided but were never erased completely.  I remain abhorrent to violence.

Then, out of the blue, came the attacks on the twin towers in New York City on September 11, 2001.  Until that moment, I knew nothing about Islam or Muslims.  Thankfully, for sixteen years since 9/11, my home and immediate community have remained peaceful.  Civilization is alive and well – for now.  The peaceful world that I had enjoyed without any threat of potential violence for 29 years, however, came to an end.  And, oh, did I mention that I live in a suburb of Detroit?

Let me fast forward to this year’s annual reunion of the 610 MASS.  It was held late August in San Antonio, Texas.  This meant David and I had roughly 8 days on the road, getting to and from the destination at a leisurely pace.  Each year, we welcome the time out of our busy schedule to attend this event, during which we are committed to enjoying the journey together.

One of the things we both like to do while on the road is to listen to CDs, podcasts, and/or audio books – to learn from others.  Usually, our favorite topic is real-estate investing. This time, however, we both chose to listen mostly to topics related to Islam and Muslims.

Every single one of the six audio books on Islam, to which we listened, was superb.  All were written by Muslims who have become dissidents.  Some are choosing to stay within; others have converted to Christianity; yet others have become atheists.

By the way, I am not interested in listening to those who claim that Islam is a religion of peace.  Only those who have never experienced violence in their own lives can remain naive enough to deny the grave reality of Islam.

I also reject the notion that I suffer from an Islamophobia.  Because I do not.  Here is why:

  1. Let’s break down the word, Islamophobia, into two parts: Islam and phobia.
    • Islam, of course, is the name of a religion.
    • A phobia is defined as “an extreme or irrational fear of, or aversion to, something.” The key words are “irrational” and “aversion.”
    • Phobia is based on an imaginary fear.  For instance, let’s take arachnephobia, or fear of spiders.  As real as the threat may seem to those who do have this fear, how often have we heard of spiders actually harming people?
    • Those of us who do not have this phobia can appreciate that such fear is truly is irrational.
  2. In contrast, since 9/11, it is a fact that most, if not all, horrific violent acts against others around the world are being carried out by Muslim extremists.
    • The threat is real. Therefore, this is NOT an imaginary or irrational fear.
  3. If I had a phobia against Islam, would I choose to learn more about the religion – to try and understand it? I don’t think so.
    • I have no aversion to learning about it. In fact, I will probably continue to learn more about it from Muslim dissidents.  Why?  Because I believe that they, who understand the religion from the inside, hold the key to solving this very serious threat against humanity.
    • That said, having learned about violent teachings of Islam contained within Quran, there is zero chance I would ever consider becoming a Muslim.

Back to the audio books to which we listened.  One of them was so gripping that I have been unable to shake it out of my head.  It is called, “The Imam’s Daughter” by Hannah Shah.

Although my father was physically violent to my mother, but not to me (except for once), there are some parallels between him and Hannah’s father in terms of their utter disrespect toward women.  I was amazed to find out how similar the cultural environment is between Japan and Pakistan, both of which, of course, are Asian countries.

Hannah, the author, described vividly about:

  • How most social workers do not understand how dangerous it is for an abused Muslim child to be sent back to her parents. It could, in fact, result in her being murdered by her own father and/or brother; i.e., through honor killings.
  • The prevalent forced marriages of very young girls to much older men, often relatives.

I find in Hannah a kindred spirit.

  • She and I were both teenagers when we knew we needed to get away from the environment into which we were born.
  • We both knew instinctively, at a very young age, that violence was wrong.
  • Both she and I found love, freedom, and peace in predominantly Christian-based societies.

Here are my unscientific observations.

  • Men who grow up in Asian cultures – and without exposure to Christianity – are more likely to mistreat women than those who are raised in the West.
  • Japan is not a Muslim country. Yet, if Japan did not lose World War II, most Japanese women would probably have continued to be treated as second-class citizens, much like those in many Muslim countries.  Even today, for the most part, the social status of women in Japan remains about 50 years behind that of the Western countries.

“The Imam’s Daughter” is highly recommended for anyone who wants to begin to understand Islam.  The content will deeply disturb you.

All species of plants and animals – humans included – go through a cycle of life according to natural laws.  Most of us instinctively know that it is not normal for people to want to kill themselves and/or others.  To those of us who are free to think for ourselves, Muslim extremists’ behavior is unnatural.  Only those who have no hope for the future and/or are clinically depressed become suicidal.  The book – especially where Hannah talks about her brother who was sent to Pakistan and came back – gives a glimpse into why so many young Muslim terrorists are willing to wear suicide vests.  It is my hunch that most of them are not only being brainwashed but also abused physically and/or psychologically within their own family and the rest of the society.

Violence begets violence.  Post 9/11, the rest of the world has learned that, in the case of Muslims, the cycle of violence has been going on for 1,400 years.  The United States first encountered Muslim attacks during the time of Thomas Jefferson who, as then ambassador to France, was personally involved in dealing with it.

I applaud those who were born into Muslim families, who acknowledge the violent nature of Islam, and have chosen to speak out against it.  Because of the Muslim culture, which is stuck in the 7th-century belief system, those dissidents are risking their own lives to be vocal about it.  If that is not courage, I don’t know what is.  These brave individuals hold the key to an eventual, peaceful Islam, if it were ever possible.




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