Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a remarkable woman. Born into a Somali Muslim family, she endured the typical abusive environment surrounding young girls and blossoming women until finally escaping the fate prescribed by her father: being pledged in marriage to an older Somali man that she had never met and fleeing to anonymous safety in Europe. As a refugee, Ms. Ali built her new life in Holland, ultimately becoming a Dutch citizen and then a Minister of the Dutch Parliament, championing the cause of other refugees, particularly Muslim women and children facing oppressive actions by their male relatives. As Ms. Ali learned more of the western, Enlightenment world view prevalent in Europe, she jettisoned her earlier Muslim beliefs in favor of “reason.” She gained prominence as she teamed with film producer Theo Van Gogh to create a movie called “Submission,” dealing with Islam’s treatment of women. Not long after, Van Gogh was gruesomely assassinated by a young Muslim man for his part in this movie. Ayaan Hirsi Ali has lived under government or private protection ever since. She now resides in the United States, speaks and writes regularly, and is a resident fellow of the American Enterprise Institute. If you’d like to read about her life, you will find her own recollections and musings in her two books, Infidel and Nomad.
In her second book, Nomad, Ms. Ali makes clear that she is now an atheist, believing that reason leads inexorably to this world view. Yet she is not militantly so. She believes the greatest threat to the world today is radical Islam, and she speaks regularly against it, arguing that it must be decisively defeated for the world to live freely and prosperously. Unlike many western analysts, Ms. Ali rejects the notion that moderate Muslims will be able to eradicate it, no matter how hard they try, because radical Muslims believe that anyone who denies their understanding of Islam, even ones who practice some other version of it, cannot be true Muslims. Therefore, the views of moderate Muslims are as misguided as those of pagans or infidels. Likewise, though governments should rightly use power when necessary to eclipse the influence or advancement of militant Islam, power itself will not bring the movement to an end, only contain it.
What then does this converted atheist believe is the one antidote to radical Islam? The Christian Church! Listen to these quotations from Nomad:
“I would prefer, as a fourth option, to offer Muslims who cling to the idea of a creator and eternal life a religious leader like Jesus, who said, ‘Render to Caesar the things that are Caesar’s, and to god the things that are God’s,’ rather than a warrior like Muhammad, who demanded that the pious seek to gain power by the sword.” (p. 250)
“To help ground these people in Western society, the West needs the Christian churches to get active again in propagating their faith. It needs Christian schools, Christian volunteers, the Christian message.” (p. 250)
“The churches should do all in their power to win this battle for the souls of humans in search of a compassionate God, who now find that a fierce Allah is closer to hand.” (p. 251)
“A mosque is an island of gender apartheid….The contrast with the churches I have attended in America could not be more complete. Men and women, children and adults, people of all races intermingle. Their attire is no different from what they might wear on the streets. There are no ablutions. The members of the congregation take their places on long wooden benches….The central message is one of love.” (p. 252)
“They [moderate churches] need to step up to the challenge of provided new Muslim immigrants with the concept of a God who is a symbol of love, tolerance, rationality and patriotism….” (p. 253)
“Some readers may still be skeptical that the clash of civilizations can be won through religious competition. But I know it can work because I have seen it with my own eyes.” (p. 253)
Ever since personally discovering the transforming power of the gospel, I have believed that Church holds the key to overcoming the threat of Muslim extremism, as well as to reaching all who languish under the stifling legalism of works-based justification. But never before have I heard of an atheist who knows the ins and outs of Islam and who has some basic understanding of Christianity who then openly concludes that of all the potential victors over radical Islam only the Church can win the day — but only if the Church takes serious her mission!
More on this in my next post.