Ayaan's da'wah, Part 4

They see it only as a matter of Muslims deserving the freedom to not be Muslim, rather than everyone deserving the freedom to not be Muslim. This latter freedom is conditional on Islam being eradicated, completely, with the only Muslims being ex-Muslims.

Ayaan's da'wah, Part 4
Liberty Enlightening the World

Part 1, Part 2, Part 3


In this closing part of my critique of Ayaan Hirsi Ali, I want to start by restating my admiration for her. Just because Ayaan converted to Christianity does not mean that she has ceased to be a critic of Islam. Just because she is mistaken about atheism, does not make her an enemy. Yet, I am neither Muslim, nor woke. Truth and allegiance are two different things. My harsh criticism of Ayaan has no bearing on my respect for her. In a recent article in The Free Press, "We Have Been Subverted", she says:

Right now, so many Western nations are under grave threat from the twin forces of cultural Marxism and an expansionist political Islam familiar to me from my youth.

For a time, many refused to believe that anything was actually wrong. The tide of populism was, they insisted, a momentary manifestation of frustration. The decline of each of our institutions was viewed in isolation, as a problem of poorly selected leadership, which could be corrected after the next election or with a changing of the guard. The sense of hopelessness that people felt was explained away as the temporary consequence of the rapid transition away from industrialism and the ushering in of the digital age.

In this light, though there were problems, they were distinct from each other and would be corrected in time.

Can any serious person believe this now?

Leaving aside the "cultural Marxism" and "political Islam" notions, "an expansionist political Islam familiar to me from my youth," is highly implausible, since she first encountered these concepts in Europe as an adult, and was amazed that such ideas even existed, let alone understand them and internalise them. So alien to her were the cultural and intellectual universe of the West that she could not believe that people planned for the future without ever saying insha-Allah, simply taking it for granted that what they planned would come to pass. "The twin forces of cultural Marxism and an expansionist political Islam familiar to me from my youth," is a post-rationalisation. Even now, after three decades in the West, she remains unable to offer any critical assessment of these "twin forces."

Nonetheless, her highlighting the denial at the heart of the mainstream Western response to populism is correct, as is her censure: "Can any serious person believe this now?" Ayaan's need to fill a "God-hole" should not be taken as a lack of analytical acumen. The case I have made in this short series is that, by adopting Christianity, Ayaan has put a powerful obstacle in her own intellectual and political path, one that impedes penetrating Islam as a totalitarian system, in particular, the relationship between Shari'a and religion, between the "scholars" and lay Muslims, and what Islam must do to the minds of Muslims in order to perpetuate the power the scholars wield over lay Muslims.[1]

It is pretty much impossible, without any familiarity with, let alone practise in, Western modes of thinking and being, that a former Muslim would recover from Islam in seventeen years, let alone internalise Western modes of thought. While most lay Muslims remain ignorant of the true nature of their religion (compounded in the West), it is an ignorance that they wilfully maintain, and mitigate their guilty by defending the good names of Islam and Muslims, and by sending their children to madrassa! Ayaan, by defending such Muslims, becomes guilty along with them. Since she must now love her neighbour, her complicity in da'wah is unlikely to change.

Unity is only there when Ayaan wants it there. When she does not, it is not. Splitting the fundamental unity of jihad into “existing Muslims” and “Islamists” is a dichotomy she might have avoided had she opted for the Jewish part of the Judeo-Christian tradition, rather than the Christian part. Without a Devil figure, she will have had to make either all Muslims good or all Muslims bad, the very reason Jews find it almost impossible to zero in on Muslims as their enemy: it pits their moral self against their rational self. It is an inner conflict that Jews cannot resolve, unless they step outside of themselves, as did Ze’ev Jabotinsky.[2] The Jews would do well to study the Dialogue between Krishna and Arjuna in the Bhagavad-Gita. Unlike Jabotinsky, Ayaan would be approaching Judaism from the outside, and armed with the insights of a former Muslim, could easily achieve what Jabotinsky could not.

Be that as it may, it is much too late for “our desire to uphold the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition,” to be credible. Ayaan herself points out “the viral spread of woke ideology, which is eating into the moral fibre of the next generation.” Ayaan Hirsi Ali publicly declared her conversion to Christianity on 11 November 2023, after Muslims had launched their devastating jihad attack on the communities in Southern Israel on 7 October. By November, that “next generation,” together with much of the one that created it, had been out on the streets of every major Western city for over a month demonstrating their utter contempt for “uphold[ing] the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition.” From the river to the sea, Palestine will be free — the genocide of one half of that tradition, facilitated by the moral disintegration of the other half. The irony is that, despite this, Christianity offered the latest escape for a woman who will keep running from one station to the next, never seeing that the answer has been within her all along: the sanctity of her autonomy as an individual, the paramount legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition. Ayaan observes:

To me, this freedom of conscience and speech is perhaps the greatest benefit of Western civilisation. It does not come naturally to man. It is the product of centuries of debate within Jewish and Christian communities. It was these debates that advanced science and reason, diminished cruelty, suppressed superstitions, and built institutions to order and protect life, while guaranteeing freedom to as many people as possible. Unlike Islam, Christianity outgrew its dogmatic stage.

This is ahistorical romantic obscurantism. “Freedom of conscience and speech does not come naturally to man,” says Ayaan. Well, actually, it does, given conducive conditions, such as, indeed, developed in Europe. Equally naturally, it is resisted by whoever has a vested interest in maintaining bondage and subjugation. It is a contradiction well-encapsulated in the relationship between Martin Luther and his erstwhile friend, Desiderius Erasmus. The latter strived for freedom of conscience and speech, while the former did everything to ensure that freedom went no further than the freedom to practise Christianity without the control of an intermediary between Christian and God. Christianity did not “outgrow” its dogmatic stage, as Ayaan claims. Christians slaughtered one another for more than three centuries before “freedom of conscience and speech” finally established a firm foothold through the rise to pre-eminence in the West of the autonomous individual, without whom there can be neither freedom of conscience, nor freedom of speech, or, for that matter, capitalism.

We find exactly the same contradiction leading to Islam “outgrowing its dogmatic stage,” to use Ayaan’s formulation. It manifests in the ummah having just begun its centuries of internecine bloodletting between, on the one hand, the “scholars” fighting to preserve their power and privilege, and on the other, the same social form, the autonomous individual, that is finally making its presence felt across the Muslim world. Whether Egyptian atheists, Bangladeshi bloggers or Iranian protesters, it is impossible for such people to “hear and obey,” (Qur’an 24:51). Whereas Christianity could be reformed, Islam is so devised as to be irreformable. This is why Islam’s time is up. Exactly as in Western Europe half a millennium ago, there is fierce resistance to giving up bondage and subjugation. Islam has always held that apostates must be killed, but that doctrine is becoming meaningless not because Islam is “outgrowing” it, but because the autonomous individual is no longer isolated in those societies. It is everywhere, and the 1400-year stranglehold that the ulema has had on the minds of lay Muslims is broken. This is why the Muslim takeover of the world is by no means a foregone conclusion. Yet it is those who speak of “Islamism,” now reinforced by Ayaan, who throw Islam a lifeline.

People unable to function without belief, such as Ayaan Hirsi Ali, are either oblivious to the significance of the great historical transformation underway in the Muslim world, or understand them in ways skewed by religious presuppositions. This is not the “reformation” that Maajid Nawaz likes to claim is underway in Islam (implying that we should not interfere), but the distant rumblings of major convulsions about to tear the Muslim world apart. It is by no means certain that freedom of conscience and speech will prevail at the end of it. The ummah could well have a century of brotherly slaughter ahead of it and destroy all that civilisation has accomplished before the dust settles. Such a prognosis is disconcerting to Christians, since it offers no neighbour to love. Ayaan continues:

“Yet I would not be truthful if I attributed my embrace of Christianity solely to the realisation that atheism is too weak and divisive a doctrine to fortify us against our menacing foes. I have also turned to Christianity because I ultimately found life without any spiritual solace unendurable — indeed very nearly self-destructive. Atheism failed to answer a simple question: what is the meaning and purpose of life?” (My emphasis)

Atheism is not a doctrine, besides, it isn’t clear why a doctrine is required “to fortify us against our menacing foes.” It was not atheism that was “too weak and divisive” to fortify Christians in their heartland of the Middle East, Asia Minor and North Africa against their Muslim foe that slaughtered, enslaved and plundered them into the isolated and beleaguered minorities hanging on by their fingernails today; it was Christianity. And atheism never set out to answer the question: what is the meaning and purpose of life? It is a question that those who need a god impose on it. If you need a higher authority to tell you the purpose and function of your life, then atheism is clearly not for you. It is not the fault of atheism that Ayaan chose it in the first place; paradoxically, it is the fault of her religious world view.

The paragraph quoted above, more than any other, proves that Ayaan Hirsi Ali never understood atheism. It also illustrates a further, oft-ignored point: atheism is not only the rejection of the idea of God, or the gods, if we were to go back to its origins, but the presence of a mode of being that has no need of faith, and a genre of thinking that has no need of belief. Atheism is not only ontological; it is also epistemological. Ayaan cannot comprehend atheism, because belief is a valid category in the way she apprehends reality. By this I do not mean that religious people are irrational. They can be extremely rational about the religions they oppose, but equally irrational when it comes to their own religion. It is disingenuous of Ayaan to lay her problem with atheism at the door of Bertrand Russell.

“Russell and other activist atheists believed that with the rejection of God, we would enter an Age of Reason and intelligent humanism. But the “God hole” — the void left by the retreat of the Church — has merely been filled by a jumble of irrational quasi-religious dogma.”[3]

It is hardly possible to suggest that the Muslims who crashed passenger jets into skyscrapers had a “God-hole,” since they were about as God-filled as it is possible to be. Their actions do not result from “a jumble of irrational quasi-religious dogma,” since the mosque has definitely not retreated.[4] I know how other Christians try to get around this problem, but it would be interesting to see how Ayaan does it. The formulation, “the rejection of God” of course presupposes that there is such a thing. Ayaan describes as a prophecy the oft-quoted aphorism, “When men choose not to believe in God, they do not thereafter believe in nothing, they then become capable of believing in anything.” This might be so, but men have believed in anything long before gods came along: rocks, wolves, scorpions, rivers, rain, the sun, menstrual blood, squint babies, trees, quite frankly, anything.

Bertrand Russell was a child of the Age of Reason and of intelligent humanism, not the father of them. It is this combination that abolished slavery, while the Bible helped Christians to defend the continuation of slavery. One has to wonder whether Christian missionaries, too, are “activists”. By equating the “God hole” with “the retreat of the Church,” Ayaan is, in fact, contradicting her earlier assertion that “Christianity outgrew its dogmatic stage.” She goes on to conclude:

The result is a world where modern cults prey on the dislocated masses, offering them spurious reasons for being and action — mostly by engaging in virtue-signalling theatre on behalf of a victimised minority or our supposedly doomed planet.

By “world,” she clearly means the modern Western world. “In this nihilistic vacuum,” says Ayaan “the challenge before us becomes civilisational.” No, it does not. It has been civilisational for at least as long as there has been a religion that teaches that everything preceding it was Jahiliyyah, “the Age of Ignorance,” and that no vestiges of it must ever be imitated or preserved, because that religion is the final religion. Or I could just be lazy and throw in the words of Ayatollah Ali Sistani, “Civilisation and Islam are two different things.”

I have made my points. Ayaan Hirsi Ali concludes her GBNews interview with:

The lesson I learned from my years with the Muslim Brotherhood was the power of a unifying story, embedded in the foundational texts of Islam, to attract, engage and mobilise the Muslim masses.

There was no “unifying story… to attract, engage and mobilise the Muslims masses.” The Muslim masses had it beaten into them to hear and obey. Ayaan had her skull fractured in one such beating. Now she is turning madrassa into Sunday school. Be that as it may, wokism, too, has a unifying story, as has Christianity. And the same would be said for atheism, if it were nothing but a belief system.

Unless we offer something as meaningful, I fear the erosion of our civilisation will continue. And fortunately, there is no need to look for some new-age concoction of meditation and mindfulness. Christianity has it all.

We have already dealt with this. The “all” that Christianity has might be all that someone with a religious mind needs, but it is far from adequate for the needs of those among us not built for belief.

That is why I no longer consider myself a Muslim apostate, but a lapsed atheist.

“A lapsed atheist”? She went from a “non-practising Muslim” to now a non-practising atheist.

Of course, I still have a great deal to learn about Christianity. I discover a little more at church each Sunday. But I have recognised, in my own long journey through a wilderness of fear and self-doubt, that there is a better way to manage the challenges of existence than either Islam or unbelief had to offer.

“Either Islam or unbelief” is a peculiarly Muslim formulation.

Ayaan is careful to say that she chooses to believe in God, rather than that there is one. Perhaps she says this as a kindness to her dear friend Professor Richard Dawkins, but throughout her Christian discourse, it is clear that for her, God is not just a hypothesis that she currently supports. It is reality, and she needs it to be reality, else "choosing" to believe in God is making a mockery of her own conversion. There is no Christian who chooses to believe in God. To them, God exists. It is not open to debate. It is not that without God, they cannot make sense of reality; without God, they cannot make sense of themselves. It is purely an internal matter. The evidence for this is right before our eyes.

When Ayaan speaks of a God-hole that she needed to fill, this is not a statement about God, but about the hole. When Alexei Filippenko, a UC Berkeley astronomer, conjectures: “Perhaps it [the discovery of life on another planet] would change the religious outlooks of some people, but not others. It depends on whether one subscribes to the belief that God made Earth unique in terms of life,” I am inclined to think that it will not change Ayaan's religious outlook, for that outlook is quite independent of knowledge (or intelligence, for that matter). It is a matter of being. The sad thing here is that her friend, Richard Dawkins, does not understand this, and consequently suffers.

If there is a God-hole to be filled, far better that it be filled by a god of a non-monotheistic religion. Otherwise, let it be the God of the Jews. Failing that, the Christian God will have to do, but no permanent peace can come from worshipping a proselytising god. Yet, such a god is still infinitely preferable to one that demands your killing for not submitting to him.

Muslims, too, believe in God. But none of them would ever presume to have the power of choice over God's existence. Yet, if Christians say that God exists and Muslims say that God exists, we immediately have a problem, for the Christians say God is a god of peace and love, while the Muslims say God is a god of war and hatred. Each can only solve this contradiction either by denying the other's God, or by saying that God is both peace and love, and at the same time, war and hatred. That would certainly be mysterious, since he would not issue commandments inconsistent with his nature. Christians get around this by declaring Allah a "false god," which is an interesting concept in itself. To Muslims, as Ayaan should know, a god with contradictory natures is not a problem at all, since "Allah can do anything he wants." He is all-powerful. What does all-powerful mean if you cannot even contradict yourself? Ah, the wonders of the Muslim mind!

The last remark is less flippant than it might seem, for Ayaan is now concentrating on learning about Christianity: "I still have a great deal to learn about Christianity. I discover a little more at church each Sunday." This is good, but it is also a shame, for she has now put the totalitarian nature of Islam beyond her reach, and has no choice but to satisfy herself with the hopelessly inadequate thinking tools that liberal Christianity permits her to have. Islam is far from easy to fathom, and it is only after Muslims have left Islam that they can start dismantling the thinking that Islam has given them, and that obstructs understanding of Islam. Only while doing this can former Muslims acquire and master the cognitive tools necessary to uncover how Islam really works against Muslims.

Unfortunately, Ayaan abandoned that recovery process, not when she adopted Christianity, but already when she adopted atheism, because it was to her an alternative religion to Islam. In Christianity, she found the right religion, or at least, a better one. Had Christianity historically arisen later than Islam, it is uncertain that the "love thy neighbour" commandment would have been quite so unconditional, and Ayaan might have continued to close in on what makes Islam Islam, and why Muslims, all Muslims, are not only neighbours you should not love, but neighbours you should not have.

The biggest problem with secularists and atheists is that they imagine it dilutes their principles to distinguish between religions. While they stand for (or against) a formulaic freedom of religion, they wilfully close their eyes to Muslims using that freedom to destroy everything that is not Islam, including atheism. Such secularists and atheists acknowledge that there is no freedom of religion for Muslims. They see it only as a matter of Muslims deserving the freedom to not be Muslim, rather than everyone deserving the freedom to not be Muslim. This latter freedom is conditional on Islam being eradicated, completely, with the only Muslims being ex-Muslims.

Unlike any other religion, Islam cannot be neutered by secular law. Freedom from religion on behalf of "moderate" Muslims is not a demand that anyone needs to make of a secular society, since freedom of religion already implies freedom from religion. It only becomes an issue when Islam is thrown into the mix, because Muslims are commanded to kill their apostates. Such secularists and atheists forget that Muslims are commanded to kill everyone who is not Muslim. When secularists and atheists seek to persuade Muslims to allow themselves the freedom of religion so that those among them who wish to leave Islam may do so without hindrance, they only make it more urgent for Muslims to destroy freedom of religion before freedom of religion destroys Islam. Muslims themselves will take the fight to the next level, even if atheists and secularists will not.

Had Ayaan studied the history of the Enlightenment properly, she would know that the freedom of religion exists specifically to neuter Christianity to prevent its return to the violent religion it once was. She ought to know that while Christianity had to be put through 300 years of war to become peaceful, for Islam to become peaceful, it will have to cease to be Islam, because Islam is war; “warfare is ordained for you,” Allah says to Muslims. The problem with atheists, with extremely rare exceptions, is that they do not recognise this defining feature of Islam. But this is not the problem that drove Ayaan out of atheism, and like the atheists she now distances herself from, she does not see that the freedom of religion she wants her peaceful Muslims to enjoy is precisely the freedom of religion her “Islamists” are taking advantage of to destroy the very civilisation that created freedom of religion. Ayaan’s problem is not with atheism, but with herself. My hope is that she may in due course find a place to stand tall.


  1. Possibly the best example of such impairment is the Islam critic Lloyd de Jongh, who has amassed a vast and excellent archive of material on Islam. He is fearless and has a sharp mind, but is hamstrung by his allegiance and ideological commitment to Christianity in how much he can learn from his own material.
  2. I owe this particular insight to my friend, Rafael Castro. While Jabotinsky was wrong about Islam, he was not wrong about Arabs.
  3. “A jumble of irrational quasi-religious dogma,” implies that atheism doesn’t quite make it as a religion and that Bertrand Russell has shown himself to be an irrational quasi-prophet.
  4. I was amused when Sam Harris declared that what was needed to ween Muslims off jihad was secular knowledge. You do not plan and execute a bull's-eye crash of a high-speed passenger jet into a specific skyscraper without an extremely high level of secular knowledge.

Picture credits:

Hans Holbein the Younger - Web Gallery of Art:   Image  Info about artwork, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=2319

Lucas Cranach the Elder - GalleriX, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=23260036

Illustrated by Stephanus Garsia (and other unnamed) - http://gallica.bnf.fr/ark:/12148/btv1b52505441p/f5.item, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=254363

AskALotl - Own work, CC0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=149005856


On 23 June 2024 at 12:21, Ben Dor A. wrote:

Thank you for publishing this series.

Have you studied psychology?

It seems that you are dissecting Ayaan's wondering mind which is trying to find the right state of peace with herself. Islam, atheism, Christianity. Who knows, maybe she will also discover Judaism or Kabalah?

In the end, we all end up smelling flowers from their roots.

Have a great day 😌 
Best Regards
Ben Dor A