Ayaan Hirsi Ali, a Somali-born activist and former Muslim-turned-atheist, announced her conversion to Christianity in an essay published Saturday on UnHerd, a British news and opinion website she contributes to as a columnist.
Ali, previously a Member of the Dutch Parliament, is human rights activist and writer known for her controversial views about the compatibility of Islam and Western culture. Born in Mogadishu, Somalia in 1969, Ali grew up in Kenya embracing Islam, attempting to live as a faithful Muslim.
“The most striking quality of the Muslim Brotherhood was their ability to transform me and my fellow teenagers from passive believers into activists, almost overnight,” she wrote.
Ali and her friends were told they could not be loyal to Allah and Muhammad while also maintaining friendships and loyalty towards the unbelievers. The religion-fueled hatred which Islam reportedly pushed upon her ultimately led to embrace atheism.
In 2001, Ali publicly condemned the September 11 attacks upon the United States. “The underlying principle that justified the attacks was religious, after all,” Ali wrote.
“The idea of Jihad or Holy War against the infidels. Was it possible for me, as for many members of the Muslim community, simply to distance myself from the action and its horrific results?”
When Ali came across a lecture written by Bertrand Russell, a prolific twentieth century philosopher and intellectual, entitled, “Why I am Not a Christian,” she was reportedly relieved to abandon her wavering beliefs that she had half-heartedly held onto for so long.
“Bertrand Russell offered a simple, zero-cost escape from an unbearable life of self-denial and harassment of other people. For him, there was no credible case for the existence of God. Religion, Russell argued, was rooted in fear.”
As the basis for her conversion to Christianity, Ali saw Western civilization was under threat from three different but related forces: “The resurgence of great-power authoritarianism and expansionism in the forms of the Chinese Communist Party and Vladimir Putin’s Russia; the rise of global Islamism, which threatens to mobilize a vast population against the West; and the viral spread of woke ideology.”
As she considered those problems entrenching themselves, Ali believed civilization needed to find something uniting; Atheism was insufficient to do that. “The only credible answer,” she wrote, “lies in our desire to uphold the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition.”
And so I have come to realise that Russell and my atheist friends failed to see the wood for the trees. The wood is the civilisation built on the Judeo-Christian tradition; it is the story of the West, warts and all.
I welcome your feedback. https://t.co/m4ddFxb9rG
— Ayaan Hirsi Ali (@Ayaan) November 11, 2023
“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,” Ali wrote. Modern cults, then emerged, preying on the masses by engaging in virtue-signaling theatre, she continued.
“We can’t withstand China, Russia and Iran if we can’t explain to our populations why it matters that we do,” Ali wrote. “We can’t fight woke ideology if we can’t defend the civilization that it is determined to destroy. And we can’t counter Islamism with purely secular tools. To win the hearts and minds of Muslims here in the West, we have to offer them something more than videos on TikTok.”