Atheism can't equip us for civilisational war

Article subtitle: 
Why I am now a Christian
Article author: 
Ayaan Hirsi Ali
Article publisher: 
Article date: 
11 November 2023
Article category: 
Our American Future
Article Body: 

... The underlying principle that justified the [9/11] attacks was religious, after all: the idea of Jihad or Holy War against the infidels...

Blaming the errors of US foreign policy was easier than contemplating the possibility that we were confronted with a religious war. We have seen a similar tendency in the past five weeks, as millions of people sympathetic to the plight of Gazans seek to rationalise the October 7 terrorist attacks as a justified response to the policies of the Israeli government...

... The preachers of the Muslim Brotherhood... articulated... A purpose: to work towards admission into Allah’s paradise after death. A method: the Prophet’s instruction manual of do's and don'ts - the halal and the haram. As a detailed supplement to the Qur'an, the hadeeth spelled out how to put into practice the difference between right and wrong, good and evil, God and the devil...

We were told in no uncertain terms that we could not be loyal to Allah and Muhammad while also maintaining friendships and loyalty towards the unbelievers. If they explicitly rejected our summons to Islam, we were to hate and curse them.

Here, a special hatred was reserved for one subset of unbeliever: the Jew. We cursed the Jews multiple times a day and expressed horror, disgust and anger at the litany of offences he had allegedly committed. The Jew had betrayed our Prophet...

... Why do I call myself a Christian now?...

Western civilisation is 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 mobilise a vast population against the West; and the viral spread of woke ideology, which is eating into the moral fibre of the next generation...

But we can’t fight off these formidable forces unless we can answer the question: what is it that unites us? The response that "God is dead!" seems insufficient. So, too, does the attempt to find solace in "the rules-based liberal international order". The only credible answer, I believe, lies in our desire to uphold the legacy of the Judeo-Christian tradition.


Ayaan Hirsi Ali is an UnHerd columnist. She is also a research fellow at Stanford University’s Hoover Institution, Founder of the AHA Foundation, and host of The Ayaan Hirsi Ali Podcast. Her new book is Prey: Immigration, Islam, and the Erosion of Women’s Rights.


The Declaration of Independence Founded a Theistic Republic, by Steele Brand, American Greatness, 12 November 2023.

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