Brief review of Ayaan Hirsi Ali’s Nomad

Ayaan Hirsi Ali tells many tales of her painful life growing up in and interacting with Islam in Arabian, African and European contexts. As one who has rejected Islam and belief in any god, she has become a full-fledged disciple of the Western Enlightenment. Her positive thesis is that “there are three institutions in Western society that could ease the transition into Western citizenship of these millions of nomads from the tribal cultures they are leaving. They are institutions that can compete with the agents of jihad for the hearts and minds of Muslims.”

From my angle of interest, she is a staunch advocate of a more vigorous Christian encounter with Muslims who have moved to the West. She sees the church as the most powerful vehicle of modernization and rationalization, which in light of her experience is the only hope for Muslims held captive in darkness. The Christianity she advocated, however, is a “moderate,” Lockean version of the faith, mostly interiorized and reduced to “God is love.” I’m not convinced that there remains a significant segment of the church in the West that is (a) evangelistic, (b) committed deeply enough to sacrifice to reach Muslim immigrants, and (c) convinced that they OUGHT to reach Muslims. In my experience, most of the “moderate” Christians who are energetic in their faith are perfectly happy to say Islam is adequate for Muslims, and repulsed by the idea of trying to change someone’s religion.

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