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Product Details

  • Perfect Paperback: 160 pages
  • Publisher: New English Review Press; First edition (February 1, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0578073900
  • ISBN-13: 978-0578073903
  • Product Dimensions: 6 x 0.4 x 9 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 5.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.6 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (27 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,024,522 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Review

For many, the word religion commands immediate respect. In the American context, that word implicates the most important Constitutional protections. But is the ideology of Islam accurately, or helpfully, defined as a religion? Is that word, as understood in the Western world, properly applied to Islam, or does it help to hide a reality that needs to be understood? These are the questions that Rebecca Bynum asks, and to which she offers answers, in this, the first book-length investigation of how to most accurately describe or define Islam.

--Hugh Fitzgerald
Senior Editor, New English Review

Rebecca Bynum has written an important book about a subject that all too few of our politicians, bureaucrats, educators or journalists dare to acknowledge, the profound threat of Islam to the very survival of Western civilization. Exploding the dual myths of Islamic tolerance and kinship with the biblical religions, Bynum demonstrates that world-domination is Islam s fundamental project.
A must read.

--Richard L. Rubenstein
Lawton Distinguished Professor of Religion Emeritus, Florida State University
Author of After Auschwitz and Jihad and Genocide

A highly original explanation of why a successful civilisation may crumble before the onslaught of a primitive doctrine.

--Theodore Dalrymple
Author of The New Vichy Syndrome

--New English Review

by A. Millar

Books on Islam is a saturated market, an editor friend of mine told a few months ago. At the time I though she might be right. I had only recently read a couple of works that, for want of a better description, read like second rate Bruce Bawers. Maudlin and self-absorbed, these books (which shall remain nameless) tell us more about the authors than they do about radical Islam. Former boyfriends, Holland in the Springtime, and hints that the Pulitzer Prize went to the wrong author, are punctuated with references to female genital mutilation, terrorist acts, and hook-handed radical preachers.

It is as if one were wandering around an Impressionist exhibition only to discover someone has scribbled images of Palestinian terrorists in thick black marker pen all over the Monets. Yes, the juxtapositions is jarring, but the average person living in the West is assaulted by contradictory messages every day, whether on the stream of billboard adverts he passes on the way to work or in an evening’s television-watching. Consequently, such books fail to shock, and, indeed, to force us to see the crisis of the West as an existential threat.

Our jaded culture, and cultural relativism, allows us to believe that the graffiti might be the real art. And one man’s terrorist is another man’s freedom fighter anyway. So what’s the problem?

It’s this kind of cultural relativism, and cultural suicidal tendencies, that Rebecca Bynum confronts in Allah Is Dead: Why Islam is not a Religion (New English Review Press). At 152 pages, this work is slimmer than those like the aforementioned, but it is denser and far more challenging. Few, if any, will agree with everything that is said. But this book was not written to be agreed with. It was written to shake things up, and push the reader outside of his comfort zone. An engaged mind is more important to Bynum than a nodding head.

Western culture is in sharp focus throughout Allah Is Dead. Sometimes a crack in the dam of the West is spotlighted – from promiscuous notions of equality to churches that want to rethink Christ so as not to offend Muslims. At other times it is contrasted with Islam. As such, Allah Is Dead is in the vein of Without Roots: The West, Relativism, Christianity, Islam by Joseph Ratzinger (now Pope Benedict XVI) and Marcello Pera, and --Logan' --Logan's Warning

by Mark Anthony Signorelli

Readers who pick up Rebecca Bynum’s provocatively titled new book will certainly expect to find there an unflinching critique of Islam, and in this respect, Allah is Dead does not disappoint.  Those who are familiar with Ms. Bynum’s work through the web journal New English Review (where she serves as both Senior Editor and one of the leading writers)  know her to be one of the most intelligent and fair-minded augurs regarding the portentous spread of Islam throughout the west, and that cautionary skill is fully demonstrated in her book.  But Allah is Dead offers far more than the usual warnings about the dangers of Islamic doctrine, for what Ms. Bynum recognizes, and what she carefully explains to her readers, is that the impotence of western societies to resist the invasion of this foreign ideology is a consequence of their own pathologies.  The greater portion of her book is devoted to addressing those pathologies, and applying the appropriate intellectual remedies; in the course of doing so, she offers a truly unique interpretation of the causes of western demoralization, and one which will undoubtedly challenge the comfortable assumptions of many of her readers.

Ms. Bynum lays out her case against Islam most forcefully in the first two chapters; her belief is that it is essentially an overly formalistic creed, which reduces the good life to conformity with a series of unquestionable dictates. Obedience, and not love, is its primary value.  Man exists for the sake of Islam, and not Islam for the sake of man.  It is fixated on the material world, and leads its adherents to similarly fixate on that same realm; the consequences of this fixation are at once a spiritual stagnation and the lust for territorial expansion: “the focus of Islam is entirely upon the material world.  Its notions of pure and impure are expressly material as is its concept of religious sovereignty.  Islamic sovereignty is territorial sovereignty, not the sovereignty of the spirit over the hearts of men.”  In brief, Islam impinges upon the dignity of the individual, and asks its devotees to forfeit their intellectual and moral freedom, in ways that are perfectly unacceptable to western peoples, and thoroughly inconsistent with their cultures.

This is the point in the argument where we have come to expect appeals to our post-Enlightenment, secular values, perhaps spiced with some infantile railing against religion per se, as emanates, for instance, from that kindergarten of theological commentary known as the New Atheism.  Much to her credit though, Ms. Bynum never peddles this modish yet facile line. To the contrary, she carefully explains how secularism has deracinated the very vocabulary which we need to confront Islam in an ideological struggle.

To say, for instance, that Islam threatens human liberty requires us to possess a sensible definition of liberty. However, in the modern west, the word has become so debased that it is used synonymously with any spontaneous motion of the will; to get what you want is to exercise your liberty.  And this makes it all too easy for the Islamist propagandist to dismiss western liberty as mere libertinism.  But this was never how liberty was understood before the advent of secularism; as Ms. Bynum notes, liberty used to be understood in the light of an essentialist metaphysics, as the ability of a natural thing to fulfill, or perfect, its nature: “we witness in living things a seeking after an ever more perfect expression.  Plants, for example, are constantly moving and jockeying for a more perfect position in relation to light above and water beneath.  There seems to be inherent in life a yearning, not simply to be, but to become, and to become --Front Page magazine

by Louis Palme

The duck-billed platypus is native to Australia. It is an amphibious egg-laying mammal which has a duck-like bill, web feet, and fur. It electrocutes its under-water prey of worms, shrimp, and larvae, but it also has a venomous claw that can paralyze land-based animals and people. It stores food in pouches in the mouth, but it has no teeth. When the babies are hatched they nurse through the skin, as the platypus has no nipples. One could not imagine a stranger animal on the face of the earth.

So it is not a casual remark when Rebecca Bynum calls Islam the duck-billed platypus of belief systems. This is because Islam is really an all-encompassing hybrid religio-socio-political system that cannot be compared with Christianity, or any other major religion, for that matter.

Just because people profess a faith in an ideology doesn’t make it a religion. In our lifetime, people swore loyalty to Communism and Nazism with religious fervor, but those ideologies were never granted a “religious” status. Also in America, one so-called “religious” practice – polygamy – was so offensive that the Mormon church was forced to discontinue it to gain legal acceptance. There are definite limits to what can be deemed a religion, even in First Amendment America.

In addition to being a hybrid, Islam is wholly materialistic. The Quran takes on an almost fetish character, where the book itself is “sacred,” not the contents. The focus of prayer and the object of pilgrimage and veneration is a black rock. The rewards for dying in the cause of Allah are completely material — virgins, food, and sensual ambiance. Finally, Islam is the only religion where territorial sovereignty is more important than the inner spiritual sovereignty over men’s hearts. Mankind and territory are divided between the world of “submission” and the world of “warfare.” Whereas Judeo-Christian religions focus on the righteousness of individuals, the emphasis in Islam is the collective –the ummah.

When it comes to a concept of a god, the Allah of Islam predestines mankind’s lives with both good and evil outcomes. The submission to “Allah’s will” means not only that man has no personal responsibility, but Allah’s powers are unlimited and often whimsical. Good and evil cannot be determined rationally, but only by the dictates of the Quran and the example of Muhammad. The Judeo-Christian God, on the other hand, is characterized by loving kindness (checed), and mankind can use reason to distinguish between good and evil without relying on a written scripture or religious teaching.

Ms. Bynum concludes, “So what the Islamic system has done is usurped the place of God in the lives of believers. It has made a spiritual God unnecessary. The Islamic system is all one needs to know and obey. One must memorize the fixed words of the Quran, but knowing God as a living spiritual being is not required. . . The freedom Muslims are promised is of course entirely delusional because the reality in Islam is a life reduced to utter slavery – physical, psychological, and spiritual – without balm, without rest, without peace.“

“Compassion demands that we see Muslims as human beings first. . . Should we not then thoroughly examine the fundamental error of Islam, that is, of seeing the world’s peoples as divided and fundamentally separate, that Muslims and non-Muslims are not only different, but Muslims are more and non-Muslims less? If God’s love is divided, then God who is love must be divided, and though Muslims claim otherwise — that they worship “one God”– their theology in this regard is contradictory and insupportable. --Logan's Warning

About the Author

Rebecca Bynum is the publisher and managing editor of the popular Anglo-American webmagazine, New English Review.

More About the Author

Rebecca Bynum is the Publisher and Managing Editor for the popular webmagazine, New English Review and author of Allah is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion and The Real Nature of Religion. She has been a student of religion for over 35 years.

Advance praise for The Real Nature of Religion:

In a short book of the most lucid prose, Rebecca Bynum is not afraid to take on the largest questions of human existence and equally unafraid to give them deeply unfashionable answers.

--Theodore Dalrymple, author of Life at the Bottom and Threats of Pain and Ruin

This is a riveting, well-paced and lively debunking of moral relativism, atheism, appeasement of militant Islam, and the general drive to dilute spirituality and religion, while perversely amplifying societal and national guilt and shame. The atheist will only enjoy it if wobbling already in those convictions. The concerned, religiously undecided will find it stimulating and persuasive, and the intelligent Judeo-Christian will be uplifted. It is a rigorous argument and for any person interested in these questions, a very good read.

--Conrad Black, biographer of Franklin D. Roosevelt and Richard M. Nixon and author of A Matter of Principle, Flight of the Eagle and Rise to Greatness

Every thinking person knows that, for all our capacity to reason, we are enmeshed in mysteries beyond our comprehension. Rebecca Bynum's fine new book, The Real Nature of Religion, undertakes to explain the inexplicable with an admirable mix of clarity, lucidity, learning, and wisdom.

--Myron Magnet, author of The Founders at Home and The Dream and the Nightmare

Rebecca Bynum is one of the few religious thinkers raising what is undoubtedly one of the most important, perhaps the most important question, of our time: Can the United States survive if its First Amendment liberties continue to shield an Islam whose objective is to become religiously and politically dominant in every sphere of human endeavor. Unlike too many of our political leaders, Ms. Bynum is widely read and sophisticated about both Islam and Christianity. She understands that Islam is a complex phenomenon that is too different from other religions to be simplistically classified. Islam requires, she argues, a category of its own that excludes First Amendment protection when it seeks a privileged place in the American religious landscape. If we continue on our present path, America as we know it will not long survive. It will go the way of countless other societies whose civilizations have succumbed to Islam.

--Richard L. Rubenstein, Lawton Distinguished Professor of Religion Emeritus, Distinguished Research Professor of Religion, University of Bridgeport and author of After Auschwitz

Rebecca Bynum's work is a quietly philosophical meditation on the nature of religion, on the soul, faith and morality, and much much more. She clears away the superstitions that have grown up, like weeds, around the core beliefs, and which threaten to choke true religion. Religion must change, and cannot remain mired in the past. Bynum's elegant essay is a courageous look at what she clearly believes in passionately, and an equally fervent plea for the continuous relevance of Christianity in these uncertain times.

--Ibn Warraq, author of Why I am Not a Muslim, Sir Walter Scott's Crusades and Other Fantasies and Christmas in the Koran

Customer Reviews

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108 of 126 people found the following review helpful By Lorna on February 3, 2011
Format: Perfect Paperback Verified Purchase
This is arguably the most important book extant today that accurately describes the true character and the objectives of the Islamic religion.What it makes clear is that the freedom of religion which Islam claims for itself is in fact an opaque cover for what is actually a comprehensive authoritarian and immutable doctrine that dictates not only moral and spiritual goals for observant Muslims but a fixed unchallengeable set of orders that dictate the behavior of Muslims in every sphere of daily life.
Deviance from or overt challenges to this doctrine are considered capital crimes punishable by death. The practical and ineluctable result of this is that truly observant Muslims are required to regard their religious doctrine and its antecedents as the supreme law of their life, supreme over the civil laws of the country in which they reside, including western secular democracies. The logical inference from this is that observant Muslims are in fact committing acts of sedition when they seek to justify their actions using Islamic law, justification for which has recently extended to use Islamic law as an excuse for committing murder and "honor killings". What Bynum makes clear is that the notion that "freedom of religion" cannot and should not be allowed as a rationalization for not recognizing Muslim transgressions of law or crime, and that the stark fact that Islamic doctrine is indistinguishable from what we consider civil law must not prevent us from openly criticizing and resisting Muslim practices and beliefs. The practical impact of such unity of religion and state is that Islam is in effect no different from any other secular, political, social or cultural belief system or movement and therefore the stricture that we should not criticize Islam does not apply at all.
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119 of 141 people found the following review helpful By ChrisLA on January 31, 2011
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This book will be troubling to Muslims and empmowering to non-Muslims. Ms. Bynum exposes the material aspects of Islam as a sharp contrast to the Judeo-Christian spiritual faiths. Islam is all about rules, about emulating one person - Muhammad, and about self-sacrifice. Having a personal faith in God and aspiring to ideal virtues take a second seat to group conformity.

Writes the author, "Compassion demands that we see Muslims as human beings first. . . . [But] should we not then thoroughly examine the fundamental error of Islam [which sees] Muslims are more and non-Muslims less? . . . their theology in this regard is contradictory and unsupportable. Judged in this light, is it not incumbent upon us to seek to free individual Muslims from the totalitarian thought-system of Islam, just as we once sought to free Eastern Europeans form the totalitarian system of communism on the basis that it is fundamentally in error? . . . We should seek to break the hold Islam has on the Muslim mind." (pp. 51-52)

This thought-provoking book will challenge those who still hold that Islam is merely another religion like Christianity and Judaism.
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92 of 111 people found the following review helpful By Don Carlos on February 21, 2011
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A remarkable and highly reasoned, thoughtfully researched and written analysis. Bottom line: Islam is amoral. Everything that happens is Allah's will, whether for good or ill. Lacking a moral code and an individual connection with a Higher Power makes Islam a non-religion.
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48 of 57 people found the following review helpful By Cyber Gypsy on March 28, 2011
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I spent many years living in a muslim community, I have read the Arberry version of the Koran, then more recently Bill Warner's An Abridged Koran (which I highly recommend). I know I have enough knowledge and experience to safely state that what Bynum says about Islam is shocking, but TRUE!

As Bynum suggests, the Western world's most powerful response would be to reclassify Islam as a political organisation, which is what it is.
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40 of 48 people found the following review helpful By Jonathan Clarfield on March 16, 2011
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I received a copy of this Book from my father as a gift.
The books main premise is that Islam should not be judge as just another religion like Judaism or Christianity.
It is a political ideology, that like Nazism, creates a duality in humans. You are either a Believer or a Kufar (non-believer, meaning dirty). Despite this, Islam is ravaged with internal conflicts since the beginning, but if you are not a Muslim beware of the consequences once Islam has taken over your society. I will not attempt to summarize any other part of her argument, because I'd do no justice to it. I recommend this for anyone who takes Islam seriously, and these days more and more people ought to.

This is on my gift list for many of my family and friends.
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31 of 37 people found the following review helpful By Cyber Gypsy on April 22, 2011
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This book describes the deeper, less obvious, aspects of Islam that only an 'insider' would recognise. As someone with many years of living within the Islamic community in Europe, I recognised many issues the author analysed, ie the "materialism" of Islam. Despite being initially put off by the title and cover, I found it to be one of the best books I have read on this subject so far.

Using a Literary Theory approach, the author highlights the fact that it is our "beliefs" that are the most important factor to have knowledge of, because out of our beliefs springs our imagination, and then our culture. In other words, our cultures, our civilisations, are a product of our collective beliefs about the world. The author also argues that Islam is not a religion, but a political ideology, and that we need to separate what is religion and what is a political organisation.
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