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.
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.
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