Logans Warning ^ Louis Palme
Freedom of Speech is:
“Allah is Dead – Why Islam is Not a Religion” New book by Rebecca Bynum Reviewed 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.
Why Islam is Not a Religion
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.“
What Should the Response to Islam Be?
“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. 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 from the totalitarian system of communism on the basis that it is fundamentally in error?”
“Real peacemaking is the result of the stout and unyielding defense of the values our civilization was founded upon. . . . Islam is deeply and profoundly wrong. Pretending it is right only worsens our situation by delaying actions that must be taken if our own civilization, however imperfect and unseemly it may be, is to be preserved.”
“Religion must hold to the transcendent purpose of reconciling man to a greater reality – it must lead man to God and bring God, or Love, if you will, into the life of man in ever increasing measure. Religion must always stand apart from the social and political institutions of the society in which it exists. Its function is not to uphold the status quo; its function is to show man a higher reality.”
“One of the most important points to make about Islam is this: the purpose of Islam is only found in the perpetuation of Islam. Islam literally has no higher purpose. . . [That’s one of the reasons Islam is not really a religion.] There is no greater integrating or unifying force than religion. Without religion, we have absolutely nothing with which to counter Islam. . . Only faith in a loving God and the conviction that truth, beauty and goodness are real can oppose faith in a God of hate, a God of untruth, ugliness and cruelty. Religion itself is not the enemy and should not be treated as such.”
Rebecca Bynum’s book is a rational and compassionate discussion of the numerous disconnects between Islam and the Judeo-Christian ideologies. While it will be disturbing to Muslims who have never considered the theological and spiritual merits of Islam, it will empower non-Muslims to challenge the deeply worn “riverbed” of Islamic traditions which have very little to do with the sustaining “river” of a spiritual faith in a living God which should be central to any true religion.
TOPICS: General Discusssion; Religion & Culture; Religion & Politics; Theology
KEYWORDS: allah; islam; koran; quran Books on Islam are a saturated market, an editor friend of mine told a few months ago. At the time I thought 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 Bawer. 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, to a certain extent, Eric Voegelin’s Science, Politics and Gnosticism. But the pace is different.
More complex, more academic, more confrontational, drawing on the Bible, Tocqueville, and Milton, as well as contemporary intellectuals, reading Bynum’s work is like taking a white-knuckle ride with Jesus, drag racing against Islam and Western sell-outs, and slamming into any car with a politically correct bumper sticker. There are plenty of those on the road, it turns out. But there are no pleasant side roads to lead us from the ghettos, on fire with rioting, to that cozy wine bar off the Champs-Élysées. All escape routes are blocked. For Bynum, there is no Wahhabi, Shiite, Sunni, or Sufi Islam. There is only Islam. People like me who insist on differentiating between Islam and Islamism are sissy learner-drivers who need to get off the road — I paraphrase, but you get the picture.
Bynum’s work is provocative from the first page — actually, the cover. As she was undoubtedly aware, few people would worry about reading a book in public with a title as, say, The God Delusion or God Is Not Great: How Religion Poisons Everything. Exchange “Allah” for “God” and “Islam” for “religion” and one is liable to feel considerably more nervous. Nietzsche’s “God is dead” fails to get a reaction, but a title like Allah Is Dead will, as we know, will send shockwaves through the “equalities”-educated class. We can already hear liberals howling “racism” and “Islamophobia”, although “God is dead” would not provoke even a single charge of self-loathing or Christio-phobia. Why? And how did it come to this?
Throughout Allah Is Dead, we are forced to face why the West appears so effete in confronting Islam, not to mention its own pathologies. Bynum makes a number of keen observations about the situation in which we find ourselves. Our perceptions of religion, spirituality, and politics are all critiqued.
Having thrown out Christianity, Bynum says
[M]oderns are left with no outlet for their natural, inborn religious impulse and so religion soon reverts back to magic and charms as we see so prominently displayed in the “New Age” movement, or the religious impulse may continue to revert even further to fetishism and taboo as in Islam. (p. 17)
Voegelin noted the rise of neo-paganism in pre-Nazi Germany (it was, at that point, far-Right, although, today, neo-paganism is today mostly Left-wing and pacifistic). The notion that Islam and the New Age might exhibit similar tendencies (particularly “fetishism”) is, I think, a new idea, but one well worth contemplating. Even leaving aside the nature of Islam, clearly, as a minority religion attracting primarily White female converts, in Britain at least, it is clearly appealing as a kind of “alternative” religion. (Perhaps unorthodox spiritual beliefs, widely held, act as a receptacle for more virulent and intolerant ones.)
Toward the end of the book, Bynum observes that many in the modern West have “turn[ed] on the faith which sustained [their] ancestors for centuries and label religious individuals ‘crazy’“ (p. 137.) The “latest effort to destroy God is also a religious act, though [it is] unrecognized as such”, she says.
If we consider that spirituality is, for many people, concretized in a (political) multiculturalism that embraces all of the religions as expressions of a universal truth, Bynum’s assertion appears to be accurate, although perhaps it is not always “unrecognized”. In the political multicultural worldview, morality is represented through “anti-racist” and anti-religious-hatred legislation that often appear to be used or misused to attack the established culture and religion. Take, for example, the case of the Christian evangelists who were threatened for arrest for preaching from the Bible in a “Muslim area” in Britain.
“Many people”, Bynum says, “fear a resurgent Christianity as much or more than they fear a resurgent Islam” (p. 53). Apparently so. She notes the words of one theologian who did not wish to offend Muslims by claiming to believe in the Lordship of Jesus. “The definition of God”, she tells us, “goes to the very core of this struggle, for it in turn defines the nature of civilization. The question is: shall we allow Christ to define himself as the historical record of his life and teachings indicate, or shall we allow Muslims to define him for us as Isa, the ‘Palestinian Muslim,’ divorced from Judaism, with no historical foundation for this assertion whatsoever?”
This phenomenon is of crucial importance, especially in relation to Hamas and Palestinian Islamic militancy. Like the Palestinians, the Nazis also remade Jesus in their image — in the latter case, as a Germanic hero who rejected the Jews. But the notion of Jesus as a Palestinian “freedom fighter” is far more innocuous, and regurgitated by fashionable Left-wing students in the West.
Bynum contrasts Mohammed with Jesus, noting that the latter “did not repudiate the Jewish scriptures”. (The Koran portrays Islam as the authentic Abrahamic faith and Judaism and Christianity as corruptions or “schisms” of Islam.) This, and Jesus’s “historical Jewishness” are essential components of Christianity, and, thus, of Western civilization, Bynum suggests. As such, she reasserts the “Judeo-Christian” tradition, the very notion of which we find attacked in the media for not including Islam as an “Abrahamic faith.”
Allah Is Dead takes aim at Christian leaders as well, especially the Archbishop of Canterbury (sometimes nicknamed the “Grand Mufti of Canterbury”) for his speech in which he suggested that Britain accommodate some aspects of sharia. Speaking of the Archbishop and others of a similar mental ilk, Bynum tells us that “The history of the decline and fall of Eastern Christianity is filled with such well-meaning fools” (p. 61). Nevertheless, Bynum is also rightly perturbed by the secularization and misuse of Christ’s injunction to turn the other cheek, which has transformed the sentiment into a fetish for cultural masochism.
Hence, if Bynum sees Islam as a politics, she is no less scathing about the fusion of Christianity and politics in the West. Unusually — and refreshing in her consistency — she objects not only to those on the Left (such as the Archbishop of Canterbury) but to those Churches in the US which have allied themselves with the Republican Party. “Both sides, to a greater or lesser extent”, she says, “have abandoned the primary mission of religion, and the care and fostering of individual spiritual growth” (p. 84) Some of these churches even indulge in a form of “disguised voodoo” (p. 85), soliciting donations with the promise that it will be returned several times over — miraculously.
The West is hollowing itself out from the inside, confusing politics with religion, and even belief with unbelief. Atheists, not Christian students, she observes, are the most likely group on campus to believe in the paranormal (the embrace of Islam by socialists is undoubtedly another example of this confusion). “This unconscious manifestation of a religious drive is difficult to locate let alone criticize”, she says, “So rather than benefiting from honest criticism, religion is manifesting itself as an unexamined force which is changing our world in ways we do not fathom” (p. 87). Taken as a whole, Bynum’s argument suggests that this “unconscious manifestation” is acting as the perfect receptacle for Islam.
Certainly the tradition of critiquing scripture and belief, inherent to all profound religious tradition, is denied by the vogue for fetishizing religion. Like the primitive who believes that a spirit or god is literally present in his statues, so the West has come to believe that there is a format to religion — i.e., that it has a founder, holy book, a notion of God, heaven, etc. — that proves it valid. The actual teachings are irrelevant to the culturally relative. The widespread belief that the “holy book” of one religion is, by virtue of being regarded as a holy book by its devotees, the equivalent of another, shows a profound dumbing-down of the intellect. Does anyone belief that the books of Jacques Derrida are the equivalent of those of John Locke, simply because they are both works of philosophy? Or that one can understand the works of Goethe by studying those of Shakespeare, just because great literature deals with the same themes of life and death, relationships, sickness, and human emotions, etc.?
If an amorphous spirituality appears to have soaked through Western society, Bynum nonetheless diagnoses a certain insensitivity to the transcendent both in one aspect of the West and in Islam. (Such a contradiction might seem implausible if we were unaware of atheist believers in the paranormal and Marxist admirers of Islam.) “Like Western materialism there is no effort to differentiate the tangible and intangible in Islam”, she says. “Worship itself is brought down to the material level, being thought of as the equivalent of obedience to Islam [i.e., as sharia]” (p. 123). Later, in the final chapter, where she lays out why she believes that Islam is not a religion (at least as the West has traditionally understood it), she asserts that “Islamic rituals, as elaborate as they are, have little or no symbolic meaning beyond [emulating Mohammed]” (p. 147). Although I suspect that mystical Sufi Muslims in particular would reject Bynum’s diagnosis, it is certainly true that many Wahhabis do seek to emulate Mohammed in every way, from wearing trousers of a particular length to the manner in which he cleans his teeth, although these do not have any symbolic value.
All in all, Allah Is Dead: Why Islam is not a Religion is a complex and challenging book, but one that tackles the crisis of the West and the Westward push of Islam thoughtfully and seriously. One is unlikely to agree with Bynum on everything — and perhaps one might even firmly disagree with her on some things — but this is, on balance, more of a positive than a negative. Far too many books are written to avoid controversy. In contrast, Bynum succeeds in making us think through our situation, and rethinking our response to it. This might prove uncomfortable at times, but it is also essential. Rebecca Bynum’s Allah Is Dead: Why Islam is not a Religion.————————————————————————————-
During the course of our journey as the keepers of this blog, our understanding of the great foe to Western culture has grown and changed over time. As we have struggled to come to grips with the alien nature of Islam, many of our hopes have been laid aside. Some have been brutally hacked away. For example, the myth of the moderate Muslim was a hard notion to let go. When it left, the idea that Islam could be ‘reformed’ (in the sense that Judaism and Christianity have experienced) followed soon after.
Sure, there are secular Muslims, but when push comes to shove it is not they who are in charge of Islam. And their cloak of moderation can be deadly for themselves in the face of their masters. Look at any country ruled by Islam and you will see corruption and bloodshed. It is not only the borders of those countries that are bloody: the citizens within do not live, cannot live, in a manner commensurate with what Westerners believe to be basic human liberties.
With Islam, the Law prevails, and the Law is not merciful. Nor is it just. We all know the insane instances of applied sharia law in which raped women are beaten by the authorities for their “sins”.
This law can be twisted into pretzels that would make the Jesuits blush. From The Washington Times comes a news item that won’t surprise anyone who has studied the issue for long:
The latest edition of al Qaeda’s online, English-language magazine includes an article offering an Islamic justification for extremists to steal from non-Muslims to finance their activities…
Yes, even that paper calls them “extremists”. Through sad experience, that’s not a word we believe any more. It’s the terrorists, stupid. Stealing in the name of Allah’s Ummah is cool, according to these terrorists – and to the many, many “moderate” Muslims who contribute to the cause.
Now comes a book that exactly lines up with the way our thinking has evolved at Gates of Vienna. Rebecca Bynum nails it in Allah Is Dead: Why Islam is Not a Religion. I’ve been saying this for a while now so it’s exciting to see that someone has written a book laying out systematically what it took us so many years to understand, to wit: Islam is a totalitarian system tricked out to look like a religion, and it fools even many of its adherents. In reality, Islam is a prison – as those who try to leave know all too well. You wonder sometimes what would happen if Islam’s so-called ‘apostasy’ were done away with? How many adherents would still be in the system? Especially I wonder how many women would remain if they were free (as in really free from physical retaliation) to get on the bus, Gus.
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. [my emphasis]
Finally, someone has done it! By ‘it’, I mean given us a working definition of this utopian scheme that lays aside any theological pretensions in order to examine the ugly reality. All Utopias are misconceived, but none has been so brutal as this one.
Now, as all of us in the Counterjihad labored to come to terms with what our enemy means, we have been supplied serendipitously with a most necessary definition of what it is we fight. Interestingly, Ms. Bynum has arrived at the very point we were struggling to achieve. From all indications regarding her book, she has given us the perspective we need to more effectively do battle against this latest Destroyer.
I look forward to reading her book, to having the satisfaction of feeling, “yes, that’s it. She’s nailing it”. As the editorial description at Amazon puts it:
…Bynum maintains Islam s current status as a religion, along with all the other religions of the world, is in error. She refers to Islam as the duck-billed platypus of belief systems and proposes it should be classified accordingly; as the hybrid religio-socio-political belief system it is. She also reminds the Western world about what religion itself actually is, not the caricature modern analysts often mean when they refer to “religious fundamentalisms.” Bynum has given policy-makers a powerful tool for dealing with Islam. Let us hope they understand, and grasp, and choose to make use of it.
Soon after the book arrives, expect to see a post about it. In fact, if you order and read the book and want to write your own review, please send it to us for consideration as a post.
We fight more effectively when we can name the enemy. Thus, we can say with fair certainty, given the evidence, that Islam is a political system of brigandry with a veneer of pious-sounding rules. Do a little digging past that ‘piety’ about killing all the Jews and find the blood-soaked history behind the façade.
No wonder Islam annihilates any history but the one it writes.
No wonder it issues death threats against anyone who says otherwise.
No wonder so many people have died because of this plague on humanity.
Thank you, Ms. Bynum.