New book by Rebecca Bynum
/ Feb 19, 2011
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
“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
“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
“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.
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