Wafa Sultan is a Syrian woman who unleashes her anger at Islam in A God Who Hates: The Courageous Woman Who Inflamed the Muslim World Speaks Out Against the Evils of Islam (New York: St. Martin’s Press, c. 2009). She attained notoriety for bravely speaking her mind on the Al Jazeera TV network in a series that was quickly cancelled because of the wrath it elicited from viewers. She then determined to put her positions in print, knowing that her life would be endangered, because she believes “that good will ultimately triumph over evil” (p. 7).
The book’s message is simply stated by Sultan as she answers Americans who ask, following the 9/11 attacks, “Why do they hate us?” She answers: “Because Muslims hate their women, and any group who hate their women can’t love anyone else.” And Muslims hate their women, she believes, “Because their God does” (p. 7). From her perspective, Islam retains the ancient fears and angers of the desert dwellers who brought it into being and spread it throughout the world. Out of their needs Muslims created a God—Allah—“this ogre, and then allowed it to create them” (p. 52). And they have never ceased their ancient ways of fighting, raiding, despoiling the enemies. Since coming to America nearly 20 years ago Sultan has learned of “a different God than the one I knew in my village” (p. 9), though that discovery has not drawn her to belief in any Divine Being. Religions, for her, are projections of human fears, needs and desires; they may be good or bad, but they open no paths to any truly transcendental Reality.
Sultan tells the story of her childhood, growing up in an oppressive male-dominated world that significantly changed when “the tentacles of the Saudi octopus [radical Islam funded by petrodollars] began to extend gradually into Syrian public life, where they still wreak havoc today” (p. 37). Fortunately she had loving female relatives—and she had books! Indeed, for her “life really began in the third grade when I learned to read” (p. 11). She read and read and a wonderful world opened for her. In time she was admitted to medical school in Aleppo and subsequently worked in a medical clinic. She also met (defying Muslim customs) a young man who became her husband and the father of her children.
Her awakening to the evils of Islam escalated when, finishing her medical studies in 1979, she “witnessed the death of our ophthalmology lecturer” (p. 45). As the shots rang out she heard “the killer’s voice shouting from the loudspeaker: ‘Allahu akbar . . . Allahu akbar!’” (p. 45). “When Muslims kill,” Sultan explains, “they shout “Allahu akbar!”—Allah is the greatest!’” (p. 45). The slain professor was “a man I had looked up to as an ideal of morality and humanity—an upright, generous, and cultured man” who had studied in Europe. “Ever since that moment, Allah has been equated in my mind with the sound of a bullet and become a God who has no respect for human life. From that time on I embarked upon a new journey in quest for another God—a God who respects human life and values every human being” (p. 45).
Her journey, fortunately for her and her family, led to the United States. In “1988 I got a heaven-sent gift: I received my American visa, after spending three days and nights outside the U.S. consulate in Damascus” (p. 93). Living in Los Angeles, she found the freedom she’d always craved, even though it meant initially working at a gas station! Amazingly, Americans treated her better as a gas station attendant than Syrians had treated her as a medical doctor. As she studied to improve her English and take medical exams in her new country, she also began to read voraciously in books that helped her understand the difference between America and Syria. And she began writing and speaking, in both English and Arabic, identifying Islam as the source of the backwardness and evils in much of the world. That, ultimately, led to her appearance on Al Jazeera and her international celebrity as a woman willing to challenge Muslim clerics.
She is deeply distressed by Muslims who fail to repudiate Islam when granted freedom in the West. Indeed: “I have no hopes for Muslims, men or women, who live in the West. They are, quite simply, hypocrites. They are trying to have the best of both worlds” (p. 145). Even worse, they are rearing their children to espouse radical Islam and its terrorist tendencies. For her, there is no hope for any reformation of Islam, for “Islam is a sealed flask. Its stopper allows no ventilation” (p. 155). There is no freedom, in any realm of life, for the Muslim. All is dictated. Just as Allah dictates, without reason, so too Muslim rulers dictate to their passive followers. “Obey Allah and the Apostle and those in authority among you” says the Koran. Independent thinking and speaking and acting cannot be tolerated, for “Islam is a closed market.” Nor does “the concept of responsibility” have much standing. Muslim men still approach life as warriors, killing and raiding, rather than working and building. And when they fail they become victims, convinced everyone is against them—especially the Jews, who are routinely skapegoated.
To Sultan, there is an irresolvable “clash of civilizations” that can only be resolved by the defeat and destruction of Islam. She is never shocked by terrorist attacks—it’s all a part of the Islamic approach to the world. Nor is she surprised by the deceitful strategies of Muslims living in the West. Americans especially, she laments, “are not expert at either debate or trickery. They say what they mean and mean what they say, and have no idea that they are dealing with people skilled in saying what they don’t mean and meaning what they have never said” (p. 204). Living in her adopted country, daily thankful for the many freedoms she now enjoys, she loves “America as few people do, and my love for it makes me feel concern for it” (p. 235).
The election of Barak Obama in 2008 has intensified her concern because the “Islamists are not particularly interested in whether Obama is a Muslim or not: The fact that the American president bears a Muslim name like Hussein is enough to convince them that Islam is marching into America and has already infiltrated the White House” (p. 239). Even more alarming, to Wafa Sultan, was a remark made by Colin Powell during the election campaign, when he declared that even if Obama were a Muslim that would be fine! How amazing that the former “secretary of state couldn’t see what was wrong with America’s choosing a Muslim president, even though it is the country that has suffered most from Muslim terrorism and paid the highest price because of it” (p. 240). Powell’s naïveté, the author fears, typifies this nation’s leaders—and could easily lead to its downfall. To prevent this—to awaken America to the real nature of Islam and the designs of her practitioners—Sultan has written this provocative treatise.
Gerard Reed is a retired professor of history and philosophy, most recently Point Loma Nazarene University in San Diego. He is the author of three books--The Liberating Law; C.S. Lewis and the Bright Shadow of Holiness; C.S. Lewis Explores Vice & Virtue--as well as a variety of articles and book reviews.