Book Review: “A God Who Hates” by Wafa Sultan

The book A God Who Hates: The Courageous Woman Who Inflamed the Muslim World Speaks Out Against the Evils of Islam was written by Wafa Sultan, a Syrian-American ex-Muslim. Breaking with Islam takes tremendous courage, as the traditional death penalty for leaving Islam is still upheld today. The only good byproduct of Muslim immigration to the West is that it has allowed a handful of such former Muslims to publish their thoughts about leaving Islam. One of these titles is Leaving Islam: Apostates Speak Out, edited by Ibn Warraq. Another is Understanding Muhammad by the Iranian ex-Muslim Ali Sina, the founder of Faith Freedom International. I have reviewed his book at Jihad Watch previously.

In her writing, Wafa Sultan draws extensively on her own personal experiences as well as those of friends and others in her society, especially the women, who suffer from an appalling level of brutality and repression. She manages in a very convincing manner to tie many of these problems directly to Islamic teachings, all the way back to Muhammad, his wives and companions. Far from representing a “perversion” of Islam, she shows us that the repression and violence that is endemic in Islamic societies represent the true essence of Islam.

In sharp contrast to the self-proclaimed “reformist” Irshad Manji, whose knowledge of Islamic doctrines is quite limited, Sultan shows us how Islam was born in the Arabian desert and is still shaped by this 1400 years later. The raids Muhammad and his companions carried out in his lifetime – which amounted to at least twenty-seven if you believe Islamic sources – occupy a major part of his biography. They were intended to acquire booty, but also to inflict physical and mental harm upon rival tribes in order to deprive them of their ability to resist.

Wafa Sultan, page 66: “For me, understanding the truth about the thought and behavior of Muslims can only be achieved through an in-depth understanding of this philosophy of raiding that has rooted itself firmly in the Muslim mind. Bedouins feared raiding on the one hand, and relied on it as a means of livelihood on the other. Then Islam came along and canonized it. Muslims in the twenty-first century still fear they may be raided by others and live every second of their lives preparing to raid someone else. The philosophy of raiding rules their lives, the way they behave, their relationships, and their decisions. When I immigrated to America I discovered right away that the local inhabitants were not proficient in raiding while the expatriate Muslims could not give it up.”

On the Islamic “culture of shouting and raiding,” she states on page 69: “My experience has been that two Muslims cannot talk together without their conversation turning into shouts within minutes, especially when they disagree with each other, and no good can come of that. When you talk to a Muslim, rationally, in a low calm voice, he has trouble understanding your point of view. He thinks you have lost the argument. A Muslim conversing with anyone else – Muslim or non-Muslim – cannot remember a single word the other person has said, any more than my mother could remember a single word of what the preacher in our local mosque said.”

A master-and-slave mentality dominates Arab-Islamic society, both in public and in private. A person can often be a master in one relationship and a slave in another, simultaneously.

Page 158: “When you speak calmly to a Muslim, he perceives you as being weak. The American saying ‘speak softly and carry a big stick,’ is, unfortunately, of no use when dealing with Muslims. It would be more appropriate to say (until we can change this way of thinking), ‘speak forcefully and carry a big stick’; otherwise you will be the weaker party and the loser. Democracy cannot spread in societies like these until the people who live in them have been reeducated, for they cannot function unless they are playing the role of the master or the slave.”

A deep structural flaw in Islamic culture is that nobody wants to take responsibility for his own shortcomings or mistakes, which are always blamed on somebody else or on God’s will. There is no clear distinction between truth and lie, between yes and no. Things happen or don’t happen inshallah (Allah willing), not because you take personal responsibility for them.

Page 215: “Never in my life have I heard or read of a Muslim man’s expressing feelings of guilt about something he has done, even in fiction. People feel guilty only when they feel a sense of responsibility and acknowledge that they have made a mistake. But Muslims are infallible: The mere fact that they are Muslim makes their every error pardonable. A man’s adherence to Islam is defined not by his actions and responsibilities, but only by the profession of faith he recites: ‘I testify that there is no god but God, and that Muhammad is the messenger of God.’ As long as he continues to repeat this profession of faith he will continue to be a Muslim, and no crime he may commit against others can diminish this. Saddam Hussein was one of the great tyrants of history, but most Sunni Muslims consider him a martyr. At his funeral they chanted: ‘To paradise, oh beloved of God.’”

Islam constitutes an extremely and arguably uniquely repressive belief system. Already in the first days of Islam, Muhammad linked obedience to himself with obedience to God.

A God Who Hates, page 159: “Muhammad understood that the ruler was the link between himself and the populace, and so concentrated on the need to obey the ruler, saying in a hadith: ‘Whosoever obeys me obeys God, and he who obeys my emir obeys me. Whosoever disobeys me disobeys God, and he who disobeys my emir disobeys me.’ In confirmation of this, a verse rolled down from the mountaintop, as follows: ‘Obey Allah and the Apostle and those in authority among you’ (4:59). ‘Those in authority among you’ means, according to works of Koranic exegesis, ‘your rulers.’ In order to ensure that Muslims would obey their rulers implicitly and without reservation, Muhammad told them in a hadith: ‘Obey your emir even if he flogs you and takes your property.’ Fearing that some Muslims would rebel against such unquestioning obedience, he justified it by saying in another hadith: ‘If a ruler passes judgment after profound consideration and his decision is the right one, he is rewarded twice. If he passes judgment after profound consideration and his decision turns out to be the wrong one, he receives a single recompense.’”

Page 160-161: “Never in the history of Islam has a Muslim cleric protested against the actions of a Muslim ruler, because of the total belief that obedience to the ruler is an extension of obedience toward God and his Prophet. There is only one exception to this: A Muslim cleric of one denomination may protest against the actions of a ruler who belongs to a different one. How can a Muslim escape the grasp of his ruler when he is completely convinced of the necessity of obeying him? How can he protest against this obedience, which represents obedience to his Prophet and therefore also to his God? He cannot. Islam is indeed a despotic regime. It has been so since its inception, and remains so today. Is there a relationship more representative of the ugliest forms of slavery than that between a ruler and a populace whom he flogs and whose money he steals while they themselves have no right to protest against this behavior? The ruler acts by divine decree, and the people obey him by divine decree.”

Islam is totalitarian to such an extent that it is difficult to comprehend for outsiders. Critics often compare it to totalitarian ideologies such as Nazism and Communism from the Western world, which is apt in many ways. Yet Islam is even more totalitarian than those creeds. Even the Nazis and the Communists didn’t ban wine and beer, all works of pictorial art, sculptures and most types of music. I can think of other religious denominations and groups who restrict the use of alcohol, but I cannot think of any other religious creed on this planet that bans wine, pictorial art and most forms of music at the same time. Islam is unique in this regard.

I have developed a beer hypothesis of civilization, which stipulates that any society that does not enjoy beer and wine cannot produce good science. I say this 80% as a joke and 20% seriously. The Middle East before Islam produced some scientific advances at a time when the ancient civilizations were great consumers of beer and wine. The Middle East after Islam did, for a while, produce a few scholars of medium rank, but these contributions steadily declined until they almost disappeared. This time period overlaps with the period when there were still sizeable non-Muslim communities and by extension sizeable production and consumption of wine in this area. The medieval Persian scholar Omar Khayyam was a good mathematician, but a bad Muslim who loved wine. The Ottoman Turks largely chased away what remained of wine culture in that region. Incidentally, the Turks also contributed next to nothing to science.

The one possible objection I can see to the consumption of beer and wine is that some men become alcoholics who proceed to beat their wives, and some women beat or abuse their children when they drink. This is unfortunately true sometimes and constitutes an issue that should not be ignored. Yet Islamic societies suffer from an extreme level of child abuse, domestic violence and general violence of all kinds, which means that the one really serious objection to alcoholic beverages carries no meaning there. The Koran 4:34 says quite explicitly that men are allowed to beat their women. They don’t need to get drunk to do so.

A God Who Hates is easy to read, but at the same time deeply disturbing and packed with examples from everyday life of how Islamic doctrines ruin the lives of millions of people. Wafa Sultan’s book provides us with an insightful, but unpleasant look into a culture that damages the soul of its inhabitants. It paints a portrait of a society where women are mistreated daily and barely seen as human. They will in turn project their own traumas on their sons, daughters and daughters-in-law, creating an endless cycle of mental and physical abuse. It is very hard to see how this vicious cycle can be broken without repudiating Islam.