Ebookwormy's Reviews > A God Who Hates: The Courageous Woman Who Inflamed the Muslim World Speaks Out Against the Evils of Islam

A God Who Hates by Wafa Sultan
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Feb 05, 10

it was ok
bookshelves: currenteventspolitics, non-fiction, world-global, world-middleeast
Read from January 20 to February 05, 2010

I have never been able to find a book about Islam that deals with the salvation of women. This has lead me to wonder if Islam offers salvation to women. A well read relative sent me this book by mail with instruction to note the later chapters that deal with women and Islam.

This is a distressingly painful read. I learned many things. As can be imagined, the author does not see Islam in a favorable light. She is dealing with Islam in the macro, and certainly her observations cannot be universally applied to all Muslims. The weakness of the book is two-fold: 1) Sultan has studied psychiatry in the USA, and the book encumbered by her tendency to try to get into the psychology of Islam and religion in general; and 2) While I can see the editor wanted to preserve a conversational, as opposed to academic feel, the book could have been edited more thoroughly to eliminate repetitive concepts. I should also mention that occasional hubris, particularly in the section accounting the incidents that brought Sultan to public recognition are a little distracting.

Strengths of the work include Sultan's personal experience with Islam, growing up in the religion/ culture and immigrating to the USA after she had married and had children. This has provided her with a wealth of anecdotal material about Muslims in the middle east and the west, as well as personal knowledge of the language (not dependent on translation) and culture (an understanding of what people/ situations/ teachings really mean). Sultan deals with difficult topics that others might shy away from, including the women issue. I found much agreement between her account and that of Robert Spencer in "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades." Pages 236-237 contain a section in which Sultan contrasts what America has been to her with what her homeland was to her - it is an eloquent writing not to be missed, and is especially refreshing after trudging through the book. I finally had to break down and include it in my notes below.

In the end, I spent a lot of time pondering a couple of questions. If Sultan abhors Muhammad as a model, disagrees with the teachings of the Koran, and wants to see the people of the middle east freed from the fear and oppression of Islam, why does she still claim the label of Muslim? I could only conclude that she wants the stronger voice granted to an insider instead of the alienation of an outsider.

If she sees the destruction/ oppression of Muhammad/ the Koran/ Islam and the contrast between what it has wrought and life in the West, why does she not embrace Christianity, upon whose foundation western civilization was built? Especially when an examination of Jesus/ Bible/ Christianity would reveal it triumphs in these areas in which she has found Islam lacking? After all, she seeks "a God who loves" and a people who are like that loving God (1 John 4:16)? My conclusion here was that this answer is also tied up with the above. Sultan has rejected Christianity and chosen to believe that God does not exist, but is merely an entity created in our own mind, in our own image, to soothe our soul. Therefore, she cannot truly reject Islam, because she doesn't actually have a viable replacement for the tendency to worship with which all humanity is wired.

Repeatedly, while working through this book, I found my mind returning to this passage from the Bible:
"[Jesus was incarnated and died that He:] might free those who... were subject to slavery all their lives."
Hebrews 2:15

While the first hand account is valuable, if a reader were to chose one book to read about Islam, I would recommend Robert Spencer's "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades." 2 stars.
Sultan presents the concept of raiding (I want/take what you have but hate you for wanting/taking what I have) and how it shapes Muslim culture and the interactions of Muslims with non-Muslims:
"The Muslim will agree to the establishment of such a relationship [with a non-Muslim:] only in one of two possible situations: to promote his own interests or to harm the interests of others." pg. 59

I was struck/ shocked by Sultan's documentation of the duplicity of Muslims in the West (specifically in America)and how her concept of 'raiding' plays out among immigrants. "[A Muslim:] is convinced he has come to this country to despoil it and cause harm... my friend... is here only to pillage and cause harm to her enemies... she regards the comforts here as her own private booty." pg. 67
While I was reading this section, I happened to pick up a magazine talking about persecution of Christians worldwide. The publication contained quotes from both natives and western missionaries in a country who were suffering for their faith. All talked about how they wanted to be a blessing to the country, to bring it the gospel of Christ and help the people to live a better life (free from fear). The contrast in attitudes was startlingly clear - the contrast in teachings of the two religions emphasized as polar opposites.

It also should be noted though, that Sultan herself still claims to be a Muslim, yet one would assume that she does not embrace the ideas of "pillaging" and "raiding" herself. So, we need to be cautioned that while many Muslims behave as she has described, there is still an element of choice that creates a spectrum of behavior among Muslims in the USA. After all, I myself has known Muslims who have immigrated to get AWAY from fundamentalist society.

"Islamic teachings include the notion of *taqia* (literally, 'caution, prudence'), which allows a Muslim to conceal his true feelings and cherished beliefs when he feels that non-Muslims around him have the upper hand, while at the same time working secretly to achieve his great objective, so that he can attack them when the time is ripe." pg. 242

"No one can be a true Muslim and a true American simultaneously. Islam is both a religion and a state, and to be a true Muslim you must believe in Islam as both religion and state. A true Muslim does not acknowledge the US Constitution, and his willingness to live under that constitution is, as far as he is concerned, nothing more than an unavoidable step on the way to that constitution's replacement by Islamic Sharia law." pg. 243

Does this mean that Sultan, still claiming to be a Muslim, is not a true American? Or, does it mean that Sultan, claiming to be an American, is not a true Muslim?

I was unaware of the challenges of literacy within the Arabic language group:
"Arabic is different from many other languages in that the official language used for reading and writing is completely different from the colloquial language used in conversation. Illiterate people are perfectly fluent in the colloquial language, but are virtually unable to comprehend the form of Arabic used for reading and writing." pg. 69

Wafa Sultan has trained as a psychiatrist in America, making much of the book a tedious exploration of the 'psyche'. The strongest sections are those where she writes of her own experience.
"I became addicted to reading both Islamic and American books, and the more assiduously I read, the more I discovered that our tragic condition in the Muslim world, as compared with that of the United States, is simply the sad result of our Islamic belief system. I had expected that the slender thread, which during the first four years of my life in America had continued to bind me to Islam, would be replaced by a sturdy rope [via study:], only to discover day by day that it hand become more fragile than ever."

Sultan's experience resonates with the concept I first encountered in "The Politically Incorrect Guide to Islam and the Crusades" that Western culture is built upon Christianity, and that even people who do not believe benefit from the principles that guide our civilization.
This quote also spoke to this idea:
"These teachings have failed to create steadfast, productive, and creative human beings... The Muslim and the teachings he believes in are chasing each other around a circular track. The teachings pursue him, while he can find nothing to pursue except them. They will lead him to disaster, but his failure will serve only to increase his dependence on them." pg. 177

I learned some new things about Muhammad, who Sultan does not portray favorably. "When God's Prophet [Muhammad:] coveted his adopted son's wife and God ordered him to satisfy that desire, this behavior, for Muslims, became enshrined in both religious and secular law. Muhammad banned adoption in order to justify his socially unacceptable marriage - by the standards of the time - to the wife of his adopted son. This ban put an end to a social system that at the time helped save many children who, for one reason or another, had been left fatherless, and the ban, to this day, continues to rot the soul of Muslim societies." pg.126. The prohibition on adoption in Islamic law was particularly disheartening to me, as I have a passion for adoption. This account also contrasts Allah/ Muhammad/ the Koran with God/ Jesus/ the Bible. The Bible specifically teaches that: We are not to covet ANYTHING of our neighbors (Duet 20:17), a parent having relations with a child's spouse is immorality (Lev 20:12), God has compassion on the orphan and is a father to the fatherless (Psalm 68:5), God seeks justice for the widow and orphan (Psalm 146:9) and God uses adoption as a picture of His adoption of us as sinners into His family through belief in Jesus Christ (Romans 8:15).

Sultan's conclusions about Muhammad's treatment of women include the following:
"When discussing the deteriorating position of women in the Muslim world some defenders of Muslim law protest, claiming that Islam revered women, but that some of its followers had misunderstood the Koran and the Prophetic tradition. But I still have a question: Have the same followers misunderstood the Prophet's attitude to women in his life? Where are the Koranic verses or Prophetic traditions that can alleviate the ugliness of these attitudes? They are not to be found." pg. 127
and this on a section about the impact of Islam on economics:
"It rejected the principle of excellence and the laws of supply and demand... these teachings did not emphasize the importance of work. The concept of work in Islam was confined to nomadic migration, raiding, booty, and the struggle for survival." pg. 179-180

She talks extensively about the concept of Master-Slave relationships within Islam. She asserts that all relationships break down to master and slave (a man is slave to a master boss, a son is slave to a master father and a wife is slave to a master husband, etc).

The teachings referenced in regard to the question of women are... I cannot even find the word... but we should note that Judaism and Christianity, which both precede Islam by thousands and hundreds of years, respectively, do not view women in this way.
"Islam was born into an environment that sanctioned the capture and rape of women, holding them - not the man committing the crime - responsible. Islam did not proscribe what was already permissible. On the contrary, it legalized it and enshrined it in canonical law." pg 129
"Muhammad in a hadith told his followers: [QUOTE:] Oh ye women, you are the majority of those who dwell in hell, for when you receive you express no thanks, when afflicted you show no patience, and when I keep aloof from you, you complain." Just imagine for a moment how it must feel to hear this over and over again, having it drummed into your head until it becomes part of your very being." pg. 138
"...hadith: 'A woman shall neither fast nor pray without her husband's authorization." pg. 139
"... hadith: 'A man has the right to expect his wife, if his nose runs with blood, mucus or pus, to lick it up with her tongue" pg. 139

On salvation within Islam, Sultan writes:
"The still believe that jihad is the only way to guarantee their entry into paradise in the hereafter." pg. 181
"... it is the Muslim's objective in war either to kill his enemy or be killed by him, and he considers himself to have won whichever turns out to be the case." pg. 183
"When we were young, our elders drummed a saying into us: 'We love death as much as our enemy loves life.'"

On relationships with other religions:
"We hold the Jews 'responsible' for our military failures, our economic backwardness, and our technological dependency. We believe the Jews control the world, and that, in consequence, the whole world, dancing to their tune, wants to get rid of us." pg. 185
"If you read the history and teachings of Islam you will get the initial impression that Islam is more accepting of and less hostile to Christians and Jews, as it recognizes the sanctity of their holy books. But anyone who scrutinizes this history carefully with a critical eye will realize that Islam has declared war on both religions, and has entrusted it's followers with a sacred mission: to fight them until the End of Days. Islamic teachings make no mention of Hinduism, Buddhism, or Zoroastrianism, even though these religions existed at the time and people practiced them. Muhammad, however, might never have heard of them. The more likely explanation is that they presented no threat to himself or his followers and therefore, he displayed no aggression toward them." pg. 192
"Jews and Christians, according to Islam, believe in the same God as Muslims do, but this does not work in their favor. Islam defines its relationship with them by their attitude toward Muhammad, not by their attitude toward God. No Muslim, on the basis of the verse quoted above, can have a trusting relationship with a Jew or a Christian. The Koranic verse does not include any mention of other religions, and so the conflict remains at it's most extreme with Jews and Christians, who in Muhammad's day refused to accept him as a prophet." pg. 193

America is to me... by Wafa Sultan "The God Who Hates" pg. 236-237
"For me America was- and still is- leaving home at 5am and making my way to Starbucks for my morning cup of coffee without fear that someone might see me and accuse me of immoral behavior.

American for me means saying "good morning" to my neighbor and chatting with him for a few moments without being accused of having spent the night with him.

America for me means my daughter can come home and tell me she's had lunch with her boyfriend without being beaten for having impugned the family honor.

America means I can wear what I like, eat what I like, and go where I like without anyone's interfering in my decisions.

America means I can buy new shoes before my toes begin to peep out of the old ones and that I can buy new clothes without having to deprive my infant son of milk for a week.

America means calling a government office and hearing a polite voice say: "Good morning, this is Jessica, how can I help you?"

America means I can go into a public washroom, find it equipped with running water, soap and paper towels, and not have to wade through another person's waste.

America means getting smiled at by a stranger just because our glances have met.

America means spending the day with my family in a beautiful public park without getting eaten alive by flies or being surrounded by piles of garbage at every turn.

America means that the stranger who bumps into me accidentally says, "I'm sorry, I do apologize!"

America means I can enter a place of worship and listen to the sermon without hearing other religious denominations being vilified.

America means someone can knock at my door and I can decide whether or not to open it without having to fear for my life.

America means I can lodge a complaint against the policeman with whom I have a different opinion, in broken English mixed with Arabic and - possibly- win my case.

America means I can speak Arabic-inflected English and people who hear me will tell me, "You do speak English well!" without the slightest hint of mockery or scorn.

America is the hearing aid my son received in the first week after his arrival in the United States, restoring his hearing after nine years of deafness in Syria.

America means that I live in a street with people of nine different nationalities and that, when American Independence Day brings us together in the public area in front of our homes, each of us brings along his or her national dish for the others to taste.

America means I can live my life and no one will judge me because of my color, gender, race, religion, political opinions, or country of origin; instead I am evaluated on my work and my personality.

America, to put it briefly indeed, is my freedom.

People have asked me in the past, and many more will ask me after they read this book: "Why don't you see America's bad points?" Perhaps I am blind, but I can see no bad points in America. In order to understand my perspective, of course, you would have to be a woman who has lived in Syria or another Muslim country for thirty years!"
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Comments (showing 1-6 of 6) (6 new)

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Amanda You need to read books by Feisal Abdul Rauf, a book called "The Face Behind The Veil". And actually there is a GR list called "About Muslim Women" which has a lot of non-fiction books of Islam from a woman's perspective which I have read. If you genuinely search for the truth, you will find Wafa is a minority amongst not only Arab Muslim women but ALL Muslim women. If you read biased crap, thats all you're going to learn is biased information even though there is a sea of people out there who think differently!

Ebookwormy Thanks for the recommendation. I've added "The Face Behind the Veil" to my to-read list.

message 3: by Amarice (new)

Amarice INFIDEL by Ayaan Hirsi Ali. Highly recommended.

Ebookwormy Thanks, Infidel is also on my to-reads! So many books, so little time!

message 5: by Iman (new)

Iman Jafar Although I agree with most of her observations and analysis, I found her too angry and hateful

Linda Sultan is a master manipulator who has ridden tge Islamophobic gravy train as far as she can. Her citations of long discredited Hadiths and her confident statements about the life of the Prophet need to be taken with a few tons of salt, given the fact that no contemporary account of the Prophet's life exists and that the Hadiths (which Sultan loves to imply are given the same degree of respect as the Quran by Muslims) are, in fact, considered to be of varying degrees of accuracy, given the fact that not one of them was written down while the Prophet was alive and the majority were not written until centuries after he died. Although the Hadiths are described as anecdotes about the life of the Prophet, most educated Muslims are able to keep in mind their limitations. One thing that has occasionally tripped Sultan up is her dependence on the assumption that the public she addresses knows nothing about either Islam or the middle east (Hirsi Ali does sonething similar, but with more subtlety.) Thus, Sultan feels confident that she can belt out, in her stentorian voice, statements about the Quran that are not even true. This tactic had caught up with her on at leadt a couple of public occasions when she has been interviewed without her handy editor. As in one situation where she publicly declared that the Quran stated that if a woman wished to charge her rapist she had to provide 4 witnesses. Anyone can pick up a Quran and see that this is not the case, and unfortunately for Sultan, a scholar who was interviewed immediately after her was able to correct what she said and provide evidence. Although many subsequent commentators ignored the scholar in favour of Sultan, I notice that she is becoming less popular. Another part of Sultan's persona depends on her claim of being a "survivor of Sharia". Again, facts get in the way here. Anyone can pick up a reference book about Syria and see that at the time Sultan clsims to have lived there, a secular government was in place. She never lived a day in a country governed by "Sharia law", but again, she cannily counts on public ignorance.

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