Subtitled “the courageous woman who inflamed the Muslim world speaks out against the evils of Islam”, this book is Sultan’s collections of thoughts on the oppression of women, cycle of abuse within families, and violence waged in the name of Allah/Muhammad/Islam. Named to Time magazine’s list of the 100 Most Influential People of the World, Sultan grew up in Syria under “a God who hates women” and cautions the West on their acceptance of Islam “because any culture that hates its women can’t love anything else”.
Sultan provides quite a bit of food for thought, especially as she examines the environment in which Islam was formed. Her thesis is that the arid land of the Middle East caused Arabs to turn to a forceful God that legalized the raiding that occurred between tribes and whom any misfortune could be attributed to, which freed followers from guilt. In time, though, this forceful God disallowed adoption so Muhammad could marry his adopted son’s wife, allowed marriage between a fifty-year-old and a six-year-old, and ranked women as lower than dirt.
“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)
One things about her memoir that I found to be most interesting, though, is that she does not spare herself in her critique, but shows how Islam made her shallow and narrow-minded in her dealings with Islam’s traditional enemies such as Jews, for instance. And she also discusses how non-Arab Muslims (those who do not speak Arabic) do not understand what they are really praying about and instead are parroting the prayers they have been taught.
“A Muslim prays five times a day, and on each occasion he recites the Fatiha, the first verse of the Koran, a number of times. This verse describes Christians as ‘those who have gone astray’ and Jews as ‘those who have incurred Your wrath’. We see from this that Muslims execrate Christians and Jews a number of times in the course of a single prayer, which they repeat five times a day. Non-Arab Muslims are unaware that they are cursing the Christians and the Jews, because they pray in Arabic without understanding what they are saying… Most non-Arab Muslims I have met in the United States do not know the mean of this verse that they repeat dozens of times daily in their prayers. However, if you were to ask an Arab boy in the first year of primary school what it meant, he would tell you that the Christians are those who have gone astray while Jews are those who have incurred God’s wrath.” (pg. 186)
Sultan has rejected Islam as her religion and has since dedicated her time to trying to have a civil conversation with fellow Muslims about Islam (a conversation she say is futile because Muslims view soft-spoken words as an admittance they are right). Despite the chunky flow of her memoir and the need to rearrange some paragraphs to cut down on the repetition, I found her insight to be very interesting. I certainly will be thinking about it for days and although I came away from this book feeling a bit hopeless about religion in general, I also finished it with a strong urge to learn as much as I can about Islam.
- Sultan, Wafa. A God Who Hates: the Courageous Woman Who Inflamed the Muslim World Speaks Out Against the Evils of Islam. New York: St. Martin’s, 2009. Print. 288 pgs. ISBN: 9780312538354. Source: Library.