D.M Murdock: Dr. Sultan,
thank you for honoring us with this interview. You are a
courageous woman for doing what you do. The first question is,
have you personally received any threats against you for your
work exposing the problems with Islamic law and tradition? Are
any of these threats specifically because of your very public
apostasy from Islam?
How has your life been impacted by
"I receive death threats on
a daily basis."
Wafa Sultan: I receive death
threats on a daily basis. I'm a well-known writer in the Arab
world. My writings expose me to millions of devout Muslims who
have nothing positive to prove but the sheer cruelty of their
teachings. Islam has deprived them of their intellectual ability
to face criticism with an effective and acceptable way.
Being born and raised as a Muslim has helped me to realize how
serious these threats are. While I try to not let the threats
interfere with my mission, at the same time I don't ignore them
either. Prior to the release of my book A God Who Hates, I was
forced to go into hiding.
It hasn't been easy, but since I
believe in my mission, nothing will deter me from accomplishing
DM: You were born and raised in a country - Syria - that,
although it supposedly has a "secular" government, is largely
Muslim. How was life different in Syria than it has been since
you became an American citizen? Specifically as a woman, how is
your life different from what it would have been, if you had
stayed within the Syrian Muslim culture?
WS: The idea of "secular" government is a misconception
that needs to be clarified. There is no secular government in
the Islamic world. Some governments pretend to be secular for
two main reasons:
To prove to the West that
they are "secular" and in that way to benefit
economically from its dealing with the West
The despotic governments are
always threatened by Islamists. That leaves those
autocratic regimes with no choice but to hit the
Islamists with an iron fist.
The continuous conflict between the
two evils doesn't mean that the government is less Islamic.
Syria, as long as Islamists don't bother the government -
especially the president and his family - they are free to do
whatever they wish. For the last twenty years, the Islamists
with the help of Saudi money have played a major role in
radicalizing the Syrian public, while the Syrian government has
been turning a blind eye.
The situation under Islamic Sharia is bad in every
Islamic country, but the level of strictness is different from
one country to another - depending on the degree to which these
laws are applied and followed. On a scale of one to ten where #1
is the least and #10 is the worst, I would grade Syria #6
compared to Saudi Arabia, which deserves to get a #10.
However, my life in America is not comparable to my life in
Syria at any aspect. Since I left my country in 1989, I have
been enjoying my life as a free person. Regardless of the
threats I receive, I express myself freely and speak my mind
without the fear of being killed by my family and associates.
Do you think that if I lived in Syria I could answer your
questions freely the same way I'm doing it now?
DM: When you earned your American citizenship, you
learned about the U.S. Constitution. What are some important
differences between the American Constitution and Islamic/sharia
law, as you understand them?
WS: In essence, I began learning about the U.S.
Constitution the first moment I arrived in the United States. I
learned about the Constitution not necessarily by reading it but
rather by experiencing life as a free woman - freedom that has
been granted to me under the full protection of the American
Since then, I have been enjoying my
life as a liberated human being, able mentally and
intellectually to make my own choices and by that shape my
"Under Islamic sharia, a
woman is not considered a free being.
She is mentally unfit to
decide her own life."
In contrast, under Islamic sharia,
a woman is not considered a free being. She is mentally unfit to
decide her own life, so she is to be under her husbandís
control. She has no right to marry a man of her choice without
her father's or another male family memberís consent. She has no
right to divorce by her choice or to gain her childrenís custody
in case of divorce. The value of her life is half the value of
In brief, women are the commodity of their husbands and extended
family, and therefore their free choice is entirely restricted
under Islamic sharia.
DM: As a psychiatrist, how important do you feel are
freedom of thought and speech to the emotional, psychological
and spiritual health of a human being?
WS: Humans can't prosper intellectually, mentally and
emotionally without being able to think and express their
thoughts freely. Throughout history, great civilizations have
always been the product of free minds. If we take a look at any
tyrannical society, regardless of the nature of its oppression,
religious or politics, the results are nothing short of
coercion, poverty, and backwardness at all aspects of life.
There is an Arabic saying which we repeat but never apply:
healthy body is always managed by a healthy mind."
It's a matter
of fact that our physical health is also a product of our
healthy mind. Therefore, a human being will never
have a healthy mind unless he is able to nurture and express it
DM: As an ex-Muslim, do you consider yourself an atheist
or secularist, or do you adhere to a different set of religious
beliefs or spiritual practices? Or perhaps none of the above? Do
you agree that people should be free to believe or disbelieve in
religious dogma of whatever kind, so long as they do not impose
it and themselves on others?
I consider myself a spiritual person who believes in
the existence of a divine
power that to some degree controls this universe."
WS: It depends on how we
define secularism. Generally speaking, I consider myself a
spiritual person who believes in the existence of a divine power
that to some degree controls this universe.
I consider this power to be a source
of positive energy that can inspire human beings to be kind and
compassionate. I don't follow a specific religion, but I respect
the right of others to freely choose and practice theirs.
My simple philosophy is, you have
the right to worship a stone, so long as you don't hit me with
DM: If you had one thing you could say to the American
public, what would it be?
WS: In my book, A God Who Hates, I tell my life
story, through which the reader can get an intimate
understanding of life - especially a womanís life in an Islamic
society and the ominous reality of Islam in general. It is
imperative for Americans to get educated about this topic,
including on the foundation of the Islamic religion and its
There are four main entities in our society that need the proper
Government officials -
especially those who deal with our security - must acquire
the knowledge by studying Muslims texts, including Koran and
the Sunna from Arabic sources, word for word without
alteration of the texts.
That will underscore the
predicament of political Islam, which aspires to submit the
western world under islam and sharia.
"The media needs
to avoid being politically correct,
and be forthright in
discussing brutal Islamic related news stories."
The media needs to avoid being
politically correct, and be forthright in discussing brutal
Islamic related news stories. Unfortunately, the
heartbreaking stories of honor killings are gradually
growing in number here in the U.S. as well as in Europe.
The academia needs to avoid
whitewashing Islam and to teach Islamic studies from a
scientific perspective so that students get the correct
information. For example, students need to know the reality
of Jihad from a geopolitical and historical perspective. In
that way they may learn the devastating consequences of
Islamís expansion throughout history and the brutality which
had been used to conquer and spread Islam.
Lastly, non-Muslim proponents of
interfaith dialogue must get a comprehensive education on
various important Islamic concepts from reliable scholars of
Islam as opposed to apologist scholars like Karen Armstrong
and Professor John Esposito. With proper and solid
information, participants in interfaith dialogues need to be
bold enough and ask their Muslim counterparts the harsh and
unpleasant questions regarding Islam. That may generate some
productive outcome in forcing Islamists who are mistakenly
considered "moderates" to unveil their true intentions.
In short, the pervasive political
correctness in our society is an epidemic of great proportions.
With its moral relativism and
multiculturalism, it leads to a drastic decline of Western
values, and if it continues unrestrained, it may well lead to
the destruction of Western civilization as we know it today.
DM: Thank you, Dr. Sultan, for your courage and
intelligence in speaking out on behalf of human rights for
people worldwide. We wholeheartedly support your efforts and
hope you will be safe and active for a very long time.