Tariq Ramadan

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Tariq Said Ramadan (born 26 August 1962 in Geneva, Switzerland) is a Swiss Muslim academic and theologian. He advocates a reinterpretation of Islamic texts, and emphasizes the heterogeneous nature of Islamic society. He believes that Muslims in Europe have to establish a new "European Islam" and emphasizes the necessity for their engagement in European society.

Ramadan is professor of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford University and chairs a Brussels-based think tank, the European Muslim Network.

Biography

His maternal grandfather Hassan al Banna founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt. His father, Said Ramadan, was a prominent figure in the Muslim Brotherhood as well, and was expelled from Egypt by Gamal Abdul Nasser for his activities in that organization. He later settled in Switzerland where Tariq was born.[1] Tariq Ramadan graduated a year early and studied philosophy, literature and social sciences at University of Geneva. He studied philosophy and French literature at the Masters level, and Arabic and Islamic studies for his PhD. He wrote his dissertation on Friedrich Nietzsche.[2] He also studied Arabic and Islam at Al Azhar Islamic university in Cairo, Egypt. He later held a lectureship in Religion and Philosophy at the University of Fribourg and the College de Saussure, Geneva, Switzerland.[3] In October 2005 he began teaching at St Antony's College at the University of Oxford on a Visiting Fellowship.[4] Since 2005 he has been a senior research fellow at the Lokahi Foundation.

Ramadan is married and has 4 children. His wife is French and converted to Islam after their marriage. His brother, Hani Ramadan lives in Geneva, where he is a French teacher and the director of the Islamic Centre of Geneva.

Ramadan established the Movement of Swiss Muslims in Switzerland. He has taken part in interfaith seminars and has sat on a commission of “Islam and Secularism.” He is an advisor to the EU on religious issues. He is widely interviewed and has produced about 100 tapes which sell tens of thousands of copies each year.[5]

Bill Clinton invited Ramadan to speak at a couple of events in the United States. He is an advisor to various governments, including the UK and EU.

In September 2005 he was invited to join a task force by the Government of the United Kingdom]. On the 6th November 2007 Tariq Ramadan became candidate for the professorship in Islamic studies at the University of Leiden [6]. He is also guest professor of Identity and Citizenship at Erasmus University Rotterdam.

U.S. visa revocation

In February 2004, he accepted the tenured position of Luce professor of religion at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, U.S. However, in late July 2004, his visa was revoked by the State Department, and he was forced to resign the position.[7]

In September 2006, a State Department statement said: "A U.S. consular officer has denied Dr. Tariq Ramadan's visa application. The consular officer concluded that Dr. Ramadan was inadmissible based solely on his actions, which constituted providing material support to a terrorist organization."[8][9] Between December 1998 and July 2002, Ramadan had given donations totalling $940 to two charity organizations, the Comité de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens (CBSP) and the Association de Secours Palestinien (ASP).[10] The United States Treasury designated both the CBSP and ASP terrorist fundraising organizations for their alleged links to Hamas on August 22, 2003.[11] The U.S. Embassy told Ramadan that he "reasonably should have known" that the charities provided money to Hamas. In an article in The Washington Post, Ramadan asked: "How should I reasonably have known of their activities before the U.S. government itself knew?"[12]

Views

Ramadan works primarily on Islamic theology and the position of Muslims in Europe. In general he believes in constantly reinterpreting the Qur'an in order to correctly understand Islamic philosophy. He also emphasises the difference between religion and culture, which he believes are too often confused. Relatedly, he thinks that citizenship and religion are two separate concepts which should not be mixed. He claims that there is no conflict between being a Muslim and a European at the same time; a Muslim must accept the laws of his country, except in rare circumstances.

He believes that European Muslims must create a "European Islam" just as there is a separate "Asian Islam" and "African Islam", which take into account cultural differences. (This is disputed by orthodox Muslims, who believe that there is only one, true Islam.) By this he means that European Muslims must re-examine the fundamental texts of Islam (primarily the Qu'ran) and interpret them in light of their own cultural background, influenced by European society.

He rejects a binary separation of the world into dar al-Islam (the abode of Islam) and dar al-harb (the abode of war), since such separation was never mentioned in the Qur'an. He believes that European Muslims could be said to live in dar al-Dawa (space of testimony) in which Muslims are "witnesses before mankind" and are forced to consider the fundamental principles of Islam and take responsibility for their faith.


He stresses that a Muslim's freedom of religion is very extensive in Europe, and that permission for "un-Islamic" activities, such as drinking, or pre-marital sex, does not compel Muslims to do anything. Only a few situations warrant the invocation of the "clause of conscience" which allows a Muslim to make it clear that certain actions or behaviours are in contradiction of their faith. These are, participating in a war whose sole desire is for power or control; fighting or killing a fellow Muslim, unless their attitude is unjust or wrong; participating in an unlawful transaction (such as purchasing insurance, burial, incorrect slaughter). He stresses that in such cases the situation should be carefully analysed, and the degree of compulsion considered. Only non-violence and negotiation are acceptable in these cases.[13]

Politically, Ramadan was opposed to the 2003 invasion of Iraq.

Ramadan wrote that the Muslim response to Pope Benedict XVI's speech on Islam was disproportionate, and was encouraged by reactionary Islamic regimes in order to distract their populations, and that it did not improve the position of Islam in the world.[14]

Oumma.com article controversy

Ramadan wrote an article entitled, Les (nouveaux) intellectuels communautaires, which French newspapers Le Monde and Le Figaro refused to publish. Oumma.com did eventually publish it. In the article he criticizes a number of Jewish intellectuals and figures such as Alexandre Adler, Alain Finkielkraut, Bernard-Henri Lévy, André Glucksmann and Bernard Kouchner, for allegedly abandoning universal human rights, and giving special status to the defence of Israel. He argued that support for the invasion of Iraq was justified as a means of defending Israel. He also criticized Paul Wolfowitz whom he called a notable Zionist.[15] Ramadan was accused, in return, of anti-semitism and having used inflammatory language.[16].

Critical reception

Some academics have greeted his works with some enthusiasm, detecting liberalising and rationalising tendencies.[17] Paul Donnelly at Salon.com asked rhetorically: "Tariq Ramadan: The Muslim Martin Luther?".[18]

Neoconservative and pro-Zionist sources have charged Ramadan in publications with Encounter Books (a project of David Horowitz) with saying different things to different audiences; one thing to radical Islamists or young Muslims, and another to the western media or academia. For example Caroline Fourest analysed Tariq Ramadan's 15 books, 1,500 pages of interviews, and approximately 100 recordings,[19][20] and concludes "Ramadan is a war leader," and the "political heir of his grandfather," Hassan al-Banna, stating that his discourse is, "often just a repetition of the discourse that Banna had at the beginning of the 20th century in Egypt," and that he, "presents [al-Banna] as a model to be followed."[5] She argues that "Tariq Ramadan is slippery. He says one thing to his faithful Islamist followers and something else entirely to his Western audience. His choice of words, the formulations he uses – even his tone of voice – vary, chameleon-like, according to his audience.",[21]

Ramadan vehemently denies contacts with terrorists or other Islamic fundamentalists and the charges of anti-Semitism and double talk, who attributes the charges to misinterpretation and an unfamiliarity with his writings.[22] He stated: "I have often been accused of this 'double discourse', and to those who say it, I say - bring the evidence. I am quite clear in what I say. The problem is that many people don't want to hear it, particularly in the media. Most of the stories about me are completely untrue: journalists simply repeat black propaganda from the internet without any corroboration, and it just confirms what they want to believe. Words are used out of context. There is double-talk, yes, but there is also double-hearing. That is what I want to challenge."[23] To criticism of his response to September 11th, Ramadan replies that two days after the attacks he had published an open letter, exhorting Muslims to condemn the attacks and the attackers, and not to "hide behind conspiracy theories."[24], and that less than two weeks after the attack he had stated that “The probability [of bin Laden's guilt] is large, but some questions remain unanswered … But whoever they are, bin Laden or others, it is necessary to find them and that they be judged,” and that the interview was conducted when no evidence was publicly available.[25]

Articles

Books, external links, notes

Written by Tariq Ramadan


About Tariq Ramadan

External links

Website

http://www.tariqramadan.com/welcome.php3

References

  1. ref needed
  2. http://www.opendemocracy.net/xml/xhtml/articles/1996.html
  3. http://www.tariqramadan.com/rubrique.php3?id_rubrique=13;
  4. Islamic scholar gets Oxford job - BBC - Saturday, 27 August 2005
  5. 5.0 5.1 The State Dept. Was Right to deny Tariq Ramadan a visa, Olivier Guitta, Weekly Standard, 10/16/2006, Volume 012, Issue 05
  6. "Omstreden moslimtheoloog op Leidse leerstoel", Elsevier.nl 6 November 2007 (Dutch)
  7. Lacking Visa, Islamic Scholar Resigns Post at Notre Dame - Washington Post - Wednesday, December 15, 2004
  8. Judge Orders U.S. to Decide if Muslim Scholar Can Enter - NY Times, 24 June 2006
  9. Oxford Professor Denied Visa Due to Alleged Hamas Links - NY Sun, 26 September 2006
  10. Why I’m Banned in the USA, Tariq Ramadan, Washington Post, October 1 2006; Page B01
  11. United States Treasury. Office of Terrorism and Financial Intelligence. Available [1] Accessed 13 March 2007.
  12. Why I’m Banned in the USA, Tariq Ramadan, Washington Post, October 1 2006; Page B01
  13. Ramadan, Tariq. To Be a European Muslim (1999) ISBN 0-86037-300-2
  14. A struggle over Europe's religious identity - Tariq Ramadan for the International Herald Tribune. 20 September, 2006
  15. agircontrelaguerre.free.fr
  16. denistouret.net
  17. For Example: Western Muslims and the Future of Islam., By: Brown, L. Carl, Foreign Affairs, Jan/Feb2005, Vol. 84, Issue 1
  18. Tariq Ramadan: The Muslim Martin Luther?, Paul Donnelly, Salon.com, February 15 2002
  19. http://www.encounterbooks.com/books/brothertariq/
  20. Extracts of the book here
  21. http://www.encounterbooks.com/books/brothertariq/
  22. What you fear is not who I am, Tariq Ramadan, Globe and Mail, August 30 2004
  23. "Not a Fanatic after all?" Hussey, Andrew. New Statesman, 9/12/2005, Vol. 134 Issue 4757, p16-17. http://www.newstatesman.com/200509120007
  24. http://www.tariqramadan.com/article.php3?id_article=68&lang=en
  25. http://www.islamicamagazine.com/content/view/96/62/