Sandro Magister turns in an illuminating report on new Notre Dame professor Tariq Ramadan, whose carefully ambiguous statements about Islam and the Sharia I examine in Onward Muslim Soldiers. This from Chiesa:
A Muslim intellectual has achieved star status in French-speaking Europe. He draws crowds of young immigrants and speaks to them with charismatic fervor. He enchants the anti-globalization left and the readers of “Le Monde Diplomatique.” He cites with equal mastery the Koran and Nietzsche, Heidegger and the sayings of the Prophet. He is admired by Fr. Michel Lelong, the leading Islam’s scholar of the Church in France. He sells thousands of cassette recordings of his sermons. His name is Tariq Ramadan. . . .
In recent months he has been accused of anti-Semitism. He has had harsh confrontations with influential Jewish intellectuals such as Bernard-Henri Levy, AndrÃ© Glucksmann, and Bernard Kouchner. “Le Monde” and other important newspapers have published critical reviews about him. But for Ramadan, this is all proof of the rightness of his position and of the West’s innate hostility toward Islam.
The phenomenon of Tariq Ramadan wasn’t born in a vacuum. His maternal grandfather, an Egyptian, is Hassan Al-Banna, who in 1929 founded the Muslim Brotherhood, the most important Islamist movement of the twentieth century. His father, an exile in Geneva, was one of its most active promoters. And his brother Hani — with whom Tariq denies having connections — directs, also in Geneva, an Islamic center accused of contact with the terrorist network of Al-Qaeda.
But his ideological allegiances are more important than his ancestry. Tariq Ramadan — working within the very heart of the West — weaves together Islamic politics and the radical criticisms of Western rationalism made by Nietzsche, Heidegger, Cioran, GuÃ©non, and neo-Marxist and anti-global currents. . . .
Tariq Ramadan also sees the West in decline. And into the spiritual void left by Judaism and Christianity, Islam can enter and overcome, no longer enduring modernity, but islamicizing it. The Western public likes Ramadan because his vision includes elements of democracy, equal citizenship, and free expression. He debates both secularized Muslims and those who separate themselves in closed communities. He announces the birth of a fully European Islam. And he ventures on this long journey armed with the doctrine of the taqiyya, or the art of dissimulation, a typical Islamic practice on enemy soil.
In Italy, the most acute analysis of this anti-Western soul from a Muslim point of view is found in the book “Global Islam” by Khaled Fouad Allam, an Algerian, professor of Islamic studies at the universities of Trieste and Urbino.
Then there is an article by the Orthodox theologian Olivier ClÃ©ment:
There have certainly always been in France, and there still are, fundamentalist currents of complete hatred and refusal toward Western culture. But these instances from other times have never been able to demolish or even exploit the juridical and mental structures of our society.
The new ideology is now well defined. Its spokesman, at least in France and all of Western Europe, is Tariq Ramadan. Ramadan does not hide himself or devise conspiracies. While affirming his Muslim faith, he presents himself as a great Western intellectual. Young and handsome, he speaks with mastery and clarity the language of the intelligentsia of Western Europe. He teaches philosophy, French literature, and Islamic studies at the University of Geneva. At the same time, he works for Muslim groups like “Young Muslims of France,” and has assured himself of a role as an expert among the commissions that revolve around the European parliament. His media presence does not cease growing. He is author of more than a dozen works, including “Les musulmans dans la laÃ¯citÃ©,” “Aux sources du renouveau musulman,” and “Les musulmans d”occident et l”avenir de l”islam.” He is a frequent guest on television and radio, and he circulates pamphlets in French or Arabic among young Muslims.
He proposes a “reformist” and “all-encompassing” Islam. His aim would seem to be that of bringing forth a body of values beginning from Islamic sources, an embodiment of the universal vocation that would take the place of the values of Western civilization. What matters to him is affirming Muslim identity and presenting it as the source of true universality.
Beginning from the statement that the fulcrum of historical movement is now constituted by the Europe-North America combination, with the Muslim countries relegated to the periphery, Ramadan notes how there are nonetheless many Muslims, especially intellectuals, who have succeeded in becoming part of the nucleus. He thus invites them to refashion it and, little by little, islamicize it: “References to Judaism and Christianity are being diluted, if not disappearing altogether” (“Les musulmans d”occident e l”avenir de l”islam,” Actes Sud-Sinbad, 2003). “Only Islam can achieve the synthesis between Christianity and humanism, and fill the spiritual void that afflicts the West” (“Islam, le face Ã face des civilisations,” Tawhid, 2001).
And again: “The Koran confirms, completes, and corrects the messages that preceded it” (“Les messages musulmans d”occident”). Some Christian personalities whose charitable works cannot be misconstrued — Mother Teresa, Sister Emanuelle, AbbÃ© Pierre, Fr. Helder Camara — are exceptions who show only that all good people are implicitly Muslims, because true humanism is founded in Koranic revelation. Thus, both directly and through this humanism, the “Muslim City” can be founded upon the earth. “Today the Muslims who live in the West must unite themselves to the revolution of the antiestablishment groups from the moment when the neoliberal capitalist system becomes, for Islam, a theater of war [“¦] The revelation of the Koran is explicit: whoever engages in speculation or cultivates financial interests eneters into war against the transcendent” (“Pouvoirs,” 2003, n. 164).
Tariq Ramadan then insists — justly — on the long-neglected intellectual riches of the great Muslim thinkers like Al-Kindi, Al-Farabi, Avicenna, and Averroes, but he forgets to situate them in their relation to Greek, Jewish, and Christian thought, and presents them as the true originators of humanism.
Jacques Jomier has efficiently summed up the goal that drives Tariq Ramadan: “His problem is not the modernization of Islam, but the islamification of modernity” (“Esprit et Vie,” February 17, 2000). We must not forget that Ramadan is the nephew of Hassan Al-Banna, the founder of the Islamic movement of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, a man Ramadan considers an eminent representative of “reformist” Islam, capable of bringing about an endogenous alternative culture from within modernity (“Peut-on vivre avec l”islam?”, Favre, 1990). . . .
There is much more. Read it all. And then read about Al-Banna in Onward Muslim Soldiers, and you will get a clearer picture of the kind of “reformist Islam” he had in mind.