Tariq Ramadan…Tariq Ramadan…Tariq Ramadan, prospero aÃ±o y felicidad…Tariq Ramadan…Tariq Ramadan…from the bottom of my heart…
“I hope that these answers shed some clarifications,” says putative “Muslim Martin Luther” Tariq Ramadan at the end of this Q&A with readers at the Globe and Mail. It’s an interesting elision of “shed some light” and “provide some clarifications,” making the whole statement ambiguous: did he mean to make things clear, or to shed — i.e., get rid of — clarity? And certainly his answers often display the artful ambiguity for which he has become renowned.
Alexander Baillie from Munster, Canada writes: Citizens in the West generally take a live-and-let-live approach to other religions and cultures, including Islam. Westerners also discriminate between ordinary Muslims and their extremist co-religionists. But too many Muslim acts — such as fatwas against authors, riots and murders in response to cartoons and other intimidating behaviors that threaten freedom of expression — reinforce the impression that Islam cannot and will not accept criticism. Is Islam compatible with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Does Islam accept a division between mosque and state? (Or is Turkey fighting a losing battle?) Does Islam attach negative attributes to “infidels” or require any negative response to them — as opposed to tolerating others’ religious freedom?
Tariq Ramadan: Many questions in one. You are right on your first assessment — it is as if the Muslims are always overreacting. Nevertheless, I think that the images from abroad should not mislead us. In Canada, as well as in the US or in Europe, Muslims were reacting very often in a reasonable way and this is a good sign. Millions of Muslims are already showing you that they accept life in secular societies, that they respect the laws and are loyal to their Western countries: Do not be misled by the few who are making noise and shouting.
The first thing Muslism should do is to translate the Arabic words in the right way: kafir does not mean “infidel” or “disbeliever” but “someone who does not recognise the last message as the truth.” It is a statement, not an insult. Lots of work to do in the field of education”¦.
No answer at all, you’ll notice, to the key questions: “Is Islam compatible with Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms? Does Islam accept a division between mosque and state?” Ramadan says, “Millions of Muslims are already showing you that they accept life in secular societies, that they respect the laws and are loyal to their Western countries.” But the behavior of individual Muslims, who may or may not be strictly adhering to the tenets of Islam, and who may or may not be hoping eventually to establish Islamic law in their new countries, and working to that end, doesn’t actually tell us anything about whether or not Islam is compatible with Western constititional government.
And the redefinition of “kafir” just makes a distinction without a difference.
R. Carriere from Canada writes: Good day. One simple (and complex) question: Can you please explain the term “Jihad?”
Tariq Ramadan: It is a complex question indeed for it is at the heart of the Islamic teaching. First, jihad is neither “holy war” nor “crusade.” Jihad means effort and resistance. Our first natural inner state, as human beings, is not peace but tension. Tensions between our bad temptations and our positive aspirations. We need to get inner peace by controlling our self: This resistance is an inner jihad. While facing oppression, our resistance is in the same way a jihad. In fact the very meaning of jihad is to go from natural or potential tensions, conflicts or war towards inner serenity and collective peace. Jihad is the way toward peace “¦ exactly the opposite of what is sometime understood by non Muslims “¦ as well as some Muslims.
“Jihad means effort and resistance.” Might that mean military effort and violent resistance against non-Muslim states and individuals? Ramadan doesn’t rule it out. What constitutes “oppression”? Is oppression the very fact of rule by any law other than Sharia, as many Islamic spokesman have asserted? Ramadan doesn’t say.
Jeff Kelly from Kitchener writes: I have read that the tenets of Islam call for the creation of an Islamic state; that a “secular government” as seperate from Islam is a Western idea that is incompatible with true Islam. Is this true? Does true Islam require its followers to work towards a state following the ideals/beliefs of Islam?
Tariq Ramadan: This is the problem we have with some Islamic trends and groups. They are confusing the historical models with the eternal principals. For them to remain faithful to the Islamic principles you have to duplicate what the Prophet (PBUH) and the Companions did in a specific time. They want to imitate the model and think that there is something like an “Islamic model” to be distinguished from the “Western model.” This is a clear reduction based on a deep misunderstanding. The Islamic principles (such as rule of law, equality, accountability, majority decision process, etc.) are universal, and the Muslims should find new models according to their new environment and the new era. I tried to show that in my last book by trying to draw spiritual and contemporary lessons for our time from the prophetic experience in the 7th Century. It is important to repeat that principles are universal, and models historical — they must evolve and change.
Again, no clear answer. Does seeking “new models” mean that there should be no Islamic state? Ramadan, surprise surprise, does not make this clear.