Praise be to Allah...
Muslims who live in the West have co-existed peacefully with their non-Muslim neighbours for a couple of generations. Their understanding of their role in and responsibilities to society stems from the Quran and Sunnah of the Prophet (peace be upon him). Muslims participate in and actively work with other members in society to constantly improve and enhance living conditions in Western societies. They continue to develop and improve their relationship with and understanding of their adopted society.
However, recently there has been a number of Muslims who insist that Muslims-at-large are disconnected from society and must undertake major changes in order to be integrated in society. This issue recently received much publicity. Indeed, many Muslims are caught up in the hype without examining the issue closer. Thus, the intention of this article is to present a number of points that escape the minds of Muslims when they consider this issue. Although, I do not claim that I‚Äôve encompassed the issue from all its angles, I think that I‚Äôve come pretty close to it by the grace of Allah.
I ask everyone reading this article to suspend their bias on the issue and examine this issue purely on the facts. We are commanded in the Quran to stand for truth and justice even against ourselves and not to follow our desires in judgments. Allah SWT commands us in Surat Al-Nisaa:
يَـٰأَيُّهَا ٱلَّذِينَ ءامَنُواْ كُونُواْ قَوَّامِينَ بِٱلْقِسْطِ شُهَدَاء للَّهِ وَلَوْ عَلَى أَنفُسِكُمْ أَوِ ٱلْوٰلِدَيْنِ وَٱلاْقْرَبِينَ إِن يَكُنْ غَنِيّاً أَوْ فَقَيراً فَٱللَّهُ أَوْلَىٰ بِهِمَا فَلاَ تَتَّبِعُواْ ٱلْهَوَىٰ أَن تَعْدِلُواْ وَإِن تَلْوُواْ أَوْ تُعْرِضُواْ فَإِنَّ ٱللَّهَ كَانَ بِمَا تَعْمَلُونَ خَبِيراً
[4:135] O ye who believe! stand out firmly for justice, as witnesses to Allah, even as against yourselves, or your parents, or your kin, and whether it be (against) rich or poor: for Allah can best protect both. Follow not the lusts (of your hearts), lest ye swerve, and if ye distort (justice) or decline to do justice, verily Allah is well-acquainted with all that ye do
The Prophet (PUBH) also taught us the value of advice and council when He (PUBH) said:
الدّين النصيحة قالها ثلاثًا، قالوا: لمن يا رسول الله؟ قال: لله ولكتابِه ولرسوله ولأئمّةِ المسلمين وعامّتهم رواه مسلم
The religion (Deen) is sincerity. We said: To whom? He said: To Allah and His Book, and His Messenger, and to the leaders of the Muslims and their common folk. It was reported by Muslim.
So I ask Allah SWT to purify my intention and make it sincere for His sake. May Allah SWT accept our deeds, Ameen.
Some of the brothers that I spoke to seem to think that this wave of calls to integrate within the Western societies simply means that Muslims have to participate in the societies that they live in. This can take any form from being nice to your neighbours, being involved in Education and Dawa, etc. This is actually a total lack of understanding of the ideas being promoted and those promoting them.
The truth is that the majority of Muslims are already active participants in society to varying degrees. All Muslims work and interact with coworkers; the majority of Muslims have some kind of interactions with their neighbours; we all pay taxes; some are active participants in many charitable and non-profit organizations; some are active in their local mosques and Islamic Centers; some volunteer at hospitals and elderly homes; some are involved in extra-curricular activities at school or University; many already attend rallies; while others take part in politics.
So that fact of the matter is that Muslims are already active participants of this society. If we compare the percentage of Muslims who are active in their communities, I suspect that it will be comparable to other minority groups. So is the issue then that every single Muslim should be involved? Absolutely not, it would be ludicrous to think that every single Muslim would participate in every single activity available. In fact, not every Canadian participates in every aspect of Canadian society. Everyone participates where they may have an interest or need. This is a fact of life and is human nature.
So what is this call to ‚Äúintegrate‚ÄĚ really about?
To answer this question, we have to remember that those promoting the idea are supposedly academics, or as some people like to call them ‚ÄúThinkers‚ÄĚ. For us to understand academic language, we have to understand the terminology used in light of subject-matter. For example, when a Muslim scholar uses language such as ‚Äúحاجة ‚ÄĚ (need) or ‚Äúمصلحة ‚ÄĚ (interest), we have to understand these terms from Shariah perspective and not merely the linguistic meaning.
So what does Integration mean in the social sciences or humanities?
The Social Sciences Dictionary defines integration as:
The joining of different ethnic groups within a society into a common social life regulated by generally accepted norms and values. This process need not involve the obliteration of distinct ethnic identity, which would be assimilation, but it implies that ethnic identity does not limit or constrain commitment to the common activities, values and goals of the society. Canada's official policy of multi-culturalism assumes that social integration can be achieved without the elimination of the cultural distinctiveness of ethnic groups.
So we have two definitions that must be carefully understood: integration versus assimilation.
Now that we clearly understand the intended meaning behind these terms, let‚Äôs examine the ideas being promoted to determine if the aim of this wave is integration or assimilation.
I will focus my article on the ideas of Dr. Tariq Ramadan, a leading Muslim ‚ÄúThinker‚ÄĚ who has written a number of books and spoke in various conferences about this subject. I‚Äôve collected a number of articles and quotes of Dr. Ramadan and shall base my analysis on them.
To the applause and with the support of the French government, he urges Muslims to integrate. "I deliberately do not lecture in mosques, but in public assembly rooms that are open to everybody. Thousands attend," he said. His message is: "France is not really a bigoted country. Why not participate in this society?"
This statement has shown to be untrue. France's lower house of parliament adopted Tuesday, February 10, with an overwhelming majority a controversial bill that would ban hijab and religious insignia in state schools, despite fierce opposition from the country‚Äôs sizable minorities and international rights groups.
The draft law will pass now to the upper house of parliament, the Senate, for another vote and is expected to become law by the start of the next school year in September.
Saudi Arabia's highest religious authority, grand mufti Sheikh Abdul Aziz al-Sheikh, said that "interfering in the affairs of Muslims regarding hijab is an infringement on the human rights that they (French) say they are defending". The Mufti of Egypt issued a similar statement condemning this law, and so did other well-known scholars around the world.
The government says the bill upholds France's tradition of secularity -- a strict separation of church and state.
But the Muslim community ‚Äď around six million people ‚Äď and several international rights groups view the move as a blow to religious freedom. However, the point here is not what France is trying to impose on Muslims; rather how ‚ÄúMuslims‚ÄĚ try to explain and excuse their actions and even support it!
Religion, Ramadan says, "teaches us to integrate everything that is not contrary to an established principle and to consider it as ours. This is the real universality of Islam, which lies in this principle of absorbing things of whatever origin and which has allowed Muslims to live in, and to make their own, almost all the cultures of the countries in which they have lived, from America to Asia and including West and North Africa. The same thing should occur in the West, where it is also a question of absorbing all dimensions of life not opposed to our beliefs and considering them as completely ours (legally, socially and culturally)." For Ramadan, therefore, there is not, or there need not be, any tension between at the same time claiming a fully Islamic and a Western or European identity.
Firstly, as a student of knowledge, I must correct the statement made by Ramadan. The real universality of Islam is that Allah SWT sent his messenger (PUBH ) to all mankind. Allah SWT then told us that Honour is only through Piety. Allah SWT says in Surat Al-Hujurat:
يَا أَيُّهَا النَّاسُ إِنَّا خَلَقْنَاكُم مِّن ذَكَرٍ وَأُنثَى وَجَعَلْنَاكُمْ شُعُوبًا وَقَبَائِلَ لِتَعَارَفُوا إِنَّ أَكْرَمَكُمْ عِندَ اللَّهِ أَتْقَاكُمْ إِنَّ اللَّهَ عَلِيمٌ خَبِيرٌ
[49:13 ] O mankind! We created you from a single (pair) of a male and a female, and made you into nations and tribes, that ye may know each other (not that ye may despise each other). Verily the most honoured of you in the sight of Allah is (he who is) the most righteous of you. And Allah has full Knowledge and is well-acquainted (with all things).
Now, Ramadan offers no explanation of what he defines as ‚Äúnot contrary to an established principle‚ÄĚ. We all know that Islam is a complete way of life. It has the best moral, ethical, legal, family, and social values and laws on Earth. This is because the Creator of this world SWT revealed it. So I argue that there‚Äôs nothing that we can adopt in values or laws (as suggested by Ramadan) that we don‚Äôt already have. Admittedly, we lack the knowledge and practice of it. Nonetheless, there are really no ‚Äúvalues‚ÄĚ that we need to take from the West. The argument can certainly be made for Education policies, administrative processes and technology, I would agree 100%, but adopting an Education policy or Technological advances certainly doesn‚Äôt require us to have Western or European identities!! Lest we forget the hadith narrated in Bukhari wherein the Prophet (PUBH) warns us of following the People of the Book. He (PUBH ) said:
قال رسول الله صلى الله عليه وسلم : لتتبعن سنن من كان قبلكم شبرا شبرا وذراعا بذراع حتى لو دخلوا جحر ضب تبعتموهم ، قلنا يا رسول الله اليهود والنصارى ؟ قال : فمن
You will the ways of those before you step by step and an arm by an arm even if they would enter a lizard‚Äôs burrow, you would follow them. We said: O Messenger of Allah, [you mean] the Jews and the Christians? He said: Who else!
But for sake of argument, let‚Äôs assume that Muslims ‚Äúintegrate everything that is not contrary to an established principle and to consider it as ours‚ÄĚ, how does that translate to his conclusion that ‚Äútherefore, there is not, or there need not be, any tension between at the same time claiming a fully Islamic and a Western or European identity‚ÄĚ? Why can‚Äôt we adopt these things and maintain our Muslim identity? Going back to the definition of integration, can‚Äôt we share common values such as honesty, truthfulness, organization, management, environment friendliness, etc. and still maintain our unique cultural identity?
This begs the question: what is the definition of ‚ÄėIdentity‚Äô in this context? Is the meaning of identity to Tariq Ramadan the same as what it means to us! This is a crucial point that must be clear before anyone adopts or supports such argument.
We shall see later Ramadan‚Äôs views on such issues as segregation of men & women, Islamic punishments, interest, secular democratic laws, and music, and how he views those as ‚Äúnot contrary to an established principle‚ÄĚ in Islam.
Now let‚Äôs examine Ramadan‚Äôs attitude towards Islamic schooling and education.
One way in which these ideas work in practice is shown in Ramadan's attitude towards Islamic schools and education in part two of his book. A problem for Muslims living in Western societies, Ramadan says, is how to "preserve the flame of faith, the light of spirituality and the fidelity to the teachings of Islam in environments that do not refer to God and in educational systems that do not have much to say about religion". This, he says, has led some Muslims living in Western countries to set up alternative schools offering a Muslim education to Muslim pupils. Ramadan is against such moves for pragmatic reasons as well as for reasons of principle.
On the one hand, he says, it is unlikely that such schools could offer an education to all Muslim pupils that wanted to make use of them, and it would be difficult to ensure that the quality of education offered at such schools met the often very high standards offered in state schools in continental Europe. However, more importantly, the separation of Muslim young people from their peers in this way would defeat the very purpose of education, properly so-called. "Studying what is in the main offered to young generations of Muslims in the West today," Ramadan writes, "one is struck by the fact that what is called an 'education', which should be the transmission of knowledge and of a way of being, is in fact a poorly organized 'instruction'...in principles, rules and obligations often coldly presented in a rigid and austere fashion without soul or humanity."
Ramadan is quick to point out many faults in Islamic Schools, while ignoring the many flaws that plague most government run educational institutions in North America and Europe. I can certainly speak for the Canadian and American Education systems since we hear the cries and calls everyday on television and radio regarding the lack of real education, funding and teachers in the system.
Furthermore, Islamic Schools are required to teach the same curriculum as taught in public schools in order to be certified and recognized as an educational institution. So there‚Äôs no real difference in the subjects being taught, the differences (as we all recognize) are in class-size and teacher training (which are the result of poor funding). And even with these differences, the gap is rapidly closing, because funding cuts have caused public school classrooms to balloon and a real crises in teachers‚Äô education is brewing.
You see Ramadan‚Äôs real objective is to put Muslim children into Western classrooms in order to saturate them with Western values and culture. His aim is to completely disconnect upcoming Muslim generations from any attachments that they may have with their faith, language or origin. He clearly states this when he says:
"‚ÄėStaying loyal to Islam' in the minds of first- generation immigrants [to Europe] meant carrying on the customs of their original countries" in the new European context, Ramadan writes. They "sought, without really being aware of it, to remain Pakistani Muslims in Great Britain or in the United States, Moroccan or Algerian Muslims in France and Turkish Muslims in Germany". However, "with the appearance of the second or third generations problems appeared: seeing their children lose, or no longer recognise themselves in, their Pakistani, Arab or Turkish cultures, parents seemed to believe that their children had at the same time lost their religious identities. But this was far from always being the case: many young Muslims, studying their religion, affirmed their sense of belonging to Islam, while at the same time asserting their distance from their cultures of origin" and claiming new European identities.
We all know from experience (either personally or from others) that children raised in non-Muslim schools largely have grown up with little or no attachment to Islam. Their only claim to Islam is a name that they hold, and some have even changed that.
In response to the statement in bold above, there is absolutely no proof to this statement. Those kids, who grew up in the West and kept their Islamic identity, sensed and maintained their cultural identity very strongly as well. It is those who grew up without any Islamic attachment that lost their cultural identity. This is the reality that we see every single day in our lives.
Experience taught Muslims educators in the West that weekend schools or evening classes in Arabic and Quran have simply failed to provide enough education in and spiritual attachment to Islam. The influence of school and society is simply too strong. This led many Muslims to alternatives in education such as home-schooling. A widely recognized and accepted study published by The Fraser Institute in Canada found that Muslim families were the fastest growing group of home-schoolers. Furthermore, some parents are now sending their children at early ages to intensive study program overseas in order to educate them in Arabic and Islam. Ironically, some of those who celebrate Ramadan‚Äôs ideas have themselves acknowledged the need to travel overseas to receive proper education in Arabic and Islam.
Ramadan largely ignores the fact that even non-Muslim groups have setup their own schooling systems all over North America and Europe in order to maintain their faith and identity. There are fulltime Catholic schools, Jewish schools, French schools (in Canada), and Hispanic schools (in US). Even Quebec residents have recognized that unless they setup special laws and rules within their province, they will completely loose their identity and language. None of these groups have failed to live and co-exist with the mainstream society.
Furthermore, he pays no attention to social laws that Allah SWT put on this earth that are as strong as physical laws. These laws have taught us that peer-pressure is real; that children and teens don‚Äôt want to be different and so they usually follow the more common negative influences than positive ones; and that minorities are influenced by majority and not visa-versa. Hence, one Muslim child in a group of ten non-Muslims will tend to follow their behaviour than influence them with his/her thus loosing any real identity of their own that is based on faith and belief.
فَلَن تَجِدَ لِسُنَّتِ اللَّهِ تَبْدِيلًا وَلَن تَجِدَ لِسُنَّتِ اللَّهِ تَحْوِيلًا
[48:23] (Such has been) the practice of Allah already in the past: no change wilt thou find in the practice of Allah.
So why is it that Muslims, who more than anyone else should hold own to their faith and language, cannot have their own educational institutions? We all recognize that if Arabic is not taught to our children that they will never be able to understand and comprehend our faith to its full extent. But, it is a poison pill sugar-coated in intellect and beautiful words. People like Tariq Ramadan undermine the language of the Quran, the language of the Prophet of Islam (PUBH ) in order to lay claim to a new Islam that is interpreted through inaccurate translations and interpretations. So called ‚ÄúThinkers‚ÄĚ and ‚ÄúIntellectuals‚ÄĚ are being presented to our youth as ‚Äúscholars of Islam‚ÄĚ and give speeches and lectures to thousands promoting their ideas that will only serve to destroy Islam.
Let me substantiate these strong words by Ramadan‚Äôs own claims. In articles written about Tariq Ramadan, the author summarizes Ramadan‚Äôs objectives:
Ramadan's chosen task is to invent an independent European Islam: "We need to separate Islamic principles from their cultures of origin and anchor them in the cultural reality of Western Europe."
Ramadan's goal is to create an independent Western Islam, anchored not in the traditions of Islamic countries but in the cultural reality of the West. He begins by offering a fresh reading of Islamic sources, interpreting them for a Western context and demonstrating how a new understanding of universal Islamic principles can open the door to integration into Western societies.
Do we need to ‚Äúinvent‚ÄĚ a new Islam? What‚Äôs wrong with the Islam that we have? Was there something that the Prophet (PUBH ) missed out on? What is exactly a ‚ÄúWestern Islam‚ÄĚ? Did the Prophet come with an ‚ÄúEastern Islam‚ÄĚ as to require us to invent a ‚ÄúWestern Islam‚ÄĚ?
Furthermore, did the Christians who lived thousands of years in the Islamic culture and under Islamic rule invent a ‚Äúnew Islamized Christianity‚ÄĚ? Why should we seek the lowest standard and accept to be on the tails of civilization instead of trying to claim back our natural position at the forefront of civilization! Allah SWT says in Surat Aal-Imran:
كُنتُمْ خَيْرَ أُمَّةٍ أُخْرِجَتْ لِلنَّاسِ
[3:110] Ye are the best of Peoples, evolved for mankind
How will assimilation into another Ummah help our cause in regaining this status? What‚Äôs the status of our Ummah in Tariq Ramadan‚Äôs vision of a new Islam? Does it exist? Do we need to lose it as well?
It is clear that Ramadan‚Äôs aim of ‚Äúreinterpreting‚ÄĚ Islamic sources and ‚Äúinventing‚ÄĚ an independent Islam is (as quoted above) ‚Äúopen the door to integration into Western societies‚ÄĚ. So the idea is that we need a new religion that will allow us to first lose this Islamic Identity that we held for centuries, and secondly, have European or Western identities. Even at the cost of abandoning the principles and teachings of our Prophet (PUBH) as were practiced and taught by his companions, successors and generations of Muslim scholars.
Every Friday we listen to the khateeb repeat the word of the Prophet (PUBH) that every novelty in religion is an innovation, and every innovation is a misguidance and every misguidance is in hell-fire. It was also reported that the prophet (PUBH) said:
من أحدث في أمرنا هـذا مـا لـيـس مـنه فهـو رد ، رواه الـبـخـاري و مسلم ، وفي رواية لمسلم : مـن عـمـل عـمـلا لـيـس عـلـيه أمـرنا فهـو رد
He who innovates something in this matter of ours that is not of it will have it rejected.
Scholars of Islam documented the evils of innovations in Islam and repeatedly warned about innovators. Ironically, Time Magazine chose Tariq Ramadan as one of ‚ÄúTime‚Äôs 100 Innovators‚ÄĚ claiming that ‚ÄúThe Geneva-based author and university lecturer is creating a new kind of European Islam that bridges his Islamic values and Western culture‚ÄĚ.
Ramadan‚Äôs claims of a ‚Äúnew‚ÄĚ Islam are well documented. Indeed, the 41-year-old Swiss-born is the grandson of Hassan Al Banna, founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. In Cairo, Ramadan immersed himself in Islamic study, completing the full religious training of an imam in less than two years. (Does a 2-year training program qualify him to make these outlandish statements?).
Tariq Ramadan says he is not part of the Muslim Brothers. He has even said that he differed with his grandfather over a number of issues related to Islamic teachings. But whether he likes it or not, his importance lies in the fact that he belongs concomitantly to two discordant identities, an Islamic identity due to his family ties and a European identity due to his upbringing in Switzerland.
"I'm not from the Muslim Brotherhood. My father was, my grandfather was the founder. My uncle is still a member -- but I am not. And I am critical of the organization."
But Ramadan claims he has broken has broken ties with more radical family members -- including brother Hani, who declared himself in favour or stoning adulterous women to death. "I kept quiet for a while. But once it becomes public, I responded right away -- saying that stoning isn't applicable. It's never applicable. I'm asking for a moratorium. My relationship with my brother is very difficult. We've disagreed for 15 years, but before it was possible to talk about some issues. Not anymore."
Does Tariq Ramadan understand Allah‚Äôs word in Surat Al-Maeda when he claims that a punishment isn‚Äôt applicable?
ٱلْيَوْمَ أَكْمَلْتُ لَكُمْ دِينَكُمْ وَأَتْمَمْتُ عَلَيْكُمْ نِعْمَتِى وَرَضِيتُ لَكُمُ ٱلإسْلاَمَ دِينًا
[5:3 ] This day have I perfected your religion for you, completed My favor upon you, and have chosen for you Islam as your religion.
Indeed Ramadan is not only against Islamic corporal punishments, but other issues as well directly opposing accepted rulings of Scholars of higher Islamic knowledge, piety and intellect.
Take, for instance, the harshest Islamic corporal punishments, such as stoning adulterous wives or cutting off the hands of thieves. Ramadan personally finds such penalties unacceptable and un-Islamic. He believes a moratorium should be called on them while Islamic scholars ask themselves three questions: What is in the texts? How does the contemporary context affect how we read the texts? Is the policy implementable?
I ask: were the well-documented and authentic events about punishments in the time of the Prophet (PUBH) un-Islamic? Did the Prophet (PBUH) or his companions and all these Muslims who succeeded them commit actions contrary to Islam? I‚Äôll let the reader decide that...
Ramadan's critics argue that he cannot be part of the European Social Forum as long as he subscribes to a philosophy that rejects the notion of progress and does not condemn the veil. In their televised debate, the French Interior minister tried to embarrass Ramadan by raising the issue of Islamic punishments such as stoning women who commit adultery and amputating the hands of thieves. Ramadan resorted to ijtihad (one of the four sources of Islam that is used to find the doctrinal solution to new problems) to come forward with alternatives to such practices.
Does Tariq Ramadan have any idea what Ijtihad is and how it is regulated and who‚Äôs authorized to do it? Or is he simply planting these words in the minds of ignorant Muslims so that they may abandon the well-established rules and laws in Islam for their own Ijtihad?
The audience has questions, both during the lecture and after it, when young men detain Ramadan for about an hour. What about music? Education? Veiling? Ramadan offers prohibitions, but mild ones. Music is allowed, but only if it elevates the soul. Veiling should be welcomed as a spiritual act, but no woman should be forced to veil. Islamic education should be offered extracurricularly, but Muslims should take advantage of French public schools like everyone else.
Ramadan does not approve of segregating mosques. He believes women should be permitted to interpret the Koran, and he waxes enthusiastic about Muslim feminist movements. It occurs to me to wonder exactly how many imams are likely to think like Ramadan does, even in a hypothetical reformed Islamist state.
How does Ramadan find justification for his claims? It seems that he‚Äôs accepted the Orientalists‚Äô view of re-interpreting the Quran in ways contrary to the methodologies taught by scholars of the past and present.
The Koran, Ramadan maintains, is open to multiple interpretations that take historical and cultural context into account. But that doesn't mean Muslims should assimilate blindly. Don't watch vulgar television or wear shoes made in sweatshops, he admonishes.
‚ÄúTo look at whether Islam can be integrated into this secular culture. My point is not to remove (original Islamic) texts but to find a new way to read them, because we are now reading them in an era of constitutions, and national legislation, and secularism.‚ÄĚ
Ramadan is deceptively choosing less controversial words by saying ‚Äúreading it again with an open mind‚ÄĚ instead of rejecting Islamic texts outright. However, the end result is the same: changing Islam. In essence, he‚Äôs proposing to change the Muslim Identity in order to integrate it into the Western Identity. Tariq Ramadan claims the he wants to maintain his Islamic identity, yet he‚Äôs proposing to change it to make more adaptable to the Western Identity. This is an absolute fallacy.
And where exactly will we find this new way of reading Islamic texts? Is it with Ramadan whose Western education and upbringing has created confusion in his mind of how to maintain his faith while becoming a full citizen of Europe? He claims that this is a revolution in thinking! I believe it is confusion in thinking.
Ramadan believes it's time to abandon the dichotomy in Muslim thought that has defined Islam in opposition to the West. "I can incorporate everything that's not opposed to my religion into my identity," he says, "and that's a revolution."
Muslims living in the West know what secularism is about. They can have a tremendous impact on the Muslim world. Not to promote secularism there, but to let them know each country can find its own model.
For majority Muslim societies like those of the Middle East, Ramadan envisions a reformed, moderate, but nonetheless Islam-based political and legal system. In the end, such a system would look a lot like Western secular democracy, he says, though its legitimacy would derive from Islamic sources.
Once again, Ramadan clearly shows how strongly influenced he is by Western values and system. He sees the West as the model that needs to be resembles and imitated. That is why he wants to change his own religion in order to adhere to Western civilization.
His commitment to Western lifestyle, thought and culture has made one of the staunchest enemies of Islam and a document Zionist, Daniel Pipes; praise him for his revolutionary ideas:
"Ramadan, a Swiss-born philosopher and specialist on Islam who teaches these subjects at the University of Fribourg (and the grandson of Hasan al-Banna, founder of the Muslim Brethren), has taken an important step toward this reassessment by writing a thoughtful and moderate analysis. To the vexed question, whether Europe should be seen as Dar al-Islam or Dar al-Harb (the traditional distinction between lands under Muslim rule and those not, with the implication that the latter should be taken by force), Ramadan replies that these concepts are seriously outdated; instead, he proposes seeing Europe as Dar ash-Shahada, a "space of testimony" within which "Muslims are sent back to the essential teachings of Islam" so that they can contribute to "promoting good and equity within and through human brotherhood" by bringing the strengths of the Islamic message to their mostly non-Muslim societies. (In other words, unlike some other authors, Ramadan is not calling for the conversion of the West to Islam.)
To the no less troublesome question of whether Muslims can be loyal citizens of Western countries, Ramadan replies that when Muslim immigrants sign a work contract or accept a visa, they also recognize the "binding character of the constitution or the laws of the country they enter into and then live in." Unless the government specifically contradicts Islamic ways (something that hardly ever happens), Muslims are obliged to be loyal citizens and to influence the polity in constructive ways. Their goal should be to be "in Europe but at home." To be a Muslim in Europe ideally "means to interact with the whole of society." Ultimately, a European Islam should emerge, much as there already exists an African or Asian Islam."
Not only is this idea of Dar ash-Shahada has no basis in any recognized Islamic literature that is based on the Quran and Sunnah. Strangely, the same people who accept and support Tariq Ramadan‚Äôs arguments are those who are quick to accept Dr. Yousef al-Qaradawi‚Äôs fatwa on mortgage (the fatwa‚Äôs main proof is that non-Muslim societies are Dar Al-Harb). So I ask, do we not accept dealing with the Riba in this new Dar ash-Shahada? Or do we still accept Dr. Qaradawi‚Äôs permission in dealing with Riba as part of Dar Al-Harb? Or do we choose whatever makes us be like the Westerns of whatever opinion and thoughts. Indeed this is what Allah condemns in Surat Al-Baqara:
أَفَتُؤْمِنُونَ بِبَعْضِ ٱلْكِتَـٰبِ وَتَكْفُرُونَ بِبَعْضٍ
[2:85] Then is it only a part of the Book that ye believe in, and do ye reject the rest?
Tariq Ramadan is simply following in the footsteps of Jamal ad-Deen al-Irani (who‚Äôs deceitfully known as al-Afghani, Mohamad Abdu, Refa‚Äôa At-Tahtawi, Ahmad Lutfi As-Sayid, Ahmad Ameen, Qasim Ameen, Taha Hussain, and others who attached themselves to Islam, but promoted and called for adopting the values and systems of colonial powers. They, as is Tariq Ramadan, were praised by the Colonial Powers as positive forces of change and advancement for the Islamic world. This is no real surprise to those who study the history of Orientalists from the time of Napoleon‚Äôs invasion of Egypt, through Mohamad Ali Basha and through the turn of the Twentieth Century as documented by Mahmoud Mohamad Shakir, Mohamad Mohamad Hussein, and other historian and literaries of Ahl As-Sunnah wal-Jama‚Äôah. To understand our present, we need to learn past history and understand look into the roots of these claims and who laid the foundation for them and what their aims and objectives are. Of course, this is not the avenue to uncover history.
We must wake up and realize that we are part of a long history. We do not live in a time capsule, independent of our past. As they say the past shapes the future and what you reap the fruits of what you plant today.
There‚Äôs a real crisis right now, many of our youth are answering these calls with absolutely no knowledge. They are mesmerized by the celebrity-status and momentum that sweeping everyone in its path.
Indeed ‚ÄúRight now in Europe, however, there is a generation of Muslims hanging on Ramadan's every word. Is he making moderates into Islamists, or Islamists into moderates? From a secular point of view, only the second option may be desirable. To Ramadan, however, the two processes are inseparable: They are two halves of a whole. ‚ÄĚ
Moreover, many leaders of Muslim organizations, mosques and Islamic Centers are now ignorantly calling for and adopting such ideas. In my opinion, these leaders are inspired a combination of these factors:
1. Personal financial or materialistic gain.
2. Fame and/or status among their community.
3. Because this idea is consistent with the individuals lifestyle.
4. Because this idea fits well with the individual‚Äôs personality.
5. The individual has weak Iman and just wants to fit in.
6. Or simply because they are fooled by these claims due to lack of knowledge (and this is the majority).
I see Tariq Ramadan and those ‚ÄúThinkers‚ÄĚ who share his ideology as an extension of this mass wave of attack on the religion of Islam. This is not about integration; it‚Äôs about assimilation and adoption of all that is secular and abandonment of the Muslim identity. This is a concerted effort by the enemies of Islam as Allah told us in the Quran to remove any reference to God on His Earth. We should have no doubts about that and should learn the true teaching of Islam, promote teachings based on Quran and Sunnah, warn against such individuals and their ideas, and not fear isolation or backlash because this is our religion and we will be asked by Allah about what we did to defend it.
As Ibn Al-Qayim says:
يقول ابن القيّم رحمه الله: " إذا رُزق العقلُ الغريزيّ عقلاً إيمانيًّا مستفادًا من مشكاةِ النبوّة، لا عقلاً معيشيًّا نفاقيًّا يظنّ أربابُه أنّهم على شيء، ألا إنّهم هم الكاذبون، فإنّهم يرونَ العقلَ أن يُرضوا الناسَ على طبقاتِهم ويسالِموهم ويستجلِبوا مودّتهم ومحبّتهم، وهذا مع أنّه لا سبيلَ إليه فهو إيثارٌ للرّاحة والدّعَة ومؤونةِ الأذى في الله والمحبّة فيه والبُغض فيه، وهو إن كان أسلمَ في العاجلةِ فهو الهَلك في الآجلة، فإنّه ما ذاق طعمَ الإيمان من لم يحبَّ في الله ويبغِض فيه، فالعقلُ كلّ العقل ما أوصَل إلى رضا الله ورسوله " انتهى كلامه رحمه الله.
If he granted the instinctive mind, a fiducial mind benefited from the prophethood niche, not a hypocritical living mind whose masters think that they are on a something, so verily they are the liars, verily they see that it‚Äôs sound to satisfy people on their classes and reconcile with them and ask for their cordiality and their love, and this is a preference of the ease and the protection from the harm that stems from loving for Allah and hating for His sake, and though it is safer in the present life, it is devastation in the afterlife, verily he who has not tasted the belief is the one who did not love in Allah and hate for His sake. Then the sound mind is what delivers to the satisfaction of Allah and its messenger (PBUH).
1. To Be a European Muslim: A Study of Islamic Sources in the European Context by Tariq Ramadan. Leicester, U.K.: Islamic Foundation, 1999/1420. 273 pp. ¬£19.95 (¬£9.95, article). Middle East Quarterly, December 2000. Reviewed by Daniel Pipe
2. Muslim Scholar Tariq Ramadan by Elizabeth Bryant. United Press International. January 19, 2004.
3. The reformer by Laura Secor. Boston Globe. November 11, 2003.
4. Trying to Bridge A Great Divide by NICHOLAS LE QUESNE. Time Magazine.
5. Muslim reformer declares war on clich√©d thinking by Uwe Siemon-Netto. UNITED PRESS INTERNATIONAL.
6. The furore over Tariq Ramadan by Mohamed Sid-Ahmed. Al-Ahram Weekly. January 1, 2004.
7. Futures for the West's Muslims by David Tresilian. Al-Ahram Weekly. January 15, 2004.