TARIQ RAMADAN DISCOVERS HIS INNER FLOWER CHILD
By Jonathan Gelbart
Sponsored by the Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies, the event was packed, with people spilling out the auditorium doors and standing in the aisles. The audience of at least 250 appeared to consist largely of Muslims and non-students, most of whom hung on Ramadan's every word. In summing up the palpable awe of the audience, Stanford Religious Studies Professor Shahzad Bashir, who gave the introduction, gushed:
Ramadan is HH Sheikh Hamad Bin Khalifa Al Thani Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University, Oxford, England, and, despite his extensive writings on the subject of contemporary Islam, he adhered closely to the title of his talk, rarely mentioning religion until the question and answer session.
In the first of what would become a series of open-ended, philosophical questions, Ramadan began by asking the audience how to find meaning in the relatively short time they are given on earth. "What is the meaning [of all this]?" he asked rhetorically. After pausing for a moment, he added an unexpectedly blunt and morbid caveat: "One day you will not be able to pose that question -- because you are all going to die." The audience responded with nervous laughter.
Ramadan then lamented the lack of understanding between the ethnic majority populations in "pluralistic societies," or developed nations, and the minorities. He argued that education is the key to reconciliation: "You have to educate yourself by [leaving your] comfort zone and [understanding] other traditions hands on." He pointed to the existence of "segregated societies" in the U.S.A., Britain, and other countries as evidence that many "pluralistic societies" were not rising to the occasion and that "the Anglo-Saxon model of hybrid identities is failing." He pointed favorably, however, to France's de facto model of allowing ethnic communities to form their own enclaves, instead of integrating into French society. Perhaps he forgot about the 2005 teenage immigrant rampage through the banlieues or the recent ban on face-coverings. It seems that multiculturalism's sharp decline in popularity has yet to reach Ramadan.
He continued by delineating the three concepts that make up a peaceful and progressive society: humility, respect, and consistency. Humility, he explained, means believing that "the other [religious] traditions have something to give me. [It] means listening first and then talking." Ramadan defined respect with the following sentiment: "Not only am I humble with what I think, but I acknowledge the fact that your opinion is legitimate, although I don't share it and I don't understand it." He contrasted respect with the concept of tolerance, arguing that "tolerance is about power" (as in, a superior deciding to tolerate an underling), while "respect is on an equal footing." Ramadan's description of the final dimension, consistency, deserves to be quoted in full, if only because the world would be a more peaceful place if his radical co-religionists would take it to heart:
Ramadan's point was that congratulating oneself for moral superiority over opponents is unhelpful and that judging cultural ideals against real practices is an unfair comparison. The problem with all this high-minded rhetoric is that Ramadan's behavior can hardly be called humble, respectful, or consistent. In 2004, he was banned from entering the U.S. after it was discovered that he had donated funds to a charity with ties to Hamas, the Palestinian terrorist organization designated as such by the European Union, Canada, Japan, and the U.S.A. His statements are littered with misleading historical inaccuracies and conspiracy theories, including a recent interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation in which Ramadan questioned whether al-Qa'ida and Osama bin Laden were behind the 9/11 attacks. As for consistency, French author Caroline Fourest was able to write an entire book, Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan, detailing the contradiction between Ramadan's public support of diversity and respect and his active support of political Islamism.
He continued to describe difficult concepts such as suffering, love and the end of life, while shying away from the politicized subjects on which his career has been built. In a blatant case of pandering, he implored his audience:
That statement would have been beautiful, if it had not come across as so painfully insincere. It could have been inscribed in a greeting card.
Similarly, Ramadan described all belief systems as essentially equal:
Though this is a wonderful concept that goes over well with audiences, Islam has shown over the centuries that it is forging a path to quite a different summit in quite a different manner from most of its counterparts -- something that Ramadan did not acknowledge.
Having apparently discovered his inner flower child, he added:
He then elaborated on the need for people to:
When Ramadan next stated that, "in the Islamic tradition, philosophy was perceived as something which was against religion; which is completely wrong," he was exactly right. The influence of Enlightenment philosophy on Western Europe cannot be overstated, and an equivalent intellectual revolution never occurred in the Islamic world. If anything, the Enlightenment's analogue in the Middle East has been the rise of Islamism and violent jihadist groups, with Ramadan's grandfather being one of the latter's first leaders.
The question and answer session led to a thorough airing of the political views that had been previously gone unexamined. In response to a question about how "the weaker" such as "Palestinians, Muslims and blacks" should resist "oppression," Ramadan recounted how, as he put it, "when Israel was killing innocent people in Gaza," Switzerland chose to break its neutrality and take the side of the Palestinians; not to do so would have been to implicitly support the "oppressor." The implication was that, if even neutral Switzerland decided to support the Palestinians, everyone should. He did not bring up Hamas's use of human shields or its deliberate choice to store weapons in hospitals and near U.N. buildings, nor did he mention Richard Goldstone's recent recantation on the entire official narrative of the Gaza War.
The obligatory question, "What is jihad?" also came up. Predictably, Ramadan responded by repeating the standard apologist line: "The meaning of jihad is not really war. . . . Jihad is to make peace with yourself." He then made the blatantly false statement that "the association of jihad with war is from the Crusades." On the contrary, Islamic jurisprudence has considered "jihad" a term for warfare since at least the tenth century, 100 years before the Crusades.
Finally, in response to an audience member asking how to respond to those Islamists who refuse to accept Ramadan's rosy view of reality, he stated that, "there are people in every single religion . . . [who] think dialogue is worthless. . . . In every religion there are people who are not ready for it." He then suggested, "You can sometimes challenge them by referring to the text." Unfortunately, it is by referring to the text -- the Koran -- that many Islamists have successfully recruited young Muslims to violent jihad around the world. Ramadan offered no solution to this problem.
It is no exaggeration to say that the world would be better off if everyone adhered to Ramadan's notions of humility, respect, and consistency. Such idealistic pronouncements, however, only serve to obfuscate the real issues facing the world today. It will take more than words, for instance, to stop the persecution of Christians across the Muslim world, the violence directed at Israel, the export of Wahhabi supremacism from Saudi Arabia, and the brutal Iranian theocracy. Ramadan would have done well to explain how his lofty "philosophy of pluralism" can be brought down to earth and used in real solutions to society's most intractable problems.
Middle East -- Arabs, Arab States,
& Their Middle Eastern Neighbors
American Foreign Policy -- The Middle East
International Politics & World Disorder:
War, Peace, & Geopolitics in the Real World:
Foreign Affairs & U.S. National Security
Page Two Page One
Islamist Terrorist Attacks on the U.S.A.
Osama bin Laden & the Islamist Declaration of War
Against the U.S.A. & Western Civilization
Islamist International Terrorism &
U.S. Intelligence Agencies
Counterterrorism & U.S. National Security
U.S. National Security Strategy
Jonathan Gelbart is a senior at Stanford University, Stanford, California, majoring in International Relations. He is the President of Students for an Open Society and former World News Editor of the Stanford Review, an independent student-run Conservative newspaper at Stanford University.
The foregoing article by Jonathan Gelbart was originally published in the The American Thinker, May 15, 2011, and can be found on the Internet website maintained by the Middle East Forum, a foreign policy think tank which seeks to define and promote American interests in the Middle East, defining U.S. interests to include fighting radical Islam, working for Palestinian Arab acceptance of the State of Israel, improving the management of U.S. efforts to promote constitutional democracy in the Middle East, reducing America's energy dependence on the Middle East, more robustly asserting U.S. interests vis-à-vis Saudi Arabia, and countering the Iranian threat. (URL: http://www.meforum.org/2904/tariq-ramadan-stanford )
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
LINKS TO PARTICULAR ISSUES & SUBJECT MATTER CATEGORIES
TREATED IN THE PROGRESSIVE CONSERVATIVE, U.S.A.:
American Government 2 * American Government 3 * American Government 4
American Government 5 * American Politics * Anglosphere * Arabs
Arms Control & WMD * Aztlan Separatists * Big Government
Black Africa * Bureaucracy * Canada * China * Civil Liberties * Communism
Congress, U.S. * Conservative Groups * Conservative vs. Liberal
Constitutional Law * Counterterrorism * Criminal Justice * Disloyalty * Economy
Education * Elections, U.S. * Eminent Domain * Energy & Environment
English-Speaking World * Ethnicity & Race * Europe * Europe: Jews
Family Values * Far East * Fiscal Policy, U.S. * Foreign Aid, U.S. * Foreign Policy, U.S.
France * Germany * Hispanic Separatism * Hispanic Treason * Human Health * Immigration * Infrastructure, U.S. * Intelligence, U.S. * Iran * Iraq * Islamic North Africa
Islamic Threat * Islamism * Israeli vs. Arabs * Jews & Anti-Semitism
Jihad & Jihadism * Jihad Manifesto I * Jihad Manifesto II * Judges, U.S. Federal
Judicial Appointments * Judiciary, American * Latin America * Latino Separatism
Latino Treason * Lebanon * Leftists/Liberals * Legal Issues
Local Government, U.S. * Marriage & Family * Media Political Bias
Middle East: Arabs * Middle East: Iran * Middle East: Iraq * Middle East: Israel
Middle East: Lebanon * Middle East: Syria * Middle East: Tunisia
Middle East: Turkey * Militant Islam * Military Defense * Military Justice
Military Weaponry * Modern Welfare State * Morality & Decency
National Identity * National Security * Natural Resources * News Media Bias
North Africa * Patriot Act, USA * Patriotism * Political Culture * Political Ideologies
Political Parties * Political Philosophy * Politics, American * Presidency, U.S.
Private Property * Property Rights * Public Assistance * Radical Islam
Religion & America * Rogue States & WMD * Russia * Science & Ethics
Sedition & Treason * Senate, U.S. * Social Welfare Policy * South Africa
State Government, U.S. * Subsaharan Africa * Subversion * Syria * Terrorism 1
Terrorism 2 * Treason & Sedition * Tunisia * Turkey * Ukraine
UnAmerican Activity * UN & Its Agencies * USA Patriot Act * U.S. Foreign Aid
U.S. Infrastructure * U.S. Intelligence * U.S. Senate * War & Peace
Welfare Policy * WMD & Arms Control
Africa: Black Africa *
Africa: North Africa *
American Government 1
POLITICAL EDUCATION, CONSERVATIVE ANALYSIS
POLITICS, SOCIETY, & THE SOVEREIGN STATE
Website of Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr.
A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P Q R S T U V W X Y Z
An Online Journal of Political Commentary & Analysis
Dr. Almon Leroy Way, Jr., Editor