Saturday, March 10, 2007

Tariq Ramadan: A Footnote

Tariq Ramadan: 'Eurabian' Aims?
(Image from Wikipedia)

One of my readers from Germany, who goes by the online name "Erdal" -- a Turkish name -- occasionally provides me with interesting links to articles on Islam and Muslims in Europe. About my recent post concerning Ian Buruma's article on Tariq Ramadan, he had this to relate:
Odd article (Buruma's, not yours). While he does mention Caroline Fourest's "Frère Tariq" which made such a splash that it discredited Ramadan in France for good, I'd be willing to bet the house Buruma didn't even read the book. Instead he reiterates all the 10-year-old questions, as if time and scholarship hadn't anwered most of them in the meantime. Fourest wasn't alone, of course: There was also Ralph Ghadban's "Tariq Ramadan und die Islamisierung Europas", a big book by Bassam Tibi (forgot the title), and many similar ones. As far as I can judge that, Continental-European discourse about Ramadan is over and the jury has spoken, but this doesn't appear to register in the Anglo-American world at all. Maybe nobody there reads any French or German any more.
Erdal's point is that Ramadan is an Islamist intent on converting Europe to Islam and that this has been known in French and German circles for an entire decade but has been ignored in the Anglo-American world. Erdal followed this point up with a postscript:
Maybe this 16 page pdf of Ghadban will be of interest, since it's mostly about Ramadan's intellectual heritage, and touches a lot on issues such as the history of reason in Islam, how it all came to what it is (Ghazali et al. vs Averroes etc.) and how the philosophical and theological strands rose and fell over time, and which of them Ramadan subscribes to.
I've just read the linked article by this Lebanese expert on Islam, Ralph Ghadban, but I don't have time to report on it intensively. Basically, the article situates Ramadan in the post-Ghazali stream of Islamic intellectual thought as given shape by Ibn Taymiyyah, a tradition that excludes an independent role for rational doubt and insists on the rigorously strict normative status of the Qur'an and the Sunnah (traditions about Muhammad). Ramadan thus belongs to what is now called Salafi Islam, and what he sees for Islam in Europe is not a European Islam incorporating the rational doubt stemming from the Medieval Christian synthesis of faith and reason and given a more radical edge via the Enlightenment; rather, Ramadan aims to prepare the way for an Islamic Europe rejecting the role of doubt. For Salafists, "Islam is the Solution," and Ghadban says of this:
Bei Ramadan ist es ähnlich. Es geht um die Missionierung. Die klassische islamische Teilung der Welt zwischen dem Gebiet des Islam, wo die Muslime herrschen, dem Gebiet des Krieges, wo die Ungläubigen herrschen, und dem Gebiet des Friedens oder des Vertrages, wo Muslime verkehren, ohne dort zu herrschen, hat er neu definiert angesichts der auf Dauer angelegten Anwesenheit von Muslimen in Europa. Anstatt als Gebiet des Friedens hat er Europa als Gebiet der Mission (da'wa) bezeichnet. Später, da die Aggressivität der Bezeichnung auffiel, nannte er das Gebiet das Gebiet der Bezeugung (al-shahâda), was in der Tat dasselbe ist. Ramadan will Europa islamisieren, die Herrschaft des Islam errichten. Seine Waffe ist die Kultur, losgelöst von ihrer Geschichte.
Freely translated, this says:
With Ramadan, it is similar. It implies missionizing. With respect to the continued presence of Muslims in Europe, he has taken the classical Islamic division of the world -- the realm of Islam, where Muslims rule; the realm of war, where the infidels rule; and the realm of peace or of truce, where Muslims conduct business without ruling -- and has redefined it. Instead of being a realm of peace (or truce), Europe has been designated by Ramadan as a realm of mission (da'wa). More recently, since the aggressiveness of such a designation is too striking, he has begun to call it the realm of witness (al-shahâda), which in fact is the same thing. Ramadan wants to Islamize Europe, to erect the rule of Islam. His weapon is culture cut loose from its history.
Such, according to Ghadban, is Ramadan's aim. I had suspected as much, but I'm still left wondering about Ramadan's views on Islamic law, especially the laws of hudud (e.g., beheading, stoning, amputation, and so on), as well as his views on the legitimacy of violence as a means toward the aim of Islamizing Europe. If Ramadan is willing to engage in peaceful missionizing, then he will have to engage with rational doubt of the sort that Pope Benedict XVI was referring to in his controversial Regensburg talk.

But if Ramadan is willing to countenance violence...



At 9:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Wiki's "Translation differences" didn't give you credit for explaining what I really meant. Well, you'll be rewarded in the next life, son.

At 10:19 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Yes, Holy Father, I noticed that. Will those who ignored my contribution suffer eternally in hell or merely undergo the refining fires of purgatory?

Jeffery Hodges

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At 11:18 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

We can only trust in God's mercy. But to be safe, they should make a good confession and receive absolution.

At 11:34 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Spoken like a true Pope. Maybe you truly are the real thing.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 3:29 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

This post and the one about Russia, help convince me that America's perceptions about the rest of the world is based on ignorance. Is it that the conservative bent from the last two decades, don't rely on scholarship or is scholarship considered too leftist?

At 4:41 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

I think most people in most countries are fairly ignorant of the rest of the world -- if I may extrapolate from my limited experience of living in several countries.

So, I don't think that this ignorance stems from either leftist or rightest politics, but from the tendency of most people to know only about what directly concerns them.

At the highest levels of scholarship, both the left and the right are well-informed. Stephen Kotkin, for instance, would be more conservative than liberal -- I recall his strongly anti-communist views in our graduate years together (and he was particularly harsh on the Soviet nomenklatura).

Conservative talk radio and conservative television programs often pander to ignorance, of course, but so do many leftists ... in my humble opinion.

Jeffery Hodges

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At 9:25 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Don't hold your breath waiting for that dialogue. Says Ramadan, elaborationg on the first of his 4 rules for dialogue: "You can't have a dialogue, when you don't accept the legitimacy of other people's convictions. It is unsuitable to try to become an exegete of the scripture of your partner-in-dialogue [...] This means for the partner-in-dialogue to accept sharia, and consequently their engagement in favour of sharia, in the name of freedom of religion". (Ramadan, Tariq: Western Muslims, S. 210, as cited by Ghadban. My translation of his translation)

About these terminally stupid hudoud-remarks of his: Isn't it just great that when Mr. Ramadan says that stoning and such should be suspended until the arrival of the "ideal society", some actually ask if this is some kind of progressive gesture? The grand-mufti of Al-Azhar opined Ramadan was "damaging to Islam": Islamic orthodoxy had enacted exactly this suspension of hudoud more than nine-hundred years ago, now to witness one of the salafists who usually lobby for its re-introduction deny that it did - to score publicity points as a progressive!

His record on counseling, legitimizing, or even all-too-innocently "hinting at the risk of violence" is sound. The Muslim Brotherhood has painfully learned this lesson. Subversion works better.

At 3:52 PM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Thanks, Erdal, for the additional information.

About Ramadan's dialogue condition:

"You can't have a dialogue, when you don't accept the legitimacy of other people's convictions. It is unsuitable to try to become an exegete of the scripture of your partner-in-dialogue [...] This means for the partner-in-dialogue to accept sharia, and consequently their engagement in favour of sharia, in the name of freedom of religion".

That's an odd position to advocate. Neither partner can act as exegete of the other's scripture, but both partners have to accept each other's religious system. What a paradoxical, stilted 'dialogue'!

For me, dialogue means taking the dialogue partner's views seriously, learning them well, and applying reason to note their implications while being open to the possibility that one has misinterpreted -- as well as open to reevaluating one's one position.

But that's probably because I, as a Westerner, have inherited a tradition of doubt...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 2:25 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

Since the cold war affected Americans and Muslim assassinations, starting with Robert Kennedy; I would have thought that the State Department and the President would have thought it necessary to become well informed. I think what stunned me was Vice President Cheney's remarks about how he thought the Iraqis would have greeted Americans the same as the French after being liberated in WWII. I probably have not paid enough attention either, but I get surprised by what peaked my interest and not others.

At 6:36 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

Before the Iraq War, I said to a Korean colleague in political science -- he and I were discussing the looming war -- "Just because the Iraqis hate Saddam Hussein doesn't mean that they like the United States."

I think that this serves to explain a lot of the postwar developments.

By the way, Sirhan Sirhan, who assassinated Robert Kennedy, was a Palestinian Christian. In people's memory, he seems to have become a Muslim terrorist.

Just in case...

Jeffery Hodges

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At 8:15 AM, Blogger Hathor said...

Funny, my initial recollection was that Sirhan Sirhan was Jordanian. Later I found out he was a Palestinian. I guess my source got it wrong about the religion. Don't remember, but Googled it to finish a post of mine. I've been around too long to rely on memory:)

At 11:06 AM, Blogger Horace Jeffery Hodges said...

He may have been both Jordanian and Palestianian. A lot of Palestinians live in Jordan. Their passports state "Jordan," but their identity is Palestinian.

My son was born in a Palestinian Muslim hospital in East Jerusalem in 1999, and one of the prenatal doctors that we went to in an East Jerusalem clinic told us that she owned a house in Amman, Jordan but stayed in East Jerusalem to maintain her legal residency. Her husband lived in Amman, if I recall.

She had received her medical training in the Soviet Union, by the way.

Jeffery Hodges

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