// Why Does Tariq Ramadan Cause Such a Stir?
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« on: May 07, 2010 03:34 AM »

   (His thoughts on Muslim schools is interesting)

Why Does Tariq Ramadan Cause Such A Stir?

By Eleanor Goldberg
Religion News Service

WASHINGTON (RNS) With an open collared baby blue shirt and Dolce & Gabbana jacket hugging his slim frame, Tariq Ramadan appears the epitome of Western sophistication.

But from 2004 until just a few months ago, the Department of Homeland Security viewed him with suspicion.

Ramadan, a 46-year-old Oxford University professor and a golden child of American academia, was banned from the U.S. for six years because of alleged ties to a Muslim charity that supported the militant group Hamas.

"A silly decision from the Bush administration," as Ramadan prefers to put it now.

Ramadan, the author of more than 20 books on Islam and the grandson of the founder of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood, is widely considered a go-to scholar on all things Islam. He's made enemies on both sides with his criticisms of both U.S. foreign policy and Islamic fundamentalism.

Now, six years after he was blocked from taking a tenured position at the University of Notre Dame, Ramadan is finally in the U.S. after a federal appeals court ruled the DHS had to rescind the ban, and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton later approved a 10-year visa.
Story continues below

Making the rounds on his first U.S. speaking tour, he's quick to address the issue that pops up at the top of a Google search of his name.

Speaking to a group of journalists this week, Ramadan said his visa was initially rejected under the Patriot Act in an atmosphere of post-9/11 American nervousness.

When he reapplied and was interviewed at the U.S. embassy in Switzerland, he said, most of the questions related to the Palestinian-Israeli conflict and the Iraq war. (He's critical of the U.S. support of Israel and considers the Iraq war illegal.)

It wasn't until two years later that he learned the reason for his exile: he had contributed 700 euros between 1998 and 2002 to a charity he thought promoted education for Palestinians but actually supported Hamas. The U.S. blacklisted the charity in 2003.

The ACLU subsequently filed a lawsuit to prevent the U.S. government from banning foreign scholars based on their views.

"I think, for many of us, it was an astonishing thing to see someone as vibrantly engaged in the kind of work we do excluded by the United States," said Harvard professor Diana Eck, former president of the American Academy of Religion, which joined in the suit.

Rather than revisit the unpleasantness of the past, the Swiss-born academic is more interested in contemporary issues facing Muslims. For one, he says Western Muslims need to integrate better into society and make a concerted effort to "feel at home."

"This obsession with foreign policy is not helping us to be citizens," Ramadan said, adding that Muslims do themselves a disservice by constantly focusing on terrorism and the Palestinian-Israeli conflict.

It's also a mistake to establish separate Muslim schools, he said, insisting that Muslims need to be involved in all discussions of public policy, from politics to education to the social sciences.

And while American Muslims may remain "suspicious" about the sincerity of President Obama's overtures to the Islamic world, they are more apt to get involved in the conversation now, according to Ramadan.

"It's quite clear that the current administration is much more well perceived by Muslims around the world after what we got for eight years," Ramadan said.

Part of his job, he said, is "trying to promote a shift in the center of gravity of authority in Islam." If you want to be taken seriously by Muslim audiences, "you should be rooted in the tradition," he said, which is why he's trying to develop a network of scholars in the West and in Muslim-majority countries who discuss their interpretations of Islamic scriptures.

When it comes to the controversial topic of liberating Muslim women abroad, for example, Ramadan says many scholars in Muslim countries tell him in private: "We agree with you. But we aren't going to say it."'

Ramadan says dialogue is the most effective approach because it's what's worked for him. For 15 years, he said, scholars agreed with Ramadan that female genital mutilation "is wrong and not Islamic." But it wasn't until Jan. 12 that 34 Muslim scholars signed a fatwa banning the practice.

His message, after the six-year ban, has drawn large audiences during his Washington debut -- even if they also include protestors who view him with lingering unease.

"Lo and behold," said fellow author Reza Aslan, who also teaches at the University of California, "the earth didn't open up and swallow us up."
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« Reply #1 on: May 08, 2010 07:32 AM »

as salaamu alaykum,

Dr. Tariq Ramadan is awesome mashaAllah!  I love how he seems to be very honest, and not afraid to say what he really thinks or give a somewhat complex or less than PR-savvy answer that people want to hear from Muslims.

Check out his interview on Democracy Now:

I know he has come out with some controversial things at times (like his call for a moratorium on hadd punishments and his take on Islamic schools in the West) which I don't know if I agree with or not, (I honestly have to read more about them and read his own words before drawing any conclusions), but I think he is a good example of a dynamic and vibrant type of scholarship that we need to revive.  We need to have scholars and thinkers in our community who are creative and forward thinking and can try to address the realities of living as Muslims in the West.

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« Reply #2 on: May 08, 2010 07:53 AM »

From what I have read of his words and heard from him, I can't say  I disagree with him. Yes, as Sr. Se7en said, he speaks his mind and is straightforward, which we need more of from people in our community while having a good understanding of what is happening in soceity. Here is another good interview that he had on Al Jazeera recently that I enjoyed and again, agreed with a lot of what he said.


The Believers, men and women, are protectors one of another:  [9:71]
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« Reply #3 on: May 11, 2010 03:40 AM »


I went to one of Tariq Ramadan's lecture about 2 months ago.

A question was asked about Islamic schools. In a nutshell, from what I understood, was that he said that it depends on the intention of the parents and the philosophy of the school. If one sends his child to an Islamic school because he believes that the Islamic school would be able to provide better quality education, whereas the available public schools provide sub-standard education, then this would be a good reason. However, if one sends one's child mainly to "protect" one's children with an environment that would not promote interaction and intergration with the larger society, then, this is not something that he agrees with. He says that not all Islamic schools are the same, however, the one's which he was impressed with are so few.

Eventhough having a separate Islamic school is a right for Muslims in the West, he'd rather that we work beyond just attaining that right. Striving for an education that is more holistic vis-a-vis being a Muslim and optimising one's role living in the West should be a priority instead.

On another note, I see that he has grown more frank than before. Those who asked questions that were loaded with assumptions and holier-than-thous attitudes would see themselves get shot down by him. Whereas, about a decade ago, he would entertain such questions diplomatically and return unintelligent questions with answers of substance. His answers are still full of substance, except that, he would be critical of how the questioner asks.

About his call of a moratorium of the hudud. I was initially confused as to why he would take up this battle. Afterall, it is not as if things would change with one call for a moratarium. So I asked a sister who works with him and she said that he sees injustices being done in many countries that apply the hudud law. She said he felt that it is his responsibility to not only increase public awareness of the issue to this call, but to initiate debate, discussion, introspection of the issues amongst ulama and those in seats of power.... Whether they follow his call is not up to him, but he felt that he has done his part in speaking out against the injustices that he sees.

May Allah protect me from misinterpreting and forgive me if I mispoke. Ameen.
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