[Left: Tariq Ramadan is the Supreme Master of Islamic taqiyya (lying, deceit, dissimulation, double-speak, 'embracing democracy', etc. to protect and further Islam). That is no suprise. His grandfather created the Muslim Brotherhood and his father ran it. The MB have been masters of taqiyya as well as of using democracy and non-Islamic systems to destroy democracy and the non-Islamic systems - as they are doing today in Egypt, etc. Ramadan denies any connection with the MB. That is no surprise either, considering what I've just said about Islamic taqiyya and the Muslim Brotherhood.]
"An online poll provided by the American Foreign Policy magazine in 2009 placed Ramadan on the 49th spot in a list of the world’s top 100 contemporary intellectuals." - From Wikipedia
i) What European Muslims Want
ii) 'Islamic Principles' Can Live Alongside ‘European Tastes and Styles’
What European Muslims Want
Ramadan offers the West, or offers ‘us’, a big wish-list on behalf of his fellow Muslims. Actually, it is more of a want-list than a wish-list. He states that European Muslims must claim
‘the right to determine for themselves the parameters of their identity, the nature and extent of their religious practices, and their spiritual and moral convictions.’ (2010)
Now that’s a big want-list. It is a very demanding want-list. This is what Muslims want again:
i) The ‘right to determine for themselves the parameters of their identity’.
ii) The ‘nature and extent of their religious practices’.
iii) And ‘the nature and extent’ of their ‘spiritual and moral convictions’.
Apart the jargon-infestation, what does he mean by i) above? It is very slippery, so any translation will be inexact too. Then again, this is Slippery Ramadan we are talking about.
Do you and I ‘determine for [ourselves] the parameters of [our] identity’? I don’t know because I still don’t know what the hell it means.
What about ii) above? The demand is, well, very demanding and very wide-ranging. Ramadam is demanding that every Muslim should be allowed to ‘determine the nature and extent of their religious practices’. Full stop! There are no limitations or ‘buts’ in the vicinity.
What is an example of Islamic ‘practice’? Surely the best example is Sharia law, which is at the heart of Islam. Thus Ramadan is demanding that all Muslims should be able to ‘determine for themselves’ the ‘nature and extent’ of the Sharia law they shall impose on to themselves. Thus, if Muslims want to punish adulterers by stoning them, then they must be allowed to ‘determine’ that particular ‘religious practice’.
What about polygamy and stopping wives/women from working? The list of religious or Islamic demands will of course be very long. Ramadan thinks that Muslims should have ‘the right to determine for themselves’ these aspects of ‘religious practice’, which may or may not, though they probably will, include sharia law in some shape or form.
No minority religious group has ever had the complete freedom that Ramadam demands for Muslims. Not even Dead White Christian Males had a carte blanche freedom to ‘determine for themselves the parameters of their identity’ (if I have Ramadam right on that phrase).
Ramadam has it right. The corollary of these demands is the corresponding rejections of so much that is European or ‘Western’. To want so much is also to reject so much. Or, as Ramadan puts it, all this is
‘from this perspective, criticism and rejection of the west are linked only to a refusal to accept political, economic or cultural domination’.
So it’s not much that Muslims want. It’s not that much that they reject. They only reject Western ‘political, economic or cultural domination’. Is that all! Isn’t that just about everything? The ‘political, economic or cultural’ bit is a big slice of the Western pie. Ramadam is explicitly stating (for once) that Muslims should be allowed to reject, or ‘criticise’ as he puts it, ‘political, economic and cultural domination’. Which leaves them with what, exactly? An Islamic society? An Islamic state? Or just an Islamic ghetto or district within an otherwise non-Muslim state?
What does Ramadan mean by ‘domination’ anyway?
Am I dominated by parliamentary democracy?
Not really. Ramadan thinks that some, or all, Muslims are.
Am I dominated by a (fairly) free press or by EastEnders?
No. Ramadan think that many, or all, Muslims are (i.e. ‘cultural domination’).
Am I dominated by the Christian religion or by Christian institutions?
Not really. Not any more. Ramadan seems to think that many, or all, Muslims are.
Again, what will Muslims do, and what will Muslims have left, when they have successfully ‘rejected’ their ‘political, economic or cultural domination’? An Islamic society? Sharia law? Or just an Islamic ghetto?
'Islamic Principles' Can Live Alongside 'Western Tastes and Styles'
Ramadan also says something which sounds pretty innocent on first reading but which can be seen as deeply revealing. He suggests that ‘European Muslims’ become ‘[a]ctive citizens’ and that they should do so by
‘respecting Islamic principles while adopting European tastes and styles’ (2004).
There is a sharp binary division here. It tells us a lot about what Ramadan and other Muslims think that their fellow Muslims should do, and the way they should think, within European society. That division is this:
European tastes and styles/ Islamic principles
This little division is very illuminating and it explains a lot about Muslim behaviour and attitudes in Europe. Firstly, ‘Islamic principles’ sounds very grand and important; whereas ‘European tastes and styles’ sounds trivial. Why not
European principles/Islamic tastes and styles
instead? Is that all there is - or should be - to Muslim ‘citizenship’ in Europe – the ‘adoption’ of ‘European tastes and styles’? Adopting only European tastes and styles will in no way solve the many problems of Muslim/non-Muslim relations in Europe. Indeed it will help propagate them. Why can’t Muslims also adopt European ‘principles’, as well as, or instead of, European ‘tastes and styles’? What is right about tastes and styles but seemingly wrong about European principles? This sounds as if Ramadan is encouraging the adoption of European tastes and styles so as to make it easier for Muslims to adopt Islamic instead of European principles.
Why has Ramadan made this illuminating division? Indeed this is a division which Muslims in Europe have already adopted.
Take young Pakistani Muslims in places like Bradford, Bolton and Birmingham. Many of them have indeed adopted European and American 'styles and tastes'. They have also said a big ‘no!’ to European 'principles'. Thus they listen to gangsta rap, wear trendy clothes, borrow New York lingo and bling, eat at MacDonald’s, etc. And all the time they reject Western politics, western values, and even go so far as supporting the Taliban, Iraqi dissidents, and Iran in their disputes and conflicts with the UK. They are not committed to European democratic principles or the values of, say, equal opportunities for women.
Yet all along - even in the gansta gear, etc.- they are still committed to Islamic principles and values such as Islamic finance, family ‘honour’, tribal loyalties, and so on.
The same is true of the Muslims of the older generations as well as middle-class Muslims. The latter also adopt western tastes and styles but often also reject European principles. For example, they retain a belief in arranged marriages and the same time as holding down professional jobs. They may watch EastEnders at the same time as supporting Iran against the West or adopting or wanting aspects of Sharia law which go against European law.
It can be said that the simple adoption of tastes and styles rather than principles will do nothing for what Ramadan and others call ‘community cohesion’ and ‘pluralism’ because such an adoption is rather superficial and transitory in nature and does not lay down any genuine roots with which to establish a truly European identity and loyalty. Such styles and tastes will be dropped in an instant when there come such times when loyalty to Islam trumps loyalty to European civilisation or democracy. As I said, loving EastEnders or even going clubbing does not amount to much and can be quickly dropped if Islamic principles and values are strengthened and more strongly enforced within Muslim communities. It may even be the case that a love for EastEnders is maintained at the very same time as Muslim communities become more Islamic and thus more distant from all other communities (not just ‘white Christian’ communities).
However, Ramadan does later mention certain ‘common values’ which can be shared between Muslims and non-Muslims. He says that we
‘should promote common vales of equality, justice and respect in the name of a shared “ethic of citizenship”’ (2004).
That’s fair enough. In fact, it’s fair enough because in the end it is a pretty vague and nebulous statement. Almost everyone will agree with and accept the ‘values of equality, justice and respect’. Who is against equality, justice and respect? Certainly in the case of justice and respect. This uniformity will certainly be the case when definitions and examples of justice, equality and respect are not given. Everyone will agree until specifics are cited. Thus it can be said that of course Ramadan and other Muslims are in favour of equality, justice and respect. For example
i) Muslims believe that they should be treated equally and that this equality should be recognised in society and law.
ii) Muslims should be treated justly and have recourse to systems of justice.
iii) Muslims must be treated with respect and their values and religion handled respectfully.
Thus talk of equality, justice and respect are just noises until they are fleshed out. More than that. People who make these noises are often not talking about general or common values at all, but values that are specifically applicable to a single community which will benefit from them (Muslims).
It is the same with nebulous words like ‘freedom’ and ‘democracy’. People tell you that they are in favour of freedom or democracy and you think to yourself that this is a good thing. Then you find out exactly what they mean by ‘freedom’ or ‘democracy’ and soon discover that they mean something different by these words.
For example, what about the freedom to submit oneself to an ayatollah’s totalitarian rule?
What about a democracy in which only the clerics or the ulema have the vote or only they collectively establish law?
Indeed what if a Muslim community excludes women from all democratic procedures? The same is the case for Ramadan’s ‘equality, justice and respect’. Ramadan could mean that only Muslim men are equal to other Muslim men. Perhaps in Islamic society only men have full recourse to systems of justice. Or say that many Muslims believe that justice only occurs when, say, a thief has his hands chopped off, as in sharia law. Finally, perhaps many Muslims believe that only Muslims deserve respect. Or that only the pious or religious are worthy of respect. Thus everyone or anyone can talk about ‘freedom’ or ‘democracy’, just as they can talk about Ramadan’s ‘equality, justice and respect’.
Tariq Ramadan, ‘Good Muslims, Bad Muslims’, 2010, Tariq Ramadan: Official Website, http://www.tariqramadan.com/spip.php?article11022
Tariq Ramadan, ‘Islam in Europe’, 2004, Tariq Ramadan: Official Website, http://www.tariqramadan.com/spip.php?article73