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Why the Tariq Controversy Matters

From Why the Tariq Ramadan Controversy Matters by Sufi convert Stephen Schwartz:

Ramadan should not be admitted to the U.S. He has written extensively on the challenge of assimilating Islam in Europe, but has shown by his public statements there that he is not an Islamic moderate at all, but a man committed to quite radical postures. Even Hicham Chehab, news editor of the Beirut Daily Star, a newspaper obviously dedicated to Arab interests, was forced to admit early this month that "During the controversial visit to Britain last July by Sheikh Youssef al-Qaradawi, himself accused of sanctioning suicide bombers, Ramadan defended Qardawi on the BBC television program Hard Talk."
. . .
Tariq Ramadan carefully employs a vocabulary advocating "reform" of Islam, which is music to the ears of ill-educated Westerners, and leads to such misfortunes as his invitation to Notre Dame. Sadly, however, his concept of "reform" in Islam does not encompass a repudiation of Qaradawi, who also defines himself as a "reformer" of the religion.

Schwartz concludes with a stern warning to find true Muslim moderates:

Lassitude about finding moderate Muslims . . . and the willingness to accede to the lazy approach of accepting "the least radical" as moderates, also contributes to absurd incidents like the Tariq Ramadan fiasco. But the failure of Western politicians and intellectuals to learn enough about Islam to locate and assist the true moderates will come back to haunt America. . . . [A]ccommodation to Islamic radicals who now disguise themselves as moderates will simply reinforce the sense that the populations of the Christian West are stupid, and may be fooled . . . .

As mentioned earlier, Schwartz is a moderate Muslim, the author of The Two Faces of Islam and has also written about the issue of an "Islamic reformation". His warning regarding Tariq Ramadan should not be taken lightly. Schwartz, however, did not mention this item from Hicham Chehab's article from The Daily Star of Lebanon:

After closely examining Ramadan's works and positions, [Professor] Marc Gopin, the director of the Center for World Religions, Diplomacy and Conflict Resolution at George Mason University, said that he was "disappointed in Ramadan's approach" to the crises in the Arab and Muslim world. This was not because Ramadan criticized Israel or made Muslim youths feel proud, but because he did not seem to offer the kind of message that would help Arabs and Muslims take a good look at themselves and their religion, and at the same time see the wisdom of other ideas like human rights, democracy, pluralism and the possibility of a society not dominated by any single religion. Furthermore, Gopin added, Ramadan's message did not provide a real approach to fundamental Islam that would make it "more peaceful, nonviolent and pluralistic."

Perhaps Prof. Gopin should be running the Kroc Institute. He hasn't been fooled by this "moderate," unlike the current director, Scott Appleby.

November 7, 2004 | Permalink


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