Ramadan, Senior Muslim Scholars respond to Muslims about the Paris Attacks

British Muslim scholars reach out to Muslims by advising, analysing and condemning the attacks:


Tariq Ramadan was among many scholars in the UK to speak out against the massacre in Paris.
Tariq Ramadan was among many scholars in the UK to speak out against the massacre in Paris.

Tariq Ramadan: “Betrayal to Islamic Values”

Tariq Ramadan is a Swiss academic and writer of Egyptian origin. He is also a Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University.

Contrary to what was apparently said by the killers in the bombings of Charlie Hebdo’s headquarters, it was not the Prophet who was avenged, it is our religion, our values and Islamic principles that have been betrayed and tainted.

My condemnation is absolute and my anger is profound (healthy and a thousand times justified) against this horror!!!

Allow me to express my deep sympathy and sincere condolences to the families of the victims.


Dr. Khaled Hanafy: “Condemnation Is Not Sufficient”

Khaled Hanafy is a professor of Economics and International Business at the Arab Academy for Science and Technology.

I was shocked by the brutal, terror attack in Paris that killed 12 people. I categorically condemn this act no matter who is responsible for it and whoever the victims are.

Indeed, condemnation is not sufficient. Muslims, before anybody else, should take swift and practical action because the danger threatening Europe is a threat for Muslims too. Muslims are part and parcel of the European society; they have a role to play in protecting it and in promoting social peace in it.

It is not a valid excuse that this magazine published anti-Prophet cartoons. Insults were directed to the Prophet during his life and after his death; the Qur’an related such defamations and they will never stop. So, the appropriate response is through thought, art and opinion not murder or terror.

I hope that politicians and media will not use this incident to make wrong generalizations against Muslims. The overwhelming majority of Europe Muslims reject such wicked deeds; they did contribute to the building Europe’s civilization.

I call on Muslims to stage demonstrations that denounce this aggression. I urge Muslim Imams and leaders to take all the necessary actions to denounce the incident, to reassure the Europe community, to actively participate in protecting Europe media institutions against any threat and to denounce extremism and terror.


Dr. Yasir Qadhi: “All of Us Will Suffer”

Yasir Qadhi is an American Muslim scholar and academic at Rhodes College, Tennessee.

Loving the Prophet (salla Allah alayhi wa sallam) is a necessary requirement of Iman. Defending his honor is a sign of belief. This is done by following his teachings and practice, not by murdering in his name.

Our Prophet was verbally abused and physically harrased multiple times in Makkah. Never ONCE did any of the Companions go and murder those who did such deeds. Do those who kill others in the name of the Prophet believe that they love him more than the companions?

And even for those who believe that the penalty for blasphemy should be death: by unanimous consensus of ALL the scholars of Islam, this must take place after a legitimate trial, by a qualified judge, appointed by a legitimate Islamic state. Under NO circumstances does Islam allow vigilante justice, for to open this door leads to chaos, confusion and bloodshed.

Muslims: get your act together!! Such acts of terror are not only haram and spill innocent blood, they will come back to harm you and your communities in the short and long run.

And as a result, all of us will suffer.

Dr. Wael Shihab: “Perpetrators Should Be Held Accountable”

Wael Shihab has a Ph.D in Islamic studies from Al-Azhar University. He is currently the shari’ah consultant of the shari’ah department of onislam.net.

In fact, Muslim communities all over the world share the pains and sadness with the victims’ families and friends. Our hearts bleed for their loss and pains.

The deadly attack on the Paris office of French satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, which led to the killing and injuring of tens of innocents, is a horrible, barbaric crime that its perpetrators should be held accountable for it. Such crimes against humanity are not justified by Islam and all world religions and laws. Those criminals cannot be true believers of any faith.

Charlie Hebdo attacks are totally divorced from the teachings of Islam, its general spirit, and its sublime objectives.  Islam protects people’s lives, properties, and honor. Attacking even a single human is regarded by Islam as grave and heinous as killing all innocent people of the world. The Qur’an reads, {Whosoever kills a human being for other than manslaughter or corruption in the earth, it shall be as if be had killed all mankind, and whoso saves the life of one, it shall be as if he had saved the life of all mankind.} (Al-Ma’idah 5: 32)

Hopefully, the French authorities will bring the criminals to justice as soon as possible.


Sheikh Omar Suleiman: “An Insult to the Prophet”

Omar Suleiman is an American Muslim scholar and instructor at AlMaghrib Institute.

#‎ParisShooting What is more insulting to the Prophet (peace be upon him) than satirical cartoons are those who murder innocent people in his name.

“And We have sent you not (Oh Muhammad) but as a mercy to all the worlds” [Quran 21:107]




Tariq Ramadan: My Absence Would Certainly Be The Most Powerful Speech I Have Ever Given At ISNA

August 14, 2014

On Sunday, August 10th, 2014, renowned and notable scholar and professor Dr. Tariq Ramadan posted on his webpage a piece titled Why I Will Not Attend The ISNA And RIS Conferences. The post stirred much heated debate over social media, with notable scholars also responding and urging him to reconsider his position in light of points they raised. The President of ISNA also issued a formal statement.

Dr. Ramadan agreed to be interviewed, stating for now this will be his one response to his post.

The following is an edited conversation between Dr. Tariq Ramadan and Amina Chaudary of The Islamic Monthly (TIM) on August 11, 2014.

TIM: In your essay, you argue that Muslims should speak out against certain U.S. policies by basing their arguments in American values, not Islamic ones. Why did you choose this frame of reference?

Ramadan: As Western Muslims and American Muslims, we need to understand that the values and principles we promote are not only Muslim values.  American Muslims live in a country where justice, dignity, freedom and equality are essential values. The Muslim contribution to the future of America is to not only speak out as Muslims, but to also speak out as citizens in the name of our common values. Our main contribution is to reconcile the American society with its own values, those that are not in contradiction to Islam.  We have a duty of consistency.

TIM: ISNA wears many hats for Muslims in America, and its annual convention provides a venue for everything from family reunions to panel sessions on halal certifications to addressing many of the political issues you identified in your essay. Is it fair to place the burden on this one institution to articulate a position on all American policies both foreign and domestic? Are you asking specific individuals within ISNA’s leadership to articulate their position vis-a-vis these issues? Does this boycott extend to other groups guilty of the same silence, or is it specific to ISNA as the largest of them all?

Ramadan: As I wrote in the beginning of my post, I have a great deal of respect for the people who have been working and serving the community in America and Canada, and, among them, the two institutions I mentioned. I am not attacking the institution. Some have misunderstood my point or not read my paper carefully and they are saying “Tariq Ramadan is calling for a boycott and is creating divisions.” What I was trying to do is exactly the opposite. The divisions are already there and it is not by hiding the tensions that we are solving the problems. My position is clearly about the leadership. I can understand and respect the fact that you want to keep the channel open with American authority. But at the same time, you need to know your goals to serve your fellow citizens and the Muslim community in the name of your principles. Some people are responding by saying, “You are not an American, you do not understand. The priorities in Europe are not the same as in the U.S. or in Canada. You are obsessed with international issues!” Is that even a response? So why do they invite me in the first place if I do not understand the respective situations in the U.S. and in Canada? Am I suitable only when I am not critical? I have been visiting and studying the North American continent for almost 30 years and I am sad to hear such arguments. I do not deal with “international affairs” only; half of my work has been on Western Muslims. My point is straightforward: anyone who tries to separate or divorce domestic politics from international politics does not get it, and that might be dangerous for the future of Western Muslims. Shouldn’t the American leadership be addressing what is happening in America, with its domestic policies on racism, discrimination, illegal monitoring, solitary confinement, torture, Guantanamo Bay and any other social and political issues related to the American society not directly connected to Islam?  American Muslims must speak out and be involved as well in international policies and, through their institutions, they should raise their voice. This is the way you serve the community.  I understand the need to serve the community by talking about marriage or halal food. But you should also lead with vision, wisdom and  courage. Islam is a religion of justice and dignity, and we are taught to never keep silent when facing injustice, discrimination and double standards. This is our contribution. I am expecting institutions to be able to open up and break the silence. They should write with assertiveness about some of the critical issues. But this is not what is done now. I have great respect for the way they serve, but question their silence on critical issues.

TIM: Some scholars have asked you to reconsider your attendance of ISNA, not necessarily because they disagree with your critique, but because they fear your absence could irrevocably diminish an institution they consider an important cornerstone of Muslim America. How do you respond to them? Assuming this analysis is true and your actions would diminish the organization in an irretrievable way, would you still not attend ISNA?

Ramadan: It is not a question of boycotting. I am not calling for a boycott. I am sending a message and asking a question in a respectful, critical and constructive way. I received many e-mails from people saying, “Professor, please come, don’t do that.” Just ten minutes ago, I received a very moving e-mail from somebody telling me, “Sheikh, in the name of your knowledge, your contribution and what you have been teaching us, don’t boycott.” Once again, I am not calling for a boycott. My absence would certainly be the most powerful speech I have ever given at ISNA. And for the attendees, it is important to note that my intention was not to create division, but exactly the opposite. They must ask their institutions, what are your priorities? How are you going to deal with this? I have given talks to many people for years, at ISNA or RIS. And now what I am trying to say is that although I am not going, the people who will attend should make their voices heard in a constructive way.

Tariq Ramadan: Why I will not attend the ISNA (August 2014) and RIS (December 2014) conferences

August 10, 2014

In recent years I have been a faithful participant in two major events of the North American Muslim calendar. As a regular attendee at these annual gatherings, I wish to express my warmest thanks to the institutions, and to the women and men who made them the success they undoubtedly were.

This year, however, I have decided not to attend or participate in the conferences organized by ISNA from August 29 to September 1 in Detroit, and by RIS, from December 26-28 2014, in Toronto. The reasons are different, but point to similar causes.

The leaders of ISNA can boast a proud record of service to American Muslims, for which they must be thanked and congratulated. The annual ISNA convention is an important gathering, featuring a multiplicity of participants and a broad cross-section of activities. In recent years, however, the political positions taken by the organization’s leadership have not always been clear-cut. Though it is essential, I believe, to remain open to dialogue with the authorities, it is likewise essential that positions of principle must be maintained, re-affirmed and defended. Not simply for the good of the Muslims, but in the name of the contribution of American Muslims to their society. Criticism of the domestic policy of the current administration, like those that preceded it, is a moral obligation. Summary arrests, arbitrary prison terms, inhuman psychological torture and solitary confinement, the shadowy role of informers and the deeply troubling and unacceptable methods used by the FBI, which has provoked young people to engage in extremist actions, must be unconditionally condemned. Not in the name of Islam, but in the name of the values proclaimed by the United States. However, the ISNA leadership is too often silent, as if paralyzed by fear. It fares no better with respect to American foreign policy. Its silence over American support for the outlaw and inhuman policies of Israel cannot be justified, even less so after attending an iftar organized by the White House during which President Obama defended Israel while the Israeli ambassador tweeted his delight! We cannot be forever silent: what kind of active and responsible citizenship does the ISNA leadership offer young American Muslims? What kind of example? That of silent, fearful sycophants–or of free, public-spirited citizens who, while defending the values of human dignity and justice, serve their country in the most sincere and critical way? That of the unconditional loyalty of the timorous, or the critical loyalty of free individuals? To attend the ISNA convention would be to endorse their silence.

Nor will I be attending RIS this year. The reasons are different, the causes similar. The organizers have long demonstrated their effectiveness; they wish to convey the impression of favoring a plurality of voices. But in fact, it is the so-called “Sufi” and “apolitical” trend that lies at the core of the RIS convention. I do not have the slightest problem with this trend (on the contrary), or its underlying structures and aims. The problem is that some of the participants, scholars or preachers, under the guise of Sufism or in the name of avoiding partisan politics, defend highly politicized positions of support for states and dictatorships. Their silence and their inferences in the heart of the West, in Toronto or elsewhere, constitute visible support for the Gulf petro-monarchies or for despots such as al-Sissi in Egypt. This while dictators from Syria to Iraq by way of Egypt are imprisoning, torturing and killing innocents by the thousands. They cast themselves as above the conflict, while the “Sufism” they offer is highly politicized and too well adjusted to the boots of the State. But I will have none of this. When some speakers boast in public of their openness but refuse to participate in panel discussions to avoid being exposed, openness goes by the board. When the same people support dictatorial governments, coherence flies out the window. I cannot, by my presence, lend implicit approval to such positions.

Spare me please any talk of my family background: I have sufficiently criticized the Islamist movements—all of them, without exception–and their choices that my approach cannot be reduced to anything resembling even implicit support. My position is that all dictators must be confronted, all injustices must be fought; we cannot be silent, or feign silence while supporting the worst regimes.

I have said it once and I will say it again: Western Muslims will in the future assume a critical role. Educated and living in free societies, they must acquire greater knowledge of their religion and become free, active and outspoken citizens, fully aware of their duties and dedicated to the defense of their rights. In the United States, just as in Canada and in Europe, they must defend everyone’s human dignity, and refuse to keep silent in the face of intimidation by the state. Drawing on their spirituality and their values, their commitment will be their finest contribution, the best possible example of the contribution of Muslim citizens to the future of the West. The leaders of the previous generation are too cautious, too fearful; they dare not speak freely.

I am also a member of a generation that is passing on. It is up to the new generation to produce leaders who have understood that in bending over backwards, in saying “Yes sir!” they sacrifice not only their dignity, but forget and betray their duty. I dream of a new feminine and masculine leadership, educated, free and bold, a leadership that does not confuse the concept of dialogue with the authorities with unacceptable compromise and intellectual surrender, a leadership that does not transform Sufism, the historical underpinning of so many liberation movements, into a school of silence and cowardly calculation. As I look around me, I see the first premises of a dream come true, alhamdulLilah.

I am well aware that the position I am taking will sound off sharp criticism; others may simply decide not to invite me. For years I have dealt with criticisms of my person, my training, my credibility. I have no time to waste with these low blows and refer readers to my résumé, which can be found on my website (http://tariqramadan.com/english/biography/). These are the same individuals who attack my character to avoid responding to the content of my critical thought. I know their methods all too well, but I refuse to waste my time by answering their attacks, which are nothing but a manoeuvre to sidestep the true subject. It is impossible for me to attend such events when my presence alone would imply support for positions that stand in total contradiction to my vision of the role of Western Muslims in their society, now and in the future. I’ve said it once, I’ll say it again. It is imperative that we educate ourselves, and that we display good judgement and fortitude. If those around us are silent in the face of the unacceptable, the conscience of Muslims must not remain silent, neither in the name of wisdom betrayed, nor of Sufism perverted.

ISNA President’s Letter to the American Muslim Community

August 12, 2014

Bismillah Ar Rahman Ar Raheem

“O you who believe! Fear Allah, and say a word directed to the Right: That He many make your conduct whole and sound and forgive you your sins: He that obeys Allah and His Messenger, has already attained the highest Achievement.” 33:70-71

Brothers and Sister of the American Muslim community,

I have become aware of the dialogue taking place in social media about the American Muslim community, and specifically about the Islamic Society of North America and its role in the United States. This includes ISNA’s philosophy and strategy of engagement with the government and public officials. I welcome this dialogue, as do all the leaders of ISNA. This may be a good beginning for a larger discourse among the American Muslim community and its leadership as the American Muslim knows best what is in the best interest of its communities. Imam Malik exemplified for us the importance of understanding the context before issuing the ruling or critique when he told a man from another land who came to see him that he could not give an answer to the man on the situation of his people. “You know better than I do about your situation,” he said.

No Muslim leader in America, particularly those who volunteer in their positions wish to find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place. However, reality is that many of us are between two attacks, those that come from Islamaphobes from whom we must defend our faith, our rights, and our communities, and those that are coming from our fellow Muslims, from whom we must defend the integrity and intentions of our leadership. It is appropriate and encouraged for members of the Muslim community to hold leadership accountable and to ask tough questions and it is the responsibility of the leadership to respond. This is why I will try to participate in this dialogue, to answer some of the issues and concerns what were raised.

However, before I go further in addressing the current issues, I would like to establish general guidelines for constructive dialogue.

Imam Shaafi’ said, “My opinion is correct with the possibility of being wrong and the opinion of those that disagree with me is wrong with the possibility of being correct.” He also stated, “There is no time that I engage in debate with others without praying that Allah will show me the truth that comes from the person in order that I may increase in knowledge and benefit from him.” Secondly a person must learn from his or her own mistakes, from his friends, brothers, sisters, and even those who have animosity toward him. All of us must believe in these principles of engaging in dialogue, that dialogue and debate are for seeking truth, not proving oneself to be right. It is also very important that if we see something we think is wrong in one of our brothers or sisters that we know, then we should try our best, by whatever means we have, to talk to them privately before we critique them publicly. Otherwise, the well intended advice might be interpreted as creating friction and disunity among the Muslims. We must deal with people for what they do and what they say and try to understand their context. Their intentions are for Allah alone to judge.

Living in the American context it is also essential for us to understand how to address the diversity of opinions and approaches of individuals and communities. I would like to stress there is a distinction between unity and uniformity. We can and should work towards unity without requiring uniformity. Unity that is established on respecting the general principles and values that come from our faith, and in those tenets of the United States law and Constitution that compliment the principles and values of our faith. This can make us stronger in our iman and more effective in our civic responsibilities. Ensuring that we do not force uniformity allows us to combine the two in ways most feasible for each individual. Those that choose to exercise their religious and civic responsibilities may do so through public peaceful protests and even civil disobedience, while others use means of constructive and sincere engagement to dialogue with elected officials, holding those whose salaries come from our tax dollars accountable for how they serve our country. These two approaches should be respected and equally embraced in the Muslim American community. In my early years in the United States, I studied the history of the Civil Rights Movement and the various approaches people used to move the cause forward. All of these efforts became a part of American history. To understand the fruits of engaging our government, and to understand the interfaith effort of ISNA, please refer to the links included at the end of the article. They will help clarify how ISNA explains the concerns of the Muslim American community to elected officials. There are some Americans that have Islamaphobic mentalities – including some members of Congress and other powerful public figures; through them millions of dollars are spent isolating Muslims from the public discourse, painting them as disloyal citizens of the land that is their home.

The absence of American Muslims from the table of dialogue only creates a vacuum that would be filled by others, possibly by these very individuals. Its not only about whom you dialogue with but what you say when you are with them. An individual who understands the Seerah of Prophet (peace be upon him) will see that he (peace be upon him) dialogued with many people including those like Walid ibn Mughira, who attacked him personally and showed tremendous disrespect to him (peace be upon him). The Prophet (peace be upon him) let him finish his speech, despite the offensive content of it, and then responded to him with calmness and kindness. Dialogue does not mean that you compromise your principles in promoting justice and fairness, it does means that you try to understand where the other side is coming from and try to reach a common understanding based on shared values. Our example in dealing with others, as in all things, is the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him). You will find more about this in a book written by Professor Tariq Ramadan, Footsteps of the Prophet.

In regards to ISNA’s position, ISNA is one of the founders of the organization of National Religious Campaign Against Torture (NRCAT), an organization that calls for ending torture by law enforcement. Dr. Ingrid Mattson, former President of ISNA, was among the first Muslim leaders to bring this issue to the forefront of the minds of Muslim communities in the US. Raising this issue in the interfaith platform led to President Obama issuing an executive order to end torture by the government. NRCAT is one of the largest interfaith organizations in America dealing with ending torture. It is an alliance of good, fighting for justice similar to the alliance that the Prophet Muhammad (peace be upon him) was a part of even prior to his prophethood. ISNA is a member of National Interreligious Leadership Initiative for Peace in the Middle East (NILI), an interfaith organization that deals with the Israel-Palestine conflict. Their objective is to convey to the United States leadership the strong concern of the faith communities regarding the ongoing conflict, to push for a more active role on the national level, and to establish a just and lasting peace arrangement. Leaders of NILI, have met many times with secretaries of state and other high officials to further this cause. ISNA is also a founding member of one of the largest interfaith civil rights organizations created to defend Muslim rights, Shoulder to Shoulder, created to protect rights of Muslim in America and standing firmly with partners of other faiths to speak against bigotry in all of its forms. In addition to these partnerships, ISNA has issued many press releases regarding the loss of civilian lives in various parts of the world. In recent months, much emphasis has been put on addressing the loss of life in Gaza, Syria, and Iraq. ISNA leaders have also taken many opportunities in recent months to speak directly with high level officials on behalf of the American Muslim community. Each time, whether at the White House iftar or at any other gathering, leaders take great care to consider the interest of the American Muslim community and the context in which they live. I participate in many dialogues with the President of the United States and many other officials regarding healthcare, combating gun violence and domestic violence in America, as well as bringing the perspective and concerns of Muslims regarding the many issues in the Middle East and around the globe.

My Brothers and Sisters, let me be open with you, I often find many Muslim communities are more concerned about international issues than American domestic issues. We have to connect the international issues of concern to the country in which we live so that our fellow Americans can see the impact of these international issues on America itself. If we desire for our point of view to truly be heard, nationally and internationally, we have to engage our fellow American citizens in general dialogue, and we have to engage elected officials from local representatives to the President of the United States. I have visited communities in Europe and was shocked to see that in some areas the Muslim community has isolated themselves from the larger community and disconnected themselves from the country which they are citizens of. We cannot choose to isolate ourselves; we cannot choose to be silent. Wherever we live in the world, those are the places we call home, the places where our children are raised and the places where they will raise their own families. Yet I have met many people, even in the US, who follow the political situations of their countries of origin, but are oblivious to the politics of the country in which they live and work. Individuals have great concerns for the situations “back home” but are not investing themselves in the greater community here at home where they are physically present and where their children are educated.

Similarly, I see many masajid that are deeply engaged with our public officials and work with partners in the interfaith community. However, there is still a gap between what the community feels and what the community does. Many Muslims will pick up the phone to call a friend and express their displeasure with policies they see, be that domestic or foreign, but they do not pick up the phone to call their local representatives to express that concern. They may email their imams and Masajid Board members preaching endlessly about the importance of speaking up against the injustices, but they do not email the officials who made the decisions. They may read articles that upset them about issues concerning the community but they will not write a letter to the editor. They may listen to a talk radio show that disgraces Muslims but they will not call in. My Brothers and Sisters, we should be grateful that we live in a world where we are able to engage in dialogue, vote, and lobby our government. To be silent, to disengage, would be to discard one of the most powerful tools God has given us with which we can do good. I would like to say that ISNA would like to be that platform where we can agree to disagree and to represent different points of view, unity but not uniformity. Many times I had heard speakers at ISNA conventions and conferences whose opinions I disagreed with but who I had encouraged to be invited back to address the community because we had to understand each others’ different points of view. At the same time, we must be wise in how we address these and how we prioritize the issues being addressed. We need to think about what will impact our children and the generations that follow.

Finally I would like to say, ISNA is your organization. ISNA’s doors are wide open. You can become a member today and earn the right to vote people in or out of the leadership. We hope that you will join us to hear various speakers, with a tremendous wealth of knowledge and experience, who have agreed to honor us with their presence this year and share with us the diversity of opinion and practice in so many aspects of our lives. I started this article with a verse of the Qur’an and I would like to end it with this one,

“O ye who believe! Stand out firmly for Allah, as witness to fair dealing, and let not the hatred of others to you make you swerve to wrong and depart from justice. Be just: that is next to piety: and fear Allah. For Allah is well acquainted with all that ye do.” 5:8

Bourget 2014: A new kind of meeting for the UOIF

April 22, 2014

For its 31st edition, the annual gathering of French Muslims at Le Bourget organized by the Union of Islamic Organisations in France (UOIF), the theme of family and gender studies in schools were at the heart of the debate.

Bringing together speakers like Tariq Ramadan, Tariq Oubrou and Farida Belghoul – President of the Journée de Retrait de l’Ecole (JRE) or ‘Day of Withdrawal from School’ – the conference presented mixed views. A controversy erupted when Farida Belghoul’s appearance was cancelled and then reincorporated at the last minute by the UOIF under public pressure. Seeking to distant themselves from Belghoul’s call to take students out of school one day a month when gender theory would be taught, the UOIF had withdrawn its panel ‘Gender theory, which gender theory?’. Despite its own reservations on the proposed introduction of gender theory into schools, the UOIF condemns the JRE in the name of ‘refusing to use children in adult debates.’ ‘We are for the debate but we do not want a controversy. In light of the current circumstances, it’s better that Belghoul doesn’t appear with us,’ explained Amar Lasfar, the President of the UOIF.

The panel was reinstated into the program in the end, and the debate included Belghoul, Camel Bechikh from Fils de France, Nabil Ennasri from the Collective of French Muslims, sociologists Omero Marongiu-Perria and Fatima Khemilat, as well as Rachid Lamarti from the UOIF.

The UOIF was also the occasion for holding numerous other social debates concerning bioethics, modern individualism, diversity and ethics, gender equality, the portrayal of Islam in France, interfaith dialogue and the self-determination of societies. Le Bourget, in fact, didn’t restrict itself to one debate only.

Marriage Debates Color Muslims’ Le Bourget

April 18, 2014


Muslim leaders opened France’s largest Islamic conference on Friday, April 18, amid a recent controversy surrounding the recent social debates in France regarding legalization of gay marriage and discussions on gender equality education in schools.

“From the point of view of the religious consciousness, marriage for all is something that is a real problem of consciousness,” Tariq Ramadan told BFM TV, media-presse.info reported.

“The issue of homosexuality should be asked in terms of philosophy life: I think it is something that goes against my faith,” he added.

Organized by UOIF, Le Bourget, the largest Islamic conference in France, opened on Friday.

Prominent Swiss Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan will attend the first day of the conference, which closes next Monday.

Themed “What values for a changing society? Man, family and community life”, the four-day conference discusses a host of topics of interest for the Muslim community in France.

The event is expected to draw 150,000 visitors annually, Le Bourget’s attendants will be able to visit a 15,000 square meter exhibition space in which typical products from the Arab and Muslim world will be displayed.

France is home to a Muslim minority of six million, Europe’s largest.

Last February, French Muslims went in mass protests against the legalization of gay marriage and gender equality teaching in schools considering it a “violation” of traditional family values.

The controversy erupted after gender theory, which promotes same-sex, was included in school education stirring fierce criticism by France’s conservative and right-wing groups.

Despite fierce opposition and mass protest across the southern European country, President Francoise Hollande signed the controversial marriage bill into law in May 2013.

After the legislation, France became the 14th country in the world to allow gay marriage.


Source: http://www.onislam.net/english/news/europe/471505-marriage-debates-color-muslims-le-bourget.html


French ministers refuse to attend conference with Islamic scholar who teaches at Oxford University

Tariq Ramadan is an Islamic scholar who teaches at Oxford University and a former member of a working group on extremism set up by Tony Blair. Time magazine once described him as the “leading thinker” among Europe’s second and third-generation Muslim immigrants. Yet two French ministers have suddenly announced that they will not attend a conference in Florence tomorrow on the future of the European Union because of the presence of the scholar, Tariq Ramadan. He is due to be a panellist at the conference, entitled The State of the Union, speaking about “migration, identity and integration”. The French Interior Minister Manuel Valls and Najat Vallaud-Belkacem, the Women’s Rights Minister who is also a government spokeswoman, informed organisers that they were pulling out, saying they had “not been informed” of Professor Ramadan’s attendance. The philosopher is a controversial figure who has been accused of advocating violence and for some years was banned from entering France.

Tariq Ramadan’s interpretation of Pope Benedict XVI


Tuesday, 5 March 2013*

It can only be hoped that the next pope will be better fitted to
grasp the great issues of the day.

Pope Benedict will not have left his mark on history quite as
decisively as his predecessor, John Paul II. The latter’s name
will live after him as an exemplar of openness, of service to
humanity and of dialogue with the world’s spiritual and
religious traditions. When Cardinal Ratzinger was elected pope
eight years ago, it was expected that he would reaffirm the
central position of dogma, of the principles and the laws of the
Roman Catholic Church. He brought with him a reputation for
theological rigour, strictness in matters of doctrine and
practice, and an inflexible attitude toward other Christian
traditions and other religions. The Church was Truth, and must
reaffirm that truth with clarity and courage. This reaffirmation
was the foundation stone of his conception of the papal function.

The outgoing pope’s great knowledge of theology must of course
be recognised, as must his genuine and sincere meditative
intelligence. He was above all fundamentally Catholic, a man of
profound conviction, driven by an ongoing fixation with
consistency. The first years of his papacy quickly revealed his
deficiencies as well as his qualities, as he learned to interact
with the world of media and communication. Benedict XVI emerged
as inward-turning, expressing himself as a theologian immersed
in texts and traditions; more than a few of his public
statements demonstrated a mixture of Catholic consistency and
media awkwardness. He, and his advisors and representatives,
were often forced to rephrase, explain or clarify a statement, a
formula, a speech. He was by no means a media pope, but a pope
of holy writ, more faithful to norms to be respected than guided
by the imperative of responding to contemporary challenges.

This same scrupulous consistency led him to positions that
proved difficult for the broader Christian family to accept. For
him, after all was said and done, the truth, and the only true
salvation, could not be envisaged outside the Catholic church.

Dialogue with the Protestants, the Orthodox or other Christian
churches were, of course, both necessary and positive but he
could never forget that one imperative. It came as no surprise
that he approached dialogue with the Jewish and Muslim
monotheistic traditions, and beyond them, Hinduism and Buddhism,
with the same consistency: as spiritual traditions, and as
religions, they might well contain an element of truth, but they
could never represent a pathway to the salvation of souls.

Dialogue might well focus on shared ethical principles,
respective practices and social realities, but under no
circumstances could any doubt be cast upon the truth that in his
eyes the Catholic church alone possessed and incarnated: a
position that seemed logical enough to those within, but
logically—and dogmatically—exclusivist when seen from without.
So it was that the pope came to stand for the fraught and
close-minded consistency of the dogmatist. It came as no
surprise that interfaith dialogue was biased, diluted, all but
useless except as an adjunct to missionary competition or the
comparison of positive and negative practices.

It is in this light that his lecture at Ravensburg University in
2006 should be understood. His reading of European history was
charged with fears about the modern era. For him, two threats
loomed over the continent: secularisation that drives religion —
as faith, rules and hopes — to the margins of society, and the
arrival of Muslims whose numbers, practices and growing
visibility represented, for him, a major challenge for the
Catholic church.

Forcefully, rather clumsily and with historical inaccuracy, Pope
Benedict XVI asserted Europe’s Greek and Christian roots. His
insistence on rereading the past, on reducing the cultural
origins of Europe to the Hellenic rationalist tradition and the
Christian faith, were designed to reaffirm European identity.
While millions of Muslim citizens live in Europe they remain
foreign to Europe’s deep identity, which must be affirmed,
defended and protected.

Historical truth is another matter, of course. Islam, like
Judaism, is part and parcel of the European soul, a soul shaped
by their thinkers, philosophers, architects and authors, their
artists and merchants. Islam is, historically and
contemporaneously, a European religion; the pope’s remarks must
be viewed through the prism of fear, fear of the Muslim
presence, and driven by the urge to revitalise missionary
activity in the very heart of Europe.

Benedict XVI viewed interfaith dialogue through the same prism.
In the course of our encounters, the last one in Rome in 2009,
it proved impossible to broach theological fundamentals and
principles: the discussion quickly turned to our respective
practices, and to the treatment of Christian minorities in the

Of course we could point to shared values, but even then,
dialogue rapidly veered off into comparisons, reciprocity, and
even competition. Debate on the treatment of Eastern Christians
cannot and must not be avoided; discrimination is a fact and
Muslims must respond in full candour, but this cannot become a
pretext for shirking fundamental theological questions, or, more
generally, the obligation to place things in their proper
historical and political context.

The fact that the rights of Muslims are often better protected
in the secular West has very little to do with Christianity,
just as occasional discrimination in Muslim-majority societies
cannot be attributed to certain interpretations of Islam alone.
It is impossible to disregard the political and historical
factors that go well beyond strict interfaith dialogue. To
confine dialogue—with other religions in general and with Islam
in particular — to missionary posturing (against the “threat” of
Islam in the West) and systematic criticism (underlining the
contradictions of Muslim majority societies) can only deprive it
of its value and limit its potential for improving mutual
awareness and promoting fruitful, respectful, pro-active and
harmonious co-existence.

The church must face facts: it has a serious youth problem. The
final years of Pope John Paul II and the retirement, at 85, of
Benedict XVI symbolise an era: the church today seems frail, on
the defensive, far from the common people, stubbornly fixated on
principles that millions hear and few apply. The churches of
Europe, and more generally in the West, are emptying; those who
remain are increasingly old.

It can only be hoped that the next pope will possess
youthfulness of spirit combined with seriousness and theological
competence, that he will be better fitted to grasp the great
issues of the day, both within the Church and at the heart of
contemporary society. It can only be hoped that he will be
capable of articulating a less abrasive message, one more open
to other traditions; one that, even though the faithful quite
naturally understand it as the “truth,” never neglects dialogue
and mutual respect, all the while standing firmly for a
pluralist and inclusive West as the embodiment of the Catholic

To the recognition of diversity within (the presence of other
Christian traditions) and without (the world’s other spiritual
traditions and religions) must be added full and open debate
within the church on rules and practices. The celibacy of
priests, the exclusion of women from the clerical hierarchy, the
acceptance of divorce, the use of contraception, or the ethical
response of the Catholic church to contemporary scientific and
technological issues are only a few of the questions to which
the incoming pope will be called upon to respond: not against
Catholic principles, but with the triple exigency of fidelity to
those principles, to the critical re-examination of the sources,
and to the acceptance of responsibility for the state of our world.

Every religious and spiritual tradition must submit itself to
the process of criticism and self-criticism. Such a process will
demand the full support of a Pope, of priests and competent,
self-assured, courageous and qualified representatives (rabbis
and ulama) of other faiths who will reject defensive attitudes
and accept that their first responsibility is to awaken minds
and hearts to the meaning of life and death, to the dignity of
beings in their diversity, and the affirmation of overarching
(universal and shared) goals that any society would neglect at
its risk. The church today awaits this message and pastoral
guidance, as do all of the world’s religious and spiritual

Tariq Ramadan Response to Papal Renunciation

*Tuesday, 12 February 2013
I am not a Christian, and have frequently taken issue with Pope
Benedict XVI’s theological positions and historical
interpretations, both in form and in content.

We met on two occasions: the first, while he was still Joseph
Cardinal Ratzinger, the second, in Rome, when he was Pope, as a
participant in interfaith dialogues. I have read him closely,
and listened to him carefully.

His knowledge, his intellectual rigor and the depth of his
analyses made a strong impression on me. Behind a face that
often appeared cool and distant, and despite an introverted
manner, he radiated goodness and gentleness. He was surprising
in the most contradictory way. Despite our deep disagreements, I
always respected the man, his intelligence, his generosity and
obvious courage. He was never afraid to state what he thought
was just, to challenge his opponents or the majority view. As
Pope, he often seemed out of touch, his thought much deeper,
darker—that of a theologian—than the visionary and hope-filled
message of we normally associate with his position as a Pope.

Today, recognizant of his age and responsibilities, he has
stepped down. The difficult last years of his predecessor must
have been on his mind. His decision must be saluted. Sincerely.
As a lesson rich with multiple messages for both the Church, and
for the world at large: know your limits; take leave of power by
choice and not by fate’s decree.

Will the Church hear the departing Pope’s message and call to
the summit of power younger figures with the same knowledge, the
same intellectual rigor? Will world leaders, men and women
alike, grasp that above and beyond the question of age, what is
ultimately at stake is humility? Can we recognize that we are no
longer able to fulfill our commitments; can we learn to take our
leave, to turn our back on power? The lesson is valid for
everyone, religious or not; for agnostics and atheists, for
Hindus, Buddhists, Christians, Jews and Muslims. For we are
never aware enough of our limitations, never humble enough.

The best measure of a successful life is the way we turn away,
we renounce, and even by the way we depart it.


Tariq Ramadan

Muslim intellectual’s conference participation causes unrest amongst local politicians

17 January 2013


The announcement of the participation of Muslim intellectual Tariq Ramadan in a conference on ‘Islam and the media’ in Roubaix, Nord Pas-de- Calais, has according to a report in France 3 Nord Pas-de-Calais caused deep local controversy. Segments of the local community have criticized both, the organization Association Rencontre et Dialogue for creating, and the city hall for permitting such a debate in the city. Their criticism is in form and content directed against the conference and its renowned Muslim participant.


A UMP politician has questioned Tariq Ramadan’s understanding of Muslim acceptance in France. He denounced Ramadan’s critique of French state and societal attitudes towards Muslims and decries the rise of communalism allegedly caused by the Muslim intellectual’s rhetoric. Another opponent accused both the city hall and the organizers to tolerate and facilitate proselytisation by providing a public platform to the ideas represented by people like Ramadan.


In response to the severe criticism, the mayor of Roubaix has justified his decision as a commitment to the idea freedom of expression and plurality of opinions.