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Tariq Ramadan’s ‘Debate’ ‘Within the Islamic Tradition’ on Female Circumcision.

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Ramadan Faces, “campaign by far-right circles, fundamentalist secularists, inveterate Zionists, lying ex-Muslims…”

Tariq Ramadan (Arabicطارق رمضان‎‎; born 26 August 1962) is a Swiss academic, philosopher and writer. He is the professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at St Antony’s College, Oxford, and also teaches at the Oxford Faculty of Theology. He is a visiting professor at the Faculty of Islamic Studies (Qatar), the Université Mundiapolis (Morocco) and several other universities around world. He is also a senior research fellow at Doshisha University (Japan). He is the director of the Research Centre of Islamic Legislation and Ethics (CILE), based in Doha.[3] He is a member of the UK Foreign Office Advisory Group on Freedom of Religion or Belief.[4] He was elected by Time magazine in 2000 as one of the seven religious innovators of the 21st century and in 2004 as one of the 100 most influential people in the world[5] and by Foreign Policy magazine (2005, 2006, 2008-2010, 2012-2015) as one of the top 100 most influential thinkers in the world and Global Thinkers. (Wikipedia)

To get an idea of why this Blog has nothing but disdain for Ramadan his reaction to the massacres at Charlie Hebdo and the Hyper Cacher is a good place to start,

Speaking on the BBC’s Today Programme earlier this morning, Prof Ramadan condemned the attack on the Paris headquarters of satirical magazine Charlie Hebdo, saying that, “these are very difficult times and a very sad situation” and expressing his “deepest sympathy for the victims’ families.”

“We must start by condemning what happened and what was done in the name of Islam… what they did in fact was to betray our principles, our values and the overall message of Islam,” he stated.

Prof Ramadan also outlined the need for a more nuanced reaction to the atrocities, and for there to be a real attempt to understand the grievances that might lead such people to commit such extreme acts of violence.

The Oxford Don is perhaps best known for calling for a “moratorium” – not the abolition – of some  Sharia law penalties as stoning people to death (An International call for Moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in the Islamic World. 2005)

A new controversy about Islamic Legality  began last week (June the 14th).

It has not stopped growing.

Tariq Ramadan Defends Female Genital Mutilation: ‘Part of Our Tradition’ and an ‘Internal Discussion’ for Muslims Only.

… on Monday, influential Islamist thinker and activist Tariq Ramadan released a 10 minute video on Facebook expressing support for Elsayed staying on. Ramadan stated Muslim leaders who advocate for FGM should be understood as “brothers,” part of “our community” and Muslims who disagree should engage them with “internal discussion” and are instructed “not to expose them.” Here are some of the highlights from this video.

The author continued,

First Ramadan starts by framing opposition to FGM as a critique coming from “outside the community” and stating that he opposes the calls for firing Elsayed:

“I’m reacting to what I heard and some questions that I had about what happened in Washington with this controversy round a shaykh who was not yet fired – I hope he is not going to be, but he was asked to stop preaching and to stop being active within the community or within the mosque in Washington. And I think that some of the brothers and the sisters even wrote a letter after the controversy around female genital mutilation and excision asking for him to be fired from the mosque and reacting to a video that was posted about what he said in the gathering with Muslim students, men and women. Let me say three things about this because I think this [sic] are critical times and we have to be quite serious about the way we are reacting to controversies and the way we are reacting to some critiques that are coming from outside the community and we have to ask ourselves what we are doing.”

Next Ramadan makes his argument that because FGM is defended by some Muslim scholars it qualifies as “part of our tradition” and is therefore worthy of being “promoted”:

“My position as a Muslim scholar, my position: it’s wrong that we should not promote this because I think that first, it’s not in the Koran and second, it’s part of the Sunnah that we have, and it’s something that is done in African countries, among the Christians and the Muslims and it’s not religious. Having said that, I cannot deny the fact that some scholars at the highest levels of their institutional position are supporting the fact that this is possible that you can go for excision, not to go up to the mutilation and infibulation as it is known in African countries, but we have this in our tradition and it’s part of the internal discussion that we need to have. So to please people who are attacking Islam by saying ‘Oh no, no, no, this is not Islamic. It’s illegal,’ it’s not even faithful to our tradition. We need to have an internal discussion… So, once again, we have to be serious. Any one of the six months of any basic Islamic training, no one can say it’s not part of our tradition. It’s controversial, it’s discussed… you need to take a position, but you then cannot deny the fact that this is something which is part of our tradition.”

Then Ramadan shifts to attacking opponents of FGM, decrying them as Islamophobes, attacking MEMRI by name, and criticizing Muslims for wanting “to be perceived as moderate, open-minded”:

“You need to ask yourself: who are these people who are using videos, putting them and creating controversy? If you are reacting only when Islamophobes – and the people, MEMRI, we know who they are, we know what they want to do, we know in which way they want to make Islam problems, not only in the United States of America but around the world through the translation, distorting and covering in ways that are very specific, they have a very specific objective, they have a very specific way of dealing with scholars, intellectuals, and Islam. These are Islamophobes, and you react to them by just exposing one of your leaders, a shaykh that has been serving the community for more than 30 years and you ask for him to be fired so quickly just to be on the safe side of the political discussion in the United States of America by saying ‘Oh, we have nothing to do with this’ while your tradition is there and it’s discussed within your tradition and whoever is attacking you at least you have to be cautious with the people who are using this and are putting you in a situation which is yes, problematic, but you have to stand for your rights to have opinions, and at least to have internal discussion and not to react so quickly to these issues… And the last thing that I wanted to say: we disagree. I don’t agree with the statement. I don’t with one brother, I don’t agree with one leader. Can’t we take the time to have an internal discussion? To say ‘Look we are not going to respond to the controversy, we are not going to fire the people just to be on the safe side and to be perceived as moderate, as open-minded.'”

Ramadan’s concluding comments are perhaps the most revealing [emphasis added]:

At least we take the time and we let the people know these are internal issues, these are discussions that we want to have among ourselves and it’s not for you to decide when we have to fire somebody or even what are our priorities, because at the end of the day the context is now deciding for us, and people around us are deciding for us what are our priorities, what are the main principle of Islam, and we are not able to come with dignity, with consistency, with confidence and say, ‘Ok, this is who we are, we don’t have all the same opinions, there are discussions, there are internal discussions, we will take our decision, we will have our Shura, our deliberation with it, and it is for us to decide, not for Islamophobes, not for racists, not for people who have political agendas that are now deciding for us… The way you have to be dignified as a Muslim is to rely on him [points upward] to be consistent with yourself and to respect your brothers, not to expose them, not to expose your sisters, even though you disagree, even though you don’t agree. And no double standards, no selective indignation, or selective rejection of some of our brothers because they are exposed outside. And as to our internal business, we talk about it but we let the people, we let the brothers say whatever they want to say.

This insistence on “no double standards” is loaded with irony, as double standards are inherent in Ramadan’s worldview. He advocates for one moral standard for his Muslim “brothers” and “sisters” to engage in “internal discussion” and for imams to “say whatever they want to say.” But for non-Muslims who oppose the barbaric (and illegal) practice of FGM – that makes one a racist and “Islamophobe.”

The international religious authority has tweeted,

Ramadan’s further  reply:

I thought it was not needed as I repeated three times in the video that I do not support either excision or FGM. In any way and I have been involved around the world against both practises. I disagree as well with the comments made by Shaykh Shaker about hyper-sexuality. Yet, this was not my point and I made it clear in the video. To say this discussion has no ground within the Islamic tradition is wrong : it has been debated and still is. Even though I am against these practises as I think it is not the right Islamic interpretation, it cannot be denied that it was condoned by some Muslim scholars (even contemporary ones). So let us be clear about it and address the issue the way it should be, in a clear, wise and scholarly manner. My other point was about our reactive way to deal with issue when vicious islamophobic agencies, such as MEMRI, are attacking people and leaders within the Muslim community. This is the time where we should be wise and decide for ourselves how we have to deal with these issues and prioritise our struggles. Instead of exposing people, let us have an open internal debate even if it has to be heated, tough with no compromise. This is where I stand and I hope it is clear enough by now.

 

In a more forthright vein, in French the scholar talks of,

A new campaign by far-right circles, fundamentalist secularists, inveterate Zionists, lying ex-Muslims, and propagandists from all sides…claims that I am a defender of female genital mutilation! Not satisfied with altering my remarks and twisting their meaning, these imposters are waging a campaign in all directions, at Muslims, at Africans, and my self…I have campaigned for 30 years in Africa, and across the world against female circumcision, and all forms of mutilation. These claims are abject smears.  But there is no greater deafness than the deafness of liars, racists and the dishonest.

 

One assumes that the erudite savant was referring to this report in French language media,

Après la lapidation, Tariq Ramadan voudrait avoir une discussion « interne » sur l’excision : « Elle fait partie de notre tradition » toute l'information et l'actualité sur Israel, sur l'Europe, les news sur Israël et le Moyen Orient

Ramadan’s response is, one might observe, in just the kind of tone which we need in the present climate.

 

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Written by Andrew Coates

June 22, 2017 at 12:41 pm

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