What will follow is a rambling with side thoughts and such, I wrote this with little effort to edit it because I wanted more to share than to write an elaborate essay on my actual standing on certain topics
Before talking about Tariq Ramadan let me clarify that I have read a book of his and started reading other of his books years ago and I am willing to finish them too. I have read some of his articles and listened to multiple university lectures and debates.
I am fully aware that reading and listening is not enough but you also need to have some intellectual background on the issues he is discussing and in this case, social and professional experience in the real world and personal experience in the faith related approaches of his thoughts and beliefs.
I am also aware that one may have done all of this and still disagree or think wrongly of Tariq Ramadan.
I will add here that I am a fan of his work and years and years of his inter faith and inner faith work within the Muslim world all around the planet.
Why am I telling you about this?
Let’s say that I have spent a grand majority of my time in recent years dealing with politics starting with of course the American system. All this new knowledge I have gathered on the political spectrum in the USA supposed to be the leading force on the planet and the rise of Donald Trump made a great impression on me especially how Americans responded during these years to this major change in American Politics.
I would add to that of course my personal faith shortcomings and how I dealt with them personally and how all these changes were like different sources of light shed on my persona. All this knowledge and changes have showed me so much of my self which is very scary if I dare to say. Let alone the fact that while I am analyzing myself and while I am being scared at myself I thought about others, about other human beings under this spectrum of complexity of the social human experience and how easily we can dive in the fire of hatred and passion only to self destruct on a major scale.
Ok enough of this introduction which has as a purpose to contextualize shortly where I am coming from.
What about Tariq Ramadan?
For me Tariq is a guy who is trying his best to at least communicate his beliefs to the world but there are so many complex and sometimes very sinister powers shading darkness on his attempts to make the world a better place.
You would usually see Tariq debating fiercely others on the stage and usually they would cut him off or play him real good. I am not really interested in who wins but I am more interested in how they challenge him in order for me to understand him more. In order to see a man under bright light.
What was the real motive behind this post?
I wanted to share with the world how very deeply complex is the human experience. That is my intention and how there might be just a little bit of hope to make things better or little worse for the human species and by proxy for the rest of life which surrounds us.
What is the context in which Tariq Ramadan comes in and acts on day and day on so many continents and on different scales of the human experience?
On the stage of debate or of lecture, and also in his published books you will see him addressing many planes of existence at the same time. That is the reality of the world we live in really, don’t let yourself be taken by the hype of the media or political and sometimes religious animosity which will do its best to project his thoughts on just one plane of existence leaving the person of less experience in life, and less knowledge to be manipulated easily.
What are the different planes of existence he dives in and what are his stands on the topic at hand?
I will try my best to be short on what follows to just give an idea on what we are talking about here
I will only discuss just one aspect amongst many, in other words take one instance and further my thoughts about it. It will not cover everything but it will show you the complexity of some mainstream issues
Let’s talk first about politics, which is a very complex issue since it differs on each country to the point that words would have different meanings and definitions.
Usually politicians use a divide and conquer game in order to control the public opinion on a couple of issues, they might use identity politics or may use any other means in order to add more color and passion to the game in order to gain votes. No one can lead this game without lacking integrity or authenticity but usually fired up voters would turn a blind eye on certain issues only to satisfy their frustration. Here comes Tariq Ramadan, more active on European countries debating world leaders or popular politicians, in which case they will use his presence in a way to portray the following image: you have a double tongue and don’t answer our questions directly by yes or no. Usually the normal person doesn’t think deeply about issues or on a multidimensional approach either for lack of intellect and knowledge or by lack of attention span and genuine motive. The right answer in my opinion is questions are usually so complex that you can’t have a yes or no answer. In doing so politicians after not obtaining a black or white answers they accuse him of double tongue or double language and think they have won, but for someone like me I would do more research and learn many things to which I end up astonished on how little I have known on the topic at hand.
Social and Faith plane
This one is more complex because at first you might think that those who have a similar Faith as Tariq will side with him but the answer is no.
You might also think that those with no faith wouldn’t really care but actually they do because for them those who believe in a certain faith have always a hidden agenda for world destruction or control.
So let s suppose they are debating the issue of wearing the hijab in France, you might think that French people who believe in the separation of state and faith affairs would support him, in most cases they don’t, because somehow they don’t believe that according to Islam wearing the scarf is an expression of faith and that it is not in principle mandatory in an oppressive context, so they wont stand with him on that and would prefer to negate their own secular policies in order to put a ruling that bans wearing of hijab in schools for whatever other reason they hold in mind.
I stand with Tariq that those matters should be debated and held in open dialogue and I oppose the media who would alter his words and lie to people manipulating them into doubting his true motive. A civil discourse starts with trust in the good intentions of the one you debate because if there is no trust why even start debating on the basis of intellect only to negate your own principles and by them distrust your opponent. But this media game is so old that I am sick of. Journalism nowadays is so biased and makes you only hear one side of the argument and alters the other side which is sickening.
Tariq in this case talks many languages, he is the intellectual who would tell the person who doesn’t believe in Islam but believes in human rights: the version accepted and adopted by the specific country/culture in which the debate takes place, for instance that a girl or woman is free to wear a hijab or not because each one is free to wear whatever they want. And then he would tell the muslim that in Islam no one has the right to impose a certain expression of his beliefs on another one. He would argue and say that such major political decisions should be taken on a democratic way and not by forcing a certain ideology without involving the institutions already built into the system to handle such affairs.
But the problem is that wherever he goes people would distrust him and would negate their own principles only to negate him which is sad really, and most of it out of prejudice.
What about inner and outer Faith dialogue
I am glad that many speakers on Islam have shown themselves and are thinking critically of Islam which is always a learning experience to me.
Islam is complex as any ancient system of thought or theology
You might someday watch a short video of Tariq debating on faith related topics and if not knowledgeable enough you might end up taken by passion and either laughing at him or hating him. In my case I usually think a lot and with time and experience I would think more and more about it.
There are many sects within Islam some only political other only mystical and others more complex in which you end up very confused. But it is a good thing to be confused, yes we should be because it makes us more open to learning and it challenges us to know more. But let me focus on the matter in which I have experience while being brought in a muslim theocracy and how with time I had to challenge myself and be true to my own self on the expense of what I little knew about Islam or faith in general.
Most of ex muslims or muslims who want to reform Islam come from a deep personal experience of the religion. I mean by deep multiple of bottled up emotions and past experiences. Once you snap out of it you feel an immense passion to change things, but in order to do so one should be knowledgeable. In most Tariq’s debates people would simplify the issues into one sentence, the likes of, Islam is bad as a whole or muslims are all evil doing people in disguise. Which is a very simplistic approach if you are a person of thought and especially a person who spent years into researching the history of humans on Earth. Tariq proposes that muslims and non muslims should work together to reform Islam’s understanding and by proxy its social actions on the western world and on the muslim world. Most of the ones who debate him prefer to ban all muslims off their faith which will alienate them internally, on the other hand if those he debates are muslims they would stop him from even thinking about reform. In the end they either obstruct change or are radical in their approach of such complex issue. I think I begin to agree with Tariq Ramdan on this issue, and that is the most important thing I want to share here based on my personal experience:
Those who write books or go on TV and say that Islam is in itself a problem would only alienate the majority of muslims which would either make them miserable and negate their own faith which is counterproductive or would make them more open to darkness and by then feed on the extremist Islamic propaganda fueling them to take antisocial action with any means possible: would it be a word a politician said once against muslims or by reminding them of how muslim countries were conquered by the western world in the past.
Tariq being himself a muslim scholar offers a solution, he wants all different kinds of people to join his workshops on all matters of life to reform Islam’s understanding of the scripture in such a way they understand more the principle of the faith at hand which is according to his research compatible with a peaceful life with others who don’t share the same faith and doesn’t involve a global agenda to Islamize the whole planet under one khalifa or muslim king which would be a totalitarian and authoritarian regime if you ask me, some sort of dystopia hehe
What I shortly discussed here doesn’t only apply to Islam or any other religion on Earth but also on any ideology which throughout the history of mankind had gathered many human hearts and minds would it be communism, socialism, democracy, or any kind of system which handles human affairs on a group level. Anything should be open to questioning and fair debates.
Back to Islam, Tariq so far have shed light on all the antisocial parts of the understanding of Islam and denounces them. He calls legislators, religious people, social activists, scientists, philosophers, to work with him to make a better understand of this religion. Tariq believes that Islam as any other religion should be studied in a way to differentiate between the divine inspiration and the human projection which is a very difficult matter.
Divine inspiration according to him would be parts of the scripture which are intact to the believer like the belief in creationism and final judgment of humans, which I regard as a personal matter to me since each person has their own beliefs which can change over time sometimes based on proof and sometimes based on gut feelings or on the social environment one has been brought into. The nature of the human belief in such things is very complex to approach because of how much psychology has advanced these days along with the biochemistry of the brain. In this matter I am for every one is free to believe in any thing they want as far as socially we don’t harm one another and by then we can live peacefully.
The rest of the scripture would be parts which are more open to human understanding and practice are the social aspects of the scripture which may involve sometimes the group ideology or the justice system by which humans choose to operate on or under. Some of these might be stories which some sadly enough take as historical facts or take on so literally outside of their context as a myth to reflect on instead.
On this topic, which is, should one care about faith systems or not, I say in this day and age even our language is influenced by faith, we are so immersed in it that we don’t see it, if you want to change the status quo I would take the middle road which is to not discriminate others based on their belief but rather work with them to reform their own understanding for a better end. After I walked away from my faith I was so angry I denounced and mocked any thing related to it, but to do so is a bit antisocial if you ask me, I think the best thing is to stay authentic to the universal principles of peace and tolerance while criticizing anything that negates it in a civil and open minded manner, since to be honest with you we know so little about our own existence even if science has advanced so far in all its fields. The more you study science the more you know that we know so little and have to do more research.
I am not gonna lie what also helped me to stay in the middle road is not only Tariq Ramadan’s work and activism but also Jordan Peterson. Jordan Peterson is the kind of guy I hate because he always stabs my ego to death after each thing he challenges me with intellectually, even the three hour debate on stage with Sam Harris. I would add that the other reason for me taking this approach is the fact that I have an affinity for fiction and literature, the fact that I hold a creative side which negates the borders of the known which is an aspect that Jordan keeps challenging me on and call for more thinking about it instead of cold resentment against anything religious or myth related. Jordan’s thoughts on myth and its relationship with human history over the ages, would it be the Christian myth or the pagan myth are so deep and complex and challenging that he brought me again to the middle road.
First Edition: 21 Feb 2019 00:50
Second Edition: 21 Feb 2019 16:27