Tariq Ramadan: Propagandist in Scholar�s Robes
by Rebecca Bynum (October 2010)
Tariq Ramadan is a professor of Islamic studies at the University of Oxford's St Antony's College and a Senior Research Fellow at Doshisha University in Kyoto, Japan. He is also the president of the European Muslim Network headquartered in Brussels, and the author of some 20 books. Foreign Policy magazine named him one of the Top 100 Global Thinkers of 2009 and Time magazine calls Ramadan "One of the most important innovators for the twenty-first century." The full title of his Oxford chair is "the His Highness Hamad Bin Khalifa Al-Thani Chair in Contemporary Islamic Studies," reflecting the source of the endowment (Qatar) which has opened the doors to so much else, but Ramadan is identified by the carefully shortened version, "Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at Oxford University," on the book's cover. more>>>
Posted on 09/30/2010 3:26 PM by NER
30 Sep 2010
Ibn Kaldun was the first sociologist, Thomas Aquinas borrowed heavily from Averroes (Ibn Rushd), and a twelfth century novel by Ibn Tufayl influenced everybody from Defoe to Hume to Marx"
I think Tariq Ramadan should offer some quotes from Ibn Khaldun, particularly those comparing the Berbers to the Arabs, and both to blacks, to see what Western audiences make of Ibn Khaldun. And he knows perfectly well that Ibn Khaldun was ignored in the Islamic world, and re-discovered only because of the West's appreciation for him.
As to Averroes, he was a freethinker, and the main point about him is that he was ignored in the Islamic world, and had what effect he did have only in the Christian West, which was open to him as Muslims were not.
Finally, as to this i supposed influence of one Ibn Tufayl n "everyone from Defoe to Hume to Marx,"�the claim not only sounds absurd, it is absurd. And if Tariq Ramadan wishes to bring in Hume, and what he thought of Islam and of Islam's truest adherents, with their deep belief in djinn, and their whispering Shaytan, and their permanent credulity, one that Islam itself encourages, for it discourages the skeptical inquiry of which Hume was such a champion,� here he goes so obviously off the deep end of his pool of ignorance about the West -- despite the outward sheen, a real intellectual primitive, who never sank below the surface of things, and has no idea, despite his schooling in the West, of what it is all about, of what standards must be observed if one is to be taken seriously.
You've taken a good whack at him. It must have been exhausting, to wade through his nonsense and try to make of it, sense. But also, especially now that the task is done, fun.
And you must have especially enjoyed the telling idiocy of such things as Ramadan's reference to those "female abolitionists"�whom he believes were working to free women from slavery. Now that kind of thing is not offered on a plate every day to a polemicist.
Yes, that kind of thing is rare. And you have left Tariq Ramadan subject to your grilling, both bloody (saignant) and -- a paradox for French waiters -- well done.
30 Sep 2010
Great job, Rebecca.
Just one thing.
You write: "I pity the poor students who must be subjected to this drivel."
You shouldn't. As you say elsewhere in the review, this is what they desire, expect--and buy with big bucks--when they go to university to study in the various fields of the humaniores these days. They are getting what they wanted and what they deserve, or otherwise Ramadan's classes would be empty.
1 Oct 2010
I can only bring myself to look at and to listen to Tariq Ramadan in his videoed exchange with Sarkozy, one that saw Ramadan publically ridiculed and laughed at by a studio audience.
One short quip from Sarkozy undid years of painstaking P,R. image-making on the part of Bro Tariq.
3 Oct 2010
Rebecca - I was very much struck by this, among your final remarks - "In her work, Bat Ye'or discusses how the psychological conditioning of dhimmitude begins with confusion, confusion as to what is right and wrong, just and unjust, among non-Muslim peoples subject to Islam".
That reference to 'confusion' reminds me of a passage in M Scott Peck's quite useful little book, 'People of the Lie', where he calls 'confusion' as one of the clues that we are encountering serious and wilful human evil.
In his book's second chapter, 'Toward a Psychology of Evil', Peck observes: "When confronted by evil, the wisest and most secure adult will usually experience confusion".
He expands on this, a little later on - "There is another reaction [besides revulsion] that the evil frequently engender in us: confusion. Describing an encounter with an evil person, one woman wrote, 'it was as if I'd suddenly lost my ability to think.' "
Again, in the chapter called 'Charlene: a Teaching Case', after Peck has described his bruising encounter, as a young psychologist, with a thoroughly evil person who came to him as a patient (but not with any intention of moral or spiritual change, more as a kind of power play), he reflects on what he might do if he encountered such a person again:
"I would begin with my confusion. I know now that one of the characteristics of evil is its desire to confuse. I had been aware of my confusion within a month of beginning work with Charlene, but assumed it to be my stupidity. I never entertained the notion...that possibly I was confused **because she wanted to confuse me**. Today I would make that as a possible hypothesis and begin to test it quite quickly...".
4 Oct 2010
"female abolitionists" whom he believes were working to free women from slavery.
Maybe Ramadan knows that women were not chattel slaves in the United States. But he may just want to plant the idea in people's heads so that he can go and say: You're no better than we are.
That is, maybe he wants to confuse.
7 Oct 2010
Thank you. You've given me a lot to think about. I hadn't thought about the confusion issue with regard to evil before. Islam is such an intellectual religion too - quite the opposite of the child-like faith Jesus proposed.
13 Oct 2010
Elliott A Green
Suppose we agreed with an Arab Muslim who boasted about the contributions of Ibn Khaldun, Averroes and Ibn Tufayl, and let's throw in Avicenna to be generous. They were all medieval. The latest of this group was Ibn Khaldun who died in 1406. So in addition to Hugh Fitzgerald's point that Ibn Rushd was ignored in the Arab-Muslim world --especially after his execution for heresy-- and that Ibn Khaldun held some opinions unpalatable for us moderns, the fact is that they have produced nobody notable --in the sense of making positive constructive intellectual contributions-- since the death of Ibn Khaldun, more than 600 years ago.
And the question ought to be, Why not. Why was population declining in Israel, for example, what Arabs and Muslims saw as an indistinct part of Syria [called bilad ash-Sham] up to the mid-19th century? Why is Egypt so impoverished even today whereas it was prosperous and a center of civilization in ancient times?
The most reasonable answer would seem to be that Islam impoverished many countries and held back their intellectual development.
23 Oct 2010
G. Murphy Donovan
Good get, Rebecca! For my money Ramadan is pirated Swiss edition of Edward Said, preaching a kind of agnotology popular with other great "scholars" like the Rev. Jerimah Wright. This "chickens coming home to roost" paradigm is starting to wear thin.
Tariq confuses diversity with pluralism. Surely Islam is racially diverse, but its attitudes towards religious, artistic, cultural, and political choice is repressive, especially in Arabia. Indeed. Any non-Arab might be a second class citizen in Arabia and any non-believer is something less. still. Guest workers in such places are suspended somewhere between indentured servant and slave.