Tariq Ramadan: ‘Muslims need to reform their minds’

Source: The Guardian

The academic believes Islam and the west shouldn’t be at odds, but was banned from the US and slated in the Sun. Isis hates him, too – so why is he still dogged by controversy?

Tariq Ramadan: ‘I really think that as a Muslim, when I see things that are done in my name, as in Saudi Arabia, I have to speak out.’
Tariq Ramadan: ‘I really think that as a Muslim, when I see things that are done in my name, as in Saudi Arabia, I have to speak out.’ Photograph: David Levene for the Guardian

Tariq Ramadan knows all about travel bans. After all, he was never meant to end up here, in a pebbledash semi in north-west London. In 2004, he was on his way to the US, having been offered the role of professor of Islamic studies at the University of Notre Dame, in Indiana. Suddenly, nine days before his flight, a house already rented, kids enrolled in school, his visa was revoked.

The reasons given were vague at first, but eventually came down to the fact he supported a charity the Bush administration labelled a fundraiser for Hamas. They argued Ramadan should have known about the links. How could he, he said, when the donations were made before the blacklisting – in other words, before the US government itself knew? He believes, instead, that he was singled out for his opposition to the war in Iraq.

In 2010, Hillary Clinton, as secretary of state, revoked the revocation, but by that time, Ramadan had been embraced by St Antony’s College, Oxford. Ramadan has no regrets. “I’m very happy that they prevented me from going. I’m much better off here,” he says, in gently accented English (he grew up in Geneva, speaking French and Arabic). Commuting to Oxford, he has made Metroland his home. In the States, he says, “I don’t think it’s a political atmosphere where you are free to speak. People are scared.”

It’s probably just as well he feels that way: the Trump administration won’t be rolling out the welcome mat. As well as its plans for a new executive order designed to prevent millions of Muslims from entering the country, it’s considering designating the Muslim Brotherhood a terrorist organisation. That poses a problem for Ramadan, as it was his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, who founded the movement.

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1 reply

  1. Reform is the need of time . Reform of that thought which says that if you are not accepting me you don’t have any place . Ask any Muslim about ahmadies , he will either quote the judgment of Pakistani assembly or will refer some moulvies . What is wrong to accept that person a Muslim who differs on certain issues ? It is this thought which makes a Muslim , intolerant . Secondly , the thought which is waiting for a person who would make a kafir- free world , who would give only two options to non- believers either convert or will be killed , etc. ; is the root cause behind all Muslim terrorist groups . One should accept that religion is a personal matter and a relationship between him and his God . How can others come in between ? Thirdly one must accept that weather it is Christian or Jew or Hindu , they are human being . OK , they are not Muslims but it doesn’t mean that they may not enter in to heaven . Who has given us this right to issue the certificate of hell and heaven while it is God Who is the master of the day of Judgment . Muslims need a complete reform in their ideology . I am sure that Mr. Tareq must have the knowledge of the popular Muslim ideology . Will he bring any change ?

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