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Thinking Between Islam and the West

The Thoughts of Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Bassam Tibi and Tariq Ramadan


Chi-Chung (Andy) Yu

In this book, the author assesses the social vision of three western Muslim intellectuals, Seyyed H. Nasr, Bassam Tibi and Tariq Ramadan. He finds that the thoughts of Nasr and his students promote a kind of tradition-based society, which is in harmony with the Divine Law in Islam and a hierarchical structure of society. The thoughts of Tibi advocate the concept of Euro-Islam, which tries to rationalize Islam and renders it a personal religion in the private domain. Finally, the thoughts of Ramadan emphasize a communicative society, in which dialogue between Muslims and non-Muslims on public affairs is crucial. The author tries to understand how these three social orders can complement each other. He compares and contrasts their ideas in order to show that modern Islamic thought is not monolithic but pluralistic, and that they present different social visions for Islam in the West. However, Muslims are often labelled as a minority group and so implicitly excluded from being part of the West: the thoughts of Muslim writers help reflect this problem. The author maintains that these Muslim intellectuals in the West should be fully recognized as western intellectuals.


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Chapter 4: Tariq Ramadan, the European Muslim and a New ‘We’


Chapter 4 Tariq Ramadan, the European Muslim and a New ‘We’ Introduction Whereas Tibi argues for an Islamic reformation, the Muslim intellectual introduced in this chapter, Tariq Ramadan, also seeks to reform Islam, but with a different rationality. Like Tibi, Ramadan emphasizes the sig- nificance of rationality; the ideas of both focus on economic, political and social activities, not just religious ones, and, most importantly, they articulate the necessity for communication and critique of ideology in soci- ety. However, Tibi also tries to distance his ideas from those of Ramadan, whom he believes is going in the wrong direction. (This will be discussed in Chapter 5.) In this chapter, I shall examine and evaluate the thought of Ramadan in detail. This chapter consists of three parts. First, I will discuss Ramadan’s intellectual biography and the history and philosophy of Salafism, from which Ramadan draws his inspiration. Second, I will reconstruct Ramadan’s idea of the European Muslim as an overarching framework; then discuss the significant implications of being a European Muslim; and finally, examine Ramadan’s practical suggestions in (mainly) political and economic areas in order to articulate the tension between this idea as a framework and as an ideology. 140 Chapter 4 Intellectual Biography of Tariq S. Ramadan Born in Geneva in 1962, Tariq Said Ramadan, unlike other ordinary Swiss Muslims, has a well-known historical figure, Hasan al-Banna (1906–49), founder of the Society of Muslim Brothers1 in Egypt, as his maternal grandfather. His father, Sayid Ramadan (1926–95), who was...

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