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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 5: Being an Authentic Muslim Minority in the West


Chapter 5 Being an Authentic Muslim Minority in the West Introduction The purposes of this chapter are threefold. First, it examines the concept of a Muslim minority, which is one of the leading ideas concerning Islam in the West. Second, it attempts to evaluate the ideas of Nasr, Tibi and Ramadan, seeking therein a positive implication for the presence of Muslim minorities in the West. Finally, on the basis of their reflections, I hope to demonstrate, in terms of four ‘R’s’, the main factors that could improve the relationship between Islam and the West. Just as with the multiple relationships between Islamic discourses and modernism discussed above, the presence of Muslim minorities also has multiple interpretations. Talal Asad argues that it is important for European culture to articulate a ‘complex space and complex time that allow for multiple ways of life to flourish’.1 Not everyone agrees with him, however. Critics of this point of view recommend that the minorities should merge totally with the mainstream society instead of recognizing their own needs or protecting their cultural rights, which in their eyes seem to be privileged rights. The arguments supporting these two positions are numerous, similar in fact to those heard in the debate between multiculturalism and liberalism, and it is beyond the scope of this chapter to discuss this debate.2 My focus 1 Talal Asad, Formations of the Secular: Christianity, Islam and Modernity (Stanford, CA: Stanford University Press, 2003), 180. 2 See Modood, T., Multiculturalism: A Civic Idea (Cambridge and...

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