«A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion School of Philosophy, ...»
In addition to his concern about the risk of religious attrition, the scholar expresses his fear of losing the loyalty of the Muslims completely to their host societies, particularly those who are ‘versed in various vital and important specializations’ (alQaradawi, 2012, para. 14). He regards the migration of these talented Muslims to the West as the main cause of the intellectual stagnation in the Arab and the Muslim world (al-Qaradawi, 2012). Consequently, he stresses that, although they must abide by the laws of the countries in which they reside, it is imperative that they retain their loyalty to Allah, Prophet Muhammad, and their fellow believers, and that they prioritize the concerns of the Muslim nation over their own interests (al-Qaradawi, 2012, para. 14).
As a preventive measure for religious attrition and diversion of loyalty (both of which are simply “assimilation” in his thinking), al-Qaradawi encourages Muslims in the West to establish an autonomous, parallel Muslim existence within the broader society, modeling after a similar cultural enclave in the history of Jewish minorities in Europe that – according to the scholar - helped the Jews maintain their unique identity (al-Qaradawi, 2012). Describing this Jewish entity as one that was ‘distinguished for its own thoughts and rituals’ and naming it the ‘Jewish ghetto’ (al-Qaradawi, 2012, para.
13), the scholar recommends that Muslims in the West create their own Muslim ghetto, in which they must have ‘… their own religious, educational and even entertainment institutions’ (al-Qaradawi, 2012, para. 11) as well as ‘… their own scholars and sheikhs, who can answer their questions, guide them to the right path, and bring about reconciliation among them in case of their disagreement’ (al-Qaradawi, 2012, para. 12).
However, he also warns them not to misconstrue this idea of ‘Muslim ghetto’ for a call
2012). Rather, the ‘Muslim ghetto’ should be characterized by an openness to engage positively with the wider society and without the proneness to yield submissively to the latter’s traditions (al-Qaradawi, 2012). The scholar defines this idea of positive engagement as Muslims taking a proactive role in participating ‘… in all the activities of that society, doing good, circulating guidance, preaching virtue and resisting vice, and influencing the society where they live through role modeling and preaching as much as they can…’, all of which he considers to be in accordance with Islamic teachings (al-Qaradawi, 2012, para. 28). Reflecting further on the notion of “Muslim ghetto”, al-Qaradawi recognizes that the whole idea of establishing an Islamic presence in the West can only transpire through the cooperation of all the diverse groups of Muslim minorities in the region, ‘as individual effort is nothing compared to collective effort and indeed Allah's Hand is over the group’ (al-Qaradawi, 2012, para. 13). Thus, he calls on Muslim minorities in the West to ‘unite together as one man’ (OnIslam, 2007, para. 5) and ‘reject any form of division that is capable of turning them an easy
prey for others’ (OnIslam, 2007, para. 6), tying this to the Prophetic saying that reads:
‘A believer to his fellow believing brother is like a building whose bricks cement each other’ (OnIslam, 2007, para. 5).
4.2.2 Extra-Muslim da’wa In its extra-Muslim dimension, da’wa serves as a way for grafting Islamic ideologies onto the cultural fabric of the West in a gradual manner in order to bring about al-Qaradawi’s vision of complete Islamization (al-Qaradawi, 1992, 2012). The scholar sees this process as a catalyst for a pre-destined Islamic conquest of the world,
been expelled from the region twice according to the scholar - first from Andalusia, and second from the Balkan states) as a dominant religion through a peaceful ideological conquest following the capture of Constantinople (which, he acknowledges, was completed in the fifteenth century) and Rome (which, he notes, is destined to happen in the future as part of the prophecy) (OnIslam, 2009). Such conquest will professedly occur ‘… through the power of word and pen, not through the military force, for the world will open its arms and heart to Islam, after being overburdened by the philosophies (ideologies) of materialism and positivism’, and ‘… [Europe] will find none but Islam as a rescuer’ (OnIslam, 2009, para. 7). His belief in the truth of this prophecy is further fortified by the idea that the mass Muslim migration to the West during the latter half of the 20th century occurred ‘… through divine predestinations and natural causes’ with ‘… no planning or arrangement on part of us as Muslims’ (alQaradawi, 2012, para. 3). Al-Qaradawi’s espousal of the Islamization of the West runs parallel with his rejection of the demotion of religion to the private sphere. He contends that, for a society to be Islamic, it ‘must commit itself to Islam in its totality…’ and ‘… be willing to apply Allah's injunctions and the Sunnah of His Prophet (SA'AS) on all the affairs and aspects of life: social, economic, political, or intellectual’ (al-Qaradawi, 1995, p.100), which, again, points to his belief in the comprehensiveness of Islam. It must be highlighted, however, that the understanding of da’wa in the sense of converting non-Muslims to Islam is not necessarily exclusive to al-Qaradawi; it is noted that this idea ‘is part of a larger framework of identity and duties constructed by Sunni religious scholars in the Arab world since the 1970s’, which expanded due to the presence of Muslims in Europe (Shavit and Wiesenbach, 2009, para. 5). Nevertheless,
his detailed and thorough proposal on the path to achieve the objectives of da’wa.
As much as can be coherently gleaned from the scholar’s scattered ideas on da’wa, he envisions the Islamic conquest of Europe to work in three ways: The creation of pro-Islamic environment in the region, the attainment of high-level positions by Muslims in order to influence the society from above, and the Islamization of Western thought (al-Qaradawi, 1992; 2012). First, al-Qaradawi understands a pro-Islamic environment as a setting in which Islam is largely seen as a positive religion.
Acknowledging that the negative image of Islam in the West is an obstacle to achieving other bigger aims of the Islamic movement (which, in his writings, refers to the global revival of Islam), he states: ‘We should seek … to improve our image in the eyes of the West … an image of violence, fanaticism, bloody collision with others and neglect of freedoms and human rights, particularly the rights of minorities and women’ (alQaradawi, 1992, p. 248). Second, al-Qaradawi suggests that the proposed Islamic presence through the use of da’wa in the West can be realized by Islamizing important institutions in the society, such as by ‘… taking important positions in the media, the arts, and the human sciences and social sciences’ with the aim to ‘… influence European society from “above”’ (al-Qaradawi, 1992, p.264). At the political level, the scholar expresses the convenience of having Muslims in parliaments who can work to defend their freedom and rights as minorities in expressing their beliefs and to ensure that no Western legislations are in conflict with Islam, such as that which may hinder them from observing their religious obligations, and that which may compel them to commit religious prohibitions (al-Qaradawi, 2012). Moreover, he urges Muslims in the West to form ‘blocs, parties, and associations’ – in response to other non-Muslim
unable to do anything while others achieve progress’ (al-Qaradawi, 1995, p.91). Wiedl notes that al-Qaradawi’s suggestions here resemble the late Mawdudi’s strategy of societal transformation that requires considerable support ‘from above’, without which ‘the intra-personal approach of da’wa and education’ may become unproductive (Wiedl, 2009, para. 40). Finally, al-Qaradawi suggests that it is imperative to introduce changes at the ideological level by promoting Islamic definitions of generic moral and political concepts (e.g., justice, equality, democracy, and human rights) to rectify what the scholar perceives as misinformed modern-Western understandings of Islam. For example, he justifies the seemingly-“inferior” position of women to men in Islam (as can be perceived perhaps from Islamic rulings concerning marriage issues, inheritance, and the like) as being ‘... based on the Islamic comprehension of equality before Allah, but not on the Western comprehension of gender equality’ (Wiedl, 2009, para. 39).
4.3 Shahāda To begin with, Ramadan views shahāda as a timeless and versatile concept that most appropriately expresses the essential features of Muslim identity in accordance with the teachings of Islam (Ramadan, 1999; 2004). He describes it as being represented by two general functions: First, it allows ‘a clear remembrance of the fundamental core of our [Muslims’] identity via faith in the oneness of God (tawḥīd) and His last revelation to the Prophet Muhammad’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.73-74), and second, it serves as ‘an elevated consciousness that gives us the responsibility to remind others of the presence of God and to act in such a way that our presence among them and with them is, in itself, a reminder of the Creator, spirituality, and ethics’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.74).
two-sided nature of Muslim identity - the Muslim as an individual, and the Muslim as a member of a community (Ramadan, 2004). This is further supported by his belief that ‘each of the four practical pillars of Islamic religious practice [i.e., prayers, alms giving, fasting, and pilgrimage] has a double dimension - individual and collective’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.88).
The two general functions of shahāda mentioned above are reflected in Ramadan‘s designation of the world as dār al-shahāda (the abode of testimony) - a term that refers to the idea that the earth presents itself as a sanctuary in which mankind, as a universal whole, rightfully dwell as bearers of God’s testimony and message - and of Muslims as shuhadā’ ‘alā al-nās (witnesses before humankind), which allows him to subsequently define the European environment as ‘an area of responsibility for Muslims’ and one ‘in which Muslims are brought back to the fundamental teaching of Islam and invited to meditate on their role’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.77). The scholar’s preference to use the concept of dār al-shahāda here is contrary to the classical Muslim geo-political division of the world into dār al-islām (the abode of Islam) and dār al-ḥarb (the abode of war), the former denoting countries within which Islamic law prevails and the latter referring to those that do not have a peace treaty with Muslims (Ramadan, 2004). The use of this categorization was supposedly grounded in the political experience of the early Medinan community during the expansion of Islam under the command of Prophet Muhammad when it became instructive to differentiate between the territory that was under Muslim rule and that which was not. Ramadan states that, as opposed to having a basis in the Quran or Sunna, the afore-mentioned classical geo-political categorization was merely ‘… a human attempt, at a moment in history, to describe the
appropriate to the reality of the time’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.69), and is thus inapplicable to the present time. Dār al-shahāda, in addition to being in correspondence with the principle of ‘ālamiyyat al-Islam, finds justification in the Qur’anic notion of universal geography, which is perhaps most clearly expressed by the verse: ‘Said Moses to his people, "Seek help through Allah and be patient. Indeed, the earth belongs to Allah [emphasis added]. He causes to inherit it whom He wills of His servants. And the [best] outcome is for the righteous’ (Qur’an, 7:128). A theoretical corollary of this Qur’anic notion for Ramadan is the legal maxim of al-aṣl fī al-ashyā al-ibāḥa (permissibility is the original ruling of things), which expresses the idea that anything that is not explicitly forbidden by the Revelation, particularly in the area of social affairs, is permissible (Ramadan, 2009, p.89). It is this positive principle that, according to the scholar, is ‘… opening to humankind the fields of rationality, creativity, and research’ (Ramadan, 2009, p.21). Meanwhile, the positioning of Western Muslims as shuhadā’ ‘alā al-nās here impresses upon them the need to ‘give their society a testimony based on faith, spirituality, values, a sense of where boundaries lie, and a permanent human and social engagement’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.73) as well as to ‘avoid all reactionary and oversensitive attitudes and to develop a self-confidence based on a deep sense of responsibility, which in Western societies should be accompanied by real and constant action for justice’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.77). This positive acknowledgment of the European environment and the role of Western Muslims, then, provides the motivation for Muslims to make ‘an authentic contribution to society’ by way of ‘… infinite selfgiving in the cause of social justice, the well-being of humankind, ecology, and solidarity in all its manifestations’ (Ramadan, 2004, p. 77).