«A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion School of Philosophy, ...»
He further acknowledges that Muslims in North America and Europe enjoy five fundamental rights that ‘allow them to feel at home in their countries of residence’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.70): ‘The right to practice Islam, the right to knowledge, the right to establish organizations, the right to autonomous representation, and the right to appeal to law’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.70).
Concerning the socio-political experiences of Muslims in the West, Ramadan expresses his concern on the prejudicial misrepresentation of Islam, stating that it is ‘at the bottom of the difficulties lived by Muslim communities at the present time’ or ‘even the main factor’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.71). He explains that ‘... events taking place on the international stage’, such as ‘the fallout from political situations in Muslim countries and the active interests, and sometimes manipulations of governments’, have caused ‘a
2004, p.71). This has further led to acts of discrimination against Muslims, backed legally by laws that are ‘used tendentiously because of this atmosphere of suspicion’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.71). Having argued so, Ramadan does not overlook the fact that perpetual problems in the Muslim-minority psyche have significantly contributed to the problem of Muslim integration in the West. He highlights the tendency among many of the Muslims living in the West to suffer through their minority mentality rather than rising up to demand their rights, acquiescently submitting to harassment, racism, and discrimination (Ramadan, 2004). The scholar identifies this minority mentality as one of the three intra-Muslim problems (the other two being sectarianism and isolationist attitude) that together militate against Muslim discourse in the West today being clearly heard (Ramadan, 2004), although it is unclear whether he bases this on actual studies on Muslim minorities in Europe or anecdotal evidence. As opposed to such defeatist attitude, he contends that Muslims should exert a ‘positive influence’ within their society ‘once their position is secure’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.73), and that ‘in all circumstances it is right to resist the victim mentality by refusing to sink into emotional complaining that brings isolation or a blind rebellion that brings exclusion’ (Ramadan, 2004, p.73). He writes:
‘Muslims will get what they deserve: if, as watchful and participating citizens, they study the machinery of their society, demand their rights to equality with others, struggle against all kinds of discrimination and injustice, establish real partnerships beyond their own community and
4.4 Discussion The expositions in the preceding sections bring to the fore various points of convergence and divergence - the former more numerous, but less distinctive and complex than the latter - between al-Qaradawi’s understanding of da’wa and Ramadan’s interpretation of shahāda. It is clear that both scholars try to situate their conceptualizations of European-Muslim identity in an equidistant point between the two tendencies of isolation and assimilation, but they cater to different areas of emphasis in their understandings of the role of Muslims in Europe, the main distinction being that al-Qaradawi uses da’wa to place particularistic emphasis on the Islamization of the West, while Ramadan uses shahāda to promote his universalistic perspective on the relationship between Muslims and non-Muslims in the West. It is important in this section to discuss further how the scholars are similar and different in their approaches, and to probe into the reasons for the specific ways in which they use da’wa and shahāda, in addition to explaining the concepts’ roots in the Islamic tradition as they see them.
One important characteristic that bears upon al-Qaradawi’s and Ramadan’s choices in their thinking is the conception of materialism and secularization as being in opposition to spiritualism. The fact that they weave faith and practice together into one unified experience and portray the former as somewhat impotent without the latter explains why much of their rhetoric is underlined by the need to remind Muslims of
Al-Qaradawi’s message, however, is tinged with a greater sense of urgency compared to that of Ramadan, which is perhaps telling of the different motivations that lie beneath the surface. Al-Qaradawi’s consistent perception of the West as a largely-corrupt world and a threat to the development of Western-Muslims’ spirituality inadvertently accentuates a portrayal (on his part) of Muslim minorities as “the victim” on the verge of becoming “Westernized” without any support from the Muslim world. This seems to contradict his use of da’wa to empower Muslim minorities and reverse their selfperception (as he understands it) from being “on the periphery” with no important role to play to being a “model minority” that takes a proactive position in advancing the betterment of society. Hassan (2013) discovers a similar dichotomy in his analysis of alQaradawi’s approach, though in the context of the scholar’s methodological use of fiqh al-aqalliyyat8 rather than that of his construction of da’wa as discovered in this study; it seems plausible that the correlation between these two findings is not coincidental, thereby adding to evidence suggesting that such dichotomy in the scholar’s thinking is more real than perceived. As for Ramadan, he refuses to entertain the idea of “Muslim victimization” and emphasizes instead the positive aspects of the West, from which Muslim minorities can find for themselves resources for changing their condition. This appears consistent with his placing on Muslims in the West the responsibility for “bearing witness” to Islam, which includes getting involved in society in positive ways.
the umma, there is little elaboration on their part on what this belonging denotes in practical terms. It is, however, deducible from their adherence to the Prophetic saying
the Muslim umma to the different parts of the human body that work interdependently for the proper functioning of the whole system - that Muslims are bound by the same Divine intention of the Islamic Revelation that implores them to love and care for one another, and to join hands for the cause of Islam, making the plight of one Muslim the plight of them all. Thus, a French Muslim of Moroccan origin living in Paris and a British Muslim of Pakistani origin living in Birmingham, for example, are presumably encouraged to be committed to each other’s wellbeing in their duty to uphold the truth of Islam (as Muslims see it) despite their differences in upbringing, culture, and national identity. This happens to be the same reasoning that al-Qaradawi and Ramadan use to urge Muslims in Europe to combat divisive sectarianism that only serves to reinforce the perception of Islam as a backward belief system. Aside from the afore-mentioned similarities, al-Qaradawi and Ramadan differ significantly in particular features of their thinking, as will be discussed below.
Through his formulation of da’wa, al-Qaradawi seems to reveal a dualistic thinking on his part that breaks his perception of the European cultural space into rigid binary oppositions (e.g., Islam and kufr, Muslims and non-Muslims, good and evil, and Islam and modernity), which, given his traditional devotion to Islam and his disapproval of the general secular cultural model, subsequently leads to a need for one-sided Muslim dominance. While the obligation to proselytize is hardly a phenomenon exclusive to the scholar’s thinking, and while his ideas on da’wa may generally be reminiscent of the teaching of Hasan al-Banna, his dichotomized view of Islam and the West can be speculatively ascribed to his carte blanche reading of Qur’anic verses and Prophetic utterances that appear to highlight Islam’s exclusivity as the only remaining
evidence addressing the issue are as follows: ‘And whoever desires other than Islam as religion - never will it be accepted from him, and he, in the Hereafter, will be among the losers‘ (Qur’an, 3:85); ‘indeed, the religion in the sight of Allah is Islam. And those who were given the Scripture did not differ except after knowledge had come to them out of jealous animosity between themselves. And whoever disbelieves in the verses of Allah, then indeed, Allah is swift in [taking] account’ (Qur’an, 3:19); ‘it is narrated on the authority of Abu Huraira that the Messenger of Allah observed: By Him in Whose hand is the life of Muhammad, he who amongst the community of Jews or Christians hears about me, but does not affirm his belief in that with which I have been sent and dies in this state (of disbelief), he shall be but one of the denizens of Hell-Fire’ (Sahih Muslim, 1:284).
The “Islam” that al-Qaradawi expresses in his rhetoric refers particularly to the Islamic Revelation that Prophet Muhammad is believed to have relayed and established in the 7th century, which accords with the scholar’s deep-seated conviction that any other belief system that deviates from this form, particularly its strict monotheistic element, represents a religion of denial or disbelief (kufr), and that that which blatantly contradicts its ethico-moral framework (the Muslim code of lawful and unlawful) is an “impaired” source of ethical and moral conduct. Notwithstanding his admission that the term ‘kufr’ can carry several different contextual meanings (e.g., atheism, conversion from Islam to another faith, polytheism, idolatry, and secularism), his belief that ‘… a kafir [denier] becomes a Muslim as soon as he witnesses that there is no God but Allah and that Muhammad is his messenger…’ begs to confirm the concomitant classification of non-Muslims as monolithically kuffār (deniers) (al-Qaradawi, 1995, p.62). However,
indication of hostility in his perception of non-Muslims; while rejecting the extremist view that Muslims have no mutuality with Christians and Jews due to the latter’s “disbelief” and their “alteration” of the word of Allah (al-Qaradawi, 2003), al-Qaradawi makes it a point to single out the two groups for special regard due to their status as “People of the Book” (al-Qaradawi, 2003, p.311) and clarifies that the Islamic commandment ‘to be kind and generous’ to followers of other religions extends to even ‘idolaters and polytheists’ (al-Qaradawi, 2003, p.311). In the context of Muslim life in the West, the scholar encourages Muslim minorities to draw together the three Abrahamic religions and collaborate with Christians and Jews in upholding interfaith tolerance, defending the weak and oppressed anywhere in the world, and combating ‘the enemies of religious belief’, ‘the materialist proponents of creedal infidelity and behavioral libertinism’, and ‘the propagators of nakedness, promiscuity, abortion and sexual perversion in all its forms’ (al-Qaradawi, 2003, p.22). However, he also warns Muslims not to diminish their differences with the other two Abrahamic groups relating to Islamic creed, matters of worship, and the code of ḥalāl (lawful) and ḥarām (unlawful) (al-Qaradawi, 2003).
In theoretical terms, al-Qaradawi’s narrow definition of Islam mentioned above inevitably leaves open an extremely wide scope for what can be deemed within the parameters of the European socio-cultural fabric as falling into the category of kufr (mainly by the scholar himself). In tune with his portrayal of the foundations of the secular cultural fabric as the source to which many of the problems underlying the Islam-West conflict are tied, his belief that to become “Western” in behavior and attitude is to become less “Muslim” is likely to be indicative of a hint of reluctance on
two outcomes: First, in recognizing the vulnerability of Muslim faith and spirituality (as he sees it) in the European context, he shapes the internal dimension of da’wa into a protective measure against any possibility of assimilation and religious attrition, and second, in holding that the European cultural fabric is a symbol of kufr, he designs the external dimension of da’wa as a means to Islamize the West, taking the direct approach of promoting Islamic interpretations of values and ethics through intra-Muslim practices and extra-Muslim preaching in hope that they supplant the increasingly secular foundations of the region.
In contrast to al-Qaradawi’s stringent shaping of da’wa, Ramadan formulates shahāda in a distinctly flexible manner and in a universalistic language and uses it as a basis for professedly developing a harmonious multi-faceted Western-Muslim identity within a pluralistic frame (e.g., a European of Pakistani origin, Muslim faith, and British nationality). Whereas al-Qaradawi’s thinking appears to traverse along the contours of “dualism”, Ramadan seems to perceive the world as being made up of naturally interdependent, interconnected systems (e.g., cultures, systems, traditions, and economies), as perhaps suggested by his recurring comments on the themes of “natural interaction” and “complementarity” (e.g., interaction and complementarity between religious, ethnic, and national identities), which rejects the binary logic of oppositions.
The message of universalism that Ramadan propagates finds expression in his flexible use of shahāda, which may subsequently be attributed to his allegorical reading of the concepts of Islam and kufr. The scholar recognizes two different interpretations of “Islam” in Muslim theology: First, submission to God in its generic sense, and second, Islam as ‘the religion whose text is the Qur’an and whose prophet is Muhammad’