«A thesis submitted to the University of Birmingham for the degree of DOCTOR OF PHILOSOPHY Department of Theology and Religion School of Philosophy, ...»
and recommendations are aligned safely with both the Islamic tradition and modern human rights. Special consideration has to be given to the feasibility of combining the positive components of the scholars’ approaches into a single model of European Islam – one that makes use of al-Qaradawi’s unobtrusive, adaptive jurisprudential methodology for dealing with fiqh issues, and, at the same time, is based on Ramadan’s interpretation of the principles of respect and universalism for engineering a peaceful co-existence between different members of society, who, while remaining unique in their own right, are united by a common general purpose. Although the connotation of Islamization within al-Qaradawi’s da’wa may hint at the struggle for one-sided Muslim dominance, the scholar’s emphasis on the use of intellectual persuasion (as opposed to militant violence) to convey the message of Islam seems to bode well for Europe’s largely-positive approach and capacity for intercultural and interfaith dialogue.
Ramadan’s focus on behavioral preaching (through his formulation of shahāda discussed in Chapter 4.3) fits neatly into this picture – the prospect of conveying the message of Islam mainly through exemplification (rather than verbal preaching) is likely to be encouraging and practical to Muslims and non-forceful to the wider society.
In addition, his focus on the psychological problems of Muslim minority status helps bring clarity to the underlying setbacks to the progress of Muslim integration and thinking and incite a positive and proactive attitude towards self-reformation. The combination of al-Qaradawi’s adaptive fiqh and Ramadan’s acknowledgment of the positive aspects of European society allows a space for Muslim minorities to find an increasing sense of ease in belonging to more than one association. Above all, both scholars manage to show that what is urgently needed for the future of European Islam
understanding of its objectives combined with a pluralistic Muslim perspective - their approaches largely acknowledge the idea that such form of understanding can only occur by way of producing “fresh interpretations of the religion without destroying its original soul, spirit, and character” (Bakar, 2009, p.72).
8.1 Introduction As described in the introductory chapter of the thesis, this study is designed to examine and provide a critical response to al-Qaradawi’s and Ramadan’s conceptualizations of European Islam and reform. The first three chapters in the thesis introduce the theoretical background, historical context, purpose, significance, scope, and methodology of the study as well as provide a brief biography of Yusuf alQaradawi and Tariq Ramadan (Chapter 1 - Introduction, Chapter 2 - Islam and Muslims in Postwar Europe, and Chapter 3 - Yusuf al-Qaradawi and Tariq Ramadan), while the succeeding three chapters enquire into the scholars’ formulations of European-Muslim identity and the role of Muslims in Europe, their conceptual and methodological approaches to reform with regard to fiqh and ethics, and their views on Islamic criminal law and women’s rights in Islam (Chapter 4 - Da’wa and Shahāda, Chapter 5 Adaptive Reform and Transformative Reform, and Chapter 6 - Sharia in Europe: The Question of Incompatibility). Taking these points further, Chapter 7 expounds the strengths and weaknesses of the scholars’ positions and discusses the ways in which they help set the boundaries of a “balanced” form of European Islam as well as the problems they face in doing so, while this conclusion chapter reviews the main findings in all the four chapters that precede it and presents concluding statements on the basis of the overall study and implications of the work for future research.
of da’wa and shahāda respectively in delineating the ways in which Muslim minorities can fuse religious allegiance with national belonging. Following the deconstruction of these two concepts, the study finds that there are various points of convergence and divergence between the scholars’ thinking; the latter, however, are more numerous and substantial than the former, creating a sharp contrast and a distinct sense of individuality between the scholars’ thinking.
difference between al-Qaradawi’s da’wa and Ramadan’s shahāda in their emphases on intra-Muslim responsibilities53, their choices are driven by different motivations. It is argued that al-Qaradawi seemingly portrays Muslim minorities as “victims” trapped in an undesirable position (i.e., living in the West), whereas Ramadan insists that they are “at home” by virtue of the fact that they have access to the right to worship in freedom.
The two scholars hold different evaluations of European society (and its values); alQaradawi perceives it as one that, albeit blessed with advanced technology and wealth of opportunities, is rife with decadence, hedonism, materialism, arrogance, and godlessness, while Ramadan (with seeming reluctance to be overly critical) regards it as one that “seems to have forgotten God”, but which laudably upholds human rights and freedom of religion and belief (a boon to its Muslim population). Their evaluations here are in line with their understandings of the relationship between religious identity
dominant of the two, while Ramadan portrays them as being complementary to one another. The study further demonstrates that al-Qaradawi’s and Ramadan’s definition of the ideal Muslim response to integration as being both participatory in society and resolute in standing up for their “differentness” reveals that they similarly strive to keep to the “middle-ground” in their reformist theologies. In addressing the problems that impede Muslim integration in the West, al-Qaradawi tapers his rhetoric to the issue of Islamophobia and the general trend of irreligiousness in the region, while Ramadan, albeit not denying the concerns highlighted by al-Qaradawi, devotes much of his writing to the issues of low self-esteem and pessimistic assumptions that come wrapped within the minority status.
Another significant difference between the scholars’ use of da’wa and shahāda highlighted in the study is their positions on the role of preaching in Islam. It is explained that al-Qaradawi’s assignment of Muslim minorities as “agents of Islamic proselytization” is imbued with the scholar’s Islamist fervor, while Ramadan’s designation of them as “bearers of the Islamic testimony” is woven into the thinker’s conceptualization of Islamic pluralism. The former’s belief in the “Divine-intended” mission to Islamize the West through the power of intellectual persuasion and sociopolitical influence runs in conflict with the latter’s conviction that the Islamic duty to convey the message of Islam does not transcend beyond simply making the Islamic message known by non-Muslims. Thus, while al-Qaradawi appears to want to impose Islamic values wherever possible, Ramadan seems to want to import Islamic values into European public life. Nevertheless, both scholars are determined to inculcate a Godloving and God-fearing sense into the European consciousness.
three important arguments regarding the scholars’ positions. First, despite their differing rhetorical emphases, both scholars manage to find a way to invoke a sense of citizen empowerment in Muslim minorities by interlacing their ideas on integration with Islamic principles. Second, al-Qaradawi’s Islamist vision allows the suggestion that the scholar follows a dualistic thinking that creates a rigid, though not noticeably hostile, partition between Islam and “the Other”, while Ramadan’s “uncontextualized monotheism” is based on a universalist demand for social cohesion that is driven by common values and norms with seemingly-limited reference to religious and cultural differences between Muslims and the wider community in Europe. Third, al-Qaradawi’s da’wa - in its “Islamization” sense – disregards the pluralistic and secular reality of the European context and risks tapping into the fears and skepticism surrounding the theory of “Eurabia”, while Ramadan’s shahāda – in its sense of achieving universality through stripping Islam down to its basic monotheistic message and humanistic teachings and roping other religious and secular ideologies into this “bare” version – seems too general that it risks eclipsing indelible religious and cultural differences into the background and subsequently dragooning Muslims into yielding credibility to other secular frames of reference.
8.2.2 Adaptive Reform and Transformative Reform Chapter 5 probes into al-Qaradawi’s adaptive fiqh al-aqalliyyat and Ramadan’s transformative “ethical reference”, examining their conceptual origins and methodological frameworks in the attempt to determine where they are similar and different and tease out their problems and contributions. The study learns that the two
helping Muslim minorities avoid drifting into religious attrition due to the hardship of maintaining some of their beliefs by offering them the most lenient of solutions, to encourage them to be cognizant of their rights and duties as citizens, and to improve the odds of Islamic proselytization. Despite the scholar’s significant use of ijtihād and its accompanying methods, he remains close to the general teachings of the Qur’an and Sunna. Chapter 5.3 clarifies that Ramadan’s ethical reference, on the other hand, is intended as a universal guide that addresses existing and anticipates potential challenges that prevent society and its members as a whole from progressing towards the realization of common ethical values54. The scholar requires the ‘ulamā to consider both the Revelation and the Universe as a dual source of law and ethics, to collaborate with scientists from all fields in the elaboration of ethical principles, and to hold a two-fold specialization - one in the study of Islam and the other in that of the sciences. The study further notes that al-Qaradawi’s fiqh operates in the narrow context of personal space and is, thus, unobtrusive to the wider community, while Ramadan’s ethical reference is expansive and intent on transforming the order of society, which requires drawing on contributions from every one of its group members.
As expressed in the study, both al-Qaradawi and Ramadan, through their use of ijtihād, elevate the context to the same level as the Revelation as a source of legislation.
However, similar to what has been discovered in Chapter 4 on da’wa and shahāda, this
approaches. It is observed that al-Qaradawi applies ijtihād and its concomitant principles55 in a cautious (albeit flexible) manner, while Ramadan appears intent on getting more out of ijtihād by using it to ruminate beyond the confines of the traditionalist Muslim thinking; some of the outcomes of the Swiss thinker’s transformative thinking, such as his collection of the objectives of Sharia, do not appear as distinctively “Islamic” as he insists, although this dovetails with the particular notion of universality that he embeds in his shahāda. Despite this difference in motivation, the study suggests that the scholars’ approaches are, nevertheless, similarly based on the principle of maqāṣīd; while al-Qaradawi’s approach is driven by the need to protect Muslim minorities’ adherence to religion, Ramadan’s approach can be pegged to the general need to protect one’s “wellbeing”.
which echo the arguments made in the preceding section. First, there is no clear formula on which al-Qaradawi bases his determination of issues as invoking the principle of necessity and requiring the application of ijtihād. Given his cautiousness in using reason in his fiqh al-aqalliyyat, it does not seem reasonable to pin the scholar’s use of ijtihād to the assumption that the principle of necessity always prevails where the Islamic tradition is silent. Second, Ramadan’s portrayal of the Revelation and the Universe as being complementary to one another is identical to the manner in which he defines the relationship between religious identity and citizenship in the concept of shahāda. This notion of “divine-intended interaction” between different elements of the West-Muslim experience appears to be characteristic of his thinking.
within the overarching themes of criminal law and women’s rights in Islam in order to determine the manners in which and the extent to which the scholars use their reformist thinking to align challenged Muslim beliefs with the conventions of human rights in Europe. The study unfolds that both scholars present a balance of traditional and reformist tendencies, keeping close to the prevailing thinking in the Muslim world in some cases and exhibiting willingness to make compromises in others. Additionally, Ramadan, in particular, exhibits many instances of ambiguity.
in the study with regard to the issues of ḥudūd and morality. First, neither scholar contests the scriptural bases of most of the penalties associated with the penal code.
Second, they both call for the suspension of ḥudūd in the Muslim world, but remain adamant that Muslims should always refrain from adopting “non-Islamic” modern norms56 regardless of spatial context. Third, both agree that ḥudūd should be seen as more of a deterrent than punishment, and that lack of evidence to support any criminal charge under its provisions must constitute grounds for acquittal. Fourth, both scholars call for the use of ijtihād in determining the terms and boundaries of ḥudūd. Beyond these four general similarities, the scholars differ rather starkly. Al-Qaradawi is clear in his position that “the laws of Allah” are absolute and must be established eventually, while Ramadan creates ambiguity in his rhetoric, showing neither condemnation nor support for the penal code’s application in general. As for the issue of Islamic morality, al-Qaradawi presses on the importance of Muslims being opposed, although not