“I am fully ready to have a public debate with Tariq Ramadan to make it patently clear that the man does not know 1% of what a world-class scholar must know.”
This challenge comes from another Tarek, the Egyptian intellectual Tarek Heggy. He finds it a mystery why Europe keeps on listening to people like Ramadan and why many European intellectuals and politicians consider him the best Islamic intellectual.
This is the reason why I asked Heggy to comment on some quotations from Ramadan’s speeches, books and videos. Here you find an illuminating clarification of the Islamist intellectual movement.
Tariq Ramadan:“For years I have heard people saying: ‘Be careful with Tariq Ramadan because he has one message in French; and a different one for when he speaks Arabic in the suburbs.’ Go and try to speak Arabic in the suburbs of France and you won’t have an audience because they don’t know Arabic.”
Tarek Heggy: Like a number of Muslim Brothers, Mr. Ramadan has two messages: one for the non-Arabic speaking audience (such as his views about physical punishment) and different messages in Arabic. The difference between the spirit of these messages is enormous ... one would realize the dangers of this phenomenon only if equipped with good command of Arabic and knowledge of Sharia. The only way to reveal this "academic lie" is by directing certain questions to Mr. Ramadan and his peers such as:
a) What do think of the Khilafah system?
b) How you describe the so-called martyrs-operations?
c) Is the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia a model that you approve?
d) Can we establish in the 21st century an international law and a legal system based on Shari'a?
e) What do think of the status of women in the Islamic jurisprudence and in Muslim societies?
f) What would be the status of non-Muslims in an Islamic state?
g) Can a non-Muslim be the head of the state in Egypt - where your parents came from?
h) What is your overall judgment on Western Civilization and its value system?
I would love to have a public debate with Mr. Ramadan to enable the civilized societies to see what lies under the façade this gentleman and his peers have adopted – and to show people how incomplete (and deformed) their intellectual formations are.
T.R. To Ernesto Ferrero, director of Turin Book Fair, in 2008 with Israel guest of honor: “This is where we deeply disagree: to choose the State of Israel while you know what was, and still is, happening in the occupied territories - and just after the international community, almost unanimously, condemned the Gaza’s blockage - is neither wise nor fair towards the Palestinian and their dignity. I am sorry to repeat, you took a wrong and an unwise decision.[...] A call for a boycott was launched before I was asked about it and I simply decided to support this call not to attend. It seemed to me it was a question of conscience and dignity.
T.H.: Mr. Ramadan, what is the relationship between what you have said about the suffering of the Palestinian people and a book-fair in Italy? Apart from this book-fair boycott (BTW, did the Arab boycott ever yield any significant fruits?), what are your views concerning the Israeli/Arab conflict? Do you favor the route of Anwar al-Sadat, i.e. a political settlement to the conflict via civilized negotiations and therefore you accept that as the Palestinians have the right to have their own state, Israel has an equal right to exist? Or you favor "the military solution" that Hamas and Hezbollah advocate? What is your description of the suicide attacks committed by Palestinians against Israeli civilians?
T.R.: “Muhammad married a Jewish woman and he even protected Jewish tribes.”
T.H.: This is partially correct. The Prophet took a Jewish lady who was, by our modern terminology, a POW as a wife. Though I read all the main Sira books, I have not come across the so-called "protection rendered to some Jewish tribes" - we shall be grateful to Mr. Ramadan if he could guide us to the sources that he depended on, in due course.
T.R.: “Today Europe is Dar al-shahada.”
T.H.: Saying that Europe today is dar al-shahada" confirms that Ramadan has a sick nostalgia. This passion to use medieval terminology is (in my view) a strong and patent sign of a mind that imagines that a certain era or period of history was a paradise: its heroes, language and concepts were "Angelic." The term dar al-shahada represents this sick relationship with the past (or with a specific epoch): a sentiment that has no scientific bases whatsoever. More dangerously, it motivates young and semi-educated people who were raised in total isolation from the contemporary age to endeavor to replicate what cannot be (by any means) replicated. The term (also) could mean "the place for martyrdom."
T.R.: "To criticize the religion and Muslims is not Islamophobia; a critical attitude towards religion must be accepted. But to criticize someone or discriminate against them only because they are Muslim-this is what we can call Islamophobia, this is a kind of racism."
T.H.: This is great Mr. Ramadan. But while we are aware of thousands of books that were written by Jewish scholars criticizing Judaism and thousands of books that were written by Christian scholars criticizing many Christianity related subjects - please give me only ten titles of books written by Muslim scholars in which they criticized their own religion without being considered to be infidels by most of the Muslim clergy who then call out for these heretics to be killed if not by their own governments, then by volunteers.
T.R.: “The worst that can happen to a democratic society is to see its citizens being transformed into passive victims paralyzed by fear. The proponents of the global clash of civilizations theory shall win if we accept to be individually colonized by emotional caricatures and suspicion towards people of other faiths and cultures.”
T.H.: This is absolutely correct. But not in the way that Mr. Ramadan suggests. Will he ever dare to declare that Saudi Arabia, a country that invested billions of dollars on spreading its own interpretation of Islam, is the society that his words above describe – a society that has established a peerless case of duality in all values and behaviors; a society that sends its children each Friday to watch the authority representatives while whipping people, cutting their hands and legs and/or stoning men or women to death?
T.R.: “If a law already exists, why a new law in 2004? This is because crucifixes were accepted under the old law. The new law was passed because of France’s Muslim presence. The reality is that France’s secular tradition is being adapted to target a specific group. French society is going through something of an identity crisis. I have told all French girls that, if they have to make a choice between going to school and wearing the headscarf, they must choose school. Just go. This is the law. But at the same time, being a democrat means that you continue to discuss the merits of the law and call for change.”
T.H.: Mr. Ramadan asks "why a new law in 2004?" The answer is patently clear: "because of the rapidly growing danger that nobody could neglect or ignore."
T.R.: About Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab: “We cannot deny that his intervention in Arabia was often a kind of a war, but at the same time the reason of his enterprise was filled with a will of renewal.”
T.H.: I have read everything Muhammad ibn Abd al-Wahhab wrote (13 booklets) and read also all that has been written about this ruthless man and found him nothing but a very shallow man calling for destruction and death. Every expert in Islamic jurisprudence knows that while Ibn Hanbal represents the most conservative figure among the Sunni Jurisprudents, Ibn Taymiyya and Ibn al-Qayyim represent the extreme wing among the Hanbali sect followers and the ones who gave "the text" the largest role and minimized the role of the human mind. As a semi-educated follower of this line, Ibn Abd al-Wahhab reached an unprecedented level of conservatism, narrow-mindedness, hatred to all forms of OTHERS and rejection of modernity.
Having read a great deal of what Ramadan has written, I have no doubt that he neither read (in full) Ibn Taymiyyah, Ibn al-Qayyim nor the 13 booklets of Ibn Abd al-Wahhab. Ramadan simply parrots the Wahhabi claim that Abd al-Wahhab called for "renewal." In reality, Abd al-Wahhab called for a literal return to the year 632 AD.
T.R.: “I have said that I am against the implementation of stoning, death penalties and corporal punishments. In Islamic-majority countries, this is a minority position. What we cannot deny is that these punishments are in the texts. What I am saying to Muslim scholars is that today’s conditions are different, so in this context you cannot implement these punishments. So we have to stop. This is the moratorium.”
T.H.: The question is not the implementation of physical criminal/penal punishments. The question is simply as follows: if you do reject the Islamic criminal punishment – do you also reject the rest of Sharia? For if you argue that physical punishment is no longer suitable in the modern age, what about civil law, marriage, commercial and international relations?
T.R.: About Hasan al-Banna, his grand-father and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood: “He is very badly known to the West since he is known only from the words of British colonizers and Zionists.”
T.H.: Mr. Ramadan should pray day and night that the British do not release all of their documents that are relevant to Hassan al-Banna. If they do, the world would realize why the Muslim Brotherhood was formed in the Egyptian city of Ismailia in 1928. I know from reliable documentation that the idea was mainly a British idea fully supported by King Fouad I of Egypt. They came to the conclusion that after all minority parties failed to eliminate the overwhelming majority of the Wafd party that was leading the national movement in Egypt since 1919 that only the use of Islam would work.
This began a series of mistakes that helped to create the phenomenon of the Mujaheddin in Afghanistan, which was itself the beginning of the march of terror that led to 9/11. In this case, nobody expects Mr. Ramadan to give an objective judgment about the father of his own mother and to condemn the assassination of Egypt's prime minister (al-Niqrashi) in December 1948 which was led by his Mr. Ramadan's own grandfather.
T.R.: “I don’t work for the British or any other government. I am open to any kind of dialogue as long as the rules are clear: free to speak out, free to criticize, free to resist and free to support when it is right. Muslims should stop thinking that to talk is to compromise, but the black and white approach is often the reality of Muslims today.”
T.H.: That’s great Mr. Ramadan - let us have a public debate anywhere in Europe or in the USA. I did my own survey to your writings and speeches and came to a patently clear conclusion that your main qualification is that you are the grandson of Hassan al-Banna, the founder (with the British Embassy in Egypt in 1928) of the MB's organization and that your knowledge base is therefore distorted.
T.R.: “As to Hizb ut-Tahrir, I disagree with them but I think that as long as they are not speaking illegally, they must be free to speak and the society and Muslims should be free to respond. Hizb ut-Tahrir is not calling Muslims to kill or to act illegally, so it must be heard and challenged. To ban is the wrong way.”
T.H.: You are most mistaken, Mr. Ramadan. It is time for Europe to get up and protect democracy from all those who are trying to utilize "the tools of democracy" to establish a system that is by all civilized definitions anti-democratic. The basic beliefs of Hizbu al-Tahrir are entirely anti-modern, anti-democratic and anti-western. The freedom of the enemies of freedom MUST come to an end. Why doesn’t Hizbu al Tahrir move from Europe to the Saudi capital?
T.R.: “Firstly, we have to be accountable when attending international interfaith meetings. If we engage in dialogue only at conferences, then we are not living up to our spiritual commitment. We must be committed to go back to our communities and share what we have learned and put our words into actions.”
T.H.: The basic requirements for a free and open dialogue among the followers of the three monotheistic religions are not (yet) mature on the side of Muslim intellectuals who still lack the minimum respect of OTHERS and of their freedom to be different. Just look at the speeches of all the Saudis who participated in the recent conference in Spain that was held on a call from the Saudi Monarch.