New York Review Of Books On The Works Of Tariq Ramadan


Scottish writer and historian Malise Ruthven has written a review of the works of Tariq Ramadan for the New York Review of Books. Ramadan, the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, is a highly controversial figure in both the Islamic and Western worlds, viewed by some as a moderate able to forge a new European Islam and by others as a wolf in sheep’s clothing who speaks with different messages to Muslim and Western audiences. After a somewhat cursory and superficial dismissal of the outstanding accusations against Ramadan, the review becomes critical of him on a number of different levels although generally couching this criticism in positive terms. First, the review finds Ramadan’s scholarship on the origins of Islam to be somewhat lacking but attributes this to Ramadan being a "religious conformist" rather than the more likely explanation that as a Muslim Brotherhood ideologue, Ramadan is simply in no political position to engage in serious scholarship on the origins of Islam. The review then moves on to praise Ramadan for encouraging the integration of European Muslims, a posture that is not surprising since the Muslim Brotherhood does not encourage "ghettoization" and generally encourages participation in the wider society, albeit up to a point. The review notes that Ramadan encourages European Muslims to join with others "to work for the common good" without seeming to understand that for Ramadan, as for most Muslim Brotherhood organizations, this generally means joining with far-left organizations in political alliances directed against anti-terror efforts and against Israel among other similar issues. The review moves on to excuse Ramadan’s "pragmatism" with respect to issues such as calling for a moratorium on stoning rather than an abolition as a necessity for maintaining "credibility" with his young supporters. The review concludes with the charge that Ramadan suffers from a kind of utopian optimism  for believing that "Muslims can modernize their societies without succumbing to the dehumanizing forces of secularism." The reviewer notes that the implications of this posture is a "re-Ottomanization" of the Muslim world in which religious communities would once more enjoy a semi-autonomous existence such as they had under the sultan-caliph." Among all these observations, probably the one that is unique is the accusation that Ramadan may not be as serious a religious scholar as some might believe.

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