RECOMMENDED READING: "Tariq Ramadan: Political Liberalism, Islam, and "Overlapping Consensus"


Yale Professor Andrew March has written analysis of the political view of Muslim Brotherhood figure Tariq Ramadan. After a detailed analysis, Dr. March concludes that Ramadan’s public views are “supportive of a liberal political order”

Ramadan has attempted to develop a fairly elaborate conception of how Muslims should balance their Islamic and their European commitments, and that is where we should give the preponderance of our consideration in evaluating whether his views are compatible with the most reasonable demands of political liberalism. What I have attempted to demonstrate is that there is very strong reason to regard his main political views as fully supportive of a liberal political order. The burden of proof seems to be on those who are skeptical of this to demonstrate, on the basis of a close reading of Ramadan’s political writings, what precisely they regard as beyond the limits of reasonable disagreement in a diverse society.

Dr,. March does note, however, that such an analysis is insufficient to conclude that Ramadan is sincere, trustworthy, or harboring “illiberal political aspirations:

This brief review of Ramadan is not meant to resolve the question of whether his vision of Islam in Europe, taken in its entirety, gives enduring principled Islamic support for a liberal political order-that is, is part of an “overlapping consensus” on the reasonableness of political liberalism. Nor have I even addressed the question of his personal sincerity, his ultimate motivations, or whether certain past incidents or personal associations render him untrustworthy as a political figure in Europe. There is no doubt that many Muslim Brotherhood-inspired Islamic figures in Europe harbor illiberal political aspirations, and Ramadan’s origins in that milieu need to be borne in mind.

Previous posts suggest that Ramadan should not be taken at face value and include evidence of anti-Semitism, deceptions about the nature of Jihad, and equivocation on Shariah punishments such as stoning. It is also incorrect to suggest that Ramadan only has his “origins” in the Muslim Brotherhood millieu since as recently as December 2007 he attended a conference in Istanbul featuring a large number of individuals tied to the global Brotherhood as well as Christian minister William Baker whose anti-Semitic and far-right extremist background has been explored by local media.

Dr. March’s article also contains a useful discussion of political liberalism including the following list of “important and elemental principles that liberals ought to insist on” with respect to the Islamic community:

* that Islamic conceptions of morality can only be cultivated and encouraged within Muslim families and communities through noncoercive means;

* that the public sphere in non-Muslim liberal democracies cannot be expected to accommodate all Islamic religious sensibilities by limiting freedom of expression;

* that grievances with public authorities be redressed politically and with a long-term commitment to democratic political institutions;

* that non-Muslim fellow citizens are recognized as eligible for bonds of political and social solidarity and that relations with them are regarded as relationships of justice (rather than contingent accommodation);

* that Muslims can recognize the diversity and ethical pluralism of liberal societies as a permanent feature and not something to be ultimately overcome by a future Muslim majority;

* that, whatever legitimate solidarity Muslims feel for the global community of Muslims, non-Muslim states of citizenship enjoy immunity from violence.

There is ample evidence to suggest that by and large, the global Muslim Brotherhood fails all of the above tests.

(Source: Ethics & International Affairs Winter 2007 Reading Tariq Ramadan: Political Liberalism, Islam, and “Overlapping Consensus” BYLINE: March, Andrew F.SECTION: Pg. 399 Vol. 21 No. 4 ISSN: 0892-6794)

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