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Shi'a Pundit

Devoted to the viewpoint of Islam of Muhammad SAW and Amir ul-Mumineen, Ali ibn Abi Talib SA, in the Shi'a Fatimi Ismaili Dawoodi Bohra tradition.

August 25, 2004

Tariq Ramadan denied visa.

Tariq Ramadan is a controversial figure - that much we can agree on. Invited as a lecturer at the University of Notre Dame, his visa was suddenly revoked by the request of the US Dept of Homeland Security. Ramadan is the grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, a lineage which most zealous Muslim-phobes equate to support of terror. However, Ramadan's life work is to espouse a basis of Muslim identity firmly rooted in Western ideals, and has written a book called "To Be a European Muslim" detailing that philosophy.

It is likely that the enmity towards Ramadan, despite his explicitly moderate message of tolerance and inclusion of muslims within the political and cultural mainstream, stems from his unwavering critiques of Israel's human rights abuses towards the Palestinians:

"What I'm saying as a Muslim is that when I criticize a policy, for example the Saudi policy or the Egyptian policy, I am not Islamophobic," he said.

"And when I am criticizing the policy of the state of Israel, of [Prime Minister Ariel] Sharon, I'm not an anti-Semite. It's just a political criticism."

That's not unfamiliar territory to me. His (Israeli-hyper-partisan) detractors such as Robert Spencer insist that Ramadan is a closet anti-Semite, though Ramadan has explicitly denounced anti-Semitism as an alien import to the Muslim mindset, urging Muslims to take heed of the moral tragedy of the Holocaust.

It's a tragic irony that the muslims most critical in bringing about cultural change in the Middle East and elsewhere, the potential saving bulwark against the rising tide of extremism, are lumped in with those they denounce. The reason is their refusal to denounce being muslim itself. Apparently, the only "acceptable" muslim is one who rejects the Qur'an as a divine text, Muhammad SAW as a prophet of God, and adopts a secular-fundamentalist approach to their "faith". Some are comfortable with this, others are not - count me among the latter. Tariq Ramadan is a hero to me and others like me who will always be a muslim and yet will not cede our right to be counted among the Men of the West.

UPDATE: via Brian Ulrich, I just discovered the blog Chapati Mystery, which also addresses the Tariq Ramadan issue in a nice post with useful links to more info on him via Muslim WakeUp! and Abu Aardvark.

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Nahj-ul Balagha

About Shi'a Pundit

Shi'a Pundit was launched in 2002 during the run-up to the invasion of Iraq. The blog focuses on issues pertaining to Shi'a Islam in the west and in the Islamic world. The author is a member of the Dawoodi Bohra Muslim community. Bohras adhere to the Shi'a Fatimi tradition of Islam, headed by the 52nd Dai al-Mutlaq, Syedna Mohammed Burhanuddin (TUS).

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