Dr. Tariq Ramadan on Islam in the West: advice & concepts for Muslim minority communities

Alhumdulilah, I was blessed some months ago with the opportunity to interview Dr. Tariq Ramadan, a luminary thinker, academician and international speaker on Islam and Muslims in modern times. Below you will find the audio of that interview and a few of my thoughts about my time with him.

A note to our readers:

This interview was conducted in transit from one of his speaking events (a round table discussion with area interfaith leaders) to another (entitled Dr. Tariq Ramadan – Citizenship, Loyalty & Change: What is the Future for Muslims in the West?); I was driving Dr. Ramadan to his next engagement. Due to this setup there are minor sound quality issues (road noise) and me, your interviewer, having a hard time focusing. May Allah make this interview beneficial and give us the ability to take the good from it and implement it in our lives.

[audio:http://muslimmatters.org/audio/2011_TR_Islam in the West_ Advice & Concepts for Muslim Minority Communities.mp3]

A few observations:

In interpersonal communication Dr. Ramadan was very generous with his time. He was soft spoken, engaging and respectful. He gave his peers his full attention, showed them respect and smiled a lot.

As a speaker, Dr. Ramadan was very eloquent and yet humble. He started his talk with what is now one of his famous trademarks the “please, do not shout takbir” policy, stating that he would rather have the audience really pondering/considering his thoughts and challenging them in their minds than have the event turn into a slogan filled pep rally.

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During the Q&A session, Dr. Ramadan was both thought provoking and steadfast. At one point a member of the audience lavished him with heavy praise, and then followed with a question that revealed a deep lack of knowledge of some of the basic tenets of our religion. Dr. Ramadan replied by saying we all need to learn more about our faith and then quickly moved on, not allowing the questioner to be embarrassed.

Lastly, while Dr. Ramadan has a unique celebrity-isque status among many in our community, he carried himself with a sense of “realness.” The best way I can describe him is somewhere between the local scholar/imam that is loved by his community and a childhood friend that you\’ve watched become famous.

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8 responses to “Dr. Tariq Ramadan on Islam in the West: advice & concepts for Muslim minority communities”

  1. Muttaqi says:

    Though I’ve heard of Tariq Ramadan before this, I’ve never took the time to listen to him. For the most part I like what he’s saying, but I just don’t relate with much of it.

    Perhaps the questions being asked were more for immigrant and 2nd generation immigrant Muslims. These questions aren’t things that I find really problematic or significant in my life as a Muslim.

    Plus, when he mentioned that part about Christians and Jews following a “truth” he kind of lost me. That’s not the sort of plurality I’m interested in.

  2. Not saying says:

    I absolutely hate it when a questioner is allowed to be embarrassed. Even more when they put their questions on paper and hand it to someone who is able to read it and prevent it from reaching the speaker beforehand.

    May Allah bless Tariq.

  3. Omar says:

    Scholars like Tariq Ramadan are a blessing for the Ummah. He thinks outside the box, coming up with novel interpretations and ways of seeing things, contributing to the rich Islamic intellectual heritage. It also means he will make mistakes, some of them serious, which we ask Allah to forgive him for. But that is the price to pay for being a modern thinker. Eventually, the Ummah will ‘weed out’ the mistakes, and benefit from the good he came up with inshAAllah.

    I also really respect his disdain for applause, random takbeers, and the rock concert atmosphere that plagues many Islamic events. These are just distractions, and as he said, bad for his ego.

    May Allah guide us and accept from us all.

  4. Christiana says:

    I just wanted to thank you for Dr. Ramadan’s message. As a Christian, I know very little about Islam, and what I do know primarily consists of that which shows up as headlines- and negative ones at best. I live in Chicago yet in spite of the fact there is a mosque nearby, the Muslims primarily seem to keep to themselves. I would like to get to know my neighbors and thought about attending a service at the mosque but realized I know nothing about day and time let alone the rituals and practices. (please excuse me that I wouldn’t know what to do:-) I especially appreciated Dr. Ramadan’s comments on truth for each individual within the context of plurality of religions, as within the USA. I absolutely agree that if each of us individually practices, models, and is accountable for the truths that our religions offer, whether Jewish, Muslim, Christian or other, our actions speak way louder than our words to those around us for whom our religion is alien. Individual accountability, as he points out, is extremely important. As an Evangelical Christian, my Truth is: “Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ, God forgave you.” (Ephesians 4:32), and “Do not repay anyone evil for evil. Be careful to do what is right in the eyes of everybody. If it is possible, as far as it depends on you, live at peace with everyone. Do not be overcome by evil but overcome evil with good.” (Romans 17,18,21) Such simple, lovely statements, but so hard for so many to follow. So much misunderstanding, hurt, and fighting can be replaced by friendship, healing, and tolerance. America is unique; it has been blessed by God and although we struggle to achieve it, peace and equality, life, liberty and happiness for ALL should always be our mutual goals. I know these are important truths of the religions within our communities.

    Thank you for refreshing my hope and prayers for America.

    • Sakina says:

      Hey Christiana,
      I’m so happy you benefitted from Dr. Tariq’s message – as a young muslim he continues to inspire me to this day!
      I absolutely loved the quotes you gave. Those powerful values are shared by all the Abrahamic faiths; take for example the quotes in the Qur’an which are just like the ones in the Bible:
      {Nor can goodness and Evil be equal. Repel (evil) with what is better: Then will he between whom and thee was hatred become as it were thy friend and intimate} Surah Fussilat: 34
      Plus the Prophet p.b.u.h said “Show kindness to the creatures on the earth so that Allah may be kind to you”

      I wish that England was more like America, where Christians practise their faith more confidently and openly. Maybe one day! :)

    • Amad says:

      That was an excellent comment Christiana. Thanks

    • Melanie says:

      Hi Christiana!

      I also live in Chicago and wanted to extend an invitation to a service at the mosque if you are still interested! You can reach out to me at melturk6@gmail.com. Just as you would like to get to know your neighbors, we also want to get to know ours! So happy you were inspired by the podcast and much love to you.

  5. Sebkha says:

    I always enjoy hearing Dr Ramadan’s take on things, and I always learn something new from him. And I’ll leave it at that and not say anymore, lest I be accused of having a “shaykhy crush”. ;-)

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