Thursday, February 16, 2006

Muslim Scholar Calls Muslims to Adopt a Critical Intellectual Distance

Muslim Academic and Scholar Tariq Ramadan called on Muslims not to fall in the trap of emotional reactions which lead to the clash of civilisations.

Ramadan stressed the idea that Muslims, whose religion calls for the respect of all Prophets, should not fall in the trap of emotional reactions which lead to the clash of civilisations.

“I have called on Muslims to avoid violent demonstrations. I have also condemned the calls for reprisals against European interests. The message Muslims should pass is that the caricatures hurt them, and that we, Muslims, don't draw pictures of the Prophets and don't insult them. After the message is conveyed, we should move to another issue,” he said.

Ramadan warned that the polemic raised by the issue would lead to extremism on both sides.

“What is going on today is that the extremists of both parties are trying to use this polemic to serve their own interests,” the scholar said, stressing that the best way to avoid the current clash is to make both parties focus on their common values rather than their differences.

As an alternative reaction, Ramadan called on Muslims to adopt a “critical intellectual distance”, by avoiding emotionally-driven answers to the provocations.

Since the age of Enlightenment, Ramadan explained, the West has developed a culture of satire towards religion. This has become one of the traits of the Western civilization. But on the other hand, he stressed, the West should respect the limits of freedom of expression, as “freedom of expression doesn't give the right to say anything against anyone”.

Ramadan added that the best way to get out of the trap opposing the Islamic Civilisation to the Western one is to concentrate on the two sides' shared values rather than differences.

“It is imperatively necessary to place common values in the centre of our interests. Both our civilisations accept freedom, but not irresponsible freedom,” he insisted.

The Swiss scholar was born in 1962 in Geneva. Holder of a PhD in philosophy and another in Islamic studies, Ramadan has taught religion in many universities, including the University of Notre Dame, Indiana, US, and the University of Oxford as a visiting professor.

Ramadan is known for his moderate, but sometimes controversial positions concerning the position of Muslims in the West. He supports integration rather than alienation from the western societies where they live.

In Sep. 2005, he was invited by the government of Tony Blair to join a task force supporting moderate Islam in the UK.

Mr.Ramadan is the grandson of the Founder of Radical Muslim Brotherhood ( Al-Ekhwan Muslimum) in Egypt, Hassan Al-Banna.


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