A confident, modern Islam must challenge the victim mentality of western Muslims and a crisis of authority across the faith, says Tariq Ramadan. But can you be a gay Muslim?by Ehsan Masood / July 22, 2006 / Leave a comment
Q Why do you think that after more than 40 years of significant Muslim immigration to Europe, no Islamic reform movement has emerged here?
A Well, there is nothing very visible yet. In a way that is not surprising, these things take time. But I believe a silent revolution is taking place—things are evolving very fast. Muslims are now talking about national citizenship in a more confident way. Women are much more involved in the process. There are pockets of resistance to change, especially among the elder generation, but this is not the only reality: there are new leaders, new understandings, new trends.
Q You often say in your lectures that liberal democracies like Britain are more Islamic than many undemocratic Islamic countries. What do you mean by that—that concepts like the rule of law and equal citizenship and democracy are strongly endorsed by Islam?
A Protection of religion, life, intellect, family, goods and dignity is much more a reality in the west than under the Arab Islamic countries. Nothing is ideal, but we have to acknowledge these facts.
Q You always stress to Muslim audiences the importance of feeling at home here. But there are many organisations, including the Muslim Council of Britain, that benefit from stressing a distinctive Islamic identity and pursue goals such as state funding for Muslim schools that can contribute to ghettoisation. Is that wrong?
A I would prefer social mixing and mutual contribution. I’m not against Islamic schools in principle, and I have seen some good ones here in Britain. I am also aware that even in the mainstream system you often get a lot of plain old segregation, with 80 to 95 per cent of pupils coming from one group, and this we have to fight against too. Muslims should, of course, have the same right to faith schools as Christians and Jews. But there is a danger that self-segregation could be the result. So, it’s legally right, but Muslims should not necessarily take up the right.
Q What about the role of the Muslim councils that now exist all over Europe? Do they reinforce a sense of separateness? Should Muslim citizens take their political and social problems to councillors and MPs, rather than the local representative of the MCB?
A There is a contradiction here. European governments want to see the emergence of leaders who can speak in the name of…