This is the first in a series of thee articles about Tariq Ramadan by Marc Lebuis of the Quebec-based Point de Bascule blog.
By Marc Lebuis and Étienne Harvey, Point de Bascule, for Human Rights Service
On September 27, 2009, on the French TV show On n’est pas couché (We are not in bed yet), Tariq Ramadan said that he takes the texts of Islam very seriously. That is why he claimed to await the conclusions of specialists on these texts – that is, Muslim scholars – before taking a specific stance on any given question. Ramadan made his point during a discussion of the issue of stoning.
The Muslim world refers to texts…These texts are taken seriously by Muslims. I have three questions for the Muslim scholars around the world: what are the texts saying, what are the conditions required to apply these texts and in which social context? These questions are essential….I am against (stoning) because these three conditions have not been met.
So Ramadan does not reject stoning because it’s barbaric, but because certain conditions have not been met. If these conditions were to be met, would stoning become acceptable in Ramadan’s mind? None of the guests on the show asked him the question.
My object here is not to reopen the debate on stoning, but rather to apply the method suggested by Ramadan in the video in order to better understand the mission that he and the Muslim Brotherhood in general are pursuing in the West. As we deepen our understanding of the texts written by the scholars whom he has endorsed, the clearer it becomes that the intellectual foundations of his thought are incompatible with the principles on which Western civilization has been built.
As an introduction, here are six statements on the general mission of Islam as explained by Tariq Ramadan’s scholars, whom he has explicitly endorsed either by quoting them or by acknowledging their authority in Islam.
Islam wishes to destroy all states and governments anywhere on the face of the earth which are opposed to the ideology and programme of Islam….The purpose of Islam is to set up a state on the basis of its own ideology and programme.…The objective of the Islamic Jihad is to eliminate the rule of an un-Islamic system and establish in its stead an Islamic system of state rule. Islam does not intend to confine this revolution to a single state or a few countries; the aim of Islam is to bring about a universal revolution.
| – Sayyid Abul Ala Maududi (1903 – 1979),Jihad in Islam, pp. 6 and 22
Tariq Ramadan, on page 26 of Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, identifies Maududi as one of the chief representatives of the so-called “reformist salafist” trend to which he belongs.
In the Muslim community, the holy war is a religious duty, because of the universalism of the (Muslim) mission and (the obligation to) convert everybody to Islam either by persuasion or by force. Therefore, caliphate and royal authority are united in Islam, so that the person in charge can devote the available strength to both of them (religion and politics) at the same time. The other religious groups did not have a universal mission, and the holy war was not a religious duty to them, save only for purposes of defence. It has thus come about that the person in charge of religious affairs (in other religious groups) is not concerned with power politics at all.
– Ibn Khaldun (1332 – 1406), The Muqaddimah: An Introduction to History, p.
Tariq Ramadan, in What I Believe, pp. 83-84, rates as “decisive” Ibn Khaldun’s intellectual contribution not only for Islam but for Europe and the West in general.
– Ibn Taymiyya (1263 – 1328), The Religious and Moral Doctrine of Jihad – Text reproduced by Rudolph Peters, Jihad in Classical and Modern Islam, p. 44
Tariq Ramadan, in Radical Reform, p. 66, has characterized Ibn Taymiyya’s doctrinal contribution to Islam as “rich and important”.
The mushrikun (infidels) of Dar al-Harb (the arena of battle) are of two types: First, those whom the call of Islam has reached, but they have refused it and have taken up arms. The amir (leader) of the army has the option of fighting them (…) in accordance with what he judges to be in the best interest of the Muslims and most harmful to the mushrikun; (…) Second, those whom the invitation to Islam has not reached, although such persons are few nowadays since Allah has made manifest the call of his Messenger. (…) It is forbidden to (…) begin an attack before explaining the invitation to Islam to them, informing them of the miracles of the Prophet and making plain the proofs so as to encourage acceptance on their part; if they still refuse to accept after this, war is waged against them and they are treated as those whom the call has reached.
– Habib Al-Mawardi (972 – 1058), The Laws of Islamic Governance, quoted in Andrew Bostom, The Legacy of Jihad, pp. 27-28
Tariq Ramadan, in Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, p. 192, acknowledges al-Mawardi’s authority and refers to him in discussing the management of the zakat (the compulsory financial contribution of the Muslims.
In his text The Prophet’s Treatment of the Unbelievers and the Hypocrites from the Beginning of His Messengership until His Death, Ibn Al-Qayyim lists four steps by which the treatment of non-Muslims went through during the first years of Islam. As the forces of Islam grew stronger, increasingly coercive methods were adopted. The tactics adopted to subjugate the infidels had to match the level of strength possessed by the Muslims at a given time. This approach is still advocated by modern Islamists. At the fourth and last step, Muslims must attack non-Muslims for no other reason that they are not following Islam.
Step 1: PATIENCE: “For thirteen years after the beginning of his Messengership, Muhammad called people to God through preaching, without fighting or Jizyah, (A tax imposed by Muslims on non-Muslims) and was commanded to restrain himself and to practice patience and forbearance.”
Step 2: DEFENSE IS ALLOWED: “Then he was commanded to migrate, and later permission was given to fight.”
Step 3: DEFENSE IS ORDERED – ATTACK IS FORBIDDEN: “Then he was commanded to fight those who fought him, and to restrain himself from those who did not make war with him.”
Step 4: ATTACK IS ORDERED : “Later he was commanded to fight the polytheists until God’s religion was fully established.”
– Ibn Qayyim (1292 – 1350), Zad al-Mitad, quoted by Sayyid Qutb, Milestones, pp. 94-95
Tariq Ramadan, in Western Muslims and the Future of Islam, p. 42, approves the theoretician of jihad Ibn al-Qayyim and borrows his formula according to which “everything found in the Qur’an and the Sunna (the sayings and the deeds of Muhammad) is, in itself, in harmony with the good of humankind”.
It is obligatory for us (Muslims) to begin fighting with them (the infidels) after transmitting the invitation (to embrace Islam), even if they do not fight against us.
– Hassan Al-Banna (1906 – 1949), Five Tracts, translated by Charles Wendell, p. 147
Tariq Ramadan has endorsed the ideological legacy of his grandfather, Hassan al-Banna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, in these terms: “I have studied Hassan Al-Banna’s ideas with great care and there is nothing in this heritage that I reject. His relation to God, his spirituality, his personality, as well as his critical reflections on law, politics, society and pluralism, testify for me to his qualities of heart and mind….. His commitment also is a continuing reason for my respect and admiration.” (From Alain Gresh and Tariq Ramadan, L’Islam en questions, pp. 33-34, quoted by Caroline Fourest, Brother Tariq: The Doublespeak of Tariq Ramadan, pp. 4-5.)
The new Canadian allies of Ramadan at the Muslim Association of Canada have expressed their approval of al-Banna’s doctrine in the following terms: “MAC adopts and strives to implement Islam, as embodied in the Qur’an, and the teachings of the Prophet (pbuh) and as understood in its contemporary context by the late Imam, Hassan Albanna, the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood. MAC regards this ideology as the best representation of Islam as delivered by Prophet Muhammad (pbuh).” (http://www.macnet.ca/about-mac.php)
In his compilation On Jihad, Hassan al-Banna brought together the main verses of the Koran, the main hadiths and some texts written by scholars about jihad. The hadiths contain sayings and actions attributed to Muhammad. On their website, Tariq Ramadan’s allies at the Muslim Association of Canada (MAC) direct their readers to the Islamist site youngmuslims.ca, which offers an online library containing many Islamist classics, including this al-Banna text.
Among the verses that he quoted in order to explain jihad, Al-Banna chose 9:29: “Fight against those who (1) believe not in Allah, (2) nor in the Last Day, (3) nor forbid that which has been forbidden by Allah and His Messenger (4) and those who acknowledge not the religion of truth (i.e. Islam) among the people of the Scripture (Jews and Christians), until they pay the Jizyah with willing submission, and feel themselves subdued.”
Jizyah is a special tax that non-Muslims must pay to stay alive when sharia is applied. In May 2009, the Indian press announced that after having taken control of an area in northwest Pakistan, the Taliban imposed jizyah upon the Sikhs living there. When they did not receive the money that they demanded, the Taliban destroyed many houses and looted a large amount of goods.
Al-Banna established an important distinction between defensive jihad and offensive jihad. He quoted the imams Malik (c. 711 – 795) and al-Nawawi (1234 – 1278) in order to clarify the difference. Defensive jihad occurs when a Muslim population is being attacked at home while the offensive jihad takes place when Muslims attack the infidels in their own territories. According to the traditional doctrine of Islam, Muslims must take part to an offensive jihad at least once a year.
In a document presented in1990 at an Islamist symposium held in Algeria where the tasks facing the Islamists for the period 1990 – 2020 were being discussed, the spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood Youssef Al-Qaradawi reminded his listeners that Hassan Al-Banna frequently used the following formula in order to show his leaning towards offensive jihad: “Give me twelve thousand believers, and I will conquer with them the mountains, cross the seas and invade the land.” (Priorities of The Islamic Movement in The Coming Phase, chapter 3, section “Belief Based Education is the Foundation”, available at witness-pioneer.org.)
To repeat the words of Tariq Ramadan about his grandfather: “I have studied Hassan Al-Banna’s ideas with great care and there is nothing in this heritage that I reject.”