Well, I am on one of my Qatar is awesome highs because I got to hear Tariq Rammadan speak!
Aahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! He was so awesome! I was afraid that he would be a bit trite, or say stuff that I’ve heard over and over again, but he was absolutely awesome!
I think each person came away with something different, which is good and bad I guess, but I was left with these ideas, which are in need of further digestion but here goes anyway:
1. I literally heard him say stuff that I have been saying all throughout my stay here, to no avail, (like— why don’t we have a strong showing of Muslims who care about non-Muslim issues?— such as Congo. Israel-Palestine is important, but what about being energized about universal issues so you don’t look A. selfish B. superbly defensive and exclusive and C. because things like the environment, education [not Islamic education] the political process are universally important! ) —
2. He also talked about the need to be real bout the quabbles within the Muslim community— whether its sunni-Shia or Sufi- Salafi or RACISM! (yes he said point black there is racism and Muslims need to fix it!—- I nearly swooned, after the commentary on Congo mixed with this! ahaaaaaaaaaaaa!!!!!!!!!!!)
3. Concrete advice about how to make Muslims be viewed as an integral part of the societies that they live in (which many of them already feel that they are— the question is, how to reverse the stereotypes—- call more media attention to the advances made in the Muslim community) instead of viewing the media as purposely set out to get Muslims!
4. Addressed the issue of freedom in Muslim countries, and that they too are need of reform, you can’t ask for/complain of mistreatment when you do the same thing at home.
5. Understanding the role that Muslims in West (who are at home with being in the West— and don’t necessarily suffer from some cultural/psychological bipolarism ) play in the global Muslim community and not just assume that they want to take part in Muslim discourses by deferring to Muslims in the “Muslim world” i.e. majority-Muslim countries
6. Yes, there is hatred/racism against Muslims, but you can not just complain about this, you have to acknowledge it and strategize ways to combat it. —- There is much to be learned from the Jewish experience.
7. We need to acknowledge the differences between our understanding of basic issues/terms and realize that sometimes/many a times we are talking across purposes even in Muslim circles because we don’t understand the same things in the same light. (Sharia, culture, the word Islam in and of itself, and what submission means in Arabic)
8. Muslims need to stress the spiritual aspect of the faith— it’s not just a system of halal-Haram– but too often it’s simplified this way. If there is more dialogue about Islam as a faith, as a religion that answers the core question of “why am I here?” then expressing it from that angle people would get a different perspective on it, instead of being on the defensive (although some really do have to be).
I am struck by how much the people from American got him, and loved him, and the kinds of questions that Arabs were asking, there is a real cultural difference between living as part of the majority (and having that as your reality) and being the minority within another community (i.e. Muslims in the West).
I unfortunately am coming to realize people’s acute misunderstanding of American society. But that post will be for another day.
I have a few video clips but they are so hard to upload 😦