Book Review: What I Believe

I would classify Tariq Ramadan’s work as perhaps part of the Capitulation Series. These types of works are not designed to alert Muslims to the present dangers facing them and then begin the work of renewal;

but rather these works are designed to push their readers to reconcile with the world rather than try to reform and change it; pray for change, as long as it hurts no one; talk about peace and justice as long as it changes nothing; campaign for peace as long as it changes nothing.

Ramadan offers a number of anecdotes regarding his life, the theological and spiritual changes that he has undergone but nothing practical that will radically change the world around him.

His programme for change is summarised in what he calls the seven “Cs”: confidence, consistency, contribution, creativity, communication, contestation and compassion.

Yet again, of the seven “Cs,” not one of them is control, caliphate, command or any other mechanism that would lead to ruling by the Revealed Law once again. At heart a secularist, Ramadan offers one of the most frightening defences for secularism that I have read from someone claiming the testimony of faith…

“Moreover, their perception of the meaning and fundamentals of secularism stemmed from a historical misunderstanding: for North Africans, Middle East Arabs, Asians, and Turks, secularization meant an imported system imposed by colonists or implemented by such heads of state as Kamal Ataturk, Habib Bourguiba, Hafiz al-Assad, or Saddam Hussein through dictatorial policies.

Secularism and religious neutrality have mainly been perceived as processes of “de-Islamization,” or opposition to religion, entailing repressive measures: it was historically and factually impossible to associate “secularism” or “religious neutrality” with freedom and democratization.

When arriving in the West, the first generations carried with them those perceptions and that negative burden (and they often still do). [What I Believe, pp. 30-31]

Thus secularism has been accepted. It is not to be resisted but embraced. The foundational theology of secularism – its’ torchbearer being the United States – has not been sufficiently tackled by Tariq Ramadan and one often gets the impression that he is confused about how to deal with the process of renewal among the Muslims.

As per usual, he blames common Muslims for much of the world’s woes, castigates them, calls their culture in whole as not bearing fruit, in addition to claiming that a moratorium on the judicial laws of the Revealed Law is timely and necessary.

After all the ripping and tearing at all the things holy in Islam, the question to ask is…what’s left? Well, nothing. A Western, English or American Islam is being built. Let the reader cross reference this with another work: To Be A European Muslim.

Islam or Muslim as an adjective seems to be the core aim of Ramadan in the pages of his book. Citizenship is the noun, the basis, while someone may merely “happen to be a Muslim” or just happens to have been “born in a Muslim household.” What is important is national identity and contrived and written declarations on values clarification.

Tariq Ramadan states, “I have since been calling for a strict implementation of France’s 1905 law on secularism, both in letter and spirit, equally for all citizens be they Muslim or not.” (What I Believe, pp. 97-98)

Be sure to also compare this with his daring and outlandish insistence on recognition of homosexuality as a valid expression of love among Muslims (What I Believe, pp. 102-103). Even bringing this to the table for dialogue is not only dangerous but irresponsible in the great cultural war that the Muslims are engaged in with the forces of darkness.

What I Believe is not a defence of Islam against all the wicked peddlers of pornography, avarice and vice, the droppers of daisy-cutters on common believers throughout the world; rather it is a surrender.

What I Believe is nothing short of a desire to tell the bullied to stop resisting the bully, the rape to desist with struggling against the rapist.

Readers of What I Believe will find nothing new if they have read Sayyid Qutb, Maududi on the radical right fringe or Irshad Manji, Sayyid At-Tantawi, Mahmud Shaltut and Muhammad `Abduh on the radical left fringe.

The only difference is Tariq Ramadan claims that secularism and Islam are synonymous. We ask that the Lord save us from digesting such poison.


One response to “Book Review: What I Believe

  1. Assalaam alaykum,

    Jazakum Allah khayran for a brilliant article. I’ve always known Tariq Ramadan to be a fishy character, but the things you’ve quoted and mentioned here are highly disturbing.

    Question: do you think it is because he suffers from a severe inferiority complex with regards to his faith? I know of unsaved people, when I was at university, who were looking for the truth and for salvation but when they came across Mr. Ramadan’s interpretation they were completely put off, because he made them think that Islam was nothing different from the various human ideologies and ‘isms’ that are lareadly out there. He makes no effort to show that Islam is superior.

    It’s also worrying that certain Muslims, claiming Orthodoxy, from the Bay Area share platforms with this dangerous individual and appear to be inclining closer and closer towards his views.

    May Allah protect us!

    Assalaam alaykum,


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