Friday, April 08, 2005

Tariq's Taqiyya

In military strategy this might be seen as a flank attack. Academe probably has another term, and Islam yet a third. However it's decoded, though, Tariq Ramadan's latest move is brilliant.

Ramadan's claim to fame in the US lies in Homeland Security's revocation of his work visa last year. He'd taken on a prestigious tenured position at Notre Dame and had done all the preliminary work -- found a house, schools for the children, etc. -- and was within nine days of leaving Switzerland for South Bend when the news came.

Despite all his connections, which included Bill Clinton, William Cohen and a designation by Time magazine as one of the top 100 spiritual innovators, Mr. Ramadan was considered a risk.

It could be his family: Grandpa was the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt; Dad helped establish the Saudis' proselytizing World Islamic League. That was before moving on to Switzerland in 1961 to start the Islamic Center of Geneva -- where Osama bin Laden studied. Then there's his brother, Hani, the director of Geneva's Islamic Center. Swiss intelligence thinks he's involved with Middle Eastern terrorists. And Tariq is on the Board of Directors.

Lee Smith, weighing in on the debate last year, dubbed Ramadan "gentle Jihadist" for his views:
     Ramadan is a cold-blooded Islamist who believes that Islam is the cure for the malaise wrought by liberal values. His revision of the jihadist paradigm -- peaceful but total -- is brilliant in its way, and he may well turn out to be a major Islamist intellectual, far surpassing even his grandfather's influence. His cry of death to the West is a quieter and gentler jihad, but it's still jihad. There's no reason for Western liberals to try to understand that point of view.
So there Tariq Ramadan sits in Geneva, his chance for tenure as a US academic gone...for the moment. What's a fellow going to do to get back in the swim?

Here's one way: issue a 'world-wide' call to Muslims for a moratorium on hudud.
     We are officially launching today an international call for an immediate moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty in all majority Muslim countries...
This call for a moratorium is being made considering that the opinions of most Islamic scholars is neither explicit nor unanimous (indeed even without a clear majority) as far as the comprehension of the texts and to the application of the Hudud.
Ramadan further said the political systems and the state of the majority Muslim societies do not guarantee just or equal treatment of individuals before the law.
     A still more grave injustice is that these penalties are applied almost exclusively to women and the poor, the doubly victimized, never to the wealthy, the powerful, or the oppressors.
Furthermore, hundreds of prisoners have no access to anything that could even remotely be called defense counsel. Death sentences are decided and carried out against women, men and even minors (political prisoners, traffickers, delinquents, etc.) without ever given a chance to obtain legal counsel.
The explosions began immediately.

The former President of the Islamic Society of North America (ISNA) chose a reductio ad absurdum to make his point: "When this call comes from a respectable scholar like Dr. Tariq Ramadan, it may encourage others also to disrespect the laws of Allah...some may start calling for moratorium on the family law of Islam also, and some others on the business and finance laws of Islam, and some may ask for moratorium on the whole Shari'ah".

Another alarmist also invoked the slippery slope "for the sake of the Muslim Ummah... If we call today for an international moratorium on corporal punishment, stoning and the death penalty, then tomorrow I am so worried that they may ask Muslims to suspend their Friday Prayer."

Yet another worthy, this one a member of the European Council for Fatwa and Research and the International Association of Muslim Scholars (IAMS) fretted that "such a call will only stir too much ado about an issue that is by no means a priority... "It will further beef up seculars and enemies of Islam, who will step up their war on Islam."

There were predictions and imprecations and scoldings. Muslims would be pitted against one another. This was the fault of women: it occurred after the woman-led prayer in the United States and the opening of a women-only mosque in Holland. Now a call for a moratorium on hudud from Switzerland. Who would close Pandora's box?

Ah, hudud. The justice and mercy of Islam, the peaceable kingdom. Allah forbid that an adulteress go unstoned, a lewd adolescent unhanged.

Meanwhile, where hudud has reached its fullest flower, they're selling girl children in the streets of Tehran.

And Tariq Ramadan has proven again his skill at the practice of taqiyya. A virtuoso performance: he sounds so Western and compassionate and a rule-of-law kind of guy. Meanwhile, he never has to worry that this un-Islamic idea will ever be implemented.

Is this genius or what?