Dr Tariq Ramadan, a well known West-based Muslim scholar and intellectual, has advised Muslims in the West to get out of their “victim mentality” and engage positively with the societies they live in.
What the Muslims in the West are facing is a clash of identities and perceptions rather than a clash of civilisations, said Ramadan, while delivering a lecture at Al Sharq Village and Spa. The lecture, hosted by the Faculty of Islamic Studies at the Qatar Foundation, was the first in series of programmes planned by the Faculty as part of a collaboration with the Islamic Studies Chair at Oxford University that Ramadan is currently heading.
Talking on the challenges faced by Muslims in the West, Ramadan said Muslims in different Western countries had different problems and issues but they also shared several common challenges.
Muslims in West are facing an identity crisis, how to define themselves and live in a secular and multicultural society. At the same time, different western societies are also trying to identify and rediscover their own cultural identities.
“What we see now is two identity crises coming together and facing each other,” said Ramadan. Both sides also nurture a “victim mentality.” After 9/11, more and more Westerners think that “we are victims of people who don’t like us and who want to colonise us.” Muslims have also fallen prey to this siege mentality.
Muslims required a deep understanding of Islamic principles and terminologies to decide their priorities and objectives while living in the West. Terminologies like Islamic Dawah, is understood by Westerners as a sheer attempt to convert them to Islam, although the word has much deeper implications, noted Ramadan.
He advised Muslims in the West to follow three Ls—Law, Language and Loyalty. “As citizens it is our Islamic duty to abide by the law of the country as long it does not contradict with our religious beliefs. We should also promote the language of our country and show loyalty to the nation. We must criticise the government while remaining loyal to the law. This is critical loyalty,” said Ramadan.
On a lighter note, Ramadan said Muslim women in the West were more educated than Muslim men. “Many Muslim women have started asking why they should marry men who are less educated than them,” said Ramadan.
Ramadan said he was cautious about using words like Islamophobia since they are being widely misused. “Islamophobia is a fact in the West, but any criticism against Islam is now branded as Islamophobia. The term can be used in contexts when Muslims are targeted only because of their religion,” said Ramadan.
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