Thursday, March 19, 2009
A Man I Admire
The best thing happened to me yesterday. I'm sitting in an auditorium listening to the Muslim, French-Swiss scholar Tariq Ramadan speak about how the U.S treats Muslim-majority states.
I'm focused. Eyes wide open. As if forgetting to blink. The hour passes and he's finished. Applause. The moderator announces: "and now I'm sure you all have burning questions so we're opening the floor for a Q&A".
My hand shoots up before he finishes his sentence. I begin: "Professor Ramadan, assalamu alaikum. Thank you for an amazing talk and I'll start with a less political but more of a cultural question. You seem to model your speech so that the United states is in one basket, and muslim states in another. And then you mention that the U.S needs our discourse, needs new discourses by Muslims here. How about the muslim ummah in the west? There are many muslims there who shape their lives and careers to address only 'westerners' and to make da'wa through constructive ways. What do you make of these people?"
He answers. Of course saying that no matter what, "we", as in Muslims in the west, will always be considered as "outsiders" no matter what we do. I take his point and I accept it.
But as he finishes I have more. I want to ask another question so I do. In the middle of the sentence, the moderator cuts me off. I was startled because I was really focused on what I was saying. Then, I shyly, and sheepishly -- shut my yap up.
To my utter surprise and total amazement, Tariq Ramadan -- who caught the question I was trying to pose -- looks at me, completely ignores the moderator who shut me up, and proceeds to answer my question.
Not in a word. Not in a line. In lines and lines and lines! He explains ideas on reformation in Islam, on how we need to combine the text with the world, on how scholars of fiqh should realize that they need to join hands with scholars of the world, on 'moderate muslims' and how that's problematic. On and on and on and on. SubhanAllah! I was like Allah, I love you. And if I'm to die now, I'd die happy.
Tariq Ramadan is by far an inspiration beyond bounds. May Allah (swt) keep him for our ummah. Ameen.