Muslims should help the West to reconcile with their values and not follow in their footsteps, says a prominent scholar.
Should Muslims have a vision, unite for their project as they were united against the dictators during the Arab Spring and respect the rule of law, they will come up with a “civil state that provides justice and dignity for all and adopt democracy for all and not for men only”, Dr Tariq Ramadan, professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies at St Antony’s College, University of Oxford, UK, told a gathering at the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research.
“I don’t like the idea of the West saying: 'Oh, now you are becoming like us. You’re cherishing the same values as us’. I don’t like that. We need to come up with new ways and alternatives; to not follow in the footsteps of the West; to use new ways,” said Dr Ramadan, the grandson of Hassan Al Banna, who in 1928 founded the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt.
The Muslim Brotherhood historically represents the country’s first well-organised mass movement with political influence to match. For more than 60 years, the Brotherhood has been labelled illegal but tolerated. It has demonstrated a powerful capacity to mobilise the people in each relatively democratic election — for parliament, professional associations and trade unions.
Dr Ramadan’s father was a prominent figure in the Muslim Brotherhood and was exiled by Jamal Abdul Nasser from Egypt to Switzerland, where Dr Ramadan was born. Cautiously optimistic about the future of Islamic reforms and Arab “uprisings” in Egypt, Tunisia, Libya, Syria and Yemen, Dr Ramadan said although nothing would be the same again in these Muslim-majority countries, Islamists in these countries are facing a deep crisis — they are not united for a project as much as they were united against the dictators and they will not be going anywhere unless the relationship between Sunnis and Shiites is settled so that justice and human dignity will be for all.
“Now it’s for the young generations, and it’s even for the young people who are trained even as Islamists."
“If you are dealing with politics, you could be secular, or you could be Islamist, as long as you respect the rule of law, and respect the democratic process. You should be involved in the process.
“Because not only is it good for you, it is good for us. It is good for you because when you are involved in the political process, you change. You change much more when you deal with democratic processes than when you are in jail”.