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I picked up this book because Tariq Ramadan is a Muslim I know well from the mass media. Sadly I have few Muslim friends. None of them would claim to be intellectuals. ‘What I Believe’ promised access to the Muslim mindset. The author and I meet through the mega world of media. By engaging more with his thinking I hoped to better equip myself to counter Islamophobia within the midi and mini worlds of community and family. As a Christian leader I am also challenged by the surge of nominal Christians converting to be Muslims.
‘What I Believe’ impresses firstly as the work of a bridge builder feeling the pain of being walked over from both ends of the bridge. Banned from entering the US under the Bush administration and suspected by fundamentalist Muslims Ramadan is an exceptional figure. He impresses by the courage and range of his convictions as a Muslim scholar. It is this range that both excites and troubles those who hear him. He excites those who see the future of the world as dependent on brave connectors. He dismays those who suspect doublespeak in the subtlety of his communication.
This book has truth telling with wide implications. In a world where people have multiple identities why should people question the civic loyalty of Muslims? Conversely why do Western Muslims so often possess a ghetto mentality that stops them making a significant contribution to the society they inhabit? Ramadan invites a jihad for trust, more effort by all citizens towards self-respect and respect for others. His receipe for a healthy society is compelling in its call for more humility, respect and consistency.
He says ‘compelling a woman to wear a headscarf is against Islam, and compelling her to remove it is against human rights’. This thinking has been very unwelcome in France though accepted in most Western countries. Religious and secularist fundamentalists get short shrift in the book. Tariq Ramadan argues against Pope Benedict that Muslims do have a tradition of critical reasoning. This should lead them ‘from struggling adaptation reform to creative transformational reform’. He presents Shariah not as a closed system of Islamic laws but as the way to faithfulness in religious objectives that include building equality, respect and justice. The book includes an Appendix incorporating the author’s ‘Manifesto for a New “We”’ inviting a coming together of citizens across traditions to serve these and other universal objectives.
The truth telling that is missing is ultimate. Tariq Ramadan says little about God. ‘What I Believe’ is an attempt to defend himself against secularists and Muslim literalists. It is powerful and helpful as such but it falls short on the vision thing that belief is mostly about. Visionary bridge builders succeed by affirming truths that are universally compelling to the detriment of lesser truths. Ramadan seems to reckon himself incompetent to develop things himself in this direction though he invites it. ‘What I Believe’ is a call to critical self-belief by Muslims. It falls short of addressing the key distinctive of Islam which is belief in a God who has revealed himself to the world with implications for human solidarity.
‘What I Believe’ subscribes to the need for humility allied to confidence. It succeeds in calling religious and secular pundits to search their souls and recognise their frailties. It falls short in challenging both groups to see belief in God as a dynamic for hope that, allied with humility, can be transformative not just of individuals but of society itself.
Review: What I BelieveUser Review - Ahmed Nabil - Goodreads
It took me sometime to finish the book but I have been always attached to it. It is an interesting book that manifests the believes of the writer. The tone is quite defensive, which is completely ... Read full review
Review: What I BelieveUser Review - Aizan - Goodreads
1. I think I'm young enough to read this book 2. I'm not a westerner. I'm Malaysia, so what he writes in this book seemingly hard for me to digest. 3. The inputs are easy for to get for the first half. Read full review
Review: What I BelieveUser Review - Anoud - Goodreads
Tariq Ramadan is an interesting intellectual. In this book, he attempts to clarify his stand on many controversial issues concerning Westren Muslims and Islam in general. The book is good, short and ... Read full review
Review: What I BelieveUser Review - Mir - Goodreads
Prime time to enhance my spiritual belief since a lot of things happened in my life currently, decided to spare a time reading Tariq Ramadan What I believe. It's just a introduction about his ... Read full review
Review: What I BelieveUser Review - Deni Aria - Goodreads
Prof. Tariq Ramadan on his book "What I Believe" has added a valuable meaning to my quest of true life walking and living in this pluralistic world. On this book, Prof. Ramadan is telling his readers ... Read full review
Review: What I BelieveUser Review - Nada - Goodreads
Loved the book! Read full review
Review: What I BelieveUser Review - Rebekka K. Steg - Goodreads
This book is short, easily approachable and very well organized in small chapters. It is so informative, thought-provoking and enlightening and I greatly recommend it, whether you're Muslim or not ... Read full review
Review: What I BelieveUser Review - Hamed - Goodreads
Tariq Ramadan describes himself as a mediator or bridge between Islam and West, particularly Europe and adds that a bridge never belongs to one side only. He believes in multi-identity and says ... Read full review