Dr. Tariq Ramadan: Thriving Societies in Troubling Times

As if he needed anymore to prove why he is my favourite.

I’ve always found Dr. Tariq Ramadan to be an incredibly relevant scholar of Islam because of his commitment to Muslims who live in the West. I love hearing him speak about how to navigate life as Muslims in this part of the world and in this sort of climate. Which is not to say he is not committed to Muslims everywhere because there is a common struggle that people all over the world are fighting, but his analysis of that struggle from our point of view – Muslims who live in the West – has always been an incredible resource and anchor.

His lecture on the 21st of January Creating Thriving Societies in Troubling Times was no different. And that was a great thing.

A quick list of the countries he was banned from entering because of his lectures was a reminder of the cost of standing up for the truth and speaking one’s mind no matter what – a ban being a very small price to pay of course. The message was to be consistent with one’s values whether in public or private.

He then delved a little into structural oppression discussing discrimination, inequality and a very dangerous phenomenon called populism which has been gaining steam for a few years now – us vs. them. We can see it in action very clearly in Europe and North America with the influx of refugees and the hate and lack of support they are met with. It feeds off people’s emotions rather than their intellect and with that came a stern warning to Muslim youth to always self-educate to protect ourselves from being reactive.

A big source of ignorance is our understanding of politics and government. Dr. Ramadan reminded us of the illusion of choice that is perpetuated every election season. Because politics are so monetized nowadays it is people with money and control over media narratives who usually make it to major political positions. We end up voting for the best of the worst. The illusion is even deeper because the strongest forces to steer policies really come from economic interests so no matter who is elected there are powerful masters behind the scenes with the resources to influence.

Not things that are usually discussed in Muslim spaces unfortunately.

The conclusion to this event was one of hope and inspiration. Everything Dr. Ramadan talked about were things that challenge everyone and so came a reminder of our responsibility to serve humanity. We are responsible for preserving the honour that Allah (SWT) has instilled in humans and we must work with everyone in this universal fight.

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