In this programme, Tariq Ramadan takes us on a tour of various Islamic centres in various countries ranging from the UK, France, Germany, Denmark and Pakistan.
Ajmal Masroor an imam in the UK speaks up in favour of Ramadan’s agenda of reviving Ijtihad to search for answers for an Islam in Europe. Abdul Wahid of the Hizb ut Tahrir organisation is not convinced or impressed accusing Ramadan of having a “colonised mind” .
Ramadan is not deterred insisting on “a necessity to look for new answers” by re-examining passages of the Koran in their textual context with a view to extracting an interpretation or application for the Muslim in Europe.
Ramadan then, with the help of some Islamic scholars or imams, takes a look at two issues (there was a third; but, he went through it so quickly that I missed it): that of cutting the hand of the thief and the permission in the Koran for men to beat their wives (Koran 4:34)
With regard to the cutting off of the hand Ramadan spoke with Musharraf Hussain of the Kadimia Institute who also happens to be the principal of the “Islamia School” in Nottingham. Hussain claimed the injunction (about cutting the hand of the thief) came “in the context of a high level of social justice” so the implication is that the injunction is merely a warning which would rarely be implemented, if at all. I don’t think any serious person could find this utopic explanation either supported by history or practice. So it was not at all convincing.
Secondly, he visited Sabiha El Zayat who leads a Koranic school for women in Berlin. They were obviously disturbed by Koran 4:34 where the husband is allowed to beat or hit (as most translations have it) his wife, El Zayat was arguing that this verse needs to be interpreted in the context of what else the Koran says about marriage. (OK, what does it say elsewhere in the Koran about marriage? And can it have anywhere a high view of marriage as Ephesians 5:25-33 ?) Probably not.
However, El Zayat focused on the original Arabic word used [“darba”] which made her argument even less convincing. This word has come from Arabic into Turkish and always means only one thing : “a blow” as in striking a blow . Well, if Muslims can convince themselves “mutawaffeeka ” does NOT mean “dying” and can say as a result (against all first hand eye witness reports) that Jesus did not die on the cross then they can easily convince themselves that “darba” does not mean “a blow” .
Integration is necessary and is also largely an individual manner. Each person must integrate in his own way. However, there is integration and there is integration with nobility. That can mean different things but surely it must also mean the ability to discard Mohamed as a false prophet or Islam as a false religion also.
Ramadan is coming close to this point without actually going all the way. “Is Islam really reformable ?” is the question left open and unanswered but credibility and honesty lies with Ramadan’s critics and based on what they have said during this programme their conclusion is a resounding “No” .