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Western Muslims and the Future of Islam [Hardcover]

Tariq Ramadan
3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)

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Book Description

27 Nov 2003
In a Western world suddenly acutely interested in Islam, one question has been repeatedly heard above the din: where are the Muslim reformers? With this ambitious volume, Tariq Ramadan firmly establishes himself as one of Europe's leading thinkers and one of Islam's most innovative and important voices. As the number of Muslims living in the West grows, the question of what it means to be a Western Muslim becomes increasingly important to the futures of both Islam and the West. While the media are focused on radical Islam, Ramadan claims, a silent revolution is sweeping Islamic communities in the West, as Muslims actively seek ways to live in harmony with their faith within a Western context. French, English, German, and American Muslims--women as well as men--are reshaping their religion into one that is faithful to the principles of Islam, dressed in European and American cultures, and definitively rooted in Western societies. Ramadan's goal is to create an independent Western Islam, anchored not in the traditions of Islamic countries but in the cultural reality of the West. He begins by offering a fresh reading of Islamic sources, interpreting them for a Western context and demonstrating how a new understanding of universal Islamic principles can open the door to integration into Western societies. He then shows how these principles can be put to practical use. Ramadan contends that Muslims can-indeed must-be faithful to their principles while participating fully in the civic life of Western secular societies. Grounded in scholarship and bold in its aims, Western Muslims and the Future of Islam offers a striking vision of a new Muslim Identity, one which rejects once and for all the idea that Islam must be defined in opposition to the West.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 284 pages
  • Publisher: OUP USA (27 Nov 2003)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 019517111X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0195171112
  • Product Dimensions: 3.2 x 15.6 x 23.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 1,829,413 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
  • See Complete Table of Contents

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Product Description


... nothing less than a comprehensive rethinking of the Islamic tradition to accommodate the realities facing European Muslims and their counterparts in the North American diaspora. Ramadan's approach is systematic and uncompromising. (Times Literary Supplement)

This timely book provides a refreshing contrast to much Islamist as well as Islamophobic writing on the question of Muslim minorities ... Although [Ramadan's] arguments are shaped by the particular context in which Western Muslims are located, they have a broader relevance for Muslim minorities in general. (The Muslim World Book Review)

This book is a very welcome contribution to the growing literature on the subject of Muslim minorities. It offers refreshingly new perspectives on a range of issues that are of relevance not only to Western Muslims but also to Muslim minorities elsewhere and, indeed, to Muslim majority groups as well, as they struggle to engage with the difficult demands of modernity. (The Muslim World Book Review)

Western Muslims and the Future of Islam is must reading for Muslims and non-Muslims alike. (John L. Esposito)

To westerners he offers an alternative Muslim to face the mad mullahs and gun-toting charismatic we read so much about today. (THES)

Thanks partly to Ramadan, Islam is on its way to becoming an integral part of Europe's religious landscape. (Time Magazine)

The work of Ramadan will take is place in the annals of Islamic thought. (Le Monde Diplomatique)

About the Author

Tariq Ramadan is Professor of Philosophy at the College of Geneva and Professor of Islamic Studies at the University of Fribourg in Switzerland. He is the author of numerous books, including To Be a European Muslim. In 2000 he was named one of Time's 100 most important innovators for the 21st century.

Inside This Book (Learn More)
First Sentence
The word "Islam" has often been translated as "submission" to God, or "entering into the peace" of God, for these are indeed the two senses provided by the declension of the root "s-l-m." Read the first page
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Important (but wordy) 15 Mar 2010
In many ways this is potentially an important book. Ramadan's argument that western Muslims should seek deeper integration in their host societies, and their possibility of doing so in keeping with (as he argues), the Islamic scriptural and juridical traditions, will be something that both Muslims and westerners would have sympathy for. Ramadan rejects all reactionary dualisms (ones that divide the Islamic universe into abodes of Islam and war); he also presents an attractive vision of Islam in relation to human nature and the richness of its own sources. Much of this is again quite convincing.

There are problems though. Reading a work of this nature probably has to be done with an awareness of the controversies that Ramadan has himself aroused. Not all he says has been taken at face value. More importantly, the book is an almost impossibly difficult read. Books are meant to communicate ideas and much of Ramadan's book falls short here. There is no good reason (that I can see) for the book to be expressed so periphrastically, using very long sentences with the many parenthesis and sub-clauses. If what he is saying is important, it needs to be more accessible. Many people will give up with it.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Tariq Ramadan 7 Mar 2009
By Fam
He gives an excellent critique on Islam and the West. However, it is a heavy read so you have to stick with it. At times, did feel like I was reading a thesis.
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22 of 25 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars The way ahead 19 July 2006
The author has been describe as a Muslim Martin Luther. That is an exaggeration as neither the secular nor the religious powers of the day are seeking his life as far as I know. But like Luther, Ramadan is a reformer who says that Muslims must adapt to be citizens in democratic countries in the West.

He divides Muslims into five groupings and he seems closest to liberal or rational Reformism. He wants Muslims to adapt and engage with Western culture and the political process. He does not believe in retreat to the ghetto nor in exclusively Muslim schools. Muslims can and should be good citizens in Western democracies. He rejects the traditional division of the world into abodes of Islam and of War. He says Muslims in the west are at liberty to practise and propagate their faith.

I found much of what he discussed to be relevant to Christians who see their faith as a way of life not mere religion. The way of spirituality and being distinctive from the surrounding culture are common concerns. I regret he did not develop the idea of co-belligerent action in his chapter on dialogue. My other regret is that he says little or nothing about the origins of the violent strands of Islam which threaten us today. But this book is a positive start to better relations with Muslims in the West.
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13 of 15 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Hard-thinking man arrives at refreshing vision 16 May 2007
Ramadan is a serious thinker, devoted to making a difference. He takes both his faith and his Western homeland seriously, and this for him is a single commitment to God and his neighbors. His concern is the quality of life in the future world order. And his vision for the potential contributions of Western Muslims is refreshing.

Where many Muslims assume that the practices of other cultures are ungodly unless proven otherwise, Ramadan turns such logic around. Like Imam Malik, he argues that all customs (urf) or institutions which "seek the good" (istislah) are valid, and should not be rejected unless they specifically violate a moral prohibition of the Quran and Sunna. In that case the challenge to Western Muslims is like that faced by the first Muslims in mainly non-Islamic Mecca, or by the biblical Joseph in Egypt - how to inspire better human relations, and improve care for society's needs.

Ramadan sees a special responsibility falling on Muslims in the West. Working within Western institutions yet maintaining real ties to the non-Western world, these believers have a chance to serve as a voice of conscience. In a world order of profound inequality, many Western Muslims have both the hope and the opportunity to make a difference. And to grasp that opportunity they must act as full-citizens, taking responsibility for building better institutions in cooperation with non-Muslims of goodwill. As Ramadan explores the possibilities for economic, political and cultural life, the future seems ever more interesting.

--author of Correcting Jesus: 2000 Years of Changing the Story
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2 of 22 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars garbage 1 May 2008
By roger
This book is truly awful. It is vacuous propaganda, badly written and certainly not worth the time of anyone who is really interested in Islam.
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