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Tariq Ramadan is a Professor of philosophy and Islamic studies, at Geneva College and University of Fribourg (Switzerland). He is the grandson of Hassan Al Banna, founder, in 1928, of Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood. Ramadan is a Muslim who combats extremism and rejects the belief of some co-religionists that people of other faiths are not their equal. He tirelessly crisscrosses the French-speaking countries in Europe prodding its Islamic citizens to see themselves as competent citizens of free societies, and at the same time as genuine believers.
Ramadan lives in Geneva, teaches at the University of Fribourg, Switzerland, and has an office in Paris. To the applause and with the support of the French government, he urges Muslims to integrate. "I deliberately do not lecture in mosques, but in public assembly rooms that are open to everybody. Thousands attend," he said. His message is: "France is not really a bigoted country. Why not participate in this society?".
"There are between four and five million Muslims in France alone," Ramadan related, "and half of them are French citizens. Although as a group they are very young, they think in terms of the era of de-colonization. To them it's a world of 'them and us'." Ramadan attributes this to a lack of self-confidence. Most French Muslims are immigrants from the country's former possessions in North Africa, who arrived in the 1960s and 1970s, and their descendants. They live primarily in the grim housing projects surrounding the cities; high-rise buildings erected in the 1970s and 1980s. "Unemployment is very high in these suburbs," Ramadan said, "In some parts of the country it reaches 40 percent." When you add divided loyalties to this mix of unemployment and poor housing, the resulting brew can seem volatile, Ramadan says. He teaches young Muslims an ethics of citizenship, he also lectures African-American Muslims during his frequent trips every year to the United States.
The author of a book titled, To Be a European Muslim, Ramadan adds another
point: "Being a practising Muslim also makes you a better citizen."
At any rate, he stressed that there was a fascinating link between education
and religious practice: "Our research shows that the most educated French
Muslims are also returning to the practice of their faith. This in turn raises
their moral consciousness, which makes them better citizens."
Ramadan's chosen task is to invent an independent European Islam: "We need to separate Islamic principles from their cultures of origin and anchor them in the cultural reality of Western Europe." With 15 million Muslims on the Continent, Ramadan believes it's time to abandon the dichotomy in Muslim thought that has defined Islam in opposition to the West. "I can incorporate everything that's not opposed to my religion into my identity," he says, "and that's a revolution."
Hofmann was born into a Catholic family on July 6, 1931, in Aschaffenburg, Germany,
where he spent the war years. His university education began in 1950 at Union
College in Schenectady, N.Y. He completed his legal studies at Munich University
with a doctorate in jurisprudence on " Contempt of Court by Publications
under American and German Law" (1975) and his bar exam. While a research
assistant for the reform of federal civil procedure he received a LL.M. degree
from Harvard Law School in 1960. From 1960 until 1994, he was a German Foreign
Service officer, specializing on issues of defence and nuclear deterrence. After
serving as director of information for NATO in Brussels (1983-1994), he represented
Germany as her ambassador to Algeria (1987-1990) and Morocco (1990-1994). Upon
his retirement the author took residence in Istanbul, the home of his Turkish
wife. In 1980, he embraced Islam, performing his first, 'Umrah in 1982 and Hajj
"Muslims all over the world are looking with high expectations toward
the ummah community in the United States and Canada. Its dynamism, fresh approach,
enlightened scholarship and sheer growth is their hope for an Islamic renaissance
He writes a lot of articles and intervenes all over the world about the issues that Muslims in the west face. For him, the West is a very mixed bag of what is terribly wrong and what is wonderfully right. Therefore, Muslims must not treat the West as an alternative, take it or leave it. To reject or to copy is easy. To choose is difficult. But Muslims have to be selective.
"Nobody at least halfway alert to cultural phenomena, regardless of geographic location, will deny that the future development of his world is going to be influenced, if not determined, by what will happen in the Muslim world and to Islam itself. Could Islam, as a consequence, turn out to be the very therapy that could save the West from itself?"
He also mentioned that Muslims have something important to contribute to the future of the West through helping it to overcome the moral and societal crises in which the Occident finds itself. He is thoroughly convinced that the West will either learn from Islam to honor again some of the most basic values only recently forgotten there, or that it will collapse in turmoil. You can live against the divine order of things some of the time, but not all of the time.
Ibrahim Hooper is the National Communications Director for the Council on American-Islamic
Relations (CAIR), a Washington-based Islamic advocacy group. CAIR is a non-profit,
grassroots membership organization, which is dedicated to presenting an Islamic
perspective on issues of importance to the American public. They seek to empower
the Muslim community in America through political and social activism.
He suggests that "by genuinely addressing Muslim concerns based on universal
standards of justice, America's interests worldwide can be advanced and its
image enhanced." He agrees that if any tension exists between the West
and the Middle East, the most blatant explanation lies in American "one-sided
support of Israel" and sanctions on Iraq. Any hostility in Middle Eastern
perceptions of U.S. actions is directed almost exclusively toward U.S. foreign
policy and not at all toward Western ideals, Hooper said. "In both regions,
people want to live their lives," he said. "They have the same basic
He is a leading and active member of the Muslim community in Britain and is principally involved in three areas: Education of Muslim children, Dawah to non-Muslims and Humanitarian Relief work. Islamia School is certainly one of the first Muslim Schools and was the first to get recognition and support from the government after a long and difficult struggle. There are, in fact, 4 schools. A Primary School (ages 4-11), girls Secondary (11-16), girls 6th form College (16-18) and a boys Secondary School (11-16).
In September 1996 Waqf al-Birr opened its Brondesbury College for Boys in London. The college was founded by Brother Yusuf in recognition of the need for the provision of a board system of educational excellence, one that would meet the demands of parents who want their sons to have the necessary skills and moral qualities for tomorrows world. The school holds 125 boys of the secondary age.
He also set up Mountain of Light as a Company, in December 1994, and its activities were fully operational by July 1995. Its principle aim was to provide high quality Dawah material, primarily in audio-visual form. Yusuf turned his attention to studio work and this has resulted in an audio recording of his highly popular CD and cassette release of "Life of the Last Prophet".
He is actively involved in Relief with his new charity Small Kindness concentrates
on orphans and families. He currently supports 2,500 orphans and children in
Kosova and is supporting "100 Homes" building project in Turkey.