Sunday, August 16, 2009

Ayaan Hirsi Ali & Tariq Ramadan

Yesterday I came across a video on YouTube of a debate between Ayaan Hirsi Ali and Tariq Ramadan. Ramadan is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna (founder of the Muslim Brotherhood), and he was raised in Switzerland and is a professor at Oxford University. Ayaan Hirsi Ali is a Dutch MP who immigrated to Holland from Somalia and is now a prominent anti-Islam activist (I'm not going to call her an intellectual because she isn't).

Anyway the debate in the video was about Muslims in Europe. Ramadan's argument was that it was possible to be a European and to be Muslim. Hirsi didn't really have a main argument (as usual), she just kind of kept making random points. What struck me about her ideas is 1) the fact that she thinks the Qur'an was written by humans and 2) that God doesn't exist. So why exactly does she feel she can debate about Islam? If she isn't a Muslim/doesn't believe in God, then why is she even speaking from a perspective of being a believing Muslim?

Yes, she went through a lot, but maybe she should see that it's not because of ISLAM that she was circumcised etc, but because of PATRIARCHY and the MISINTERPRETATION of Islam. Which is exactly what Ramadan said: he pointed out that his only problem with her is that she essentializes Islam and puts all Muslims in one category, as opposed to saying "some Muslims do this and it's wrong".

There was a point when Ramadan was saying something and she actually started giggling like a 4-year old. In a debate. He clearly got annoyed and when he finished she was like "sorry I don't follow you", and then he told her off.

There was also a point where she said that Bin Laden was more consistent than Ramadan, which is why more Muslims these days choose to follow Bin Laden (an extremist) as opposed to Ramadan (a moderate). Obviously Ramadan was confused as to why he wasn't "consistent" and apparently what she meant was that Bin Laden's rhetoric was simpler. Yes, and? Does that mean he's right? Ugh!!

I don't understand why Hirsi is even considered an academic/scholar/intellectual. She has a BA, whereas people like Ramadan have PhDs, have written scholarly books, and have been to pretigious universities. That doesn't necessarily make him smarter but judging from this debate and from his books, as opposed to her books and the movie she co-wrote (Submission), there is a vast difference in intelligence between them.

Sadly, Hirsi obviously appeals to the Western media, who love to hear a Muslim putting down Islam. Oh well. Hopefully one day they'll realize how shallow her arguments are, and they'll start to listen to Muslims who actually 1) believe in God, 2) believe the Qur'an came from God, 3) don't giggle in debates, and 4) have a moderate IQ.

Here are the 3 videos that make up the debate:





39 comments:

Stephanie said...

Thank you so much for posting this. I agree with Ramadan that these types of debates need to be taking place. Certainly we are in a crisis of identity. As for alHirsi, I don't get it either. She's an atheist, but she keeps referring to "we" as in the Muslim community. Perhaps she wishes to increase the rights and education of Muslim girls which is applaudable, but as Ramadan alluded to, she will never be able to do it by attacking Islam and grouping all Muslims together into the most extremist group. I would agree, she is simply posturing in order to engage the Western mind and further the "Islam is Evil" sentiments. This is how she makes her living. This is why she is famous and on YouTube. Why would she stop now?

Jaz said...

Her reasoning is completely messed up. She's saying, just accept that the Qur'an was written by humans and change it. Why would we follow the Qur'an if was written by humans? We wouldn't be Muslims in that case, so she's essentially bashing Islam with reasoning that her conclusion disproves. It's so messed up that I can't even put it in words.

Tariq Ramadan seems pretty smart, I've got a book written by him on the life of the Prophet called "The Messenger" and it has quite a few stories that I didn't hear before.

I think I understand what he is saying, a lot of the Qur'an was revealed under context - that's why we read tafsir to understand what it is pertaining to and we take these values, from the life of the Prophet and the Qur'an and contextualise them within our own lives. If something is haram, it's haram - but we live in a different age where the correct Islamic values can be applied. Islam is a religion for all time.

What she's saying about the little girls taken out of school to marry, I agree that's NOT the way to go about living in the present day in a country like Holland. Woman need an education now and it's not like before (although Islam does encourage education for both men and women). She doesn't consider, though, that's it's NOT Islam's fault. You can't stop a religion because the government isn't offering protection to it's members or because of certain people's actions.

I also heard that stoning isn't mentioned in the Qur'an and I have never come across it in my many readings. I don't know if I have simply overlooked that, but he is using it as an example as something in the Qu'ran we have to put in context. I'll research that although I know about the story that the verse was lost and not included.

By the way.. does she consider herself to be a Muslim "we as muslims"..? Then 30 seconds later she says "I don't believe in Allah, I don't believe in the Angels."

I've got so many thoughts. I'd like to debate with her. Sorry for the long comment.

Faith in Writing said...

Ouch!
I just wanted to point out though that I doubt she's arguing from the point of a believing Muslim... she's not Muslim anymore. Hence the disbelief in God and the thought that the Qur'an was written by humans (much like my thoughts on it and the Bible etc). I think there are a lot of good ideas in Islam but they are very VERY similar to those of the previous religions with one God.
And she is someone who has studied,I think she has a Master's doesn't she?
Anyway........
Now to watch the debate!

Faith in Writing said...

I think she's saying "We, as Muslim women are...." from her experience growing up.

I think there are two very different viewpoints here :One, a male believer (shame they couldn't even it up with a female believer) and Hirsi Ali,a non-believer. I think it's just her having grown up in such a strictly Muslim place/culture that makes her adamant that you can't be Muslim and westernised.
I can see some truth in it.

Stacy aka Fahiima said...

While I think it is useful to be critical about some things that are happening in the Muslim community, this type of dialogue is not useful. Perhaps if Ms. Ali was better trained in rhetoric or had a better background in religious studies, she would be better prepared.
In my opinion she has distanced herself too far from the Muslim community to have anything valuable to offer. That's fine if she no longer believes that the Quran is inspired, but in that case she shouldn't speak on behalf of Muslims who do. She is a bitter person who because of her bitterness against people who harmed her. Its just too bad that she let this drive her to atheism. Anyway, she is far from an expert on the Quran or Islam.

ellen557 said...

I stopped taking her viewpoint seriously when she started going on about Jesus being gay :|

ellen557 said...

PS - hang on. Bin Laden is handsome??

Sarah Elizabeth said...

I think it is good to air out how some cultures choose to practice Islam. I think this is an important discussion for Muslims to have. For me, as a convert, I don't think it is my discussion to have, and although I agree she is smearing Islam, it brings up a good question for Muslims.. How are cultures practicing/interpreting Islam, and more importantly, why?

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Stephanie - that's exactly my problem - she keeps referring to herself as "we" and yet is an atheist. This I think gives her some credibility in the eyes of many non-Muslims, and so she should really stop doing it.
I love Ramadan, he handles debates really well and it's about time we had a moderate Muslim speaking out.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Jaz - I also have that book by Ramadan; I just started reading it. It's so surprising that he is the grandson of Hassan al-Banna. I really really like Ramadan's ideas, especially now that I'm a European Muslim =) (or a Muslim living in Europe?).

We need more moderates like him speaking out, and saying that interpretation depends on context. I don't understand how in 2009 we still don't understand that.

At the end of the debate I also wished I could debate Hirsi myself.

About the stoning thing, it is either not included or included ONLY for adultery, which needs FOUR witnesses...and seriously, who commits adultery with 4 people witnessing it? So clearly stoning shouldn't be happening often? But of course, it is. It really annoys me, don't these Muslims understand that what they're doing is wrong? You can't twist a religion to give yourself more power :S

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Faith in Writing - I think she has a BA in Political Science.

She's obviously an atheist but keeps saying "we Muslims"...I wonder if it's just a mistake or if she's doing it on purpose to gain credibility.

I also used to think you can't be Muslim and westernized, until I realized, like Ramadan said, that that's the fault of some Muslims, not Islam itself. When I read the Qur'an, I don't see anything that prevents me from being European. When I read certain interpretations of the Qur'an, I do.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Stacy - I completely agree. This dialogue does nothing for Muslims except make our image even worse in the eyes of Westerners. She says she wants to help liberate Muslim women. If I was being oppressed and she came up to me and said God and the Qur'an are fake, there is no way I would listen to what she had to say, or accept her help. So the way she's going about this activist thing doesn't make sense to me.
Like Ramadan said, he can easily criticize Muslims day and night, and that would make him popular in the West. But that won't change the problems in the Muslim community.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Ellen - LOL @ the gay Jesus thing. I forgot about that!

And I had that exact same thought!! Bin Laden handsome?!?!

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Sarah Elizabeth - I agree that these are important questions. However, Ramadan also brings up these questions in his lectures, writings etc, but in a completely different way. I am more likely to listen to him, a practicing Muslim who obviously has studied Islam a lot, than her, who says the Qur'an was written by humans.

Faith in Writing said...

Ok, maybe I'm putting myself out there.... but I used to get teased at work because I ONCE said that Bin Laden was good looking. My dad has a beard, maybe I'm used to them, what can I say!??
But if you cut out Bin Laden's face, I swear it's pretty... his actions are not but his face is, come on.
(expecting boos all round!)

Aynur said...

Jaz & cairo - the Qur'an states the punishment for zina is 100 lashes. Stoning is mentioned in the Qur'an nowhere (as far as punishment for committing a crime). That comes from the hadiths. Supposedly a goat ate the page that stoning was on, so that's why there's a hadith about it - so the punishment is not lost. I don't follow that logic though ...
and the punishment by the way of stoning is for married people committing adultery only, even though the word zina in the Qur'an just means sex with someone you're not married to (look at Muhammad Asad's explanation of that if you have it).

I also wanted to bring up female circumcision. I believe there are hadiths that are used to support it.

Here are 2:
"When two circumcised parts unite then bathing becomes obligatory." (Sahih, Reported by Ahmad and Al-Baihaqee)

"When you circumcise then do not cut severely, since that is better for her and more pleasing to the husband." (Reported by Abu Dawud and Al-Baihaqee and declared Hasan by Shaikh Al-Albani)

I found those from this website:
http://www.themuslimwoman.com/hygiene/femalecircumcision.htm

WhiteOrchid said...

Nothing Ayaans says makes sense. Hvae you rad her books?I don't know how they she managed to sell so many. Tariq Ramadan on the other hand is amazing.

Anonymous said...

Let me just say that Hirsi Ali is NO LONGER a Dutch MP, as she was stripped from her position due to proven forgery in her asylum process. I think she was even stripped of her Dutch citizenship, but I am not sure. I know she lives in the US now and works for one right wing "think tank".

I find it hillarious anybody would refer to Hirsi Ali as a Muslim, because first she states clearly she is NOT and because she simply hates Islam so much.

Umm Omar said...

Wait, she's an anti-Islam activist and Muslim? How's that? I need to watch this debate. Seems very interesting. I saw Tariq Ramadan speak once at a conference here in the US and I was amazed by his insight and intelligence. Amazing, masha'Allah. I'll post again after I watch. btw, loved your commentary on this debate already.

Sarah Elizabeth said...

I didn't watch the debate, too embarassing to watch her make a fool of herself.. But yea, Ramadan bringing up these issues is credible, she is not.. If the comment by a previous poster is correct, that she is working for a conservative think tank.. Well, then I already know her motives.. She walks with hate in her heart..

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Faith in Writing - LOL, that's such a cute comment. I personally don't find him attractive but he's not ugly either :P I do have a crush on Ramadan though :D

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Aynur - yes, that's what I was remembering - lashing is mentioned in the Qur'an, but like I said 4 witnesses are needed, which is near impossible.

Yeah the circumcision thing comes from the hadith only. I've heard those hadith are weak ones, but I haven't researched that.

I don't even know where to start with the goat thing, I think I laughed for 10 minutes straight when I read that!!! It needs a whole separate post, so watch out for that :D

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

White Orchid - I haven't read her books, because I know they'll only make me really angry. She's popular because she's saying something a lot of Westerners want to hear, unfortunately. That sells.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Anon - yes, she resigned from the Dutch cabinet but I don't think she lost the nationality.

She is the one referring to herself as a Muslim in the sense of constantly saying "we". I think she doesn't often make it clear that she is not a Muslim anymore, and so many people think that she is. Whether she wants this to be the case (she gets more credibility) or whether it's an accident, I don't know.

The problem is she keeps grouping herself with other Muslim women. This is a problem since other Muslim women probably believe in God and the Qur'an and thus probably do not want to be represented by her.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Umm Omar - yes, Ramadan is amazing. I've been watching all his YouTube videos and reading his book on the Prophet (pbuh). Mashallah its amazing!
She doesn't claim to be a practicing Muslim but she puts herself in the same group as "Muslim women", which is problematic since many Muslim women wouldn't agree with her views on God and the Qur'an.

Just found this out: "In 2005, she was named by Time magazine as one of the 100 most influential people in the world.[4] She has also received several awards for her work, including Norway's Human Rights Service's Bellwether of the Year Award, the Danish Freedom Prize, the Swedish Democracy Prize, and the Moral Courage Award for commitment to conflict resolution, ethics, and world citizenship." (Wikipedia.)

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Sarah Elizabeth - yes, the conservative think tank thing says it all. Apparently Ramadan was offered a teaching position in America but wasn't granted a visa!! Whereas the US had no problem letting her (or Wilders for that matter) in.

Candice said...

Can't watch because I'm at work, but I hate it every time I hear about her. She really doesn't make that much sense, but for people wanting to have something against Muslims, she can make as much sense as they want to imagine, and it just reinforces all of these ideas they have. Gah, so annoying.

Jaz said...

@Faith In Writing: Bin Laden doesn't have a bad face, I agree. He LOOKS kind (although obviously he has majooor issues).

@Cairo: He is very handsome, assertive and smart I guess that has to be attractive!

Jaz said...

Btw.. my last comment wasn't aimed at bin Laden.. it was Ramadan I meant haha

Faith in Writing said...

Cairo I wasn't going to say it.... but ok, Ramadan is a bit hot.
:p He IS. lol. Nice to watch a cute man speaking :) Ta.

Umm Omar said...

Just watched it, and yeah, there's no substance to anything she says. She seems to want to stick to her opinion, regardless of blinding evidence in her face. The fact she won all those awards and named one of Time's most influential people-that doesn't mean anything to me. The West will glorify anyone who is anti-Islamic, even if they don't have a point.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Candice - exactly, people who already don't like Islam love listening to her, as they see her as a "survivor" or something. Ugh it's so annoying! I don't get how she became a member of parliament here in Holland. Then again, Geert Wilders also became one so you never know.

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Jaz - LOL yeah I assumed you meant Ramadan, since you said "smart" :P Although the assertive bit applies to Bin Laden too I guess...

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Faith in Writing - I KNOW! Ramadan is very very hot. Seriously, mashallah!! Lol. Not often you get smart, sensitive and good looking in one man :P

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Umm Omar - so unfortunate but true, the West seems to latch on to anyone and everyone who will criticize Islam, and since she comes from a Muslim background it's even better.

What also annoyed me is that she didn't really have a main argument in the debate, so was just saying stuff like "women in Islamic countries suffer". Okay, we know that. Why go to a debate just to say that?

ellen557 said...

LOL I'm cracking up re the bin Ladin thing, Faith in Writing!!!
But um, yes. Ahem *cough* Ramadan is a bit yummy, yes ;)

cairo, lusaka, amsterdam said...

Very yummy! Haha! Esp. that accent.

Mina said...

Ugh i hate this woman, shes completly lost shes a disgrace to Somalis everywhere!

WhiteOrchid said...

'Not often you get smart, sensitive and good looking in one man'

haha that is soo true. I think he's really good looking too ;)