Tariq Ramadan, a professor at the College of Geneva and the University of
Fribourg in Switzerland, is the author of a book that is perhaps the most
hopeful work of Muslim theology in the past thousand years. This month he
was to come to America to take the position of Luce professor of religion,
conflict and peace-building at Notre Dame’s Joan B. Kroc Institute for
International Peace Studies, when suddenly his visa was revoked.
Apparently Notre Dame didn’t realize what a dangerous man it was getting.
Ramadan’s grandfather was Hasan Banna, who founded the Muslim Brotherhood.
But Ramadan’s own views on the role of his faith, published in his book,
“To Be a European Muslim,” directly confront the alienation of Islam from
Ramadan argues that the “us versus them” vision of Islam, exponentially
exaggerated by Osama bin Laden’s demented Wahhabism, derives not from the
Quran but from a world view that is 10 centuries out of date.
When I interviewed Ramadan not long after Sept.?11, 2001, I asked what
alternative he could offer Muslims. The true vision of Islam, he said, is
not a snapshot of the world three centuries after the death of the prophet,
but rather the unchanging Quran itself: “dar ash-Shahada,” the “House of
Witness,” in which believers and unbelievers alike compete in doing good
deeds to prove the truth.
Notre Dame officials insist that they have reviewed every charge against
the Swiss scholar and agree with the likes of Scotland Yard and Swiss
intelligence, which have found them to be groundless.
Ramadan has been attacked for “anti-Semitism.” Why? Because of an article
on French communalism that included this sentence: “French Jewish
intellectuals whom we had thought of until then as universalist thinkers
(have started) to develop analyses increasingly oriented toward a
Set this statement beside an essay on anti-Semitism by Ramadan, in which he
writes the following: “Nothing in Islam can legitimize xenophobia or the
rejection of a human being due to his/her religious creed or ethnicity. One
must say unequivocally, with force, that anti-Semitism is unacceptable and
The official reason for revoking Ramadan’s visa is the USA Patriot Act’s
provisions for those who have prominently espoused or endorsed terrorist