I began to write a book review today and ended up writing about the author instead.
The Messenger: The Meanings of the Life of Muhammad by Tariq Ramadan.
Maybe tomorrow I can find words to share about the book.
There are many books written about the Prophet, Allah’s messenger, and the origins of Islam. I chose this one as my introduction to the man and the religion because it seemed accessible (not overloaded with verses from the Qu’ran) and also because the author, Tariq Ramadan, is a well-known scholar of contemporary Islamic studies at Oxford. A good friend in Gaza first introduced me to the writings of Tariq Ramadan. شكرا
The back-story about the author was rolling in my head as I read his book.
In 2004, the author was offered a nonimmigrant tenured position at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana. He was granted a nonimmigrant visa but 3 months later the State Department revoked the visa citing the “ideological exclusion provision” of the USA PATRIOT Act. The university went to bat for him but the government refused to budge and Tariq Ramadan resigned his position.
In 2005, Tariq was invited to speak at several universities in the U.S. and applied for a B visa. The State Department did not respond and the ACLU filed a lawsuit on behalf of the American Academy of Religion, the American Association of University Professors and the PEN American Center – the three groups who had planned on meeting with Ramadan in the US – for revoking his visa under the “ideological exclusion provision”. They argued that the ideological exclusion provision was in violation of the First Amendment and Fifth Amendment rights of those three groups and that the government’s actions violated the Administrative Procedures Act.
The State Department rejected his second application for a Visa, stating: “A U.S. consular officer has denied Dr. Tariq Ramadan’s visa application. The consular officer concluded that Dr. Ramadan was inadmissible based solely on his actions, which constituted providing material support to a terrorist organization.” Between December 1998 and July 2002, Ramadan had given donations totalling $940 to two charity organizations supporting Palestinians. The U.S. Treasury designated both as terrorist fundraising organizations for their alleged links to Hamas. The U.S. Embassy told Ramadan that he “reasonably should have known” that the charities provided money to Hamas.
The ACLU challenged the government again and the case ended up in the Second Circuit Court of Appeals. Am. Acad. of Religion v. Napolitano, 573 F.3d 115 (2d Cir. 2009). Al-hamdulillah! The court ruled in favor of Tariq Ramadan. The federal law (Immigration and Nationality Act) required the Visa applicant to know that he was rendering material support to the recipient, and the government should have confronted Tariq about this allegation rather than unilaterally denying the application and telling him after-the-fact. In 2010, the ban was lifted and Tariq came to the U.S.
Why is my government fearful of an Islamic scholar? Why is my government rejecting cross-cultural discourse and critical thinking? Why is my government erecting obstacles to humanity’s progress and understanding? I’m saddened by the U.S. government and many Americans who prefer to build walls, not bridges. If the Prophet were alive today, I suspect he would have some answers.
In this 40-minute video, Professor Tariq Ramadan discusses the “Colonization and the Muslim Unconscious” in 2014 at the Muslim Group Conference in the U.S. I find alot of truth in his words, and encourage my friends to watch. He speaks about Israel and Palestine about 23 minutes in.