FRIDAY 26 OCTOBER
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The West today runs a substantial risk of seeing itself as a monolithic whole, as a civilization based exclusively on Greco-Roman and Judeo-Christian tradition, to whose specific nature Islam is an outsider. The "new" presence of Muslims in Europe should serve to remind us that, since the Middle Ages, the Islamic tradition, and Muslim philosophers, scientists and thinkers have been an integral part of the construction of Western identity. Over and above the dialogue of civilizations, the West must undertake a dialogue with itself and revisit the source of its own intellectual, philosophical and cultural tradition.
At the same time, much of what is highlighted today as "core principles" of Islam derives from the specific cultures of the Middle East, Africa and Asia, from a period dating back to the 13th century. As much as non-Muslim Westerners need to revisit their deep cultural and historical relationship with Islam, so Western Muslims must turn their backs on a vision that posits "us" against "them" and understand that shared citizenship is the key factor in building the society of the future together. Then we may see more clearly how a positive Muslim contribution to modern Western society can be made.
Professor Tariq Ramadan is currently Senior Research Fellow at St. Anthony's College, Oxford. He is author of more than twenty books including To Be A European Muslim (1998), Islam, the West and the Challenge of Modernity (2000) and Western Muslims and the Future of Islam (2003). He is active both at the academic and grassroots levels, lecturing extensively throughout the world on social justice and dialogue between civilizations.
£6.00 (Friends £3.00)