Opinion: Is the Reformation over?

Opinion: Is the Reformation over?

In the recent debate about the minaret ban, Tariq Ramadan, the known Swiss Muslim Reformer, announced that Islam is already a European religion. "Islam is Swiss", "Islam is French" and "Islam is European", he declared in various interviews and opinion pieces.

In 2003 Tariq Ramadan published "Western Muslims and the Future of Islam". As the book says: "Ramadan's goal is to create an independent Western Islam, anchored not in the traditions of Islamic countries, but in the actual reality of the West(...) 'Western Muslims and the Future of Islam' offers a striking vision of a new Muslim identity, one that rejects for once and for all that Islam must be defined in opposition to the West."

Back in those days, Western Islam was still something to strive for.

In his most recent book, "What I believe", Ramadan explains his mission differently "building bridges, explaining Islam and making it better understood". When he talks about Western Islam specifically, he starts by speaking about a process: "We are witnessing the birth of a Western Islamic culture within which Muslims remain faithful to fundamental religious principles, while owning up to their Western cultures. They are both fully Muslim as to religion and fully Western as to culture, and that is no problem at all."

But later, he says that "Western Islam is now a reality". Ramadan explains: the young Muslims of Europe speak the local language as their native tongue, they are immersed in the local culture, and they feel at home and intend to stay there. Ergo, Islam is now completely Western.

Supposedly, good news - the Great Islamic Reformation is over! And nobody even noticed.

Why does language, music or 'feeling at home' make Islam European? Only Ramadan knows. Can a Muslim expect Europe to adapt to his religion - that polygamy should be legalized and that freedom of speech doesn't include insults to religion - and still claim that his religion is now European? According to Ramadan, we don't need to adapt to European values. As long as we have a language and a job, we're all Europeans, right?

Reformation usually implies some element of reform, and I have yet to see any. Is there really a difference between Muslims in the Muslim world and Muslims in Europe? Some attitudes might be different, but it's the same Islam. I have not yet seen any European Muslim scholar declare that polygamy is illegal or that cutting a thief's hand off is a thing of the past.

Ramadan wonders why Europeans are 'Islamophobic'. Maybe it's because even the greatest Reformer doesn't recognize that there are some fundamental values that Europeans do care about.

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