July 27, 2012
His maternal grandfather,Sheikh Hasan Ahmed Abdel Rahman Muhammed al-Banna (Arabic: حسن أحمد عبد الرحمن محمد البنا) or for short,Hassan Al-Banna was the founder of Muslim Brotherhood. al-Banna endeavored to bring about the changes he hoped for through institution-building, relentless activism at the grassroots level, and a reliance on mass communication.
He proceeded to build a complex mass movement that featured sophisticated governance structures; sections in charge of furthering the society’s values among peasants, workers, and professionals; units entrusted with key functions, including propagation of the message, liaison with the Islamic world, and press and translation; and specialized committees for finances and legal affairs.
In anchoring this organization into Egyptian society, al-Banna relied on pre-existing social networks, in particular those built around mosques, Islamic welfare associations, and neighborhood groups. This weaving of traditional ties into a distinctively modern structure was at the root of his success. Directly attached to the brotherhood, and feeding its expansion, were numerous businesses, clinics, and schools. In addition, members were affiliated to the movement through a series of cells, revealingly called usar (families. singular: usrah).
The material, social and psychological support thus provided was instrumental to the movement’s ability to generate enormous loyalty among its members and to attract new recruits. The services and organizational structure around which their society was built were intended to enable individuals to reintegrate into a distinctly Islamic setting, shaped by the society’s own principles.
By emphasizing concerns that appealed to a variety of constituencies, al-Banna was able to recruit from among a cross-section of Egyptian society — though modern-educated civil servants, office employees, and professionals remained dominant among the organization’s activists and decision makers.
His father, Said Ramadan (Arabic: سعيد رمضان) was the son-in-law of Hassan al-Banna. Ramadan Sr. was a major figure in the Muslim Brotherhood, and was expelled from Egypt by Gamal Abdul Nasser for his activities. He moved to Saudi Arabia where he founded the World Islamic League, a charity and missionary group. He then moved to Geneva, Switzerland. In 1961 he founded the Islamic Center in Geneva, a combination mosque, think tank, and community center.
I have met, listened and talked to Professor Tariq Ramadan during his visits to Kuala Lumpur over several years. He is no doubt a brilliant public intellectual with a gift of conceptualization, elucidation, and articulation on Islamic history, ethics, jurisprudence and the Koran and contemporary political issues. He is an author of many books, the latest being Radical Reform: Islamic Ethic and Liberation (Oxford University Press, 2009) and The Arab Awakening: Islam and the New Middle East (Allen Lane, 2012) and countless papers in referred journals.
Yes, Mr Editor, Ipoh Echo, you are absolutely right. We have no one of that stature to offer to the world at large except for our very own Professor Syed Naguib Alatas. I commend you for sharing your view from the stands at the Penang Institute lecture where you met and listened to Professor Tariq Ramadan.–Din Merican
TARIQ RAMADAN: STANDING UP FOR YOUR RIGHTS
by The Editor, Ipoh Echo
“To be a good citizen, regardless of race and religion, one must observe three basic fundamentals, said Tariq. “You must obey the laws of the land, you must master the language and, above all, you must be loyal.”
It was one of those rare moments when some thing unexpected comes knocking. I was pleasantly surprised when my good friend, Din Merican, texted me to inform of a talk by one of the world’s foremost Islamic philosopher and thinker, Tariq Ramadan. Tariq was one a three-day visit to this part of the world recently and was making whistle stops in Kuala Lumpur and Jakarta for discourses on Islam.
I jumped at the opportunity to hear a worldly man who has made a niche for himself advocating the study and re-interpretation of Islamic texts with emphasis on the heterogeneous nature of Western Muslims.
Tariq Ramadan, incidentally, is a Professor of Contemporary Islamic Studies in the Faculty of Oriental Studies at Oxford University. With such credentials Tariq will, without doubt, attract the wrong kind of following, especially in a conservative Muslim country like Malaysia.
Like they say, curiosity kills the cat. I immediately registered myself and my wife as participants for the lunch time date at Traders Hotel Penang (formerly Shangri-La) on Tuesday, July 17. Coincidentally, I was in the city for an overdue medical check-up.
The talk was sponsored by the state government under the ambit of Penang Institute, a think-tank consisting of the brightest brains formed by Chief Minister Lim Guan Eng upon his ascension to the state’s highest political post in March 2008.
Tariq, as expected, did not mince his words when he took to the podium addressing the 300-odd lunch crowd consisting of a curious cross section of Malaysians – the young, the not-so-young and the old. Interestingly, most of the audience consisted of non-Muslims with a sprinkling of Middle Eastern men and women whom I later learned were Palestinians. There was no shortage of Ipohites who formed a substantial number seated in the hotel’s spacious yet opulent ballroom cum convention hall.
Tariq’s lecture entitled, “Islam, Democracy and Human Rights: The Awakening of the Muslim World” related with things happening in the country, especially in the realm of Islamic jurisprudence. One very pertinent point he raised was on the Rule of law or in our context, the Rule by Law.
Citizens, he reasoned, must struggle within the given framework. They must oppose existing or new laws which are unjust and discriminatory. “You know how many laws in this country need to be reformed,” he said. His statement amused the crowd who cheered him on. “I am not with the Opposition, not in political terms but rather in the philosophical terms. I say something which is very true. Your model is not perfect and neither are your mores.”
“In the name of your conscience, as a Muslim, Buddhist, Christian or whatever you are. In the name of the citizenship you have, it’s your duty to stand up for what’s right, if not for your government, it’s for the people who live in your country.”
Tariq had touched a raw nerve and it reverberated in the hall. It resonated with the audience who remained glued to their seats, listening attentively to his every word. I was looking for some government sympathisers in the crowd but saw none. How I wish there were.
To be a good citizen, regardless of race and religion, one must observe three basic fundamentals, said Tariq. “You must obey the laws of the land, you must master the language and, above all, you must be loyal.”
Loyalty, however, has its limitations, he reasoned. “It should be critical loyalty not blind loyalty.” I find this most appropriate given the propensity of the “privileged class” to blindly support whatever that comes from Putrajaya. Civil Service, Police and Armed Forces personnel are among those in this group who not only practise but subscribe to the maxim.
Mohd Sofian Makinuddin, the high-strung Special Branch officer from Bukit Aman is one typical example. His fixation with the Opposition being infiltrated by Communist and Jemaah Islamiyah seems absurd but to him that is the truth.
This is the kind of blind loyalty which Tariq abhors. As if to absolve himself of the tyranny committed by Muslims worldwide, Tariq surmised, rather succinctly “No community is better than the other just because they’re Muslims.”
One member of the audience, a Palestinian, asked Tariq why he espoused the atrocities committed by Americans on Muslim prisoners in Guantanamo while Palestinians are being routinely killed and maimed by the Zionist regime. “I won’t venture to describe the atrocities committed in Arab prisons. Similarly, I won’t venture to explain the killing and maiming of Arabs by Arab regimes.”
The impact the 49-year old Swiss citizen of Egyptian origin had on the audience was electrifying. He is a true thinker of a different pedigree. Tariq wannabes Ridzuan Tee, Jamil Khir Johari and a horde of our so-called Islamic scholars can never come close to him, not now not ever.