Identity Politics

who-are-you

When reading Adam Deen’s post on ‘Muslim-Tribalism‘, which I enjoyed – and felt there was much truth to what was said – it immediately reminded me of two things:

1.

There was a brief extract about ‘Identity Politics’ in Tariq Ramadan’s ‘Islam, the West and the Challenges of Modernity’ (2001), and I’d like to quote it here and add my own thought-additions in square brackets:

“The West which we [Muslims – but also possibly others as well] are still confusing with the universe of Christianity [good point – but this point might deserve its own post to unpack], finds no favour in the statements of some Muslim theologians and thinkers [and indeed with some Muslims, generally] who assert their Muslim identity in opposition to the United States and Europe. They are Muslims against the West, and all their reflection is fed by this cast of mind.

This kind of attitude, which is emotional and immediate, exists and remains understandable regardless of its primary character. However, we cannot justify its excesses. But such is not the position of [others, whose] … position is not, in itself and solely, of a reactive nature… [Such others] are for Islam and not against the West: the difference is huge…” (page 269) (Italics and bold are mine)

OBSERVATIONS:

Putting aside the complexity of ‘What do we mean by ‘the West’?’ Ramadan identifies two types of Muslim attitudes to the West:

a) ‘Against’ and

b) ‘For Islam AND Not Against’.

I guess a) ‘Against’ implies that one is ‘For Islam’,  right?… Right! Hmmm…  And would b) ‘For Islam AND Not Against’ read better as ‘For Islam AND Not necessarily Against’? Muslims ought to consider and reflect on the overall point. I’m sure we can sub-classify, elaborate and dissect further – but this is a sufficiently workable start.

A further thought is that Identity-based reactions can apply to non-Muslims too, if we replace the key labels/terms. Observe:

“The Islamic religion which we [Westerners – but also possibly others as well] are still confusing with Muslim culture, finds no favour in the statements of some Westerners who assert their Western identity in opposition to the ‘Islamic religion’. They are Westerners against Islam, and all their reflection is fed by this cast of mind.

This kind of attitude, which is emotional and immediate, exists and remains understandable regardless of its primary character. However, we cannot justify its excesses. But such is not the position of [others, whose] … position is not, in itself and solely, of a reactive nature… [Such others] are for the West and not against Islam: the difference is huge…”

Non-Muslims ought to consider and reflect on the overall point. I’m sure we can sub-classify, elaborate and dissect further – but this is a sufficiently workable start.

identity-politics

2.

The point is, an Identity-based reaction is not as noble or just as an Ethic/Morality-based reaction. And this leads me to an article I wrote titled ‘On How Identity Can Mind-Lead You Away From Truth‘.

And the question is whether a religious-based reaction is of the former type or the latter type… And the answer possibly depends on the quality of an individual’s basis for their actions. A Muslim’s reaction ought to be an Ethic/Morality-based one where reason-able and level-headed justifications can be made. But only a person educated adequately in their religion can hope to act in an enlightened (normative) way, which is why education is critical and morality is key.

question

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