Sunday, January 14, 2007

« Muhammad, Vie du Prophète. Enseignements spirituels et contemporains» par Tariq Ramadan

« Le Prophète portait un message universel, autant par cette expérience de l’amour qui traversa sa vie que par cette exigence d’une éthique qui transcendait les clivages, les appartenances et les identités recroquevillées. Il rappelait aux Hommes l’impératif d’une éthique universelle à laquelle ils devaient être loyaux d’abord au-delà de toutes appartenances partisanes. Telle était au fond la vraie liberté de l’être qui aime avec justice et qui ne se laisse pas emprisonner par ses passions raciales, nationalistes ou identitaires : son amour illuminant son sens éthique le rend bon ; son sens éthique orientant ses amours le rend libre. Profondément bon parmi les Hommes et extraordinairement libre à leur égard, telles étaient les deux qualités que tous les compagnons ont reconnues chez le dernier Prophète. »

Telle est l’une des conclusions majeures sur la vie du Prophète que tire Tariq Ramadan dans son dernier livre « Muhammad, vie du Prophète ». Dans ce livre, l’intellectuel suisse s’attache non seulement à raconter la vie de Mohamed (pbuh) mais aussi, dés que possible, à en tirer des enseignements contemporains que ce soient dans les sphères politiques ou sociales. Une bonne partie du livre est consacrée aux différentes guerres menées à l’époque, à leur but, à leur contexte et à l’éthique qui les a parallèlement accompagnées. En plus, naturellement, de plusieurs détails de la vie de Mohamed.

Tuesday, May 09, 2006


Dans Asharq al-Awsat d'aujourd'hui, un article au sujet d'un livre qui apparemment vient de paraitre, un livre de temoignages decrivant les affres d'une epoque qui a fait injustement souffrir beaucoup de marocains.

Friday, March 24, 2006

An interesting monograph

For the politics aficionados, here is an scholarly short monograph, which has just been released a couple weeks ago, about one of the most powerful political lobbies in the United States. You can download the unabridged 83 page version, complete with an impressive list of references, by clicking here. Enjoy!

Monday, March 20, 2006

“Sweetness in the Belly”, by Camilla Gibb

At a time when the news scene about Islam looks more and more like a bashing contest, with Pat Robertson and F. Graham taking over Wafa Sultan’s "legacy", "Sweetness in the Belly", a new novel by Camilla Gibb, comes out as an escape from this sheer madness!

"Sweetness in the Belly" tells the story of a white Muslim woman, Lily, raised in Africa, who shifts between London and Ethiopia. Lily’s childhood is spent on many places, among them Tangiers when her Anglo-Irish hippy parents relocate in Morocco.

The novel, reviewer Bernardine Evaristo writes, explores themes of female circumcision, politics, war, tribalism, yet it is also an exquisite homage to Islam. Some of the most beautiful passages are about Lily's (the main character in the novel) faith. Islam is her guiding force, as she seeks to discover the true meaning of jihad, "The holy war we have within ourselves ... Our internal struggle for purity."
I gotta get hold of it!

Friday, March 17, 2006

The conversion of Francis Fukuyama

American author and philosopher Francis Fukuyama, who was one of the founders of the neoconservative think tank Project for a New American Century, and one of the early propagandists for the war against Iraq, has apparently repudiated his original political views. In a new book, which has just been released in the US, he now argues that the war on Iraq was a mistake, and that American policy should be more mindful of the aspirations of third world countries. It is good to see that a prominent neoconservative theorist has converted to a more realistic point of view on current world affairs and the relations between East and West. Reason is slowly taking over islamophobia and bigotry.

On a side note: I am going to put Fukuyama's book on my "books to read" list, and I hope I'll be able to get hold of it in the near future.

Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Au sujet de "Partir", de Tahar ben Jelloun

Dans Asharq al-Awsat d'aujourd'hui, une critique assez interessante du dernier roman de Tahar ben Jelloun, Partir, qui vient apparemment de paraitre chez Gallimard, et qui traite de l'immigration clandestine du Maroc vers l'Europe. Je ne vais pas commenter la critique, mais je vous laisse decouvrir par vous meme cette perspective sur l'auteur marocain a laquelle vous pourriez ne pas etre tres habitue...

Tuesday, November 08, 2005

"After Jihad" by Noah Feldman

I just finished reading the book "After Jihad" (America and the Struggle for Islamic Democracy) by Noah Feldman, written in spring 2003, but updated with an interesting preface after the US invasion of Iraq. Noah Feldman, born in 1970(!), teaches law at New York University. He holds, among others, a doctorate in Islamic thought from Oxford. A former Supreme Court clerk, he was senior adviser for constitutional law for the Office of Reconstruction and Humanitarian Assistance in the months after the U.S. war in Iraq. His writing has been published in the New York Times, the Wall Street Journal and elsewhere. He lives in New York and Washington D.C.

Here is a quick comment on the book:

1. The author strongly advocates the compatibility of Islam and democracy.
2. He rejects the predominant "wisdom" in the west that Islam and Democracy are inherently incompatible.
3. To support his claim, he brings up many arguments, chief among them:
a. Islam and Democracy are what he calls "Mobile Ideas" meaning that they are not rigid concepts but rather universal and flexible ones that can be shaped according to context and the peculiarities of the people and cultures implementing them. Islam, for instance, has proven this flexibility throughout history by taking different forms in places like Iran, Africa or Eastern Asia. Democracy, on the other side, has also been adapted to local realities in countries like India, etc.
b. He argues that secularism is not a necessary condition for democracy. Rather, the seemingly incompatibility between "the sovereignty of God” (Islam) and “the sovereignty of the people” (Democracy) is a deceiving one. The main condition for democracy, he adds, is that people should agree about the way they are governed, whether by rules coming from people themselves, by rules from other sources (be it God or any theory of fundamental rights), or by both. He says that this has been true for many western democracies and no one has ever denounced it as undemocratic.

In light of these elements, Noah Feldman states that an Islamic Democracy could be implemented under different forms. The spectrum is large and ranges from asserting solely that Islam is the religion of the state (symbolically only, without any Islamic form of the government) to declaring that Sharia is the only source of law in the nation (the other extremity), the ideal being, arguably, the statement that Sharia is one source of law among others. Of course, Muslims should undertake a significant endeavor to come up with a suitable relationship between elections, legislatures and governance so that they remain compatible both with democracy and with Islam, but this, the author argues, is not insurmountable and, actually, some Muslim thinkers have suggested a few theories in this regard.

Not only the author makes the case for the compatibility between Islam and Democracy, but he confidently claims that the only viable democracy in the Arab/Muslin world is, today, Islamic Democracy. This conviction is among the reasons why he strongly advices the US, particularly, to support a genuine Democracy in the Arab/Muslim world, even if that Democracy is Islamic and even if, in the short term, the elected leaders are not supportive of the US. For, over the long term, he adds, both the US and Moslem countries will benefit from the democratization of the Muslim world, and will enjoy mutual understanding and friendship.

One might think, in some places of the book, that the author is apologetic of the US and Israel policies (others might think the opposite!), but, thinking twice, the book, written that way, is probably more effective since it is more focused towards the goals rather than toward blaming this side or the other. Hence, the book might put on the defensive the belligerents and watchdogs that claim to hold the “wisdom” on how Islam should be looked at through western eyes…

Interesting also, is the dichotomy that the author draws between countries with oil and without oil, for the prospect of democratization in the Arab world. He logically states that the chances of democratization are much more larger in countries without oil, particularly the monarchies of Jordan and Morocco. Countries with oil, according to him, are less sensitive to outside pressure and use oil to silence their critics. Subtle differences exist here between monarchies with oil and secular dictatorships (Saddam’s Iraq and Libya).

I find the conclusion of the book inspiring: “To make the encounter of Islam and democracy peaceful and creative instead of violent and destructive will require patience, courage and self-knowledge. That would not have surprised the Prophet. The greater struggle, he promised, comes after jihad” (referring to the well-known hadith on the greater and lesser jihad!).

I certainly missed addressing many important issues raised by the author, as I informally wrote my feelings about the book, right the way after finishing it. Anyhow, the book is a must read and has been, from the outset, an authoritative work on the important issue of Islam and Democracy.