Thursday, July 9, 2015

Keeping It Real

22 Ramadhan 1436

Read Tariq Ramadan's The Quest for Meaning: Developing a Philosophy of Pluralism in the earliest days of fasting. Can't say I really got the point, though I enjoyed the genuine engagement with a wide range of human thought from various traditions and the sincerity of the attempt to synthesise some wisdom from it all. Unfortunately it all struck me as being overly abstract and generalised in an emptily theoretical sort of way. Lots of assertions without much identifiable foundation. I kept nodding along to it but never felt entirely convinced, though wanting to be.

This is all very different from his fine little book on the Prophet (peace be upon him), The Messenger: The Meanings of the Life of Muhammad. That one grew from distinctly concrete experience; something deeply real.

Mind you, having said that when I got to the end of The Quest for Meaning and the final chapter on how the whole thing had been structured I realised that I'd been completely clueless with regard to the linking of ideas and the overall pattern of the work. So I suppose I'd better go back again some time in the future and see what I might have missed.

(Still can't over the fact that the writer was actually banned from entering the U.S. at one point, and I'm pretty sure anyone reading his work would feel the same way. Do the American authorities dealing with this sort of thing read at all?)


Simon said...

Hi Brian - seem to recall that Yusuf (aka Cat Stevens) suffered the same fate in the US a long time ago - suspect it was down to his change of name!

Brian Connor said...

Yep, that's right. One of the nicest, most well-meaning blokes you could ever hope to find, mysteriously transformed into an enemy of the people. One way this is done is to claim the Muslim in question has contributed to terrorist groups because they've given money to a Palestinian cause. Which pretty much makes all of us terrorists if we've been at all open handed with the green stuff.

I think the US has come to its senses more recently regarding this nonsense and realised that their energy needs to go into chasing the real bad guys, and that it helps not to have alienated the sympathies of the good guys in doing so.

By the way, there's a cracking DVD of Yusuf live in concert entitled Yusuf's Café Session. He's still got the magic.