Casablanca - The death of Nelson Mandela mobilized people from all corners of the world. The loss of this hero was not solely national or continental but also planetary, owing to his resolute militancy for a noble cause that people from different backgrounds can relate to today.
Casablanca – The death of Nelson Mandela mobilized people from all corners of the world. The loss of this hero was not solely national or continental but also planetary, owing to his resolute militancy for a noble cause that people from different backgrounds can relate to today.
However, Mandela’s death stirred discordant reactions, some of which found fault with his religious affiliation.
In a video he recently uploaded to his Youtube Channel, Tariq Ramadan, the prominent Swiss scholar and writer, responds to a group of Muslims who deemed Nelson Mandela’s adherence to a religion other than Islam something that dooms him to “hell,” regardless of his so-celebrated heroism in the fight against oppression and racism.
In the beginning of his video, Tariq Ramadan describes such perspective on a person’s actions vs. religious adherence as a “reductionist judgment.” According to him, such judgment, which is ostensibly grounded on a verse from the Quran, oversimplifies and reduces “the comprehension of Islam as a whole.”
Such judgment, according to Ramadan, can be accurate only if one proved to be able to read minds and hearts, which is evidently out of the question and falls into the realm of “divine knowledge.” A claim to possess such faculty, according to Ramadan, is an impersonation of God Himself, who is in Islam the One and Only Holder of such knowledge.
Ramadan refers to the concept of “Taqwa” (piety) in Islam, generally meaning reverence and love for Allah (God), to illustrate a form of knowledge that only God has access to. Whether one is truly “Taqi” (pious) towards Allah is something that only God knows. Something to infer from this idea is that some people might “appear” to be pious through visible deeds while lacking complete faith in God. Here surfaces the notion of “hypocrisy” in its religious sense.
Ramadan also refers to the notion of “diversity” in Islam, in the sense that God has created Men with considerable disparity and allowed them an infinite sea of possibilities and “methodologies” instead of homogenizing them. God’s creations, Ramadan argues, are thus presented with diverse ways of “interpreting God’s ultimate message.”
According to Ramadan, judging a person as being an “infidel” or a “disbeliever” bears another claim that this person has completely rejected the ultimate message, and took utterly forbidden paths to reach his or her own ends. For Ramadan, no Muslim can hold such judgment because none has access to a person’s concealed convictions and true beliefs.
“It is not by sentencing everyone to hell that we ensure ourselves access to heaven,” argues Ramadan in the video. “None of us is able to determine his fate nor that of the other,” he adds. By arguing this, Ramadan advocates what he sees as “an important dimension of Islam,” which is, represented in the statement “Allaho Aalam” (only God knows).
Mandela, Ramadan recalls, is a man that stood out of the crowd and bravely voiced the concerns of his people and those of all colored people at that time to say ‘No’ to racism and oppression. “Mandela,” he argues, “defended universal principles and values that all people around the world, including Muslims, share and strongly believe in.”
“Some of the people in Mandela’s immediate entourage were Muslims who supported him throughout his fight against racial supremacy and oppression, whereas other Muslims stood against his cause, like many Muslims who stand in support of tyrannical and oppressive regimes and powers,” he further argues.
In the video, Ramadan lauds Mandela’s combativeness and militancy against all forms of violence prevalent in the world. Ramadan recalls Mandela’s support of Palestinians against what he saw as an oppressive colonial system that reproduced the same forms of violence against the different Other.
Ramadan also recalls how the late Mandela prioritized Mauritius President’s religious commitment to prayer over one of their meetings, something that Ramadan sees as an illustration of a true respect of the other’s differences and a display of firm moral principles.
Having recalled most of Mandela’s most celebrated and lauded deeds, Ramadan opposes all the judgments and unjustified reactions that followed Mandela’s death, “especially from the Muslim community worldwide.”
“Instead of impersonating God, those people who expressed all these bad impressions on Nelson Mandela and judged him based on his religious affiliation should know that only God can judge him, for only God knows what’s in our minds and heart,” states Ramadan at the end of his video. “This tendency among Muslims and other communities to judge on the basis of personal impressions is more destructive than it appears to be,” he adds.
“Who are you to sentence people to hell? Who are you to determine what’s in people’s hearts? May God grant Nelson Mandela what he deserves, for only God is Capable of judging us based on our concealed convictions and beliefs,” Ramadan says at the end of his video.
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