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 Islam and Muslims in Europe    by Dr Tariq Ramadan

Some concepts

The idea of Muslim identity was widely discussed because it appeared as if it was a barrier to integration. It would therefore be necessary to clarify the requirements, perspectives and its richness while also confirming that the Muslim presence in Europe is not an obstacle. The Muslim identity is an expression of an intangible existence through all it's essential elements arriving at an exemplification of the "Muslim being". Here we can mention the four points that explain the Muslim identity:

  1. 1. A faith, a spirituality and a practice (cultural dimension)
  2. 2. An understanding and an intelligence, as much in the Islamic sources as in the social, political and cultural context -in the actuality of Europe (concept of rationality and responsibility).
  3. 3. Education and Dissemination: Faith is considered as a trust which one must testify to and in which one must convey through education.
  4. 4. Action and participation: To be a Muslim is to act and participate in the social dynamics directed towards justice and a better way of life.

Each Muslim should be able to have a guarantee that the above mentioned elements will be protected, in whichever country he/she lives. In other words, he has the "right to identity" and a concrete implementation of his freedom of conscience.[6]

As is the case in Europe today, one can clearly affirm that the legal system protects and guarantees the manifestation of this identity. The challenges which Muslims find themselves in today are more related to a minimalist interpretation, unyielding to the aforementioned legislation. A curtailed vision of the secular model and concern about the prejudice concerning Islam finds its way in this discussion-the "question of Islam" in Europe is a problem which originates from a certain mentality and susceptibility as much as a supposed legal incompatibility.

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