Never in my wildest dreams did I imagine I would be moving to a foreign country to live, let alone a country in the Middle East. Over the 2009 Christmas and New Year’s holidays, my husband Roger and I discussed what we wanted the next part of our life to be like. He thought that before retiring, he would like to do one more airport project but only if he could find something very interesting. I half-jokingly agreed that would be fine but could he try for an exotic location? As usual, Roger came through and soon we were headed to Dubai in the United Arab Emirates. This blog is a recap of our "leap-of- faith" wanderings around the Middle East and beyond. We joyfully share these expat experiences.

Monday, April 11, 2011


Part 2  of Finding Peace, Brotherly Love and Laughter in Dubai is about Tariq Ramadan’s presentation, “Charting a Course Between Islamic Values and Western Cultures.”  This seems like an interesting choice since both Anne and I had decided independent of each other that we want to use some of our time in the Middle East to understanding this mysterious Muslim faith.
The Emirates Airline Festival of Literature  proves to be one of the best experiences in my first year of living in Dubai.
To my horror, after purchasing Tariq’s book The Messenger, The Meaning of the Life of Muhammad, I find Tariq’s grandfather is a founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, his father was also a prominent figure in this scary organization and that Tariq was once banned from entry to the USA because of the "ideological exclusion provision." (Read more about this in the postscripts).
 And for crying out loud, as of 2009, Tariq was persona non grata in Tunisia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, Libya and Syria.
Does anyone in the world like this man? Have I just contributed to a terrorist organization?
Noted by Time magazine as one of the 100 most important innovators of the 21st century because of his major contributions to the dialogue about Muslims in the West and Islamic revival in the Muslim world, Tariq proves to be my most favorite conversation of the Festival. 
Yes, you read that correctly – my favorite. I am certain that some members of my American family, upon reading this, are burning up the phone/email lines, “Mom has finally gone over to the edge . . . all that sand and heat has addled her brain! She ishanging out with terrorists!”
Just read on my loved ones! 
According to the jacket cover, Tariq’s book, What I Believe, sets the record straight about his thinking and shares his vision for the future.  The book description sets out the goal of the book, “It strives to get past the barriers of prejudice and misunderstanding to speak directly, from the heart, to his Muslim and non-Muslim readers alike. In particular, he calls on Western Muslims to escape the mental, social, cultural, and religious ghettos they have created for themselves and become full partners in the democratic societies in which they live. At the same time, he calls for the rest of us to recognize our Muslim neighbors as citizens with rights and responsibilities the same as ours. His vision is of a future in which a shared and confident pluralism becomes a reality at last.”

He states, “Usually, interfaith dialogues deal with only the peripheral not with the core. If we can get to the core, then we are at the universal truth that is relevant to all religions. We need to go to the essence of our beliefs and embrace them in order to embrace all mankind. ”

Tariq reasons  we must deal with the realities of a pluralistic society  as we are only 2-3 generations away from a world where our countries will no longer be made up of just citizens of a mother nationality.  All countries will be comprised of a richly enhanced multicultural citizenship that can live in peace if they will develop a respect for and have meaningful dialogue with each other.”  
What a concept. If we speak to each other we may come to understand our differences, and in understanding these differences we open the door to see our sameness.
As part of the educational component of my Middle East expat experience of living in a Muslim country, I have decided to learn more about this man Mohammad.  I am reading Rariq's book The Messenger, The Meaning of the Life of Mohammad and find it very enlightening.  I will give you an update on it when I finish.
Tariq generates a lot of controversy from both sides of the dialogue. Some believe his speaks the truth and others think he is a charlatan who speaks with a “forked-tongue.” I am not certain but I know now I will pay more attention when I hear his name in the news.
What do you think? Does the concept of open honest dialogue lead to understanding and a greater appreciation of those who are different from us?  

If you have insight into Mr. Ramadan and his position I would certainly love to see your comments below.
Postscript . . .
Why was Tariq Ramadan banned from the USA? . . . In February 2004, Tariq Ramadan accepted the tenured position of Henry R. Luce Professor of Religion, Conflict and Peacebuilding at the Joan B. Kroc Institute for International Peace Studies, at the University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, USA. Granted a non-immigrant visa on May 5, it was revoked on July 28 as cited for an "ideological exclusion provision" of the USA Patriot Act. In October, the University of Notre Dame filed a petition on Ramadan's behalf. After hearing no response from the government by December, Ramadan resigned his position from the university. Ramadan was scheduled to teach courses on Islam, religious peacebuilding, and interfaith dialogue.
The denial of the visa was based on Ramadan’s knowingly rendering material support to terrorist organizations. Between December 1998 and July 2002, Ramadan gave donations totaling $940 to two charitable organizations, the Comite de Bienfaisance et de Secours aux Palestiniens   and the Association de Secours Palestinien. The US Treasury subsequently designated both the CBSP and ASP terrorist fund-raising organizations for their alleged links to Hamas. Tariq has continually maintained that he believed the charities had no connection to terrorist activities or to Hamas. He asserts that he has always condemned terrorism.
In 2010, after more than six years, the US State Department decided, in a document signed by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, to lift the ban that prohibited Ramadan from entering the United States.


  1. hi katie, i think it is very interesting all that you have written about ramadan. in the end it is a matter of whether one can accept he is telling the truth and if perhaps he has a hidden agenda or not. certainly his belief that we should enhance interfaith dialogue is to be applauded and on that basis i say we should hear more from him in the west and wait and see what comes from it. carole c

  2. Thanks for your comment. I do agree with you and plan to follow him. I finished Tariq's book The Messenger. It is an easy read - an account of Mohammad's life and Muslim beliefs. I recommend it to anyone who wants to learn more about the Muslim faith. There were some real "eye-openers!"

  3. Tariq Ramadan - Videos and news