The Tariq Ramadan Affair – Henda Ayari (Part 1)

I’m fairly sure no one reads my blog after I abandoned it for two years, but I do not want to remain silent on this matter and hope some will view this post, and I also want to share my opinion on this.

Tariq Ramadan, one of Europe’s most famous Islamic scholars, is being held in prison for charges of rape against two French women.  All over the world, there are men jumping to his defense, proclaiming his innocence, protesting his imprisonment and defaming his “accusers” (AKA his many victims).  I don’t agree with their opinions.  I believe the French authorities are correct in charging him with the rapes and holding him in prison.  As I do not know the details, I cannot say whether the treatment he is receiving in prison in regards to medical care and such is just or not, but his imprisonment and arrest in general, in my view, is warranted and the French authorities have valid reasons to hold him.

I present the facts and my beliefs to the best of my abilities. I think I will have to split this into multiple parts.

The Henda Ayari Case

Henda Ayari, the first woman to accuse him of rape, has described the attack and how it happened in detail and has made this claim repeatedly.  Ayari is a former Salafi who released her autobiography, J’ai choisi d’être libre, in 2016.[1]  In this book, she describes her rape by an Islamic intellectual in 2012 she calls “Zubair”.[2]  In the Fall of 2017, she stated her attacker was Tariq Ramadan.  To say the least, I think it would be strange for this woman to be in a years-long, planned conspiracy against Tariq Ramadan.  Her book where she describes her rape predates the #MeToo movement, so unless she’s a psychic, she couldn’t have known this movement, which is why she named Ramadan, would arise. [3] This defeats the claim she’s doing this opportunistically making spur-of-the-moment allegations against Ramadan bolstered by the #MeToo movement.

In a French newspaper last year, Ayari describes her attack and the circumstances in detail.  Ayari states Ramadan contacted her on Facebook and then the two began chatting on Skype.  In March of 2012, Ayari states she met Ramadan in a hotel room. She and Ramadan consensually kissed and Ramadan then jumped on her, began strangling her, raped her, and slapped her.  She alleges Ramadan wanted to set up future meetings with her for sex.  When she told Ramadan she wished to report him for the rape, she stated he threatened the safety of her children and threatened to release illicit photographs of her. [4]  Her story matches closely the incidents described by the other accusers.

Ayari has been defamed by people saying she’s an apostate from Islam and shouldn’t be believed (and this is shitty for so many reasons I’ll get into), but it seems Ayari identifies herself as a Muslim still.  In her French interview, she says, “Je me considère comme une femme musulmane. Et j’en suis fière.”  This translates to, “I consider myself a Muslim woman. And I am proud.”  She continues, “Une musulmane qui respecte les lois de la République.” She again refers to herself as a Muslim.  I think it’s pretty fair to say from these statements she believes in Islam and identifies as a Muslim, so not only are people accusing her of lying, but they’re making takfir against her only because she says she was violently attacked by their fave scholar or because they heard other people say she isn’t a Muslim.  If she says she is a Muslim, then I’ll believe her.  I, and many of those pronouncing takfir on her, don’t speak French (or know her personally), and don’t have evidence she’s outside of Islam in her beliefs (and there’s tons of different rulings, beliefs, and forms of Islam anyway).  Being open about being raped doesn’t make her a non-Muslim.  Accusing a scholar people like of rape doesn’t make her a non-Muslim.  No one knows what’s in her heart but God.  I believe she’s a Muslim just as she says.

Pronouncing takfir on other people in Islam is a serious matter as evidenced by the Qur’an, many hadith, and scholars.  Like:

  • Abu Huraira reported: The Messenger of Allah, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “When a man says to his brother: O disbeliever! Then it will return to at least one of them.” (rated sahih by al-Bukhari) [5]
  • Abu Dharr reported: The Prophet, peace and blessings be upon him, said, “A man does not accuse another man of wickedness or unbelief but that it will return against him if his companion is innocent.” (rated sahih by al-Bukhari [6]

Towards the end of his life, the renowned scholar Ibn Taymiyya, beloved by modern Salafis, took a strong stance against pronouncing takfir on other Muslims. [7] As reported by Adh-Dhahabi, “Our Sheikh Ibn Taymiyyah said near the end of his life, “I will not declare anyone from this nation to be an unbeliever.” [8]

To me, it adds a whole new level of repulsiveness that other Muslims are accusing her of apostasy not because they think her doctrinal beliefs place her outside of Islam, but because she states she was raped by a scholar they admire.

But let’s stop for a minute, even if she is a non-Muslim then how does that mean she’s automatically lying about being raped?  It doesn’t.  And anyway, being violently raped by a famous scholar is definitely the kind of thing that could push a person out of Islam if she were an ex-Muslim.

The responses to Ayari’s rape accusations against Ramadan reveals the rape culture present, well, apparently all over the world.  Instead of critically examining the claims and evidence, people have jumped to defaming her character and accusing her of being a liar, an apostate, and a lascivious and immoral woman.  They idolize the views and character of one Muslim man so much they’re willing to sin against a Muslimah by saying she’s an apostate and other insults because of what she says about this man.[9]

The claims against Tariq Ramadan are shocking. Horrendous.  Sickening. I feel some Muslims may jump to defaming Henda’s character and the other accusers because they can’t believe a man who presents himself as being so handsome, intelligent, educated, well-spoken and moral would brutally attack and harass Muslim women.  I am convinced he is guilty for many reasons, and even I struggle to understand how this is true.

But he’s just a man. He’s not the sum of Islam. He’s not a Prophet. He’s not God and most of all he’s not a victim.

And he is not the only Islamic scholar around.  There are many brilliant scholars around today, including women, who are educated and of good character too.  Islam is not the sum of this man and what he did or didn’t do and no one’s behavior towards other Muslims or faith in Islam should rest on him.

I’m reminded of the incident between Umar and Abu Bakr words after the Prophet’s death.

Abu Bakr said, “Amma ba’du, whoever amongst you worshipped Muhammad, then Muhammad is dead, but whoever worshipped Allah, Allah is alive and will never die.

To be continued.

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