Tariq Said Ramadan (born 26 August 1962 in Geneva, Switzerland) is a Swiss Muslim academic whose views on Islam reflect a reformist perspective. He advocates the study and interpretation of Islamic texts, and emphasizes the heterogeneous nature of Western Muslims. He believes that Muslims in Europe have established a new “European Islam” and emphasizes the necessity for their contribution to European society.
Two of the world’s most influential magazines, Prospect and Foreign Policy, rank him at number 8 in a list of the world’s top 100 contemporary intellectuals. He is regularly called Islam’s ‘Martin Luther’ in the West for his controversial views that challenge the mainstream Islamic beliefs. Many Arab intellectuals disagree with this assessment however, including Egyptian intellectual and reformer Tarek Heggy. He does not have a wide audience base in countries with Muslim majorities. Tariq Ramadan teaches theology at the University of Oxford.
Ramadan is the son of Said Ramadan and the grandson of Hassan al Banna, one of the founders of the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt, and Gamal al-Banna, the liberal Muslim reformer is his great-uncle. His father was a prominent figure in the Muslim Brotherhood and was exiled from Egypt to Switzerland, where Tariq was born, by Gamal Abdul Nasser.Tariq Ramadan graduated a year early and studied philosophy, literature and social sciences at the University of Geneva. He studied philosophy and French literature at the Masters level, and Arabic and Islamic studies for his PhD. He wrote his dissertation on Friedrich Nietzsche. He also studied Arabic and Islam at Al Azhar Islamic university in Cairo, Egypt.
He currently teaches at the College de Saussure, a high school in Geneva, Switzerland, and held a lectureship in Religion and Philosophy at the University of Fribourg from 1996 to 2003. In October 2005 he began teaching at St Antony’s College at the University of Oxford on a Visiting Fellowship. Since 2005 he has been a senior research fellow at the Lokahi Foundation.
Ramadan is married and has 4 children. His wife is French and converted to Islam after their marriage. His brother, Hani Ramadan, is also a Muslim activist and resides in Geneva, where he is the director of the Islamic Centre of Geneva. After a lengthy and costly procedure, Hani Ramadan was fired from his teaching position in one of Geneva’s junior high schools after he published an article in Le Monde justifying lapidation and reasserting the superiority of divine law (the Sharia) over human laws. Geneva’s state education department felt that such opinions were incompatible with his position as teacher.
Tariq Ramadan established the Movement of Swiss Muslims in Switzerland. He has taken part in interfaith seminars and has sat on a commission of “Islam and Secularism.” He is an advisor to the EU on religious issues. He is widely interviewed and has produced about 100 tapes which sell tens of thousands of copies each year.
In September 2005 he was invited to join a task force by the Government of the United Kingdom. In 2007 Tariq Ramadan successfully applied for the professorship in Islamic studies at the University of Leiden, but then declined to take up the position, citing professional reasons. He is also guest professor of Identity and Citizenship at Erasmus University Rotterdam. More recently, Tariq Ramadan has been hosting debates on Islam & Life programme on Press TV.