Current Trends in Islamist Ideology

Dawa and the Islamist Revival in the West

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PhD Candidate, Department of Middle Eastern Studies, Ben-Gurion University of the Negev, Israel

Dawa means “invitation” or “call to Islam.” It is often translated to mean “Islamic Mission,” although, both in theory and in practice, dawa is different in its aims and methods from, for example, the contemporary Christian comprehension of a religious mission. Many Islamic thinkers strongly emphasize this difference.1 Especially for those thinkers that adhere to the broad-based salafist ideology typical of the Muslim Brotherhood and related revivalist groups, dawa isn’t simply a method for spreading a spiritual teaching or performing charitable works; it is also an inherently political activity, whose principal aim is Islamic reform and revival leading to the eventual establishment of an Islamic state.

Dawa is prescribed in the Quran as an obligation of all Muslims. Some Quranic verses describe dawa as a form of religious proselytization. For instance, Surat an-Nahl, verse 125 enjoins Muslims to, “Invite (all) to the way of thy Lord with wisdom and beautiful preaching; and argue with them [non-Muslims] in ways that are best ...”2 Other verses concerning dawa, frequently cited by religious scholars, emphasize dawa’s role in preserving and strengthening the socio-moral character of the Muslim community and its general adherence to sharia law. Surat al-Imran, verses 104 and 110, speak of the Muslim communal duty (fard kifaya) to call the whole of mankind to Islam, and to enjoin right and forbid wrong.3

In addition to these verses, many Islamic thinkers also derive the obligation to engage in dawa from Surat al-Baqara, verse 143: “Thus, have We made of you an umma justly balanced, that ye might be witnesses over the nations, and the Messenger a witness over yourselves.” According to a common interpretation, this Sura indicates that witnessing for and propagating Islam is the primary reason why the original Muslim umma was created. Insofar as this positive duty to spread and implement Islam through dawa has also been understood by Muslims as an obligation to enlarge the umma--or what modern revivalists call the “Muslim Nation”--dawa is also an inherently political activity for Salafis. This is because the latter define Islam as a comprehensive system, regulating not only the private sphere and the relations between a believer and God, but also the public sphere and politics. For instance, Hassan al-Banna (1906-1949), the famous da’i (performer of dawa) and founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, stated very clearly that the Brotherhood’s dawa is more than a religious activity--in the Christian comprehension of the term--and inherently political:

We summon you to Islam, the teachings of Islam, the laws of Islam and the guidance of Islam, and if this smacks of ‘politics’ in your eyes, than this is our 'policy'! And if the one summoning upon you to these principles is a 'politician', than we are the most respectable of men, Allah be praised in 'politics.'4

Since its emergence in the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, the worldwide salafist movement has laid particular stress on dawa’s political dimensions. For example, the dawa concepts and theories that were pioneered by Hasan al-Banna and of Abul ala al-Mawdudi (1903-1979), the creator of the Indo-Pakistani revivalist movement Jamaat-e-Islami, both emphasized the importance of reforming the socio-moral character of Muslim communities. The principal aim of this outreach was to bring about the reversal of what they saw as Islam’s decline in the modern era, and to prepare the way, through the systematic propagation of Islamist ideology to an ever-wider audience, for the ultimate establishment of an Islamic state.

Needless to say, the dawa activities of these modern revivalist movements often met with stiff resistance when they contravened the political authorities in their homelands. This was especially the case for activists of the Muslim Brotherhood, who were severely suppressed by secularist Arab rulers. From the mid 1950s and through the 1960s, many senior members of the Brotherhood were forced to leave their homelands because of government crackdowns on their movement.5 Numerous activists found refuge in Muslim states sympathetic to their cause, while still others fled for Europe and, later, to North America.

Settling down in exile in the West, these Brotherhood leaders and other activists soon established an array of institutions that became headquarters for their multifaceted dawa activities throughout the Muslim world.6 Early on, these institutions primarily focused on Islamist struggles in their respective homelands; the notion of conducting dawa in Europe itself--a land that, despite providing safe haven for these Muslims, was still considered by many (though not all) classical Islamic thinkers from the classical Islamic perspective as an un-Islamic land of war (dar al-harb)--was farthest from their agendas.7 Yet for a number of reasons, within less than a generation’s time, dawa in Europe soon became one of their central occupations.

The large majority of Muslim migrants to Europe did not originally go there for the purpose of conducting dawa. Rather, they arrived mainly as migrant laborers or Gastarbeiter (“guest workers”) seeking new opportunities. Some even fled their former homelands, as Gerholm and Lithman note, “because they themselves fear[ed] the consequences of the Islamic resurgence” that was, among other things, being spearheaded by salafi revivalist movements.8 But as it became increasingly apparent that Europe’s growing Muslim populations were there to stay, Islamist thinkers began to worry that these populations would drift away from Islam and be assimilated to European culture. “We are desperately looking for an answer,” said Khurram Murad, the Europe-based Jamaat activist, in 1986, “to ensure that our children grow up and remain Muslims.”9 Early on, this made the preservation of Islam among Europe’s Muslim populations a primary focus of revivalist dawa.

Subsequently, Islamist thinkers began to invest Islam’s growing presence in the West with divine significance. Among other things, some began to interpret the Muslim migration to Europe (and to a lesser, but still significant extent, to North America) as a modern hijra, or migration, that was ordained by Allah in order “to plant Islam in this part of the world.”10 What’s more, many of the scholar-activists involved with these institutions realized that Europe’s free and open democracies provided a more fertile environment for dawa than their former homelands. European law guarantees a greater degree of freedom of conscience, expression and religion for Islamists than many Muslim states, and these freedoms quickly became understood as preconditions for successful dawa work.11

Yet just as the Muslim settlement in Europe opened up new opportunities for dawa, it also presented a range of new challenges for salafist revivalism and for Islamic thought as a whole. Historically, Muslim religious scholars argued that Muslims should not live under non-Muslim rule.12 In classical literature, even temporary residency outside of dar al-Islam, or the abode of Islam, was described as impermissible according to Islamic law. This is based on, among other texts, a hadith which says: “It is a duty for him [the Muslim] not to go to the land of the kufr [dar al-kufr; abode of unbelief], because of the words [of the prophet], peace will be upon him: Islam is superior to everything and if a Muslim will go to land of the kufr his word will be inferior.”13 Other scholars traditionally permitted temporary residence outside of dar al-Islam only temporally--i.e., for traders, for those who were still able to live according to their religious laws,14 or for those who did not possess the means to emigrate back to Muslim-ruled lands.15 Also some contemporary Muslim jurists, working from within the traditional framework of Islamic law, argue that settlement in the West is justified only insofar as it serves the larger purpose of dawa. As but one contemporary example, Muzammil Siddiqi of the Fiqh Council of North America argues that Muslim presence in non-Muslim countries is only justified in qualified cases, such as for the purposes of tourism, diplomatic missions, trade and study purposes--and for the purposes of dawa.16Ismail R. Faruqi further argues that the only religiously permissible reason for a Muslim to assume permanent residence in Europe, or outside dar al-Islam, is if that person becomes a dai, or a one who performs dawa.17

In addition to these intellectual and juristic challenges, dawa in the West was also beset with problems of a more practical nature. Among other things, simply transferring older dawa strategies--including those developed, for example, by Hassan al-Banna for use in Egypt and elsewhere in Arabia, or by Mawdudi for India and later, for Pakistan--to this new, Western environment had little prospect of success. That’s because the laws and institutions governing Europe’s liberal societies were too different from those in the Muslim world, as were the values and norms of the native people and the options for spreading the “call to Islam.” The enormous diversity of Europe’s Muslim populations also posed practical challenges. Considering their countries of origin, ethnicity, languages, traditions, and religious and political affiliations, as well as different levels of secularization and westernization, Europe’s Muslim populations can hardly be described as a homogeneous group or “community.” Today, the Muslim population in Europe is estimated to be at least 15 million, and a growing number of them are native born.18

As a consequence of these and other realities and challenges, salafist scholars and activists were forced to dramatically reassess their previous ways of thinking about conducting dawa. They began to develop a range of new strategies, a new language, and new methods for reaching out to both Europe’s Muslim as well as its non-Muslim audiences. These thinkers effectively extended the ideology and methods of salafism, which was originally developed for the purpose of transforming Islam within Muslim societies, and applied it to the novel tasks and challenges of introducing Islam into a non-Muslim environment. The result was a culturally unique form of “European dawa.”19

This article examines how dawa has come to be understood in modern European Islamic thought by looking at the theories of European dawa in the works of three scholars of the reformist-salafist ideological stream. The first of these scholars, Khurram Murad (1932-1996), had been a leading member of the Jamaat-e-Islami and a former president of the Islamic Foundation in Leicester, UK. The second scholar, Yusuf al-Qaradawi (born 1926), one of the best-known Muslim scholars in the world, is regarded to be “the most influential da’i in the history of the Muslim Brothers,”20 an a d the founder and spiritual guide of several Islamic institutions in Europe, including the European Council of Fatwa and Research. The third scholar is Tariq Ramadan (born 1962), a native European, a professor of Islamic Studies and grandson of the founder of the Muslim Brotherhood, Hassan al-Banna. Ramadan may be regarded as the primary developer of a uniquely European concept of Islamic dawa.

Settling the Western Frontier

One of the most important early shapers of the theory and practice of dawa in the West was the Indo-Pakistani thinker Khurram Murad. A disciple of Mawdudi, Murad emigrated from India to Pakistan in 1948, and was then appointed leader of the Jamaat’s youth organization, Jamaat Tula, which was immensely active in the field of dawa. In 1978, Murad was appointed head of the Islamic Foundation in Leicester, Great Britain,21 and it was during his time in Leicester that he published his most important publications on European dawa. These include the booklets Islamic Movement: Reflection on Some Issues (1981), Dawah Among Non-Muslims in the West (1986), and Muslim Youth in the West: Towards a New Education Strategy (1986).22

Unlike traditional religious scholars who argued that Islamic law in general disapproves Muslim settlement under non-Muslim rule, Murad believed that the Muslim presence in the West was there to stay. More positively, he unconditionally accepted the existence of Muslim communities in Europe and developed methods by which they could flourish and expand. He argued that dawa in the West should be conducted for two primary reasons. First, he believed that spreading Islam within non-Muslim lands was a religious obligation for all Muslims and the “primary duty [of the umma] to our [non-Muslim] neighbours.”23 Second, he argued that dawa in the West was vitally necessary as it was the only way to ensure that the Muslims who had settled in the West would retain their Islamic identity and not be absorbed into the West’s non-Islamic, secular culture.

Murad recommended a two-tracked approach for preserving and expanding Islam’s presence within Western societies. This approach entailed, first of all, concerted efforts at dawa and religious education (tarbiya) within existing Muslim communities that aimed at the creation of culturally autonomous “Muslim islands”, or enclaves, in which Muslims should gain control over their neighbourhood and community institutions while remaining at the same time open to non-Muslims.24 Evidently, in many cases, this activity included attempts to re-Islamize European Muslims, according to a specific understanding of “real” Islam. Secondly, unlike earlier generations of Islamists who directed their religious outreach mainly toward historically Muslim populations, Murad believed that Muslims should also openly and proactively engage in “extra-ummaic” dawa, seeking to witness for Islam among non-Muslims within Europe.25

Two core beliefs helped shape Murad’s pioneering thinking on dawa in the West. The first was his adamant belief that Islam represents the natural religion (din al-fitra) of all mankind, revealed to Moses and Jesus, but distorted later by Jews and Christians.26In essence, Murad believed the Islam wasn’t alien to Europe, but was a universal religion whose spread within the West was required by God. A second and connected belief underlying Murad’s dawa theory was the view that Muslims needed to purge their religion of the non-essential, local cultural accretions that it had acquired over time within Muslim lands in order to more effectively propagate Islam within Europe.

In proposing these beliefs, Murad was effectively extending the principles and ideas of reformist salafism, which were originally developed for the modernization of Islam within Muslim societies; he applied them to novel tasks and assorted challenges of propagating Islam in the West. In short, Murad proposed that Islam be transformed from a culturally exotic and alien religion into a religion that could become part of--and eventually spread and transform from within--European society.

One innovative aspect of Murad’s efforts to create a “European Islam,” for the purpose of spreading it through dawa, was his call for the rejection of violence within the West. Importantly, in rejecting violence in the West, Murad didn’t propose a radical new legal framework for relations between the Islamic world and the West. He avoided taking any clear stance on the classical division of the world into dar al-harb and dar al-Islam. Nor did he have anything to say about the view held by the Shafii and Hanafi traditions of jurisprudence that Europe, rather than be considered dar al-harb, might be considered dar al-ahd or dar al-sulh because of its peace contract (sulh) and agreements (ahd) with Muslim lands.

While he didn’t dramatically revise these classical legal conceptions, Murad clearly sought to distinguish his teachings on dawa from those who argued that military jihad was a legitimate way of spreading Islam into new areas of the world.27 This represented an innovation from within the salafi-revivalist ideological stream. For instance, both Banna and Mawdudi, while primarily concerned with spreading Islam within their Muslim homelands, never rejected the concept of armed struggle for the propagation of Islam within the West.28 Murad, however, believed that dawa was the only suitable means for the spread of Islam in non-Muslim lands,29 and that rejecting violent jihad within the West was a precondition for successful long-range dawa in Europe.30 This rejection was crucial and religiously warranted, because it allowed the Islamic movement to concentrate its attentions fully on fulfilling the duty of dawa, rather than postponing the duty of dawa to the masses until after a successful military conquest (as was often traditionally the case). Moreover, this rejection of violence in the West may be considered truer to Islamic faith and principles, as it didn’t needlessly reduce the obligation to spread Islam to the traditional principle of al-dawa qabla al-qital (invitation to Islam before the fight)--the short appeal to an enemy to embrace Islam, to become a dhimmi and pay the jizya, or face a battle.31

Taken together, Murad’s efforts to transform Islam came to be reflected practically in the pragmatic and flexible approach toward dawa that he proposed. He called, for example, for the establishment of so-called “home-movements,” recognizing that “problems [for conducting dawa] vary from situation to situation and from country to country,” and that each of these unique contexts “may pose a very different challenge; each may require a different approach.”32 Murad himself did not develop country-specific approaches for dawa, as he believed this task was best left to locals. He also stressed the role of converts in these movements, convinced that they could be effective messengers of Allah to their own people in their own language, an opinion he supports by quoting Surat Ibrahim, verse 4: “And we never sent a messenger except with the language of his folk, that he might make [the message] clear for them.”

Another important aspect of Murad's practical dawa was the recognition that Europe is a primarily secular society, and that Muslims should not argue with Europeans on a purely religious basis, trying to provee the advantages of Islam over Christianity.33 He similarly states that since Europe is a primarily secular society, dawa should seek to call non-Muslims to Islam not by focusing esclusively on religious matters, but by offering Islamic perspectives on social and political topics like unemployment, nuclear weapons, imperialism and the environment.34

Murad was also one of the first dawa theorists to articulate the idea that successfully converting others to Islam requires, on the part of Muslims, a change of attitude towards people of other religions. This marked a shift away from the practice of other Islamist revivalists such as Mawdudi, who frequently characterized non-Muslims as kufr, or infidels.35 Of course, some Western-based Muslims continue to call non-Muslims by this term today, and this rhetoric is often combined with demands for isolation and a hostile attitude towards Westerners. Murad, on the other hand, argued that using the term kufr, as well as other polemics and hostilities, was counterproductive for dawa. In this same vein, he also sought to develop psychological methods to reduce overt hostilities between Muslims and non-Muslims.

Murad’s view of non-Muslims represents a clear departure from the black-and-white division into Muslims and infidel enemies. As he wrote, there “is no justification for . . . looking at the world as if it were divided into two hostile camps, kafir (unbeliever) and Muslim, where every kafir is an enemy of Muslims.” Murad supports this statement by quoting Surat al-Mumtahina, verse 74. This sura, Murad declares, “differentiates between those hostile to Islam and those who simply do not believe.” He claims, apologetically, that he does not try to alter the concept of kufr (unbelief) itself, but that a person can only be addressed as kafir, if he was informed about Islam, rejected it, and proved to be an open enemy of Muslims; “Kafirs are today not really Kafirs, who have heard the truth and who have rejected it after having known it, who have deliberately embarked upon a policy of hostility toward Islam.” As these three conditions are only fulfilled in specific cases, Murad recommends not addressing Europeans as kuffar in general: “We should ponder how Allah’s messengers handled their world . . . they never addressed them as “Kafirs“ unless the Kufr was demonstrated to be entrenched and deliberate.”36

Here Murad uses a method of argumentation which is typical of reformists in the salafist tradition. He tries to support changes in the common comprehension of the term kuffar by referring to the beginnings of Islam, claiming his interpretation to be closer to that of the “real” Islam of the early generations of Muslims than is the contemporary one. Although Mawdudi used to designate non-Muslims in his texts in general as kuffar (plural of kafir), Murad’s reasoning is based on Mawdudi. Mawdudi also wrote in one of his texts that the Arabic word kufr is rooted in the verb kafara, which means to cover or to conceal, and a kafir (concealer) is a man who decides to deny Allah. We see here also the element of a deliberate denial against better judgement as a precondition for becoming a kafir.37

Murad also advised Muslims engaged in dawa in the West to avoid terminology that might evoke negative associations with Islam. He recommends instead that Muslims use a new language, developed especially for dawa to non-Muslims in Europe, and that they strive to create a cordial environment within Europe between Muslims and non-Muslims, one that would be most amenable to Islam’s propagation. For example, as he writes, the very “language of “Islamic state” may not be a suitable language for a Western society; instead a Just World Order based on surrender to the one God and obedience to His Messengers, is likely to evoke a more favourable response. [Campaigning against] drinking may not strike a sympathetic chord, [campaigning against] drugs may.”

It is clear that many of the techniques that Murad proposes to facilitate Islam’s propagation in the West--for example, changes in the use of language--are not accompanied by any genuine modification of classical or revivalist Islamic concepts. Hence, in Murad’s thought, the recommendation to create a new language for the purposes of dawa in the West may be regarded a means for deliberately obscuring that dawa’s true intentions. Indeed, throughout his work, Murad never challenged the classic revivalist concept of an Islamic state, nor did he argue for any substantial revisions of the classical understandings of Islamic law. As such, Murad may be regarded as one of the first European Muslim thinkers who openly encouraged doublespeak as a way of facilitating Islam’s spread in the West.

A New Interpretation of Sharia for Europe’s Muslims

In the 1990s, Shaykh Yusuf al-Qaradawi, the prominent spiritual leader of the Muslim Brotherhood, dramatically re-envisioned the strategy of the worldwide Islamist revivalist movement, and in the process, offered a bold new vision for Islamic dawa in Western countries. Until recently, Qaradawi has been very active implementing that vision and establishing a basis for the international Muslim Brotherhood and associated movements in Europe (he has been banned from entering the U.S. since 1999).
In 1997, Qaradawi founded the European Center for Fatwa and Research (ECFR) in Dublin,38 a council of mainly non-European Sunni scholars, presided over by Qaradawi, which seeks to develop a European interpretation of Islamic law from within the classical framework of Islamic jurisprudence. This may also be critically understood as an attempt by Islamists to introduce their understanding of the sharia as the dominant law in inter-Muslim relations and personal affairs for European Muslim populations and to unite them under the authority of the ulama of a specific Islamic movement. European Muslims can read ECFR fatwas and articles on European Islam in Arabic and English on its website Qaradawi is also one of the founders of the transnational Islamic website IslamOnline.40 This site contains a special section for European Muslims, and since 1997 has regularly published fatwas for Muslims in Europe, as well as articles in Arabic and English that deal with the subject of European Islam.

Qaradawi has been critical of the classical Muslim division of the world into dar al-Islam and dar al-harb and the connected view that Muslim settlement outside of dar al-Islam is undesirable or impermissible.41 Instead, he divides the world into three categories: dar al-harb, dar al-Islam and dar al-ahd, or a land of truce. Most European countries (except Serbia) are defined by Qaradawi today as dar al-ahd, due to their diplomatic and other connections with Muslim countries. This means, among other things, that Muslims have to respect European laws as long as they do not conflict with the fundamental principles of Islamic law.42

For Qaradawi, Muslim settlement in the West isn’t simply religiously permissible. It is, he argues, a religious necessity and an obligation for the worldwide Islamic revival movement. The Muslim presence in the West is necessary because it enables the conduct of dawa, which in Qaradawi’s view serves multiple purposes--from proselytization to Europeans, to creating Islamic enclaves and an Islamic environment for Muslim immigrants and European converts, to influencing the social and political climate towards Islam and the Muslim Nation (umma) within Western societies.43 Moreover, he claims that “persuading the West of the necessity of the emergence of Islam as a guiding and leading force” will eventually mean that Western governments will bring pressure to bear on Muslim rulers to adopt more lenient policies toward the Islamic Movement in their own countries. In Qaradawi’s eyes, this will “certainly be a great benefit” for the global Islamic movement.44

Qaradawi ultimately believes that Islam will be established as the dominant religious and political force in Europe through dawa. As he has written, “Islam will return to Europe as a conqueror and victor after being expelled from it twice . . . the conquest this time will not be by the sword but by preaching and ideology.”45 Like Murad, he rejects offensive jihad as a legitimate method for the establishment of Islam in Europe. He also criticizes the claims of more radical Islamists like Said Qutb and Mawdudi that the ‘verse of the sword’ has abrogated more than a hundred more pacific Quranic verses, that Muslims are ordered to fight the unbelievers if they are able to do so, and that this fight serves to spread Islam.46 A critic of the concept of naskh (abrogation), Qaradawi claims that previous verses were not cancelled but rather further clarified by later ones and each verse has to be understood in its specific context.47

In contrast to Murad, Qaradawi’s rejection of jihad in Europe is neither permanent nor unconditional. In fact, he limits his rejection of jihad to present circumstances. As he argues, because Muslims who reside in the West presently have the freedom to conduct dawa and are able to spread Islam peacefully, because they still “depend on others [non-Muslims] for military power,”48 and also because what he describes as the ‘compulsory defensive jihad’ in lands like Palestine is not fulfilled yet, then offensive jihad to spread Islam is currently not an option. Further to this, in his workplan for the Islamic movement, written in 1992, he claims that a discussion of this question of offensive jihad by religious scholars is not necessary at the present time, because offensive jihad is neither practicable nor necessary.49 (In his recently published book Fiqh al-Jihad, Qaradawi’s pronouncements become more concrete, and he claims that there is no obligation for Muslims to attack non-Muslim lands in order to spread Islam. He further claims that jihad does not necessarily mean fighting and that it can be performed also by peaceful means, such as charitable work or dawa).50

Qaradawi describes his particular teaching on Islamic revival and reform as wasatiyya, or as the “middle way.” This ideological stream originally emerged among Egypt’s so-called “New Islamists” in the 1990s. It is deeply rooted in the reformist salafism of Hassan al-Banna, and it requires that the sharia must be applied in all spheres of human life, from one’s personal behavior to politics. Since the full application of sharia is difficult, if not impossible, under contemporary circumstances both in Muslim societies and in the West, this ideological stream holds that it is necessary for Muslims to discover religiously legitimate and pragmatic means of adapting to contemporary realities for the purpose of gradually reforming them according to salafist understandings of Islamic law.

At the core of Qaradawi’s flexible and pragmatic approach is the concept of ijtihad, or independent legal reasoning. He frequently advocates renewal and an “opening of the doors of ijtihad.” He claims that ijtihad is always subject to development and changes according to altered conditions and factors; hence fatwas must accommodate time and place, customs and conditions. He also states that Muslims in Europe need less restrictive rulings. If different rulings respond to the same questions, he goes on to say, Muslims are permitted to choose the less restrictive.51

In Qaradawi’s work, the principal instrument for exercising ijtihad and discovering religiously legitimate means for living within Western societies is a new method of interpreting Islamic law called “fiqh al-aqalliyyat,” or jurisprudence for Muslim minorities.52 This theory of jurisprudence encourages the use of ijtihad according to classical principles such as maslaha (common interest) and darura (necessity or hardship). This, in turn, makes possible legal reasoning that supports greater leniency in interpreting the sharia for Muslims in non-Muslim lands compared with what is required of their co-religionists in Muslim lands.53 Among other things, fiqh al-aqalliyyat tries to resolve conflicts that inevitably arise between, on the one hand, Islamic law and the culture, and on the other, the laws and cultures of Muslims’ western host countries. It furthermore applies to conflicts between the needs of the Islamic movement and its dawa work, and the classical interpretation of Islamic law.

The fiqh al-aqalliyyat is based on two conceptual premises. The first is the territorial principle that ‘Islam is a global religion’ (alammiyyat al-Islam), which holds that Islam rightfully belongs in Europe, and which is subsequently used by jurists to justify the permanent settlement of Muslims in non-Muslim lands. The second principle is that of “the objectives of Islamic law” (maqasid al-sharia), which allows the interpretation of sharia to serve the well-being and prosperity of Muslim communities within Europe and the interests of Islam and the Muslim Nation in general.54

The legal methodology of the fiqh al-aqalliyyat remains within the broader framework of classical jurisprudence, which relies on the Quran, Sunna, qiyas (analogy) and ijma (consensus). Yet the ECFR additionally encourages the use of juristic devices that allow legal leniencies, so that Muslim communities in non-Muslim lands are able to develop and influence the societies in which they live and engage in dawa to non-Muslims. These devices are maslaha (public interest) and maslaha mursala (public interest not based on divine text), darura, taysir (making fiqh easy) and urf (custom). Fiqh al-aqalliyyat represents a reassessment and elevation of these devices of traditional Islamic jurisprudence for the purposes of propagating a new understanding of Islam that addresses the novel, and expressly modern circumstances of Muslims residing in non-Islamic lands.

In this and other respects, fiqh al-aqalliyat is clearly an outgrowth of the reformist-salafist teachings of Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905), Rashid Rida (d. 1935) and the Egyptian jurist Abd al-Wahhab Khallaf (d. 1956)--all thinkers who sought the tools of traditional jurisprudence to discover Islamic ways to meet the various challenges of modern life.55 For contemporary Islamic thinkers, the crucial question is not about the legitimacy of these devices; most, in fact, accept them as legitimate, and they have been used throughout Islamic history to various degrees.56 The crucial question for the present day is the extent to which these devices may be used in ijtihad, as well as how far each of these devices can prevail over the four traditional judicial sources, or whether they might be used to overrule legal decisions that are commonly regarded as binding for all Muslims.

Qaradawi employs these tools insofar as they serve the purpose of facilitating Islam’s settlement and spread in the West. One example of the application of the fiqh al-aqalliyyat for the purposes of European dawa is the decision by the ECFR that a female convert to Islam does not automatically have to divorce her non-Muslim husband, as classical Islamic law demands.57 This ruling seeks to serve the larger interest “not to frighten women who wish to embrace Islam.”58 This represents a case of maslaha (the public interest), because the goal of winning more female converts prevails over traditional law that prohibits a marriage between a Muslim woman and a non-Muslim man.59 Ahmad al-Rawi, former president of the Federation of Islamic Organisations in Europe (FIOE), also calls this decision an example of European custom (urf), and not universally applicable, because “the fatwa is possible only in the West, where the woman is respected, and this is crucial.” Alexandre Caeiro, scholar of European Islam, adds that the ruling is also faithful to the principle of taysir, or making law easy for Muslims in the West.60

This juristic reasoning clears the way for new methods of dawa and dialogue and for influencing the society from within. Using all forms of media for dawa purposes had already been encouraged by Banna,61 but Qaradawi additionally encourages Muslims to study and strive for important positions in media, the arts, and the human sciences and social sciences in order to influence European society from “above.” He calls this process an “Islamization” of these arts.62 In addition to Qaradawi’s call to Islamize the arts and sciences, he also attempts to Islamize the understandings of Western political concepts such as feminism, democracy and civil and human rights. For instance, in a fatwa on the status of women in Islam, he declares that Muslim women are not inferior to Muslim men, but he adds that this is based on the Islamic comprehension of equality before Allah, but not on the Western comprehension of gender equality.63

Over the long-range, Qaradawi believes these diverse intellectual and media-based activities will ultimately create a pro-Islamic environment within Europe that will counter what he describes (citing a widespread stereotype) the monopolization of these areas by Jews.64 Creating a pro-Islamic atmosphere in Europe is one of Qaradawi’s top priorities: “We should seek . . . to improve our image in the eyes of the West . . . an image of violence, fanaticism, bloody collision with others and neglect of freedoms and human rights, particularly the rights of minorities and women.”65 In this, Qaradawi’s ideas-based strategy aimed at creating a pro-Islamic environment within Europe that is supported by institutions resembles the strategy of the late Mawdudi, who also came to believe that the intra-personal approach of transforming a society through dawa and education will not bring the acquired results if not accompanied by a change “from above.”66

In many of his writings Qaradawi promotes what he calls the “fiqh of balances” (fiqh al-muwazanat) and the “fiqh of priorities” (fiqh awlawiyyat); both are aspects of and shape the fiqh al-aqalliyyat. The fiqh of balances explains the necessity in every act of jurisprudence to balance public interest (maslaha) against evils (mafsada); the fiqh of priorities is, according to Qaradawi, based on the former and explains, in a nutshell, that Muslims should concentrate on the most important duties first.

The application of the fiqh of balances allows Qaradawi to issue fatwas that permit Muslims to participate in European society to a greater degree than classical Islamic law permits--but only under the condition that this serves the interests of the Islamic Movement. Qaradawi explains that, for example, working in a non-Islamic bank is not forbidden if the work and the knowledge gained from it substantially benefit the movement.67 Under the same conditions he also declares that it is permissible for Muslims to publish in non-Islamic journals, to become involved in non-Islamic governmental and civic institutions, to engage in media of all kinds, and to form alliances with non-Islamic movements, parties and other groups. Taken as a whole, he calls this participation “the divine duty of the call (dawa),” because it makes “our word [of Islam] reach them [non-Muslims].”68

Qaradawi’s desire to improve the image of Islam, especially with regard to violence, women’s rights or democracy, remains considerably proscribed by his adherence to traditional frameworks, as well as to salafist revivalist ideology. For example, in a fatwa entitled “Freedom of expression from an Islamic perspective,”69 Qaradawi guarantees this freedom only on condition “that religion should not be toyed with;” freedom “to such extent that it commands Muslims to struggle and fight in (the) cause (of Islam).” In other words, freedom of expression is valid only within the framework of the sharia, and reinterpreted in the context of a duty to struggle for Islam. Here, Qaradawi follows the opinion of the Organisation of the Islamic Conference, which issued the “Cairo Declaration of Human Rights in Islam” in 1990. Article 22 subordinates freedom of expression to sharia law, and the duty of “enjoining right and forbidding wrong.” It states, “Everyone shall have the right to advocate what is right, and propagate what is good, and warn against what is wrong and evil according to the norms of Islamic Shariah.”70 Needless to say, Qaradawi’s conception of Islamic freedom remains deeply antithetical to liberal conceptions of freedom--a fact that suggests that his dawa will likely continue to be a source of cultural and political friction within the West.

The Invention of “Euro-Islam”

The concept of European dawa has been further refined by Tariq Ramadan, the well-known Swiss intellectual and activist. Born in Geneva, Switzerland in 1962, Ramadan is the maternal grandson of Hassan al-Banna. He has described himself as an adherent of reformist salafist ideology, and professes to follow the pan-Islamist ideology of Said al-Din al-Afghani (d. 1897) and Muhammad Abduh (d. 1905), the founders of Islamic modernism.71 Ramadan remains faithful to the classical methodology of interpreting Islamic scripture, and throughout his work, he attempts to find ways of reconciling Islam and modernity. He claims to reject literalist interpretations of the Quran, and calls for taking into consideration the historical circumstances of a specific revelation. At the same time, he also rejects the rational and critical hermeneutic approach to the Quran that is utilized by today’s liberal reformers; Ramadan argues that this approach plays too loosely with the core principles of Islam.72 In a 2003 radio interview, Ramadan made clear his adherence to the salafist teachings: “There is a rationalist Reformism and the Salafist school, in the sense that the Salafist tries to remain faithful to the basic principles. I belong to the latter; that is to say, there is a certain number of principles that are for me, fundamental, and that, as a Muslim, I refuse to betray.”73

The central focus of Ramadan’s work is the development of what he describes as a culturally unique “Euro-Islam.”74 To successfully conduct dawa in Europe, Ramadan promotes the “Europeanization of Islam,” which he defines (somewhat self-referentially) as “a new culture that fits in my new environment while respecting my religious values.”75 In some respects, Ramadan’s proposal represents a reversal of Qaradawi’s call to work for Europe’s “Islamization.” What is clear is that Ramadan is a native-born European, and his work as a whole contains a more positive image of European values and society than Qaradawi and the writings of Murad, who defined European society as “alien, secular and tyrannical.”76

Rather than seeing Europe as a land of war or of truce, Ramadan embraces the idea of Europe as dar al-dawa or--as he prefers to call it-- dar al-shahada. The theoretical foundation for his concept of Europe as a space for the relatively unfettered propagation of Islam was developed in the 1980s by the Lebanese Muslim Brotherhood activist Faisal Mawlawi in a book entitled al-Usus al-Sharia lil-Aalaqat Bayna al-Muslimin wa Ghayr al-Muslimin (The Sharia Foundations for the Relations Between Muslims and Non-Muslims).77 Based on the revivalist view that Islam is a universal religion, Mawlawi has declared that the whole of the world, with the exception of countries at war with Muslims, constitutes dar al-dawa, and is open to Islamic proselytization.78

In some respects, Mawlawi’s division resembles the tripartite world of dar al-Islam, dar al-harb and dar al-ahd, but he seeks to emphasize the missionary obligations of Muslims toward people that reside in dar al-ahd. Under present circumstances, Mawlawi has stated, Muslims are obliged to abide by the laws of Western states because they are considered to have entered non-Muslim lands on the basis of a contract (aman) between Muslim rulers and these lands.79 This classical principle of Islamic law, which is agreed upon by all four orthodox schools of Sunni jurisprudence, permits Muslims and non-Muslims to travel to and visit each other’s lands and enjoins them to respect local laws as long as the host states do not violate the contract.80 For these reasons, this principle is often used by Muslim jurists to justify peaceful residence in the Western societies. However, this traditional concept does not take into account the fact that many Muslims in the contemporary era are no longer simply visitors to non-Islamic lands, but native-born Europeans and holders of European citizenship, possessing the same rights and duties as any other citizen.

Mawlawi describes dawa as one part or aspect of jihad, which he defines in a comprehensive way as the overall struggle to expand Islam. From this comprehensive perspective, he argues that jihad may not be reduced to armed struggle simply (although he does claim this is permitted in certain contexts), and further argues that armed fighting should not be pursued if circumstances allow for the peaceful spread of Islam by dawa. Like Qaradawi, Mawlawi also refutes the opinion of more jihadists in the Qutbist tradition that the “verse of the sword” abrogated more peaceful verses in the Quran. He argues that one has to consider that the verses of the Quran concerning fighting versus dawa for spreading Islam were revealed in different periods. Today, he claims, the circumstances in most Western countries resemble those of the Meccan period--a time in which Islam was propagated solely through dawa--and therefore jihad is not necessary.

In this respect, Mawlawi’s concept of dar al-dawa provides the framework for a clearer juristic position on the question of military jihad than the explanation given by Qaradawi in his workplan for the Islamic Movement (Priorities of the Islamic Movement in the Coming Phase). However, Mawlawi’s theory also remains somewhat ambiguous regarding the question of violence, because he also states that the laws of the Meccan period were revealed when Muslims were in a position of weakness; as soon as they gained strength they were permitted and even commanded to engage in warfare in the way of Islam. He emphasizes on the one hand that periods of peace are more conducive to the spread of Islam than fighting, and that it is preferable to spread Islam by peaceful dawa, on the other hand he declares that fighting is permitted when the order for jihad is given, and even may become a duty if the ‘message of Islam’ cannot be spread other than by fighting against un-Islamic rulers.81

Following Mawlawi, Ramadan also argues that Muslims have to abide by European law as long as the state does not restrict dawa and does not force them to violate Islamic law.82 He further argues that when obedience to European law forces Muslims to act in a way that conflicts with Islamic law--as, for example, the French ban on the Islamic headscarf and other religious symbols in state schools--then Muslims should refrain from violent protests and choose other ways of resistance, such as democratic dialogue.83

Furthermore, Ramadan has embraced Mawlawi’s notions that Islam is a universal religion, and that Europe is properly understood as a land for Islamic dawa. At the same time, Ramadan is also wary of this language, as he worries that the very word dawa may “stress the missionary character of Islam” and thus, be off-putting to religious and post-religious Western audiences.84 In fact, he is anxious that aggressive or overt proselytization in Europe might trigger fear or a backlash against Muslims, and therefore present a major obstacle for successful dawa.85 For these reasons, Ramadan, like Murad before him, has sought to formulate a new language for dawa that is gentler and generally more amenable to European sensibilities. He describes dawa, above all, as “bearing witness” (shahada)86 and he strives to portray Europe as dar al-shahada. For instance, he teaches that duat, or people who perform dawa, should concentrate on passively bearing witness and avoid undue pressure on non-Muslims if they do not initially respond to call to Islam.87

For the time being, however, Ramadan’s primary focus is on dawa. In keeping with the perspective of salafist reformism, Ramadan claims that Islamic tradition should be distinguished from the unchangeable essence and principles of Islam. He follows the thought of Jamal-al-din al-Afghani and Muhammad Abduh, and distinguishes between ibadat (worship, religious matters) which is clearly prescribed in Islam, and mualamat (social matters), which can be adapted to new social realities. According to the juristic principle of al-ibaha al-asliyya, or original permissiveness, he claims that Islam can adopt from foreign cultures all elements that do not contradict its essential religious principles.

On this basis, Ramadan argues that a new, culturally and politically distinct “Euro-Islam” can be consciously shaped by European Muslims in much the same way that Islam has previously adapted itself to a variety of different cultures in the past.88 Euro-Islam includes, for Ramadan, integration with European society and the self-consciousness of being European. European society is no longer described as “alien and tyrannical,”89 as Murad understood it, or for that matter, the “Crusader” and “enemy,” as Qaradawi portrays it in his writings.90 Ramadan does not see Muslim identity and European identity as mutually exclusive. He claims that today Muslims are already Europeans and calls indigenous people “just older immigrants,” thus providing a way of introducing Islam to non-Muslims as something familiar, and not a foreign, alien element. He declares it possible and desirable to be “at the same time . . . totally Muslims and totally European.”91

Ramadan calls Muslims and non-Muslims “brothers in humanity”--a phrase that suggests a universal expansion of the Islamic motif of brotherhood to include non-Muslims. This recognition of the ‘brotherhood’ of non-Muslims requires, for Ramadan, that Muslims adopt an attitude of friendliness and patience when performing dawa to non-Muslims. It also makes it virtually impossible to declare somebody kafir. For Ramadan, as for Murad, to be a kafir means to be informed about Islam and then to deny it. To support his call for patience in dawa among non-Muslims, Ramadan points out that Muhammad preached Islam to a Jew, who only said the shahada (and thus converted to Islam) when he was about to die.92

In his apologetic writings for a non-Muslim audience, Ramadan attempts to demonstrate this reconciliation between Islamic and European values by developing a Europeanized version of Islamic concepts. This appears to be a modern interpretation of Surat al-Imran, verse 64, extending the meaning of “common between us and you” from the religious sphere to the realm of general values. He frequently cites, for example, the principle of “social justice” as one of these shared values between Europeans and Muslims, and argues for greater cooperation among them in pursuit of these goals.93 This constitutes an important element of his theory of dawa, which aims to mitigate western fears of Islam, attract new converts to the faith, and improve the image of Islam in Europe. Another example is his disapproval of the idea of an Islamic state. The problematic term “Islamic state” is not meant to be paraphrased. Instead, Ramadan declares publicly that “there is no Islamic state. To imitate what was done in Medina in the 7th Century is not only a dream, it’s a lie. You cannot do it now.”94

This declaration and others like it are celebrated by some of Ramadan’s Muslim and non-Muslim followers as a radical reform, similar to the division between church and state that emerged during the European enlightenment. But Ramadan’s rejection of an Islamic state does not mean that he supports a division between state and religion, or for that matter, the liberal conception of freedom of religion. He opposes the liberal-reformist stream of Islam, which calls for a strict separation between religion and state, as primarily a product of Western colonialist thinking.95 These statements may be understood as opposing a theocracy with all decision-making power in the hands of a religious elite, in favor of the shura concept of an “Islamic democracy.” This system grants the whole population a role in the decision-making process, restricted by the framework of sharia. This model also is favored by today’s Muslim Brotherhood. But many critics claim that with the sharia as a basis, there is no place for popular sovereignty and therefore the model does not properly deserve the title of “democracy.”

By contrast, Ramadan’s definition of the sharia seems more innovative. He sees sharia as “system of values, not a political system” or as a body of law. He further adds the sharia is “not a penal code that Muslims want to implement” but rather “a global concept of creation.”96 His call for a moratorium on literal, Quranically-prescribed hudud-penalties (such as stoning of married adulterers and apostates) provoked heavy protests in 2005 among more conservative Muslims scholars, and his opinion was fiercely criticized in several articles on Qaradawi’s website IslamOnline.97 While the latter scholars had previously argued, utilizing the fiqh al-aqalliyyat, for a temporal postponement of hudud penalties for Muslims in the West as a way of easing them into life into the West,98 Ramadan uses the principle of darura (necessity) to claim that these penalties are applied throughout the world in a way that contradicts basic Islamic principles, including justice and equality, so that their implementation also has to be rethought for Islamic countries.99 Ramadan does not question the Quranic principle behind the penalties, as do progressive or liberal Muslim thinkers. Yet in contrast to the fiqh al-aqalliyyat, which focuses exclusively on the circumstances of Muslim minorities, Ramadan seems to suggest (although he never explicitly claims that this is his intention) that his comparatively more liberal interpretation of Islam, developed in a European context, may have applications in the wider Islamic world.100 In this way we may understand Ramadan’s vision of Euro-Islam not just as a temporal solution for Muslim minorities in the West, but as a new, universal understanding of Islam that strives to be relevant for Muslims as well as non-Muslims worldwide.

Ramadan aims at improving the image of Islam by reaching out to new target groups such as activists in feminism, civil rights, freedom of religion, and democracy. Ramadan attempts to propagate an Islamized version of Western values through his writings on women’s rights and equality, frequent topics in his texts. Islamic feminism means, for him, equality in the eyes of Allah, not gender equality, and does not contradict the values of a patriarchal society. He declares the repression of women to be un-Islamic,101 launches an initiative against forced marriage in Europe,102 and advocates for the education and the participation of women in the Islamic movement, declaring, “You cannot establish an Islamic society only with half of the population.” Yet, in Ramadan’s view, the primary role of a woman remains that of a wife and mother, the hijab (headscarf) a religious obligation--though not enforceable-- and female work limited to what he defines as a woman’s natural capacities of solidarity, education and culture.

Ramadan believes that dawa requires female participation to be successful and also to effectively neutralize the misogynistic image of Islam. He sees women as the primary defenders of the “new” Muslim woman, who defines sharia rules as female liberation. He offers the promise, that when a woman says: “‘Listen to me, the headscarf I wear, it’s not forced on me by my father, it’s not forced on me by my husband, it’s a requirement of my faith, and an act of my heart. I ask all of you who look at me to consider me as a human being and not simply as a body; to see that I am made for God and not for your eyes . . . ’ Well, when a woman speaks that way, I promise you they will have an effect on great many women, for there are great many women in the West and elsewhere that suffer from having become objects.”103 This method of promoting Islam was seen in practice in a recent German dawa campaign which took up the 1970s-era abortion rights slogan “My body belongs to me” and transformed it into a call for the right to wear a hijab under the slogan “My head belongs to me!” This campaign effectively sought to re-frame the headscarf controversy not as a struggle of Islam against Western secularism, but as a struggle of a female minority against the norms of an oppressive majority.

Ramadan has been among the first Islamic thinkers to intentionally reach out to leftists and self-described anti-imperialists, anti-globalists and Third-Worldist groups. He presents Islam as a spiritual complement to these leftist ideologies and emphasizes similarities between them, claiming that his concept of “Islamic Socialism” combines “religious principles with anti-capitalist, anti-imperialist politics that go back to the time of the Russian Revolution.”104 So far, these ideologies have been mostly regarded as incompatible; a main component of the Bolshevist Revolution in 1918 was the division of state and Church, which was accompanied by the abolishment of religious education in schools. Yet, as in his writings about an Islamic state and sharia, Ramadan avoids discussing contradictions between the classical and the Islamic comprehensions of socialism. For example, the concept of Islamic socialism (al-ishtirakiyya al-islamiyya), which was exemplified in the programs of the Syrian Brotherhood during the late 1940s and 1950s, rejects non-Islamic socialism as a concept that places man over Allah.

While Ramadan tries to find common values between Islam and European political movements, at the same time he attempts to reinterpret the term jihad. In an apologetic attempt to improve the image of Islam against accusations that it is a religion of violence, he seeks to argue understanding of jihad as a liberation struggle against oppression. Yet even classical Islam defines military jihad as a struggle for liberation from non-Islamic rulers; a necessary means of ending oppression and preserving freedom of religion, albeit under Islamic rule.105 This idea is similarly expressed in the writings of militant proponents of jihad like Said Qutb, who claims that fighting is necessary for the liberation of mankind from rulers who hinder them from embracing Islam. Qutb declares that real justice and freedom of all religions can only exist in the social, economic and political system of an Islamic state under sharia law.106 But while militant salafists reduce jihad to warfare with the goal of establishing Islamist rule, Ramadan claims to adhere to a more genuine and comprehensive understanding of jihad, which holds that Islam’s expansion can also be achieved under certain circumstances through non-violent means such as dawa. Furthermore, Ramadan never explicitly claims that liberation from oppression has to ultimately end with creation of an Islamist order. The language he chooses deliberately allows for two readings, both Islamist and humanistic/universal. As he writes, “This jihad is a jihad for life in order to preserve for every human being the rights granted for him/her by the Creator,” which, according to classical understandings of Islam, includes only the Islamic version of human rights. He quotes Surat al-Hajj, verse 40, as proof that jihad struggles to defend the rights of every religion. He fails to mention, however, that this Sura is interpreted from a classical Islamic perspective to mean that the preservation of human rights, and the principle of coexistence, can only be achieved through properly Islamic rule.107


In the course of the last thirty years, Muslim thinkers in the reformist tradition of salafism have developed sophisticated theories for dawa within Europe and the West as a whole that differ considerably from traditional revivalist concepts. The earliest motivation for this development was the concern that Muslims who settled in Europe would be assimilated into European culture. Soon, however, this concern with preserving the Islamic identity of Muslims in the West gave way to even larger ambitions.

In the 1980s, pioneering dawa theorists such as Khuram Murad and others adapted the language and topics of dawa to a non-Muslim society. Terms like “Islamic state” were de-emphasized and new topics, such as the Islamic perspective on social and environmental justice, were introduced as a way of attracting a largely secular audience. Duat were advised to appeal to values like equality and justice rather than to promote forms of Islam, to avoid hostilities and the pejorative term kaffar, and to invite individuals to visit Muslim families and witness the benefits of an Islamic lifestyle.

Murad’s theory may be regarded as the first step towards a genuine and unique form of European dawa, because it was developed out of the interests of European Muslims, and is based on a careful and detailed analysis of the circumstances of Muslims and non-Muslims in Europe. Many of his ideas were integrated and refined in later theories. Yet Murad fails to support his theories with a new interpretation of Islamic law, and his dawa reveals inconsistencies between words and intentions. Murad rejected jihad, yet never explained how in Europe, where constitutions oblige every state to defend the democratic fundamental order, an Islamic state based on sharia law could be established without violence. He advocated Muslim settlement in Europe but failed to provide a clear definition of Europe’s status in terms of Islamic law.

In the 1990s Qaradawi introduced the fiqh al-aqalliyyat, a new and more lenient method of method for interpreting Islamic law designed specifically for facilitating Muslim settlement, dawa, and the establishment of Islam within the West. This fiqh still adheres to classical methodology, but facilitates dawa work by giving legal support to methods of dawa that traditional Islamic law rejects—under the condition that such methods contribute to the spread of Islam in Europe. Qaradawi does not provide a genuinely European perspective. His more lenient interpretation of Islamic law is promoted only as an exceptional temporal jurisprudence for Muslim minorities outside dar al-Islam. What he considers acceptable for Muslims in Europe is acceptable neither for Muslims in Islamic lands, nor for future Muslim communities in Europe, nor even for a potential Islamic state in Europe once the leniencies are no longer required. Most people who praise Qaradawi’s liberalism do not recognize that he defines Muslims in Europe not as European Muslims but as “expatriates” who live under special conditions of weakness and hardship.[108] The rules he developed for Europe should not, therefore, be understood as a liberalization of Islam in general, nor as an attempt to develop an independent European Islamic law with permanent validity.

While Qaradawi calls for an “Islamization of Europe,” Tariq Ramadan—aware of the negative impression of this wording—calls instead for an “Europeanization of Islam.” His definition of Europe as dar al-shahada stresses the importance of dawa, but defines dawa as gentler, more passive form of witnessing. He is anxious not to evoke the impression that Muslims came to Europe in order to convert natives to a foreign culture and religion, and his dawa theory does not call on Muslims to persuade people to convert to Islam. His understanding of dawa is more comprehensive than Murad’s or Qaradawi’s: it amounts to the propagation of a new form of “Euro-Islam,” which is defined by Ramadan as already being part of Europe, rather than being alien to it. His attempts to reconcile Islamic and European values in some cases essentially lead to an Islamization of European values, for instance when he tries to define the hijab as an expression of female liberation. In other cases he introduces new ideas, such as defining the sharia as a set of values rather than a code of law. In this respect, Ramadan offers one of the first attempts to develop an independent form of European Islam.

As we have seen, Islamic theories of dawa in the West have undergone a process of adaptation to the European environment, such that ‘Islam in Europe’ is developing towards a more genuine form of ‘European Islam.’ Of course, this has not been true of all streams of Islam and their respective forms of practical dawa, but it indicates a general tendency. What is clear is that “European dawa” is still very much a work in progress.

Keywords: Muslim Brotherhood, Dawa, European Islam, Yusuf al-Qaradawi, Tariq Ramadan, Khurram Murad.