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Tariq Ramadan’s View on Pluralism


Pluralism is a theory applied in different ways in philosophy to show that there is more than one substance in the universe. It is the opposite of dualism that holds the idea that there are only two substances within the universe. Monism, on the other hand, supports the idea that there is only one substance or principle in the universe. In a political view, pluralism can be argued as an acceptance of a multiplicity of principles by various groups having competing interests. In the book “The Guest For Meaning Developing a Philosophy of Pluralism”. Tariq demonstrates his understanding of pluralism providing arguments on the necessity to accept a multiplicity of principles while trying to understand the reality of life (Ramadan 2). He also illustrates his beliefs as a Muslim and what he wanted to achieve as an Islamic public figure. Through his work, his message was aiming at achieving radical reforms among the western countries and the minority Muslim community living there.

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He also illustrates his life and the kind of problems his fellow Muslim community was undergoing and gave out his view on how their issues were to be solved. He received a lot of criticism from anti-religion campaigners and other leaders from the Arabic countries who accused him of trying to build an Islamic state. The criticism resulted from his criticism of the Arabic regimes and their oppression of the freedom of speech.

Pluralism according to Ramadan

Ramadan articulates for pluralism through an exploration of religious, spiritual, cultural, secular traditions to explain the need and impact of pluralism to humanity. This is expected to work better if the participants can move beyond their conflict of perception and place aside their differences. Ramadan claims that “the conflict of perception arises from people ascriptions to different and diversified religious beliefs, traditions, cultures, norms and values” (32). He argues that the journey would lead to the understanding of humanity.

In his point of view, Ramadan explains that there is a need to acknowledge the truth of intellectual modesty and humanity since our perception is only a partial reflection of the truth. He states that there is no need to assume that we know everything. He argues that common and universal humanity can be achieved through the idea of plurality. In his book, he promotes pluralism as the key solution to the conflict of perception. In the journey to explore the truth, Ramadan argues that the truth leads to the same destination in spite of different religions and traditions. He believes that different schools of thought and religion provide shared truths that are recognized universally as to have a common good discourse on humanity. Pluralism facilitates accommodation of similar thoughts having different meanings and their relevancy in a society. Therefore, it is important to consider other people’s truths as the truthful reality if at all we want to consider truths to be meaningful. Regardless of his religion, Ramadan insists that freedom, equality, and humanity belong to all philosophies and religious traditions thus showing his effort in embracing pluralism (Ramadan 116).

Ramadan also continues to support his argument on equality by giving an example of the seven figures that are common to all traditions. All the religions have seven figures symbolizing their faith. It includes the Qur’an opening seven verses, Hinduism seven chakras and the seven vessels of the Christianity.

He calls all humanity to unite together and love each other under these underlying seven figures. Therefore, Ramadan emphasizes the need of humanity to embrace pluralism regardless of their religious or cultural backgrounds (Ramadan 124). It is notable that Ramadan’s fourteen chapters have its origins from the underlying seven figures.

He uses Ocean and Windows to symbolize the introduction and conclusion of his book respectively. The Ocean symbolizes the wider’ perception of the world while ‘windows’ symbolizes the narrow perception or thinking. He further explains how most people have restricted themselves from the view of reality by simply viewing reality using their own window without considering other different perspectives of understanding the world (Ramadan 145). Ramadan provides that to get a better perspective and understanding of the world; it is necessary to view the world through critical thinking without limiting the reasoning capacity.

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The idea here is to go on a journey that will lead towards discovering the plurality of man and the world outside the entrenched philosophical or religious beliefs. He further asserts that a lack of confidence among humanity is attributed to distrust, fear, and doubt thus manipulating human hearts and brains.

He claims that fear creates negative perceptions of others and the world around us. Ramadan also believes that healing the conflict of perception among various cultures goes hand in hand with the philosophy of pluralism (Ramadan 158). He also states that analyzing and understanding objects or persons by immersion facilitates improved interactions and socialization among objects or human beings with different religions, philosophies, and traditions. Ramadan at some point is referred to as “Islamic Martin Luther” because of his courageousness. His efforts have contributed much towards solving the differences that exist between secular democracy and the Islamic orthodoxy.

Tolerance is identified as the best solution to manage multicultural society however Ramadan argues that it is not enough since one party suffers for the other party thus hindering the development of good interpersonal relationships (Ramadan 178). He insisted that respect is what is needed based on the relationship of equality. Faith is one of the elements in which Ramadan based his arguments as it’s an essential aspect of human life common to all faiths. The society should also respect all religions and traditional cultures since all faiths are similar. Unlike reason that provides a shallow perspective on how the world is, faith convinces humanity to believe in their point of view as it provides a framework that gives life meaning to every human. Ramadan argues that all religious traditions are universal since they all lead to the human heart. Ramadan aims to come up with the truth that mere reasoning cannot change its legitimacy (Ramadan 211).


In conclusion, Ramadan’s understanding of pluralism seeks to promote acceptance of multiple identities among various religions, cultures, and traditions. He also provides that Pluralism enables human beings not to be always dictated to follow certain irrational and shallow thinking perspectives about world realities. He supports the importance of valuing other people’s thoughts and perceptions that he provides to be a core value of pluralism. Therefore, Ramadan understands pluralism as to provide a framework for universal understanding, good interactions, and unity among humanity.

Works Cited

Ramadan, Tariq. The quest for meaning: developing a philosophy of pluralism. London, UK: Penguin, 2010. Print.

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