21st Century Renowned and Influential Thinker Tariq Ramadan Addresses the Self, the Other, and Perceptions.


Ifrane, September 29, 2011 – over 700 Moroccan and foreign students, staff, and faculty filled Al Akhawayn University’s Grand Auditorium to attend Tariq Ramadan’s conference on “The Illusion of the Clash of Cultures”, in what could be the semester’s most attended event.

Organized by the student-run Islamic Art and Culture Club*, the timeliness of the event could not be more apparent. As the world is writing its history on political negotiations, cultural clusters, and more globalized approaches to its issues, Tariq Ramadan’s conference opened the floor to scholarly discussion, not on the clash of civilizations, but rather on the clash of perceptions, which very often bypass universal human values and play havoc with the world peace all human beings long for.

“The way we look at things is as important as the way these things are, because we translate them into realities and into knowledge”, said Ramadan. He went on to insist that the West and the Muslim nations have to bridge the gap between them and open up dialogue on their common values and hopes, while avoiding to disseminate ignorance, which nurtures the clash of civilizations and that of perceptions.

Following its tradition of creating a crossroads for ideas and debates on contemporary issues, Al Akhawayn University welcomed Tariq Ramadan, one of the top 100 most influential people in the 21st century (Time Magazine 2004), who analyzed and framed concepts such as faith, identity, diversity, tradition, tolerance, respect, equality, freedom, and knowledge; concepts which he related to the necessity of knowing oneself and knowing the other for the achievement of peace and balance in the world.

“One humanity. A diversity of cultures”, declared Ramadan before he stressed on the importance of the idiosyncrasy of every culture and every individual. According to Ramadan, people who know who they are and have a coherent personality can be more successful than those who have power and money. “One’s own culture, language, history, and identity are what make a rich individual who can contribute to the overall richness of world civilizations”, said he.

Ramadan’s lecture came to inspire dialogue and openness to the others; and to give hope of a better tomorrow led by a young generation who “not only knows its rights, but understands its responsibilities towards its community and the world.”

The debate was not only inspiring for Al Akhawayn audience, but also provided them with a new approach to understanding the real clash of cultures and to developing critical thinking and constructive self-criticism based on knowledge.

“The topic of the talk is central to Al Akhawayn University’s mission”, said Al Akhawayn President Driss Ouaouicha. “It is a commitment to communicate on diversity and co-existence in a multi-cultural environment such as Al Akhawayn Univesity”.

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* The Islamic Art and Culture is a student-run club that aims at the celebration of Islamic architecture, poetry, music, art, and values. The club organizes several on-campus events; as well as visits to museums and historic sites, and awareness campaigns in the Ifrane region.