News from Arabia
It has been a while since I have posted here because I have been very busy settling in with my family to our new life in the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia. It has been a pleasure to work hard at my new job as Assistant Professor of Humanities and Social Sciences, at Prince Mohamad Bin Fahd University, in the city of Khobar, near Dammam and even Bahrain. Hopefully, I will be more active on this webpage as time goes on and I get used to this new context. Naturally, for a Muslim it is an immense privilege to be in the land of Makkah and Madinah. It is with immense joy that I have visited these holy places and I hope some of this inspiration will express itself through my work as a scholar. As you can see from the attached poster, I have not forgotten my love of the Western Islamic world, even though I am now east of Makkah. Sayyida al-Hurra was an important Moroccan figure for spiritual, political, and cultural reason. We have much to learn from her and others like her.
Here is another of my Islamic poems chanted and recorded live and lo-fi last weekend:
Islamic Chant in English
This (We Praise and Glorify the One) is the unedited recording of the first time I performed this poem from a series of Islamic chants I have been working on. It was recorded on August 28th, 2022, at the wonderful zawiya of Sidi Nezar, in Mississauga. The performance still needs to be fine-tuned but it was a lot of fun and I hope you enjoy listening to it as much as we enjoyed singing it together for Allah's sake.
Fifty years learning to love hope and fear
Allah has kept me still wandering here
To witness the Real despite all the lies
To fall in love with the colourful skies
To fight like a lion and cry like a child
To walk across cities and into the wild
Fifty thousand times I told you beware
Watch your step there are traps everywhere
The devil’s teeth cut deep into the bone
But remember my child you are never alone
Allah is the Real and the night disappears
The sun still rises after fifty years
Well over fifty methods they have tried
To stop me from simply walking outside
Identity is the first lie they try
To keep you from even asking them why
You should never choose between wind and stream
Or hold on in the morning to a dream
Fifty ways to travel and to survive
Fifty ways to remember I’m alive
Fifty years of experience tasted
Not a second should ever be wasted
Allah is One but His ways are diverse
We cannot stay still in this universe
Fifty reasons to share from what I know
Countless stories to tell and scars to show
That the joy of water is found in thirst
And the last is present within the first
I have been around long enough to teach
That it’s better to be real than to preach
It is an honour to have my article, Morocco as a Hub of Globalised Traditional Islam, published alongside a selection of distinguished scholars in a special issue on Contemporary Muslim Thought and Identity. The wonderful Drs Meena Sharify-Funk and Rory Dickson are the guest editors for this special issue, published in Religions, an international, interdisciplinary, peer-reviewed, open access journal on religions and theology, published monthly online by MDPI.
Honoured to have co-written a chapter with my mentor Meena Sharify-Funk, on Sufism in Canada, in a book edited and written by so many esteemed friends and colleagues.
This is the book:
Producing Islam(s) in Canada: On Knowledge, Positionality, and Politics
Irregular Migrants in Morocco
I have just returned from four months in Morocco, where I was honoured to conduct fieldwork as part of a team collecting life stories of irregular migrants 'stranded' in Morocco and Mexico on there way to the core of the modern/colonial world-system. I was also able to deepen my knowledge of irregular migration by Morcoccans to Europe and the impact of modern/colonial border policies on people living in liminal spaces such as the southern shore of the Gibraltar Strait. In the West, irregular migrants are constantly framed by the arrogant Right as 'illegal aliens' who need to be kept away, and by the condesceding Left as 'poor babies' in need of care and pity. Listening to actual migrants tell their diverse and complex life stories gives a much more nuanced perspective.
It is somewhat depressing that one still only hopes that such efforts might 'humanize' people from the modern/colonial periphery in the eyes of those living in the core. But how many people are actually willing to listen?
No matter the broader impact, some of us are deeply touched by these stories and feel incredibly honoured to have developed friendships within this fascinating population living in the margins of the world-system. Many of the migrants I have met are true heroes who have confronted incredible obstacles simply in the hope of sending enough money back home for their mothers or siblings to have access to basic necessities. May Allah give them success!
Check out my most recent publication, an article in the Maydan:
I Am Teaching Global Studies!
It is an honour and pleasure to have been hired as a contract faculty member by the Department of Global Studies at Wilfrid Laurier University. One course I am especially delighted to teach is Ethical Encounters, a fourth-year seminar in which we are exploring ethical challenges related to globalization. Indeed, contemporary ecological systems and human cultures are threatened with extinction. The situation is so critical that the survival of life on earth as we know it is in question. My wonderfully diverse group of students and I are critically discussing theoretical works and case studies by scholars and activists, from diverse cultures and intellectual traditions, who are engaged in conversations about moral responsibility and global survival. Moreover, we are considering our individual positions in relation to human and non-human others in this global system, and how we can take practical steps to approach these relations more ethically. So far, I am having a blast!
It has been a busy few months as you can see from the following summary of my activities:
Transdisciplinary scholar of Islam and Sufism.