I am honoured to be teaching this summer course in Morocco with my mentor and friend, Professor Ali Zaidi.
It is a full-credit course for Laurier University undergraduates , offered jointly by the Global Studies Department and the Department of Religion and Culture.
Spring 2019, May 20-24 at Laurier
June 1-18 in Morocco
Stay in the capital, Rabat
Take excursions to Casablanca, Tangiers, Fez, Meknes, and UNESCO sites
Experience Ramadan and Eid during 5-day homestay
Witness the effects of coloniality, capitalism and the refugee-crisis
I am presenting a paper today at the 2017 Annual Meeting of the CSSR, part of the broader Congress of the Federation for the Humanities and Social Science, held this year at Ryerson University in Toronto.
Title of presentation:
Decolonizing Canadian Diversity: A View from the Internal Muslim Periphery
This paper examines human diversity in Canada from a decolonial Muslim perspective. First, it
examines the thought of Ramón Grosfoguel (UC Berkeley, Ethnic Studies). He contends that
while post-colonialism represents a Eurocentric critique of Eurocentrism, decolonialism adopts
peripheral epistemologies to critique the modern/colonial world-system. Grosfoguel challenges
Muslim academics like the author of this paper to think critically from an Islamic perspective
rather than simply to think about Islam. Second, this paper applies Grosfoguel’s framework to
Canadian Muslims, situating them as one of many peripheral minorities living in the core of the
world-system. Eurocentric depictions divide Muslims into anti-modern fundamentalists and
progressive modernists. Unfortunately, many Muslims adopt these categories. Instead, this paper
argues that Canadian Muslims must reject such binaries and draw upon the dynamic, adaptable,
and pluralistic dimensions of their tradition to help build a decolonial future, in solidarity with
other peripheral communities, from far and wide.
If we examine North American Islam from a social science and humanities angle, using the usual Eurocentric intellectual canon, we will end up asking very different questions than if we draw upon a canon of Muslim authors. In the first case we will enter a mandatory conversation with authors like Marx, Weber, Durkheim, Foucault, Derrida, Gramsci, Hodgson, Schimmel, Lewis, and Esposito. In the second case, we might choose from a list of names like ʿAbd al-Qâdir al-Jazâʾirî, `Abd al-Wāḥid Yaḥyā (René Guénon), Seyyed Hossein Nasr, el-Hajj Malik el-Shabazz (Malcolm X), Abdal Hakim Murad (Timothy Winter), Aisha Al Adawiyya, Hamza Yusuf, Zaid Shakir, Anse Tamara Grey, and Hatem Bazian. Authors from both lists offer penetrating insight and rich conceptual tools for scholars of North American Islam. But they address similar issues in very different ways because they have very different concerns.
This is the name of the paper I will present insha Allah at the Institute of Islamic Studies Student Council Graduate Student Symposium at McGill University in good old Montreal. The symposium lasts from April 28 to 29. I am scheduled to present at 11:15 on Friday 29. Here is the link for the symposium: https://sites.google.com/site/miisscsymposium/2016-symposium/preliminary-program
Here is the abstract for my paper:
This paper explores the intersection between decolonialism and Islam in contemporary scholarship. It is inspired by the work of ethnic studies professor Ramón Grosfoguel (UC Berkeley). The first section introduces decolonialism as a type of world-systems analysis produced from peripheral epistemologies. Grosfoguel argues that this is different from postmodernism and postcolonialism, which remain epistemically Eurocentric critiques of Eurocentric modernity. For scholars of Islam, decolonialism entails responding to the problems facing humankind today as Muslims or with Muslims, rather than simply producing scholarship about Muslims. It entails considering Islam an epistemic perspective from which to actively generate critical thought, rather than a passive object of study. Moreover, decolonialism engages in inter-epistemic ‘pluriversal’ communication, and seeks to avoid Eurocentric universalism, Islamic takfiri discourse, and other forms of exclusivism. The second section examines Grosfoguel’s contention that epistemic Islamophobia is a constitutive element of the “modern/colonial capitalist/patriarchal western-centric/Christian-centric world-system.” He argues that modern social sciences and globalized structures of knowledge are deeply rooted in the four genocides/epistemicides of the long sixteenth century (against Jews and Muslims in Al-Andalus, indigenous peoples in the Americas, African victims of the transatlantic slave trade, and European women accused of sorcery). The third section discusses the contributions to decolonial Muslim thought by three intellectuals from Berkeley, California. After further consideration of Grosfoguel’s work, Hatem Bazian is introduced. He is a co-founder of Zaytuna College, the first accredited Muslim liberal arts college in the United States, where he works as a professor of Islamic law and theology. Furthermore, he lectures on Islam in America and Islamophobia at UC Berkeley. Dustin Craun, the third figure to be discussed, is an anti-racist educator, communications consultant, editor, and writer. He is also the founder and CEO of Ummah Wide, a San-Francisco based digital media and film production start-up focused on Muslim issues.
I just attended a wonderful talk at Wilfrid Laurier University by Oren Lyons, "Faithkeeper" for the Onandaga Nation and UN activist for Indigenous Peoples. His words and presence, as well as those of other beautiful people at the conference, inspired me to formulate some thoughts on decolonialism that had been floating around my mind for a while. Here is this formulation:
Seen from the subaltern side of the modern/colonial divide, modern civilization distinguishes itself as uniquely destructive. Colonized and neo-colonized bodies and epistemologies are being destroyed, languages are disappearing at an alarming rate, nuclear weapons continue to threaten the existence of humankind, the ice is melting (as our speaker kept reminding us)...the list of victims is endless. From below the colonial divide, modern Western-centric civilization appears as the civilization of unsurpassed death and destruction. Delinking involves realizing that this system can't be defeated on its own terms. No amount of violence from below can hope to counter the violence coming from above the colonial divide. Only life, love, and wisdom can defeat death, hatred, and arrogant scientism. We are beyond arguments of moral equivalence. It is a matter of survival.
C'est le titre d'une présentation que je donnerai dans le cadre d'un atelier au CEETUM (Centre d’études ethniques des universités montréalaises) à Montréal.
I will be presenting a paper at the graduate symposium of the CEETUM (Centre d’études ethniques des universités montréalaises) in Montreal.
Voici les coordonnées :
Here is the information for the workshop:
Salle 530-1-1 Atelier 12 (1re partie) Islam, islamophobie et migrants musulmans
18 mars, de 9 h à 11 h (partie 2 de 11 h 15 à 13 h)
The dominant perception of religion in contemporary Western societies like Canada is that its institutions and discourses are particularly prone to dangerous, excessive, and fanatic behaviour, in comparison to other institutions and discourses like medicine, journalism, sports, arts, and law, to name but a few.
Hurting oneself, sacrificing one’s life or even risking to do so for religious reasons is generally considered excessive and suspect behaviour. It often triggers fears dangerous extremism in mainstream society. However, consider the following list of situations in which similar behaviour for non-religious purposes is actually considered praiseworthy in dominant Western discourse:
An interesting academic discussion related to these questions is:
Beaman, Lori G. Defining Harm: Religious Freedom and the Limits of the Law. Vancouver: University of British Columbia Press, 2008.
Transdisciplinary scholar of Islam and Sufism.