A Sparrow Alighted, A Soul in Flight

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

It is now five years since my late father, (Al-Hajj Al-Haafidh) Syed Shahid Ali, passed away. (In this connection, interested readers might want to read the tribute I wrote to him on Friday 24 May 2013.)

Similarly to what I stated in a post commemorating my reflections last year entitled “The Lark’s Ascending and The Soul’s Ascension“, much has happened in the intervening period, some of it good and some of it not so good, but all of it as viewed from my limited human perspective.

In what follows, I want to reflect briefly on some of the apparent good that has taken place since the post from the previous year. Once again, I have been blessed by God/Allah with a number of opportunities to further develop and apply my (Islamic) decolonial thinking in various settings.

  1. I delivered a talk entitled “The (Un)bearable Whiteness of Informationalist Religion” at the OURS2018: Contemporary Religion in Historical Perspective: Publics and Performances conference which was held at The Open University from 19-21 February 2018, Kents Hill, Milton Keynes, UK. The abstract is here.
  2. I have been invited to be guest editor for a special issue of ReOrient: The Journal of Critical Muslim Studies dedicated to exploring “The Decolonial Question Concerning Technology.”
  3. I presented a paper entitled ‘White Crisis’ and/as ‘Existential Risk’: The Entangled Apocalypticism of Artificial Intelligence at the AI and Apocalypse conference organized by the Centre for the Critical Study of Apocalyptic and Millenarian Movements (CenSAMM) which took place in 5-6 April 2018 at the Panacea Gardens in Bedford, UK. I have subsequently been invited to submit this paper for publication in a special issue of Zygon: Journal of Religion and Science, the oldest and pre-eminent journal in this field.
  4. I was invited to become the convenor of the newly formed Critical Information Studies (CIS) research group based in the School of Computing and Communications at The Open University, UK in April 2018.
  5. I have a chapter entitled “Heidegger and the Islamicate: Transversals and Reversals” in the forthcoming book Heidegger in the Islamicate World edited by Kata Moser and Urs Goesken and published by Rowman & Littlefield.
  6. I have a chapter entitled “Prolegomenon to the Decolonization of Internet Governance” in the forthcoming book Internet Governance in the Global South edited by Daniel Oppermann and published by the University of São Paulo.
  7. I presented a paper in the session on ‘Critical and Political Issues’ at Philosophical Hermeneutics in the Islamicate Context, an International Conference held at Université catholique de Louvain in Belgium May 9–11 2018. The abstract is here.
  8. I presented a paper in the panel on ‘Colonising and Decolonising Data’ at Data Justice 2018, an international conference hosted by the Data Justice Lab at Cardiff University May 21-22 2018. The abstract is here.

Truly a huge barakah from The Most High.

Unfortunately, I have not yet had an opportunity to visit the grave of my father at the Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery this year due to work commitments but will visit soon, insha’Allah.

I should like to end this post with the following piece of music which I dscovered this past year and which made me think of my father when I recently listened to it (the composer himself passed away earlier this year):

Peace

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The Lark Ascending and The Soul’s Ascension

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

It is now four years since my late father, (Al-Hajj Al-Haafidh) Syed Shahid Ali, passed away. (In this connection, interested readers might want to read the tribute I wrote to him on Friday 24 May 2013.)

As I stated in a post commemorating my reflections last year entitled “Of Gardens of Peace, Manifold Graces and Seizing The Time“, much has happened in the intervening period, some of it good and some of it not so good, but all of it as viewed from my limited human perspective.

In what follows, I want to reflect briefly on some of the apparent good that has taken place since the post from the previous year. Once again, I have been blessed by God/Allah with a number of opportunities to further develop and apply my (Islamic) decolonial thinking in various settings.

  1. I was invited to become a moderator of the Decolonial Islamic Studies Facebook group which was established in Summer 2016 and which now has 3500+ members.
  2. I gave an invited talk entitled “An Introduction to Islamic Decoloniality” at the Decolonise Not Diversify Festival in Birmingham on 8 October 2016.
  3. I presented a paper entitled “Heidegger and the Islamicate: Transversals and Reversals” at the Heidegger in the Islamicate World international conference which took place at the University of Bern in Switzerland on 2-4 November 2016. A revised version of this paper is to be included as a contribution for a forthcoming book in the New Heidegger Series.
  4. I gave an invited lecture entitled “Islam and Decoloniality” as part of the Islam and Liberation Theology Series at Oxford University on 29 November 2016.
  5. I gave an invited lecture entitled “The Decolonial Question Concerning Computing” at the Can Science Be Decolonised? KCL WiSTEM Conference in London on 18-19 March 2017.
  6. I gave an invited presentation entitled “Decolonising Computing” at the 6th eSTEeM Annual Conference: STEM Futures – Supporting Students to Succeed, Towards a Framework for Inclusive STEM Education at The Open University, Milton Keynes, 25‐26 April 2017.
  7. I have had an extended abstract entitled “Decolonizing Information Narratives: Entangled Apocalyptics, Algorithmic Racism and the Myths of History” accepted for presentation at DTMD 2017 – the 6th International Difference That Makes a Difference Conference, part of the IS4SI-2017 Summit: Digitalisation for a Sustainable Society at Gothenburg, Sweden on 12 – 16 June 2017.
  8. I have had an extended abstract entitled “Transhumanism and/as Whiteness” accepted for presentation at the Transhumanism- The Proper Guide to a Posthuman Condition or a Dangerous Idea? Workshop, part of the IS4SI-2017 Summit: Digitalisation for a Sustainable Society at Gothenburg, Sweden on 12 – 16 June 2017.

Truly a huge barakah from The Most High.

Unfortunately, I have not yet had an opportunity to visit the grave of my father at the Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery this year since my mother has recently been somewhat unwell, but we will visit there soon, after Ramadhan and Eid-ul-Fit, insha’Allah.

I should like to end this post with the following piece of music which continues to move me and which made me think of my father when I recently listened to it:

Peace

VIDEO: Understanding Agamben’s Homo Sacer in Less Than Ten Minutes

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

Interested viewers are invited to check out the following short video explaining the concept of Homo Sacer (Latin for ‘the sacred man’, ‘the accursed man’) in the thought of white Italian philosopher Georgio Agamben.

According to the entry in Wikipedia, originally, Homo Sacer referred to a figure of Roman law denoting a person who is banned from political society (the polis) and who may be killed by anybody, but not sacrificed in a religious ritual. As the entry goes on to state:

The meaning of the term sacer in Ancient Roman religion is not fully congruent with the meaning it took after Christianization, and which was adopted into English as sacred. In early Roman religion sacer, much like the Hebrew קָדוֹש qadoš, denotes anything “set apart” from common society and encompasses both the sense of “hallowed” and that of “cursed”. This concept of the sacred is more in line with the Islamic notion of haram.

I find the ‘opposing’ connotations of ‘sacred’ and ‘cursed’ associated with the idea of homo sacer extremely interesting; however, it is not at all clear to me that the Islamic notion of haram has this oppositional sense.

Against my position, it might be argued that, for example, certain foodstuffs are designated haram in the sense of ‘off limits’ or ‘forbidden’ in The Qur’an (5:3, 6:145, 16:115), while al-masjid-ul-haram (which is mentioned 15 times in The Qur’an) refers to the ‘sacred mosque’ in Makkah. However, I think the matter is readily resolved if the adjectival term al-haram is rendered as ‘inviolable’ rather than ‘sacred’, and the focus shifts from the ‘committed’ [to Islam] (al-mu’minoon) to the ‘rejectors’ [of Islam (al-kaafiroon) and the ‘associators’ [with God/Allah] (al-mushrikoon); masjid-ul-haram is ‘off limits’ to the rejectors / associators. I therefore want to suggest that the meaning of haram is indeed that of ‘off limits’ or ‘forbidden’ (but not ‘cursed’) in all instances. I also want to contrast the Arab qāf dāl sīn (ق د س) to the Hebrew w קָדוֹש qadoš, drawing attention to the fact that within The Qur’an, in all 10 instances, the former invariably has a singular meaning of ‘holy’ or ‘sanctified’.

However, what particularly interests me about the notion of Homo Sacer pertains to the issue of sovereignty and ‘the right to kill without impunity’. In this connection, I am reminded of the following sign / indicator (ayat) in The Qur’an:

(2:258) Have you not considered the one who argued with Abraham about his Lord [merely] because God/Allah had given him kingship? When Abraham said, “My Lord is the one who gives life and causes death,” he said, “I give life and cause death.” Abraham said, “Indeed, God/Allah brings up the sun from the east, so bring it up from the west.” So the disbeliever was overwhelmed [by astonishment], and God/Allah does not guide the wrongdoing people.

What interests me here is the link between sovereignty / kingship / dominion (mulukiyyah), the proximate and existential power over life (hayat) and death (mawt), and the shift from the terrestrial / micrcosmic to the extra-terrestrial / macrocosmic in order to effect a rhetorical manoeuvre.

Peace

Of Gardens of Peace, Manifold Graces and Seizing The Time

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

Gardens of Peace Tree

It is now three years since my late father, (Al-Hajj Al-Haafidh) Syed Shahid Ali, passed away. (Interested readers might want to read the tribute I wrote to him on Friday 24 May 2013.)

Much has happened in the intervening period, some of it good and some of it not so good, but all of it as viewed from my limited human perspective.

Last year, I reflected upon some of the apparent good in a post entitled ‘REFLECTION: Of Death, Time and Certainty‘, where I referred, among other things, to the development and presentation of a short course in Granada, Spain in April 2014 entitled “Towards an Islamic Decoloniality“.

Since I wrote that post, I have been blessed by God/Allah with a number of opportunities to further develop and apply my (Islamic) decolonial thinking in various settings. Continue reading

AUDIO: This is Your Life

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

Check out “This is Your Life” by non-white (attempted) Muslim rapper, Osama in London:

http://www.blog.co.uk/srv/media/dewplayer.swf?son=http://data8.blog.de/media/792/7055792_79079947c2_a.mp3

Here are the lyrics:

(CHORUS)

This is your life, your death, your life
This is your life, your death

(VERSE 1)

Giving them bread and circuses
Circuses and bread
Keeping them entertained
Jolly fat and well-fed (no need for)
Shotgun to the head they’ll
Happily comply
Sign on the dotted line
Until the day that they die
But they are already dead cause they
Have not responded
To the Call of Allah and His Messenger, Muhammad
Too busy shop shopping for the designer label
The Brand of “The Man” on the hand (that’s the plan)

(VERSE 2)

Read in The Noble Qur’an
Allah Most High is The Teacher
I hope that it reach you
Open your heart let it speak (to) you
Consuming like cattle
That’s the trait of kuffaar
Who are preparing themselves for The Fire, An-Naar
Confused and dazed
Trapped in the maze
Sodoku may well be the latest craze
But it certainly won’t save
You from yourselves and the
Whispering whisperer (who whispers in the heart of men)

(VERSE 3)

Call me a majnoon, madman or call me a nutter
I’d rather be insane in the membrane than
Living in the gutter
In the country of the blind, they say the one-eyed man is King
But I’d rather be a pauper than caught up in “the bling”
No time for pimp-player stepper strutter
What melts in your mouth is not butter (but the placebo)
Effect that helps to keep your mouth shut shutter
And as it takes its course you start to stutter
Mumble and mutter

Interested listeners are also invited to check out the following other tracks by this rapper:

Empire
Looking for Ayesha (not Mrs White Supremacy)
Be Like Muhammad (not Mr White Supremacy)

Peace

COMMENT: The Fear of Struggle

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

One of the principal fears that many, if not most, non-white people / Victims of Racism (White Supremacy) share is the fear of extreme harm, i.e. direct and / or indirect violence, being done to them by Racists (White Supremacists) if they attempt to RWSWJ (Replace White Supremacy With Justice).

This fear is so intense that many VoRs choose to become “House Slaves”, i.e. complicit with the system of Racism (White Supremacy) and silent about its injustices. While understandable from a purely materialistic, ‘survivalist’ and “this-worldly” (or dunyaawi) perspective, from an Islamic Counter-Racist perspective, such a stance is tantamount to cowardice and contrary to the mandate of God / Allah who states the following in The Qur’an [=Final Proclamation of God/Allah to Humanity]:

(16:90) Indeed, God/Allah orders / commands / mandates (yamuru) equalisation (al-‘adl) and promotion of the good / beautiful (al-ihsaan) and giving to those close by, and forbids immorality and bad conduct and oppression. He admonishes you that perhaps you will be reminded.

Consider the example of Musa / Moses (peace be upon him) who expressed fear when commanded by God / Allah to go to Pharaoh, the oppressor, and persuade the latter to abandon his oppression in favour of a path of self-purification and spiritual growth (tazkiyyah). God / Allah informed Musa / Moses that He was with him (and his brother Haroon / Aaron) and that they should do as commanded, which they did. (The narrative is presented in fragments at various places in The Qur’an including (20:42-48), (79:15-19) and elsewhere.) In short, they implemented prophetic practice which is to “Speak a Word of Truth to a Tyrant Ruler”. (Of course, there is an appropriate etiquette / adab in carrying out this task: It must be done with a view to promoting goodness and beauty (2:83), speaking unambiguously using words direct and to the point (4:5)(33:70), words which are just and equitable (6:153), and in a manner that invites the listener to hear what is being said to him/her (20:44)(31:19).) Importantly, according to Sherman Jackson, author of Islam and The Blackamerican: Looking Toward the Third Resurrection (2005),

only where the causes of suffering are confronted, that is, with perseverance and reliance on God, are imaan [i.e. security with God] and spirituality enhanced. To acquiesce in the face of unearned suffering is both to evince a paucity of faith in God and to forfeit the opportunity to increase it. (p.187)

But what if carrying out the aforementioned task, i.e. confronting the tyrant, results in death? What about the example of those who have been slain at the hands of Racists (White Supremacists) in the contemporary era such as the late Malcolm X (al-Hajj Malik al-Shabazz) and others?

In this connection, I invite readers to reflect on the following signs / indicators (ayaat) in The Qur’an:

(3:169-170) And never think of those who have been killed in the cause of God / Allah as dead. Rather, they are alive with their Lord, receiving provision, rejoicing in what God / Allah has bestowed upon them of His bounty, and they receive good tidings about those [to be martyred] after them who have not yet joined them – that there will be no fear concerning them, nor will they grieve.

(4:95) Not equal are those of the believers who sit (at home), except those who are disabled [by injury or are blind or lame, etc.], and those who strive hard and fight in the cause of God / Allah with their wealth and their lives. God / Allah has preferred in grades those who strive hard and fight with their wealth and their lives above those who sit (at home). Unto each, God / Allah has promised good, but God / Allah has preferred those who strive hard and fight, above those who sit (at home) by a huge reward.

In closing, I should like to invite interested listeners to listen to the following spoken word poetry by The Last Poets:

 

AUDIO: The World is Perishing

Peace Be Unto Those Who Follow Right Guidance.

Gardens of Peace Cemetery

Gardens of Peace Muslim Cemetery, Ilford, England (UK)

The recent passing of my father reminded me of the following track by non-white rapper, Masjoon, and I thought I might share it with interested listeners:

http://www.blog.co.uk/srv/media/dewplayer.swf?son=http://data8.blog.de/media/563/7052563_256da2d620_a.mp3
Masjoon – The World is Perishing

Here are the lyrics:

(Opening)

The World is Perishing
Technology will Not Save Us

(Chant – The Last Poets)

“First Day, Last Night
Beginning of The End
Of the Twilight Life”

(Chorus)

Innamaa ad-dunya fanaa
“Truly, The World is Perishing”
And truly, you can do nothing

(Verse)

Contemplate
Reflect on Your State
Existential Condition
Fruits of Your Labour Turned Sour
You Placed The Power
In The Babylon Tower
Now The Tower is Falling
Angel of Death come Calling
Soul out The Body is Crawling
Time to Face The Most High
For Today is The Day That You Die

Peace