Public Talk by Prof. Esack

Islamic Liberation Theology as Critique:
Critical Islamic Political Thought in the Age of Systemic Racism and Exclusion

Public Talk by Farid Esack, Professor in the Study of Islam at the University of Johannesburg, South Africa

When: Saturday November 28, 2020, 1:00-2:30 PM (MST)
Where: Online Zoom Webinar. For registration please CLICK HERE.

Islamic liberation theology is a critical expansion of both Islamic political thought and liberation theology in terms of the preferential option of the oppressed. In this presentation, I will speak about the history and principles of Islamic liberation theology by focusing on themes such as the preferential option for the oppressed, praxis over doxy, pluralism, post-essentialism,  and the mediation of social analysis and theology. One of the key projects of social analysis in contemporary Islamic liberation theology is the reconceptualization of race as the power to critique the world. A decolonial approach to the power of race is central to the social analysis of contemporary Islamic liberation theology. I will argue that that the approach to racism has shifted between the postcolonial theory and decolonial theory which in turn is based on a shift towards coloniality as a world system connected to the history of modern racism as an all-encompassing power. The power of racism is not only connected to the western and northern world. It is also internalized and entrenched in the social and political life of the global south. A decolonial critique proposed by Islamic liberation theology takes this challenge seriously by offering a critique of racism both within and outside Islam.

Farid Esack is a Professor in the Study of Islam in the Department of Religious Studies at the University of Johannesburg – South Africa and a South African Muslim liberation theologian. He studied in Pakistan, the UK, and Germany and is the author of Qur’an, Liberation, and PluralismOn Being a MuslimAn Introduction to the Qur’an, and with Sarah Chiddy, the co-editor of Islam, HIV & AIDS –Between Scorn Pity & Justice (all by Oxford: Oneworld) He has published on Islam, Gender, Liberation Theology, Interfaith Relations, and Qur’anic Hermeneutics and currently works on the Qur’an and socio-economic justice and in developing a niche at UJ for the Study of Islam, Decolonization and Liberation. Esack served as a Commissioner for Gender Equality in South African and has taught at the Universities of Western Cape, and Hamburg, the College of William & Mary and Union Theological Seminary (NY), and at Xavier University in Cincinnati. Before his appointment at the University of Johannesburg, he served as the Prince Al-Waleed Bin Talal Professor of Contemporary Islam at Harvard University.