Decolonising North American Islam

On the 19th of October, MIHE was delighted to host Dr Shadaab Rahemtulla, Lecturer in Islam and Christian-Muslim Relations at the University of Edinburgh, for our inaugural Public Lecture for the academic year 2021/2022. The lecture, entitled Decolonising North American Islam: Qur’anic Exegesis in a Settler Colonial Context, explored issues of decoloniality, Quranic exegesis, and discussed how Muslims in the contemporary world could demonstrate solidarity with oppressed peoples through a faith-centric lens.

Dr Rahemtulla’s work is distinguished for its focus on issues pertaining to liberation and freedom. Indeed, his renowned work Qur’an of the Oppressed: Liberation Theology and Gender Justice in Islam (Oxford University Press, 2018) has become a mainstay in discussions pertaining to liberation theology within Islam. In a similar fashion, his public lecture focused on how Muslims in Canada could (and perhaps should) address the realities that the land they currently occupy was historically stolen from the Indigenous peoples. Dr Rahemtulla tied this issue into questions regarding Palestine, indigeneity and indigenous rights, and Quranic imperatives commanding Muslims to be just. For Dr Rahemtulla, the plight of the Palestinian people was not dissimilar to Indigenous peoples in Canada, who had equally had their land and rights stolen from them due to European Colonialism. The lecture provoked students to think about the steps that need to be taken to advance meaningful change within these spheres, and how disenfranchised and marginalized communities can truly be supported.