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Exploring pluriversal paths toward transmodernity: from the mind-centered egolatry of colonial modernity to Islam's epistemic decolonization through the Heart.


In his major work Ethics of Liberation (2013), Enrique Dussel's "point of departure is a world system of globalized exclusion," which can be placed against his imagining of what he calls "the Transmodern" (xv), i.e., to move beyond modernity to a pluraversality of existence. Similarly, according to Sylvia Wynter, "The struggle of our new millennium will be one between the ongoing imperative of securing the well-being of our present ethnoclass (i.e., Western bourgeois) conception of the human, Man, which overrepresents itself as if it were the human itself, and that of securing the well-being, and therefore the full cognitive and behavioral autonomy of the human species itself/ourselves." (1) If so, then to move towards an actual theorization of the human, we must first shatter and expose the "overrepresentation of Man" (2) as it has been molded into marble, bronze, and the psyche of peoples throughout the world as the normative construction of a universalized Western/white male being.

In imagining the human, the images that instantly come to mind are those of this overrepresentation, from global images of a supposed white/blue eyed Jesus, the anthropomorphic rendering of the elderly white bearded Christian God as painted in the Sistine Chapel creating Adam, Michelangelo's David, statues of Christopher Columbus pointing West, Santa Claus and his rosy red cheeks, George Washington's angel-like representation emblazoned atop the rotunda in the United States capitol building, and today, that of the lifestyle branded white male celebrity jet setting across the planet to "save" children in Africa at one moment, then wearing the latest Giorgio Armani suit at his movie premier the next. While these altruistic images are central to the construction of "egology," (3) which sits atop the pyramidal construction of Man, it is primarily on its epistemological and ontological basis that I will focus my attention here. To properly understand, and to expose the "clay feet" of these false gods of what W.E.B. DuBois called "the religion of whiteness," (4) we must shift the study to focus on what Walter Mignolo terms the "geo-politics of knowledge" --that is, the epistemological and ontological roots of the overrepresentation of a false universal Western Man, rooted in Renaissance and Enlightenment epistemology and ontology. To make this decolonial move it is necessary to ally my critique with that of the modernity/coloniality school of thought, to first properly understand the discourses of modernity, and also to privilege epistemologies of the South--which help us in shattering the falsely-universalized conception of Man--in order to move towards the transmodern understanding of the Human.

In this paper I will follow the line of thought of key decolonial theorists as I attempt to map what I have termed the pyramidal construction of Man, and the inverted pyramid as constructing the Human. Placed together with the pyramid representing the logic of modernity at the top, and the inverted pyramid as representing the logic of coloniality at the bottom, this visualization of these theoretical matrixes will help us in understanding the processes that are necessary to create an "epistemic geo-political move" (5) to a politics of what Nelson Maldonado-Torres terms, "epistemological decolonization." (6) As these pyramids clearly demonstrate, needed is a shift from the ego/ nafs/self at the top or center of Man's onto-epistemological existence, to the ego/ nafs/self being placed in a state of spiritual peace at the bottom of one's existence where the ego/nafs/self is placed last.

To make this shift in the geo-politics of knowledge in the context of Islam, I argue that what is needed is a shift away from Descartes and Western moderniy's centering of human consciousness in the mind, to a re-centering of consciousness in the spiritual heart (qalb). This in turn requires a shift back to a Tassawuf (Islamic Sufism) and thus a heart (qalb) centered understanding of Islam in relation to modernity. Since the Islamic spiritual science of Tassawuf has been de-centered and scapegoated in relation to Islamic discourses such as "modern revivalist Islam" (Wahabism/Salafism) and secular modernists, in this paper I will show that as it relates to the Muslim world Islamic Sufism can make an important epistemological contribution to the perspective of decoloniality.

In his classic decolonial manifesto, Discourse on Colonialism, Aime Cesaire writes that "a poison has been distilled into the veins of Europe." (7) The poison Cesaire speaks of is a poison that has been spread to the planet starting in 1492, when Christopher Columbus' march of death and genocide came to the Americas in full force, and then spread swiftly to the rest of the world atop piles of bodies and enslaved millions. While the papal bulls of the crusades and the conquest of the Americas set the legal stage for Western colonization, a genocidal Christian supremacism spread colonization to the far reaches of the earth. (8) While the logic of conquest and enslavement began with Western religious fanatics, it would become further racialized and move to an epistemological level with the Renaissance and Enlightenment philosophers led by Rene Descartes. Descartes' philosophical move was to replace the conception of the Christian God-centered soul as eternal, to an understanding of the mind in the place of the soul as what is eternal. Descartes' famous dictum, 'Cogito ergo sum'/ 'I think, therefore I am' would ultimately have the effect of shifting the center of Western thought away from the sacred, and would create Western white Man as the supreme being at the center of the universe. From Descartes' moment on, the idea of Western thought as 'objective' or 'unbiased' and as 'rational' and 'scientific,' became the most explicit form of racism that still lives with us today. This is an epistemological racism that universalizes Western knowledge as applicable to all people in the world, while also delegitimizing other knowledge forms as 'unscientific' or 'pre-modern.'

This philosophical stand is a spiritual poison that has deeply infected the white West. It's attribution of Godhood to its Western self has caused epistemological, cultural, and planetary ecological destruction which we are only now beginning to understand. This desacralization of the European self, life worlds, and the accompanying status of 'non-being' given to colonized bodies of Third World peoples, can leave our spiritual hearts dead and void of almost any connection to the sacred. In the American Indian Scholar/ Activist Vine Deloria Jr's final book titled The World We Used to Live In, he writes that "The secularity of the society in which we live must share considerable blame in the erosion of spiritual powers of all traditions, since our society has become a parody of social interaction lacking even an aspect of civility. Believing in nothing, we have preempted the role of the higher spiritual forces by acknowledging no greater good than what we can feel and touch." (9)

To make this critique which I have briefly sketched above, I will start by looking at how Nishitani Osamu and Nelson Maldonado-Torres understand the process of constructing Modernity/Man in its current state of "egology." After this I will look at the work of Joseph Massad to show the ways in which this normalization of the Western overrepresentation of Man has been internalized by Muslim/Arab populations in the secular-progressive/neo-conservative call for reforms throughout the Muslim world. Finally in my attempt to theorize an epistemic geo-political move, I will look at the work of Timothy Winter (Shaykh Abdul Hakim Murad) and Sherman Jackson who have been two of the central Muslim scholars in the West calling for a shift back to a Tassawuf (Islamic Sufism) centered understanding of Islam in relation to modernity. Since the Islamic spiritual science of Tassawuf has been decentered and scapegoated in relation to Islamic discourses such as "modern revivalist Islam" (10) (Wahabism/ Salafism) and secular modernists, I will show that as it relates to the Muslim world Sufism can make an important epistemological contribution to the decolonial perspective.


The self-deception of Europe, the delusion of US patriotism, the bad-faith of Euro-American whiteness, and the Westernized mind are in a global crisis--a global crisis which has dehumanized humanity, and in its hybrid form of neoliberal multiculturalism (11) continues its global ravages at a breakneck speed. With its placement of Man at the center of modernity, the West has taken its discourses of supremacism--and what Enrique Dussel calls the ego conquiro (12)--to their heights by creating secularized bodies and rational thought in the form of Descartes ego-cogito ('Cogito ergo sum'/'I think, therefore I am') that create the Western white Man as the supreme being at the center of the universe.

Through this desacralization (13) of the European self, life worlds, and the accompanying status of 'non-being' given to colonized bodies of Third/Fourth World (14) peoples, the Western world has spread its physical, epistemological and ontological conquests throughout the planet. The identitarian logic of this genocidal violence of the 'West' versus the 'non-West' started with the first crusade, and the absolute annihilation of the Muslim population of Jerusalem. It then re-mapped Western conceptions of reality and was globalized at the outset of modernity in 1492. While our moment is one that is often theorized as being 'post-colonial,' the legacies of genocide, colonialism, and the resulting historical trauma, and systemic hierarchies still live with us today. The best theorization of these legacies have been put forth by the Modernity/Coloniality research project (15) led by Anibal Quijano (16), En rique Dussel (17), Walter Mignolo (18), Ramon Grosfoguel (19), Nelson Maldonado-Torres (20), and Maria Lugones. (21) Starting with Quijano's idea of "colonialidad de poder" (the coloniality of power), this idea has been expanded to include the concepts: the coloniality of knowledge, the coloniality of being, and perhaps most importantly de-coloniality. Grosfoguel, expanding upon Quijano, has theorized the complexity and scale of the coloniality of power. He writes that,

   The sixteenth century initiated a
   new global colonial power matrix
   that by the late nineteenth century
   covered the whole planet ... I conceptualize
   the coloniality of power
   as an entanglement of multiple and
   heterogeneous hierarchies ("heter-archies")
   of sexual, political, epistemic,
   economic, spiritual, linguistic,
   and racial forms of domination
   and exploitation where the racial/
   ethnic hierarchy of the European/
   non-European divide transversally
   reconfigures all other global power
   structures. What is new in the "coloniality
   of power" perspective is how
   the idea of race and racism becomes
   the organizing principle that structures
   all of the multiple hierarchies
   of the world-system. (22)

As the heter-archies of the coloniality of power have been constructed over the last five hundred years, it is important to recognize as the modernity/coloniality research project does, the centrality of modernity's philosophical roots in Renaissance and Enlightenment thought. The basis of the pyramidal construction of Man, is Rene Descartes' "first philosophy," as a break from a theo centered episteme to an ego centered one, where Man displaces God as the center of existence. Descartes' first philosophy, coupled with Hegel's understanding of the struggle for recognition, construct the perspective of modernity where Western Man as the egolatrous being is placed at the top of existence for all others to look towards for recognition. Here I will look at the work of Osamu and Maldonado-Torres to gain a perspective on how this standpoint of what Maldonado-Torres calls the "Imperial Man" takes shape.

Maldonado-Torres has written of the centrality of Descartes to the West's "first philosophy" when he states that,

   Following Rene Descarte's legacy
   modern Western philosophy has
   been highly invested in figuring out
   the extent and limits of the powers
   of the mind in general and of perception
   in particular in a context
   where revelation has lost a high degree
   of legitimacy. In this context,
   epistemology becomes philosophia
   prima. This epistemology, as Descartes
   also made clear, presupposes
   an anthropology and an ontology
   that are both well expressed in the
   Cartesian split of res extensa (matter)
   and res cogitans (thinking substance). (23)

It is in this context of the West's thinking substance of rationality, that it would philosophically move away from Christianity as an organizing principle towards one that would similarly see itself as the only proper form of existence--but here organized around the epistemological foundations of a 'rational' Western 'civilization.' From this foundation Nishitani Osamu writes about Humanitas and Anthropos as the "two terms that signify "human being" within European languages. (24) Humanitas here represents the terms "human being" or "human nature" (25) while Anthropos is always an object of Western study. While keeping these categories central to his argument, Osamu states that the first interpretation of the Other was through the lens of "the Greek code of barbarian." In time the salvation narrative of Christianity was added on top of this, with the discourse eventually shifting to secularism and the "progress of civilization" that would ultimately be reinforced by Darwin's theory of evolution. (26)

According to Osamu this "discovery of difference," beyond being spatiotemporally located, is also central to the consciousness of modernity and its onto-epistemological existence where,

   ... humans who possess "civilization"
   are "humanitas" never "anthropos."
   These two designations,
   moreover, are not selected according
   to the differing contexts of the
   same object, nor do they create a
   simple oppositional binary within a
   genre called human being. Rather,
   there exists an inextricable and fundamentally
   asymmetrical relation
   between the two. That asymmetry
   performs a systemic function related
   to the regime of modern "knowledge"
   itself (for that very reason,
   this distinction is made automatically
   whenever people speak
   "knowledgeably"), a function that
   constitutes the "double standard"
   of modern human, or humanistic,
   knowledge. In other words, "anthropos"
   cannot escape the status of
   being the object of anthropological
   knowledge, while "humanitas" is
   never defined from without but
   rather expresses itself as the subject
   of all knowledge. (27)

The key idea here as Walter Mignolo discusses in his book, The Idea of Latin America, is the point of enunciation of what he terms "Occidentalism." He states that,

   Occidentalism" as O'Gormans's
   thesis on the "universalism of Western
   culture" suggests, has two interrelated
   dimensions: First, it
   served to locate the geo-historical
   space of Western culture. But, less
   obviously, it also fixed the privileged
   locus of enunciation. It is
   from the West that the rest of the
   world is described, conceptualized,
   and ranked: that is, modernity is the
   self-description of Europe's role in
   history rather than an ontological
   historical process. Without a locus
   of enunciation self-conceived as
   Occidental, the Oriental could not
   have been thought out. (28)

It is this epistemological racism as constructing the world and its standards that the rest of humanity must struggle against within for recognition, and it is to this argument that I will turn next.

Here, I will look at the work of Nelson Maldonado-Torres, as it relates to the construction of the overrepresentation of Man. According to him, from the beginning of global modernity the ego conquiro emerges as the "paradigm of war," (29) and becomes the central facet of human life. In his book Against War: Views from the Underside of Modernity, Maldonado-Torres centrally argues that since 1492 European modernity has become,

   ... inextricably linked with the experience
   of the warrior and conqueror
   and the modern colonization,
   racism, and other forms of
   social and geopolitical dynamics in
   the modern world can be understood
   in terms of the naturalization
   of the paradigm of war. (30)

It is within this paradigm of existence where war has become naturalized that, according to Maldonado-Torres, ethics as applicable to Western Man are replaced by what he calls the "death ethic of war," (31) or the "non-ethics of war." (32) As a radical project of "de-colonial love," (33) Maldonado-Torres uses Emanuel Levinas, Frantz Fanon, and Enrique Dussel as philosophers of the "de-colonial reduction" while making his own theoretical contributions towards a "philosophy of liberation." (34) He chooses to use these three philosophers together because,

   Levinas, Fanon, and Dussel respond
   critically to the realities of
   war as they encounter them in the
   context of Nazism, French imperialism,
   intolerable Eurocentrism,
   and the menace of U.S. Americanism
   and its salvific mission of freedom,
   all of which are preceded if
   not tied to each other by a long history
   of racialization and colonization
   that goes back to at least 1492. (35)

I think Maldonado-Torres' understanding of the "paradigm of war" has made an important philosophical contribution to our understanding of Man. Most important to my discussion here are the first of two chapters on Frantz Fanon at the center of the book titled, "God and the Other in the Self-Recognition of Imperial Man." (36)

In the anti-black colonial world in which Fanon was writing, the Manichean opposition characterized for him "modern/colonial thinking and power" (37)--a modern/colonial world where the pathological became normal as the colonial and racist context in which he lived in its totality was "a metaphysical transformation of the world." (38) In this transformed world "Imperial Man" would hold itself up as God, while its colonial subjects would be relegated to the realm of "non-being." It is here that the "non-beings" of colonialism would experience the "colonial death world" which would become,

   the ethical limit of human reality. It
   is a context in which violence and
   war are no longer extraordinary,
   but become instead ordinary features
   of human existence. This perverse
   expression of the conversion
   of the extraordinary into the ordinary
   represents a "limit" situation,
   or perhaps even a post-limit situation
   in the sense that the excess of
   abnormality goes beyond its climax
   and begets another reality in which
   it comes to define the normal. (39)

As the status of "non-being" had become normal, the question then became how did the white colonizers recognize themselves as the 'supreme beings at the center of the universe.' While Fanon did not take up a serious analysis of white consciousness until The Wretched of the Earth, (40) to address his argument pertaining to white consciousness Maldonado-Torres begins with a discussion of the "dialectics of lordship and bondage."

Here Maldonado-Torres, taking his lead from Fanon, (41) discusses Hegel's understanding of the "struggle for recognition" which, "takes the form of a dialectic whose terms are those of lordship and bondsman, or master and slave." (42) In this discussion he points out that while the slave must look to the master for recognition, and thus his humanity, "In an Imperial World lordship is the position of a privileged self that does not even turn toward the slave to achieve recognition." (43) The ultimate question then, that also has relevance for us today, is

   If the master/slave dialectic is not
   overcome by other forms of Spirit
   but remains a constant explicative
   factor of human relations defined
   by the experience of imperialism
   and colonialism, then we must ask
   how is it that the master, who in the
   colonial relation does not look for
   recognition from the slave, achieves
   recognition and sustains his position
   as master? (44)

According To Suha Sabbagh, it was not until Wretched of the Earth that Fanon focused on this understanding of white consciousness, but it is through this text that we understand that,

   The West was able to do without the
   recognition of the 'non-whites' because
   it has created an image of this
   native as an inferior entity within
   the confines of Western discourse.
   Against the other, Western positional
   superiority and identity
   could be established. (45)

It is here through the continuous Manichean production of negative and positive images that the picture of the self and the Other is constructed. According to Maldonado-Torres, this "imperial self-assertion" is constructed through what he calls "the positive." (46) This positive image of the self--or what I call white benevolent innocence (47)--is taken to its height in the imperial world where, "In empire, God becomes the privileged other who alone can provide authentic recognition to the imperial self." (48) So in this construction, consciousness of God becomes knowledge of the superior self, and thus the making of God in the image of man, as in the imperial Christian form, which takes on great significance in the production of the modern/colonial self. As Maldonado-Torres understands, in one of his many important contributions to the theory, this form of recognition produces the "egolatry" of Imperial man. He writes,

   A logic of sub-alteration is contained
   in the process of recognition
   of Imperial Man. God recognizes
   Man, Man takes the shape of God,
   and then others come to be seen as
   the very incarnation of evil. This
   logic does not respond so much to
   interests in the conciliation with nature
   as, more fundamentally, to interests
   in the subordination of other
   human beings. Modern imperial
   man is no pagan. He does not divinize
   nature, but rather becomes
   himself God with the sole purpose
   of enslaving others. Idolatry becomes
   egolatry, a perverse egolatry
   that works in the function of the rejection
   of otherness. At the end, narcissism
   becomes homicidal, and the
   command "Thou shall not kill" is
   transformed into a project of identity
   based on the principle "I kill,
   therefore I am. (49)

Despite secularism becoming the center of Western life, according to Maldonado-Torres, Imperial Man through race, the nation-state, and free market capitalism, is able to sustain, "the position of the master as the one and only lord." (50) Despite the shift from a religious center to a mostly secular space, the production of Western/white lordship is still produced through a constant bombardment of Manichean images of the West and the non-West.


Imperial Man has reared its ugly head consistently at the Muslim/Arab community over the last twelve years, which has resulted in an increasing attempted movement into the world of Humanitas. This attempted escape from "the station of "anthropos" and becoming a subject who possesses and produces knowledge, i.e. "humanitas," (51) has further augmented this movement that has been going on over the last two-hundred plus years as Muslims have struggled to affirm their humanity in relation to modernity/coloniality. In the early part of the twentieth century the European convert to Islam, Muhammad Asad (Leopold Weiss), already was seeing the cultural destruction brought on by European colonialism in the Muslim world. As he wrote, "For how long will ... [Muslims] be able to keep their souls together in the face of the danger that is so insidiously, so relentlessly closing in on them? ... A thousand forces --political, social and economic--are hammering at the doors of the Muslim world. Will this world succumb to the pressure of the Western twentieth century and in the process lose not only its own traditional forms but its spiritual roots as well?" (52)

Of course the best example of Muslims/ Arabs striving for Western recognition is in the desert-turned-neoliberal-dreamworld of Dubai. This desert fantasy land that boasts of itself that it is making 'supreme lifestyles' for its inhabitants, is obsessed with gigantism, and outdoing the West in every material way possible, in a manner that would frighten Muhammad Asad if he were alive today. In his brilliant essay "Fear and Money in Dubai," Mike Davis writes that the CEO and Emir of Dubai Sheikh Mohammed al-Maktoum has taken his obsession with gigantism to such extremes that, "he seems to have imprinted Scott and Venturi's bible of hyper-reality, Learning From Las Vegas, in the same way that pious Muslims memorize the Qur'an." (53) One of the grossest manifestation of this striving for Humanitas is the Burj Dubai, now the tallest building in the world, which when completed will stand 2600 feet tall and will have the world's largest shopping mall, with an area equaling more that 12 million square feet, at its base. This, along with the holy city of Mecca undergoing rapid redevelopment with the biggest (in terms of square feet) and second tallest building in the world, the Abraj Al Bait Towers, directly outside of the Grand Mosque, as the most explicit example.

Despite the fact that Frantz Fanon was writing centrally about the Muslim/Arab world while fighting with the FLN in Algeria, I am always shocked to see how few Muslims know his name today, let alone his work. Of course Fanon is central in understanding the processes of epistemic and cultural destruction brought on by colonialism. As he wrote, "... colonialism is not simply content to impose its rule upon the present and the future of a dominated country. Colonialism is not satisfied merely with holding a people in its grip and emptying the native's brain of all form and content. By a kind of perverse logic, it turns to the past of the oppressed people, and distorts it, disfigures and destroys it." (54)

In his masterful work Desiring Arabs, Joseph Massad (55) lays out an important intellectual history at the beginning of the book that shows the ways in which Orientalist discourses were internalized by major Muslim/ Arab thinkers since 1798, when Napoleon first invaded Egypt. These discourses existed primarily between the signifying binaries of "decadence/renaissance and tradition/modernity." (56) As the French carried the ideologies of the Enlightenment with them to Egypt, they along with compliant Arab scholars quickly made a call for Nahda or a renaissance in the Arab/Muslim world. Intellectuals like Jamal al-Din Al Afghani, Butrus al-Bustani, and Muhammad Abduh developed deep "epistemological affinity" with Western conceptions of Man or Humanitas. As Massad writes,

   These Arab writers would approach
   the topic at hand by adopting
   and failing to question these recently
   invented European notions
   of "civilization" and "culture" and
   their commensurate insertion in a
   social Darwinist idiom of "evolution,"
   "progress," "advancement,"
   "development," "degeneration,"
   and most important, "decadence"
   and "renaissance. (57)

These discourses that internalize the idea of Islamic civilization as decadent needing a Renaissance, would lead to radical reactions still being felt all over the world today as "modern revivalist Islam," i.e., Wahabism/Salafism, are now very powerful global forces that spread a version of Islam disconnected from its intellectual and spiritual roots, as an almost solely Fiqh (Law/ Legal) based version of the religion. Massad adds that,

   As Talal Asad explains, 'Abduh,
   among others, drew on existing Islamic
   tradition, even when he disagreed
   with some of it to effect a
   reform whose ideological lineaments
   were European. Thus even
   though the medieval ibn Taymiyyah
   and the eighteenth-century
   Muhammad bin 'Abd al-Wahhab's
   strict and literal interpretation of
   the Qur'an stripped Sufism of religious
   legitimacy, the project of
   modern religious reformers banished
   (parts of) it in accordance
   with modernist European ideas
   while remaining within a certain
   strand of tradition. (58)

Despite the modernist reformers' arrogance, Sufism is a vital part of Islam, and if we are to make reforms to move away from the oppression of modernity/coloniality, then it must be through a deep engagement with the spiritual as it relates to the destruction brought about by these reformers in alliance with modernity. As Shaykh Abdal-Hakim Murad has written, what is necessary in this context is a

   revival of the spiritual life within
   Islam. If it is ever to prosper, the 'Islamic
   revival' must be made to see
   that it is in crisis, and that its mental
   resources are proving insufficient
   to meet contemporary needs. The
   response to this must be grounded
   in an act of collective muhasaba, of
   self-examination, in terms that
   transcend the ideologised neo-Islam
   of the revivalists, and return to
   a more classical and indigenously
   Muslim dialectic. (59)

While the spiritual is central here, and it is where I will turn to in my argument next, it is also central that this spiritual guidance and self-examination lead us to a process of epistemic decolonization; no matter how difficult, and complex that self-examination may be. In this regard, Maldonado-Torres states,

   The mutual reinforcement of epistemological
   and misanthropic
   skepticism creates peculiar challenges
   for people of color. For, while
   they are aware that modernity
   promises them full recognition of
   humanity through the adoption of
   methodic epistemological skepticism,
   it often passes unnoticed that
   the unconditional affirmation of the
   value of this form of skepticism reinforces
   the form of skepticism
   from which they are trying to escape.
   It is from here that the project
   of liberation necessitates a process
   of epistemological decolonization
   and not one of epistemological assimilation.
   Epistemological decolonization
   as a project is not only relevant
   for people of color. In a way, it
   is the Europeans' only way out from
   the hellish circle that they have created.
   For, while misanthropic skepticism
   may intend to eliminate
   skepticism about the value of
   Man--by making Man more like a
   God and less than animal-like people--it
   instead spreads skepticism
   about the value of humanity as a
   whole, which in turn foments attitudes
   of violence and self destruction. (60)

For many of the American Muslim authors I quote in what follows, Islam has been a spiritual and epistemological form of decolonization that has led them to live their lives in alliance and solidarity with Muslims throughout the world.


If what is called for according to Osamu "is rendering 'humanitas,' which insists upon its 'universality,' an object of 'anthropologique' consideration as one version of 'anthropos,'" (61) then the question becomes what sort of critique do we make when this inversion takes place as we turn to study Humanitas? Are we to critique the new anthropos by its own standards that it has constructed, or do we dare to construct critiques outside the Western canons of philosophy? To think about these issues it is necessary to turn to Enrique Dussel's idea of Transmodernity.

   For Dussel, transmodernity refers
   to the self-affirmation of cultures
   that have been occluded by Western
   modernity. Transmodern thought
   is postsecular and, therefore, post
   religious as well. Transmodern
   thought also recognizes that what is
   often referred to as religion can be
   as colonizing as secularism itself.
   Transmodernity transgresses and
   transcends. While the first task may
   be more strictly defined as decolonization,
   the second indicates the
   emergence of a transmodern way of
   thinking. Transmodernity could be
   thus defined as the complex reality
   that comes into being through decolonizing
   processes and transmodern
   proposals. Transmodernity
   designates a future beyond the
   pitfalls of modernity/ coloniality.
   This is the future that a transmodern
   way of thinking would aim to
   promote. (62)

In thinking about transmodern critiques I turn instantly to the thought of the marginalized spiritual and an attempt to move from the ego-cogito to experience, or more properly as the Arabic terms it: dhawq, a spiritual tasting, as an attempt to free myself from repetitive forms of taqlid, or conformism/imitation through tired forms of critique. (63) Thinking through existence from the same epistemology can only make us dizzy, so it is important that we bring in culturally specific epistemologies to critique the new anthropos, so as to properly understand what it is, and what it has done from multiple perspectives, and in specific locations.

The pyramidal construction of Man from an Islamic perspective shifts our understanding of the seriousness of placing the egolatrous Man above God in constructing reality, while simultaneously allowing us to imagine what would be necessary in creating a transmodern critique in constructing the Human. It is in seeking this spiritual tasting, that I pursue what the great Islamic mystic philosopher of the eleventh century, Abu Hamid al-Ghazali, understood to be the highest level of knowledge. According to al-Ghazali, "The highest type of knowledge ... is not that of Reason or that of faith, but that of direct experience. Thus the genuine knowledge of God belongs to this 'experiential' order." (64)

To shift the geo-politics of knowledge, and make what Walter Mignolo terms an "epistemic geo-political move," it is necessary to engage in a form of critique that is deeply engaged in muhasaba (self-examination) on three primary levels. These being examination of the self and one's spiritual state, an examination of the dominant structurally intersecting hierarchies that we all interact with (Gender, Race, Class, Religious domination, etc.), and finally an examination of one's local knowledge from where the place of critique is emanating. Foundational to this self/ structural/ societal examination is an understanding of how Western epistemological racism has led towards a global desacralization of knowledge. This to me is the space of critique in-between the pyramidal construction of Man, and the inverted pyramid as constructing the Human. One of the central factors of dehumanization resulting from the colonization of peoples' life worlds that has been grossly under-theorized is this desacralization of knowledge, or what I will call in a forthcoming paper, the coloniality of the sacred. A reality where the sacred or God has been removed from the center of what is considered to be 'valid' or 'scientific' or 'rational' forms of thought. If we are to take seriously epistemologies beyond Western conceptions of knowledge then God and sacred texts must be taken seriously.

In re-centering the sacred in this process of self-examination, many theorists, led by Chicana Feminists, have turned to the idea of "decolonial love." For the UC-Berkeley professor Laura Perez this idea is closely linked to the Mayan "principle of In'Laketch: tu eres mi otro yo: you are my other me. Not only are we interwoven, we are one. I am you and you are me. To harm another is thus to literally harm one's own being. This is a basic spiritual law in numerous traditions." (65) One of the most exciting possibilities about the concept of decolonial love is the possibility of looking at what Love means in different faith and spiritual traditions throughout the world, and how this can help lead towards global understanding, and a decolonial move.

I think here of the possible contribution of the marginalized spiritual within Islam, that of Sufism. To make this shift in the geo-politics of knowledge in the context of Islam, what is necessary is the shift away from Descartes and Western modernity's centering of human consciousness in the mind, to a re-centering of consciousness in the spiritual heart (qalb). This idea is echoed by Subcomandante Marcos and the Zapatistas in their motto to center politics below and to the left (where the heart is), as is understood in Aztec and Mayan cosmology. While the secularism of Western modernity imagines itself as solely rational, and indeed has argued its rationality and casting off of any other type of knowledge as what has made the West supposedly superior to all other knowledge forms, in the Muslim world this separation between the Sacred and reason does not exist. Indeed Aql or reason is a central part of classical Islamic theology, and the deduction of its tenets. The difference is that Islam, especially Islamic mysticism, has a firm belief that you cannot simply attain total wisdom or knowledge through reason, but that it must be accompanied with spiritual understanding, the dhawq or experiential level of knowledge that Imam Ghazali calls for.

Foundationally, Islam and Christianity have completely different understandings of the concept of original sin. While in Christianity humans are "fallen" to Earth as a result of the sins of Adam and Eve, and thus all of humanity is supposedly born into an original state of sin, in Islamic thought it is said that all of humanity is born into a state of fitra (primordial state) (66), "which means that people are born inclined to faith--born with an intuitive awareness of divine purpose and a nature built to receive the prophetic message." (67) According to Shaykh Hamza Yusuf, a prominent Muslim scholar, and White American convert to Islam, what is necessary to nurture this state of fitra is to "cultivate this inclination to faith and purity of heart." (68) The difficulty that Muslims face throughout the world in the context of coloniality is a relationship to existence, that from an Islamic perspective is first committing the only unforgivable sin in Islam, that of shirk (association), while simultaneously constructing a reality that can only lead people towards an inclination to evil. I will now take up both of these arguments.

The Blackamerican Muslim thinker, Sherman Jackson, best puts these theoretical perspectives into an Islamic context. When looked at in relationship to Rudolf Otto's conception of mysterium tremendum, which "refers to that ineffable fear that accompanies the experience of encountering the divine," (69) it can be seen that as Jackson posits, Man and Whiteness have been made into the all powerful "second creator." Jackson understands the construction of Man, or what he terms, White supremacists to be "second creators" who falsely construct humans as signified objects that create us as something much different than the original state of fitra in which God creates us. Accordingly Jackson believes that these "second creators," are committing shirk as,

   it is neither graven images nor idols
   that pose the greatest challenge to
   God's monopoly on divinity; it is
   false mysterium tremendum, second
   creators and the sociopolitical reality
   these produce. As such, it is
   against these, and not against idols,
   that modern men and women are
   likely to find the deepest meaning
   and resonance in Islam's foundational
   principle: "There is no god
   except God (la ilaha illa Allah)."
   And, on this understanding, the
   proper response to the problem of
   human contingency is not to seek to
   overcome it but to resist and oppose
   false ... "re-creation," both as subjects
   and as objects. In this context, it becomes
   clear that opposition to white
   supremacy--or for that matter, any
   supremacy, including male supremacy
   or Arab supremacy--is
   not the exclusive preserve of black
   nationalism. On the contrary, opposition
   to white supremacy should
   be embraced as a manifestation of
   ultimate allegiance to God and the
   preservation of God's status as the
   only noncontingent Definer of ultimate
   value. On this understanding,
   God, not "the man," becomes the
   true motivator and ultimate concern
   of resistance. Indeed, resistance
   in this context becomes part of
   the struggle to remain within the
   penumbra of primordial meanings
   where God occupies the center of
   human consciousness. In this light,
   resisting false mysterium tremendum
   and "second creators" acquires
   meaning not only for Blackamerican
   Muslims but for Muslims, period.
   Whatever color they may be. (70)

It is with this form of resistance in mind that I have written this paper. In attempting to make a decolonial move against these 'second-creators' I have theorized the pyramidal construction of Man, and the inverted pyramid as constructing the Human from an Islamic epistemology centered in the sciences of Tasawwuf (Sufism). In Islamic thought the human being as created by God is made up of five parts: the body (jism), the mind (aql), the spirit (ruh), the self (nafs), and the heart (qalb). The heart as a spiritual organ is central to existence and the human being's relationship with God. As Ibn al-Arabi, who is considered to be one of the greatest mystic-philosophers in the history of Islam, has written,

   The infinite capacity of the heart
   places it beyond delimitation (taqyid)
   by anything whatsoever. Like
   Being it is Non-delimited (mutlaq),
   free and absolved from all limitations
   and constraints. To the extent
   a person verifies the nature of things
   by means of [her/his] heart, [she/
   he] can understand God and the
   cosmos. But to the extent that [she/
   he] follows the way of [his/her] reason
   or rational faculty ('aql), [they]
   will remain in constant constriction
   and binding. Here the Shaykh
   points out the root meaning of the
   term 'aql, closely connected to the
   "fetter" ('iqal) used to hobble a camel.
   Reason strives to define and delimit
   God, but that is impossible.
   The heart frees God of all constraints
   and absolves [God] of all
   limitations. The heart alone is able
   to perceive God's self disclosures
   through the faculty of imagination. (71)

The heart therefore is the single most important spiritual aspect of one's life that we can have a constant relationship with as it relates to God and this process of self-purification. It is also the bodily location of our ruh which is the "underlying essence of the human individual which survives death." (72) Therefore, if purification of the heart is such a central part of the life of a Muslim, then we must question what type of inclination our existence in the world will lead us towards as it relates to our nafs (self). The Quran mentions three levels of nafs, these being the nafs ammara bi'l-su' (the soul constantly enjoining evil), Al-nafs al-lawwama (the 'soul which blames') and after a long inward struggle, the

Nafs mutma'inna (the soul at peace). This is the nafs that one strives for in the process of the purifying the heart. (73) Therefore from an Islamic perspective Man as it is constructed in Modernity facilitates the nafs ammara bi'l-su'. This is why to make the decolonial shift to the inverted pyramid as constructing the Human, from an Islamic perspective the self should be at the bottom of existence while God is located as the center of all existence. In Islam this would mean a shift from the ego-cogito to Tawheed (God Consciousness) where you are conscious of God in every aspect of your life, while your spiritual existence is centered in your qalb. This is a shift to a God and therefore a Qalb or heart centered existence. To facilitate this it is necessary to make central the spiritual sciences of Islam, which have been marginalized by the orientalist discourses surrounding decadence. Using the term "Islamic Psychology" for Sufism here, Sheykh Murad has written that,

   Islamic psychology is characteristic
   of the new ulum which, although
   present in latent and implicit form
   in the Quran, were first systematized
   in Islamic culture during the
   early Abbasid period. Given the importance
   that the Quran attached to
   obtaining a 'sound heart', we are
   not surprised to find that the influence
   of Islamic psychology has
   been massive and all-pervasive. In
   the formative first four centuries of
   Islam, the time when the great
   works of tafsir, hadith, grammar,
   and so forth were laid down, the
   ulema also applied their minds to
   this problem of al-qalb al-salim (the
   heart at peace). This was first visible
   when, following the example of the
   Tab'in [the second generation of
   Muslims], many of the early ascetics,
   such as sufyan ibn Uyayna, Sufyan
   al-Thawri, and Abdallah ibn
   al-Mubarak, had focused their concerns
   explicitly on the art of purifying
   the heart. The methods they
   recommended were frequent fasting,
   night prayers, and periodic retreats. (74)

Through re-centering Tasawwuf Muslims will be better equipped to respond and create alternatives to modernity, as this heart centered existence will facilitate the possibility of developing the Nafs mutma 'inna or the soul at peace. From an epistemology centered in Islamic Sufism, then, what is necessary first is to properly understand our consciousness and that it is centered in our heart rather than in our mind. If our hearts are alive, it can be our ultimate center of perception and understanding. Similar to Gloria Anzaldua's understanding of La Facultad, which she understands to be a form of "inner knowledge," (75) is the Islamic concept of Al Basira (the spiritual eye of the heart) where one can spiritually sense, if properly developed, and understand reality much more deeply and thoroughly. As al-Ghazali put it in his masterwork of the inner sciences of Islam, Ihya' ulum al-din,

'Creation' refers to the external, and 'character' to the internal, form. Now, [the human] is composed of a body which perceives with ocular vision [basar] and a spirit [ruh] and a soul [nafs] which perceive with inner sight [basira]. Each of these things has an aspect and a form which is either ugly or beautiful. Furthermore, the soul which perceives with inner sight is of greater worth than the body which sees with ocular vision. (76)

In seeing with the eye of our heart we can begin to differentiate between form and meaning, as the outward form of things are not always their internal and spiritual reality. An example is a supermodel who on the outside may look beautiful based on the standards of Western society, but on the inside she may be stricken with anxiety, eating disorders, drug addiction and any number of maladies from being forced to focus only on their external beauty while not considering the internal realities of the heart and soul. Perhaps building on Aime Cesaire's understanding of the Western imperiality as a poison spreading throughout the world, the best example is the West's view of itself, as its most central significations of itself are those of benevolence and innocence. But as the world has seen for far to long, the reality of endless warfare and global genocide is the meaning/ reality behind the form.

Perhaps this is best explained by the early female sufi saint, Rabi'a al-Adawiyya, who stated in verse, "O children of Nothing! Truth can't come in through your eyes/Nor can speech go out through your mouth to find [God]/Hearing leads the speaker down the road to anxiety/And if you follow your hands and feet you will arrive at confusion--/The real work is in the Heart: Wake up your Heart!/Because when the Heart is completely awake, Then it needs no Friend." (77) The vision of our hearts has become blinded by the poison of the overrepresentation of white Western Man, and its solely material make-up. If we are to develop the internal tools necessary to break from the chains of modernity, much deeper consideration beyond thought and through the heart as well is necessary by scholars who are experts in both the sciences of decoloniality and the spiritual sciences of Islam. I hope that my small contribution here will be the beginning of many fruitful conversations in this vein. For if we can make ourselves spiritually well, then surely we can develop and incline towards a "decolonial ethics," and "decolonial love," that will help lead us towards a transmodern day, where epistemologies can build from each other, rather than just compete for any opening to speak against the monoculture of the West. As surely the path of love is the one we must walk down, to see each other in the divine light we were born into. As Ibn Arabi most beautifully stated, "I believe in the religion of love/Whatever direction its caravans may take, For love is my religion and my faith." (78)


If we look at the year 2030 as a benchmark, we see the possibility of the transmodern emerging in terms of demographics as Muslims become more than one quarter of humanity and people of color become the majority population in the United States again for the first time in two hundred plus years. (79) While demographic shifts could produce important political changes, the real question lies in the true heart of the matter, as we think of what an ethical/ theological/ and political decolonial turn would look like. If demographics shift and our epistemological and ontological ways of being stay within the confines of coloniality/ modernity then nothing has really changed. For Muslims this reality is embodied in the verse from the Qur'an that states, "God does not change the condition of a people unless they change what is in themselves." (80) While nearly every form of decolonization has been written about, as this verse attests to, the basis of all decolonial shifts would then begin with the necessary decolonizaton of the heart.

Perhaps then in expanding beyond Dussel, rather thanjust a theology of liberation, the question I am asking here is what is a spirituality of liberation? For if we are free from the material confines of colonial modernity within the spiritual plane of existence, then it is from that standpoint that all stages of liberation would emanate. To have a spirituality of liberation would invoke the divine assistance (tawfiq) that Muslims believe is necessary to undertake the next stages of theological, philosophical, ethical and political layers of struggle. Indeed beyond the political and philosophical realms of decolonization spiritual realities such as prayer have always played a central role within the life of the oppressed amongst Muslims. As two famous sayings of the Prophet Muhammad state so clearly, "Guard yourselves against oppression and so protect your souls from the cry of the oppressed; for surely no barrier exists between the cry of the oppressed and God--even if that cry should come from an atheist," and "Supplication is the true weapon of the believer." (81) Specific supplications for the oppressed have even been collected such as the Duaa Nasiri (the prayer of Nasir) which is often recited in groups during great times of conflict and strife in different parts of the Muslim world. (82) From this baseline of a spirituality of liberation which has always been central to Islamic teachings we can then expand to imagine what other decolonial horizons are which have existed and are emerging from throughout the Muslim world.

As the Muslim majority countries continues to go through their slow process of decolonization between the United States global security state and terror war, monarchs, despots, infiltrations, revolutions and counter revolutions much like Latin America experienced in the twentieth century, an in depth study is necessary and project of liberation is necessary on the level which Dussel was able to undertake in his life and times for Muslims throughout the world. Of course the undertaking involved in this project is perhaps even broader than Dussel's as the cultural diversity, political differences and different traditions of struggle from throughout the Muslim world are even more diverse than Latin America, while also being made up of Muslims living in Latin America, and growing Latino/a convert populations in the United States and throughout Latin America.

Our question then as a brief sketch here is, who does the Muslim world look for as its own exemplars of decolonization? These figures range over a period of hundreds of years, from those who resisted enslavement in the America's (83), and colonization in North and West Africa, to Malcolm X's global vision of Islam, what Sohail Daulatzai calls the "Muslim International." This Muslim International is a call to global solidarity within the Muslim world and with peoples throughout the world who face similar forms of oppression. As Daulatzai so clearly states, "Having shaped and been shaped by U.S.-based Black liberation struggles and Third World decolonization in the post-World War II era, the Muslim International is measured by what Aime Cesaire has called "the compass of suffering," connecting geographies of violence and shared territories of struggle against racial terror, global capital, and war." (84)

For Malcolm X these struggles were indeed "material as well as spiritual," and "political as well as religious," and the interconnectedness of these struggles must be realized in the face of a globalized reality of white supremacy and the facts of coloniality/ modernity. As an example of this, Malcolm X stated that the reality of white supremacy facing African Americans in the United States, "must also be the concern of and the moral responsibility of the entire Muslim World--if you hope to make the principles of the Quran a Living Reality." (85) In an era where Islam has been used for political purposes whose means exceed the confines placed on Muslims by religious law (Sharia) related to warfare, we are in no way calling to the base form of oppressive resistance used by Al Qaeda and the Taliban reflective of the worst parts of modern warfare which values life no more than the drones, F-16's, and contract armies of the American military. What we are calling for here is an in depth study of those spiritual, theological, philosophical and political thinkers and decolonial examples who came before us from throughout the Muslim International, while also imagining anew what these processes of decolonization look like for us today.

These examples range across leaders and scholars who lived and struggled in vastly different times and places, but for Muslims they start with the Prophets and reach their height with the Prophet Muhammad. Within the era of colonial modernity they range from leaders like Emir Abd el-Kader al-Jaza'iri (1808-1883) (86) who was a religious scholar, a sufi master, and a political and military leader who fought against French colonization in Algeria to Shaykh Amadu Bamba (1853-1927) who fought against the French non-violently and is now venerated as one of the great Sufi saints of West Africa. (87) Further an introductory list could also include: Shaykh Uthman Dan Fodio (1754-1817) and his daughter Nana Asma'u (1793-1864), Imam Shamail Daghestani (1797-1871), Shaykh Omar Mokhtar (1858-1931), Sayyid Muhammad Abd Allah al-Hassan (1856-1920), Shaykh Muhammad Izz ad-Din al-Qassam (1882-1935), Dagistani, Muhammad Iqbal (1877-1938), Said Nursi (1878-1960), Muhammad ibn Adb al-Karim al-Khattabi (1882-1963), Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse (1900-1975), Badshah Khan (1890-1988) and Imam Warith Deen Muhammad (1933-2008).

For each of these thinkers they combined the spiritual, with the theological for political action in vastly different political times, places and eras. From this body of work as well as the long history of relevant texts we could grow a body of work that could take up the mantle started by Dussel in imagining what a theology of liberation, a philosophy of liberation, an ethics of liberation, a politics of liberation, and foundationally a spirituality of liberation could mean for Muslims as we attempt to decolonize our hearts and minds towards a transmodern future.

Just one example of a text from the Muslim International which has been grossly under-studied and could be of great benefit to this undertaking is Ambiguous Adventure by Cheikh Hamidou Kane from Senengal. Written in 1962 Ambiguous Adventure is seen as a largely autobiographical tale about a young boy Samba Diallo who was raised within a lineage of Sufi Muslim Shaykhs (religious scholars), but instead of following tradition and following his family's long line of classical Islamic education, he is instead the first generation sent to the newly opened French school in French colonized Senegal. The book is a back and forth between tradition and spirituality, and modernity and the disbelief of Westernized life as lived and embodied by Samba Diallo as he moves to France to study for his PhD and then returns to his village in Senegal years later. As Kane reflects throughout the text on the role Western epistemology has played in colonizing the heart, mind and spirit he writes of this key moment,

   On the black continent it began to be
   understood that their true power lay not
   in the cannons of the first morning, but
   rather in what followed the cannons ...
   The new school shares at the same time
   the characteristics of cannon and of
   magnet. From the cannon it draws its
   efficacy as an arm of combat. Better
   than the cannon, it makes conquest permanent.
   The cannon compels the body,
   the school bewitches the soul. Where
   the cannon has made a pit of ashes and
   of death, in the sticky mold of which
   men would not have rebounded from
   the ruins, the new school establishes
   peace. The morning of rebirth will be a
   morning of benediction through the appeasing
   virtue of the new school. From
   the magnet, the school takes its radiating
   force. It is bound up with a new order,
   as a magnetic stone is bound up
   with a field. The upheaval of the life of
   man within this new order is similar to
   the overturn of certain physical laws in
   a magnetic field. Men are seen to be
   composing themselves, conquered,
   along the lines of invisible and imperious
   forces. Disorder is organized, rebellion
   is appeased, the mornings of
   resentment resound with songs of a universal
   thanksgiving. (88)


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Quijano, Anibal. "Coloniality of Power, Eurocentrism, and Latin America." Translated by Michael Ennis. Neplanta: Views from the South, I, no. 3 (2000).

Quijano, Anibal. "Coloniality and Modernity/ Rationality." Cultural Studies Vol. 21, Nos. 2-3 (March/ May 2007).

Sabbagh, Suha. "Going Against the West from Within: The Emergence of the West as an Other in Frantz Fanon's Work." Ph.D. diss., University of Wisconsin, Madison, 1982.

Sandoval, Chela. Methodology of the Oppressed. Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000.

Shareef bin Farid, Abu Alfa Muhammad. The Islamic Slave Revolts of Bahia, Brazil. Pittsburgh, PA: Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International, 1998.

Upton, Charles. Doorkeeper of the Heart: Versions of Rabi'a. Putney, Vermont: Threshold Books, 1988.

Williams Jr, Robert. The American Indian and Western Legal Thought: The Discourses o Conquest. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992.

Winter, Tim. "Introduction." Al-Ghazali On Disciplining the Soul-Kitab Riyadat al-nafs & On Breaking the Two Desires-Kitab Kasr al-shahwatayn-Books XXII and XXIII of The Revival of the Religious Sciences-Ihya 'Ulum al-Din. Cambridge, Islamic Texts Society, 1997.

Winter, Tim (editor). The Cambridge Companion to Classical Islamic Theology. Cambridge, UK: Cambridge University Press, 2008.

Wynter, Sylvia. "Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/ Power/ Truth/ Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation--An Argument," CR: The New Centennial Review, 3:3, (Fall 2003): 257-337.

Yusuf, Hamza. Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms, and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart. Starlatch Press: 2004.

Dustin Craun

(1.) See: Sylvia Wynter, "Unsettling the Coloniality of Being/ Power/ Truth/ Freedom: Towards the Human, After Man, Its Overrepresentation--An Argument," CR: The New Centennial Review, 3:3, (Fall 2003): 260.

(2.) Ibid, 262.

(3.) This term was first used by Walter Mignolo. He defines "egology," as "a frame of knowledge having "ego" instead of "theo," as the center and point of reference." See: Walter Mignolo, The Idea of Latin America (Malden, MA: Blackwell, 2005):10.

(4.) See: W.E.B. Dubois, Darkwater: Voices from Within the Veil (New York: Schocken, 1999): 18.

(5.) Mignolo describes this as a, "a move that shifts the geo-politics of knowledge." Walter Mignolo, The Idea of Latin America: 39.

(6.) See: Nelson Maldonado Torres, "Lewis Gordon: Philosopher of the Human," The CLR James Journal (The Caribbean Philosophical Association: Volume 14. Number 1. Spring 2008b): 124.

(7.) See: Aime Cesaire, Discourse on Colonialism (New York: Monthly Review Press, 2005): 36.

(8.) See: Robert Williams Jr, The American Indian and Western Legal Thought: The Discourses of Conquest (Oxford: Oxford University Press, 1992): 3-58.

(9.) See: Vine Deloria, Jr. The World We Used to Live In: Remembering the Powers of the Medicine Men. (Golden, CO: Fulcrum Publishing, 2006): xviii.

(10.) This term is used by Abdul Hakim Murad, in the article Abdul Hakim Murad, "Islamic Spirituality: the Forgotten Revolution, " (Masud, UK, no date given), Available at: http:// htm. I should note here that the British convert to Islam Timothy Winter who is a professor at Cambridge University, in Cambridge, England, is also Abdal-Hakim Murad, the Shaykh of the Cambridge Mosque and a prominent Islamic thinker in the West. He seems to publish under the name Timothy Winter when publishing in Western academic presses, and the name AbdalHakim Murad when publishing articles strictly related to the traditional Islamic sciences. What is often referred to as the "traditional Islamic sciences" refers generally to the religious study (ilm in Arabic) of the Quran, Tafsir (Qur'an Commentary), Aqida (Theology), Hadith (the sayings of the Prophet Muhammad), Seerah (the life of the Prophet Muhammad), Fiqh (Islamic Law), Usul al-fiqh (Legal Theory), Arabic grammar, and Tassawuf (Sufism).

(11.) I use the term "neoliberal multiculturalism" here as Jodi Melamed defines it in her article, "The Spirit of Neoliberalism: From Racial Liberalism to Neoliberal Multiculturalism."She writes that, "Multicultural reference masks the centrality of race and racism to neoliberalism. Race continues to permeate capitalism's economic and social processes, organizing the hyperextraction of surplus value from racialized bodies and naturalizing a system of capital accumulation that grossly favors the global North over the global South. Yet multiculturalism portrays neoliberal policy as the key to a postracist world of freedom and opportunity. Neoliberal policy engenders new racial subjects, as it creates and distinguishes between newly privileged and stigmatized collectivities, yet multiculturalism codes the wealth, mobility, and political power of neoliberalism's beneficiaries to be the just desserts of "multicultural world citizens," while representing those neoliberalism dispossesses to be handicapped by their own "monculturalism" or other historico-cultural deficiencies. A language of multiculturalism consistently portrays acts of force required for neoliberal restructuring to be humanitarian: a benevolent multicultural invader (the United States, multinational troops, a multinational corporation) intervenes to save life, "give" basic goods or jobs, and promote limited political freedom." See: Jodi Melamed, "The Spirit of Neoliberalism: From Racial Liberalism to Neoliberal Multiculturalism," Social Text, 89 Vol. 24, Number 4, (Winter 2006), Duke University Press: 1.

(12.) Following Dussel, according to Maldonado-Torres, the ego conquiro is a central attitude in the construction of modernity, "what was born in the sixteenth century was something more pervasive and subtle than what at first transpires in the concept of race: it was an attitude characterized by a permanent suspicion. Enrique Dussel states that Hernan Cortes gave expression to an ideal of subjectivity that could be defined as the ego conquiro, which predates Rene Descarte's articulation of the ego cogitio. This means that the significance of the Cartesian cogito for modern European identity has to be understood against the backdrop of an unquestioned ideal of self expressed in the notion of the ego conquiro. The certainty of the self as a conqueror, of its tasks and missions, preceded Descartes' certainty about the self as a thinking substance (res cogitans) and provided a way to interpret it." Nelson Maldonado-Torres, "On the Coloniality of Being: Contributions to the Development of a Concept," Cultural Studies, Vol. 21, Nos. 2-3 March/ May 2007: 245.

(13.) The term desacralization was first used by the Islamic/perennialist philosopher Seyyed Hossein Nasr. See his seminal work: Seyyed Hossein Nasr, Knowledge and the Sacred (New York: SUNY Press, 1989): 1.

(14.) The Fourth World refers to the indigenous "nations forcefully incorporated into states which maintain a distinct political culture but are internally unrecognized." Richard Griggs, "Background on the term "Fourth World,"" Center for World Indigenous Studies, Available at: FourthWorld/

(15.) For an overview of this project, and a listing of the work by its primary contributors see Walter Mignolo, "DELINKING: The Rhetoric of Modernity, the Logic of Coloniality and the Grammar of De-coloniality," Cultural Studies Vol. 21, Nos. 2-3 March/ May 2007: 449-450 and especially the end notes numbers 1 and 2 on pages: 500-502.

(16.) See Anibal Quijano, "Colonialidad y modernidad/ racionalidad," Los Conquistados. 1492 y la poblacion indigena de las Americas, Heraclio Bonilla (editor). (Ecuador: Libri Mundi, Tercer Mundo Editores, 1992) for his original articulation of the idea in Spanish, and the translation into English of the same article see: Anibal Quijano, "Coloniality and Modernity/ Rationality," Cultural Studies, Vol. 21, Nos. 2-3 (March/ May 2007).

(17.) See: Enrique Dussel, "Beyond Eurocentrism: The World-System and the Limits of Modernity," Fredric Jameson and Masao Miyoshi (editors). The Cultures of Globalization. (Durham: Duke University Press, 1998). For Dussel's philosophy of liberation see: Enrique Dussel, Philosophy of Liberation, Translated by Aquilina Martinez and Christine Morkovsky. (Maryknoll, N.Y.: Orbis Books, 1985). For the best summation of Enrique Dussel's thought, and particularly his ideas of "philosophy of liberation" see generally Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Against War: Views from the Underside of Modernity (Durham: Duke University Press, 2008a). While Dussel is discussed in relation to the thought of Levinas and Fanon throughout the text, the specific chapters on Dussel are on pages 162-236.

(18.) Walter Mignolo's major contributions to this field of thought include his books: Walter Mignolo, Local Histories/ Global Designs: Coloniality, Subaltern Knowledges, and Border Thinking (Princeton, N.J.: Princeton University Press, 2000); And Walter Mignolo, The Darker Side of the Renaissance: Literacy, Territoriality, and Colonization. 2nd Ed. (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2003); And most recently his article: Walter Mignolo, "DELINKING."

(19.) See the volume he edited: Ramon Grosfoguel, (editor), Latin@s in the World-System: Decolonization Struggles in the Twenty-First Century U.S. Empire, (Boulder: Paradigm Publishers, 2005); and his article Ramon Grosfoguel, "World-Systems Analysis in the Context of Transmodernity, Border Thinking, and Global Coloniality," Review: Fernand Braudel Center. Vol. XXIX. Number 2, 2006.

(20.) His article on the coloniality of being is especially important, see: Nelson Maldonado-Torres, "On the Coloniality of Being"; He is also the only author to thus far theorize secularism as it relates to coloniality/ modernity, see: Nelson Maldonado-Torres, "Secularism and Religion in the Modern/Colonial World-System: From Secular Postcoloniality to Postsecular Transmodernity." Mabel Morana, Enrique Dussel, and Carlos A. Jauregui (editors). Coloniality at Large: Latin America and the Postcolonial Debate. (Durham, NC: Duke University Press, 2008c).And most recently his book length project: Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Against War.

(21.) For the most important contribution made thus far that engages ideas pertaining to Gender and Coloniality see: Maria Lugones, "Heterosexualism and the Colonial/ Modern Gender System," Hypatia, vol. 22, no. 1 (Winter 2007).

(22.) Ramon Grosfoguel, "World-Systems Analysis in the Context of Transmodernity, Border Thinking, and Global Coloniality,": 172.

(23.) Nelson Maldonado-Torres, "Lewis Gordon: Philosopher of the Human.," 111.

(24.) See: Nishitani Osamu, (Translated by Trent Maxey), "Anthropos and Humanitas: Two Western Concepts of "Human Being." Naoki Sakai and Jon Solomon (editors), Translatoin, Biopolitics, Colonial Difference (Hong Kong: Hong Kong University Press, 2006): 259.

(25.) Ibid.

(26.) Ibid: 262.

(27.) Ibid: 260.

(28.) See: Walter Mignolo, The Idea of Latin America: 35.

(29.) According to Maldonado-Torres, the "paradigm of war" has been best described by Enrique Dussel who states: "From Heraclitus to Karl von Clausewitz and Henry Kissinger, 'war is the origin of everything,' if by 'everything' one understands the order or system that world dominators control by their power and armies. We are at war--a cold war for those who wage it, a hot war for those who suffer it ..." (See Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Against War: 3).

(30.) Ibid: 4.

(31.) With the term "death ethic of war," Maldonado-Torres is expanding on the work of Steve Martinot. Maldonado-Torres's definition of the term refers to the "constitutive character of coloniality and the naturalization of human difference that is tied to it in the emergence and unfolding of Western modernity." See: Ibid: xii.

(32.) Maldonado-Torres's term, the "nonethics of war," refers to "the suspension of what usually goes by ethics not only in war, but in civilization. It is this suspension that allows the production of premature death to become normative, at least for well-selected sectors in society and in the globe." Ibid.

(33.) Maldonado-Torres borrows this term from Chela Sandoval. See: Chela Sandoval, Methodology of the Oppressed, (Minneapolis: University of Minnesota Press, 2000): 169-170.

(34.) This is Enrique Dussel's term, and also the title of his multi-volume work of the same title.

(35.) Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Against War: 6.

(36.) Ibid: 93-121.

(37.) Ibid: 95.

(38.) Ibid: 99.

(39.) Ibid: 100.

(40.) Quoted in Ibid: 107.

(41.) Fanon discusses Hegel's Master/Slave dialectic in Frantz Fanon, Black Skin, White Masks, (New York: Grove Press, 2007): 220-221.

(42.) Nelson Maldonado-Torres, Against War:

(43.) Ibid: 106.

(44.) Ibid: 107.

(45.) Sabbagh, quoted in Ibid: 107.

(46.) Ibid: 108.

(47.) See my forthcoming book: Dustin Craun, White Benevolent Innocence: The Genocidal Mentality of Colonial Modernity.

(48.) Ibid: 113.

(49.) Ibid: 114.

(50.) Ibid: 119.

(51.) Nishitani Osamu, "Anthropos and Humanitas": 269.

(52.) See: Muhammad Asad, The Road to Mecca (St. Louis: Fons Vitae, 2000): 103.

(53.) See: Mike Davis, "Fear and Money in Dubai." Mike Davis (editor), Evil Paradises: the Dreamworlds of Neoliberalism (New York: Verso, 2007): 51.

(54.) Frantz Fanon, The Wretched of the Earth, (New York: Grove Press, 1963): 61

(55.) Massad's work is groundbreaking in the way that Maria Lugones' is, in that he shows how colonialism and Western progressive movements like the Gay International have played a role in shifting sexuality to a more oppressive and different place than it occupied previous to colonization, and Westernization. As he writes, "In adopting this Weltanschauung, Arab intellectuals also internalized the epistemology by which Europeans came to judge civilizations and cultures along the vector of something called "sex," as well as its later derivative, "sexuality," and the overall systematization of culture through the statistical concept of "norms," often corresponding to the "natural" and its "deviant" opposite." See: Joseph A. Massad, Desiring Arabs, (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2008):6; for his larger arguments around sexuality see pages 99-418.

(56.) Ibid: 3.

(57.) Ibid: 5.

(58.) Ibid: 12.

(59.) See: Abdul Hakim Murad, "Islamic Spirituality: The Forgotten Revolution."

(60.) Nelson Maldonado-Torres, "Lewis Gordon: Philosopher of the Human": 124.

(61.) Nishitani Osamu, "Anthropos and Humanitas": 270.

(62.) See Nelson Maldonado-Torres, "Secularism and Religion in the Modern/ Colonial World-System": 383.

(63.) For further definitions of these terms see: T.J. Winter, "Introduction," Al-Ghazali On Disciplining the Soul-Kitab Riyadat al-nafs & On Breaking the Two Desires-Kitab Kasr al-shahwataynBooks XXII and XXIII of The Revival of the Religious Sciences-Ihya 'Ulum al-Din, (Cambridge, Islamic Texts Society, 1997): LXVI.

(64.) See: Majid Fakhry, A History of Islamic Philosophy (New York: Columbia University Press, 2004): 256.

(65.) See: Laura Perez, "Con o Sin Permiso (With or Without Permission): Chicana Badgirls: Las Hociconas," Chicana Badgirls: Las Hociconas (Exhibition Catalog) (Albuquerque, New Mexico: 516 Arts, 2009): 5.

(66.) This is based on a saying of the Prophet Muhammad, which states that "every child is born in a state of fitra." While many Muslims often translate fitra here as 'every child is born a Muslim,' Hamza Yusuf writes that the statement here actually means that people are born inclining towards faith in a general term. See Hamza Yusuf, Purification of the Heart: Signs, Symptoms, and Cures of the Spiritual Diseases of the Heart (Starlatch Press: 2004): 20-21.

(67.) Ibid: 21.

(68.) Ibid.

(69.) See: Sherman Jackson, Islam and the Blackamerican: Looking toward the Third Resurrection (New York: Oxford University Press, USA, 2005): 172-173.

(70.) Ibid: 182.

(71.) See: William C. Chittick, The Sufi Path of Knowledge: Ibn al-'Arabi's Metaphysics of Imagination (Albany: State University of New York Press, 1989): 107.

(72.) Abdul Hakim Murad, "Islamic Spirituality: The Forgotten Revolution."

(73.) T.J. Winter, "Introduction": xxviii.

(74.) Abdul Hakim Murad, "Islamic Spirituality: The Forgotten Revolution."

(75.) For the concept of La Facultad, see Gloria Anzaldua. Borderlands/ La Frontera: The New Mestiza (San Francisco: Aunt Lute Books, 1999).

(76.) Tim Winter (translator), Al-Ghazali On Disciplining the Soul-Kitab Riyadat al-nafs & On Breaking the Two Desires-Kitab Kasr al-shahwatayn-Books XXII and XXIII of The Revival of the Religious Sciences-Ihya 'Ulum al-Din (Cambridge, Islamic Texts Society, 1997): 16.

(77.) See: Charles Upton, Doorkeeper of the Heart: Versions of Rabi'a (Putney, Vermont: Threshold Books, 1988): 27.

(78.) Ibn 'Arabi. Perfect Harmony: Sufi Poetry of Ibn 'Arabi (Boston: Shambhala Publications, 2002).

(79.) See: "The Future of the Global Muslim Population," Pew Research Religion & Public Life Project, January 27, 2011, Available at: http:// and: Manuel Pastor, Angela Glover Blackwell and Stewart Kwoh, Uncommon Common Ground: Race and America's Future (New York, W.W. Norton, 2010).

(80.) Verse 13:11-M.A.S. Abdel Haleem (translator), The Qur'an (New York: Oxford University Press, 2004): 154.

(81.) Imam Muhammad b. Nasir al-Dar'I; Hamza Yusuf (Translator), The Prayer of the Oppressed: The Sword of Victory's Lot Over Every Tyranny and Plot (Danville, CA: Sandala Press, 2010):53. The full text of this prayer is available here: uploads/20TT/04/Dua Nasiri Arabic Translation.pdf

(82.) This group recitation happens in places such as the emerging hybrid community of Muslims from throughout the world living in the San Francisco Bay Area at Zaytuna College and the Ta'leef Collective.

(83.) See: Abu Alfa Muhammad Shareef bin Farid, The Islamic Slave Revolts of Bahia, Brazil (Pittsburgh, PA: Sankore Institute of Islamic-African Studies International, 1998) and Sylviane A. Diouf, Servants of Allah: African Muslims Enslaved in the Americas (New York: New York University Press, 1998).

(84.) Sohail Daulatzai, Black Star, Crescent Moon: The Muslim International and Black Freedom beyond America (Minneapolis, Minnesota University Press, 2013): xxii.

(85.) Quoted in: Louis A. DeCaro, Jr., On the Side of My People: A Religious Life of Malcolm X (New York, New York University Press, 1996): 239.

(86.) Ahmed Bouyerdene, Emir Abd el-Kader: Hero and Saint of Islam (New York: World Wisdom, 2012).

(87.) See: Cheikh Anta Babou, Fighting the Greater Jihad: Amadu Bamba and the Founding of the Muridiyya of Senegal, 1853-1913 (Athens, Ohio: Ohio University Press, 2007).

(88.) Cheikh Hamdidou Kane, Ambiguous Adventure, (Oxford, London: Heinemann Educational Publishers, 1962): 49-50. For an in depth reading of the spiritual aspects of the text see: Rebecca Masterton, "Islamic Mystical Readings of Cheikh Hamidou Kane's Ambiguous Adventure," Journal of Islamic Studies (Oxford University Press, 20 (1), 2009): 21-45. Available at: content/20/1/21.short

Dustin Craun is a writer, community organizer, and digital strategist who has worked with more than twenty-five different social movement organizations over the last twelve years in the U.S., and throughout the world. Dustin works on the clergy organizing team for the PICO National Network building Muslim Community organizing into the largest faith based community organizing network in the United States. His writings have been featured in a number of blogs and publications such as Adbusters, and he is working on publishing his first two books titled White Benevolent Innocence: Race, Whiteness and the Genocidal Mentality of Colonial Modernity and Decolonizing the Heart in an Upside Down World. He has a Masters degree from the College of Ethnic Studies at San Francisco State University and a Bachelors in Ethnic Studies from the University of Colorado-Boulder. Beyond this he has also studied the classical Islamic sciences with some of the world's leading Muslim scholars at Zaytuna College.
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