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UBC Theses and Dissertations

In Hajar's footsteps : a de-colonial and islamic ethic of care Munawar, Sarah


This dissertation radically reimagines the boundaries of political theory as a practice and as a tradition in three ways. First, I surface the ableist and colonial paradigm of recognition that shapes the study of Islam and the “Muslim Other” in comparative political theory and care ethics. The colonial legacy of political theory lives on within the textual sensibilities of political theorists, inherited from white-orientated reading practices, epistemic white privilege, and matricide as an epistemological orientation. Refusing to (un)learn how colonial histories of sense-contact have shaped our practices of reading and writing compromises the witnessing capacities of political theorists. In turn, we become complicit in authoring and authorizing colonial world-building practices. Second, I trace how white-orientated and heteropatriarchal conceptions of citizenship travel through the inheritance of the nation-state. Imperial readings of disability, (inter)dependency and care, both within and outside the Islamic tradition, render Muslim women and disabled Muslims as misfits in our knowledge relations. Through auto-ethnography I argue care-based modes of knowing Islam are needed to theorize accessibility because 1) disabled Muslims and care-givers remain visible only through frames of charity or tragedy; 2) situations of dependency care render one ontologically and epistemically incapable of sensing and knowing the Islamic; 3) interpretive authority is sanctioned by legal scholars, Muslim men, or white and secular scholars; and 4) narratives of informal care-giving, care-based epistemologies of Islam and the epistemic authority of disabled Muslims and Muslim women are denigrated within the ecology of Islamic knowledges. I design various care-based and intersectional Islamic technologies by which (non)Muslims can harness care as a critical sensibility that orients how we read, write and think about what is “Islamic”, whose bodies we identify as interpretive authorities, and which types of knowledge we authorize as “Islam.” Third, I turn away from imagining moral epistemologies of care to focus on the praxis behind care-based epistemologies of Islam and its vast potential for coalitional politics and de-colonial movement building. By de-centering whiteness, I re-conceive what it means to be a Muslim on Turtle Island and practice Islam in a settler-colonial society.

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