In this episode of Islam on the Edges, Dr. Ermin Sinanovic talks to Dr. Hatem Bazian of the UC Berkeley and the Zaytuna College about Islamic Palestine and its place in Muslim theology, culture, history, memory, and future.
In yet another round of the colonizing violence against the native Palestinian population – both Muslim and Christian – it is tempting to reduce the situation to a political conflict. While politics is no doubt at the root of the current occupation of Palestine, what is often
forgotten is the place of Palestine in Muslim theology, history, memory, and imagination.
Salam alaykum! Greetings! And welcome to “Islamic Palestine,” episode 3 of the “Islam on the Edges” channel of the Maydan Podcast, a production of Maydan, an online publication of the Ali Vural Ak Center for Global Islamic Studies at George Mason University. My name is Ermin Sinanovic. I am curator and host of “Islam on the Edges”.
Why talk about Palestine on the “Islam on the Edges” podcast? Is not Palestine at the center of the Middle East, which is predominantly Muslim and has been so for many centuries? To begin answering this question, we should recall that the sacred area in Bayt al-Maqdis or Jerusalem is referred to in the Qur’an as “al-masjid al-aqsa” or the “farthest/remote mosque.” The edginess or the edge-nature of the sacred area in question is, then, established in Islam by the highest authority.
The other reason for it being included in “Islam on the Edges” is because there is a real fear and a possibility that Palestine may end up just like al-Andalus, “Muslim Spain.” What was once a thriving culture became only a distant memory. One should not let the analogy go too far though, for Palestine is too important to the Muslims to be lost forever – something, one must say in all honesty, al-Andalus never was or will be. The case of al-Andalus provides an excellent example of what happens when people are expelled from the land and when all that remains are distant memories and destroyed and repurposed buildings. By traveling to the edges of our memory we recover important artifacts that tie us to our present and future.
It is probably safe to say that many people, Muslims or otherwise, do not have strong knowledge about the central nature the sacred land in and around Palestine occupies in Muslim consciousness. In this episode, I talk to Dr. Hatem Bazian of the UC Berkeley and the Zaytuna College about Islamic Palestine and its place in Muslim theology, culture, history, memory, and future.
Dr. Hatem Bazian is a co-founder and Professor of Islamic Law and Theology at Zaytuna College, the first accredited Muslim liberal arts college in the United States. In addition, Prof. Bazian is a lecturer in the Departments of Near Eastern and Asian American and Asian Diaspora Studies at the University of California, Berkeley. In 2009, Prof. Bazian founded at Berkeley the Islamophobia Research and Documentation Project at the Center for Race and Gender, a research unit dedicated to the systematic study of Othering Islam and Muslims. In 2012, he launched the Islamophobia Studies Journal, which is published bi-annually. Dr. Bazian holds a Ph.D. in Philosophy and Islamic Studies from the University of California at Berkeley.