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The Emergence of Islamic Liberation Theology in South Africa

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AbstractThere is a growing interest in Islamic liberation theology today, and seminal authors such as Ali Shariati, Alighar Ali Engineer (1984, 1990), Farid Esack (1984, 1997), and Hamid Dabashi (2008) have developed its central commitments. In South Africa the earliest representative text was the ‘Review of Faith’ (1984) by Farid Esack, used by the Call of Islam (est. 1984) for cultivating personal piety and conscientization (critical consciousness) against apartheid. Based on recent interviews, unpublished manuscripts, and published works, this article demonstrates how Islamic liberation theology emerged in the political praxis of Muslims against settler colonialism and apartheid. In this subaltern history, political Islam as political praxis and not state building generated a unique discursive space for an Islamic liberation theology to emerge within the confluence of two ideological paths: those of humanism and Islamism.

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