The ZamZam Well is an online database and archive of feminist, de-colonial and intersectional contributions to Islamic thought and praxis authored and authorized by Muslims all over the world. It is a project I am currently in the process of designing and launching by the end of 2019 as a fellow for SFU’s Center for Comparative Muslim Studies. It is currently under construction and will be re-launched in 2023.
The open-access library is a practice of public scholarship. It is a living and intentional gathering of anti-oppressive Islamic knowledge, practices and histories in the form of duas, rituals, stories, khutbahs, Quranic exegesis, practices of care, etc. Our aim is to support Muslims in the struggle against Islamophobia, (settler-) colonialism, heteropatriarchy, capitalism, ableism, secularism, and white supremacy by sharing community-based research, anti-oppressive vocabularies, educational resources, and practices that are rooted in the Islamic tradition and (con)texts.
Instead of leading with Revelation, or the interpretations of Islamic scholars, the database prioritizes and empowers the authority of care-based modes of knowing and practicing Islam. Whereas scholars and jurists focus on chains of authentication and the distance between the literal, the contextual, and the cultural dimensions of Islam, this project hopes to (re)surface and reconsider the embodied, relational and material dimensions of Islamic knowledge production. We learn Islam through our entanglements with the world and to one another.
And so, how we inherit, learn, and come to be keepers of Islamic knowledge is shaped by the materials that we use (clay bowl, ink, laptop, tablet, etc.), our situatedness in the world (our relationships, the lands and waters that sustain us, our bodies, etc.), our kin and chosen family, our histories, and our horizons. Whether it is through our grandmother’s protective prayers, or our teachers’ smiles, or through the force of Ar-Rahman, we learn Islam through care, companionship, body-sense and intentional communities of practice.
Through this project, we aim to not only expand the circle of who is empowered as an interpretive authority in Muslim communities but also share the gifts of healing and resistance we’ve been given with other Muslims around the world who are navigating similar struggles. Sharing our practices and knowledges with others is not only a way of sadaqah (giving back) but it is also a way of holding, and making, space within the Islamic tradition for marginalized voices.
By crowd-sourcing anti-oppressive, de-colonial, queer and feminist strains of Islamic knowledge and practices, we hope to hold in place a groundswell, as a source of shelter for the marginalized to retreat to. Whether its sharing a dua you recite for the world to be more accessible for a disabled or ill family member or a khutbah you wrote for your community in response to racialized violence, or an interpretation, or story, of a Quranic passage that has supported you through a civil rights struggle, submissions can range in scope, medium, length, and style.