Oludamini Ogunnaike

Assistant Professor of African Religious Thought and Democracy

Gibson 438


  • PhD (African Studies and the Study of Religion), Harvard University
  • MPhil (African Studies and the Study of Religion), Harvard University
  • A.B. (Cognitive Neuroscience and African Studies), Harvard College

Research Interests

My research examines the philosophical and artistic dimensions of postcolonial, colonial, and pre-colonial Islamic and indigenous religious traditions of West and North Africa, especially Sufism and Ifa. My research falls into two general areas: the intellectual history and literary studies of the Islamic and indigenous traditions of West Africa (redressing the general neglect of Sub-Saharan Africa as an important center of Islamic scholarship and literary production and the neglect of the intellectual dimensions of indigenous African religious traditions), and employing the insights and ideas from these traditions to contribute to contemporary philosophical debates relevant to a variety of disciplines.
I am completing work on two book manuscripts — Deep Knowledge: Ways of Knowing in Sufism and Ifa, Two West African Intellectual Traditions (Penn State University Press) and Poetry in Praise of Prophetic Perfection: West African Madīḥ Poetry and its Precedents (Islamic Texts Society). I've also begun work on another project comparing and contrasting the work and decolonial projects of Frantz Fanon and Amadou Hampâté Bâ who represent two distinct and important traditions in Black Atlantic and global decolonial thought.
I also write and do work on the Philosophy of Religion, African Philosophy, Anthropology, Decoloniality, Race, and Imperialism.


RELI 5559—What Is Love
RELA 2559—Introduction to Yoruba Religions
Introduction to Islam in Africa through the Arts
Religion and Society in Nigeria
African Philosophy
Education in West Africa

Selected Publications

“Of Cannons and Canons: The Promise and Perils of Post-Colonial Education” Renovatio 2no. 2 (Fall 2018): 25-39.
“Philosophical Sufism in the Sokoto Caliphate: The Case of Shaykh Dan Tafa” forthcoming in New Directions in the Study of Islamic Scholarship in Africa. Ousmane Kane (ed.)
“Sufism, Islamic Philosophy, and Education in West Africa" forthcoming in The Oxford Research Encyclopedia of African History 
“Islamic Philosophies of Education in Africa” forthcoming in The Palgrave Handbook of African Education and Indigenous Knowledge 
“Performing Realization: The Sufi Music Videos of the Taalibe Baye of Dakar” African Arts 5,1 no. 3 (2018): 26-39.
“In the Gardens with Ibrahim: An Evaluation of Fī riyā al-tafsīr by Shaykh Ibrahim Niasse, a Contemporary, Traditional Tafsīr,” The Journal of Qur’anic Studies 20, vol. 1 (2018): 28-46.
“African Philosophy Reconsidered: Religion, Race, and Rationality” Journal of Africana Religions 5, no. 2 (2017): 181-216.
“Annihilation in the Messenger of God Revisited: Clarifications on a Contemporary Sufi Practice and its Precedents" The Journal of Islamic and Muslim Studies 1, no. 2 (2016): 13-34.
“The Poetry of Presence, the Presence of Poetry: A Study of Arabic Sufi Poetry in Contemporary Dakar” The Journal of Sufi Studies 5, no. 1 (2016): 58-97
“An Akbarī approach to the Problem of Pure Consciousness” Journal of the Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society, Volume 61 (2017): 17-42.
“Islam in English” co-authored with Mohammed Rustom, The American Journal of Islamic Social Sciences, 36(2): 102-111.
“Silent Theology: The Importance of Islamic Art” Renovatio 1, no. 2 (Fall 2017)
“Ibn Khaldun: Father of the Social Sciences” in Global Africa: Into the Twenty-First Century, Dorothy Hodgson and Judith Byfield (eds.).(Berkeley: University of California Press, 2017):10-16.
“From Heathen to Subhuman: A Genealogy of the Influence of the Decline of Religion on the Rise of Modern Racism” Open Theology2, no. 1 (2016): 785-803.
“Inception and Ibn ‘Arabi” Journal of Religion and Film 17, no. 2 (2013): Article 10 (online journal)

Selected Awards and Grants 

Muhyiddin Ibn ‘Arabi Society Young Writers’ Award-2016-17

The Reves Center for International Studies Faculty Fellowship (2018-2019)

The College of William and Mary Faculty Summer Research Award (2017-2018)

Stanford University Abbasi Program in Islamic Studies Postdoctoral Fellowship (2015-2016)