Dr. Valerie J. Hoffman

Head, Professor

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Contact Information

Office Hours

  • by appointment

Additional Affiliation



I am a specialist in Islamic thought and practice. I have worked on many aspects of Islam, from the time of the Prophet to the contemporary period; I have conducted textual studies and have done fieldwork. I did two major fieldwork projects in Egypt, one on Muslim women's religious lives in contemporary Egypt (1980-81) and another on Sufism in modern Egypt (1987-89). Then I studied Swahili and spent two summers in Zanzibar, where I became aware that two distinct strands of Arabian Islam had impacted the Swahili coast: the Sultanate of Oman and the Hadramawt region of Yemen. I spent the 2000-2001 academic year in Oman and the Hadramawt, and became particularly interested in the Ibadi sect of Islam, an ancient and small sect that is neither Sunni nor Shiite and is practiced in Oman and small pockets of North Africa. I have since written the first English-language study of Ibadi theology and have become a specialist in Ibadism in the modern period, especially in Oman and Zanzibar.

Research Interest(s)

Islamic thought and practice, Muslim sects, medieval and contemporary Islamic thought and movements, Sufism, Islamic gender ideology, Muslim women’s religious lives, Islam in Oman, Yemen, Egypt and East Africa

Research Description

  • Current Research Project: Islamic Sectarianism Reconsidered: Ibadi Islam in the Modern Age


  • Ph.D. University of Chicago, 1986
  • M.A. University of Chicago, 1979
  • B.A. University of Pennsylvania, 1975

Distinctions / Awards


Selected Publications


  • The Essentials of Ibadi Islam . Syracuse University Press, 2012.
  • Hoffman, Valerie J. Sufism, Mystics and Saints in Modern Egypt. Columbia, SC: University of South Carolina , 1995.

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Book Contributions

  • Hoffman, Valerie J. "Refuting the Vision of God in Ibadi Theology." Ibadi Theology: Rereading Sources and Scholarly Works. Ed. Angeliki Ziaka. Hildesheim, Germany: Georg Olms Verlagsbuchhandlung, 2015. 245-253.

  • Hoffman, Valerie J. "What Role Can Sufism Play in Contemporary Egypt?." Sufism and Social Integration: Connecting Hearts, Crossing Boundar. Ed. Mohammad H. Faghfoory and Golam Dastagir. Chicago: Kazi Publications, 2015. 127-145.

  • Hoffman, Valerie J. "Hasan al-Basri on Moral Responsibility." Islamic Theological Themes: A Primary Source Reader. Ed. John Renard. Oakland, CA: University of California Press, 2014. 317-325.

  • Hoffman, Valerie J. "The Role of the Masharifu on the Swahili Coast in the Nineteenth and Twentieth Centuries." Sayyids and Sharifs in Muslim Societies: Living Links to the Prophet. Ed. Kazuo Morimoto. London: Routledge, 2012. 185-197.

  • "Historical Memory and Imagined Communities: Modern Ibadi Writings on Kharijism." Historical Dimensions of Islam: Essays in Honor of R. Stephen Humphreys. Princeton: Darwin Press, 2009.

Journal Articles

  • "Mysticism, Rationalism and Puritanism in Modern Omani Ibadism (18th-20th Centuries)." Muslim World 105.1 (2015): 251-265.
  • Hoffman, Valerie J., and Sulaiman b. al-Shuaili. "Ibadi Reformism in Twentieth-Century Algeria: The Tafsir of Shaykh Ibrahim Bayyud." Revue du monde musulman et de la Méditerranée132 (2012): 155-173.
  • "Islam, Human Rights and Interfaith Relations: Some Contemporary Egyptian Perspectives." Journal of Political Theology11.5 (2010): 690-715.
  • Hoffman, Valerie J. "Ibadi Muslim Scholars and the Confrontation with Sunni Islam in Nineteenth- and Early Twentieth-Century Zanzibar." Bulletin of the Royal Institute of Inter-Faith Studies 7.1 (2005): 91-118.
Encyclopedia Entries

  • Hoffman, Valerie J. "‘Abata, Muhammad Hasan." The Encyclopaedia of Islam. 3rd ed. Leiden: Brill, 2011.

  • Rev. of Philosophising in Mombasa: Knowledge, Islam and Intellectual Practice on the Swahili Coast , by Kai Kresse. Comparative Studies of South Asia, Africa and the Middle East 30.3 (2010): 663-666.
  • Hoffman, Valerie J. Rev. of Pure Gold from the Words of Sayyidī ‘Abd al-‘Azīz al-Dabbāgh (Al-Dhahab al-Ibrīz min Kalām Sayyidī ‘Abd al-‘Azīz al-Dabbāgh), trans. John O'Kane and Bernd Radtke. Islamic Africa 1.1 (2010): 130-131.