1st Edition

Knowledge, Authority, and Islamic Education in the West Reconfiguring Tradition

By Zainab Kabba Copyright 2024
    248 Pages
    by Routledge

    This ethnographic study focuses on emerging adult Muslims engaged in religious learning in Western environments. It draws on fieldwork in the United States, Canada, and Turkey to explore the production of knowledge and the formation of religious identity. The book documents and analyzes the ways in which four intensive pedagogical settings, and the student-teacher encounters within them, act as vehicles to reconceptualize Islamic tradition and provide Muslims with understandings of their past that inform choices for their futures. It considers the pervasiveness of technology and the decentralized nature of juridical interpretation in Islam that fosters competition amongst a myriad of knowledge producers, contouring religious understandings and practice for Muslims in contexts such as America. The author argues for shifting the vertical nature of religious authority by parsing the components between teachers and students that are continuously communicated and calibrated to enable authority to materialize. In addition to contributing to debates on the challenges of intra-Muslim dialogue in relation to the umma, this volume illustrates how American Sunni-Muslim communities readapt classical narratives of Islamic tradition in a digital age despite the tense geopolitics currently surrounding Islam.

    Introduction; 1. Knowledge and Authority; 2. Islamic and Muslim Learning in the United States; 3. The Spirit’s Action; 4. The Journey; 5. Pressure Makes Diamonds; 6. Living the Dream; 7. Negotiating Boundaries of Muslim Practice; 8. The Seekers’ Seekers


    Dr Zainab Kabba is an educator, researcher, and strategist. She is the former Associate Director for Programs at the Skoll Centre for Social Entrepreneurship and former Executive Director of Cambridge Muslim College. She is currently the CEO and Founder of Quotidian Strategies.