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Muslim Identities

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Muslim Identities: An Introduction to Islam presents a fully updated introduction to the religion of Islam and the various social groups who define themselves as Muslim. Unlike other such works, it presents both insider and outsider accounts with the aim of striking a unique balance between overly apologetical and overly Orientalist perspectives. With the first edition described as a “truly outstanding book” and “the very best introduction currently available in English for non-Muslims seeking a sound approach to Islam” (Journal of Islamic Studies), this new edition offers both students and general readers a comprehensive and balanced introduction to the world’s second-largest religion. Each chapter of this second edition has been fully revised and includes an up-to-date bibliography that considers the most recent scholarship. Readers will also find a new final chapter that examines the role and place of Muslims in the modern West.

Published: Nov 9, 2022

Section Chapter Authors
Preface to Second Edition Aaron Hughes
Acknowledgements Aaron Hughes
Religious Studies and the Academic Study of Islam Aaron Hughes
Part I: Beginnings
1. Arabia Prior to the Advent of Islam Aaron Hughes
2. The Making of the Last Prophet Aaron Hughes
3. The Quran: The Foundation Aaron Hughes
Part II: Identity Formations
4. The Spread of Islam Beyond the Arabian Peninsula Aaron Hughes
5. Early Sectarianism and the Formation of Shiʿism Aaron Hughes
6. Legal Developments and the Gradual Emergence of Sunni Islam Aaron Hughes
7. Sufism: The Mystical Strain in Islam Aaron Hughes
Part III: Beliefs and Practices
8. The Maintenance of Muslim Identities: Beliefs and Schools Aaron Hughes
9. The Performance of Muslim Identities Aaron Hughes
Part IV: Modern Variations
10. Encounters with Modernity Aaron Hughes
11. Gender and Construction of Muslim Women Aaron Hughes
12. Islam and “the West” Aaron Hughes
13. The Inconvenient Muslim: From Majority to Minority Aaron Hughes
End Matter
Glossary Aaron Hughes
Selected Bibliography Aaron Hughes
Index Aaron Hughes


Muslim Identities by Aaron Hughes is one of the most balanced introductory textbooks for the academic study of Islam that I have read and taught. It is both thorough and scholarly, yet also easily legible. It addresses insider/outsider debates and examines controversial issues, such as “Islam and 9/11,” with both boldness and sensitivity.
Edith Szanto, Assistant Professor, Religious Studies, University of Alabama

This book is more than just an introduction to Islam. Aaron Hughes provides analytical tools for the reader to understand Islam as a historical and social phenomenon, and not as a static and homogeneous entity. Despite its admirably clear language, accessible to the non-specialist, Muslim Identities is written with utmost scholarly rigor. It keeps complexity and historical change at the forefront of its exposition and steers away from simplistic clichés.
Mushegh Asatryan, Associate Professor of Arabic and Muslim Cultures, University of Calgary