1985 …2015
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Personal profile

Research Interests

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

Professional Information

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

Personal profile

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.

Honors & Awards

Carnegie Scholarship, 2009-2010
Alumni Discretionary Award for Service to the University of Illinois, 2008
University Scholar, University of Illinois, October 1996
Faculty Fellow, Center for Advanced Study, 2003


Fulbright Research Fellowships, 2000-2001; 1987-1988
Carnegie Scholarship, 2009-2010
National Endowment for the Humanities fellowship, 1991-1992


Office Address

Department of Religion
3092B Foreign Languages Building
707 S. Mathews Avenue
Urbana, IL 61801
M/C 166

Office Phone

Education/Academic qualification

Arabic and Islamic Studies, Ph.D., The University of Chicago

Arabic and Islamic Studies, M.A., The University of Chicago

Anthropology, B.A., The University of Pennsylvania


  • B Philosophy. Psychology. Religion
  • Islam
  • H Social Sciences
  • Anthropology

Fingerprint Fingerprint is based on mining the text of the expert's scholarly documents to create an index of weighted terms, which defines the key subjects of each individual researcher.

Islam Social Sciences
puritanism Social Sciences
Muslim Social Sciences
Egypt Social Sciences
reformism Social Sciences
mysticism Social Sciences
Oman Social Sciences
rationalism Social Sciences

Research Output 1985 2015

Sufism, mystics, and saints in modern Egypt

Hoffman, V. J., 2009, Pbk. ed. ed. Columbia, S.C: University of South Carolina Press. 461 p. (Studies in comparative religion)

Research output: Book/ReportBook

The essentials of Ibadi Islam

Hoffman, V. J., Dec 1 2011, Syracuse University Press. 344 p.

Research output: Book/ReportBook


Ibadi Scholars on Association and Dissociation, from the Tenth to the Twenty-First Century

Hoffman, V. J., 2015, Ibadi Jurisprudence: Origins, Developments and Cases. Michalak-Pikulska, B. & Eisener, R. (eds.). Hildesheim; Zurich; New York: Georg Olms Verlag, p. 185-194 10 p. (Studies in Ibadism and Oman).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Ibadism: History, Doctrines and Recent Scholarship

Hoffman, V. J., 2015, In : Religion Compass. 9, 9, p. 297-307 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle


Mysticism, rationalism and puritanism in modern Omani Ibadism (18th-early 20th century)

Hoffman, V. J., Apr 1 2015, In : Muslim World. 105, 2, p. 251-265 15 p.

Research output: Contribution to journalReview article


Activities 1982 2015

  • 39 Invited talk
  • 1 Participation in conference

Celebrating Muhammad, Remembering God: Sufism in Egypt

Valerie J Hoffman (Speaker)
Mar 22 2011

Activity: Talk typesInvited talk

What Role Can Sufism Play in Contemporary Egypt?

Valerie J Hoffman (Speaker)
Sep 26 2009

Activity: Talk typesInvited talk

Women in the Sufi Orders

Valerie J Hoffman (Speaker)
Sep 19 2002

Activity: Talk typesInvited talk