1985 …2015
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Personal profile

Research Interests

Valerie Hoffman is Professor and Head of the Department of Religion at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign and specializes in Islamic thought and practice.  She received her BA in Anthropology from the University of Pennsylvania and her MA and PhD in Near Eastern Languages and Civilizations from the University of Chicago.  She has a broad range of research interests, including classical theology, Islamic philosophy, Sufism, gender ideology, and modern Islamic thought, and she has used diverse methodologies, ranging from anthropological-style fieldwork to the study of manuscripts.  She is the author of Sufism, Mystics and Saints in Modern Egypt (University of South Carolina Press, 1995) and The Essentials of Ibāḍī Islam (Syracuse University Press, 2012), as well as numerous articles on Sufism, Islamic gender ideology, Ibāḍī Islam, human rights, and contemporary Islamic movements. She was a Fulbright research fellow in Egypt (1987-1988) and in Oman and Yemen (2000-2001) and was a Carnegie scholar in 2009-2010.  She has served on the Board of Directors of the Middle East Studies Association of North America and on the editorial boards of the International Journal of Middle East Studies and the Journal of the American Academy of Religion.  Her current book project is Islamic Sectarianism Reconsidered: Ibāḍī Islam in the Modern Age.

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.


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

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

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


Refuting the Vision of God in Ibadi Theology

Hoffman, V. J., 2015, Ibadi Theology: Rereading Sources and Scholarly Works. Francesca, E. (ed.). Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag, p. 245-253 9 p. (Studies in Ibadism and Oman).

Research output: Chapter in Book/Report/Conference proceedingChapter

Refuting the vision of God in Ibāḍī theology

Hoffman, V. J., 2015, p. 245-255. 11 p.

Research output: Contribution to conferenceOther

Activities 1982 2015

  • 39 Invited talk
  • 1 Participation in conference

Women and Sexuality in Islamic Mysticism

Valerie J Hoffman (Speaker)
Mar 27 1990

Activity: Talk typesInvited talk

Islam and Muslim Scholars in Nineteenth-Century Zanzibar

Valerie J Hoffman (Speaker)
Mar 10 2008

Activity: Talk typesInvited talk

Women in the Arab World

Valerie J Hoffman (Speaker)
Mar 28 1991

Activity: Talk typesInvited talk

Where are the Women? Spirituality and Gender in Islamic Sacred Space

Valerie J Hoffman (Speaker)
Apr 8 2002

Activity: Talk typesInvited talk