Valerie J. Hoffman

Profile picture for Valerie J. Hoffman

Contact Information

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


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 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

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


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

Additional Campus Affiliations

Professor, Gender and Women's Studies
Professor, Program in Medieval Studies

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

Recent Publications

Hoffman, V. J. (2015). Ibadi Scholars on Association and Dissociation, from the Tenth to the Twenty-First Century. In B. Michalak-Pikulska, & R. Eisener (Eds.), Ibadi Jurisprudence: Origins, Developments and Cases (pp. 185-194). (Studies in Ibadism and Oman). Hildesheim; Zurich; New York: Georg Olms Verlag.

Hoffman, V. J. (2015). Ibadism: History, Doctrines and Recent Scholarship. Religion Compass, 9(9), 297-307.

Hoffman, V. J. (2015). Mysticism, rationalism and puritanism in modern Omani Ibadism (18th-early 20th century). Muslim World, 105(2), 251-265.

Hoffman, V. J. (2015). Refuting the vision of God in Ibāḍī theology. 245-255.

Hoffman, V. J. (2015). Refuting the Vision of God in Ibadi Theology. In E. Francesca (Ed.), Ibadi Theology: Rereading Sources and Scholarly Works (pp. 245-253). (Studies in Ibadism and Oman). Hildesheim: Georg Olms Verlag.

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