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Writer’s Seminar and Volume on: ISLAMIC RELIGIOUS PRACTICE IN THE U.S.

How do Muslims in the United States practice their religion? Where, when, how and why do they pray, fast during Ramadan, and make pilgrimage to Mecca? What rituals accompany the birth of a child, a wedding, and the death of a loved one? How do they celebrate holidays and mark days of commemoration such as the martyrdom of Husayn? How do U.S. Muslims recite the Qur’an, celebrate the birthday of the Prophet Muhammad, and praise God?

The growing scholarly corpus on Islam in America includes significant coverage of Muslim American organizations and associations, anti-Muslim prejudice and the politics of Islam, Sufism, the interpretation of Islamic law and ethics, gender and women’s issues, the sociology of mosque attendance, the assimilation of Muslim immigrants, Muslim American public opinion, and the ways that Muslim Americans construct their ethnic and racial identities. But there is a dearth of scholarship on Islamic ritual practice. Scholars, journalists, students, and members of the general public often resort to introductory textbooks to describe the ritual practices and performances of Muslim Americans rather than consulting a body of peer-reviewed scholarship.

This project, which includes a writer’s seminar and a resulting edited volume, will explore in concrete detail how Muslim Americans practice their religion through ritual performance. Drafts of volume chapters will be due on June 1, 2016. Contributors will then gather in early July, 2016, on the campus of IUPUI in downtown Indianapolis, Indiana, to comment on each other’s papers. Final drafts, approximately 30 pages long, will be due on November 1, 2016.

Scholars are welcome to use a variety of theoretical approaches, but all chapters should give readers a concrete sense of what it feels like, looks like, sounds like, and smells like (as relevant) to perform the ritual under consideration. So, each chapter should be descriptive as well as analytical. All writing should be accessible to a broad audience (so scholarly jargon, whenever used, must be defined and explained).

Generally speaking, chapters will cover topics such as the pillars of practice, life cycle rites, holidays, food rituals, dhikr, and Qur’an recitation but other thematic approaches to ritual practice and
performance are also welcome.

Contributors to the project so far include: Kambiz GhaneaBassiri on Hajj; Amir Hussain on funerals and burials; Michael Muhammad Knight on Ramadan; Marcia Hermansen on mawlid/milad; and Laury Silvers on congregational prayer.

If interested, please send a brief expression of interest to Edward Curtis, . Participants will then be invited to submit a brief proposal by May 1, 2015.