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a word cloud with dozens of words, centered on the word "shari'a"

During our interviews with more than 100 California Muslims, we asked what words come to mind when they think of shari’a. Word cloud design by Nadeen AbuHasan.

Our team commissioned distinguished poet Mark Gonzales and Emmy Award-winning filmmaker Justin Mashouf to create a video installation interpreting shari’a, using some of the words and stories shared with us during our interview process.

Photo Courtesies: King Fahd Mosque, Culver City (Omar Bárcena/Flickr); Imam Zaid Shakir & Bilal Ansari (Zaytuna College); Boy in prayer (Beth Rankin/Flickr); Women’s Mosque of America (Alexa Pilato)

The goal of Shari’a Revoiced: Documenting American Muslims’ Experiences of Islamic Law, is to uncover new voices and understandings of Islamic law among Muslim communities in California, a microcosm of the United States.

Our collaborative studio adopts a grounded-theory approach built on a shared conviction that interpretive and humanistic-oriented scholarship can and should be accessible to public audiences. We have conducted fieldwork in urban settings across California where Muslims are engaged in producing (and in challenging) knowledge of shari’a — Quranic study circles, youth organizations, mosque-based discussion groups, workplaces, community centers, and the home. Ethnographic methods, including semi-structured interviews, focus groups, and observations have gauged the complex and evolving perceptions of Islamic law among Muslims to identify discursive themes and how religious values are produced, debated, and transformed.

Shari’a Revoiced is a three-year collaborative project of the University of California Humanities Research Institute’s Religions in Diaspora and Global Affairs (RIDAGA) Initiative.

Funding was provided by the Henry R. Luce Foundation.